All posts by jagnaks

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!!!


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.

National Wear Red Day

National Wear Red Day was a success and was fun.  In case you missed it on the Love Your Heart Facebook page, here is a photo!!


My red converse are about 24 years old and still going strong, love these red jeans (wear them all the time), the red purse is Dooney & Bourke (I’m a huge Dooney fan) from QVC.  My sweater has dogs on it, but I still thought it was perfect to wear…and apparently, the American Heart Association thought so, too, as evidenced in a response to my post on their Facebook page!!  (You have to read it!)

And for those days that aren’t called National Wear Red Day or where I don’t want to wear all red, I now have my #GoRedPin that will match any and everything!!!


Do you have yours?  If not, it’s very easy to get.  Go to their website and enter your information.  It took a while to receive mine, but I also received a note with mine saying they had a rare glitch or something where they missed a period of time of requests last year.  So you shouldn’t have that problem now.

I’m also looking forward to the day after Valentine’s Day clearance sales.  I’m hoping to find a cute heart scarf or socks or some other cute stuff to add to my “heart accessories” collection.  Hmmm…maybe I’ll just spend that day shopping all day!!!  Any suggestions on where to go?  Who’s selling super cute Valentine’s Day tops, jewelry, accessories?  You better believe I’ll be wearing that stuff year-round!  And you should, too, if you’re a heart disease survivor!!!  HAVE FUN WITH IT!!!  BE HEART PROUD!

Latest Cardiologist Appointment

All went well with my latest appointment!  My cardiologist was pleased at how I’ve been feeling, did not change any meds, did not order any new tests, and does not need to see me again until June!!!!  In fact, my next appointment is scheduled on the 1-year anniversary of my Heart Attack! (I may end up rescheduling if I plan something so spectacular to celebrate that it requires I free up the entire day. hee hee)

But wait…what will I do without the monthly doctor’s visits???  Of course, he said I can still come in if I need to, and I’m sure I will still be calling as often as I need to.  Either the nurses’ phone has caller ID or they have my number memorized because they greet me by name when I call there now.  LOL!  (Yes, folks, that is how often I call my cardiologist’s office with questions, frantic concerns, and outrageous symptoms.)

Nonetheless, I was very thankful to get a “clean” bill of health (or as clean as it can be for a heart patient) for the next few months.  It makes me feel somewhat back to normal for a little while!  And that could be a very good thing psychologically!

New Year’s Resolutions…Not For Me

I do not do New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t believe in them.  Usually they start off as a great idea, and you are motivated for a little while and working hard towards your resolution, but at some point, you taper off, and the resolution does not become a habit.  At least this has been my experience whenever I have made one.

So, for the past several years, instead of a resolution like losing X # of pounds by a certain date or working out so many days a week or following a certain diet, I now have a simple quote or mantra that I try to abide by daily.  It can be something as simple as “be happy” or “live each day to the fullest” or “this is your year”.  And I’ve even gone so far as to work it into my computer password at work, so I’m reminded of it first thing every morning when I log in.

I feel that these “resolutions” are much easier to follow for the entire year, and they really shape your mind to be a better person.  Yes, they are very broad, so they leave me lots of room to interpret them they way I want to or need to each day.

My “resolution” for 2015 is to “Be Heart Healthy”.  It wasn’t very hard to come up with that one.  What is your resolution?

Cheat Days

Since my dietician and my cardiologist told me that I had to avoid cheese, fried foods, egg yolks, and limit my dairy, I’ve had to find a way to cope.  I honestly think I was eating cheese a few times a week before my heart attack.  I got into the habit of eating cheese (a lot of it) a little over a year ago.  Fried foods, I’ve always pretty much avoided.  I would rarely order french fries pre-heart attack and almost always substituted with another side item when I went out to eat.

I don’t think I could go on with NEVER eating some of these foods again.  I mean, let’s be real.  But then again, I am the girl who completely stopped drinking all soda 19 years ago (until my GI issues this past Spring – when all my stomach could handle was bottled Sprite – but as soon as my GI issues were resolved, the Sprite went away, too).  So we know I have good will power.

Nevertheless, I felt the best way to never worry about missing these foods on a daily basis would be to have a “cheat day” once a month.  So far, they’ve been lots of fun and very fulfilling (and filling).  Most of my cheat days have been pizza because I think I miss that THE MOST!!!!!  In October, my cheat day was Kraft Mac & Cheese (but I did toss in some English Peas and Tuna).

As I learned on one of my cheat days, when I over-indulged in Pizza Hut pizza, I have to be really careful about sodium intake on these cheat days.  I gained 4 pounds after that Pizza Hut visit (literally overnight) and when I went to their website to look up the nutrition facts (afterwards), I learned why.  I had consumed at least 3 times my daily limit of sodium from that one meal alone!  Even though pizza might seem cheap, easy, convenient, and healthy, do yourself a favor and look up the nutritional facts before ordering your next pizza pie.  The sodium content is outrageous!!!  And to give you an idea of the type of pizza I order, it’s always thin crust with pineapple and onion or pineapple and jalapeños…you’d think that would be healthy!  But it’s the tomato sauce that really gets you, so be careful!!

At least I know I won’t be having pizza until at least January because my cheat day for November was Thanksgiving Day and for December will be Christmas Day.

Cheat Days gives you something to consider if you’re having a hard time eliminating a favorite food from your diet.  So far, it’s working great for me!

Inspirational Words

I don’t normally buy decor for my home that contains quotes and words of inspiration, but I saw this today and thought it was just too perfect.


I love that “heart” and “life” are the core of this quote and seem to carry a whole new meaning for me.

This is now hanging in my bedroom where I can read it before I go to sleep at night and when I wake up first thing in the morning.

Good words for me to live my life by now!

Oh, and if you’d like to get one for yourself…”I got it at Target; it was on sale”.  (No, really, it was.  lol.  A little Ricky Bobby humor for those of you who are fans.)



My Favorite Holiday Beverage

As I was strolling through the grocery store today, I noticed that the milk coolers were stocked full of my favorite holiday beverage…Egg Nog!

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Oh, how I’m going to miss this.  Let’s see…what’s wrong with it, you ask?  Oh, just the fact that it’s dairy and egg yolks!!!  NOOOOOO!!!!!  I don’t know how I will make it through the holiday season without Egg Nog.  It’s usually a staple in my refrigerator starting about this time of year all the way until the last jug is available in the grocery store in January. I’m so sad.

Christmas Day will be my December cheat day, so I will allow myself to divulge in my favorite beverage on that day only (the lowfat option).

But in the meantime, I also found THIS in the milk coolers…Silk Holiday Nog.  Not as thick or as creamy or as “bad” as Egg Nog, but this will have to satisfy my taste buds for now.  And it is dairy-free and egg-free!

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What is your favorite holiday beverage?

What a Healthy Weekend!

I feel like I’ve had a healthy weekend yesterday and today!

On Saturday, I woke up, let the dogs out, changed into my workout clothes, and went running/walking in my neighborhood for 30 minutes.  I did this before I could talk myself out of it or before I could talk myself into saving it until later in the day.  Afterwards, I drank a bottled water and went out to breakfast to this super cute local diner called “Nothing Fancy Cafe”.  For the first time ever, I ordered an omelette!  I know, I’ve always been an old-fashioned eggs girl (scrambled, over easy, or over hard), so this was totally new for me.  I realize I’m a little late to the party.  I ordered an egg white veggie omelette (contained onions, tomatoes, spinach, and bell peppers) with no cheese.  This came with 2 sides, and I selected fresh fruit cup and dry whole wheat toast.  YUMMY!!!  It was so good!  I actually made a sandwich out of the omelette and the toast, and it was scrumptulicious (my own word).  My breakfast was so good and filling that I didn’t even get hungry again until 6 hours later!

On Sunday morning (today), I weighed myself and lost 1 pound!  Not sure it will last, but it certainly motivated me to quickly put on my workout clothes and go running/walking in the neighborhood again for 30 minutes!  Yay!  Workout done and over with at the start of the day!!  Afterwards, I went back to the diner and ordered the exact same breakfast.  Super YUMMM!

I won’t be able to to keep this up everyday (I’m on a budget), but I feel like I’ve been super healthy this weekend as a result!  And I’ve realized that I love egg white veggie omelettes!

What heart-healthy choices have you made this weekend?