goodbye 2012 hello 2013

Goodbye 2012!

Finally it is over! I am so glad to see it end!

What a year it has been for my family and I.

It’s been a hard year. A year with ups and downs.

2012……… the year they said the world was going to end.

2012……… the year with the date 12/12/12

2012……… the year I learned more life lessons

2012……… the year I am thankful

2012……….the year I lost my father

2012……….the year I grew stronger

I read this quote on Pinterest

“and once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in.”

I love this quote because I feel that’s exactly how this past year has been for me. 2012 was hard, but the thing I learned the most this past year is that life is short. We need to remember to tell that special person(s) you love them, even if they say they know you do, even if you think it’s silly, or haven’t said it, or you don’t think it’s important, because if you suddenly do happen to leave this earth without saying it, the person (s) you left behind will always wonder……

Hello 2013!

They say the number 13 is lucky.

I hope 2013 will be the year of luck for my family and I.

2013……….the year we are healthy

2013……….the year of happiness

2013……….the year we never forget

2013……….the year we are all stronger

2013……….the year we will spend more time together

2013……….the year of new beginnings

Happy New Year!

My New Year’s Resolution this year is to spend more time with family and get back into doing the things I love!

Yours??????

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for granted

I know everyone has taken things for granted.  You all know it’s true, we have all done it. It can’t be helped! We just tend to forget what is important until one day something or someone has affected your life somehow to remember.

As you know, I am learning to live with this ICD everyday. I have read my “manual” so many times to make sure what I am allowed to do and not allowed. I am finding it difficult because I am constantly trying to remember what items have magnets in them.    Magnets????   Yes I said magnets….

I didn’t realize how many things have magnets inside them.

In my “manual” it reads;

General Precautions

Any electrical equipment, appliance, or machine that you use should be in good working order and should be properly grounded. Do not carry magnets or products containing magnets close to your ICD. Avoid holding motor-driven appliances and machine-shop tools closer than necessary to your implant site. When working with tools or appliances, be careful in situations where you could be injured if you become dizzy or receive a therapeutic shock from your ICD. (in a nutshell everything must be properly grounded)

Home Appliances

Assuming they are in good condition and properly grounded, the following items are safe to operate:

Kitchen appliances, including microwave ovens, can openers, blenders, toasters, electric knives. Televisions, VCRs, personal computers, AM/FM radios, remote controls, garage door openers. Major appliances, including washers and dryers, electric stoves, refrigerators, etc. Electric blankets, heating pads.

Avoid holding the following items closer than necessary to your ICD

Hand-held appliances with motors, such as hair dryers and shavers, light shop equipment, such as drills, table saws etc. Transmitters for radio-controlled equipment or toys.

It is generally safe to work around spark-ignited internal combustion engines, such as lawn mowers, leaf blowers, automobiles, etc but limit your exposure to ignition-system parts when they are in operation.

Office Equipment

Most office equipment is safe to operate as long as it is properly grounded and in good working order. This includes computers, electric typewriters, fax machines, pagers and copiers.

Security Systems

Metal detectors and anti-theft systems used in airports, stores and other locations create electromagnetic fields that can interfere with your ICD. Anti-theft systems or Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) systems such as those used at the entrance/exits or checkout counters of stores, libraries, banks, etc. emit signals that may interact with ICDs. To minimize the possibility of interaction, just walk through the entrances/exits of these establishments at a normal pace and do not linger in these areas. Metal detectors; walking through the metal detector archway will not harm your ICD, however be sure to pass through the archway at a normal pace and avoid lingering in the immediate area. Your ICD has metal inside that may set off the airport security system alarm. If a search with a hand held wand is performed you should stress to the security personnel that the search should be performed quickly and that they should avoid holding the wand over your ICD for a prolonged period.

Industrial Equipment

Large industrial equipment, such as generators and electric motors often generates strong electromagnetic fields that can interfere with your ICD. Avoid standing near large motors or other electromechanical equipment. Make sure that the equipment is properly grounded before working near it.

Medical Equipment

Although most medical equipment will have no effect on your ICD, some may affect its function. Always tell the doctor or nurse that you have an ICD.

The list keeps going on and on, I am not going to type everything and I think you get the picture.

These are a few things that I have taken for granted:

1. When I would go to the airport. Whenever I would go somewhere I didn’t think twice about the security portion of walking through the scanner. Well now, even thou the “manual” says I can go through the archway, my Doctor suggested I didn’t go through because my ICD can set off the alarm. So now I have a pat down every time I go. I have this lovely bright red laminated card that says in capital letters: I HAVE AN IMPLANTABLE DEFIBRILLATOR that I have to carry with my passport. I have learned to appreciate the security personnel more because they have to do their job to make sure we are all safe and yes sometimes it is annoying and takes up time, but I would rather take the time to make sure we are all safe. So the next time you go to the airport and see someone get a pat down try to remember that it’s for your best interest and that it’s not all that fun for the person who is being pat down either.

2. The cell phone. Yes, the cell phone haha. I had to train myself not to use my cell phone on my left ear, it can interfere with my ICD. I also had my cell phone in my purse that I carried on my left side. It was just natural for me to wear it there. But since the implant I was told that I wasn’t allowed to have my cell phone near my ICD. I know this might sound silly but I know you ladies out there will understand, when you have worn your purse on the same side since you started wearing a purse and you put it on the opposite side?? WELL!! that was just so hard for me to get used to! It’s been 10 months since I had my implant, and I have gotten used to wearing my purse on the “right” side now. I even tried wearing my purse on the left side (without the cell phone inside) and it felt weird! haha guess after wearing my purse on the opposite side for 10 months isn’t so bad after all! Oh! Ear phones are another that I cannot have dangling around my neck it can interfere with my ICD. As I said the list goes on! and this is why I said it is difficult to remember all these things but I know in time I will remember what will interfere and what won’t.

I am trying everyday to live “normally” but some days are hard when you know things may just put you in a position you don’t want to be in.


difficult but healing

I know, I thanked the lifeguards for saving my life back in February, but I got a call on May 9th from the BC Ambulance Services letting me know that they were giving the three Lifeguards, the two Paramedics, and to the person who called 911 the Vital Link Award. I was so happy they were going to give them recognition for saving me. The spokesperson told me the ceremony was the following week and wanted to know if I could attend. I really wanted to see them all get the award. I told the spokesperson that I would get back to her by Friday. I had such mixed emotions during the phone call because of the questions they asked in case I wasn’t able to attend, and told me the media would be there. I know that the media wanted to show the community how proud they were of the Lifeguards, and Paramedics but it was just very overwhelming knowing they were going to be there.

I talked with DC and he thought it would be great to see the Lifeguards again since the last time was emotional. Not that it wouldn’t be emotional again but it may help me feel this way of thanking the Lifeguards/Paramedics could help me move on. I talked with my brother K, he said that if I couldn’t attend he would go on my behalf, but thought it would be good for me to come as well. I even asked my Therapist if it would be in my best interest to go. If I could handle it emotionally. She thought that it was wonderful that they were going to give them recognition for their actions, and asked me how I felt.  I told her I thought it was wonderful too, and wanted to be there. That I was thankful too. But I was really nervous because the last time I went to thank them, I had 2 ATP’s before I had even entered the building!! I didn’t want to be so emotional that my ICD would shock me. Dr. H said to remember about letting all the emotions out, not to hold it in, so that it wouldn’t get my heart rate up. It’s something that I am still learning to do. After I had talked with everyone, I knew I had to be there.

On May 15th I flew to BC to be at the award ceremony the next day. It was difficult to leave DC this time because the last time I left him I almost didn’t come back. DC reassured me, told me not to worry (DC couldn’t attend the ceremony) and I would be alright. Even thou I am sure DC at the time was worried too.  I even remember how scared I was flying that day. We had a bit of turbulence, and I remember thinking to myself “calm down S, don’t panic, don’t get your heart rate up!” I didn’t want to have a shock on the plane! I know it was minor turbulence but when you are nervous you think the worst haha.

K, M and I went to the Rec Centre for the ceremony and I couldn’t believe how many people were there! I wasn’t expecting that many people, I figured there was just going to be the three Lifeguards, the two Paramedics, the person who called 911, BC Ambulance Services and the Media. But there were Paramedics, Lifeguards, staff, family, the Radio and the Media. It was overwhelming, but it was great to see all these people who come to see them get the recognition they deserved!

I was really proud of myself, I only cried once when they talked about my story. After the ceremony was over, I met with one of the Paramedic that attended to me that day. (I didn’t meet the Paramedics when I thanked the Lifeguards back in February). She was more emotional than I was! She thought it was wonderful to see I was doing well! She said in all her 18yrs of being a Paramedic, I was the second person she helped save, survive. I was really happy for her knowing she helped me too. I even met one of the Lifeguard’s family member, and I told them how thankful I was for their daughter that day. The Media asked if I would give them a quote and picture of me with the Paramedic and Lifeguards. I decided to let them have a picture and quote because it would make this story complete. When I left the Rec Centre that day, I felt so good! Like weight had lifted off my shoulders knowing they all got recognition and another way of saying THANK YOU. Having this ceremony for the all the people that day made me know I could start healing………………………….


learning

After my first shock, I had a very hard time adjusting again. I felt I couldn’t do anything because if I did, I would get another shock. I was afraid to shower, go near the stove or even go up and down the stairs. I didn’t know what made my heart rate go up that day, because all I was doing was standing stirring. How could a heart just suddenly go crazy?? I had called the Pacemaker clinic to let them know I had received a shock. They said do a transmission from home (a transmission is a machine that you plug into the phone jack to read the data from your device) to see if it was in sinus rhythm or not. Did a transmission and I waited……….I didn’t wait long but when you are sitting at home it felt like hours when it was probably only ten minutes.

When they called me back, they told me that they believed I had received an unnecessary shock to the heart. Well!! talk about anxiety!!!! I thought it was a necessary shock and here it wasn’t!?! The Doctor said he believed that my heart did an irregular arrhythmia on the top of the heart and because where my ICD lead is (its on the bottom), it “felt” the arrhythmia and shocked me. His suggestion was to come in to adjust the settings to the device. He believed that the settings were too low and wanted me on a beta blocker to help regulate the heart rate. The clinic said I would come in three weeks, so that the beta blocker would be in my system for a few weeks before I went in for my settings change.

I tried my best to stay calm and do regular things again. Knowing that DC had to go back to work soon and that I would be by myself?? That was difficult. I didn’t have any troubles being by myself before but this time was different. I remember the first day he went, I was afraid to stay by myself.  All I could think of was “what happens if I get a shock”??  “what if I need CPR”??  “what if I received a shock and fall, knock my self out”??  So many things were going through my mind that day. When DC came home that evening, I broke down! Most people who know me, knows that I do not get emotional like that! I am a very strong person. I’m the one who is the shoulder for everyone. So this emotion was very new to me, I broke down three times that week.

During the few weeks before I went in to get my settings changed, I didn’t want to shower without anyone in the house, I didn’t go anywhere (plus I wasn’t allowed to drive) I didn’t even go downstairs. I was going through a lot of anxiety, DC could see I was struggling and suggested to see a therapist. A therapist?? I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see a therapist because everything to me was fine. Until one day I knew that I couldn’t be afraid of my heart, and most of all, my mind. DC set an appointment with the therapist the same day for my settings change. What a day!!!!

The therapist appointment was first, looking back at it now, I would have to say even thou I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. It was the best thing for me. I know that when we met that day, I felt the weight was lifted off my shoulders. I knew I needed to see her again. I had seen her every two weeks for about four months and as I am typing about her, I didn’t realize how much I miss her. She helped me in so many ways. I didn’t see her as a therapist, I saw her as my friend. She taught me that I needed to learn to express my feelings more, if I felt mad – be mad, and if I felt sad and wanted to cry – let it out! Don’t hold it in! Learning to do this is hard for me. I have always kept my feelings aside, don’t get me wrong, I still said my opinions but I tried to never show my “sensitive” side. I didn’t like to cry or cry in front of anyone. ANYONE! even DC haha. I said before, I was the strong one! I helped get people through their tough times but now? it’s time for me. For me. I need to, so that I will be a better person, wife, mother, sister and friend.

The next appointment was at the Pacemaker Clinic to change my settings. When I say settings, I mean they set a range that would monitor the heart rate and the defibrillator would decide when it needed to shock the heart. So mine were set at monitor at heart rate 170, ATP (Anti-Tachycardia Pacing) at 176 and if the ATP didn’t help regulate the heart back to normal then I would receive a shock. They said that it didn’t give me much warning between the monitor and the first ATP, so they changed it. They changed it to monitor at heart rate 155, ATP at 200 and if it didn’t regulate then shock at 200. I know what you’re thinking, 200?? That’s pretty high! Yes but in my case my heart does get over 176 more than normal, so they figured if its going to go that high a lot then I would be shocked for no reason. This made me feel 100% better knowing that I had a better range of monitoring. I felt really good that day, knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I am learning a lot with this defibrillator and I decided that it will not take over my life. Life is short. I have learned that twice……….


shocked!

After all the things that I had gone thru in the beginning of the year, I finally felt that I was going to be alright! I was healing nicely and I had even decided that having an ICD wasn’t going to be that bad. Our oldest C had come down for Spring break to visit, because she didn’t get a chance to see me while I was recovering in BC, or for my father’s death. When C arrived, we had a family photo done so that we could update the old one, plus D had her Grad photos done at the same time. It was so nice to have the 5 of us together.

The next day, I had decided to make lasagna for supper and cherry cheesecake for dessert. While I was preparing the meal, I was standing at the stove making the meat part of the lasagna and I thought I felt something in my chest. I just shrugged it off thinking it was nothing, so I just kept cooking, but then I felt something again. I stopped immediately and knew that I should go and sit down. When I was at the Pacemaker Clinic they told me that no matter what I was doing whether it was cooking, showering, walking etc, and I felt anything I was to find a safe spot and sit down.

I immediately went to the dinning room table and sat down but I didn’t have much time because I had received my first shock! My ICD did what it was supposed to do when my heart needed it. The shock was very quick, and it was not as painful as I thought it would be, don’t get me wrong it did hurt and like someone had kicked me, but not what I was expecting. The jolt to the heart was so powerful it almost threw me backwards and off the chair but DC rushed over and held my legs down so I wouldn’t. I was so thankful that DC was home that day. I was in shock for some time and tried to stay calm because I was afraid it would go off again. When I went to bed that night however was hard, I was scared that it would go off while I was asleep and what if I went to sleep and I didn’t wake up? DC was so thoughtful, he knew that I was struggling with the thoughts of not waking up that he left the bathroom light on.

I had a lot of trouble that night with my heart rate. The more I felt my heart go up the more anxiety I had. The funny part of it all was every time DC got into our bed my heart rate would go up, and I would get hot. This happened at least four times. He would get up get me a cold cloth to put on my forehead, and check my heart rate to make sure I was okay. DC wanted to take me to the hospital but I refused. I am a very stubborn, and I didn’t want to go to the hospital! after all I had just been there.
As I have said before DC is very thoughtful, after all the in and out of bed, he felt that he should sleep on the floor beside me. He slept on the floor with his pillow and one blanket all night. To this day when I think of what he did, I cry because knowing he had shoulder surgery only a few months earlier he slept on that hard floor for me…..

The shock happened on March 23, 2012 @ 2:45pm. I will never forget this day. I will never forget the feelings that I had that day, the hurt, the worry, and most of all………..
the love………………….


time

The last post I had said I was home to start my recovery but something happened…………

Before I start on what happened, DC and I left British Columbia on February 9 th and flew to Saskatchewan to see my sister B and my Mom. We had flown there because when DC heard about my incident, he could only get a flight out in Saskatchewan, so he had driven there with our truck and left it at my sister’s place. I was so happy to see B because I knew she had been so worried about me. When I was in the hospital I hadn’t spoken to anyone but my children. I was not ready to talk to people yet. So I knew that I wanted to see B to make sure that she knew I was alright. We had only stayed one night since I was very anxious to get home and see our children. DC drove the 7 hrs that it takes to get home from my sister’s, it was a very long trip and all I wanted was just to get home and be with my children.

My wonderful Sister-in-law J (who flew out from New Brunswick) was with our two out of three children, D and E (C lives on her own in Alberta) who were waiting for us to arrive. When we arrived, there were balloons and welcome home sign. I was so over whelmed, (they even baked me some goodies!) and really emotional, that when I hugged D, I am sure that every mother would agree with me when I say this, but when you see your child (I am tearing up as I type this) seeing your child’s face looking at you and is glad that you are alright. Seeing that look, is the hardest thing I could ever see. Something that I do not want to see again. Ever!! But E just had come home from a friend’s birthday party to see me too. Another hard thing seeing our son so emotional and happy to see his mother.

So as I said earlier something happened, well we had only been home for two days and we got a phone call from my sister B………….More bad news!! As if 2012 couldn’t be any worse!! Well it did turn out even worse because B said Dad was rushed to the hospital by ambulance because he couldn’t breathe. B said that she would find out from the hospital what his prognosis was and get back to me. B called telling me that when he couldn’t breathe, Dad had a small heart attack and then in the middle of the night he ended up having a stroke, so they needed to send him to a bigger hospital. They had transferred him to another hospital and he had another stroke that next day. The doctors called and told me that there was no chance of him surviving this and didn’t know how long he had left. This just couldn’t get any worse!!! DC and I had made the decision to go back to Saskatchewan. We had decided that we would leave that next morning (because it’s a 7 hour drive and by the time we had talked to the doctor it was already late) which was for Feb 16, but…….. We got the “call” my father had passed at 11:51 pm on February 15. We left at midnight.

K,M, DC and I arrived at the same time, us coming from Manitoba and K & M from BC. We all saw our father and I still feel like I had dreamed all of this and still haven’t mourned my father’s death since I was still trying to recover from my episode. I don’t have any regrets, but I think that no matter what you will always have that feeling the back of your mind……. Did he know??? I am sure he did but because I hadn’t spoken to him in about a year you just never know. Like I said earlier I still feel like this is all a dream and that he is just going to call me up and see what I’m up to or why I haven’t called in a while? I know “it takes time to heal”, and I know now that I have been given more time to heal………………….


recovery

Before I was released from the hospital, February 1st, they had to test my Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator to make sure it was in the right spot and show me what to look for when or if something were to go wrong.  They took me to a room that had a laptop type computer with a wand to “hook” me up to see how it was functioning. The nurse told me that she was going to tell me what she would be doing step by step so that I knew what to feel or not feel. I was so nervous! I even said to her, “You’re not going to shock me, to test it? are you?” she just giggled and said “No, they already did that when you were in surgery”. The nurse did some tests and I was getting a little nervous because I hadn’t felt anything yet, but she told me that I was going to feel my heart race. I couldn’t believe that this device could do this! and yet from a computer! I felt my heart pump faster, I was so afraid that she was going to make it go too fast then I would end up having a shock! but when I looked at the computer, it had shown my heart rate was only at 90, I knew it wouldn’t shock me. But I was still scared thou. Then she said that she was going to show me how it would feel if the battery is low or the lead from the ICD to the heart was not in place. She explained that it would feel like when your cell phone was on vibrate, and instead of feeling that vibration in your purse or pocket, I would feel it in my chest. Well let me tell you that was the weirdest feeling I had ever felt! The next weird feeling was the flutter, the flutter that would happen in my chest if my heart rate would go to 176, it would give me an ATP.  ATP is Anti-Tachycardia Pacing, which tries to pace the heart to its normal rhythm and if it doesn’t pace to the normal rhythm then it would give me an electrical shock to make the heart go back to its normal rhythm. The nurse then gave me a print out of my “settings”  which were that the ICD would watch my heart rate of 170 and at 176 it would give me an ATP and if it didn’t go back into rhythm then it would shock me.

I had stayed with K and M until I was ready to take the journey back to Manitoba. Before I took my journey back to Manitoba, I had yet another day that was going to be difficult. I wanted to meet the people who saved my life at the Rec Centre. I wanted to see the people who went with the voices that I heard that day, and to say “Thank you” for what they did for me. On February 7 th I faced the people who saved me, I cannot tell you the words to describe how I felt that day. How do you Thank someone for saving you? there are no words to completely say “Thank you” to someone who just gave you another chance at life.

Before I had walked in to the Rec Centre, I was very emotional. My emotions were so overwhelming that I had felt a flutter! I had felt my first ATP! I was so emotional that it had caused my heart rate to go high, so I tried to calm my self down and DC was there to hold me while I breathed. I was trying really hard to breathe and keep calm when I felt another flutter!(ATP) I had to keep my heart rate down because I knew if I didn’t, I would receive a shock. I didn’t want that to happen since it was only one week ago that I had the ICD implanted! I had finally calmed down enough to go in the building, they were waiting for me to come into the room where they were waiting. Well! I was so emotional that all I could do was cry. I think it was only for a few minutes that I cried, but it felt like a lifetime. I stood there looking in the faces of the lifeguards that saved my life and just cried, saying “Thank you”. I just didn’t know what else to say. What else would you say?  DC, K, and M were there with me and they just let me do what I needed to do. The lifeguards were so humble, they just kept on saying that they were happy to help and it was their “jobs” and that they were happy to see me alive. I told them I understand that it was their “job” but I felt that it wasn’t just their “job”. I felt that they were there for a reason, they were there to save me that day. After I had thanked the lifeguards, I knew that my recovery was going to be alright, that I was going to be alright. I wanted 2012 to start all over and start living, but when I got home something else happened………….