Friday, June 28, 2013

Jenny-Kale Yeah!

So the Katy adventure is continuing. I was grumpy about it the first week, resistant to change. I almost cried when I saw the closest gym because I hate it there.  It's hot, the machines are older, and I just wanted to complain.  I think the culmunation of a lot of changes all at once was just getting to me.  I always thought I was pretty good with change. But I'm realizing that's just not true! I'm stubborn as hell and I plan.  I should just accept these facts and work within them!  I'm over being grumpy now over the move.  But I don't like the "new kid" stares at the gym.  Why do people stare? I wish people would just talk and ask me questions. I can't focus on the negatives so I'm choosing to see the positive in our move. Like my gym has a juice bar! A juice bar!! I'm telling you people it's not that hard to make me happy! The whole foods is really close to where we live and I laughed my butt off seeing this last night...
Kale Yeah anyone???

Busy starting our 3rd week week here I'm excited at what this city has to offer. I'm learning my way around town and figuring out that this city is much more focused on health. I'm also trying to adjust to all the changes this new city forces me to make and old habits to break. It's very hard to move further away from my friends. I've always thought of myself as a person that handles change well.  But I don't. I'm a planner. I like to see my plans through until the end.  It's just something I need to accept about myself and use it to my advantage.  But I'm trying really hard to accept what this move is going to do for our family.  SO many positive changes for us! Being resilent is one of the most important things I can teach my children.  But I have to teach them by example.

I've spent a lot of time this year having surgery. It's time for me to rebuild my body and make myself the best me I can be.  I could list all the stuff I can't do with a pacemaker but what would be the use in that? I choose to focus on what I can do and working within those "limits" so I can stay healthy.  I run really slow.  But I'm freaking running. Something I haven't been able to do in a long time. I'm convincing a bunch of my friends to run too.  So we can all celebrate together. It's a good time in our lives and I want to be that role model for my children.  I want them to grow up knowing that working out, and eating right is a part of life. 

I've been focusing on eating extremely clean and I'm seeing fantastic results.  I read Kelsey Byers new book about Eating Clean called Eat Clean and Follow Your Dreams .  My overall review of the book is it's a quick read, and it's a great jumpstart for people who aren't familiar with eating this way. Experts say your results are 80% diet and 20% working out.  So I'm shifting the balance of things. I'm focusing on eating very good foods, focusing on putting certain nutrients in my body and detoxing from sugar.  I still eat one small piece of dark chocolate a day. But I'm not on a diet.  This is the way I need (and want) to eat the rest of my life. People write me all the time about how to start eating clean.  So if you are interested check out this book.  Incorporate some small changes at first then work your way up, or go cold turkey, whatever works best for you.  Work with your strengths to overcome your weaknesses.

I got mad this week seeing a so called "health expert" suggest that people should eat junk then just work out more.  That's such a load of crap. Of course I love good food, I'm from New Orleans! But do I think we should just cram our bodies full of junk? No! It's not just about weight, it's about feeding your body nutritious food to reduce inflammation and reduce plaque in your arteries. I improved my running time by 2 minutes in just a week because I was fueling my body correctly.

We all have to start somewhere.  So make the decision today that you are worth it, your family is worth it, eat to live.  I had to cut down on all our material possessions movings from a large house to an apartment. I thought I'd miss all "my stuff" but I don't, at all.  I'm realizing I didn't need all that stuff anyway. The same way I don't need junk food in my life. I don't need it in my home. Scale down your life and make things simple.  We're all too complicated these days.  So start small.  Focus on your health, your family, your emotional wellness, and being a joyful person.  With every negative find the positive. Fight to see the light at the end of tunnel. So Kale yeah, I'm on board. Are you?


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Monique, Etc

It's Wednesday afternoon, and Our Heroine is Proudly Watching her amazing Son train for swimming races. She has this week Conquered Setbacks, overcome Adversity, and has braved Many New Experiences. She has Relearned how to continue Forward and not be held back by the Chaotic nature of Life. She says, "Nolite Le Bastardes Carborundum!"

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jenny- New dreams...New Realities...

I'm at a place I could not have imagined a year ago.  A place where I can dream and bring those dreams to reality.  I have a working heart and we've struggled for so long it was hard to imagine THIS place.  I went to a work function with Jeremy this week and NO ONE cold tell under my pretty, lace cocktail dress I hid a secret.  A secret maze of scars and a robot heart.  I was so amazed and giggled at the thought I can blend in now.  I'm so grateful to finally be here.  We just moved and I packed all the boxes. I moved boxes. I helped unload and I unpacked everything myself.  Being self sufficient isn't something I take lightly.  I can make plans now to travel, plans to take the kids to events and introduce them to new things like horseback riding.

So my new dreams are starting.  I played golf with Jeremy this morning and conquered several flights of stairs to go to this awesome driving range called Top Golf.  Something I would not have been able to do just 3 months. Heck just 6 weeks ago...I found an amazing gym yesterday and I ran 5 whole minutes.  Sure, that doesn't seem like much but to me it was amazing.  I was born with a heart I couldn't use and Dr. Mehdi Razavi built me a new heart.  He gave me one I can LIVE with.

This feeling of guilt is something heart patients struggle with and I am no different.  You meet people in the hospital and you know which ones aren't going to come home.  You vow to never forget them so you always remember to do what you need to do to stay alive.  But they haunt you.  Wondering about them, wishing you exchanged numbers.  I have to tell you about an experience I had a few weeks ago.

I was attending the Woman Heart Houston meeting where me and an AMAZING, FANTASTIC, group of CANTANKEROUS heart patients get together each month. No, it's not the somber, boring meeting you might think. This is a place where we CELEBRATE each other.  We SUPPORT each other, and we understand how the other one feels.  I joked with the table when the waiters walked up and told them we wanted as much fried stuff as they could bring to the table.  We all chuckled.  Then proceeded to order wonderful kale and beet salads and rave about them.

We don't look back at what we can't do anymore, we talk about all the things we want to do in the future.  I met two heart transplant recipients, which was an honor.  What a gift to be in the presence of such brave women.  We talk about how hard it is to trust that these surgeries will "hold" and we are allowed a brief respite to feel safe.  Several of the people there were perfectly fine, then had their aorta tear and they woke up on ventilators with their chests cracked open.  I had several rough times but I always knew when I was having surgery.  Can you imagine how panicked you would be waking up after emergency open heart or bypass surgery? So today, wherever you are in your life, whatever challenges you face, remember to thank GOD that you are here, alive, and breathing.

I looked across the table and the lady looked familiar but I couldn't place where I had met her.
She grabbed my hands after the meeting. She look deep into my eyes and said, "I was so worried about you. Did you get your babies back? How are they?" Then it hit me.  I choked up and I remember where I had met her.  I was in radiology talking to her about my friend's bakery, The Peacebaker, because she makes things heart patients can eat! This was the lady I have often wondered about.  She sat in radiology with me wearing oxygen.  She was surprised to see someone my age with a bad heart and I explained that I too had been on oxygen for months.  I named my oxygen machine "Big Bertha" and refused to address it by any other name. I was there in February getting evaluated for a pacemaker.  We laughed as we waited for our echocardiograms.  We talked about New Orleans, and food, all the things we can't eat anymore but love.  She was a foodie and she was a lovely person.  I'm so happy I was able to find her again.  I can cross her off my list of people to worry about. Because she's back with me where I can support her in her heart fight.

So many things came full circle in that meeting.  Just feeling loved and supported by this group is amazing.  I am so lucky to be alive and able to move now.  We're planning a family vacation, something we have NEVER done. We're making plans for summer fun activities and I'm able to celebrate this summer with the man I love and have been married to for 10 years.  We've lived more in those 10 years then some people do in a lifetime.  I'm so grateful for what we learned about each other in those 10 years, for what I learned about myself.  Lessons maybe we would not have learned without my heart being "special."

So I'm not going to look back with sadness at the athlete I used to be. I'm going to redefine my definitions of things.  I'm going to continue to be grateful for my life, for my family, and for my marriage.  I'm completely unable to even express how grateful I am to have found a doctor who didn't give up on me.  To have friends that rallied around my whole family.  To have parents and in-laws that took my children for months at a time. My doctor told other doctors working with him that I would get through the surgeries, that I was tough enough to handle it.  He was right.  Feeling so blessed.  On to our new adventures....


Friday, June 14, 2013

Jenny-10 years ago today we got married....

We met because of Anne and Matt.  I introduced Anne to Matt and they got married.  They thought Jeremy was a great match for me.  Jeremy asked me out, (actually he told me he was taking me out) on their wedding day.  I drove Anne and Matt from Baton Rouge to New Orleans after their wedding and the entire ride they talked about how Jeremy was the perfect guy for me.  They actually said, "He's really short, hilarious, and we think he's perfect for you!" We've been together ever since our first date. We both knew right away that this was serious.  Our first date was on my dad's birthday.  He made me really nervous, in a good way.  Ten years ago today I married Jeremy and I'm still excited every time I see him.  We got married at St. Anthony of Padua in New Orleans.  In June, in the heat, and I couldn't wait for my dad to come get me out the limo so Jeremy and I could get married.  It seemed like the longest 5 minutes of my life waiting for my dad.

I couldn't get the unity candle lit on the alter and could not stop laughing.  I was doubled over cracking up laughing while our priest was telling me to stop laughing.  Which only made me laugh more.  So the ceremony may not have been complication free but it was perfect for us.  That church is so beautiful, cherubs carved into the windowsills, stained glass windows glowing with light.  We were both so hopeful about the future. We were blissfully happy and had no idea where life would take us in ten years.  So excited to finally be married after 4 years together.  Little did we know the path life would take us on.  So many great times and so many terrible, scary ones too.  14 bladder surgeries, 9 heart surgeries and 2 kids later we're more in love than ever.  Because we truly accept each other.
                                               The best gift Jeremy ever gave me...

Some people told me that they thought Jeremy would leave me because I had so many medical problems.  (Which is a terrible thing to say in the middle of a medical crisis.) But he always told me, he didn't marry me thinking everything would be perfect. He married me because he loved me and we would get through anything together.  He was right. I can't explain what it is like to be totally accepted by someone.  But it's more than amazing to know I have someone by my side who loves me unconditionally and will be there to support me until the end.  Someone who is even stronger than me, which is pretty darn tough! What an unbelievable gift to give someone to love them despite their flaws.

No one is perfect.  But when you love someone you accept their imperfections.  Fairy tale romances aren't real.  Life isn't perfect.  Life is about rolling with the punches and getting back up to fight another day.  My dad used to always say marriage isn't 50/50, it's 100/100. Because if your wife needs something you step up and you take of it, 100 percent.  Ten years later I can say my dad is right.  Sometimes you have to put in more work than other times but we both support each other 100 percent of the time.  Jeremy is my best friend.  I have been blessed with wonderful amazing friends, some of which have been around almost my entire life.  But Jeremy is the one I want to know all my stories.  He's seen me at my worst and I like to think we have our best times ahead of us. With our beautiful kids and my cyborg heart.

Our wild kiddos

I hear people talking about this "perfect" fairy tale life they are seeking, the "perfect" partner for them. People are not components on a list.  We are all human beings which means we are imperfect.  But it's about finding someone who has the character traits you need in a partner.  We all are going to look the same in a pair of jeans at 80 years old. So superficial looks aren't important.  It's about matters of the heart, loyalty, and the true meaning of commitment.  For better and for worse till death do you part.

Ava frightened at the thought of being held captive with us.

I never really cared about our wedding. I wasn't a bridezilla.  My mom planned our wedding while I was working in Houston and Jeremy and I just basically showed up. The "wedding" wasn't really important to me.  The marriage was/is important to me.  Choosing the right person to spend the rest of my life was important to me.  So lucky to have found Jeremy. I can't wait to see what the next 10 years will hold for us and our family.  Thank you for staying with me through everything and making me a mom! Love you always and forever.

Our babies when they were little

Our babies now

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

If it can happen to us, it can happen to you!!! Please, please READ THIS, and send any and ALL suggestions to me!!!!

       When someone else's irresponsible choices hurt you, or nearly kill you, you should be allowed to have some closure. You should be allowed to rebuild your life as best you can with the pieces you have left. On December 31, 2011, My daughter and I were hit in a head-on collision by a drunk driver named Derek Wade Perilloux. He had a BAC of 0.16; 0.08 is considered intoxicated. 
       At the last court date, the judge told him he would receive 5 yrs., 4 yrs of which would be suspended, and one year which had to be served in jail. Today,  however, he received one year house arrest, 3 or 4 yrs. of probation, and $1000 restitution for the over $900,000 of surgeries I've received over the last year and a half. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!! This man has had 4-5 DUIs, but was allowed to plead an article that reduced the charges, so his insurance wasn't informed of his many, many indiscretions. He was also charged with drug paraphernalia possession in 2010, which has somehow gone missing from his record as of today???
        What happened to my daughter and myself can happen to YOU and YOUR CHILD!!! Please imagine for a moment, that this accident had happened to you. You've had 14 surgeries over the last year and a half, you've lost your car and your job as a registered nurse because a drunk driver drove into your lane and hit you head-on. You are struggling financially with the mess that someone else's life choices brought into your life!!! You've lost your home, and your 3 children have been yanked from the only private school they've ever known, to attend public schools because you've lost your job and can't afford their tuition. My life as I knew it, is over. This man was not made to serve ANY jail time for this crime. This was not a victimless crime!!! I've gone to every court appearance to advocate for my daughter and myself, so our story could be told, and this man could be taken off the streets. He doesn't deserve to drive or have a license. He shouldn't e allowed to move on with life as usual...I can't, and my daughter can't!!! 
       The judge told him at the last court appearance that he had to serve one year jail time. Today, however, when it was announced he would serve one year house arrest, the assistant DA said nothing to correct it. She stood by, knowing fully well that the judge had said he must serve one year, and did not remind her of that fact. Instead, she stood by while the judge mistakenly charged him with one year house arrest. You are not immune to these events. They can happen to you, especially now that he'll be out on the streets again. The assistant DA did not advocate for my daughter and me, and I will do all I can to ensure that the BAR association is made aware of her misconduct. If anyone has any ideas or comments that might help, please, please email me!!! We must do something to make these people accountable for their actions, or this could all happen to you!!!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Jenny- Racing and why you're friends are running.....

I'm about to sign up with a bunch of friends for a race in September.  None of us are professional runners.  We're a group of wonderful women who support and love each other.  So we're going to run, to celebrate each other, to celebrate that we're all survivors.  We're going to the finish line together, in this race and in life....

So you might be thinking that running is crazy.  That racing with loads of people is not something you are built to do.  But I just wanted to explain the appeal of racing and my firsthand experiences. I had never run a race even though I was a pretty accomplished runner in college.  I could not fathom how anyone could run a Marathon.  But after my open heart I had a new appreciation for getting the ABILITY to run.  When you can't run or move it's all you think about.  Seriously, my name is Jenny and I had Forrest Gump running dreams every damn day. You never take moving for granted anymore. After I had open heart they pulled out my chest tube and I walked 2 miles in the Cardiac unit.  Sometimes you have to dig deep and find that strength all of us possess.  The strength you don't think you have.  But I'm here to tell you that's just not true.  Believe in yourself.    SO even though everyone thought I was crazy I signed up for my first 5K, 4 months after I had open heart.  This was the starting line..

So what's the appeal?  Why should you gather up all your friends and try it?? It's this....10,000 people all running for a joint cause... You can HEAR the Energy in the air, you can FEEL it.  The unbridled passion for running, for moving, for being free to run on normally busy streets filled with cars.  And you go.  Like you ran when you were a kid.  Way before you worried what you look like in spandex! You run because everyone else is running, you smile laughing as kids jog past, as NUNS jog past in full Habits...Yep, that happened.  The priest and the nuns all running together as you jog past. Yes, of course I turned down my gansta rap.  It might be the only time I've turned it down...

SO MUCH FUN.  You see people holding signs telling you how far you went.  They look so darn proud of you... YOU KEEP GOING. Then you lose track of how far you have left but NO MATTER WHAT you are going to finish this thing.  Just because you NEED to finish it.  Plus, you have to get back to your car.  Seriously, this was one of my training tips when I was an avid runner.  Run away from your house because you have to get home eventually, even if its walking! Don't quit on yourself.  If you don't believe in yourself how is anyone going to believe in you?

I knew that I would not finish quickly and I had to be careful.  I had not anticipated that it would be hard to run with so many people.  You have to listen for them and be careful when you are running.  I knew that if I got injured I couldn't workout and I need to workout everyday so getting hurt was not an option. But if I could bottle what I felt running that day with all those people I would have the secret to happiness.  It's adrenaline and the joy you feel when everyone unites for the same thing.  Unbelievable.

Yes, I took pictures while I was running. I had to document it and Perky and Monique sent me texts to keep me going!!! So get your friends together and instead of getting together for dinner and drinks go for a run.  Get up super early in the morning , when you can hear the birds singing, when you feel peace in your heart and go run.  DO IT BECAUSE YOU CAN RUN.  DO IT FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO WILL NEVER RUN AGAIN.  Be at peace with yourself.  Your time isn't that important.  But THAT YOU FINISHED is important.  You get to run through the finish line. You feel accomplished. You did that.  You did what you set out to do.

Then you can send the people who supported you the whole time this picture. You all sweaty.  But proof that you are a badass warrior with bad hair.  Proof that even though you spent months in bed, unable to move, you did this. You had open heart, you let them collapse your lung, You fought your way back and you did the damn thing.  You finished.  Now go find a race and sign up!!

Everything worth doing is hard.  It's a phrase I tell myself constantly.  Nothing worth doing is easy!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monique- L8 on my post! - Friday Update, and Mr. Percy

The link: Friday Update, and Mr. Percy

It was rough to write, it'll probably be rough to read.

ALSO, there's THIS EVENT that is about running the NOLA RnR Half Marathon (or full if you prefer!) with me next year. Lafayette's also doing it 's first annual marathon a month after, so either one!

Have an awesome week!