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.

I am in room full of people but many times I am lost….

So many posts I could have done tonight but I have chosen this one for a reason.

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This past week I was in Veradero Cuba to Photograph a wedding.  The wedding of two friends I met through Reffing Hockey 3 1/2 years go.

This week could have gone in a couple directions and fortunately for me it went in the right direction.  But before I say how or why I must give a little back story.

Since my Heart Attack last year I have been in many different social situations.  Most I have felt a little out of place. No fault of my friends, I must clarify.

If I am to be honest here.  I have almost preferred to be alone than around a group of people.  I am not who I was and many times I have no idea how to portray who I am exactly now.  Do I even know who I am ?

In a room full of people, I have felt lost.  It is almost like for a time I forgot how to react or get involved in conversations. I forgot how to be social.  It’s not that people have secluded me.  It more like I have secluded myself a bit.

I have always been the guy to try and find a place to really “fit in”  My friends are a Cornucopia of different groups and I wouldn’t necessarily say I fit into any one certain group.  I have always kinda been this way.  I adapt to the situation or group I am with.  Usually with success.

Since my Heart Attack…..

Not so much.  Social anxiety, feeling like you are being watched when in fact you are not.  Strange, I know but these are my thoughts.

Now back to Cuba….

Beach

I knew a fair amount of people attending this wedding but it still could have been a lonely time for me.  They are family.  I am a friend there to do a job.  I am not even a close friend but a friend there…. to Photograph a Wedding.

What happened in Cuba is more than I could ask for.

Not even once did I feel alone, secluded or like an outsider.  I felt like a part of the group.  I was included in the activities such as the Jack and Jill party, a few dinners, pool time, late night Ocean swimming, dancing against my will ( Thanks Kailee and Riley !) I was joked with, laughed at and with.

You know people like you when they harass you a little.  Or a lot, haha

I could have been left to my own devices and yes there were times I was on my own but by choice really.  People invited me to hang out to let loose and have fun.

I was like I belonged from the start.  No awkwardness. No having to try to hard to be liked.

This resulted in great conversations and meeting new people and a few wobbly pops and a lot of laughing.

What did I learn?

Just Be Me.

 

Me- A Clutz !
Me- A Clutz !

People can like me for whoever I am now, even if I am not 100 % unsure of exactly who that is.

Dance against your will my friends, you may just tear up the floor and genuinely have a moment of joy unexpectedly.

Mini

The Feeling of Indifference

The feeling of indifference….

Lately I have been “off”, or so I have been told.

 

Photo courtesy of : www.livelifehappy.com
Photo courtesy of : www.livelifehappy.com

How do you really explain the unexplainable ? I am becoming exhausted just trying.  It’s a constant struggle.

I have been different since my heart attack and I totally get it.  Part of it is the PTSD, part of it is the exhaustion from trying to make sense of all that goes on in my brain and part of it is trying to not allow myself to take on the problems of others as much as I use to.

So, with this post I am going to try my best to explain.  I am not sure if it is for the clarification of others or for myself to understand better.

Recently more people have mentioned my change.  A sampling of the things I have been told …. “you seem indifferent, spaced out, like you don’t care, less social, not as happy as you once were and my personal favorite- you’ve become a bit of an ass.

Ya, I am different now , It’s not that I don’t care.  But I care less now about trivial things that can be dealt with if someone really wants to fix their problem.  I care more about getting my life together.

DATING INSTRUCTOR

There are days I am just trying to get through the day because I can’t clear my head out, nights I do not sleep for the same reasons.  If you see me walking around like I am in my own world, there is a solid chance that is exactly what it is.  I am pre occupied with my thoughts, not all negative. Many are of what I appreciate each day and week.  For example, I can run again J

I can’t process thoughts or feelings well at all.  This frustrates so many people around me and gets me into situations that leave me looking like an ass or that I absolutely do not care about the feelings of others.  It causes me major lapses and errors in judgement.   It allows people to put me in a corner that I have a hard time getting out of.  So I just walk away and hide for a few days.  I figure this way I don’t have to repeatedly explain the “Why” and keep myself out of uncomfortable situations .   It is difficult to know you should be feeling something  and yet,  you can’t process it.  Good luck catching me feeling empathy, anger, sadness and lately even being as excitable as usual.  I just can’t and I don’t know when this will change.

I am becoming more into being alone and not being around people.  There are many reasons for this but the main one being I don’t risk upsetting, hurting or pissing someone off unintentionally.  I am doing this with a little more regularity and it is not intentional.

I hate using my heart attack as a reason but ultimately it is the reason I view everything differently now.

When my thoughts run rampant on any given night it can range from the good things of my day but more often than not they are about how lost I feel in my own world.  Loneliness, lack of satisfaction in my ability to find a new job, how to move forward in my life, my love life or lack thereof, who are my friends and who is taking advantage of me.  What I want for myself and how I need direction to get there.

I can’t be who I was.  I am a different man now.  I am adjusting to this new me.  Please be patient as I am a work in progress but deep inside I am still here.  I am indifferent, for now.

 

Mini

Heart Attack at Age 35- My Broken Heart Story.

February is Heart Month, with that being said- here is my story.

Heart Attack, I had a Heart Attack at age 35. 8 days prior to my 36th birthday. I have had and survived a Heart Attack on August 11th and Cardiac Arrest- August 15, 2013.

10% of Males under age 45 will have a heart attack according to stats here in North America. I am one of those 10%. Makes me somewhat unique right ?
August 11, 2013. I had a heart attack while playing Beach Dodgeball. 90% blockage in one artery and two 70% blockages. The Heart Attack, for me felt more like the flu than what people perceive a heart attack feels or looks like. The chest and arm pain followed later. It was nothing like Hollywood makes it out to be. Not so obvious, thank you Hollywood !

The game started, I ran to the line to grab a ball and then everything just went bad from there. I felt very ill and had cold sweats, nausea and I was shaky.

I went to the sideline and sat down, I was too uneasy to stand. I tried because I am stubborn. But had to sit back down. My friend brought me water and asked what I was feeling.

My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013
My heart after having a Heart Attack. August 11, 2013

I shared the symptoms but said, I am ok, I will be fine, I am just sick. In my head I was slightly worried but I kind of kept my mouth shut because I am one of the most injury prone people out there. Two friends heard my symptoms and then said something I didn’t want to believe. They both at different times said I had the symptoms of a heart attack. I didn’t want to believe it and re iterated I was ok, just under the weather. I continued to sit there and watch while my friends played, occasionally standing up and throwing balls back onto the court as they flew by.

Me, being stubborn decided on the last game of the day, a fun game, to jump back in. I still felt like garbage, my breathing was very hard and my chest felt tight. This is something I did not tell anyone. I finished the game and actually dominated a brief part of it. My friends again shared their concern and i said I was fine to them. Inside I was worried . I didn’t want to look as weak as I felt.

Special thanks to my friends Sean  and Alanna  for without those two beautiful, amazing people I may not be here. I owe my life to you both. I love you guys immensly.

I will forever cherish them and their lovely voices telling me they thought I was having a heart attack while it was happening. Because of them, I became smart enough to go to the hospital. At the time I was stubborn and kept saying, no, I am fine, and refused an ambulance. I didn’t want to accept what they were saying, I didn’t want to believe it, I was scared to believe it. I am always the guy who seems to get injured or something goes wrong with. It’s seems to be my M.O. One I am not all that proud of.

Their voices rang in my head as I sat in my car. Over and over the words Heart Attack played in my head. It was then I made a choice to go to the hospital. Within an hour of arrival, it was confirmed, I indeed had a heart attack. I was told had I driven to my mom’s I may not have made it or if I had, there is a chance I may not have made it that day at all. The next 4 days I would not leave my bed.photo

 

I was in hospital a week total. I had a few select visitors because I was doing my best not to have the whole world know what had just happened. I did not want the attention I knew I would most likely receive. I did not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I didn’t feel sorry for myself. I had no reason to. I was trying to understand why and how it happened. I was scared. I had no pity party I merely needed to figure this out. My docs were bombarded with questions and still are to this day. I have become an information whore.

Four days later on August 15th I had surgery to place two stents into my arteries. Unfortunately only one was put in. I went into Cardiac Arrest during the surgery. My heart stopped and I was shocked back to life. I will say this. You know you are alive by the immense pain you feel after being shocked. If you want to feel pain, that’s one hell of a way to feel it. It hurt from head to toe and my body was tense for a day or two after. My first thoughts once I was alone that night didn’t have anything to do with me. It had to do with things not done, things that could have been left unsaid, then, something else happened. I became completely numb and have been that way since. This is something I can’t fully explain yet, so please don’t ask, I don’t have the honest answer here.

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MY Heart after Stent Surgery- Huge Difference eh ?

Over the last 5 months I have been asked me why I seem a little off or different. Usually it’s those who did not know who have asked. Well, now you know why. I would apologize for not telling a few of you sooner, but that wasn’t exactly the most important thing on my mind. No apologies, it was my choice and I own it for my own reasons.

So that’s what happened. I am not going to sit here and say it totally awakened me because it didn’t. It just made many things way more real and serious for me. I have always tried to enjoy my life and have fun and this wasn’t one of those – oh my god I need to do THIS and THIS and THIS and live life crazily or stupidly or start moving quicker on a bucket list. I do not have nor believe in a bucket list, I do believe in dreaming big and acting upon those dreams.

What did having a heart attack do ? Most obvious is Heart muscle damage but mentally……It created more focus in my life than I think I have ever had. The heart attack may have been the best thing to have happened to me and that is the truth. HEART 018 During Cardiac Rehab and since my Heart Attack I have been so focused on my health and getting better. Friends, it has paid off big time. Down 24 lbs and feeling better than I have in years. I am only going to keep getting better and that is           promise.

Here are some things I do think about…..I am 36, single, unhappy in my career and some life choices, wishing so bad to successful, to stop feeling so alone, have a family, travel. Make a difference in the lives around me, make a difference in my life. Many times I feel very alone but would never show any of you that side of me. I am usually a happy guy and still am. I love that I have been given a new life. It is up to me what to do from here. To really live is a choice.

I know now that some of you may be asking how did it happen and that’s fine to ask but that is for my next post.

Please again, I do not want sympathy here. I hope this helps me and others. I merely need to tell this for me. I will speak about my recovery soon. Please be patient, this whole thing has purpose.

Over the course of Heart Month I may be doing a few things to talk about heart health and to do things for others to kinda give back, for I am thankful, so very thankful.

What is so great about being me? 30 days…30 Great Things.

Self Deprecation: self-dep·re·cat·ing

adj.Tending to undervalue oneself and one’s abilities.

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 It was pointed out to me last year by a friend that I did this a lot in our texting conversations  I would make comments like ” I am short, I am not hot, I am not good at ……”  And so on and so on.

Since my friend pointed this out I have done my best not to make self deprecating comments and tried more to re enforce what is good about being me.  Uniquely me.

Well, the other day this same friend called me out again when I made a joke about offering to be a “Hot” massuese for her.  I followed it up by saying…”OH , wait, I am not hot”.  Her reply ” Stop being self deprecating.

I will say this about this girl.  She is pretty confident, pretty intelligent, quite awesome and I can’t really remember any time she has made self deprecating comments about herself.  I want that confidence.

 

Stand Tall, Be You, Be Great !
Stand Tall, Be You, Be Great !

So why do we do this ?  Most everyone I know does this in some way, shape or form.  Most of this is derived from insecurities we each have or things we may have been told.  We do this to down play things or brush off compliments.  Now, this friend did not say specifically that I was “Hot”  but her saying not to be self deprecating was compliment enough.  ( and, I am cute !)

I am usually the friend that tells those around him the good I see in them even when they don’t see it themselves.  I need to do the same for me.  It is very common to hear me say “You are awesome” followed by a good quality about that person I may be speaking with.

So, I have 30 days that I am going to find 30 things about me and post here, each day on this blog I have a goal to say one good thing about myself.  At the end of 2014 I want to compile this list into one big blog post and print it for me to read when I am not feeling so good about myself.

I am sure I may have tough days thinking of one but I will.  I hope you will do the same.

What is one thing that makes you amazing ?

 

I AM SO CUTE !
I AM SO CUTE !

 

 

Bullying 23 years later, Grow Up !

Lucky you, you get two posts today !  I had to write about an experience I had tonight that floored me and made me realize some people never grow up.

I was at a coffee shop editing photos when I ran into someone from Elementary/ Jr. High Jr Hgh 2tonight….It’s amazing what some people remember some 23 years since you have seen them last and yet they still sit there and laugh at you thinking it’s ok. Ya I was a geek, a loser back then, but did they seriously have to remind me with laughter how people like them tormented me for being the little guy ? Ya, you put me in lockers, teased me and spoke harsh words… Some people never grow up, glad I did.

 

 

 

HS

I almost feel sorry for this person.  I mean, they are still hanging onto what they did to me and yet seemed to have little remorse as if it was ok to do what they did all those years ago.  To still laugh and tell the friend who was with them these quick stories about me banging on my locker begging someone to let me out.  I kinda wonder what this person’s life is like now ?  Are they still a bully ? Do they not care about how they affect others around them?  Are they leading a full life or a sad and empty existence ?  Do I really care? Not really.  Life is good now and i can confidently walk away knowing that in those situations I am by far the better person still 23 years later.

 

 

I have been told in the past that I care too much for people. This person is one of those reasons I care too much.  I don’t like to see people feel things I have and I care enough to help where and when I can.

Makes me thankful I am not bullied in today’s generation and yet feel even more sorry for people who are bullied nowadays and can’t just escape from their tormentors.  I would take the bullying I received back then over anything kids experience now.

ME

 

What the heck is wrong with people ?

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