You’re the Cure Guest Blog Post 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here because I’m still without Internet, which makes it difficult to create posts. But I’m excited to share with you my latest guest blog post on the You’re the Cure Florida’s Blog for American Heart Association!  They allowed me to share my story with them to reach even more people, thereby spreading the awareness of heart disease!  Please help increase this awareness that it can happen to anyone at anytime regardless of age, gender, or race by sharing this post with your friends and family. Thank you for stopping by and following me on this neverending journey of newfound positivity. 

You’re The Cure Guest Blog Post

Hawaiian Pizza with Vegan Cheese

Because I read it was National Pizza Week, I felt inspired to try a low-sodium pizza option with Go Veggie! vegan cheese (I don’t like vegan cheese so thought I would give it another try). 

Here are the ingredients that I bought at Publix, my local grocery store:

  • Thin Pizza Crust
  • Hunt’s Tomato Sauce – no salt added
  • Dole Pineapple tidbits
  • Go Veggie! Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
  • Basil

  
I didn’t measure anything out, just went with what felt right.  After all, I once worked part-time at Disney Hollywood Studios Toy Story Pizza Planet making pizzas. So I know a thing or two about pizza-making. 😉

Started with a little bit of tomato sauce spread into the pizza crust. Then, I sprinkled lots of Go Veggie! vegan mozzarella cheese on top to cover most of the tomato sauce. I then topped that with pineapple (I love pineapple on pizza, so I might have gone overboard). Finally, I topped with fresh basil.  

  
The oven had been preheated to 425, and I placed the pizza directly on the center rack and let it bake for 10-12 minutes. 

  
I barely let it cool down before I dove in for my first bite. 

It was pretty good. Much better than I thought for a pizza made with vegan cheese. I think real cheese would have tasted better. I’m weird about my dairy (fake dairy) anyway. The tomato sauce was good even though it had no salt – which in tomato sauce terms usually means ‘no taste’. The pineapple was perfect, and basil is always so great on a pizza. The cheese did stretch and was stringy like you would expect real cheese to be; so I was impressed with its consistency and the fact that it melted. It was chewy like real cheese but had a bit of an aftertaste that I couldn’t quite get over. Therefore, I could not eat the whole mini pizza.  I’m wondering if stronger flavored toppings like pepperoni or jalapeño peppers might distract your taste buds from the vegan cheese aftertaste. 

If you make your own pizza with Go Veggie! vegan cheese or another brand of vegan cheese, please comment and share your modifications to this recipe.

Happy National Pizza Week!

My Journey with Heart Failure Video

I’m excited to share a video about my journey with heart failure, created by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. I was not compensated for my participation in this video. 
https://app.box.com/s/64vwlnlg9ow54dwb9wq9si1u4fa3prkt

 

Gotta Make Lemonade

August 20th is National Lemonade Day!!  When life throws you lemons, what do you do? I make lemonade!!

  
Recently, my story was published on this fantastic website, GottaMakeLemonade.com, started by Samantha Harris. Please check out my story and other stories of inspiration that they have published. 

A heart attack was my lemon. Advocacy is my lemonade. See how that works?! 

What is your lemon?

June 17, 2015 – My New Life Began 1 Year Ago Today

I made it!  And I did not become a statistic!  Some ways to look at it:

  1. Happy Birthday to my stent who is turning 1 year old!
  2. It’s been 1 year since part of my heart died, but the rest of me has picked up the pieces, moved on, and is doing fine.  
  3. Happy 1st second birthday to me!
  4. Happy re-birthday to me!
  5. Happy 1st Heart Anniversary!

But any way you look at it, I’m here, and I survived.  I’m a fighter, y’all!  I fought, and I won!

Today was a great day of celebration, despite the fact that I had to work.  I wore my super fun sparkly heart outfit to work.  In the morning, I had my 6 month follow up appointment with my cardiologist, Dr. Duran.  I’ll post more about the details of that appointment later, but here’s a pic of me and Dr. Duran since he couldn’t make it to my doctors’ reunion with Dr. Garcia and Dr. Steiner.

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Dr. Duran was naturally happy to see me because I’m his favorite patient…naturally.  🙂

After work, I decided I wanted to celebrate life by drinking champagne…because what better way to celebrate?!

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So my besties, Kim and Chrissey, and I went to happy hour and toasted to re-birth, life, and happiness with glasses of Prosecco.  We’re so fancy!

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And when I got home, I found these beautiful flowers in this beautiful heart vase from my parents!  I knew they wouldn’t forget!

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What a wonderful day of celebration and the reminder of everything that happened 1 year ago to bring me to this day.  It’s a testament to all of the medical professionals and staff at Dr. P Phillips Hospital who worked so tirelessly to save my life even though I was the last surgery of the day.  Employees who were probably ready to go home from their shifts had to stay a little while longer because they needed to tend to me…to save my life…and I so appreciate each one of them for that.

I am truly blessed, and I don’t forget that.  I hope I have many more years of celebrations and blessings!!!

CHEERS! 

ORLANDO HEART WALK 2015

The 2015 Orlando Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, September 12th.  I am recruiting a team this year to walk the 3 mile walk with me.  Once again, my team name is I Walk for JAG.  Although the Heart Walk is free, I am asking that anyone that signs up to walk with me please donate what they can towards my team goal of $1000.  Last year, I raised a little over $600, so I feel this year’s goal is very achievable…especially since I’m starting so early!  You may (or may not) recall this picture I posted from last year’s Orlando Heart Walk!

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Even if you can’t join me to walk, you can still donate towards my goal by clicking on the link provided below.

If you would like to donate towards my walk, which benefits the American Heart Association for Heart Disease and Stroke prevention, please click the link to read more about my story, the reason for my team name, and enter the amount you are able to donate.

READ MORE, SIGN UP, AND DONATE NOW!

You can remain anonymous or leave your name.  You can even enter a name of a loved one that you’d like your donation to be made in honor of, in memory of, or in support of.  What a great way to honor and pay tribute to those loved ones who are living with and have succumbed to heart disease and stroke.  Once you arrive at the Heart Walk, there is even a wall where you can pay tribute to your loved one once again.  Here I am signing the wall last year with my team name in support of my Uncle Edward who passed away of a massive heart attack the year prior.

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Together, we can beat this!!!  Thank you for all of your support!!!

See you at the Finish Line!

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Guest Post on Rage Against the Minivan Blog

Please check out my guest post on RageAgainsttheMinivan.com

Thank you to an old high school friend, Kristen Howerton, for selecting my post to share with her readers.

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What I Want You To Know About Having A Heart Attack

 Let me know what title you’d like for a follow up guest post to this, so I can begin working on another submission for the What I Want You To Know series on Kristen’s blog.

Meeting 2 of My Doctors aka Heroes

I had an incredibly special day recently where Orlando Health was able to arrange a meet and greet for me with 2 of the doctors who saved my life the night of my heart attack.  There were actually 3 doctors, but the 3rd has become my primary cardiologist.  He wasn’t able to make it to this meet and greet.

I anxiously awaited this day for many months…wondering how it would be – what questions would I ask, what would I say, would I get emotional, how would I react, and most importantly…what would I wear?  The outfit of the day was not hard to figure out.  I hit a sale at the Converse outlet and found the most perfect shoes (have I mentioned before that I collect Converse?).  These were red glittered Converse low-tops.  PERFECT!  Now, I just needed a cool shirt with a sparkly heart.  I googled shirts and found a super cute one with a big red sequined heart that only cost about $185 (have you noticed I have expensive taste?).  I couldn’t afford it, and I couldn’t find another one I liked that was cheap enough, so my friend gave me the idea of buying a sequined heart appliqué and making my own.  I went to Michael’s, they had one left, I used a coupon, and I bought it.  The heart wasn’t as big and humungous as I would have liked, but it was red, sequined, and shiny.  PERFECT!  I then went to Target and quickly found the perfect shirt that I had in mind for the appliqué.  So, I came home and “made” my shirt!  It turned out so cute!!

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I really loved my outfit so much that I wore it to work all day instead of changing into it after work before going to the meet and greet.  🙂

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Neither of my besties or my siblings were able to make it to the meet and greet, so it was just me and my parents.  We made it to the Heart Institute on time and met with someone from the hospital who led us to the doctor’s lounge to wait until the meeting was finished.  My mom took a pic of me and my dad while we were waiting.  Notice that we are both wearing my LoveYourHeartBlog awareness wristbands!!!

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And then they walked in.  First, Dr. Steiner, followed by Dr. Garcia.  At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, but I shook hands with Dr. Steiner and then shook hands with Dr. Garcia who then hugged me.  They both said that I looked great and asked how I was doing and how I was feeling.  I proceeded to give them a quick update/recap of how I’ve been doing and my progress thus far with cardiac rehab, running, etc.  I spent almost an hour talking to them.  It was so great.  I was able to say everything I had wanted to say to them.  They seemed very appreciative and grateful that I had made the effort to meet with them personally to say thank you.  We took a few pictures, I gave each of them one of my blog bracelets, and told them about this blog.

I felt so incredible after the meeting.  I had been waiting so long to see them, and it was almost like it had brought me some sort of closure.  When I was in the hospital, each of these doctors had to leave very soon after my procedure for vacations and I never got to spend as much time as I had hoped to with them.  Dr. Steiner is who placed my stent.  I remember he left the next day for a vacation, I think.  Dr. Garcia is the one who placed my balloon pump and I remember him being the one I was asking questions to on the way to the cath lab that night.  He is also the one who took my balloon pump back out (which was extremely painful).  He said he was surprised at how calm I was when he took the pump out…but what was I supposed to do?  I really wanted the pump out so I could move my leg and get out of bed to go use the bathroom!  LOL.  The pump had been in over 2 days and I could not move my right leg the entire time for fear that it would rip out of my leg, and I would bleed to death.  It made it very uncomfortable.  Once that pump was out, I was able to leave ICU and move into a regular room.  That pump was so weird.

So rather than bore you with details of everything we talked about, I think I will keep those conversations to myself to cherish.  It was such a very special time for me.

I hope this reminds people to always remember their hospital staff, doctors, nurses, etc. when they are being treated.  It truly takes an entire team of people to take care of you when you are sick, and they probably don’t always receive the thanks and recognition they deserve.  If you have been on the receiving end of their care, please take the time to say thank you, whether it be face-to-face, by sending a card, a letter, etc.  Thanking my doctors has been great therapy for me, too, in my healing process.  I feel like I have a larger support system out there in my doctors because they remember me and remember that night and what I went through.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for…2 OF MY 3 HEROES FROM THAT NIGHT:

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Literally a “Mile”stone!

Today was a great day!!  I ran a mile on the treadmill without stopping!!!!!  ONE MILE!!! WOO HOO!!!  Praise God!!!  I had not done that since way before my heart attack.  The most I had run up until today was a 1/2 mile without stopping.

This certainly surprised me today, and I didn’t wake up this morning thinking, “I’ll run a mile today!”  When I got to the gym, I was feeling pretty good (and I had a good run/walk in my neighborhood the day before), so I thought I might try to go 0.6 miles.  But if I was going to do that, why not just round it up to 3/4 of a mile!

Well, I was feeling pretty good during my run, was keeping a steady pace (4.2) and my heart rate was doing ok, so I thought…”if I’m feeling this good, why not go for the gold and what’s another 0.25 miles!?!”  So, I DID IT!!!  I continued running until I had done 1.0 mile!!!!  I maintained the same pace of 4.2 the ENTIRE time, and I felt great!  Wow, this 5K may come sooner than I expected since this 1 mile run came earlier than I expected!

I have to gush that I am so proud of myself.  I was gushing on the treadmill and smiling ear to ear.  I wanted to scream to the world and couldn’t wait to get home to share the news with all of you.  I hope this helps motivate me to continue pressing forward and adding a little more every few weeks.  It makes my goal of completing a 5K by running the entire thing more a reality.  I was beginning to doubt it a few months ago (agreeing with what that dr had said – that I might not be able to do it).  But remember, I’m determined to prove that dr wrong!  🙂

I think I’m about as proud of myself today as I was when I completed my one and only Disney 1/2 marathon in 2007.  Both accomplishments were quite a feat.  Both felt fantastic.  Both gave me a sense of pride.  And both made me want to work harder to take care of myself so I don’t undo all the good that I did.

I hope this inspires at least one person.  And I hope I have another “mile”stone to announce in the near future!

Thanks for reading my post and sharing in my excitement of the day!

Happy running!

Recent Visit to the ER

A few weeks ago, I had to make a visit to the Emergency Room.  What a treat that was!  Here is how it all began…

I woke up with severe pain underneath my left shoulder blade that wrapped around to the left side of my chest.  At times, I could not even move.  It also hurt to breathe deeply.  The day before, my friend, Jennifer, had just sent me an article about back pain and heart attacks.  Naturally, this made me very nervous, and I was afraid I might be having another heart attack, especially with the painful breaths, which reminded me of the day of my heart attack.  I could not get comfortable to make the back pain go away, so I called my cardiologist nurse.  She did not think it was cardiac-related, and suggested I called my PCP,  which I did.  There were no appointments available to allow me to be seen that day, so the receptionist transferred me to a nurse who suggested (due to my history) that I go to the ER.  My concern was that I might have pneumonia if it wasn’t a heart attack because I had a sore throat for a few days prior.  The nurse was also concerned about that.

So, I got dressed into another pair of pajamas and called my mom to have her drive me to the ER.  Thank goodness that there is a hospital less than a mile from my house, so I figured I would try that ER since it was so close.  I’m not going to mention the hospital name at this time, but I do NOT plan on using that hospital ER ever again!!!!

I arrived around 3pm and was told there would be a 2 hour wait just to see a triage nurse.  There were signs all over the check-in desks that said if you were having chest pain to let them know and not fill out the paperwork.  I let them know that I was having pain in my left chest and pointed to the site of the pain.  The unfriendly check-in lady said that was not my chest, it was my ribs.  (OH, EXCUSE ME, I THOUGHT MY RIBS WERE IN MY CHEST CAVITY).  I also let her know that I was a heart attack patient.  She did not seem to care unless I was having “chest” pain.  What I thought was so crazy about this “chest” pain thing and how adamant they were about it is that most women do NOT have chest pain when they are having a heart attack.  I didn’t.  I had arm pain.  I was in too much pain to argue or talk back to them  at that time, but it really made no sense.  So I imagine that most of their female heart attack patients do not fare well because they come in with non-chest pain and are made to wait for hours in the ER waiting room while men fare better  because they have chest pain and are treated immediately??  I’d love to see the statistics in that hospital.

Anyway, I had to wait over 2 hours to see a triage nurse.  She seemed concerned about my pain and the fact that I was a heart attack patient, and within a few minutes, I was in the ER in a bed being seen by a doctor who was also very concerned.  DUH!  I explained everything about my pain and everything about my heart attack.  He took me very seriously and was going to do a full cardiac workup on me along with a chest X-ray (to check for pneumonia) and a CT scan of my abdomen (to check my kidneys).

All-in-all, I spent about 5 hours in the ER (from the time I arrived).  My chest X-ray did not show any pneumonia, but it did show bronchial cuffing (which the dr did not discuss with me, I  just noticed on my report after leaving).  The bronchial cuffing on the report said it could be caused by bronchitis, but I didn’t have a cough or bronchitis.  I googled it, and it can also be caused by acute pulmonary edema (which I had during my heart attack) and CHF.  It’s something I need to add to my list to ask my cardiologist about because he said that I did not have any lung damage as a result of the acute pulmonary edema.  I’m not sure if cuffing is considered “damage”.

My CT scan did not show anything wrong with my kidneys (no kidney stones), but I noticed on the report that I have a 4.4cm hemangioma on my liver.  The dr did not mention this, but my GI dr saw this on a CT scan that he ordered on me a few weeks earlier and said it was nothing to worry about.  Of course, I will worry about it a little later.  The GI dr said he would do another CT scan in 6 months if I wanted one, so I will take him up on that in 6 months just to be sure…based on my luck lately.

My cardiac workup was abnormal, but I told the dr that my EKG is abnormal now and has inverted T waves.  He said that is what his showed, too, and that my heart was ischemic.

So, he said to make sure I took the reports to my dr to have him look over everything to ensure they were “normal” for me, which they were when I went to my next cardiologist appointment.

Thank goodness nothing was wrong, and the fact that I went to the ER and was thoroughly checked out made me feel SO much better.  The dr prescribed me some pain medicine, and I already had an appointment with my GI dr a couple days later where we discussed GI issues that I’d been having.

I will say that next time I have an emergency (and am able to be driven to the ER), I will go the few extra miles to go to another hospital or drive even more miles to get to an Orlando Health hospital.