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.

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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.

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My First 10 K – 9 Months after my Heart Attack.

Mini

 

 

Not Good at Being Selfish. It’s not YOU, It is ME

Not Good at Being Selfish.

Hello readers.

So, I kind of disappeared again.  I apologize, yet, I don’t all at once.  I don’t expect this to make sense.

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In January I got  lazy and was dealing with personal and job issues. I started to close off a bit.  February I focused on the Heart Attack stories of others, which was amazing and therapeutic.  The beginning of March I overloaded my calendar with appointments, outings and allowed my brain to take over.  I also gained about 12 lbs in those months which made me feel like I was letting myself down and falling into old habits of putting off working out.

What changed ?  I was becoming exhausted and not feeling well.  I realized at one point that between December and March I lost complete focus on the most important person in my life.  Me.  It was beginning to affect my health.  Mentally and Physically.

So, I sat at Denny’s late one night and started to schedule some “me” time. I actually created a calendar, cause I’m cool that way ha ha. A part of writing this blog for me is to be honest, write about what I know and learn as I go.  I didn’t start this out to become a professional writer or get published.  I started this to become a better me and get my thoughts, body and my goals in sync.  I was beginning to fail at this.

I lost sight of what I was doing and where I was going.

I do not do selfish well.  Those who know me well will, I think, agree.  Too often I put the needs and wants of others ahead of myself.  I do enjoy giving of myself but sometimes I just give too much. As an ex girlfriend once said to me….. “ your problem is your care too much.”  She was right.

If you gave me a huge bundle of money, there is a solid chance I would spend on others long before I buy myself something and even then I would analyze my purchase until I was blue in the face.

OK, back to my point. Although the last paragraph kinda states a bit of my point.

 

So me, back to me.  I have spent the last 6 weeks getting back to what was important to me.  Yes, I have written, just not posted.  I have re dedicated myself to the gym.  Focus mainly on cardio.  I have lost 6 of the 12 lbs I gained, my energy has returned…sorta.  I need to work harder on not napping after work.  I am in training for my first Half Marathon post Heart Attack, so there is that as well.

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I don’t do selfish well but in the coming months my goal is to learn to balance my desire to give of myself AND focus on me.  I hate saying no, I struggle with the word, always have.  So, friends if you hear me say no more often than I say yes in the coming months, it is not you, it really is me.  I have to pick and choose my time and how I spend it.

I do have projects on the go that I am excited about.  One very dear to my heart, my annual Dodgeball Tournament to raise money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital is coming up and that will consume a good chunk of my time until June.  So, it’s me, the tournament and occasional gatherings in the coming months.

I have some mental and physical goals to reach this year. Maybe once I reach them the balance can shift again.  My main goal for now is to be better than I was the day before, every day.  Please bear with me but if you can’t handle it then I get it. 

It is me, not you.

 

Mini.

HEART ATTACK STORIES- KRISTIN FEELEY- WE ALL BLEED RED.

Today Please meet Kristin Feeley .

In the spirit of Heart Month I am sharing stories of fellow Heart Attack Survivors that I have met through The Under 55 Heart Attack Survivors Group on Facebook. Everyone has a story and I hope you will take a read and help us create awareness of the #1 Killer in North America.

 

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I guess I should start my story when I was 7.  My mother, while on the phone with the electric company, collapsed in our dining room.  My father, a fireman and the other firefighters “worked” on her as they waited for an ambulance that never showed.  They finally picked her up and put her in the squad car where she died on the way to the hospital.  She died at the age of 38 of what I was later told a “sticky mitral valve”.

Last year, at the age of 39, on March 8, 2014 on an unseasonably warm, sunny day, I had my step-mother up to my house so we could find her a dog at the shelters near me.   My daughter volunteered at a shelter and wanted her to check out a dog there, we visited 2 shelters and had picked out Arthur, a laid back Jack Russell and Chihuahua mix.  We hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t stop somewhere with the dog in the car so we drove her and the dog over an hour to the house I grew up in.  When we got there we decided to order some take out from the pizza place,  we all had chicken parmesan dinners. 

 After dinner, I was sitting in the same room that my mother collapsed in and started to feel a horrible pain in the center of my chest.  At first I thought it may be indigestion,  I was hungry didn’t eat all day and maybe ate a little too quickly.  The longer I sat there the worse the pain seemed.  I asked my step-mother for an aspirin because the nagging thought in the back of my head was this is a heart attack.   She didn’t have an aspirin but had Aleve and so I took it just in case it had aspirin in it.  I sat for a couple of minutes and then I started to have trouble breathing.  I was starting to panic.  I turned to my husband and said “I am having chest pain and can’t breathe, we need to go”.   The phone rang and my step-mother picked up the phone and started talking to her son and all I could think is “I’m having a heart attack and she’s on the phone with her son?”  My husband was mad at her and said we’re going.  I got up and walked outside to our car.  I felt weak and prayed I could make it to the car.  My husband was trying to get my daughter to get in the car.  She was 14 and was freaking out and wanted to stay.  I opened the car door and got in the car and watched the two of them argue with each other and thought I can’t die now, they will kill each other.  I felt the tingling going down my right arm and then my left. I started to cry and yell to get in the car. 

 My husband drove me and my daughter to the closest emergency room, unfortunately well known for being a horrible hospital, but I had no choice.   On the way, I kept coughing as hard as I could because I had read it helps during a heart attack and asked my hubby to pound on my back, figuring if the coughing helped maybe the pounding would too. They were doing construction at the hospital, so my hubby dropped me off.   I walked to the front desk at the ER and told them I was having chest pain and couldn’t breathe.  They put me in triage pretty quickly, where the pain continued and I couldn’t catch my breath.  The nurse kept telling me I was having a panic attack and I was hyperventilating.  I knew I wasn’t.  The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t get comfortable in any position.  They hooked me up to an ekg and saw nothing.  They took me for x-rays and nothing.  They asked me for urine but I looked at the nurse like she was nuts, I couldn’t even stand up and she wanted me to pee in a cup.  They put me in a bed to wait for more results.  

 A male nurse, that seemed to be my angel, asked what he could do for me and I told him I was in pain.  He came and gave me some morphine, thankfully the pain let up a little.  My sister showed up, I guess my step-mother got off the phone long enough to call her.  The ER doctor came and said they couldn’t see anything but they would keep me for observation.  I was admitted and moved to a room.  I sent my sister home and my daughter and hubby back to my step-mother’s since we were an hour away from home. 

 As I was getting settled into my room, a nurse came in and said I tricked them.   I was like how???  The levels in my blood did indicate I was having a HA and they were still rising and I had some arrhythmia.  They would move me to CCU and do additional testing and probably catherization.  

 I was scared, I called my hubby and told him what was going on and they were moving me.  The doctor on that floor came in looking concerned and wanted me moved asap.   It was kind of nice in CCU,  I was by myself in a room and had a view of the NYC skyline.  The nurses were great there too and I felt like I was getting better. They did an echo and still saw nothing.  More EKGs and more blood work. I was in touch with my boss and seriously said to him, I’ll probably be back in a few days.  I remember posting on Facebook saying I may have had a “little heart attack” and my sister got so mad.  She was crying, which she never does and said it wasn’t little, stop down playing it. 

 That’s maybe when I realized I was in denial. 

 My step-mother called me and started saying this is too close to what happened to your mother, which got me get upset and set my machines off.  Hubby had to take her calls after that. Finally they decided to do a chemical stress.  They did the first part of the test that made my heart race and took pictures.  They said if that came out fine I would not have to do the at rest portion and could go home.  They took the pictures and wheeled me to the door to wait for the orderly.  They had the pictures on the screen and I could see one picture did not look like the rest.  I knew then, that there was a problem and would be back for the 2nd part.  When my sister came that day I said I saw something, she said maybe it wasn’t yours, but I knew. 

 The next day I went back for the 2nd part and was then told they were switching me to a different hospital for catherization. I am overweight so they didn’t want to risk doing a catherization at that hospital.  They wanted me to see a special cardiologist there who did many of these procedures a day.   On March 13, 2014 an ambulance came to transfer me to Hackensack University Medical Center.  My husband and my brother met me at the hospital and I was prepped to wait for the procedure. I remember not feeling nervous, just wanted to get in and get it done.   I was brought into the cath lab a little while later and given pain meds.  They moved the machine around me and explained they would go through my wrist and if they saw anything they would stent me.  I felt the wire going through and it hurt and I said it hurt and they gave me a little more pain meds.  I then heard a tech say, “here comes the BMW” and I am normally a smart ass so I said, “but I like Volvos better”.  That is the last thing I remember.  According to my current cardiologist “all hell broke loose”.  

 From what I am told, I had another heart attack and blood clots had blocked my LAD.  They tried unsuccessfully 3 times to stent me, but they couldn’t.  The doctors came out and talked to my husband and brother and told them I needed an emergency bypass.  If it wasn’t done, I would just continue to have heart attacks and damage my heart.  So, they moved me from the cath lab to the OR, they let my husband and brother talk to me before the surgery.  They said I was crying and talking, but I do not remember any of it.  As they wheeled me into the OR, I had a third HA. 

 Next thing I remember is I waking up in the ICU, tubes down my throat and thinking “what the hell happened”?  This is not a stent.  The nurse stopped me from pulling out the tubes in my throat and talked to me and told me what happened.  I was in a haze the next couple of days. I was then moved from ICU to the “heart” wing.  I slept in the reclining chair mostly and tried to move myself around.  A physical therapist came once but didn’t again so I walked myself.  I was released 5 days later. 

 Coming home and doing the stairs were tough but I did it.  I had a nurse come a couple of days a week and my mother in law stayed a week.  A week after coming home, I developed an infection in the wound on my chest.  I had to go on antibiotics and the surgeon had to cut the dead skin, leaving me with a hole in the middle of my chest that I had to dress and clean with my husband’s help for the next few months.  At first, I would cry at the sight of it, but now I wear my scar with pride.  It is my proof of overcoming something much bigger than I ever thought I could. 

 I attended cardiac rehab for about 2 months, wish I could have done the entire program, but I had to get back to work.  Work for me was my return to normalcy, now I wonder why I was pushing to come back, LOL. 

 I still can’t believe this happened without more of a warning.  I had hereditary high cholesterol since I was 15, but otherwise I was pretty healthy.  Don’t smoke, don’t drink much, and yes my weight probably is not the best, but my doctor’s don’t feel it was the cause.  I know my cardiologist wishes he had more info on my mother’s condition as he feels our events are related.  I went through a lot of ups and downs and still do.  I get anxious sometimes and my sleeping has never been the same.  My cardiologist feels I have some PTSD.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining.  I know I am so lucky that I have this second chance. 

 My daughter said to me months later that she was mad at her father not letting her be there on cath day, and I asked why? She said ” what happens if it was worse and it couldn’t be fixed?  I wouldn’t have had the chance to say good-bye”.  I cry every time I think of that.  I feel horrible that I had to put her through that and I know I could have been my mother who missed watching her child(ren) grow up. 

The bright spot is that this has made my amazing husband and daughter and me so much closer and stronger.  I also see that my sister and brother, even though they won’t always say it, would do anything for their baby sister.   If it wasn’t for these wonderful people supporting and taking care of me, I don’t think I would have made it through.

HEART ATTACK SURVIVORS UNITE !

That Moment I met someone who inspires me.  Sarah Klena.

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There are few people I admire or look up to in this world.  Those whom I do are those who have risen above the tough situations in which they have experienced.  Over the coming weeks I am going to acknowledge some of these amazing people.  Each of them has a special place in my Heart for different reasons.

One of those people is my heart sister, fellow Heart Attack Survivor, Sarah Klena from http://heartattackat31.blogspot.com/  .  I met Sarah through her blog and she even wrote a guest post here on my blog in February which I recommend you read.  We have interacted back and forth though Facebook sharing our experiences with each other and getting to know each other.

 I was in Disneyworld a few weeks ago and sent her a message asking if she would like to meet for dinner.  Plans were made.  We met on Dec 3rd at Raglan Road- A great Irish Pub ! ( my favorite place in Downtown Disney !)

To say I was excited would be a HUGE understatement.  Reading her blog shortly after my Heart Attack was so helpful and inspiring for me.  To me, it was meeting a someone who gave me hope in my recovery through reading her experiences on her blog.  She inspires, for what she survived, how she’s recovered and the attitude and honesty she chose to display.  She chose to share her story to help herself and others.

We met around 5:00 pm. I walked into the front door and there she was.  A beaming smile and a welcoming hug.  She looked healthy, beautiful and full of life.  She is also a little taller than me haha.

I was unsure of what to expect or how the night would go.  I will say this, we both can talk… A LOT. 

I cannot remember what we ordered, I do know we ate pretty healthy and that the food was pretty awesome.

I won’t go into all the details of our conversation but I will say this.  Nothing is more refreshing than speaking with someone who had been through what you have and truthfully, she definitely was far luckier than me to have survived.  Sarah had not ONE but TWO Heart Attacks and survivede at the age of 31.

One thing we both agreed on is that once something like this happens to you at such a young age you almost feel an obligation to help others, get the word out, tell people about what happened, how it can happen, how to prevent it happening.   We both would not want others to experience a Heart Attack, we both have a desire to help others and get the word out.   We are young and never thought this could happen to us.

We talked about the scary moments, being a slight hypochondriac at times, the differing emotions and experiences, the recovery and how amazing life can be.

We spent a lot of time laughing, talking about our lives post Heart Attack, how others reacted, treated us, what they said ( some people say some funny things, trust me !)  She told me of something great about her personal life! ( seriously exciting news but hers to share, not mine.  It is not on her blog yet haha !)  Before we knew it, it was past 9:00 pm and we had lost track of time.  We probably could have spoken for hours, maybe even days more.

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We almost didn’t take a photo !  We asked the server if he would take a photo of us on both our phones, and my camera.  After all, how could we have met and not had a photo together right?  

I could tell you so much more about that night however, the most important part was just being in the moment and meeting a friend that I met through chance and experience. A friend who has inspired me on my journey.  Not that I recommend having a Heart Attack to meet new friends  😉

I will say this about Sarah.  She is humble, has good energy, great attitude, is friendly, funny, engaging, strong, motivated, healthy and has a smile that has presence and light.

I have watched this amazing woman become a huge advocate for women’s heart health in the United States since the time I first sent her an email.

Time to brag about her a bit and share a few of her accomplishments.  She has appeared in the November Issue of Good House Keeping, spoken for Go Red for Women through the American Heart Association and recently appeared on an episode of Doctor Oz- Dec 17, 2013.  You can watch her 2 segments here:  http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/oz-viewers-who-saved-their-own-lives?video_id=3948074010001

And here: http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/oz-viewers-who-saved-their-own-lives?video_id=3948090061001

Thank you Sarah for a great evening and great conversation. Here’s to friendship, good health and kicking Heart Attack’s ass !  Now, I’ll have to get you and Lina up to Canada  haha.

-Mini-

HAPPY 37 TH BIRTHDAY TO ME !

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August 19, 2014 I celebrated my 37th Birthday. It was an amazing time shared with some friends.  It is also the first birthday I have actually celebrated in 7 years.

I could share many reasons why I haven’t celebrated but let’s focus this year on why I did.

August 19, 2013.  8 days post heart attack.  I had been released from the hospital the day before.  Happy Birthday to me right ?  I lived, so umm maybe I should be doing something because I almost did not make it to my 37th.  Sadly, no.  You see, my Heart Attack was still a secret to most people.  Very few people knew at this point what happened and if you look back to my posts in February you will see that is when I came out and told the world.

DBDAY

Friends did the usual Facebook “Happy Birthday”, I got some texts and phone calls.  I had people invite me out for a drink.  I replied to a few people, half heartedly, I declined the invites because I did not want anyone to know what was going on.  It was so hard not to tell people what I was feeling and thinking.  Part of me wanted to celebrate my life but I knew my reality that day.

I slept a lot as I was still battling fatigue.  I walked my 20 minutes as instructed.  I read a little and basically stayed in my protective cocoon.  It kinda sucked really.

Truth.  I felt very alone.  I felt like I may have not even been worth people’s time even if I was healthy that day.  It was like I was in a dark room with one light shining down, four walls with no escape.  I was trapped in my own loneliness.  The only escape was the hard way out and that would have meant telling people why I was staying home and not returning their phone calls.  I couldn’t.  I did not understand a lot of what happened and I was still trying to make sense of it all.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I was thankful I was alive but the reality that I may have never seen another birthday was quite striking and the fact that the Heart Attack happened so close to my birthday only made it worse.

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In 12 months, I realized that I really am not alone, that I am worth celebrating.  Life in itself is worth celebrating.  It doesn’t matter how crappy other birthdays were or how others made past birthdays miserable.  What does matter is that even if we don’t have an elaborate birthday party, that we take the time to celebrate the past year and the year of life that we will now enter in hopes that we make it to the next one and many more after that.

August 19, 2014.  I celebrated with friends, had a few wobbly pops ( yes, 3 is the # I remember putting me into umm “tipsy mode.”  I did a failed muff dive shot, I laughed, I goofed around, I had fun.  It was nice to hear Happy Birthday sang out of tune from my friends.  It was fun having a wide mix of friends sharing their stories about the silly and crazy things I have done.  It seems everyone had a great “ Mini” story.  Each of those stories no matter how embarrassing made people laugh, made me laugh and that my friends is exactly what I needed last night.

If you wish to view the failed Muff Dive Video, it is on my They Call Me Mini Face book page. They Call Me Mini

BIRTHDAY MUFF DIVE FAIL VIDEO

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Thank you to everyone who came out and making my night fun and a little crazy.  I am looking forward to next year.  I only get better with age from here.

Mini.

The Inspiration Inside.

Sunday June 1st I completed the Jugo Juice 10 K race at the Calgary Marathon in a time of 1 hour, 10 mins, 47 seconds unofficially at the moment.

The moment I crossed the finish line I finally became my own inspiration and my own hero.

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Why do I say this ?  Because I became a firsthand witness to all it took to get there, to take the first steps and fight back on the hard days. There were definitely hard days. So. Many. Hard. Days.

 Is it narcissistic of me?  Maybe.  But not really.  I rarely toot my own horn.

Most people I know have people who they look up to for inspiration.  It could be an actor, athlete a friend or family member.  I too have had past inspirational people I have looked up to. But I wonder why can’t someone be their own inspiration ?

The answer:  because we focus on what’s wrong with us or are ashamed of our stories to really inspire ourselves. We are afraid of Judgement, ridicule.  We pick at the lack of success or the body parts we hate or the last 10 lbs.  We do not realize how great we really are or even how others may see us.

I am willing to bet you have at least one person who you have inspired.  Think about it, you may realize by someone’s actions that it was you who helped them make that change or take that step.  Now…look in the mirror and realize that you can and have it in you to inspire yourself to new levels. Stop worrying about what others think of your story, you may be surprised at the support you get.

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I use to hate when people said I inspire them, I was uncomfortable, uneasy.  Who am I to inspire?  I thought I was a complete screw up.   A life screw up.  I focused on my bad decisions, the failures.  I hated my so called lot in life for so long.  Not anymore.

Then I had a Heart Attack. It was the best thing that could have happened. Truth.

It wasn’t until after that I really started seeing my own self worth and yes even why some people said to me that they are inspired by me…..even long before this Heart Attack. 

Through months of rehab, to making better lifestyle choices and never giving up and realizing the sweat and pain was going to get me somewhere, I took the step to the start line of the 10 K.

My friend Sam ran this race with me and I met up with  2 other Cardiac Rehab graduates before the race.  15,000 people took a step that day, that is a huge accomplishment in itself.

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The race wasn’t easy but wasn’t hard either. It was amazing for me, exhilarating, fun.  I spent the previous week being nervous.  Could I do it ?  Would my heart hold up ?  Was my training adequate ?

Yes, Yes and Yes. 

As each step brought me closer to the finish line I smiled knowing that all I have been through made it all worth it.

As I crossed the finish line I realized for the first time, that all along as I was looking around for inspiration to get better, to be healthy and take steps forward in my life but it took finishing that race to realize……I had it in me the entire time.  My own will to succeed, my determination and my attitude of never give up.

Me and my litel buddy Olaf !
Me and my litel buddy Olaf !

I will still get uneasy when people tell me I inspire them, for I don’t do well with compliments and I am just simply a man trying to live as best I can for as long I can.

 I will smile knowing that as long as I keep inspiring myself then maybe, just maybe I can be an inspiration to others.

June 1, 2014, I became my own hero.  My own Inspiration.  Friends, YOU have this inside you, just look a little deeper when you look in that mirror.

 Mini

Absolutely Nothing. My Return to Beach Dodgeball

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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.

Mini

My Story in The Calgary Journal !

 

A few months ago I was asked by my friend Michelle if I would be willing to share part of my Heart Attack and Sport/ Running story with the Calgary Journal.  Without hesitation I said yes and awaited contact from the Magazine.

The Calgary Journal is a University Magazine produced by Students at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta.  The Magazine is distributed free to many locations across Calgary.  I picked up my copy at my Gym- Fitness Plus.

The article I felt was well written and detailed.  It was so cool to see my story in a paper !  I was interviewed by Quinton Amudson and he was very thorough in is questions and was great at confirming my answers and allowing me to tell my story.  Quinton did seem generally interested in what I had to say and had follow up questions.

The only correction I need to address is that I did not have Bypass surgery.  I had Stent Surgery.

I do wish he had two pages to share as we had a long conversation he day he spoke with me.  I was excited he chose my photos from my RunDisney races out of the many I sent him.

Reading the article encourages me to continue my writing.  Who knows, maybe one day I will be writing of the stories of others in a magazine or newspaper.

Below is the Article.  There are many great articles in this issue.  Please share with friends and family.  Thank you Calgary Journal for allowing me to share my story with you ! Click the Link below to read.

Mini

CALGARY JOURNAL ARTICLE

STORY

 

 

http://issuu.com/calgaryjournal/docs/may2014

Behind the Lens. My Eyes See

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Behind the Lens is where I love to be, I wish not to be the star.

 

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I see the beauty in a woman’s eyes, her smile. 

see the smirk when a man looks at his girl with love and admiration, happiness. 

I see the hearts of two people in love.

 

 

 

I see the pain of those secretly suffering, afraid of the world. 

I see the story behind the smile.

I see excitement at success.

 

I see the love of a family and friends.

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I see connection of those around me.

 


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I see desire of one to be happy.

I see pain in our world, loss.

I see the imperfections that really are perfect in their own way.

I see a beauty in others that they may not see.

I see hope.

 

I see the innocence of a child’s way, unbridled joy and excitement. LEEMER

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I see a parents love for their child.

 

 

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I see the love shared between two people.

 

 

 

 

I see God’s great creations in their true nature and look on in amazement.

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I see the uniqueness of architecture

 

 

I see a world beyond what the news tells us.

 

I see the real you.

I see my dreams.

I see the secrets you hold, the secrets I hold.

I see you for who you are, which may be better than you perceive of yourself.

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I see the strength inside people.

I see the beauty in every moment. Little moments.

 

 

These things I see,  brings me joy.

 So I stay

Behind the lens.

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