Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Jenny-The 1%...and April Showers Bringing May Flowers

When someone makes a decision I don't understand I try to remember that I don't know the full story.  I can't judge them on their decision because I'm not them and not in their situation. All I have control of is how I react to situations.  This is something that was really hard (and continues) to be hard for me and my family.  Especially when others we love choose bad decisions.

Heart disease has ravaged my family.  It shook us to the core.  It altered the way we respond to situations, what we say to each other, how we plan for the future.  But with April Showers Come May Flowers.  I had to take this energy, these experiences, and grew something new with them. The ABILITY TO ADAPT in hard situations is what defines us as people.

If we all got exactly what we wanted 100% of the time what would we strive for? What would drive us?? So I don't believe it's God's responsibility to answer all of our prayers.  Sometimes we learn more from our failures than our successes. But how you respond to the bad times is what shows your ability to adapt.

April is a rough month for our family. The third anniversary of my brother, Adam's death at 36 of heart disease.  But April was also the month my parents got married 43 years ago.  April is when I met my heart twin April, and had all my surgeries with her. So the month of April is good and bad. I still shudder when the phone at the house rings late.  Everyone close to us knows I hate that ringing phone late at night.  Wondering if the worst has happened.  But it's been 3 years.  I still replay "that night" in my head.  The one when I got the call.  When the cops were at my door at 3:30am.  Finding out my brother's car had crashed on a remote highway and all the airbags deployed. Adam didn't pay for OnStar service but when an accident happens they deployed 911 anyway.  I had to call my parents and tell them over the phone that Adam had died.  Worst phone call I've ever made. But after all these years I now know death isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person.

So many things can kill a person's spirit. So many worse things than death.  Which is what inspired me to make the most of what life had to offer.  Regardless of what is going on.  It's why I hug all my family and friends more than anyone could want to be hugged.  Because nothing is promised. Everyone thought I was so brave to go through all the surgeries.  I wasn't scared to have them.  Not any of them.  I was terrified NOT to have them.  The day when the docs tell me they can't fix my heart anymore is going to be hardest day for me.

Not everyone understands my NEED to help heart patients.  I do it because I have a weird subset of knowledge and I feel like it's my duty to help others on their journey.  After a lot of reflection it might also be because I couldn't save Adam.  The shocking statistic is 99% of all widowmaker heart attacks are fatal. 99% chance you will die.

One day before I got my pacemaker I met my friend Lisa who came to see me at the hospital.  She extended a beautifully warm welcome to a perfect stranger.  Standing in front of me was a person who survived a widowmaker heart attack. She was the 1%.  And she was with me, by choice, taking time out her day to help me. To buff me up for the wild ride all us heart patients are on.  I was so moved by meeting her and hearing her story I found it hard to compose myself.

So when I have the gift of getting to help someone on their journey it's really a blessing for ME.  Because I can help them an offer some strength to them in their time of need.  I can sometimes quiet their fears enough to talk them through intensely scary situations.  People that don't have doctors as loving as mine.  Doctors that SIT when they talk to you.  Doctors that listen to them and care how they can continue with everyday life. Fear stops a lot of people from living. It's stops people from getting the medical checkups they desperately need.  Because not everyone wants to know what is wrong.  I humbly understand that we all process things differently.  Some of us need to talk about it, some need to be quiet, all right choices.

I met with Dr. Ross Ruel a few weeks ago. Dr. Ruel was the surgeon who invented the revolutionary open heart surgery I had 18 months ago.  He made a 3 inch incision under my breast and somehow went through my ribs (on the inside) and blocked the nerve that needed to be protected so Dr. Razavi could safely ablade the outside and inside of my heart without damaging the phrenic nerve. Dr. Ruel asked me if he negatively impacted my life.  Because now I live with a pacemaker.  The question totally fazed me. Because through his innovative thinking and joint approach with my superhero doc Dr. Medhi Razavi they gave me the chance to have a life.  To run again.  To chase my kids.  To feel safe again.  Regardless of the challenges I intimately know the value of life.  The value of breathing. The value of being able to look your children in the eye.  Of thanking the man you love for saving your life and staying though all the good and bad of my life.  Of laughing with the friends who have stood by me, through every weirdo medical thing I've had all these years.

My incredible open heart scar. The tiny cross was from the chest tube to re-inflate my lung



Thank you for continuing to supply me with more people to help so I can distract myself from my suffering and focus on the needs of others. Thank you for the support of all of those around us in our "tribe." Thank you God for supplying me with people that can use the information I have learned.


I said the last part twice because sometimes people think I am unlucky.  That word doesn't descibe me at all. Few people get to experience the amount of love I've been shown.  Few people get the opportunity to be fixed by world class surgeons.

To blessed to stress about challenges that still exist.  We have to roll with life.  We have to see the positive in EVERY situation. No matter how small, how insignificant at the time.  Find something to hold onto.  If a loved one died, try to remember that they aren't hurting anymore.  They aren't suffering.

April Showers bring May flowers...