Thursday, February 25, 2016

Welcome back, honey!”

Remember last week, when Vicki left us hanging after...."I coded"....thanks for coming back to read the rest of the story!

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SLAP! Right across the face. Why was the nurse slapping me, for crying out loud! I had been asking her and the doctor what was happening and no one would answer me. How rude! He had simply said “Well, we know what it is now so we’re going to fix it”. Fix what?!?  Then the nurse leaned in close with what I interpreted as a sadistic smile, slapped me, and said “Welcome come back honey!”.

Over the next 48 hours my husband slowly told some of me the details of what had happened… how I had “died” and only thought I was talking to the doctor, and how I couldn’t possibly have known how they were prepping me for defibrillator paddles. Weird. Two procedures and four stents later the doctor educated us on atherosclerosis, a fancy name for “hey your arteries are clogged because they’re full of junk”. It’s a type of coronary artery disease and is the leading cause of strokes, heart attacks, and vascular disease. The doctor also explained how multiple clogged arteries had led to my sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA. And how my heart had decided to start beating on its own again without defibrillation. I had been one of the fortunate ones. 

But how could all of this have happened to me? I’m not your typical heart attack candidate. I’ve been an athlete and active all my life, don’t have high blood pressure, am not diabetic, have never smoked, am not obese, and have good cholesterol numbers….all of which are one or more factors usually found in cardiovascular patients. The doctor didn’t have an answer for me. He just shrugged his shoulders and muttered something about stress or genetics.

The truth of the matter is, no one really knows what causes cardiovascular disease. Yet it is the #1 killer, worldwide : “One of every three deaths in the U.S. in 2013 were from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, while heart disease and stroke were the No. 1 and No. 2 killers worldwide, according to American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Update.”

So here I am today, a year in the clear past four hospital stays, a heart attack, six stents and one
Welcome back! Vicki shares some specifics to think about to keep your heart healthy. #NWARKCares
Color Vibe, first activity post recovery. 
You don't have to run, but not finishing is not an option!
by-pass later. I don’t have science to back it, but my intuition tells me that stress played a major role in my heart health. And since I can’t change or control my genetics, I am determined to try and manage my stress levels better. Plus I schedule regular visits to my doctor. That’s something I encourage all of you to do as well, especially women, who’s symptoms are not as classic as men’s. A simple blood cholesterol check could save your life. It already has for several friends of mine.

And at the very least, plan to donate or join me and thousands of others at the 2016 NWA Heart Walk at Arvest Ballpark on April 16. Help us raise awareness and save lives.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

what can I do: Heart Disease

This month, we've read the statistics and I've even shared my space with one of the warriors who lives bravely beyond the surprise of this dreaded disease.  But, what can we do?

Let's just keep it simple:
my heart has much to be healthy for.  Its time to fight back and keep our hearts strong. #NWARKCares
heather kleber photography
My heart is full these days.  That boy of mine is keeping me floating, but you know as I enter my mid 30s, I'm realizing its time for me to take care of me. And, if I'm going to stay around to keep floating with him, I've got to pay attention to the signs, the genetics, and start living healthier now...and that includes all the spinning plates that keep me emotionally healthy as well.

Let's commit together.  Its long past resolution time and picking that one little word to focus your year.  Let's just try the little everyday things that we sometimes mess up, but get to start fresh with every day.

I'm looking forward to slowing down this spring.  Taking in and making new memories this summer. And, letting 2016 be full of life...lots and love of life filled moments!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Super Mom Meets Her Match

This month as we explore the topic of heart disease, I thought it made the most sense to invite a woman I know who is a warrior, and survivor.  She has walked the road and is such a vibrant part of so many people's lives.  She fights for community. Lives by excellence. And gives and gives and gives.  Let me just turn my space over to Vicki and let her share her beautiful words (she'll be here next week too.....)
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Stress is an insidious fellow. It can seep in and affect us on every level...body, mind and soul. It can start out as a positive influence, energizing and motivating us, but it can soon turn sour, making us angry, disrupting relationships, causing our hair to fall out and stubborn pounds to pile on, and ultimately stealing our joy. It can also kill us. And that is a result I know first-hand.

Vicki, a heart attack surivor, shares about the day super mom met her match! #NWARKCares
Spring Break 2014. It was a typical crazy, busy weekend. I was once again playing the role of Super Mom - something I had been doing for 25 years through three kids - running concessions for the men's annual soccer tournament, helping raise money for my son's high school team. I woke up that morning feeling pretty wiped out after working concessions for 14 hours the day before. I had run to the store for more supplies when my stomach began to feel a little queasy. Thinking it was nothing, and worrying that I had given myself, plus the coaches and referees, food poisoning from the chicken and egg breakfast burritos I had just made everyone, I powered through. That's what Super Mom's do. I gathered supplies and went on to the next stop. But by the time I walked into that store, I had begun to sweat, I felt like my esophagus was in spasms, and I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. After composing myself, I made it back to my car and sat there for a few minutes, wondering if all those coaches and referees were all experiencing the same thing by now. My back was aching between my shoulder blades, I was dizzy, my stomach was in knots, and I needed to hurl again...but I wanted to do it in my own clean bathroom...so I headed home…ironically, right past the hospital (note to self: don’t ever be that stupid again). 

During the short four-mile drive home I was beginning to think "Houston, we have a problem" (does
Vicki, a heart attack surivor, shares about the day super mom met her match! #NWARKCares
anyone under 30 even know what that means?). Pain had started in my left jaw and shoulder. By the time I arrived home and stumbled through the door my left arm was tingling. And oh where was that bathroom?!? Fortunately my 12 year old granddaughter was at the house waiting for her mom to pick her up, so she began calling in the troops. My daughter and husband arrived within five minutes and decided they could get me to the hospital before an ambulance could arrive (and of course I kept warning everyone not to eat the chicken and egg breakfast burritos). An hour and a half later, in excruciating pain, after numerous tests that all came back normal, and still no diagnosis or clue on how to proceed, I coded...with my husband by my side, listening, as the last breath pushed out of my body, while I was still worrying about those dumb burritos.

(KP NOTE: seriously, I love a good cliff hanger.....come back next Thursday for the rest of the story!) 

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This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FACTS: Heart Disease

So, what's really at the heart of heart disease?

Heart Health, the facts #NWARKCares

You know cancer is the heart of who I am.  Its the road I've walked and intermittently the thing that has given me purpose.  But, my heart still bleeds for the things that make us healthier.  Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the US.  Its a big deal and something that has touched my family in several ways.

So, this month as we look at heart disease, I'd like to share some facts with you and maybe something that might even save your life!!!

Facts about your heart (source):
  • Your heart beats 101,000 times a day.
  • Hold out your hand and make a fist. If you’re a kid, your heart is about the same size as your fist, and if you’re an adult, it’s about the same size as two fists.
  • Give a tennis ball a good, hard squeeze. You’re using about the same amount of force your heart uses to pump blood out to the body. 
Facts about heart disease (source):
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. (and that is true of most racial/ethnic groups)
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
  • While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
  • The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
  • About 85.6 million Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after effects of stroke. (2016 Statistics)
Signs of a heart attack (source):
We like to think these could be explained by something else, but when they are together, its important to pay attention.
  1. Chest discomfort
  2. discomfort in the upper part of the body
  3. shortness of breath
  4. possible - cold sweats, nausea, light headedness
This animation of a heart attack is pretty cool!
Signs of a stroke:
F.A.S.T - its what you have to remember.  Time lost is brain lost.  Act fast....
  • Face - drooping
  • Arms - cant raise
  • Speech - slurred
  • Call 9-1-1

My grandad, his heart was big and our love for him was bigger.  Hearts matter! #NWARKCares
It matters to me, because this guy mattered to me. Cancer tried to wear him down, twice, but a heart attack is what took him that winter day.  The Pitt Crew carries a lot of who we are in our hearts from this man...in lots of ways.  He was active, healthy and vivacious.  He could sing a mean cotton field spiritual.  He worked hard and loved people.  He was a war hero and stole my grandmother's heart through a newspaper column during WWII.  A hometown hero in all regards.  One of my heroes and maybe the man who taught me to be a ham! Or atleast how to hold my own on a stage.

Pay attention...its possible, but its really hard to get a new heart.  Take care of the one you have!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

three big things

3 big things....that's what this week involved! Monumental would be an overstatement, but let's digest and let you decide.

World Cancer Day.  We still have so many reasons to make our voices heard!Thursday was World Cancer Day.  A day I always celebrate.  I mean, it's how BIGPITTSTOP got its start.  But more than that it brings for me 2 things: a reminder of where I've been and a reminder of why we must keep fighting!  World Cancer Day is a day set aside to get as many people talking about cancer as possible.  One collective voice around one cause.  16,000 Arkansans will receive a new cancer diagnosis this year.  Crazy, huh!  I have a friend who started new chemo treatments last week and another in a couple weeks.  We have come so far...but our voices must still be heard.  Increase funding for research, advocate for patents, survivors and caregivers and do the little everyday things to let people know you care!
World Cancer Day.  We still have so many reasons to make our voices heard!


Go Red for Women day #NWARKcares 
Friday was Go Red for Women Day.  Another opportunity to come together to let our collective voice be heard. While my heart is still, and always will be, with cancer, heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women.  Yesterday my #NWARKcares crew took on a selfie challenge and took to instagram and Facebook with our red hot pictures. More on heart disease later this month, but we have to take care of ourselves.  Be our own advocates and take care of our bodies...its the only one we've got!


And TODAY, we are 1 MONTH from the wedding!!! I know its really all I talk about right now, but I've waited 33 years and dreamed about this boy for 2.5 so I get a few days of just floating, right?  Seriously so many changes coming but these days I'm really just most excited about #becomingmrsmckinney.  The details are coming together, the final days of spending time with people is happening...and this week, we approved our vows.  "I've planned and waited for today, and all that was missing was you."  Its here and I'm loving every moment!
1 month to #becomingmrsmckinney!!!

Hope you had a good week.  The days are full this time of year.  And with all the extra happening, I'm reminded to savor the quiet moments, use my voice and time in the best way possible, and fill the days with all the good things! 

What's making your days full?