Posted in Inspiration, Life

Beginning the next chapter

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The alarm clock on my cell phone sounded.  As I reached to turn it off, I noticed it read 4:00 am.  For a moment, I couldn’t fathom why I had set the alarm so early.  Then it hit me.  Today was the day.  Today I was saying goodbye to my old defibrillator and hello to a new one.  I was the first scheduled surgery, but living an hours drive from the hospital meant an early rise and a long drive to get there.  Fortunately, my fiance, my father, and my step mother would be there with me to keep me company.

The car ride to the hospital was cold and quiet.  Thankfully, no snow was falling to make the drive difficult, but the temperatures were cold enough to chill you to the bone.  I hunkered down in the back seat of dads car, snuggled close to my fiance, and wrapped myself up with the blanket that I found in the back.  As we reached the hospital, the butterflies in my stomach began to flutter.  I was anticipating a long wait, but to my surprise, check-in, registration, and getting settled into my private room took no time at all.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be.  Likely due to the fact I had been through this procedure before.  I already had an idea of what to expect.  Before long, a nurse came in to roll me on my way to the operating room.  A kiss from my fiance, a wave to my parents, and away I went.

As I lay on the operating table, the temperature in the room felt cool. Everyone in the room moved in a perfectly synchronized dance around me, ensuring to fulfill any requests to make me comfortable.  The one request I made was to see my old device.  Apparently this was an odd request and wasn’t something that patients typically asked for, but they were happy to oblige.  Medication was administered through my IV and within minutes, my entire body was relaxed.  A drape was then placed above my shoulders and around my head, creating a cozy little tent.  The next thing I felt was a cool liquid being wiped across the left side of my chest, followed by a sudden prick of a needle that administered Novocain to the area where the surgeon would cut.  It stung and felt warm – it was uncomfortable.  Once numb, the surgery would then proceeded.  It seemed like only minutes had passed before I felt a hand touch my right shoulder gently.  The doctor was holding a small metal object in his hand in front of me to see.  “We’re all done Ginny.  Here’s your old device!” I heard his voice say.  I couldn’t help but smile and feel incredibly blessed.  This small, rounded, metal box had given me a chance to live throughout the years without fear of dying.  This box was there in order to save my life and it had served its purpose.  I couldn’t help but look at it and whisper “Thank You”.

December 28, 2017 – the day I ended the chapter on the last decade of my life and began the next chapter with a new device.  For others in my family with heart disease, they weren’t fortunate enough to live past their first chapter.  They never had the chance to live past a decade of being a cardiac patient.  I, on the other hand, have been fortunate to continue on with hopefully many more chapters to come.

Life is a precious gift.  Cherish the chapters you are given for you never know when your book will end.

“Today I close the door to the past, open the door to the future, take a deep breath, step on through and start a brand new chapter.”

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Posted in Exercise, Inspiration

A moment to stop and say “Thank You!”

 

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

“The aches, the pains, the muscle fatigue…no doubt I would end up sore.  Breathing heavy, buckets of sweat dripping from my body, can’t wait to go back for more.”

Training away on the elliptical machine the other day, it hit me – 6 months of working out with my trainer Matt at the gym and I’m still going strong.  Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way and a few fattening holiday meals to contend with, but overall, I am making progress as I continue to move forward, getting fit, loosing weight, and working towards a happier heart.

At the beginning, workouts were tough and I often wondered to myself how I was ever going to make it through a singe day, let alone multiple workouts in a single week.  Me89debb562f2b432eaa7d9cfca186999y body ached and my muscles were sore – Matt had me working out areas I had probably never worked out before.  As many other gym goers would likely agree, leg days were (and still are) the worst-especially the day or two following. Everyday tasks, like sitting down in a chair, walking down a flight of stairs – heck, even sitting down to go to the bathroom were a huge challenge – you literally want to laugh and cry at the same time!  What in the world was my trainer trying to do to me?!  Is the pain unbearable? No.  Uncomfortable? Heck yeah!  But the pain does pass and it’s back to the gym to do it all over again.

I could have easily thrown in the towel so many times and said “forget this!” when things
got a little hard.  But I didn’t, not this time.  There were days I was exhausted after work, but still, I showed up.  I’m sure there were plenty of times I grumbled and groaned, pissed and moaned, but with his upbeat and encouraging attitude, Matt kept me moving along. Then there were (and still are) those times I tend not to speak up, times when I may try to push myself a littlsistersinsneakers2e too hard…a sudden twinge of pain or discomfort and I probably should speak up, but I don’t.  Times when I say I’m fine, but I think Matt is beginning to learn when I’m full of it and calls my bluff.

So to Matt, my trainer, a huge thank you for getting me back on track and helping me to work towards a fitter lifestyle.  For being a great teacher and sharing your knowledge, even when you may think I might not be paying attention to what you are talking about.  Thank you for pushing me to work a little harder when I needed to and not so much during those times I shouldn’t. And most importantly, for keeping me motivated as I work towards better health.  Continue to be a positive influence to myself and others as you help us to achieve our personal goals.

“Push harder, push farther – push myself to the limit.  Get stronger, get fitter, create a better me!”

challengeyou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Inspiration

Start of a New Year

It doesn’t seem possible that yet another year has come and gone in what seems in a blink of an eye.  The world says good-bye to one year, while anxiously greeting the next.  I sit here while the sun shines through the window, a warm hello to 2013.  I relax and sit back while thinking over the year that has just passed; what things I have accomplished, what road I have been traveling, and where it has led me to today. Without a doubt, a series of ups and downs, at times stress and frustration, sharing laughter and cheer, hopes and dreams but overall a rather good year.  I set out last year beginning this blog and working on writing a book.  Needless to say, there has been slow progress.  I have to remind myself, there isn’t a deadline to reach and both are a labor of love so I can work on them as time permits.  Without a doubt, writing papers, critiques, working on projects, and writing what seems like an endless amount of essays for school has certainly taxed the brain, leaving me hitting a writers block as thick as a 12 inch concrete wall.  But 2013 is a new year, and with only a few more classes to go, I’ll have less time to think about meeting deadlines for school and can direct my focus towards my blog and book once again.  So thank you to those of you who have been following my blog…looking forward to continuing my goal to educate, motivate, and inspire.

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Hannah Bowns quotes
Posted in Inspiration

Thoughts found on paper

While cleaning out the basement in preparation for a yard sale, I was emptying out some totes that I had packed full of random things and came across something I wrote on a loose piece of paper; something I had written late 2008, the year I was sick….so I figured I would share…

When I look at my life, sometimes I don’t know what to think.  I know I’m not normal….but that’s okay, no one really is.  Besides, what does it mean to have a “normal life” anyways?  No one has a perfect life.  Perfect would be dull and predictable…who wants to live like that?  I don’t.  Sure, I’ve made some bad choices throughout the years, but I have also made some good choices too.  Who hasn’t had their fair share of both good and bad choices?  It’s what life is all about; being proud of the good and learning from the bad.  I figured, if I didn’t make the choices that I did “back when”, then where would I be today?  Would my life be better or worse off had those decisions I made been different?  Sometimes I listen to other people sit and complain how their lives are going nowhere and how unhappy they are with where they are in their life – – –  here’s an idea – Change!!  We all have the ability to make changes in our lives; it just takes a mind set and the will power to do it.

Do I get depressed or bummed?  Sure, who doesn’t from time to time.  Life gets a little rough and overwhelming and it gets to you.  I will admit, sometimes I’ll just curl up and ball my eyes out because things have built up and I need a way to let them out.  But letting out a good cry, I feel much better afterwards.  The thing is, even though I’ve gone through so much; having Zachary and getting married at a young age, only for it to end in divorce only to make another unwise choice of hopping right into another relationship so quickly, only to have that one end in divorce as well.  Dealing with mom’s illness, loosing her, then loosing gram, now having to deal with my own heart issues…I can’t let all of those overwhelming moments get me to the point where I become so depressed and no longer want to go on.  When things get rough, I remind myself, somewhere else, somebody has it much worse off then I do.  I’m still trying to learn not to allow too many things build up and get my stress level to the point where it ends up as an anxiety attack, but I’m getting there, slowly but surely, learning how to better deal with different situations as they present themselves.  Life is far too short, I learned that when mom died.  You don’t know what day will be your last.  Not everyday will go as planned, not everyday will be happy, but everyday is another day to go on living. 

I am a little nervous about being sick, only because of what we went through and saw with mom.  Heading to the hospital, the same hospital and doctors that she seen, it feels like de ja vu.  Only instead of mom in the patient chair, it’s me.  My biggest worry, as a mother, is what would happen to Zach if anything were to happen to me.  Who will take care of him?  What will his life be like if I weren’t around to help guide him?  Have I influenced him enough to make the right choices in life?  I know I shouldn’t worry too much since I know there are plenty of people who would ensure he is taken care of, but as a mother, you still tend to worry what would happen if you aren’t in your child’s life.

Without a doubt, God has a plan for me and there is a reason why I am where I am today.

Posted in Inspiration, Stress Relief

Wear a smile…

How do you fix a really bad day? Wear A Smile!

How can you relieve the stress that you face? Wear A Smile!

How can you lift your spirits when you’re feeling down? Wear A Smile!

How in the world can you fix a frown? Wear A Smile!

How do you ease the pain of being apart? Wear A Smile!

How can you ease a broken heart? Wear A Smile!

How can you fight through the salty tears? Wear A Smile!

How can you face your ultimate fears?  Wear A Smile!

How can you make the pain go away? Wear A Smile!

How can you make someone else’s day? Wear A Smile!

How can you live a better life? Wear A Smile!

How can you have a better time? Wear A Smile!

If life chooses to hand you lemons, what do you do?

You make lemonade, drink up, and Smile!

Posted in Inspiration, Life

Should I change my genes?

I know….a bit of a play on words….but I couldn’t help it.  It’s the question that popped into my head after seeing the material for this weeks Bio class assignments.  If indeed it was possible to do, to exchange the genes that cause so many inherited and detrimental diseases, should we do it?

This got me thinking (again)…If I had to choose my life (health wise) would I choose a life that wasn’t riddled with heart disease over the current life I have?

Honestly, I would keep things exactly the same.  Whether my heart disease results in me living a shorter life, like others in my family. Or perhaps a longer life, with many more years of existence to come, either way, I wouldn’t change anything at all!

Why, you may ask…

I believe that some things happen to us for a reason.  After my mother passed away and before encountering my own heart problems, I felt so lost, with no clear focus on what direction I wanted to go in life.  But nonetheless, I always felt like I was supposed to influence others in some way…the only problem was, I wasn’t sure how or what kind of influence I was supposed to be.  I continued to pray for answers, waiting for them to literally slap me in the face, saying “Here I am!  This is what you’re supposed to do with your life!”.  Obviously, it doesn’t work that way.  A few years would pass before those answers would become clear to me and I would realize what my life’s purpose truly was.  Dealing with the ups and downs of this illness as well as helping to take care of my mother when she was sick has taught me a lot about the human heart, health, and most importantly – Life!  Now, here I am, a cardiac patient dealing with a poor heart, typing a blog and writing a book in hopes to encourage others to embrace life, to be a positive influence and pushing force, as well as a “teacher”, in hopes to educate.  Sharing my experience as both a cardiac patient as well as a caregiver will give hope to others who may face similar situations.

I am sure life would have been far different had I been given a different pair of genes.  But then again, I wouldn’t be me.

“I believe that life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes incredibly cruel, but we are well equipped for it if only we tap into our talents and gifts and allow them to blossom.”
Les Brown

Posted in Inspiration

If Lincoln can do it, I can too!

As the nation recognizes and honors our presidents today, I reflect not only on the accomplishments of the men chosen throughout the years to run our country, but the obstacles they dealt with medically.  Illnesses and challenges that may have often been hidden from public as these men made choices, both good and bad, to run our nation as they saw fit.

My biggest idol, Abraham Lincoln, one of the most well known presidents from American history, suffered from severe depression.  Perhaps if he lived during our time, he would have been placed on disability, pumped full of medication to manage his symptoms, and required to see multiple doctors for his condition or perhaps admitted to a mental institution.  However, he existed before our time, before more advancements in medication  were made and procedures to deal with depression were available.  He lived what many may think today as a troubled life.  His head filled with depressing thoughts and images of low self esteem.  But as we all know, he was elected president and became one of the most recognized individuals in history because of the accomplishments achieved during his time in office.  Not all the presidents that came before or after Lincoln made such a lasting impression on our nation, but the fact that these men dealt with their illness, disabilities or handicaps and accepted their fate as not being 100% healthy did not stop them from pursuing their goals of becoming a leading man to an entire country.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
Abraham Lincoln

Over the years, during the time when my heart was extremely weak, before doctors found a combination of medication that would help regulate my heartbeats…a time when I was so exhausted and out of breath that I often feared that I would go to sleep and my heart would stop beating, I found part of my strength and drive from learning about others, such as our presidents, who faced illnesses, disabilities, and handicaps and kept on living life and achieved great things, leaving behind their legacy.  I was tired a majority of each day and multiple naps soon became a part of my routine, but rather than sitting home and feeling sorry for myself, I still wanted to continue working.  Photography soon became a release for me and I made time to stand behind the camera, viewing the world through a lens.  I still set goals for myself, many of which dealt with achievements in my health, they were still goals none the less.  I will admit, there were times that I became so tired and struggling to breath (a result from a weak heart beating irregularly and not having the ability to pump oxygen rich blood properly throughout my body), I would break down in tears and wished I hadn’t been “cursed” with heart disease.  But the feeling would soon pass.

A copy of Lincolns famous Gettysburg Address

I figured, if individuals, like Lincoln, could face such health crisis and still continue to live a life and impact the world around them, I figured I could do the same.  Perhaps it sounds odd, but I am actually grateful for the life I have been given, heart disease and all.  I have accepted that I will be a cardiac patient for life and from this experience I can hopefully educate, motivate and inspire others.  I figure you have two choices when you have to deal with a health crisis.  Either succumb to it and allow it take control of your life or accept your fate, deal with what it throws at you and fight hard to overcome the obstacles that it may throw your way.