Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Jenny-Being a parent is like wearing your heart on your sleeve...

Being a parent is like wearing your heart on your sleeve.  I've heard this saying most of my life but didn't really understand it until I had children.  It's so hard to see children fall, and not be able to catch them.  But maybe it's not our job to catch them.  It's our job to teach them how to fall and to get back up.  As parents we aim to raise independent, bright children who think for themselves.  I went to college with people who didn't know how to wash their own clothes.  Which shocked me because my mom and dad taught us everything about life (excluding cutting the grass and car maintanance!) So I'm determined to teach my children as much as we can to prepare them for life.  I'm trying really hard to not control everything and to be okay with that fact.  But it's hard when things happen to kids.  It's hard not being able to prevent all the falls in life.  That being said I've had another setback.

First, I should say that Ava is fine. But here's what happened. On Thursday, Ava and I were off to soccer, she was thinking about what the team name was going to be and daydreaming about playing.  Ava was holding her soccer ball and I was holding a bunch of water and my purse.  We were in a parking lot and I told Ava a truck was coming and to stay on my right side.  She heard me but I say things so often she doesn't always listen, do any of us listen all the time? Then I heard the ball hit the ground. I screamed and turned sharply towards Ava on my right, to grab her but she wasn't there.  She ran in front of the truck to chase her ball.  I flipped to my left side praying she didn't get hit.  There she was an inch from the bumper.  Thank God the driver was able to stop in time and was paying attention. It's was awful and overwhelming to think just that fast I could have lost her.

Will it be the last time something happens to one of my kids, no, unfortunately. We can't protect them from everything.  But it's so hard not to want to bubble wrap them and let them go a little bit. When I moved so quickly to find Ava I injured my muscles. I wasn't sure if I ripped my new lead so I ended up having to get checked out at the hospital. All is good, I didn't rip it but it's hard trying to parent with a body that is not 100 percent. I'm working on it and need to rest a few more weeks.

Today marks 6 weeks since my lead replacement surgery. I'm going to try really really hard to not break it again.  But with two kids and life I'm not sure if that's completely possible!  But I'm going to try!  It's frustrating having constant setbacks and I'm looking forward to getting back to normal life.  I miss the gym so much!!! But I'll have to start back slowly.  I still have a hard time walking past the weights because I miss lifting so much.  But I think I will be able to run again.  I'll find out more in a few weeks during my post surgery checkup. Until then I'm going to eat really clean and try to learn to sit still. It's not easy ya'll !

I was talking to Monique last night about everything that has happened for the past year for both of us.  We've spent a year recovering. In a few weeks it will be our year anniversies since her accident and my open heart. We were in the ICU at the same time, she was in Lafayette and I was in Houston. A year of rehabbing and surgeries, and successes and setbacks.  But we press on, we move forward, because we don't have another choice.  Because it doesn't occur to us to quit.  We wouldn't have it any other way. We are recovering because we're type A and when we set our mind to do something we make it happen.  No matter what.  But both of us have to extend our internal deadlines for some of these things that we want to do physically  In my head, I'm a 18 year old runner, but my body won't let me do exactly what I want, yet.  I'm going to try the best I can to get back where I want to be. But patience isn't a virtue I have conquered yet!!

Trying my best to focus to changing the things I have control over and accepting the things I can't change.  I'll get back in shape as soon as I am able to run again.  It's a journey but I see the light at the end of the tunnel now.  So thankful for my life and this year. It's taught me that nothing is perfect, but we're all trying to do the best we can.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jenny- Growing up...Building rockstar kids...

Dr. Bud Frazier
Ava with Lisa and Rebecca (my sweet friends and Women Heart Leaders)

Most of the children in our town started school last week.  With the new year comes new dreams and possibilities.  It made me think about the people in our children's life and what influences us to be who we are as people.  Who knows which experiences give us that spark to help direct us where we need to be and how to get there?  It's something I think about often because Ava is almost 7 and we have talks weekly about "what she wants to be when she grows up." It's our job as parents to see the potential in our children and direct them where to focus their interests.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bud Frazier, the doctor who has done more heart transplants than anyone in the world.  He lives in Houston and runs a lab building heart pumps, operates on patients, and oversees their care.  He was kind enough to meet with our heart group at Woman Heart.  Dr. Frazier is a funny, gracious, humble man who told us about his experiences and his history.  He's a guy you would walk past in the grocery store, blending in with the rest of us without any air of superiority.  Getting to meet him was a gift.  Knowing the accomplishments this man has made to medical science made me think he must have known his entire life what he wanted to do with his life.  As we all found out, the most surprising thing about Dr. Bud Frazier is he could have become a dentist or Methodist Minister instead of world famous heart surgeon/inventor. It's all about the influences our children come across in their lives and their experiences. He looked at the world around him and saw a few career opportunities in front of him because of who influenced him.

Opportunities that come in life are sometimes unexpected.  Some people get to do what they love as their career, while others search for finding their place in the world, some don't ever get motivated.  Some people are able to take tragedy and spin it into something positive.  What started out as a devastating football injury changed the course of Dr. Frazier's history.  Is he had not been injured and had to retire his football jersey the world as we know it would have forever been changed for the worse.  Why? Because this man sees a problem and took it upon himself to fix it and instead he changed the world of heart surgery, forever. He invented the heart pump!!!

What changed Dr. Frazier into thinking about a career in heart surgery?  Surprisingly enough, it was procrastination of all things!  He had a research project due and a friend offered his topic for both of them to write about. The project was about transplants in dogs, and Dr. Frazier became interested in them.  He transplanted a spleen from one dog to another and took care of that dog every day for a year.  He bonded with that dog and was very upset when the dog died one year later.  Doing that project made him want to do transplants.  He continued operating on thousands of people, getting to hear their stories and being a part of their lives.  One 24 year old lady with two children was dying and was stuck in the hospital completely bedridden. She haunted Dr. Frazier because she wrote him everyday in the hospital asking to die.  She got her transplant and is living a full, beautiful life 10 years later because Dr. Frazier cared for her, not as just a patient but as a person. Some of those people stayed with him. Like the boy who gave him the idea for creating a heart pump.

This Italian boy was 19 and dying.  Dr. Frazier was operating on him with another surgeon and Dr. Frazier had his hand inside this boy's chest pumping on his heart when the boy opened his eyes and looked at him directly in his eyes.  At that time a heart pump did not exist and the boy died after Dr. Frazier was pulled off of him because nothing could be done at that time to save this boy.  But Dr. Frazier decided then to build a pump that would do what his hand could do.  The rest is history. He really made it sound simple, he had a problem and he needed to build something to fix the problem.  He made it sound as if he was working on car engines or something instead of hearts! He has to work with companies/manufacturers that are willing to build new heart pumps.  That's easier said than done which is the biggest frustration he has with his life's work, finding people to build what he needs. But they aren't far away from designing a total artificial heart replacement which would revolutionize the way people can live with heart failure.

Some of us know from a very early age what we want to be.  Others pick a career based on their talents.  But a select few accidentally, miraculously find their calling.  Ava could be the next person to invent something that changes tens of thousands of lives.  But we'll never know our true potential unless we keep looking for it.  Unless we help our children find their focus in this world.  That doesn't stop when we become adults but it's something we all should strive to work on.  Finding our place in the world. I'm still working on it...are you??

More information on Dr. O. "Bud" Frazier's work in link below.