Just a Little Heart Attack…..

Today as I checked my News feed on Facebook, I came across this Video called “Just a Little Heart Attack.”   on my friend Marcie’s Page.  It is a very entertaining and yet informative video and it got me to thinking.

Thinking….Oh my Gosh, this WAS me.  OK, me, minus some of the humorous parts.  All of my signs and symptoms were common with what women experience having a Heart Attack. I did not have typical “Male” symptoms.   Just like the woman in the video it was others who pointed it out.

I did the same things she did, brushing it off, thinking….No, not me.  I am not the type to have a heart attack !  I ignored what was obvious.

Truth is that a Heart Attack is not discriminatory and you could be very healthy with only a small blockage and have it still happen.

Remember that a Heart Attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked and the heart can’t get oxygen. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of Heart muscle begins to die.  This can happen by a piece of your blockage merely breaking off and stopping the flow.

Anyway, enjoy this funny yet very true video.  It is lighthearted and very well made.

Courtesy of Go Red for Women- an organization in conjunction with The American Heart Association.  I enocurage you to visit their website, read the stories and educate yourself and the women in your life.






Not All Superheroes Wear Capes



In a world where many people are starving for people to look up to or to be heroes, I can say I am blessed to know a few everyday heroes.

Superheroes.  As  a young boy I loved reading comics.  My favorite Superhero was Superman.  He could fly and go fast and beat up the bad guys.  He was strong, brave,  yet as his alter ego Clark Kent he was nerdy, awkward and slightly shy.  In recent adaptations he became more extroverted.  I related to Superman because I was that awkward kid.  A kid who in some ways wished he could save the world, get the girl.  He was my favorite fictional superhero for that reason.

Now, in my older years I look for different heroes.   On June 7th of this year and over the last 3 years I have seen my friends become everyday superheroes for me.  They don’t wear capes nor have secret identities or the ability to leap buildings in a single bound (They do have MAD Dodgeball skills !)

Of course, given the opportunity most will dress up in various costumes because…well, who doesn’t like to dress up right ?

These people range in backgrounds, age, height, weight, race, religion, sexual orientation, social structures, personality and talents but three things they have in common are big hearts, love for the Alberta Children’s Hospital and a love for playing Dodgeball.


On June 7, 2014 I hosted the Teddy for a Toonie Dodegball  Tournament.  Teddy for A Toonie 2014 was the 3rd annual tournament held to raise money for The Alberta Children’s Hospital.  The theme this years was Create your own Superhero

Each year I ask nothing of my friends other than to join a team, pay a fee and come play dodgeball combined with various fun games and skills competitions.  Everyone involved has stepped up even further than anyone could expect to support me in this endeavor each year

Here is what these superheroes really do rather than just show up and play?  They hold drafts for teams so we can all play against our friends, they create swear jars. (this is for the kids afterall.)   Make Bacon and Ice Cream sandwiches, bake cookies, assist in planning, scheduling,  take videos and photos  and edit them,  they use the money they may have spent on costumes as donation,  they re donate the money they win in the 50/50 Battle Royale back to Alberta Children’s hospital, the buy Teddy Bears, One friend last year donated one of his photos to be auctioned.  The list could go on and on.


The support, the selflessness, the fun, the crazy fund raising ideas, the costumes, the encouragement, the “want” to help and give, the care and closeness many of these people have within their groups and teams is like family but they also have an innate ability to welcome others ( even if it means you may get hit hard by a dodgeball.)  It is common to see a lot of hugs and laughs being shared throughout the day.  Egos, in most cases get put aside and my friends focus on the fun part of the tournament rather than the winning.  That is what makes this tournament unique.   


All these things mentioned are why these people are heroes to me.  I look up to them because they care and want to make a difference, they care enough to want to do this and support this little mini guy even if some things don’t always go as planned for.

I am blessed to know each person who has played each year and yes I am closer to some than others, some I consider an extended family.  My Dodgeball family and what they do for The Alberta Children’s hospital and for the support they give me makes them superheroes to those around them, especially me.

Everyday we encounter Superheroes in our world, most are not recognized or noticed and most likely would pass the credit to someone else.  Today I recognize my superheroes, my Dodgeball friends and family.  Thank you, I love you.

Who are your superheroes?



Absolutely Nothing. My Return to Beach Dodgeball



MAY 11, 2014.  I made my return to playing Beach Dodgeball.  To say I was nervous in the days leading up to this would be a huge understatement.

Since my Heart Attack and more so, my Cardiac Arrest I have been struggling with PTSD- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This has not been easy.

I desperately want to feel again.  By feel I mean I need to break, cry, get mad…something, anything that shows I still have emotion.  I am exhausted by comments from people about me being or acting differently.  I can’t explain it in a way that anyone would understand.  I am just not quite who I was before.

Anyway….So returning to the “Beach”.  This is the second time I have been there since my heart attack.  The first where I was going to play for the first time since.  The heart attack happened while playing last year on August 11, 2013.

I could not get that fact out of my mind in the days leading up.  Now, although physically I have challenged myself more than Dodgeball could do to my heart, it still sat in my head.  I was scared about reliving the moment.  Would it happen again ?  Would I break down and cry ?  Wold I get the break I feel I so desperately need to fully heal ?

I got my answer quickly.  I deliberately walked over to where it happened and felt absolutely nothing.  Not upset, not mad, not fear…nothing.

Yes I did think about the last time I played and re played the entire day in my head.  Still unbelievable for me.  I felt no emotion about being there at all, just memories, some a little foggy as I wasn’t in the right mind when the heart attack happened. I am still not in the right mind to this day.

I will say this.  It did feel good to play and to know I can still play.  I am definitely not the same Dodgeball player I was before but I am trying to get better.

I love the fact that my dodgeball friends have been so supportive.  I do know that when I saw Sean and Alanna there I smiled for I will always be thankful for them two people, probably more than they know. I cannot tell them thank you enough.

The day ended as most do at Dodgeball and I was there another hour after as a games coordinator enjoying the moment.  A moment that may have never happened if I had just given up and let fear take over.

I always wonder now how many more years I can play.  I am getting older but the game is still fun and yes, the pain is worth it.

Every week on Sunday in spring and summer I will be back at “the beach”.  I still have hope I will eventually feel something.  For now I will continue to live the moments, have fun and keep kicking ass at getting better.

I wish to feel if only for a moment.  For now, I will be patient until that time comes.  I am still pretty awesome.


Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I Love You.

My Momma !  Love you !
My Momma ! Love you !

Happy Mothers Day

 A mother is the first woman a boy loves.  The first woman who he picks flowers for, gives his first hug and kisses to.  She is the woman who has a big hand in shaping the man he will become.  She is the first woman he call’s beautiful.  The first woman he will defend even with fists if needed.  The first woman to see him cry. She will see his strengths and weaknesses.  Encourage his talents.

She will sacrifice for her child no matter what and even give up her own dreams to see her child succeed.

Mom is mom.  A Nurse, parent, counsellor, team mate, friend, protector, mentor, drill sergeant,  disciplinarian, chef, maid, surgeon.  The description of her job doesn’t stop there.

A mothers job is one of the toughest out there.  Tonight I say Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there both here and gone because moms are never forgotten.

My Mom.  Cheryl Suchlandt.  She has been my rock, my friend, a pain in the ass, a goofball, a confidant.  She has been there to support me in any endeavor I have tried and encouraged me when I have failed.  She has defended me, given me kicks in the ass when needed.

 No matter how old I become she is still mom and I am still the son she held for the first time 36 years ago.  She only strives to see her kids happy and lives vicariously through each one of us.

She is also a grandmother and friend to many.  She is a woman who gives far more than she has ever received.  She taught me always to help others, not take life too seriously and appreciate the things I do have instead of the things I don’t.  She is one of the most giving souls I know.

She is a great story teller and will talk your ear off for hours if given the chance, she is who I got that gift of gab from.  She also taught me when it is important to listen, to be disciplined.

My mom taught me to be a gentleman in a classic sense.  She instilled chivalry and respect for women in my heart at a young age.  She taught me to be loyal, caring, funny and to never give up.

She is not perfect but she is my mom and I will defend her until my last breath. 

Happy Mothers Day Mom.  I love you.



Pushing Limits and Reaching Goals.

I had originally planned for a different post tonight but my workout today got me thinking…..

I am not a fan of selfies lol !

7 months ago when I did my first day of Cardiac Rehab I could barely make it 12 mins on a treadmill.  That wasn’t even full out running. Humbling for a former runner after a Heart Attack.

Today I met one big I goal I have had since rehab….proving hard work pays off.

The goal was not met without its challenges. It did not happen quickly or overnight.   I had to work my ass off.  I had to push when I was tired.  I had to find my motivation and kick my own ass some days.  This was 8 months in the making.

The last few workouts before today   I just haven’t felt “it”.  I had cramps, knee pain and just couldn’t seem to push myself at all.  I would finish my treadmill workouts, leave, then feel like I could go even  longer but by then I was already leaving the gym.

Soooooo   Close !
Soooooo Close !

Two days ago I was just seconds shy of doing two miles at a pace of 15 min/ mile.  I knew I could get past that but what would it take ?

I knew I had to actually be confident in myself and put my fear aside.  The fear after having a heart attack is pushing too much and putting yourself in a bad position. Trust me, I have done this once- NOT FUN.   I am a determined and stubborn SOB sometimes.  This is a blessing and a curse.


Keep in mind here that everything I am doing is for me.  It’s not about proving anything to anyone.  If someone gets inspired by my actions- Great.  That’s not what I do this for.  I do this for a healthy life.  I do this so I do not have another Heart Attack.

The last two days I kept saying in my head “  You can do this, you can get under 15 min per mile.”  Corny ?  Maybe.   It was my way of encouraging myself rather than allowing my mind to tell me I was tired.


Tonight right after my 5 min warm up, I was ready.  I felt great.    I had to for me, no one else, just me.  And I did.  I killed it tonight.


I made myself proud and the fear was gone.

The final 5 or so minutes I kept saying out loud “You’ve got this”  over and over.

My legs were tired but the rest of me felt great.  “You’ve got this, You’ve got this”  I didn’t care if people heard me.  I wanted to do 2 miles in under 30 minutes.

I did it !!  I blew my goal out of the water.  I did it and it wasn’t easy but it was worth it.  I ran 2.03 miles in 26:34.  Next Goal:  3.1 miles in 32 minutes.

Watch. Me. Do. it.

I am training for a 10K race in June but more importantly, I am training for me, training for a long life



Mini- Never Give Up.

Ctrain Girl- Part 2

As promised, here is the continuation of the first post about Ctrain girl.

After the first encounter, I figured I would never see this girl again.  Knowing I failed in epic fashion by giving a cute girl a High 5 rather than ask for that dinner.

The next day I get on the Ctrain, slightly earlier this time.  As I was waiting, I see her.  We exchange pleasantries and talk about Christmas as it fast approaching.

Banff 044

We get on the train and continue talking and even laugh about the day before.  yes, she also made a quip about the high 5 !

Within a few minutes my stop was coming, I smile and ask for her number…….

Her reply….

I am sorry, I do have a boyfriend. I was just having fun in the moment yesterday and you were funny and cute.

Damn !  FAIL !  I left the train but was ok.  Who knows if she was lying.  I mean after all I kinda missed the opportunity the day before.

Whether she was lying or telling the truth isn’t all that important.  What is important is this…..


I realized I can be fun and charming.  I am pretty cute, the looks decent wagon didn’t pass me by.  I also realized that I have to take those chances even if it means rejection because I am absolutely worth it when the right woman crosses my path.

It’s all about confidence.  Really, it is.  Women love confident, not arrogant, but confident guys.  I am awesome in my own way 🙂  I know this now.




The People that we meet….or do we ?

Since my Heart Attack I have been a curious guy.  I have become a huge observer when I am out in public.

In today’s world I see many people in crowded spaces, walking down the street or at dinner or events and so many people are stuck on their phones.  Not really paying attention to the world around them but stuck in their little online worlds.



Now, in all fairness not everyone is as social as me and likes to strike up random conversations.  I enjoy meeting people.

Lately I have thought about the stories behind the eyes pf people I do not know.  I have also thought a lot about my own inability to have the courage sometimes to talk to someone who maybe I would not have before.

Sometimes its the homeless people I see daily or the buskers downtown or the pretty girl who may have smiled at me. It could be that business man rushing quickly to his next appointment.  I want to, in the very least say hello and have a brief conversation and maybe ask for a photo for the project I am about to tell you about.

I have a goal of meeting three new people per week and actually having a real conversation.  I hope to go beyond the basic questions we all ask.  I kinda wanna know about peoples aspirations, dreams, fears, or even a real answer to ” How is your day going ?”  I hope to share these stories on my blog along with photos.

I expect a lot of rejection on this and expect I will have to approach numerous people just to get to YES.  I will respect those that say no and engage those that say yes.

Tomorrow I will introduce the first person I met this past week.

Challenge Accepted !


Thankful, so very thankful

Tonight’s post is one I am sharing that I did as a guest post on my friend Sarah’s Blog.  Sarah had two Widow Maker Heart Attacks at age 31.  Her story and recovery is a great one.  I encourage you to check her blog out at  http://www.heartattackat31.blogspot.ca/


My Post at the beginning of Heart Month.

Thankful, so very Thankful.

Those are the first words I posted on my Facebook the night I found out I had gone into Cardiac Arrest during my surgery to place one of two stents in my blocked artery.  This was 5 days after my Heart Attack.  I still await a second surgery.

I am Mark, a heart attack survivor at an age where we all feel we are still invincible.  I was 35, a runner, fairly healthy, ate decent ( we all have our vices),  a former smoker, a guy with hypothyroidism and newly diagnosed with diabetes type 2.  I did have some factors but I thought I lead a life that would counteract these.  I was wrong.

“Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” – Carl Bard

My thoughts in that moment were about things unsaid to others and this is where being thankful begins for me.

Experiencing a Heart Attack at 35 years old or any age for that matter you have so much to be thankful for.  Your life really has just begun and to have it taken almost taken away makes you appreciate what is to come.  Good or Bad.


As I move forward in my new life, the words Thank you and I love you will be said a lot more.  These are actually two of the hardest words in life for people to tell others and I sit here and wonder why.  They  can change so much around you

Today I am thankful for a second chance at life, the people who surround me, support me, the opportunities I now will take hold of and rock !  I am also thankful for being who I am, perfectly imperfect.

The oddest thing you may read here is that I am thankful for my heart attack.  It taught me an invaluable lesson and after making more life changes I actually feel better physically than I have in years.  It is amazing how much a blockage can make you feel ill.

As we head into Heart Month, I encourage you to talk about heart health, hug a friend, thank them for being in your life and tell them you love them.  You may change their life and not even know it.


Keep on Going, It gets better :)



Tonight I went for a workout which included some treadmill work ( 5 kms- 3.1 miles.)  I did this in about 43 mins.  I also did 30 mins on the bike at the gym.

I felt defeated at the end of this workout.  I felt like I was trying hard and yet I could not get my legs to cooperate with my lungs and more importantly my heart.  I was trying to beat my 38 minute outdoor run from Feb 15 with Alex.

One one side of me there was an older man, maybe in in his 50’s running on his treadmill at a pretty good clip.  On the other side, a 20 something girl who was really giving that machine hell and looking like she was going to run right through the handle bars of the treadmill.  She lasted I am sure close to an hour at that pace.

So, why defeated?  I am still struggling with the fact I may never be as quick as I was before and seeing these perfectly healthy people ( perception, I know. I do not know their stories)  Anyway, seeing them run so fast and smooth made me kinda me feel slightly inadequate and wishing so bad to get to that pace.

Now, of course I know I have to push my limits within reason and be safe.  I wear my Heart Rate Monitor and Nike + watch to keep tabs. I am battling my head that says ” Go for it Mini. Push and Push Hard !”  My body is telling me I am not there yet and I need to be patient.

It is now about “Know Limits” instead of “No Limits”  I want to live a long healthy life.

I will get to where I need to be, I just have to be patient and keep getting stronger.  I know I have it in me and I know I will get to my next “know limit”



So, I finally did it……

Tonight was a big step for me.

Tonight I shared publicly on my Facebook about my Heart Attack,  I still sit here nervous.  I don’t know how people will react or what they will think.  It is mt story and now I am going to share it here on my Blog.

It feels great to do something scary knowing that it will help me and potentially someone else.

Follow along on my Heart Attack Journey as I become stronger and share my recovery….



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