where did the old me go?

A few weeks ago a friend of mine said she was having a get together for a tarot reading. She said that there was an open spot and wanted to know if I was interested in taking it. Now I know what you are thinking…tarot reading?? I know there are some of you that are skeptic of psychics or mediums and that’s okay. However, I do believe there are people who have the ability to talk to the “dead”. I believe there are spirits around us.

Anyways, the tarot reader only had a limit of 6 people to read that night. I was one of those 6. I hadn’t seen a psychic in over 2 years, and I was excited to be read. I have been to a few readings in the past and for some reason this reading made me emotional. I have never cried in a reading before. I couldn’t believe how she said things I needed to hear. Shannon (the reader) told me to believe in signs I have been given but have denied them. She mentioned about one sign in particular, about how spirits leave coins, for example; pennies. She said that it’s sad we don’t have pennies anymore (because we don’t make them in Canada) and they won’t be able to drop pennies as a sign. She also told me I have 7 people around me all the time to help guide and protect me. She went on and on.

The next day I felt I needed to tell my sister how my reading went. She was unable to chat with me right away, so I sent her the recording of my reading to see what she thought and we would catch up when she could.

She called me that evening lol. She understood what Shannon said the cards told me. She said she cried when she listened because she could hear the emotion in my voice and laughed because I asked a silly question. Then our conversation turned into about the past. She talked about what I was like before I had my surgery in 2004 (for my mitral valve). She said I was a very serious person, and they were careful what they could say to me. For example; they couldn’t joke around me because I would take it personally. I would get angry with the person for days even sometimes months!

When she was saying this to me, I couldn’t believe I forgot that is exactly what I was like! Then she continued to say after my surgery I was a totally different person. I looked at “life is too short” and did all the things I wanted to the fullest. I was happy, always telling people I loved them, and hugged them even! I looked at my life in a positive perspective. Then she told me when I had my collapse I changed again. I changed but in a different way, I am still a happy person, I just started to show signs of being afraid, and who worry’s a lot not that I didn’t always worry in the past but just even more.

I didn’t disagree with her when she told me this, I knew right away it was true. I did do those things. I do still look at life it’s short but I am not doing the things I loved. After the conversation we had, I went to bed and of course started to think about what we talked about, and I said to myself, “where did the old me go?” “what happened to me?” “why am I afraid?”

I woke up the next morning feeling very refreshed. I don’t know what it was, I just felt HAPPY! It was almost like I was a whole new person! I couldn’t be more thankful to be alive and I have my sister to thank for helping me “wake up”.

When I went to work that morning, I went to my desk and I pulled my chair out, and I noticed there was something on the floor………..it was a shiny penny! an American penny at that! I couldn’t believe it! I was shocked!! I immediately took a picture and sent it to my sister. She replied back saying “see trust in the signs”. I was in awe!

A few weeks later I chatted with my brother about this and he asked me did you see what year the penny was? I said no I didn’t even think to look at the year, I was just shocked that there was a penny! lol! I told him I would check in the morning what the year was. So I went to work the next day, checked the penny and the year on it was……………………………………………….2012!!!!

I quickly sent him a picture of the penny and he replied back saying “the year of your collapse!” I said “I know!!” I couldn’t believe it! I was in awe again! I also sent it to my sister and she asked me “what does this mean to you?” I replied back ” the year of my collapse”. Now, if that isn’t a sign I don’t know what is!!! I couldn’t believe that Shannon was right! To watch the signs, to believe in them!

I have said earlier I do believe in spirits and I definitely believe someone is giving me a sign they are here helping me.

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Still alive!! 

Yep! Its true, I’m still alive! I just haven’t written in a while and it’s time to update. Lots happened in 2014.

First, I finally got an appointment to see a genetic counsellor to see if I could get Long QT genetic testing done.

On May 21, 2014 I went to the Alberta Health genetic clinic and talked with Tara the genetic counsellor about my case. With reviewing my medical history and collapse, they didn’t see why I wouldn’t be approved for Alberta Health to pay for the test. They also said it would take a few weeks to find out from the board if I would be approved and if I was then it would take a few months for the results.

After waiting over 2 years to have this test done, I was so happy to have someone help me get this going. I left the clinic emotional because over 2 years since my collapse I was finally going to get answers. When I shared my story to the counsellor I thought I wouldn’t be emotional. But I was. As my good friend once told me emotions are like waves of the ocean, sometimes they will be calm at bay and sometimes rough. It’s true! Some days I don’t even think about it and I’m fine. But when something special happens I get emotional and thankful I’m alive!

For a few weeks after the appointment I started to worry……..in other words I started having anxiety. I worried… what if I wasn’t approved? How would we pay for it? What if I have Long QT? What if I didn’t?? What would be my next step? Would there be another test to find out answers? The list went on and on.

I was up and down. I was beginning to feel anxiety that I had after my collapse, so I decided to see my Dr and ask him if I should see a psychologist. He thought that I should and meet with one he highly recommended. I ended having a phone session with the psychologist and what a difference that made. She was so helpful. She told me that it was normal to have these anxieties with a trauma I had. I felt relieved! I really did think I was going crazy! She said I could call her anytime if I felt I needed to, but after that conversation I knew I wouldn’t need to. I knew there wasn’t anything I could do until I heard from the clinic with the answers.

June 10, I received a phone call from Tara telling me, I’m approved!!!! The board was going to do the test! I was so happy!! Tara said that I had to have my blood drawn so they could test it and we would get the results in a few months. She predicted the fall sometime. I quickly went got my blood drawn that day! I didn’t want to delay it any longer.

On September 4, I found out my results of the test……..it was good news and bad in a way, the good news was that I didn’t test positive for the Long QT gene, and our children/my siblings do not have the gene either. They also will not have to have ICD’s implanted for precautionary measures which is a relief! But the bad news is that there isn’t any other testing for the heart that I can have done and so that gives me no real concrete answers to why my collapse happened. So it gave me mixed feelings not that I wanted to have Long QT but I just wanted to have an answer. After all we are human and we like to know answers.

So in a nut shell, I am still without answers but I am so blessed being alive!!! I’m thankful for a lot of things, we have three beautiful children, a granddaughter who was born on April 9/14 and one more grandchild on the way! What else could I ask for!

2014 was a good year!


lucky

I know I haven’t written in a long while. I haven’t been in the mood to write.

Today, January 24th…….is my lucky day. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years! It’s amazing how time goes by so quickly and yet it feels like it was yesterday. I have been quite emotional this past week coming up to my anniversary. I think I always will not because it’s sad, but because I am so grateful.

It’s not a day that goes by I don’t think about the day of my collapse (in a good way). I think about how lucky I was at the right place, the right time and how lucky it was to have the lifeguards doing their first aid meeting. The lifeguards will always be apart of my life for what they did for me. Gave me life. Again.

Lots have happened in the past 2 years, I got to drive again, ran a 5k and walked another, watched our daughter D graduate, moved to another province, was apart from DC for 9 months because we couldn’t sell our house, sold our house, got clearance to go back to work again, travelled, and to become grandparents.

I can look forward to the many years ahead, to watch my children grow and have their own families. I have learned life is short and to not take it for granted.

I am lucky!


mind over matter

Isn’t it amazing how the mind works??

It’s amazing how the brain can tell your body what to do.

It’s amazing how stress can affect your body.

I am just figuring this all out. I know what you’re thinking……”didn’t you know this?” Well I did, but just didn’t realize it, until a few weeks ago. My brother K asked me in the hospital (before I had my ICD implanted), how was I going to live the rest of my life? Was I going to go back to doing the things I always did (with Dr’s permission of course) or was I going to be afraid. I promised I wouldn’t be afraid.

Easier said than done…………..

I was doing really good in the beginning.  After I healed and felt stronger, I told myself  “oh I’m going to be fine” “this isn’t so bad” “I’ll be doing all the things I did before in no time”.
Ya……right….
After my shock back in March 2012, it changed my whole perceptive on that promise. Like I said in another post. I was afraid. I was afraid of everything. It was hard to tell my mind, my body is okay and I could do things again like drive, and start running.

My first hurdle was driving. Driving was something I always had a battle with. I wasn’t like all teenagers who knew at 16 wanted their license right away. Having deaf parents made me afraid of driving. Why? Well when one of my parents would drive they would be like any parent and talk while driving. However, my parents couldn’t talk, so they would have to sign with their hands. When they would do this, they would have one hand on the steering wheel and the other signing to me. I don’t know how many times I would sign “stop signing” “watch the road”. Some days I don’t know how we ever survived the roads hahaha. You would think I’d want to drive them around instead. But nope! I was not comfortable getting my license.

I was 18 when I decided to get my learners. I had my learners for 3 years and finally got my license. When I started driving, I couldn’t believe the freedom I had! I loved it!! I remember thinking why I didn’t get it sooner? Every chance I had I would drive, whether it was just to the store or long distance. I loved driving!

I couldn’t drive for 7 months after my collapse and it was very hard losing that independence. But I did get used to having DC drive me around. It made me feel safe knowing I wouldn’t be responsible hurting anyone on the road if I was driving. When I was cleared to drive, I was so nervous. I felt like I was 18 learning all over again. I called the pacemaker clinic a few times just to confirm I could drive again. They probably thought “oh goodness it’s her again” hahaha, but I was really nervous. What if I had a therapy while driving?? The best thing the Nurse said to me was “you’re the safest person on the road, you get a 16 second warning before you receive a therapy, others don’t have any warning at all, it just happens”. I remember thinking 16 seconds?? That’s not a lot of time, but in reality it actually is. I have been driving for the last 10 months now, and I’m not going to lie, at first I had anxiety if people were driving too close to my back bumper. What if I had to slam my breaks in a hurry and they would hit me? But I realized they would  have to pay attention or hit me.

Running…….the second hurdle, just before Christmas, I was told by my doctor I could slowly start getting back into running. He said, I needed to have a heart monitor with a strap to monitor my heart rate. Also the beta-blocker I am taking my heart rate shouldn’t rise more than 150. I was so happy to hear this and was determinded to start running. So I thought I should start doing Yoga first to help the breathing. I did Yoga for three months. During that time I had researched all kinds of heart monitors. I didn’t realize how many there were and which ones I couldn’t use because some of them have magnets inside them. I decided to call St. Jude Medical (the company who made my ICD) to see what they recommended. They told me the ICD I have they tested with the Polar heart rate monitors. So I went and bought myself one.

I thought I had the breathing down pretty good, so I started to run. My first time running was so exhilarating! I did what the doctor said started off slow. I used the Couch to 5K app like I had two years ago. I was doing great! In the first two weeks of three days a week running, I decided to register for a 5K run in June. My daughter C is joining me for this run.

After the fourth week of running, I could tell the running was getting harder. The runs were getting more intense with running longer and walking shorter. It was really hard. I could feel my heart race faster, but I would check my heart rate often and it was fine. The next week I decided to go back a week and make it easier for myself but when I started to run I looked at my heart rate and it jumped to 162! It scared me! When I was controlling it between 115-130. So I stopped myself and stood to breathe and relax myself. Once I had gotten it back down I tried again but I  would constantly watch my monitor.

The next run that week I followed the run on the app but found it was still too hard. So I decided to use a timer. I decided I would run 3 mins and walk 1 min. The first time I ran the 3 min walk 1 I thought I was doing great, I was controlling my breathing and my HR(heart rate). The second time I went I noticed that my HR went to 167! I started to get nervous and tried slowing down and it was good. My third time running was not so good. My mind was already playing tricks on me. My HR jumped to 172! I stopped immediately! I sat down on the ground and started breathing in and out to have the rate slow down. It went down but I was scared to start running again so I walked the rest. The fourth time I went, I was nervous. I didn’t want my HR to go up again like last time. So I took my time on the pace and was breathing in and out. However, that day was the highest my HR went since my collapse. It went to 185! That really scared me. I stopped sat on the ground again. Being at 185 was not far away from being at 200 when I would receive a therapy. When I got my HR down I decided to walk the rest again.

I thought I should see if the heart rate monitor strap was right. Maybe it wasn’t going as high it showed. So I did a home transmission to see how right it was. I sent the transmission and got a call the next morning from the pacemaker clinic. The nurse said she had looked at my transmission was very concerned. I told her, I had started running and bought a heart strap wanted to see if it was right. Those four HR’s were right, in fact she said it was bang on! she said she needed to send it to the Doctor. Right at that moment I thought uh oh! They are going to tell me that I can’t run anymore. When the doctor called me back, he recommended I try to control my HR going no higher than 150 or I will no longer be able to run again. He suggested I start slower like walking or speed walking until I figure out how to control the breathing and HR.

Since then, which is about three weeks ago, I have tried to run and control my HR. Unfortunately it is not staying low enough. But I am determined to continue. My mind isn’t helping. I had mentioned I registered for a 5K run and it’s this Saturday. I decided I am going to do what I can, whether I run a little, most of it or walk it. As long as I am doing it and having fun, that’s the most important to me now. Telling your mind to not worry about things your body does is difficult and it’s something I have to work on.


anniversaries

Today is the one year anniversary of my blog, I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. I remember my first blog post, and how nervous I was to have people read my thoughts. As I read back on my first post, I think how much I have changed since then. I am no longer nervous about people reading my thoughts, it’s been a challenging road this journey I am taking but all for the good.

In the past few weeks I have had some tough one year “anniversaries”. Obvious, major one was the one year the day of my collapse. I know I have said I am no longer afraid, which is true I am not, but I did have some emotions to work through. I’m not going to lie, the day was emotional, I had moments when I would be laughing or crying. I would cry because I was so lucky to have been at the right place at the right time. I would cry because I was sad to know that my loved ones who were at the “scene” will never forget. I would laugh, remembering some of my story and how there were some funny moments. Like when I was upset the lifeguards ripped my favourite shirt and for everyone to see me in the open, when clearly it was important or when DC bought a movie for us to watch in the hospital, to keep our spirits up and seeing two men cry. Every time I see the cover of that movie I smile and think of DC and K, how they both were trying to make things better for me.

The next anniversary was the day they put the ICD in, I wasn’t all that emotional for that but it was an anniversary. Next one was the day I thanked the lifeguards. I still think of them everyday, again I know it was their “job” but they will always be a part of my life and I will always thank them for doing their job.

Another major anniversary was the death of my Dad. I was in a different kind of mood that day. I would try not to think about it but then I would have moments when I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How it went so fast and I wasn’t there in “time” to say goodbye. I said I didn’t have any regrets, but that isn’t true. The one and only regret, I have by not being there in time to say goodbye is, I wanted him to know I was okay, in person. I know he knew I collapsed and I was okay but I wished he could have seen me before he left. I know he is in a better place and I only hope he is happy.

I will always have anniversaries, we all do. The trick is how we deal with them and remember those who have touched our lives makes us stronger.


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………………………….