My Lab Technician

Most people don’t have a friendship with their lab technician, mostly because they don’t have need lab work more than a regular physical or 2 times a year for a minor health problem. I never envisioned I would have a friendship with a lab technician based on the need to watch my blood chemistry so much.

My regular routine is a weekly blood test to measure how quickly my blood will clot, and monthly for blood chemistry. Then I received a home machine to test my clotting at home. However, lay week I have had several problems and required 2 test & this week I will have 2 tests. My insurance company really hates me.

Rosie is my lab tech in Greenville Lab Corp and we have really talked over the last year. Some days it’s small talk, some days are pure stress relievers. During my relapses, she’s my therapist. But over all, over the last 15 months, she’s been my friend & I am blessed to have her.

Dangerous Exercises for Heart Disease Patients

According to the ACHA, competitive or vigorous swimming and rowing are dangerous exercises for heart disease patients. Swimming, especially swimming alone, can be fatal if you are predisposed to dizziness, fainting or have an ICD implanted. The exercise is strenuous itself, but combined with unexpected injuries or possibly being shocked by an ICD is very dangerous.

The rowing machine is intense with a harder effect on the heart and can cause sudden chest pain or injury. It’s more intense than stepping, spinning, or any other machine.

I’m glad I learned this tidbit of exercise knowledge this weekend.

Blessings In My Life

Throughout my life, I have been on a roller coaster. Life is great…no, life is crappy. I am thankful for my health…my health sucks. I have the best family…we all had an argument at Christmas time. I love my dogs…why can’t they just pee outside 100% of the time? My kids are the most beautiful, loving angels…stop spitting on your sister!!!

Emotions may go up and down, but the blessings and gifts I undeservingly receive are my stability.

My God who created me, chose me for His own, gave His Son’s life for me…He gives & gives & gives. He gave me the gift of Congenital Heart Disease, showing me His power, might, and providential planning of the events in my life.

My husband, who is ever patient, giving, selfless. Joel tells me I am the most beautiful woman in the world…and believes it. He loves God and hates evil.

My children, who were predestined to be ours. Gifts from God, birthmothers who chose life for Chloe and Jack and who sacrificially gave us what we couldn’t have otherwise.

My parents and siblings who love me. Mom and Dad always put us first, making the best decisions possible, spending countless hours taking care of me and getting the best medical care possible.

My church family, Emmanuel Bible Church. I cannot ever repay the support they give me, especially during my 5th heart operation. Prayers, fasting, gifts, time, surrogate homes for my kids. Continued prayer, continued encouragement, sometimes rebuke.

Friends who give, talk, spend time, easily forgive when I have been insensitive or mean.

Caring and brilliant physicians, nurses, medical support system throughout my life who have sought to save my life, problem solving to give me the best options available. Incredible health care coverage and opportunity to University hospitals and CHD centers.

These are the most important things in my life and I am blessed to have them.

Lessons Learned

Overwhelming. Encouraging. Optimism. Normalcy.

Attending the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s conference in Los Angeles has been an invaluable learning experience. It will take weeks to process all of the information, but here is a brief overview of the things most impacting my life.

“I’m not dead yet!”. Anthony from the Pittsburgh area, ACHA Ambassador keeps a blog & repeatedly makes the point, I’m NOT DEAD yet. I’m not giving up, this chronic disease is not going to kill me yet. Anthony taught me the hope in transplantation. After I receive my new heart and liver, and be one of the 70% who survive the first 6 months, I WILL RUN MARATHONS again. As John Bingham, “the Penguin,” says, “Waddle On!”

“My 24 year old legs have varicose veins, and I’m normal.” one of the patients said. My scars, my varicose veins, my cyanosis (bluish tint) is a reflection of my vascular system. Among my friends at home, this is freakish. Among my friends in the ACHA world, I’m normal. I am NOT a freak.

“Just Do It!”. No, not Nike, but a CHD ( Congenital Heart Disease) therapist taught. Should I go to the party? should I go to the ladies night get together? Should we go on a family vacation this summer? QUIT shoulding all over yourself and JUST DO IT! Life is too short for everybody… Do what you enjoy ( anything safe and legal), spend quality time with family & friends, read to your kids, eat some chocolate. Enjoy EVERY DAY we are given and blessed to have.

“Don’t be afraid of the transplants! You will feel so much better, life will change! Go for it!”. Dave, an super advocate for transplantation told me. 4 months after his heart transplantation, he climbed Utah’s highest mountain. Hs inspirational music and faith and video gives me the kick in the pants to get up everyday and LIVE!