Keep on Going, It gets better :)

NEVER GIVE UP

 

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”

 

Mini

Does This Sh*t Happen Thursdays ….

February 17th, 2014

Just drove a flaming car along 16 th avenue. Engine blew. The Fire is out and I am a little shaken but ok. I now have no car and may be car less for a while as buying another right now is not financially viable for me. It was a good 2 1/2 year run my old CRV.

Yes this totally sucks but ya know what ? It could be worse and even on the shitty days I’m happy to be alive to experience the highs and lows life brings.

#doesthisshithappentoanyoneelse

Heart Attack and PTSD- My Story.

Heart Attack and PTSD- one of the harder Heart Month Posts for me …..

The hardest admission of all of this for me….. I have Post Traumatic Stress. This affects me more than I have let on to those who already know.

Heart Attack- It is one of those internal medical injuries that can either take your life quickly or leave you alive to ponder why exactly you are here. You are not quite the same after. Your brain is going through all the reasons why this happened and in my case dealing with night terrors.

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According to a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, 1 out of every 8 heart attack survivors suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This startling statistic can double the risk of having another heart attack and even death. Scary. Symptoms can include recurrent nightmares, flashbacks to the time of the attack, anxiety and avoidance of heart attack related topics and places. It’s primarily rooted in trauma.

This has been me the last 6 1/2 months. I have talked about a few things but for the most part until recently, I avoided talking about it to many people. Unfortunately, I have been in situations where I have had some explaining to do just so I didn’t appear like a heartless jerk or like I have completely lost my marbles.

I have had night terrors almost right from the start and although they are not as frequent, I still get them. I dream mainly about how I felt after waking from Cardiac Arrest. I vividly remember the faces of everyone in the room, the looks were mixed with intensity and relief. I remember the pain and how much it hurts to literally be shocked back to life. Oh my Gosh, the pain. So intense. Then the terror ends with darkness. I usually wake at this point, sweating, heart racing and frightened.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.presentermedia.com/
Photo Courtesy of http://www.presentermedia.com/

There is nothing more frightening for me than having to re live this over and over every couple nights. I hate it. I absolutely hate it.

It makes me afraid to fall asleep at night. Will I wake up or fall asleep forever once my eyes have closed and my breathing becomes shallow? Will I be taken into whatever there is after physical life? If I do go, will it hurt or will I go peacefully? Does it really matter? Fear of dying in my sleep in very real.

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I am not ready to go and it is apparent that it was not my time in August. Before my Heart Attack, I never feared death. I do now only because I was close, well actually, technically I was dead for a brief couple minutes. Think about that……Scary.

PTSD doesn’t end there for me. My mind constantly flashes back to both of my heart events and I become numb, completely numb. I also have this issue with a lack of emotion. I have been essentially numb from experiencing any negative feelings. I can be happy, thankfully. I focus on that.

I cannot mourn, feel sadness or anger. Most days I am just in settled state of mind. I recently have felt slight annoyance and I know when my mind is frustrated. My brain physically hurts when I should be feeling something other than “happy”.

Do you know what it is like to hear that someone you care about has died and feel nothing, or someone tears you apart verbally and not be able to really react ? I do and it sucks. Those are just two examples i have dealt with since my Heart Attack.

My brain tells me when someone is doing something that is not acceptable to me but yet again, my anger or hurt stays locked behind the walls of my head. I cannot even explain how hard it is to not be able to react at all to things like these.

I have what I call my “non existent” days. Days when I am locked in a feeling of nothingness. Like I am walking through an empty dark hallway just trying to reach the doors at the end and walk out into the light and fresh air. No bad mood, not exactly happy either. Just there. If you see me walking around like a zombie, then you have witnessed me on one of those days. I am most likely ok, I just need to let it pass.

LEAVES

Friends, please know I have sought help and have been working with a therapist. I am not afraid to admit this. More people need to get over the stigma attached to seeing a Therapist and mental issues. Depression, anxiety, PTSD….all of those need to be dealt with and trust me, counselling has helped me immensely.

I don’t care what people’s thoughts are about me seeing a therapist. Truthfully, if more people sought professional help for their issues, their marriages, their stress, most things could be worked on and they could begin to heal.

I have been told by my therapist that at some point I will break emotionally and may battle depression. This of course, would not be my first brush with depression and anxiety, so I know it is another battle I can win. When I do break emotionally, it may not be pretty at all and as funny as this sounds, I anxiously await that day so that I can feel and empathize again.

I have been offered medications to work through this but have declined. I don’t want my mind medically altered by pills unless it gets to a point where I absolutely need it.

As I work to overcome this without being medicated all I ask is for support, nothing more. This is something I do believe I can overcome, I just do not know how long it will take. I am a bit of a determined guy and I won’t let this beat me down. Life is too good overall to allow this to take me away from being myself. I will fight the days that I don’t feel like myself because being “me” is actually quite awesome. I like me 🙂

Mini.

Cardiac Rehab. My Choice. My Recovery.

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January 15, 2014.  The day I completed Cardiac Rehab.  Twelve weeks of it, sort of.  I had a couple set backs and it lasted 16 weeks.

Attending was one of the best choices I could have made in my recovery.

The first day I walked into the gym for rehab I stuck out like a sore thumb.  Here I was 36 years old in a room of men and women, mostly men who were 15- 20 years  older than me.  Once of these things was not like the others.  It was then that it hit me a little more but also made me realize i had a chance to change everything or allow it to remain the same and potentially have a much shorter life.

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Love these Nurses ! Lori and Megan

You will notice that with this post I have a picture of a few beautiful women.  The amazing women are the nurses at the Cardiac Wellness Centre at Talisman Centre.  Each of these ladies have had a large impact on my recovery.  They are some of the most caring, empathetic, funny, determined nurses I’ve ever met.

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Elizabeth, Megan, Cailin. Love these ladies, Always smiling !

 

 

Each session I attended I was greeted with a warm smile and a hearty hello before I was about to get poked, get blood pressure checked and held accountable to ensure I was taking my meds before they put me to work.

 

 

 

 

I also cannot forget the many volunteers I met during my time there.  Most were former Rehab patients who wanted to give back in any way they could.  Every single one of them were so pleasant and seemed genuinely happy to see me when I arrived.  I too am sad I cannot see them as much as I did.

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To explain an average session is easy.  I would do some sort of cardio workout for 45- 55 mins 3 hrs a week.  Somedays longer.  IN the beginning o f rehab I could not last more than 15 mins at a fairly easy pace on any piece of equiptment.  My body tired easily and my mind was frustrated.  These nurses were very encouraging and told me it would all come back but I had to be patient and listen to them and follow the advice given.  There were days that I left feeling defeated and others I felt on top of the world because of the progress I was making.  I had set backs and successes.  There were so many days where I did have to dig a little deeper to get stronger and where the nurses pushed me to work a little harder.  Not once did I want to give up but there were times when my body hated me.

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Attending was a choice and not one I took lightly.  I had my leave of absence from work extended to ensure I could attend each session.  Getting better was my main priority and I would have given up anything in my personal life to be there.

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So, how did this benefit me ?  I went from not lasting more than 12 miutess of cardio at a light level to now being able to run solidly for an hour on a track or treadmill or the stationary bike at a level that challenges me and can be difficult. I lost 23 lbs and have gained more energy and feel better than I have in years.  I made some friends in rehab, most who were 15-20 years my senior and one who was 11 years my junior. I made friendships and gained admiration for my nurses and loved seeing them each time I was there.    I Was able to celebrate success with those around me and see them go from pain in their eyes to happiness as things got better and easier.

Since Rehab has completed I have struggled a little.  I miss the people, the experience and the fun, yes the fun.  One of my goals is to gain the time to be able to volunteer and help the Cardiac Wellness Institute in any way I can.  My promise is to share the word on how great thief program is and what a difference it can and will make.

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I hope to never see anyone I know attend, for I wish no one, anyone, will ever have to experience a Heart Attack to get their life in order and really focus on their fitness, health and well being.

 

Mini

Self Appreciation Day 30- Perfectly Imperfect

Wow, 30 days and 30 things.  Some days I really had to think hard but I learned a lot. This was a great experience for me and an eye opener.  I mentioned in the first post we all to often focus on the negative about ourselves and rarely talk about the good things, this ;last 30 days I wanted to show it is possible to focus on the good things and sometimes not be humble about it and JUST SHARE IT !

I learned that overall I am pretty awesome and need to remind myself of that often.

I learned even being “imperfect ” is great because we all are, we just need to focus on what makes each one of us amazing and run with it.

I learned that my perception of me has changed a lot and helped build some confidence that I was previously lacking.

I learned that by pointing out good things about myself made me want to tell others what I thought was great about them.  I will continue this act for others.

I learned I am perfectly imperfect and 100 % awesome.

Mini

 

Self Appreciation Day 29- Philantrophist

I am humble in the sense I do not need or want to toot my own horn on this, for giving should be a selfless act and sometimes best anonymous.  I do not need recognition for acts that I do.

I could tell you many stories of me giving, but I will only share one because it is my most public form of giving and it includes my friends.

Each year now for the last 3 years I have hosted the “Teddy for a Toonie ” Dodgeball tournament to raise money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital  My friends and their hearts are what make this event as amazing as it is and makes me want to make it better every year.  Dodge ball is a kids game but there are many adults who love the sport. What a better way to raise funds right ?

This year the tournament is May 31 and I have a goal to have 16 teams and to raise $3000.  To date at the previous two my friends have helped raise just shy of $5000.

The thing I love most about doing this event is the ideas these friends come up with to increase the fundraising.  Things like a swear jar or one player allowing balls to be thrown at him for $5 a pop ( and idea for this year)  My friends really step up to the plate and support me and I could not ask for more.

I love giving and this yearly tournament allows giving on so many levels. Activity, Friendship, Money, Fun, and yes because it is dodgeball- Bruises, many bruises.

Look out in the future for a post on this years tourney !

Mini.

Self Appreciation Day 28- Good Friend.

When I was younger I was the picked on kid.  I yearned for friends many times when most would just ignore me.  As I got older that changed and my perspective on friends changed.  It is never about the number of friends, but the quality.

I am always trying to be a good friend.  Whether a late night call to pick someone up drunk, or an ear to vent to or even just a call to hang out and be a goofball with. I try to be there.

I value friendship a lot and I know at times I tried too hard but through that I learned this….to gain good friends you have to be a good friend.  Your friendships will evolve over time and many friends will come and go.  It is a natural progression in life.

Be the friend that one day they look bad and go…..Man he was awesome !

Mini

Self Appreciation Day 27- Good Uncle.

This has come through trial and error.

I have been blessed in my life with a beautiful, smart, funny, intelligent Niece who I love with all my heart and want the best for.  I love to see when she is happy and smiling and see her succeed.  This child is such a smart kid, with a great sense of humor, she shares my love of hockey, travel and harassing her mom.  She also shares her love of roller coasters with me.

SIRENITY

 

I have enjoyed seeing her grow up and wish she could stay little forever.  It is bitter sweet.  She has been a huge blessing in my life.

I joke with her that she is “birth control”  but in reality when I spend time with her, she makes me desire to have a child of my own.

For now, we still get to hang out, but one day Uncle Mark won’t be as fun I am sure, she is 11 now and growing into a beautiful young woman full of potential.  I love you Sirenity more than life itself and I will always be here for you.

EMAN
I also have two very lively Nephews aged 5 and 3. Ethan and Liam. The boys keep me on my toes when I see them.  I have grown up with sisters and female influence in my life more than male.  So having two little boys to hang out with has been different and good all at once.  I got to buy toy cars, nerf guns, trucks, and boy jackets.  I have enjoyed spending time with these boys and love when they get excited to see me and tire me out as quickly as they can.

 

 

LEEMER

 

At their current ages they remind me to keep a fun mindset like kids do.  I am looking forward to seeing these boys grow up.  Love you Ethan and Liam 🙂

 

 

I Love being and Uncle !

Mini

Self Appreciation Day 26- Determined.

This kinda goes with my Positive Outlook.

I may fail at things but I am always determined to try.

I am determined to succeed at tasks

I am determined to understand the questions I have no answers to.

I am determined to keep growing.

I am determined to always improve

I am determined to foster and build the relationships around me.

I am determined to be the best “me” I can be daily.

I am determined.

Mini.

Thankful Me. By Sarah

I would like to introduce a great blogger and fellow young Heart Attack Survivor- Sarah from http://heartattackat31.blogspot.ca/  Please take a moment to read her guest post and then go on over to her blog.  She is awesome and her story is amazing and heart warming.  She is a Survivor !

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From Sarah….

Elizabeth Edwards once said, “You recognize a survivor when you see one. You recognize a fighter when you see one.” I can smell a survivor a mile away these days. Survivors have a sense of calm, mixed with the smell of adversity and perseverance. A survivor stands strong in the face of life’s little bumps in the road and scoffs at little trials and tribulations, because they know the road can be rougher. These survivors walk amongst us each day, carrying the weight of their challenge in an invisible backpack. How do I know this? I am a survivor.

My name is Sarah and I’m a 33 year-old widow maker heart attack survivor. Stop. I know what you’re thinking. Let me multiple choice the heck out of it for you. Did I…

a.)    have a history of heart disease in my family

b.)   have blood pressure and cholesterol problems

c.)    have  a weight problem

d.)   lead a sedentary life

e.)    all of the above?

The answer? None of these. In fact I was a 31 year-old half-marathon runner of average weight and no family history. I was in good health, both mind and body. But that all changed before I even knew what happened.

In January of 2012 I suffered from 2 heart attacks due to a 99% blockage in my mid-LAD, also known as the widow maker for its grueling statistics. I suffered serious damage to my heart, and even greater damage to my emotional health. I dealt with depression and a host of self-esteem related issues. As I worked to rebuild my life that had crumbled down around me, I took the time to re-examine my life and priorities. Want to learn more? Check out my blog at heartattackat31.blogspot.com.

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As we embark on February, home of American Heart Month and Go Red for Women, I am reminded how fortunate I am. I am not a statistic, I am me. I am not a victim, I am a survivor. I must go forth and live my life in the most grateful way possible, since I have been afforded another lease on life. This time I will appreciate it a little bit more. This time I walk as a survivor.

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