Monday, September 10, 2012

The Happiest 35th of All

Rewind........go back 5 there yet? I had just turned 30 & was newly diagnosed. I was told several times throughout that year that a 5 year life expectancy wasn't on my side. I remember on numerous occasions telling myself, "You will get there!". I remember praying & asking God to just given me 5 more years...because I was gonna make a difference. I know I could! That's all I wanted 5 more years. Now forward to today....."I made it!" What an amazing 5 years it has been. I have been on a journey like no other! A journey that has pushed me to LIVE, FIGHT, LOVE & EXPLORE. I have made a difference more than I could have ever imagined and to know that fills me with so much emotion. Personally....I've discovered so much about myself. I'm stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I think that comes from being a mother who feels a huge responsibility to show my children that no matter what cards you are handed you can make a difference. I have a life that fulfills me in so many ways and I am so very thankful for that. I have learned that it is impossible to live without failing in life. But, failing isn't too bad when you tried or you learned. I use to live so cautiously. Failure wasn't an option. Sometimes that 20 seconds of insane courage & uncomfortable bravery that a person needs to have has lead to some of my greatest experiences. God gave me these 5 years & I thank him everyday for them! I am a different person, I am a fighter. I'm most proud of the fact that I have fought for my son & maybe even my daughter or their children one day! I love the fact that I have made the impossible....well possible! There have been many days where I start to tell myself I can't. But, I soon realize that in order to make a change it has to come within. A person is most powerful when they believe in themselves. Sometimes a plan or goal doesn't come out exactly the way I want it too. But, then I realize that it was JUST a goal and my journey to that goal was the most important part. I've realized that rarely do I end up exactly where I wanted to be, but in so many ways I ended up where I needed to be. I just always have faith that the way it turns out is the way it is suppose to be:) Plus, a person can't really appreciate life to the fullest unless it's knocked you down a few times....right?:) As far as my health goes....I can say that my heart is in fantastic shape...well for me:) My issues from my stroke are microscopic & I have adjusted to the new me. I take all my issues not as a reminder of weakness but a reminder of strength. A reminder that humbles me to keep that fighting spirit. I've been trying to live my life realizing the God gave me two hands for a to help myself and the second to help those around me. In these five years having a focus & a passion to help others is what has pushed me to get where I am today. Not to mention the many great doctors, friends & family I have:) So, today I want to thank you all as always for never laughing at me because I'm insanely mushy, for always supporting me & for always encouraging me! My life is only amazing because of you all! Today I will not whine because I have hit middle age....but I will celebrate this amazing gift I have been given! Thank you God for my 5 years...I promise if I'm blessed with more years to come....I'll make you even prouder & I will NEVER stop fighting:) P.S. My strong heart allowed me to run today!! A very appreciated gift!
Here With Senator Carper & AHA advocate Jonathon Kirch "Making a difference in Delaware"
Here with Dr. E..... "My number one Cheerleader"

Friday, February 17, 2012

Go RED 2012

Here are the GO RED videos for this year!!! I received over 230 photos! I just am blown away!

Monday, February 13, 2012

My new February

February was just another month. One that was cold but filled with that one special day. Valentine's day! I've always been know in my family to cheese it out. I love to make all those homemade name it I've done it! Most days you'd find me either working, running, taking care of my kids or being completely OCD in my cleaning methods. It was so bad I'd even get on my hands/knees and hand wipe our trim or hand clean our floors weekly. I wanted this perfect picture of life. I never accepted help because I thought it meant failure. To even ask Jamie to help with the kids I thought meant I wasn't a great Mom. Plus, no one can care for my family like I can. I had wonderful friends but, was so caught up with family life, that I barely made time for them. I made no time for myself! I had no passions or even hobbies. I followed the rules of life per say and was quieter and more serious. Everything was scheduled and we had a perfect routine. Even dinner was at the exact same time everyday. I focused more on my reputation rather than knowing my character is what's most important.

February 2012.....who was that girl?? No, February is not just another month!!! It's a beautiful month. A month that isn't just filled with that one special day but 29 special days! It's a month that shows my family hope, beauty and it reminds me that no matter what is thrown my way, I can overcome it! February is a month that reminds me of how drastically my life has changed. I am open and graciously ask for help. My kids, I find love me even more. My husband whom I thought wanted that picture perfect can ask him:) But, I think he'd tell you life truly is so much fun! I'm a better friend, I'm there night & day for them. I make time for my passions and myself! I am sometimes viewed as slightly scattered because I don't think much about tomorrow, I'm too focused on today:) I now have amazing passions & to be honest I've never felt so fulfilled. That fulfillment has led to seeing the glass always full no matter what my day. Which, in turn brings a smile to my everyday. You see, things are going to happen. Good, bad whatever....they are going to happen! So, why make them worse by dwelling on it? It can be so much better by choosing to just smile. I've also realized that my reputation is just what someone thinks of me in that moment, based on what they heard or that they quickly only hear parts of. I've realized that as long as I have a genuinely good character and care, the rest will shine through. If it's doesn't I'm sorry that, that person didn't take the time to learn more about me....because I truly feel that I can never have enough people in my life. So many of you were placed in my life for some reason and I would be so grateful if you even let me into your life just for a moment.

How did I get to this place in life? How does a person go from thinking her most important job in life is to maintain a perfect picture to finding the simplest joy in taking a walk? Well, it didn't happen over night. Often times I had to hit a bottom before I could start my climb. Many of you have seen it from time to time but my bottoms are shorter and shorter. I think my biggest lesson was not only to accept help but to realize in life we can't do it alone. Honestly, I believe it's impossible to do it alone.

When first diagnosed I shut down, "no one can understand I said!" I put a heavy burden on myself......I did it all. Jamie would come home & there I'd be vacuuming(not taking care of myself) & blue as blue could be. I still remember the look on his face as he unexpectedly came home one day. I had never seen fear until that day! He yelled, "What are you doing!" He said a few other choice words that I needed to hear. What was I doing?? But, I didn't know another way. I thought that when you become a mother you put everyone else first! My thinking was that in order to be a good wife and mother I couldn't ever slip up. Everything had to be perfect. Some of you can relate and maybe others think I was crazy. But that was my reality. Soon, I slowly but surly believed Jamie as he told me I was still a good wife by not having everything in the house done or dinner made. I soon saw that even Jamie couldn't do it alone and started accepting help from family and friends. I not only needed their help with the house and kids, but I needed their relationships in my life. I needed their ears, hugs and words. You see, I owe my whole outlook to YOU!! Yes, each of you!! Each comment that you thought was little, each hug that you thought was just a hug. Even a SMILE. Because that smile meant for that second you cared. Your words that you thought were just me through to the next minute when I didn't think I could go another one.

This month I have heard several times "I" am inspiring. But,....I am really no different than you. "I" am not the one who is inspiring. It is "YOU", without a doubt. When I asked for "Go RED" pictures. I could not do it alone. It was "YOU" who came to my rescue and helped. I received over 220 pictures! Is that unbelievable or what!! From those pictures and from the video that was created I was contacted by several of those affected by heart disease and who just don't know how to cope. They were inspired and felt hope. That wasn't because of me....all I did was put together a video and post your pictures.

So, I hope that you all realize that I have gotten to this amazing place in life because of YOU. I am grateful beyond words. So, thank you for teaching me to dance in the rain, that a hug is not a hug, for listening when I break out in song even when I can't sing, to dance instead of walk, to see that one patch of green grass when the rest in brown, to feel the music & turn it up loud, that a day can be much more than a day, to focus only on what matters, to wash away clutter, that the simple things in life are the most rewarding, that I can get through anything life brings, & to simply never take life to seriously:)

Thank you for this February........and the many more AMAZING Februarys to come!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A New Year

A couple of years ago I started really focusing on New Years resolutions. I guess you can start them at anytime really. But mine, just so happened to occur around Jan. 1st. I was refocusing my life and trying to figure out my purpose. To tell you the truth, I think we all have many purposes in life. Mine, as far as I can tell, is to serve God, be the best mother/friend/wife I can be and to help others through my life experiences. Basically, to make a difference as best I can!

2010 was my most fullfilling year accomplishment wise. I tested my strength, and gave myself goals, feeling a sense of empowerment when I hit them. I did things I never thought I would do and was amazed at how much fun a year could be. The best part of the year was that I never thought with balancing children, work, family and friends, that I would have any time for fun! I certainly proved myself wrong! Often my children, family, friends and co-workers were included! I think 2010 was one of the best years of my life to be honest.

2011 was a year of giving back. I was so grateful to so much in my life, I decided to make 2011 of giving back and helping others achieve there goals. I was a support, I educated, I focused tremedously on raising money for an organization I truly believe in. Also, along the way without going into detail....I 100%, know I made a difference and helped some along their pathway of life:) To give back was not just rewarding, it filled my heart like never before! I did however learn so much about myself. I never realized how far a simple thank you went. To be completely selfless without a reward is one of the most humbling lessons I've ever had to learn. Yes, we all love to help others but sometimes our reward is to say, "hey, look what I did". Not to have the world know, but for at least a few friends to know. My purpose was to help others without a single sole knowing. Again, much harder to do than you would think. But, I did it....not just a few times, but many and let me tell you, the reward to see someone else achieve their goal or dreams is completly undescribable.

Soon after the year started, I suffered a stroke. I could have used recovery, or my many issues when recovering from a stroke as an excuse. But, I remained focused and driven on my New Years resolution. Sure, I have the typical resolutions...stay in shape, diet, ect......I truly value my New Years resolutions. I learned in 2010 how much sticking to them could change my life completly. Well, 2011 was no different. Sticking to my resolution, along with the help of many of you, helped me remain focused and never give up. These New Year resolutions drive me, mold me, test my character and teach me along my journey! With them I have accomplished more in two years than I ever have dreamed of. A focus is what drives me and pushes me to keep plugging along, even when the path gets tough. The ultimate decision on how my path will go is God's plan for me. But, he gave me a level head. He blessed us with free will and the ability to learn, grow and experience life. He blessed us with choices. I can't change what has happened to me but I do see that I have a clean canvas in front of me. Here and there, a drop of paint will splatter on my pretty picture. But, it's up to me to use it as a surprisingly unique splatter or to say my picture is ruined. Many times I know I make the wrong decisions and my first reaction is not the best, but if I step back & realize that every day is a new day and that I can fill it with the right choices, I tend to see things more positively!

So, what it's in store for 2012. Well, as I've learned my life is unpredictable and sometimes overwhelming. So, I'm gonna take all that I can & turn it into a positive. I am going to make this year about focusing on fulfilling my DREAMS. Big and small. I've learned that if you are happy, everything else will fall into place. Some of my dreams are going to more difficult to acheive than others but I'm determined to reach them. Some dreams might be fulfilled by an adventure or challenge. All I know is that why wait for dreams? Why wait and make excuse after excuse to accomplish them. I know that no matter what I do in life, I can always find a reason not to do something.

I've learned throughout my last 2 years that mistakes are ok. They are just stepping stones. Hey, if I didn't fail, then when would I learn anything? They make me learn more about myself and see a better way to achieve my goals in life. Sometimes, even what I thought were failures were actually blessings in disguise. They have actually lead to my greatest achievements. Funny sometimes how things work out. So, as I start taking the steps to fulfilling some of my dreams that I've been making "excuses" for, I will have to continue to remind myself that even if it's a baby step, it's still a step in the right direction. I'll never be 100%, sure I can achieve my dreams, but I can be 100% sure doing nothing won't work. All I know at this point is to go for it! Either I succeed or I learn something. How can I lose?

So, my friends and loved ones as we start a new year, I challenge you this year to find a New Years resolution! A focus that will drive you and inspire you! I promise you your life will never be the same! I hope to follow you and celebrate your life achievements just as you encourage and celebrate mine! Thank you all always for your never ending support and encouragement!!

P.S. Jamie truly misses my adventures & so do I! So, I've added them back in again. Not at the
same pace because remember I have dreams to fulfill but if you have any let us know!

Friday, December 2, 2011

"Back to Basics"

A couple of years ago when I started my blog it initially was to help my family and friends keep up with all that was occurring in my life. Then, it took a few twists and turns. It became a place to vent, cope, inform and encourage. I figured after I told my story I would be done.......well....almost 3 years later....that's obviously not the case. I never realized how much people care and honestly get hurt if I remain silent. I figured those around me would get sick and tired of hearing my never ending medical drama. Maybe that's the case for some. But, I found those who truly cared need me to be open as much I need to. So, today I'm going back to basics, informing you:)

Since my stroke in February, there have been many ups and downs. The second I get ready to inform you I get a curve ball or I am not fully aware myself of what's going on. It was explained by my new neurologist at NRH(in D.C.) that a person can go to many different doctors and get so many different perspectives. You have to go with who you feel fits. At this time "he" fits. He's right!! I have been diagnosed with several different strokes and even the number of them has been confusing?? How could this be? The culprit has been everything from atrial fibrillation, to a specific vessel in my head. Treatment has also ranged from medication to neuro surgery being considered. Thing is, they are all right in many ways. Some of the confusion in that I never realized how complex the head is and depending on the CT/MRI/MRA, technologist, radiologist and physician different varieties of information can occur.

Scary I would think that possibly a distrust in a physician can develop. No way, don't get me wrong they can make a mistake. The thing is a physician has been given this amazing gift of knowledge and education. But, they can only do so much. They also have to trust in others around them. The radiologist, the nurse gathering information, the technician performing the test and lastly they depend on you the patient. Am I a good patient....if you ask them probably not. They aren't in my body and they can't read my mind. They are human just as you or I. Their job is to gather the information and paint the best related picture of what's occurring inside your body. If they have bits and piece and others fail (such as me the patient) it makes their job harder. I tend to want to get the appointment over and if they had asked the question I would give them the answer. It's not their job to do that. But, in my mind I hate to be a bother or it's the plain fact that I have somewhere to be and I just am growing weary of the never ending appointments. I am working on a being a better patient. I found that mostly, my confusing path is due to my complex case. My heart throws a massive curve ball and leads the physician down the path that it can only be heart related. Then, when they don't catch my heart doing what they thought was the culprit we have to hesitate and either wait (just in case it was missed) or rule it out. The best gift God gave us was our "gut instinct" trust it, believe what it says and you will always be right!

So, here is what I DO know. I have had two hemorrhagic strokes and another area of interest. My heart condition is very stable. I was suffering from some small seizures that were very concerning but now are gone. The cause was believed to be the trauma to my head. That was the biggest relief to date :) I have constant changes in blood pressure that can be a factor at times but if I take care of myself it is very well managed. My arrhythmias are just like 25% of the population and are easily managed. My heart pressures rise at times and cause a little build up of fluid but is also easily managed. Diet, exercise, rest and prayers are the key to feeling perfectly normal. Keeping me stress free is vital and hence the constant positivity. Hey, it works more than you could ever imagined. I honestly rarely feel stressed and that's because of an amazing group of people that surround me. I recently had a physician say, "You should be feel so fortunate for each day you wake." I nodded, said they were right, "I am blessed" and then never thought about it again. You can't focus on a perspective. Every day each of us wakes up is a blessing no matter what you are facing. When dealing with something you can't focus on the unknown and let it haunt you. Everyday, I wake up I make it the best it can be. Everyday I try a new coffee flavor, get to know someone who I have never spoken too, ect. Everyday, I thank God for this amazing perspective in life.

As far as my strokes are concern each week it gets better!! Biggest issue when dealing with a stroke as I stated before is not the physical, it's the emotional. You can read more about it in my previous blog if you haven't. I'm getting through with a hiccup here and there. But, it's always just a day here and there when everything seems to pile on top of me. It's only happens when I stretch myself too thin, push myself too hard and allow some of those feelings of "no one understands" slips in. Then I realize I have to put myself first here and there. Hey, we all should do that from time to time. When I'm feeling good it's time to push others around me to take that same time to themselves. It all balances out! As far as no one understanding. No, you don't, but how could you? Just like if someone is going through there personal issues that I have never experienced before. I'm not in their shoes and I don't live their life. But, I do know this that if you take the time to explain to someone how you're feeling, it not only helps them understand, they feel that they helped you in some way. Trust me so many have helped by just listening and even when my stroke signs peak through a friendly joke occurs. I don't mind being corrected when I get confused, being reminded 100 times to do something, being caught as I stumble from time to time, helped down a step, help me open something, asked if I hurt myself when my foot gets lazy, or even filling in the blanks for me when I can't finish a sentence. I don't mind those things because it's a sign that you care! So thank you for caring so much!

One of my major emotional issues I'm dealing with, is that I have this great new gift of life perspective. I want to do so much. I have these amazing dreams that my chronic conditions have made me want to pursue even faster. I hate being told to wait or maybe in the future. My patience isn't what it use to be. I don't wanna wait because I know how each day is a gift and that it can be taken at any time. I sometimes feel a clock is ticking, So, I've had to be happy with "baby steps". What I'm coming to realize is that those baby steps help me dabble in EVERYTHING I want to do. They force me to slow down and not only experience the moment but enjoy it more fully too. Those babies steps that I've been taking have proven to be these amazing "seeds" of so much fulfillment. The "seeds" have put me in a place in life that I could only dream of!

So friends, I hope this blog brings you comfort that I am in an amazing place in life. A place in life that sometimes pushes me down but it makes standing up so much more of an accomplishment.

I hope you all realize that just being there has meant more to me than you could ever imagine. My wish is that you always trust your "inner voice" in life and that it doesn't take a life changing experience for you to start taking those baby steps and planting your own "seeds" in life. Lastly, it doesn't matter what we are going through in life, how hard it is or even when you're told it's unachievable.....anything can be accomplished as long as we believe in ourselves and make that effort. Sometime, it just takes longer to get sure to enjoy the ride as you go :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's only as hard as you make it!

Many many times I have been asked & met with a blank stare. As if the words chronic heart condition, open heart, implant, strokes don't match me the person. I often get questioned a couple of times and then that look of, "your pulling my leg, right". No, I indeed am not. But, again I find it flattering because what do those words and face put together look like? A person has to remember I'm still considered young(YAY) when associated with those words and today's technology is even better than it was 5 years ago. The second question I get is, "How do you deal?" Well, that's a good question because it varies. Mostly, everyone sees the positive because that's what I'm aiming for. If I didn't look for the good in everything where would I be. For awhile I didn't want to talk about it and there are still many things I wish I had the strength to post. It may be assumed that I still am in denial at times. Hey, why not be? I don't wanna think about it all the time. I don't want it to claim my life. I do however talk and post a lot because of the fear I felt when first going through everything. I felt so alone besides turning to God. Yes, he's always there, but sadly he doesn't always talk back or respond as quickly as I'd like him to. So, I need to find it from others whom he put in this life for me. Also, as many of you all know I decided my true purpose is to be an example to my children. I was put on this earth for them and I hope that they remember me as the greatest mother they could have ever imagined.

I still understand the curiosity that many have over what my issues & fears are. Interesting enough as soon as I became vocal I found many in similar situations. So, how do I cope and deal? Well I could give you a long list of issues and what medications I take but I'll save you from the drama. If you truly would like to know feel free to ask. My life is becoming an open book:)

So, I will say of all the issues hardest to cope with it would be the emotional ones. The mind is a powerful gift. As with anything hard in life we do get down. So, I've encountered frustration. So much more in the beginning. I've dealt with losing my old self. Sadness because I couldn't do what I wanted and feeling trapped to take medications I just down right hate! It goes against my nature. They open the doors to many fears of long term effects. I'm sad that my husband has to call me ever hour to see if I'm not out on the floor. I feel a burden at times because I just can't feel good enough to do something. Lastly, there are fears.....and many of them. Will this happen again? Will they ever find the true cause of all my strokes? Will I keep getting worse? I'm scared to drive with my children and I'm scared to be in large places because what would happen if I passed out? I was scared for a long time to hold a conversation because I'd sound silly. I'm scared that I won't wake up in the morning and I'll leave my children with a horrible memory. If you were to read the odds, my heart condition is against me, my strokes are against what do I do? I PRAY!! I FIGHT!! I live my life like there will be no tomorrow. I realize that I could be the healthiest of all of you and still have a tragic event happened to me next week. We don't have control, we don't know our outcomes and I can't focus on the fears because that would consume me. I deal with knowing I am thankful for today! That I was given life despite the odds. That I have a purpose and can achieve it. I deal with knowing that each day I'm on this earth I can make a difference!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Letting Jesus Take my Wheel"

I was going to start my blog with all the many updates that are occurring in my life. I've had quite a few hiccups and Dax has us worried to death lately. But, then I realized I have control? Yes, I have choices but do I really have the ultimate control? Can I change the ultimate outcome? No.....if you have faith then you'd realize you aren't the driver. I often have to let go of my wheel and allow my faith and trust in Jesus to take over. Therefore, I want to start with a story.....

A few weeks ago, I had a patient. As always, it's an emergency and we try to maintain our composure as best as possible in urgent cases. Everyone knew their part and performed their tasks, as if we were in a uniformed dance. The patient was quickly placed on a breathing machine and remained purposefully sedated. As with all my patients, sedated or not, I tend to easily touch them and sometimes even talk to them. In this case, I was doing both as the room cleared. The patient was stable and it was time for many to tend to all the other emergencies occurring. As the room cleared, I saw a man sitting about four feet away at the end of the bed. Someone had gotten him a chair and he was sitting.....watching me. He never said a word and from time to time he put his head down. He appeared to be in his mid forties. I continued doing what I was doing and finished up within another 30minutes. He still sat quietly, never saying a word. When I finished I pulled up a chair next to him. I introduced myself and asked him his name and relation. The patient was his wife. We chatted a few minutes. I tried to make him comfortable by asking him a few questions as if you would a first meeting and then told him a little bit about myself. I eased in the hard truths about his wife and that although very sick she would be o.k. He asked many questions and I answered. I'd leave and come back and ask if he had more. Soon, it was time for me to go and I was fortunate to take care of her another day that week. A couple of weeks passed and as I was rounding a corner the husband yells out my name from down the hall. I walk up to him and immediately he starts to cry. "Anne, I have been looking for you for days." Each day describing you.....then he stops.....he hugs me and says "Anne, I heard your story & how can something so horrible happen to someone like you?" "You touched my life, I told my wife about you, you have to meet her now that she's awake!" "You made such a difference in our lives and I will never forget you!"As he leads my arm to her he says,"I never met someone so full of life & full of compassion for others!" The husband again says, "How can a person be so happy when they have had such difficulties in their life." I answered with a smile and said, "What you don't understand, it's because of these difficulties I now am who I am." I learned more compassion because I was that patient. I learned the power of touch because I know what's it's like to need it so desperately. I learned to trust in a complete stranger just because of a touch or friendly face. I learned that I'm not the driver.......someone much more powerful than me is. I have learned to accept what he gives me, not ask too many questions, and try to make the best out of each challenge he ask of me.

So, is my life so bad after all? No way! There are days where I just find it too difficult to get out of bed. There are days that I'm fearful as a symptom starts to present itself. Many days I struggle with frustration from my stroke. Thinking no one understands. Those struggles make all the good days that much better. They help me realize what I am fighting for. I'm fighting for those patient's lives I still have to impact. I'm fighting to create awareness. I'm trying to show many, that no matter what you're faced with you can still make a difference and win a battle. It might not be a battle we asked for, nor an easy one. But, it can still give you a purpose in life & positively change the outcome of many others. I was put on this earth for a reason. I might have one main purpose or many. But, what I will tell you is this.....I was put here to make a difference. It might seem so small at the time but watch out, I have seen first hand how the strategic placement of each one of us has created a huge impact on many. If my only purpose was to change my children's lives that's good enough for me.

For each new bump that has occurred it has only made me want to achieve more & to fight harder. In the past three months I have helped make a well deserving little girl smile & feel a purpose. I have raised awareness to hundreds by just telling my story and Dax's. I have held two hands as a person passed because their family wasn't able to be present. I have raised money to save many future lives. I have made the very sick smile for a moment and forget their bad day. I have given a person hope because they see what I have gone through and feel they can do the same. Yes, you are seeing many "I" but what is amazing about that is my "I" are because of so many. So many who pushed me through hard days. So many who support and believe what I'm fighting for. So many who took the time to help me with just a kind word of encouragement. So thank you all.....I'm just amazed at what "We" all have done! Thank you Jesus for driving over the many bumps that have allowed me to view the world so differently!