In absence there is re focus…sort of.

I want to start this post by saying thank you to the reader whom renewed my blog this year.  I had lost track of the date and missed my email reminders.  Thank you so much.  That renewal that showed me that I must have done something right or inspired someone enough to do that act of kindness.  One person just made a simple difference in my life and for that reason I know I need to start posting what I have written but not shared.

I have so many things I need to talk about, to share and get off my chest.  I needed time to sort through my mangled brain. 

Being Vulnerable is scary for anyone, especially someone like me who always finds a way to be strong in a crowd.

I’ll start with this.  I stopped posting on my blog not because I dislike it, I stopped because I went from the highest of highs in January to a low that I just could not comprehend nor understand that threw me into a tailspin of a dark tunnel that had me again re evaluate how I want to live.

December to now has been a lot of change.  I always tell people if you are not happy with something, do something about it.  So, for me, it is time to re start living with a purpose.  I know I cannot change the world but I can change my life and maybe just maybe it will change someone or inspire them into something more.

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Over the coming weeks and months I am going to get some serious issues out of my head.  It has been know secret that I struggle with emotion, that I have been seeing a Therapist off and on and spending more time alone than someone like me should.

These last few months have been what I call a “hidden” struggle.  Struggle in the sense that I am openly identifying things about myself that I have to accept while working on solutions to overcome or at least deal better with them.  I need to focus on the things I have done well again and stop focusing on the things that have had a negative impact that dog my head daily.

I have no magic fix for my issues nor anyone else’s, I do have ideas and plans that I will outline as I move along.  No one can fix anything in one day, it may take months or even years, it may take it’s tolls on relationships I currently have but also create new ones.  I have read so much and heard so much about how who you surround yourself with becomes you, an element of your successes and failures.

I am not a failure, I am merely one person lost with many looking to define themselves, be successful, nurture my happiness and needs. 

Life on purpose is my goal.  No more wandering aimlessly with only hope.  It takes small steps.  I need to get better for me and those who believe in me.  I need to believe in me again, like those who tell me they do.

Time to be uncomfortable yet again.  Bring it.

 

Mini

Heart Attack Stories- Anne Clark- We All Bleed Red.

Who are you ?  Name, current age, where are you from ?


My name is Anne Clark, I am 50 years old and I currently live in Damascus, Maryland.  Where are you from is a very complicated question for me, my Dad was in the US Navy and we moved often, so I am not really “from” anywhere in particular, although I do consider Hawaii my home.

 

ANNE CLARK 1

How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?

I had my heart attack on 7/8/2010, I was 45 years old.

Where were you when it 
happened?  Tell me your story.What were your signs and
 symptoms?  Did you have any pre existing conditions or
family history ?


In July of 2010 I was working as the Director of Acquisitions for a Property Management Company in the Washington, DC area.  I worked in the neighborhood of 55-60 hours a week and had a 2-3 hour daily commute.  It was a high stress job, to say the least.  I had been with the company for 16 years and had worked my way up to the position I held.  I was well compensated, but I was also expected to to put in as much time and effort as was needed to get the job done.  I did not eat well, I smoked two packs (or more) a day and got very little exercise.  Sometime after the fourth of July, I got into a huge fight with my sister (& best friend) and she stopped speaking to me, which added to my stress.  On July 8th I left work and went to a homeowners association meeting, getting home around 8:30 pm.  I went about my normal routine, I fed my dogs & let them out, I called my parents, sat on the back porch and smoked a few cigarettes.  I hadn’t eaten since morning, I had been too busy to stop for lunch.

I started feeling queasy and I was hot.  I wasn’t all that concerned, I have suffered with terrible acid issues for years and it was July afterall, it was hot out.  I went upstairs (six stairs up) and thought I was going to throw up, when I didn’t I decided to lie down.  I started feeling worse and somehow I knew something was terribly wrong.  I tried to walk downstairs to the phone and couldn’t, I ended up crawling to the stairs and sliding down.  The first thing I did was try to call my sister multiple times, as she was still not speaking to me, she didn’t answer the phone.  Finally, I called 911.  When the ambulance arrived, I was actually feeling better and I tried to send them away.  Apparently, they cannot make you go to the hospital, so I refused.  I was feeling better.  Everytime I refused, the EMT said okay, why don’t you re-think that answer.  He was not going to take no for an answer.

As the ambulance headed toward the hospital, when we were about two minutes away from my house, apparently I turned blue.  I remember very little from that except I desperately wanted to go to sleep and the EMT wouldn’t let me, he kept asking about my dogs. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately surrounded by 5 or 6 nurses/staff.  I was wearing my favorite pink tee shirt and pants with my college logo.  After they cut my shirt off, I heard someone ask the doctor about my pants, they were able to pull them off with out cutting them…yay!  I don’t recall too much that the doctor said to me but one thing is still clear in my mind, he said “Smoke again and you will die”, I have never smoked again. They wheeled me into surgery where I have an angioplasty and a stent.  One was 68% and the other was a 100% LAD blockage.  I was somewhat conscious during the surgery and I remember at one point the doctor and the nurse started discussing baseball.  I am not a baseball fan, I like football.  Apparently, I told them if they felt it necessary to chat while they were fixing me,I would prefer they chat about football.  Once the surgery was done, they brought my sister in to see me, my first words to her were, “I win”. She was not amused.  That was a Thursday night, I was released from the hospital on Saturday.  It took me several years to say it out loud, I had a heart attack.

 

ANNE CLARK 3

How did this affect your life?  Physically/ Personally?


After my heart attacked, I re-evaluated myself and my life, as many do.  I went through a severe depression, which I am still struggling with and almost took my life, several times. If not for my dogs, I probably would have.  My two dogs were already named when I adopted them in 2009, their names are Hope & Grace.  In 2011, after 17 years, I walked away from my job and took a year off.  I now work for a construction company, make substantially less money, have a fifteen minute commute and I am happier than I have been in  a very very long time.

What lifestyle changes have you made ?  What are your struggles ? Stents/ Zipper or Defib ?  What is your situation?


I have a stent.  I still don’t eat as well as I should, I gave up smoking (cold turkey) and rarely drink anymore, although I do enjoy a cocktail from time to time.  I don’t exercise as much as I should, but more than I used to.  I am still a work in progress.

What do you fear now ?


I don’t fear dying, but I do fear dying and not leaving a mark on this world.

What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack
life?


The most important things to me are my family, my dogs and my happiness

Did you do Cardiac Rehab?  What has been the hardest part of your recovery?


Cardiac Rehab was good, after I completed the program, I had a personal trainer for a while and that helped me a lot.  The hardest thing was quitting smoking, I still miss it all the time.

What are your new dreams ?


I don’t really have any dreams right now.  I went through such a severe depression for such a long time that every morning I would set the goal that I would make it though the day without killing myself.  I have.

ANNE CLARK 2

 

Who was there for you?
I am blessed to have an awesome family and a few life long friends.  There are very few people in this world that will drop everything and come running when they know you need them.  I am lucky to have people in my life like that.

Did you lose many friends after your heart attack ?


I lost several people that I considered friends after my heart attack.  One in particular, we had been friends (so I thought) and co-workers for almost 20 years.  On Monday after my heart attack she called me and asked when I was returning to work, according to her, things were beginning to pile up on my desk and the owners were not happy, at the time I did not know that was a lie.  I returned to work on Tuesday.  About a week later she asked me if I wanted to go to happy hour at an outside bar across the street, I said sure.  When we got there she ordered a beer and I ordered water.  She yelled at me saying what is the point if I’m not going to have a drink and stormed off.  We have not spoken since 2011.

What is the funniest thing someone has said or asked about your heart attack? 


Every time there is an issue at work that my friend/co-worker thinks is going to upset or stress me out, before she tells me she always asks “How’s your heart feeling?”
The Saturday after my heart attack, my parents came to town to see me.  I was home from the hospital at that time so my parents said they would stop at the store and get dinner.  They showed up with ribeye steaks (very fatty) and baked potatoes, complete with butter and sour cream.  Really??  I don’t think that’s on my new diet plan.  My Dad knew that was one of my favorite meals and he just wanted to make me happy.  His heart was in the right place.

 

If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?
I don’t really think I would do anything differently.  My life has made a dramatic change in the past few years.  If not for my heart attack I would not be the person I am today.  I like the person I am today.  I have come to realize that I didn’t really like myself for a very long time.

What do you want more of in life ? 


I want love and happiness.  I used to be an angry, stressed person, I do not want to be that person ever again.

Is this the hardest thing you have ever experienced ?


I would say this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.  It has been a learning experience and has reminded me what is important in life.

What makes you great ?


I don’t think anything makes me great, yet.  I am still trying figure that out.

What advice would you give to a healthy person who has never experienced something like a Heart Attack?


I would say to all, don’t judge, be kind and show compassion. You will never know what is going on in someone else’s mind and you will never fully understand their struggles.

Heart Attack Stories- Amy Siegfried. We All Bleed Red.

Hi there… My name is Amy Siegfried, I’m 50 years old, and I’m from southern Indiana, but have lived in chandler, Az for the past 5 yrs, and have lived in Az before… My daughter, 14, was born here, but we moved back home when she was in kindergarten, as my husband was traveling, and my grandparents were still around, and I wanted Jess to know them. We got four more years with them!!

AMY SEG

I was 48, (5’5 and 135lbs) when I had my MI. I had been experiencing hot flashes, and some nausea, but chalked it up to menopause, and maybe a bug. I was hanging out with my grandkids, and driving them to dance class when things got started…my symptoms were off and on for 9 days before I went to the ER. Around the 8th day, I finally had my husband Scott take me to urgent care, because it was getting worse, and I had strange pressure/pain in my chest…they ran an EKG, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. The doc suggested I had acid reflux, and gave me a nasty concoction to drink, and sent me home with a prescription for nausea meds, and prilosec. I was chugging milk of magnesia, but not getting any relief. By now, I can’t lay down, because it hurt. Hard to explain that pain…it wasn’t sharp, but it made me cry. (I’m not a crier, and I have other health issues, and pain meds.) It kind of felt like a steel band around my ribs, and a heavy feeling in my chest. My neck and left shoulder hurt as well, but I didn’t connect any of these dots, yet.  I also have fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pain is my norm, so…anyway…Didn’t sleep much…woke my husband and daughter with my sobs, but I couldn’t explain the pain. Scotty gave me a Valium to help my anxiety, and I dozed sitting up… The next morning, I still felt awful, but Jess had to get to school, and Scott to work…he was worried, and asked if I needed to go to the ER. I told him I’d be ok, and was going to try and sleep a little, so check on me later. I knew he had an important lunch for his staff that day, but he said he’d come home early, and take me if I was still sick. I finally decided I needed to go when my neck and jaw started tingling, and i actually had a thought that it could be my heart, but dismissed it, and called him around 11, but said I wanted to get cleaned up before we went, so go ahead with the luncheon, and I’d be ready by one or so.

We finally get to the ER…I never did take a shower. Too weak, too much. Somehow I felt foolish and a little embarrassed when the clerk asked what brought me in…”chest pain?” (I said it like a question). She checked my O2 sats and I was ushered to the back immediately. A couple minutes later, I’m hooked up to an EKG, and then everything started happening really fast!! I was swarmed by techs and nurses, and one said “Mrs. Siegfried, you’re having a heart attack, and we’re going to take good care of you!” Nitro patch slapped on my chest, 4 baby aspirin shoved in my mouth, IV started, and poof! Off to the cath lab!! (Hubby was on the phone talking business until the announcement, and I looked at him with tears starting, and the only thing I could say was “oh shit” !! Lol!! Not very poetic, but I guess it fit!!)
I spent 3 days in the hospital…2 of them in ICU, though I felt like a fraud for most of it. I just never felt like I belonged in such a “seriously ill” ward… I got “busted” in the cafeteria, trying to buy a coffee and a snack, because I didn’t have a “hall pass”. The ICU nurses didn’t know, as they never have to deal with people leaving the floor on their own!! (I was styling in my gown, with the porta-heart monitor tucked in my pocket!) Lol!!

Anyway, I now have 2 stents in my RCA, which was 99% blocked, then 3 months later, I had a stent installed in my right illiac, as they found blockage to my legs with an ultrasound after my follow-up. I still have the left one to do, but it’s not clogged enough to warrant surgery, yet. I now have PAD, and something else to do with the arteries…can’t think of it…the cardiologist suggested it was caused by RA. I had no idea that RA could wreak havoc on your organs!! Luckily, after all that, my EF was at 50%, and no damage!! There is no real family history of heart problems. My dad had a blocked illiac, and had a stent placed when he was around my age, but it never affected his heart.

I was left kind of wanting by my cardiologist… He blames RA without tests. (I’ve had RA since I was 12, and it’s moderate, so I didn’t think or know it was possible). I wasn’t even offered cardiac rehab, and didn’t know it existed until much later… I still don’t know for sure that was the cause. My stress levels had been through the roof, off and on… I did change cardiologists after a year, and my new one scheduled a stress test, which I passed with flying colors! I also had funky side-effects from the statin. She changed that from atorvistatin to crestor, but no change in my muscle cramping and charlie horses…I couldn’t deal, so, after much research, I quit taking statins. I’ve read many articles stating that they do more harm than good, I just can’t see taking a medication that causes more pain, and might damage other organs!

As far as lifestyle changes, I quit smoking…but it took me a year. I still vape, but very little. I walk more, too…and I’m thinking about joining a gym soon, with my daughter. My greatest fear is not being here for her, her milestones…her graduation, from high school, college…her wedding, children. The usual, I think. I have started looking for work…after being a stay at home mom for 12 years…looking for a passion though, that allows me to still be home for my daughter after school. I work with animal rescues as a volunteer… I (we) have 3 dogs and a cat. I took on a foster dog last year that was labeled aggressive and fearful…he’s still here, and he’s a beautiful lover-dog, though skittish still, and in the hall bathroom hiding from the wind storm as I type. I really want to foster kids…especially those poor babies that are yanked from their homes to keep them safe… I am a caregiver at heart. I helped care for my grandparents, I saw my mom and dad through colon cancer, and I cared for my aunt B until she passed last Jan. I still feel a little lost now that she’s gone.

The most important part of recovery for me has been to take better care of me…I’m not very good at that! To anyone else I would say, quit smoking, if you do, and do more…exercise more, love more, eat better! Oh, and don’t think it can’t happen to you, because I know it can…I’ve seen it happen to people that are way better at working out, vegetarian, nonsmoker’s…just listen to your body. Women present differently than men, most of the time. Hug your family tighter. I’m rambling… Peace out! 😉

10 ways a Heart Attack at age 35 changed me.

When thinking about the last 2 plus years since my heart attack, I cannot help but run through the ways I have changed.

My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013
My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013
  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Ya, it is totally a cliché, a book has been written and many people will say they don’t sweat the small stuff.  I don’t anymore.  It is funny to think of the things that use to get to me or that I would worry about.  Now, most times my first thought is,  “ Is this worth worrying about or spending my time and energy on.”  Stress, my friends is something I try so hard to avoid.  The downside to this is that I become impatient with those who try to make small issues bigger than they are.  It does piss people off or I come across as not really caring.  In some situations, I really don’t.  Nowadays, there are things that I do procrastinate on because things can wait and it is not worth the stress and let’s be honest here, I try to have more fun.

 

  1. I prefer to be alone.

Ask anyone who’s known me a long time and they will tell you I always had to be around other people.  This use to be how I got my energy, my zest for life. Mini loves people !  Post Heart Attack, I find in many social situations I get anxious or very awkward and have to leave early.  This is why I never car pool with anyone.  I need my escape.  I spend more hours alone than I think most realize.  I use this time to read more, work on many of my projects and try to sort through my head.  I find it easier to be alone than to be in large groups.  I know I have become socially awkward and I am ok with that.  Being alone allows me to not put myself in an awkward situation or worry about upsetting someone.

 

  1. I have a new normal.

This took me a long time to accept.  I am still figuring out what certain limits are but I accept I am not who I was.  I like who I am now.  So who am I now ?  That’s for another post.  With my new normal, I have had to find new ways to do things I enjoy, accept restrictions and learn which lines I can push. Example, I will never run as fast as I use to but I can run.  I may accept the new normal but I will NEVER give up trying to succeed at what I can.

 

  1. I dream bigger.

I have many big dreams.  Most are of the humanitarian and Heart Disease awareness type.  I have so many dreams I hope to share and work towards in 2016.  Some are way out in left field but I would rather put those dreams out there and get laughed at than keep them to myself like I use to.   There is one dream I once had that I never made my move on now someone else made it famous.  Lesson Learned. So, I may never become famous for a dream I pursue but I really hope one of them leads to creating the life I desire.

 

  1. I actually like myself.

Most of this could be in another post but here is a start.  From 2010 on I actually had a strong dislike of who I was and I had almost zero confidence in myself.  I got good at putting on a show.

I like me J   I am awkward, I am social, I am fun,  I am smart in different ways, I am a good looking guy, creative, determined, flirty, playful, goofy.  I am uniquely and imperfectly ,me.  I am not for everyone but I do like who I am.  This doesn’t mean I don’t have some insecurities but I am more confident than I have ever been.

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  1. Experiences instead of Things.

I have always had a hard time buying things for myself.  Even when I bought my first DSLR Camera I was anxious.  Over the last 2 years  I have focused more on spending my money and time on experiences, dinners with friends, coffees.  My time is valuable.  I would prefer memories with my friends and family than something disposable.  It may be morbid but I want to think that when my time comes and I am 6 feet under that I leave those I care about with good, fun and maybe slightly wild memories of “Mini.”  No one will remember how many things I owned.  After my Heart Attack I questioned how people would remember me.

 

  1. Now I lay me down to sleep.

It is no secret that my sleeping patterns are messed.  Sometimes I go more than 24 hours without sleep, sometimes I nap an hour here and there just to function.  I have no idea how I function most days to be honest.  The thought of not waking up consumes my brain before bed almost  nightly.  I want so bad not to think this way but living with heart disease I am aware of what could happen.  PTSD is a bitch and that is one way it gets me.  Every night I go to bed wondering if the day I had was a good one, did I do something positive?  Did I make at least one person smile ?  Did I smile ?  Did I try to make a difference in this world ?

If I ever should die and not awake when the sun rises, I just hope the day before was a good one.

 

  1. I want Love but I am Guarded.

It is no secret that I have been single for a long time.  No girlfriend in almost 5 years, yep, you read that right, 5 years.  I have dated but can’t seem to keep anyone interested long enough, combine that with the fact I keep myself busy.  Just like most everyone, I have been hurt before but that is NOT why I am guarded.  I am guarded because I want simply to be accepted for me but sharing my health issues has scared some females away.  Can’t blame them because there are always things we as people can and cannot live with when it comes to a partner.  I am an amazing man as soon as someone can see beyond both mine and their imperfections.  I know I need to be a little more open with heart but sometimes it is so damn hard.

 

  1. Random Acts of Kindness.

I give more than most people realize.  I am not one to brag nor share every little Random Act of Kindness I do because I feel that defeats the purpose.  One per week, I do something.  Whether it is buying a coffee for someone, paying for their gas, leaving a random note or simply giving a homeless person a $10 or $20 bill.  I do something.  I want to feel like I have made a difference, even if for only a moment.

 

  1. I care but it sometimes doesn’t come out that way and it sucks.

If you have read this far, then you now get  a HUGE TRUTH.  I say I Love You more than I ever did before and tell people I care as often as I can.  So what is the problem?  I have been told what I say doesn’t seem portrayed that way.  I have a hard time comprehending this.  For example:  There was a woman I liked, I tried to show her but even she said she was not sure, that it didn’t seem that way.  I tried so hard but I just couldn’t get what I was actually feeling outward by action or expression I guess.

I have PTSD, I struggle with understanding emotion and even portraying  certain emotion.  If you are emotional in front of me, like crying or upset, my brain is trying to empathize and understand but I just can’t ever seem to figure it out.  It makes me uncomfortable in the situation and I am trying to think of a way out of that moment.  It’s not that I do not care, it is that I just can’t comprehend why you are upset or even what I am suppose to do.  It is not easy to live with and it keeps me up at night.  I use to be a very empathetic and understanding human and I kinda miss that guy.

So, if you and I are in a situation like above and my face goes red or I slowly distance myself from you or I constantly look away…… please know I care, I just don’t know what to do, guide me or let me escape.

My First Tattoo :) 38 by 38

Fire and Ice Heart- The Heart represents the soul; who someone truly is.  The Fire represents passion, verve, emotion.  The Ice represents logic, confidence, calm. The two together fuse into a combo much stronger than their individual parts.  Synergy.

 This synergy makes up a large of the soul, hence the Heart.

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I have always wanted a tattoo and like most people ( definitely not all)  I wanted something that was “ME”.  So, 37 years of age, it finally happens.  I mean, granted it took a life changing event, recovery and thinking about my own traits.

Oh and I can’t forget… 2 missed appointments and months of sneding random messages of what I was looking for to my artist.

So ummm obviously the tattoo was going to be Heart related considering I had a little heart misfunction almost 2 years ago…..holy crap…2 years !!

The final result is a Fire and Ice Heart described meaning above.  Each part of the description describes me or traits I wish I had or had previously possessed.

She is not complete yet but I am so proud of this tattoo.  I love it more than I can express.  It is a reminder of how far I have come, how far I will go, to never give up.  I love showing it off every chance I get.

My Artist.  I cannot say enough about this woman.  She has patience like no other, I mean she had to deal with me right ?

Her name: Ashla Bee,  she works at Human Kanvas in Airdrie, Alberta.

TATT2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have known this fantastic, talented  woman for close to 10 years. I we worked at the same place and even starred in commercials when we were younger for that company.

There was no doubt in my mind that she was the one who I would ask to take on my tattoo.  I loved seeing her artwork on Facebook and seeing how much she loves what she does.  I knew she would  listen to my craziness and add a little touch of “her” to the design.

Thank you Ashla for making this man so proud to wear your art, for making the experience a lot of fun and for being patient with me 🙂

 

MINI

 

 

1st Half Marathon Post Heart Attack- What an experience !

My First Half Marathon Post Heart Attack !

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It took me a while to write this.  I had to sort through all my thoughts on this race.

I trained hard, I was dedicated, I pushed when I wanted to give up, kept going to the gym even when I didn’t feel like it.  Every moment leading up to the race was a challenge.  I was as ready as I was going to be.  My mind, my body felt strong.

Now, before I dive into this further please understand I am very proud of finishing the race and no one can take that away from me.  The pride and the finish.

I spent time before the race meeting friends, taking photos and having my photo taken many times thanks to people loving my race shirt ! The Shirt….that is for another post.

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To say I was nervous would be the biggest understatement of the day. 

I was ready to take this race and make it mine.  In my training I had felt amazing, was running an 11:45 min/mile.  I only had a few blips while training but worked through it smartly.

Smart.  That here is the key word my friends.  I trained not for speed, I trained to be smart, healthy and to ensure I was having fun.  Trained not to think too much about my heart attack and what could go wrong.  I felt so amazing !

Then came race day.  Up at the crack of crazy ( 3am) for a start time of 7:00 am.  I never publicly stated I had a goal but in my head I wanted to finish in 2:25.  That is what I trained for.

I won’t detail every kilometre, I promise. 

The course was amazing, flat, scenic.  The weather was cool at the start and quite warm as the race progressed.  The first kilometre and a half I ran with my friend Susan but realized her 9 min per mile pace was too much for me and out of my training zone.  I let her go ahead because I did not want her to stay behind for me.  I really wanted to do the whole race with her but realized she was a lot faster than I was.  Respect the pace, respect the distance is exactly what was going through my head.

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The first 5 KM I felt amazing, was matching my 12 min/ mile pace and just before the 5 km mark I stopped to see my friend Danielle who was waiting kindly for me by the Starbucks in Bridgeland.  It was so good to see my friend Danielle on the course, it gives you a little boost to keep pushing forward.  I took a photo with her and off I went.

Danielle and I :)
Danielle and I 🙂

 

As I ran back across Memorial Drive I was loving the race having fun with other runners and was still keeping a 12 min mile but  that was not to last much longer.

It was slightly before reaching 17th avenue that a little fatigue had started to set in.  This was between kilometre 8 and 9.   

17th Avenue.  What do I say about this part of the course ? It was definitely the worst part of the entire course.  It was 2.5 km of uneven roads, pot holes and a narrowing of the course.  Pedestrians crossed at a few points from the sides of the street.  Just before Kilometre 10 is when my race started to go downhill.

I went to pass 3 runners who were running side by side by side.  As I cut to the right I hit a dip in the road hard, twisted my knee, tried to brace myself from falling right over ( BIG MISTAKE !).  It took about another KM before I started feeling immense pain.  Now in theory this could have absolutely ruined my race but something great came out of it.  The Injury?  A Sprained Knee which I am still battling the pain of a few weeks later.

I MAY JUST BE IN A LITTLE PAIN HERE :(
I MAY JUST BE IN A LITTLE PAIN HERE 🙁

 

As I went to walk to the side once the pain started, I bumped into a young woman, apologized and we laughed.  This woman would be one of 2 that I ran/ walked the rest of the race with.  Her name was Lindsay.  The other girl was Shona.

The rest of the race we paced each other, taking walk breaks and although I admitted being in pain, I downplayed it.  I remember at one point,  Shona had said I was the reason she was running and staying in it.  That was awesome to hear and yes, it motivated my ass to keep going.

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318778_199516843_XLargeMy pace slowed to between 14-16 minutes per mile.  There were far more walk breaks than I had hoped for but I knew pushing harder would have made this injury worse.  So I did what I seem to do best in hard situations.  

I laughed.  I danced.  I chatted with those around me.  I posed as I ran past cameras.  I hugged a random person.  I pretended to be Superman, only, I was missing my Lois Lane.  My Knee was my race kryptonite but it would not wreck my spirit.  I kept repeating encouragement to my run mates as they did with me. This race was still mine.

 

The final kilometre was upon us and yes I continued to run/walk right up until the final corner where I ran, in tons of frickin pain but I ran.  That finish line looked so close and yet so far away.  The three of us kinda split at the end.  I would run into Lindsay again at Bag Check and a few days later on Instragram.

Crossing the finish line.  OH. MY. GOD.  So much awesome that it is hard to put into words.

I Crossed, I Cried ( that is again  for another post), crouched to my knees after crossing, got up and walked up to… and this is where it gets really cool.

 Her name is Sarah Lynn Stephens.  The day before the race she saw me at the packet pick up and told me I would finish and do amazing. Little did I know til later that the girl I got my medal from, who’s shoulder I cried on was the same girl who had encouraged me before the race.  A Girl who’s sister is actually on one of my Dodgeball teams.  Small World.  318778_199763060_XLarge

Seriously such an awesome finish, I would not have changed a thing.

The Race was fun, tough, but fun.  My Heart felt amazing, not once was I worried about my heart. It was my heart that got me through to the finish.  My body was up to the task at hand and I had fun for the entire 21.1 km.  I made a couple new friends, experienced brief emotion ( again a different post), finished a race and became very proud of what I accomplished even if it wasn’t the goal time I had hoped. 

 

 

 

So what else is there to say?

 

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When you set out to accomplish a goal, No matter how hard you train, how prepared you are…..Sometimes things don’t go as you had hoped or planned.  Sometimes we search and try for one thing but discover another.  There is no reason to be disappointed if you don’t get your time or PR and complete your goal.  Use it to move forward but don’t beat yourself up, be proud of what you did accomplish and look for what made the experience great. 

 

For me, it was two women who made me laugh, crossing the finish line, crying on the shoulder of someone who said they were proud of me and in the end……Kicking Heart Disease’s Ass for yet another day.

-MINI-

 

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The post that wasn’t……Trained Well. What Are You Afraid Of ?

Before you read the actual blog post below, there is something I must say.

I wrote the following a few days before I ran my Half Marathon.  I did not post this because although I wanted to believe the words, a part of me was still too scared to share what was going through my head.  These words got into my head after I wrote this so, I decided not to post.

Until tonight.

Why is it that we all are afraid to admit what scares us ?  Even when we feel confident outwardly we still don’t share.  So, my friends, I was sacred, scared enough not to share.  I can’t let continuous fear hold me back, so here it goes… Read on, if you wish.

 

TRAINED WELL……WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF ?

If you have trained well, what are you afraid of ?

This question was posed the other day in a conversation when I was discussing my upcoming Half Marathon as well as my training the last few months.

I have put a lot of time into my training, truthfully, it has almost been to the point of obsession.  I have never felt more focused in training than I have the last few months.  I want to have my best run ever.

So, what am I afraid of ?

Well, for starters, I have run 5 previous Half Marathons.  I was training for my 6 th when my Heart Attack Occurred.  OK, well it didn’t happen while running but it happened a few weeks before my big race.

I know exactly what it takes to run 22 kms, 13.1 miles.  I know the toll it can take on the body. I know how hard it can be mentally.  The internal battles with every step.  I know how the elements of weather can change and affect a persons body.

 

My First Half Marathon- Jan 2012 in Disneyworld.
My First Half Marathon- Jan 2012 in Disneyworld.

I am now doing this race knowing all of this and being aware that I have Heart Disease, that I am running with a 70 % blockage that was never surgically fixed. Let that sink in a bit.  Not to mention the various other 70’s and 50’s you can see in the pics below.

It is like being told before you start something that you are already have a disadvantage. This is a a disadvantage that you must overcome and no one around you would know. 

That part will never leave my head.

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This is the farthest distance I will have run consistently in 2 years.  My highest training mileage was 15 kms in the controlled environment of the Gym.  Kinda protected I’d say, wouldn’t you ?

To be clear, I do not fear death.

I fear the headaches.  I have been battling a small concussion for a few weeks now which has limited some running and other activities.  They have subsided for the most part.

I do fear that as prepared as I am, that my heart could shut me down.  Not another Heart Attack.  I fear not being able to finish the race that I have been so dedicated to training for.

2MILES

I mean, if my heart races too hard or the heat makes it too hard on my heart that I will have to pull out of the race. I will pull out.

It plays in my head that maybe I am not trained enough or that my heart may not quite be up to the challenge.

I fear my lack of emotion since my Heart Attack.

I fear the effect of my medications,

Let me explain.  

Most of my training was has been at night, 12-16 hours after I have taken my medication, a couple hours before I take my night time meds.

I take medication that does suppress my heart rate and my blood pressure.  I will have to take these within about an hour or two before my race.  So what is the effect ?

I have trained my heart rate to be at a consistent 145- 150 beats per minute at night while running. Given that I am taking my meds so close to race time, it will seem like more work and most likely my heart rate during the race won’t exceed 125-130.  I have done exercise on meds before but it has been a while, so, I truthfully don’t know how hard this could end up being.

My biggest fear ultimately is that I will let these thoughts get to me at some point during those 22 km.  I am so afraid that I will allow these fears to overtake the strengths I know I have and ultimately make me give up out of fear.

So why write about this ? Because tonight and until I cross that finish line I am giving a big F YOU  to these thoughts.  Why ? Because I have let them control me the last few weeks. and I am taking control back, for me, for my goal.

So, to answer the question.

 Today I fear nothing because I know I can do this.  I have already beaten many challenges in the last 20 months and I will finish this race.

I will finish because I am strong, I am healthy, I am confident and I am trained as best I can.  Let’s not forget… I am also…..

Pretty. Damn. Awesome.

IPHONE JUNE 14 581
My First 10 K – 9 Months after my Heart Attack.

Mini

 

 

7 DAYS

7 Days from now I will run my first Half Marathon Post Heart Attack.

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7 Days from now I will put my training and hard work to the test.

7 Days from now, I will be 100% focused.

7 Days from now I will equipped and prepared.

7 Days from now I will face fear head on.

7 Days from now I will beat my fear.

7 Days from now I will take the first step to more races.

7 Days from now I will encourage others as I run.

7 Days from now I will have fun.

7 Days from now I will dance on the course.

7 Days from now I will feel physical pain.

7 Days from now I will beat that pain.

7 Days from now I will feel joy.

7 days from now I will embrace that joy.

7 days from now I will run, walk, crawl if I have to.

7 days from now I will finish the race, even if it’s in last place.

7 Days from now…..Simply….I WILL.

 

Mini.

Taking A Different Road

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This past week I took a different road home from Vancouver. 

The roads, the terrain, the towns were all unfamiliar to me.  Sometimes I got frustrated and questioned my choice. 

Heat got to me, I got lost a couple times, had car troubles ( surprise, surprise !) had a lot of time alone, met a few cool people and got pulled into border security for inspection over medications. It was an adventure.

Regrets?  None.

Why?

I went out of my comfort zone and escaped a “routine.” I got where I needed to with a different road.

I love routine, I love knowing what is coming my way.  I am not adverse to change but I know, like most people, I like the comfort of just “knowing”

 This entire last year has been swings and turns and changes almost every single day.  It has made me better and gave the confidence to step out of routine. It has also been getting to me because of lack of consistency.  Doesn’t make sense does it ?

I am not entirely happy with a lot of things right now.  None of it is by what others have or haven’t done. I own my thoughts and my next steps.  That is where this post comes in.

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Since I have been home, I’ve had conversations with a few people who just are unhappy.  Who either don’t want to or do not know how to make a change to make things better for themselves.  They seek advice from me.  Why, I have no idea, but they do. 

So, here is my advice to anyone struggling with anything right now.

Life can really suck sometimes.  Sometimes it seems like you just can’t get out of what you have to in order to be happy or live better.

I could tell you to suck it up and deal with it but that is not the right answer. I know adversity, trust me.

Deal with it but break shit down.  No one is going to give you the free and easy way out. Looking at every single problem as one big issue will never help.  BREAK IT DOWN ! 

STOP whining and complaining and start doing something small.  JUST START. 

Talk to people who care, who have been there.  You will find out very quickly who doesn’t.  Forget about what they do or think.  Move onto those who may be able to help.  It seems we focus on those who ignore us rather than those who want to be there.  This will only cause you more issues.

Choices.  Each day you have choices.

I could wake up and have a Cheeseburger for breakfast or not go to the gym.  That will not help my Heart situation.  I choose to be healthy and yes I screw it up sometimes.

There are days I have to make that conscious choice and FORCE myself to do something because part of me doesn’t want to do it. It seems too hard. But I do it and you know what ?  I feel amazing after it is done, completed and I can focus on the next task at hand.

So, why can’t you do it?

Because you haven’t yet found the fire in your heart or your belly.  It seems too daunting, stressful, heart breaking.  Find the obstacles in your way and make steps to remove them. If you don’t know, don’t just give up. You aren’t happy, then find that fire to fix it.  

Excuses. So. Many. Excuses.

You are the only person getting in the way of making things better. We are all busy or get distracted. 

Prioritize and stop making up excuses as to why something won’t work.  I have tried many things and screwed up numerous times before I got it right.  Remove the excuses, act and you may be surprised. The longer you don’t see your strength or your worth and keep making excuses, the longer the problems will persist.  Your excuses are a source of your problems.

Look, I am no expert or a life coach but I get it.  I get life.  I get struggle.  I get hurt.  I get heartbreak.  I get loss. I get failure.  I also get success, happiness, fun, laughter, surprises.

The latter will come when you light a FIRE under your ass rather than sit back and watch an empty fire pit.

There are also people who have it FAR worse than you and sometimes your problem is not as big as you are allowing it to be.

Have questions. Want to hear real ? Ask me, I dare you.

Take a different road, screw up, you will get lost a few times but eventually you will get home and feel good again.

Mini

 

38 by 38 “To Do” List – Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my 38 by 38 “To Do” list.  Some of these are a little more personal than the previous 19.  

I will begin this list as soon as next week and I will be blogging on the experiences.

 

20. 2 day camping trip on my own. Alone.

I chose this because every so often it is good to be one with nature and your own thoughts. Fresh air and the sounds of nature makes this appealing to me in so many ways.

21. Landscape photo shoot with Yves.

He is a talented photographer and I have always wanted to join him on one of his landscape shoots. You up for it Yves ?

22. Organize a big Capture the Flag game at night with glow sticks.

I LOVED this game as a kid and remember the night games fondly in boy scouts. I want to include as many people as possible. So, who’s in ?

23. Stampeders vs Rough Riders in Regina.

All I have to say is “Let’s Go Stamps.”

24. Design my own Tech running shirt.

I want a shirt I can call my own for races. One that shares a little bit of me. I may need an artist to assist with this but I have some ideas.

25. Watch all the Harry Potter movies in one weekend.

OK, I must admit I have not seen even one of these movies or read the books. I have always been slightly intrigued but not enough to actually do it. So here it goes. I am going to do this !

26. 25 interviews with Heart Attack survivors.

I have shared my story and want to hear others. Obviously because each experience is different and I want to educate myself while hearing from others.

27. Tell my Heart Attack Story in a public speaking type setting.

I have spoken in front of hundreds of people before and I am far from shy. I am a good story teller. I really hope to be able to speak publicly to others in the same manner and share my experiences of recovery and being healthy.

28. Make a time capsule that I can bury and open with my kids should I ever be blessed enough to have any.

. I dream of having a family. I do not know if this will ever happen but I want something fun to share with them when they are teens or adults. Should I not have any kids of my own then hopefully the capsule will be found one day by some random person.

29. Take the TESOL course.

I want to travel and teach English for one year. The first step is the TESOL course. NO more excuses, it is time to do what I want and this has been high on my list for a long time.

30. East Asia vacation. Jan- March 2015.

I want to go where no one knows me, my past or my issues in health and personal life. I want to go and let the focus be on a dream trip where I can focus on me and what really makes me who I am with no discussion of my health or negatives. Far away from here I want to be me without the baggage being the focus.

31. Start a 4 week running/ weight loss group.

I find more and more people contact me to run with them or ask questions about my weight loss and my health and exercise since my heart attack. Apparently the things I have done in 12 months has motivated others to make life changes. I want to help people get started.

32. Volunteer trip overseas.

Years ago I was signed up for a trip to Guatemala with World Vision but put that on hold to support my girlfriend at the time who was doing a trip to Romania with the same organization. Please know it was my decision at the time and I harbor no hard feelings nor regrets about not going. I merely learned that one must do what they want to or they may never get that chance again. I am creating that chance.

 

33. Charity Photo Project Completed.

I am currently embarking on a photo project in which I am donating half of my fee to the Alberta Children’s hospital and a local women’s shelter with a goal of raising $2500 to split between the two. This will take months to complete and a lot of personal time. I promise it will be worth the effort put forth for everyone involved. I want to see this to completion. 50 photoshoots @ $100 each.

34. Lunch with Roger Rhodes and Erin Skye Kelly.

I enjoy listening to these two personalities and have spoken with both at some point in my life. They are remarkable, intelligent and funny people who really live life and seem to care about the goings on of the world. My goal is to take each one of them to lunch separately just for the heck of it. There is no rhyme or reason specifically other than to have a great time with these two people. You can hear Roger on Country 105 and Erin was on QR77 but is soon to be doing a new adventure soon.

35. Skate on Lake Louise.

The Ice, Winter, Beauty of Lake Louise. Need I say more ? I have never done this and I have lived so close for all my life.

36. Photo a day from age 37- 38.

I want to photo document one year on pic at atime each day between by birthdays. This is a huge endeavor and the photos won’t be planned. The will be random. I see a lot of selfies coming my way haha.

37. Ride the New York New York rollercoaster in Vegas with my niece Sirenity.

This is very important to me and requires me to be in the utmost health. I missed doing this in Vegas in May of 2013 with her and I regret we did not have the time. Now with my health being the way it is, this may be the scariest of the things on my “to do” list. I know there is a risk on my life by attempting this but I have to do this for her, for me. I know how bad she wanted to try that coaster. I will not fear, I will just do.

38. Date night with mom once per month on non travel months, should I partake in my travel “to do’s”

Our parents. As we get older sometimes we forget that they too are aging. We get pre occupied with our daily lives that sometimes we forget to make time for them. Our parents crave the phone calls even if just brief and they really cherish the time we give them even though they would always want more of it but aren’t selfish enough to ask. I love my mom and this is by far the most important thing on my list. Only one thing can stop this and that is one of my life goals that I will discuss in a separate blog post.

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So, friends.  That is my list.  I hope many of you will join me in this adventure.  Cheer me on, attend any of the group events or just help hold me accountable.

Life is ours to live and each day we have a choice on how to live it.  Today I commit to really living and experiencing life.  For me.

Cheers,

Mini

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