Saturday, February 25, 2012

1 Month

January 25th was the day I got my stent. Today is February 25th. I guess I can safely say I've been heart attack free for 1 month. This past month has been one of the most emotional, eye-opening, deeply profound months of my life. There have been days I've been elated with life and days I've felt dark. I've laughed, cried, and yelled more than I have in a long time. I've contemplated my life's dreams, and also stared numbly at the wall. My life has instantly become more complicated, mysterious, and meaningful.

I spent this 25th in Naples for my doc program. One of my favorite places to reflect and clear my head is the beach. Don't ask me why...I didn't have one for 25 years in NY and did just fine, but it's my go-to in Florida. The first couple years of teaching down here I would drive out to the ocean once or twice a month after work just to sit and watch the waves a few minutes before driving home. So since I was in Naples, I had to hit the sand. Today was the first time I've done that since the heart attack. There's something about the simplicity of water rolling, crashing, and then rolling again that is cleansing and puts things into perspective. Even though the morning was foggy, it didn't stop me from standing with my feet in the water, toes grasping at the rushing sand, and my fears and anxieties sliding out to something bigger than me. They really should bottle that feeling.

I don't know what the next month will bring. Heck, I don't even know what the next day might bring. But I am almost certain that my emotions will continue to rise and fall like the waves. I just have to hold on and wait for the tide to turn. ♥

foggy but perfect
hello water

Monday, February 20, 2012

They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab & I Said No, No...Ok Fine

Today was my first day of cardiac rehab. Nervous doesn't even begin to describe it. Plus, 7:20 am?! It's been awhile since I've had an early morning workout.

Rehab started out with a numbers weight, my measurements, my bp, my BMI, my heart rate, you name it. No stone was unturned. Turns out I'm pretty average...which was nice to hear. :) Then an hour with the nurse where I retold my story, went over all the data and set some goals for rehab. I have two goals - 1. get back to running and 2. lose a little more weight. Nothing crazy and completely attainable. Then I was hooked up to the monitor and had to sit 5 minutes to get my resting heart rate and blood pressure. An exercise physiologist put me on the treadmill and I did a mile at a 17:00 pace which is what Max has been helping me do the last 2 weeks. A little elliptical, a little bike, all while hooked up to the monitors. So the plan is rehab 2x a week and walking 2 miles on the off days. I might even get to run soon! I also got cleared for yoga, which made me super happy.

I knew I was going to be on the young side of the patients there, but I really stuck out like a sore thumb. Mostly everyone was older, male, and white, much like the cardiac floor in the hospital. There was one other older lady but we were the only females. I definitely got some looks (all kinds). I was also shocked at the varying levels of fitness. Some of the men were in shape and some were quite heavy. Some struggled and some flew on the elliptical. A few grumbled about their wives making them come, which made me chuckle.

So I conquered my first session. It was scary but inspiring. I feel strong, confident and hopeful. It's been awhile since I've felt this way. I think rehab will help me emotionally and physically, and I might even like early morning workouts again. :)

Ok let's do this!
Thanks Orlando Health Heart Institute!
I did it! One session down!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

For Kathleen

Today my dear friend and running buddy Kathleen ran the A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon. I adore Kathleen for so many reasons. She is successful, smart, hilarious and compassionate. She's also a lung cancer survivor. The weather was hot, the course was rough, but she made it. SHE MADE IT. She is a lung cancer survivor AND marathoner. Did I mention she finished the race?! Did I mention she's a survivor?! Hope that sinks in for you like it did for me.

The trip back consisted of a Choco Taco (yum) and a lot of reflection. I have felt very lost lately, fumbling for meaning and footing. I have felt like the world is continuing to whirl around me and I can't get back on the merry-go-round. It's been frustrating to say the least. I started running a year ago, and now I feel like I've lost everything I've worked so hard to accomplish.

But, all is not lost after an illness as evidenced by today. I am lucky to have so many years ahead of me to make a change and live life to the fullest. As Lance Armstrong once said, "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever." Kathleen hasn't quit, so I won't either. ♥
She did it!

Serious BLING!
Amanda helped run them in! 
Max enjoying the beach. I think he thinks this blog is about him.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Join Me At The Heart Walk!

I feel so lucky that I've decided it's time to give back. I'm all signed up to do the Heart Walk here in Orlando on September 15th. Please take a minute to pledge or join me! ♥
Click here for my fundraising page!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Heart Day!

Day 2 of back to the grind. Still tired, still plugging away. Part of the tired definitely came from the drama of Valentine's Day. Teaching middle school on Valentine's Day is like surviving a taping of Jerry Springer. DRAMA baby! Flowers, candy, kissing, notes, all wrapped up in a massive sugar high. But we survived another one. I rocked a cute new red dress (my first) from Overstock and even some red lipstick. I would've put a pic on here but I was so tired by the end of the day that a shower and couch session won out.  
This Valentine's Day I am thankful for all of the amazing people in my life that I love so much. Thank you lovahs.♥  

My amazing student assistant made this for me. LOVE.

The cute red Julian Taylor dress I rocked today. It has this cute ruffle  detail that's hard to see in the pic but I love. Tis the season;)
[image via]

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back To Work

Today was my first day back to teaching after my heart attack. I was extremely anxious Sunday night. I was worried I wouldn't make it through the day...worried I wouldn't act myself...worried I would be awkward about the whole thing. 1st and 2nd period went well but when I got to lunch I could feel my body starting to rebel. I had a mini-breakdown before 3rd period and had to take a minute. 3rd and 4th were just ok and by my planning I was DONE. I honestly didn't think I had another class in me. By the time 6th period came around I just plugged through. Physically, the day was not the best. 

My students were so excited to see me and had tons of questions for me about the heart attack. They wanted to know what it felt like, if I'm scared it will happen again, if Max missed me, if the hospital food was any good and if I could've died. Some of the questions were fun to answer (food) and some were quite difficult. I like to be honest with my kids but to a point. I'm so proud of their questions though! 

I also got plenty of visits from my 7th and 8th graders and tons of hugs. One of my students from last year even said she had been waiting to tell me she finished her first 5k in 33:00! It's moments like this that make me so happy in my job. ♥  
I'm back! Ignore the messy shelf but check out my heart cardigan!
Yes that's a cookie cake from one of my kids. That's also an alien. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pledge Million Hearts

So after reading my story, maybe you've been thinking about your own health. You might have thought about your diet, you exercise routine (or lack thereof) or even your level of stress. You're wondering if you have any risk factors or a biological link. Check out Million Hearts ( Learn about how to change your life to be more heart healthy. While you're there sign the Million Hearts Pledge and make a commitment to better heart health. ♥
Click here:
February is American Heart Month. Pledge to Protect Your Heart

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2 Week Anniversary

Happy 2 week anniversary to Stewart the Stent. Hard to believe it's only been 2 weeks since I had the cath and got this itty-wittle piece of metal in my heart. Thanks Stewart, keep up the good work. ♥

image via

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This Girl!

Who loves Jon Stewart, long walks on the beach and got a 'good to go' from the cardiologist today? This girl! Back to work on Monday! Kids, get ready for me. Even though Jo says they took away part of my sense of humor when they unblocked my heart, I think I still have jokes. :)
PS Check out the bag I used to bring all of my meds to the doc today-hello David Beckham. ♥
Don't worry, I was at a stop light :)
It's far more exciting to carry all these meds to the doc now:)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ode to Driving

Oh driving! How I have missed you.
You give me independence and fun.
I blast Nicki Minaj in my aviators and cruise down 408.

(This is why I don't teach Language Arts;) ♥

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Tat Dreams

Of course I can't just let this whole thing go without a decent tattoo. Not many people can say they've lived through something like this and I'm all about commemorating life events with a little ink.
I like the flowered heart below with some vintage/lace modifications. I also like the bow, especially since the only piece of jewelry I had on me in the hospital was my Juicy bow ring. I love the lace in the third picture, which might be neat in a heart shape with the yellow button from Art on it somewhere. What do you think? ♥

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Max Says Thanks

I think this blog is going to his head. All I wanted was a pic of the flowers! ♥

No 5k For Me

Today was the Lady Track Shack 5k to benefit Florida Hospital. I had signed up for it a month ago and I was supposed to be running with 3 of our CMS kids. Unfortunately (and obviously) that didn't happen. So I went to cheer them on. The walk was tiring but worth it when I saw them come across the finish line. Amanda took this great action shot below, mid-run. I'm so proud of them!

Today also helped me put some things into perspective. This isn't the end of my running days. There were cancer survivors and their loved ones crossing the finish line, crying and praying. My break from running is just temporary. I will pick it up again and feel some normalcy. Until then I will be proud that we've inspired a new generation. ♥  
Go girls!
The finish line!
Mile 3! Almost there!
I'm looking rough but you get the picture.

Friday, February 3, 2012

They Wore Red!

I wish I could post the awesome pictures my teammates sent me of our Otter team students rocking red today. Darn you legalities. They looked great! One even did head to toe red! I am so proud to be their crazy Math teacher. :) ♥

Wear Red For Women!

Anyone who knows me knows I don't do red. No red, burnt sienna, pumpkin spice, or any variation thereof. So when I realized I needed something to wear today, the closest thing I had So off to Old Navy we went. Thanks ON. Now I'm prepared (along with a cute pair of PJ pants with hearts on them). ♥
Diane - Me - Amanda wearing red!

I'm Not Alone

Tonight my friends Diane and Elaine invited me over for dinner to meet their friend Steve. Steve had a heart attack and stent procedure in 2003. Like me, Steve was a runner. Unlike me, Steve did Ultras, Fulls, Tris, and was an all around competitive athlete. It took the doctors MONTHS to figure out what had happened to him. I barely lasted 4 days; I can't imagine months! Steve got a stent in his LAD and refused to stop. He still runs, bikes, and is in fantastic shape. In fact he said running became more enjoyable and meditative after he got back into it and he put less pressure on himself. It took him about 3-4 months to run again. Steve was kind enough to share his fears after his heart attack with me and I started to feel less alone. A good diet, exercise, and less stress are no guarantee that this won't happen. It was a hard realization but it felt cathartic to release some of the guilt and fear I had been holding on to. My life won't end because of this, it will just change. Maybe even change for the better. ♥

Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Here is a still from my stent video. The rest is pretty insane and surreal. FYI, I watched this DVD after watching my Daytona Half Marathon DVD. Lesson learned. Le sigh. ♥
Yup, that's my heart.

Max & HIS Heart

This is Max, keeping me company in my time off. :) ♥

Pinaholic...I need a Pintervention

Of course this whole heart thing (and the 2 weeks off of work) has left me with no choice but to embrace hearts and heart patterns, as well as the color red. So I had to start a Pinterest board dedicated to hearts. ♥
Check out my Pinterest ♥ board!

Thank you ORMC!

They were pretty amazing! ♥

Funny Stories

Because every cloud has a silver lining!
Too many hysterical things also happened while I was at the hospital. Somehow humor always follows me, wherever I go. When you have partners in crime like Jo and Amanda it seems to be even crazier. ♥
A sampling...

  • "I know who broke your heart...Democrat"
  • my bakery referral
  • knocking my pee cup down the toilet and the automatic flusher taking it away-thank you engineering dept
  • "Who are you, her mom?"
  • "Trip down memory lane"
  • the socks
  • heart attack, heart attack = HAHA
  • a certain pair of rubber gloves and a fistful of almonds
  • Jo's "socks"
  • ice cream socials
  • Amanda's outfit so she could stay over the first night 
  • the hat...enough said
  • my son's extracurricular activities while mommy was in the hospital
I'm sure there are many others:) More to follow...
the sign that disturbed us all...don't worry, there are more letters
Ticket to ride baby!
Jo just had to Tebow...with a GA hat on

More Thank Yous:)

I also have a list of a bajillion people who have helped me with everything from emotional support to lesson plans. Most visited me in the hospital, some bought groceries, others let me vent. They are in no order at all, FYI. Thank you:) ♥

  • Amanda & Jo (but of course)
  • Jessica
  • Kathleen & Chris
  • Lora
  • Claudia
  • Amy
  • Rich
  • Katherine
  • Jenni
  • Diane
  • Jan
  • Cathi
  • Jill
  • Bob
  • Cathi
  • Elaine
  • Diane
  • Sammie
  • Drew
  • Adela
  • Michelle
  • Kori
  • Shirley
  • My CMS co-workers that were so understanding and caring
  • My family
  • Marathonfest / Track Shack
  • the AMAZING nurses and doctors at ORMC-if you have to have a heart attack, go there;)
I also got gorgeous flowers from Adela H, Jessica M & family, Dawn & Monique Darling, Stephanie Roach and CMS :)

Wear Red Today!

I'm hardly ever early to the party, but today is Wear Red for Women Day! Please show your support for heart disease survivors and their families and friends. Did you know that Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women? Let's bring attention to this cause and speak out! Also don't forget to take advantage of the Macy's Wear Red Sale this week. Helloooo shopping! ♥
Let's wear red! :) #wearred

Thank Yous:)

I would never have gotten through this experience if it wasn't for my 2 best friends, Amanda & Jo. They took turns at the hospital and I wasn't alone once after my stent was put in. They handled my phone, my email, my mood swings and my modest hospital gown...ha. They regulated visitors, told ridiculous stories, kept me laughing and force fed me water. I never would have made it through that experience without them. Love you guys!  ♥
Amanda and I at our 9/11 5k (we PRed:))
Jo and I at a joint skating bday party looking adorbs:)

Meet Art

This is Art(ery), the Heart Tartan. It was an amazing present from my friend and running diva, Kathleen. It has a removable heart and was super comforting during my time at the hospital.  

Welcome! This Is My Story...

Just 3 months before my heart attacks I ran a half marathon. I lost 30 lbs. I flipped my dog in yoga. But here I am recovering from 2 heart attacks at age 31.
I had been abnormally tired for weeks. In fact, so tired that I tried to do an early morning run and fell, hurting my knee. In the process of nursing my knee back to health I also noticed that I developed a cyst on the back of my head. I stopped running, even slept 12 hours a night and nothing seemed to make a difference. Finally I was so frustrated with the fatigue that I broke down in the first 5 minutes of a run that I told myself I could do. I brought myself to an urgent care who ordered blood work and gave me a neurological consult and sent me home. That afternoon the chest pains began. I had a Sex and the City flashback to when Miranda said she was going to die alone and the cat would eat her face off, so I brought myself to another urgent care that night who gave me a mono test and an EKG. Since both came back fine, I was sent home again. The pain continued in waves for the next 2 days. I went to my job as a teacher, and went home to go back to sleep. The 4th day I was feeling slightly better until the drive home. Suddenly the pain was worse than before. Thinking it wasn't a heart attack, I walked the dog and drove myself to the ER. They did an EKG and a chest x-ray, saying I wasn't having a heart attack. It wasn't until my Troponin levels came back that anything was suspected. That night in the hospital I had a massive nose bleed and an abnormal EKG, prompting the cardiologist to do a cardiac catheterization. I will never forget the moment they found the blockage-silence in the room. Then, "she's only 31," "she's a runner," & "she has no risk factors." Not only did I have a heart attack, I had 2 and it was due to a 99% blockage in my LAD, aka the Widowmaker. I feel so incredibly lucky. I hope anyone reading this realizes that you don't have to have any of the risk factors to go through this but that a good lifestyle might mean the difference between life and death. I want to spread this message to my students, parents, co-workers, family and friends. Trust your instincts, follow your heart, have hope for the future. ♥
This is me on Oct 30, 2011 after finishing my 1st Half Marathon in Daytona, FL