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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Being a Caretaker When You're Chronically Ill

March 25, 2020

So many individuals, who they themselves are chronically ill, are now finding themselves taking care of their failing parents or other family members.  When I found myself in this situation, it was a roller coaster of feelings.  As I fought to be with my stepfather who was terminally ill with cancer, I found myself to be worn out, knowing that I was pushing the boundaries of my own chronic illness, heart disease.  When I took a day off from caretaking, I then felt guilty for doing so.  It was a double-edged sword for sure.

There was no one else other than a wonderful neighbor of his that was helping out, and I was driving from one state to another for a year and a half.  Toward the end, I found myself driving back and forth almost every day, in a haze of losing myself.  I pushed myself to the limit and beyond.

If I had to do it all over again, I would be there for him again.  However, I would definitely take better care of me in the process.  I would eat better, make time to take a walk, even if it's a short one, and I would find a way to sleep better, as rest is so important to being a caretaker and taking care of yourself.  When I had time, usually when I couldn't sleep, I would re-read the book, Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.  Although this is one excellent book for life in general, it failed to touch on being a caretaker when you are chronically ill yourself.  I wasn't sure where the boundaries began and where they ended, therefore I had none.

My stepfather passed away almost a year ago, my heart health deteriorated, and there were no winners.  It would be beneficial for all involved if the physician in charge of the person you're taking care of, or even your own physician, to have some suggestions as to how to save your own health when becoming the caretaker for a loved one.  Even though this was not only a part of my life, it also was a huge part of my health, which suffered on my stepfather's long road home.  

I have no regrets taking care of my stepfather, only that I wish I would have taken better care of myself during that journey.

My Blog

Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...



March 19, 2020

We live in a world where at the very first sniffle we make a doctors appointment, and at the very first cough we end up at the emergency room.  Our grandmothers, who prided themselves on self-care, would be appalled!  If you had a sniffle and/or cough, you got a shot of whiskey mixed with honey and lemon, then sent to bed.  In order to have been  granted a visit to the local emergency room, one must have been bleeding out, or barely breathing.  Today, in a world of "Instant Gratification," we seek immediate answers and want immediate results.  If we have one depressing day we are instantly encouraged to seek out counseling, a therapist or take a pill, rather than take the time to look inside ourselves first to see what the cause might be.  A rainy day, didn't get that promotion, a  relationship didn't work out...figure it out.  You'll be amazed at just how fast your depression will lift!   

Whatever happened to that self-care of days of old?  For those individuals who believe in Holistic Care & Natural Therapies they've never left.  Reverting back to taking responsibility for knowing our own bodies and minds can be one of the healthiest things a person can do.  Don't get me wrong, I see my Primary physician twice a year, my Cardiologist two-four times a year or more, and seek emergency care when necessary, but I've found that after being diagnosed with heart disease and pulmonary hypertension, if I take a deep breath when feeling physical and/or mentally drained and just not well, there are steps I can take in order to alleviate that additional trip to my physicians office or emergency room.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.  We don't eat right, we don't exercise, we don't get enough sleep, and we don't keep our stress level to a healthy one.  Saying "no" to others can often be seen as saying "yes" to ourselves, and makes for a very healthy self-care decision.  Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what's left of you (Katie Reed).

When I was a flight attendant the most important message I ever gave to my adult passengers was this: "In the event of an emergency please place your own oxygen mask on first, then that of others such as children or the elderly."  A great example of just how self-care may not only save your own life, but also that of others!

**If you put your own oxygen mask on first, then, and ONLY then, will you be able to help others** 

My Blog

Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Surviving A Pandemic

March 18, 2020

If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would live long enough to be living through a pandemic right here in the United States, I would have surely called them crazy. Who’s crazy now? I am, as I am on “lock-down” at home due to the recent Coronavirus finding it’s way across continents into my home country.

Everyone is basically at risk, if not unknowingly carrying the virus, but none more than the elderly and/or those individuals living with a chronic illness, especially heart disease. With that said, I am at what they refer to as “high risk” for the virus due to my heart & lung issues, and must stay home until advised otherwise.

I, like millions of others, initially went to the grocery store to stock up on necessities, with water being at the top of my list, then it was healthy frozen foods and other necessities for everyday life. What I haven’t been able to wrap my head around however is why there were shoppers with grocery carts filled with nothing but toilet paper. It would have made sense had the Coronavirus involved a symptom of diarrhea, but it didn’t. So what was the deal with toilet paper sales hitting an all-time high?

I was listening to one of the experts discussing the effects that this virus was having on most individuals, and he brought up the toilet paper rampage, stating that since people felt helpless regarding how to stay safe, they felt back in control by purchasing what they saw as a true necessity should they not make it back to the store for a long period of time. I remember thinking to myself just how sad that was. That individuals truly believed they could control anything, let alone having enough toilet paper for the long haul. God is in control, not us. There are lessons to be learned.

As I sit here at my desk, wanting so badly to go somewhere, anywhere, I know I am doing the right thing by staying in, even though I am not contagious, but to keep from getting the virus and then spreading it to others. Now, if I could just somehow get others to understand the importance of staying home, we might just be able to stop this virus from spreading, and then I, as well as other individuals locked-in, can one day enter the outside world again without the threat of contracting the deadly virus.

When this is over, I won’t even take one day on the outside for granted again! I will breathe more deeply, live more compassionately, and never, ever take life for granted.


 My Blog

Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


What Does The Coronavirus Mean For Us?

March 15, 2020

The recent outbreak across not only our Country but around the world has brought with it fear for everyone, but no one more than those individuals who's immune systems are already lowered due to fighting a chronic illness.  Those of us living with chronic illnesses must remain even more diligent than all others with the onset of this latest worldwide virus.

All lives have changed due to this virus, meaning that facial masks, hand sanitizers, alcohol wipes both for the skin and for touchable objects, and possibly gloves, are a must!  Washing one's hands for at least several minutes, staying home if you have a cold, and if you do have to sneeze or cough in public, do so by placing your hands over your mouth and nose even when wearing a mask.  If you find that you have symptoms of the Coronavirus, DO NOT hesitate to get tested at your nearest location, not just for yourself, but for those you have and will come into contact with.  Individuals think hey, I feel fine, so I'm going wherever I want, whenever I want, using no protection because I'm not at risk or placing others at risk.  Wrong!  

There are thousands, if not millions of people, walking around without symptoms yet have been infected with this deadly virus.  I am in no way stating that we all should panic (well, thats already happened, just look at the grocery store shelves), never leave our homes, or stop living.  We just need to remain cautious, aware, and use common sense in times like these.  I say to those who have more than overstocked, to NOT hoard but to share with those individuals who are less fortunate, the homebound, our elderly, the poor, less fortunate human beings in need of a helping hand.  Let's not forget about our Faith.  Yes, precautions on so many levels must be taken, however, we should never let our fears overcome our Faith!  

Use common sense, common courtesy, and compassion.  Treat others as you would like to be treated.  I've heard some people saying to others that this is the end of the world.  Trust me, when the end of the world comes, you won't even have time to utter even a syllable let alone a full sentence.  

Relax, Use Due Diligence & Have Faith in God.... 

My Blog

Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Unlikely Medical Equipment

That Just Might Save Your Life!

March 14, 2020

AEDs, defibrillators were first introduced, to be utilized for cardiac arrest, by Claude Beck in 1947, with the portable version being invented in the mid-1960s by Frank Pantridge, a pioneer in emergency medical treatment.  In November of 2002 the Phillips HeadStart AED was approved for home use but only with a prescription.  In May of 2003 New York State became the first state to mandate AEDs in school, which has now evolved to essentially any where there are people of all ages.


Apple watches were first introduced to the general public on April 24, 2015, with the promotion of the Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2. A little over a year later, Series 3 appeared on the market, and a year later Series 4 made it’s appearance. Through the evolution of these Series of Apple Watches, medical technological benefits offered with the grandaddy of them all being the Series 5, the most present Apple Watch which hit shelves on September 20, 2019, and in my opinion the most important Apple watch of all.

Why? Because I am a Heart Disease Patient and this watch could quite possibly save my life one day!

I admit that the Apple Watch Series 5 offers a whole lot of things that I don’t need, but the one thing I do need is the most important aspect of this “miracle” watch. The ECG app allows for the Apple employees “behind the curtain of technology” to see if my heart is not beating properly, or in my case, not beating at all. I am at high risk for cardiac arrest where the heart stops beating suddenly, and without warning, just stops. I am a single woman with heart disease, living by myself, which is not just sudden death, but certain death. When the watch signifies that my heart is no longer beating, the Emergency SOS on the Apple Watch kicks in and a 911 call is dispatched to my very location due to the watch's built-in GPS. I ask you, does it get any better than this when you only have you to depend on and your heart is no longer beating? No, it doesn’t, at least not at this point in time.

Since I am on State Medicare I am therefore uninsured for this life-saving device, that is unless I decided to change to the only two Medicare providers that do provide coverage for the Apple Series 5 Watch. Any patient on Medicare, and /or Medicaid, knows what all is involved in changing from one Medicare Insurance to another. A nightmare for sure, and there’s always those pesky small print surprises with change. I’m advocating for my State Medicare to consider that Heart Disease is the number one killer of both men & women, and that time is of the essence! We’ll see how that works out.

Anxious to see what’s next for Apple Series 6. Just know that it‘s even going to be better than Series 5. Either way, I just want the watch, no matter what series it is, to have greatest & best potential in helping to save my life and the lives of those who fall victim to cardiac arrest.

Watches.. not just for telling time any more!

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

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Too Many Diets And Not Enough Time!

February 20, 2021

Keto, Vegan, Weight Watchers, South Beach, Ketogenic, Vegetarian, Atkins, Dash, Jenny Craig, and many more diets.  The question on everyone's mind.. which diet is right for me?  That depends on who you ask, which is definitely NOT the correct way to choose a diet!  

Since we all are different in every way, the first & most important thing to consider when choosing a diet, is getting your physician's opinion, especially if you have health issues of any kind.  Where one diet might work beautifully for an individual, that same diet might just have the potential to kill another, you included.  Yes, diets can and are that dangerous when someone is uneducated in the area of those diets being offered, so choose wisely.

I am educated enough to know what might be or not be the best diet for me, but never would I be so bold as to suggest to another person which diet is best for them.  I have several friends with absolutely no health issues and have chosen the diet that everyone else is on, especially the over-admired and over-rated celebrity.  Not a very wise way to go.  Find out what works best for you, which means you might be trying out several diets before landing on the one that is a great fit, for you, not your best friend, or your favorite celebrity.

I have heart and lung conditions, which knocks out a whole lot of of those diets I mentioned at the beginning of my blog.  Actually, I'm not on any diet right now, and come to think of it, I never really have been.  I stick with the basics of what has always worked for me in my later years.  Fish, salads, pasta, baked potatoes, fruit, wine in moderation, & lots & lots of water.  I haven't had a soft drink except for an upset stomach (Coke-a-Cola) in over 30 years.  I drink a little cup of coffee on some mornings, and yes, I do cheat with the occasional chocolate fix & pizza.  I'm as inept as they come as far as drive-thrus go.  I took my granddaughter when she was younger to a McDonalds where I had not taken her before, and I think there were ten windows before we got to the one where you actually picked up your food.  I was so frazzled by the time we got to that window I just blew right past it until my granddaughter in the backseat said, "Mama, you forgot to get my food at the window."  Now that she's older we still get a big kick out of that moment showcasing my fast-food ineptness!

Now that my granddaughter is sixteen, going on twenty-eight, she's been obsessing over dieting, and I worry about her taking any of those dangerous diet pills with advertising geared toward our young women.  There's Fen-phen, Meridia (which has now been pulled from the market), Japan Rapid Weight Loss, The Brazilian Diet Pill (sounds real sexy huh?), Hydroxycut, and the list goes on and on.  This brings up one of the issues I struggle with the most...Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) advertising which is only legal in two countries out of the world..the United States and New Zealand :(  Why?  Because it's DANGEROUS!!!.  Back to diets...

The only thing I want for anyone considering a diet plan is to PLEASE contact your physician first so that you can get the most updated safe diet designed just for you.  Not your best friend, and not your favorite celebrity.  Should you decide not to take my advice regarding the topic of diets, visiting with your physician prior to, then I pray that you will not be one of those who loses their life in doing so, while Pharmaceutical Companies & Over-The-Counter Manufacturers are raking in the big bucks, hand-over-fist, at your cost, both financially & physically.  

Choose Wisely...

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

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stand up for others...


Compassion For The Elderly Patient

February 17, 2020

My friend just called to update me on her elderly father's hospitalization.  He's ninety-nine, a few months away from turning one hundred, and although he has serious, chronic heart issues, his mind is working at 100%!  

The hospital was releasing him, while he was throwing up and very upset, stating to his daughter, my friend, "Well he is ninety-nine you know, and all he's done since he's been here is complain."  Let's just say that this physician, not his cardiologist who is wonderful and just happens to also be mine, is very lucky that he said that to my friend and not to me.  I can give a tongue-lashing like no other that is commensurate with a knife tearing through a body at warp speed, especially when it comes to an ill parent!

I've tried for many years, in vain, to get Medical Schools on board with adding a mandatory course, not just one class, on the care and compassion physicians need to show all of their patients, especially women with heart disease, and the elderly patient, the two areas that suffer the most. 

My friend knows what an advocate I am for all patients thus the phone call.  This got me to thinking, if I can't bring Mohammad to the Mountain, maybe I can bring the Mountain to Mohammad?  I need to find a venue that would allow me to run a course on how to help themselves, a family member and/or friend deal with those physicians who refuse to listen, are rude & uncompassionate, allowing their egos to run both their hearts & their mouths.  

If anyone has read any of my prior blogs related to the physician/patient relationship, or should I say lack of, then they would know that I've fired four cardiologists and kicked many a physician out of my hospital room, and that of a loved one, for their rudeness and lack of compassion.  Patients and their families need to learn how to stand up and be heard when it comes to their own health or that of a loved one.  We've spent more years in our bodies than physicians have spent in medical school, and I refuse to be bullied by another human being who thinks they're better than I am due to wearing that white coat and ending their names with the likes of MD, F.A.C.G, F.A.C.C, D.M.D. and many more.

My father, a very healthy man who at age eighty-four was still golfing 2-3 times a week, when he died suddenly from a botched colonoscopy due to his gastroenterologist's ego and unconscionable reactions to all of the serious signs & symptoms that my father experienced from the recovery room until he took his last breath the next day.  Between a lawsuit based on negligence and a complaint to our State's Medical Board, this man did not kill anyone else for at least four years, while we had his hands tied in litigation.  I pray that he never again lets his ego get in the way of him doing the right thing, unnecessarily ending yet another human being's life.

My father has been gone now for ten years, and although I have forgiven this physician, I won't ever forget!  And if this physician has forgotten my father, his sentence will be handed down from someone much larger than myself or the legal system...God.

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Confusing Inconsistant Test Results?

February 15, 2020

I have been dealing with the onset of Heart Disease for seventeen years.  To say I am frustrated would be an understatement!  I have been diagnosed, and my cardiologist & Clinics throughout the U.S. have exhausted every test known to man/woman, with the exception of just repeating EKGs & Echocardiograms but they are always inconsistent - UGH!!!!!  My EKGs are now my "new norm" which is abnormal.  My echocardiograms have both my mitral valve & tricuspid valve regurgitation going from mild to moderate, then moderate to mild (which is impossible), which makes a huge difference when it comes to having the surgery necessary to correct the issues.

At the beginning of this process, my test results were always consistent, until my symptoms became worse.  Now I'm on the rollercoaster of he said/she said when it comes to my EKGs & Echocardiograms, and that's with NO change in my medications which could alter the results of these tests.

To make matters even worse, being a patient who is not even close to being "textbook," makes me the kind of patient who doesn't fit into a mold, but is somehow molding a new model of Heart Disease.  I don't have chest pain during exercise or stress, only during relaxation & sleeping.  I have difficulty breathing all the time, but at times of exertion over-and-above my normal activities my breathing becomes more labored.  Cardiologists have been trying for over a decade to get me to say that I'm experiencing excruciating chest pain during moments of stress and/or exercise, but that will never happen.  I am not going to lie about my symptoms just to fit into their textbooks.  

The reason strides are being made each & every day in the world of medicine is because there are patients out there like me who don't exhibit these supposed "normal" symptoms at supposedly the "normal" times.  Physicians, especially cardiologists, need to start thinking outside the box!  I just had my first visit with an adult congenital heart specialist who I think just might be the one to do just that..at least I'm hoping so.  Only time will tell.

My point?  If you are like me, a patient, especially a Heart patient, who's test results continue to be confusing & inconsistent, ask why?  If they can't give you an answer, I mean, who in the hell can?  I'd say welcome to my world, but I wouldn't even wish this tragedy on my ex-husband.

I'll finish with this advice, which is in no way medical advice.. DON'T GIVE UP!!!  KEEP ASKING QUESTIONS!!!  It all comes down to this:  

How Bad Do You Want To live? 

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Like a Box of Chocolates

February 6, 2020

Trying to pick just the right physician is commensurate with trying to find your favorite chocolate in a box... Forest Gump's mother said it the best, "Life's like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you're going to get!"  Even when a physician comes highly recommended by a friend, family member or even another physician, there's a good chance it  just might not be a good fit for you.

So how does one know which physician to go with, especially in regard to medical specialties?  One doesn't.  It's a crap shoot like just about everything else in life.

I'm not a pessimist, with the exception of finding just the right cardiologist/specialist.  It's through many trials & tribulations that I found my present cardiologist, who I've been with now for over a decade, which was after firing the four that came before her.  Just last year, my cardiologist and I decided that since she wasn't a specialist in congenital heart disease, and those heart defects that I had, I should see an adult congenital heart doctor at our local Children's Hospital.  I ended up getting the actual Director of the Adult Congenital Heart Disease Department.  I remember thinking "Wow!  If I'm getting the Director, I should be getting the best of the best."  Wrong.  This guy was worse than all of the four cardiologists combined that I had fired prior to finding my present one.

I won't go into detail about my actual appointment, but I can say that by time I got home I was pissed!  Pissed that I once again wasted my time and hitting yet another brick wall.  As soon as I got back home, I wrote to this "supposed" highly respected head of adult congenital heart disease, and copying Children's Hospital.  Of course, I didn't actually believe that I would get a response from either.

A month later I received a letter from Children's Hospital. regarding their Director of Adult Congenital Heart Disease, stating that he had left (actually FLED) the country, and that there was a good chance that my medical files from that day's visit had gone with him.  They did.  All that was left in MyChart was that I had previously been a patient for one day of this guy, no other records were available from that visit.  To this day I still don't know whether he was a "real" doctor or not, and probably never will know. 

I waited a year before I decided to go back to Children's and once again trust my heart health care to another adult congenital heart physician.  My appointment is in four days.  I hope that I can go in without a chip on my shoulder due to my last visit there, and give this person a chance.  Why?

Because, as Forest Gump's mother said, life's like a box of chocolates and you just never know what your going to get.  I can only hope that I get the good one, that dark chocolate cream-filled one.

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


February 2020 Heart Disease Awareness Month

January 30, 2020

It is no coincidence that Valentine's Day falls in the very month of Heart Disease Awareness Month.  When most others see hearts, think of love, I see and think of only one thing...Heart Disease Awareness.  Having heart disease and surviving a heart attack will do that to you.

With the passing of each year, I see progress in bringing awareness to heart disease in the month of February, which is a good thing!  On the flip side, I, like many others, find it difficult to bring awareness to heart disease the other eleven months out of the year.  Women & men don't just die from heart disease the month of February, they also die the other eleven months out of the year.  This is where we fall short of keeping the momentum we forcefully pursue the month of February going throughout the rest of the year!

Try as I may, I cannot get an article in magazines or newsprint, presentations or interviews regarding heart disease, especially in women any other month other than February even though it's the No.1 killer of both men & women over all cancers combined, as well as all other causes of death!  One would think this would get the media's attention, but sadly it doesn't.  This, however, does not stop me from trying!

I wrote a book Can You Hear Me Now: or do I need to yell into your stethoscope? but had to self-publish regarding my fight in being properly diagnosed with heart disease, how I advocated for myself, and teaching others how they too can advocate for themselves.  The other lesson I wanted my book to address was for physicians to learn to listen to their patients, really listen, with something other than their stethoscopes!  Why couldn't I get a publisher's attention?  I was not a physician, cardiologist, nor did I have any of those infamous important acronyms behind my name such as MD, FACC, PhD, etc.  I was just a heart patient and a national patient advocate.  In the mind of publishing companies, what could I possibly have to offer in the area of heart disease?  If it weren't for patients like me, these MDs, FACCs, PhDs, etc.  wouldn't have jobs, and who better to speak to the issue of heart disease than a heart disease patient?  

Obviously, even though we've made headway in the area of heart disease awareness, there is much more left to do to even just catch up with breast cancer awareness.  This is a travesty, yet a reality.

To all cardiologists, physicians, scientists, and all medical professionals I say this:

Can You Hear Me Now: or do I need to yell into your stethoscope? 

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Taking the Bull By the Horns!

January20, 2020

Sometimes it becomes necessary to just take the bull by it's horns when it comes to your own healthcare.  Grant it, taking a bull by it's horns sounds like a very dangerous thing to do, but at some point you must draw the line as to who is in charge when it comes to your very life!

After seventeen years of being poked & prodded with tests, procedures, second opinions, I have decided that the year 2020 is the year I shoot for the moon...I want open-heart surgery and I want it this year!  I won't settle for anything less!!  There is nothing left to diagnose, to test for, or a need for a second, third, fourth opinion.  I have been to the finest Clinics in the United States, and have had every test known to man & woman and we always end up where we began.  I have three congenital heart issues I was unaware of my whole life until age 50, having one of those fixed with cardiac ablation. The other two were considered too risky to fix and cardiologists felt that the two left over weren't causing an imminent threat.  They weren't living with the symptoms day in & day out.  

Through testing for those congenital heart issues, and the fact that my health was deteriorating, I was also found to have regurgitation (leakage) in both my mitral & tricuspid valves, which is now at moderate stage, one stage below serious.  Serious level is when most cardiac surgeons are willing to perform open-heart surgery due to the risks involved.  Hello!  I'm the patient, the one living with these heart issues that affect my quality of life each and every day for seventeen years now.  I'm taking the bull by the horns!  

I am now on a mission to find a cardiac surgeon who is willing to go in and fix these four remaining heart issues and I will NOT stop until I do find him or her.  I've played around way to long.  Those four cardiac issues has left me at risk for cardiac arrest, and living by myself, I'm as good as dead.  I know the risks..I'm willing to take them..let's get this done!

So, if anyone out there is where I am at in their medical struggle, no matter the disease, I say this to you...


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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) Advertising

January 1, 2020

I realize that there are prescriptions which are necessary, but those prescriptions should be provided at the discretion of the physician and not through a magazine, newspaper, or television advertisement, telling patients that they have never even met, what's good for them. 

I stopped buying magazines/newspapers several years ago, as they were riddled with pharmaceutical advertisements & I rarely watch television.  However, this Christmas Season I found myself later at night watching some of the Hallmark Christmas shows, which were so positive, but hated all the drug advertisements at the commercial breaks.  It reminded me of why I don't watch TV any longer.

All of the pharmaceutical commercials are filled with nothing but "happy" people, at least once they take the medication being peddled by the pharmaceutical company!  The worst part of these types of drug advertisements is the risks involved with actually taking the medication and are read at warp speed at the end of the commercial, and lost on those watching.  So many of the medications being advertised can result in "loss of life" for a condition that is NOT life-threatening.

There are only two countries in the world that allow DTC advertising with one of those being the United States as well as New Zealand.  There's a reason for this... IT'S NOT SAFE!!!!!

Listen up patients!  When it comes to medications, make sure you educate yourself, research the drug & it's affects, and most of all remember to Advocate for Yourself...  it's your life that is at stake!   

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Addiction: Who's Fault Is It?

October 11, 2019

There are many types of addictions, but Opioids are presently at the top of the list.  No one is debating that, however, the argument of "who's fault is it" rages on.  Some blame physicians for over prescribing...some blame the back street alley drug store.  There's plenty of blame to go around, but in the end it's the addict who suffers the most, with their families in a close second place.  I could spout out all the numbers & percentages of drug addiction, but why?  That will never address or answer the question of how do we stop it.  

Are there patients out there with legitimate excruciating pain?  Yes.  Even they suffer if they can't get pain medication because of those who fake their pain just for a thrill.  Many of these same patients end up in the back street alley drug store just to get some relief.  But for them, the chance of being arrested far surpasses the pain which is much greater than the risk.  The only person who can truly assess a patient's level of pain is a physician, yet even they sometimes can't differentiate as pain can't be seen on an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.  There is only one way for a physician to assess pain and level of pain in their patient, and that is to get to know them as a person, which requires conversation and listening.  The words a patient speaks can speak volumes if a physician's listening skills are working at the highest level.

I've always said that there should be a mandatory course for all medical students regarding "listening skills" and what truly makes for a healthy physician/patient relationship.  In order to treat the "whole" patient, the physician needs to know the whole patient.  

Are there patients who lie to get opioids?  Yes.  Even if they don't take the pills themselves, they know that the street value for opioids is through the roof!  A lot of drug dealers don't even do drugs...they just get high off of the money they make & the things they can buy.  Another misnomer is that drug addicts have no one to blame but themselves.  In some cases, this is true, however, patients whose physician offers up oxycodone & other narcotics on a regular basis without it being warranted are the most dangerous drug dealers of all...they just hide behind the M.D. on their white coats.

So, before passing judgement on any one person, make sure you look in the mirror first and past the shell of that person.  

It's an old saying but one worth repeating...

"Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover!"

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


The Right To Die Debate

October 7, 2019

The right to die debate has got to be the most controversial debate in life.  After all, it affects everyone of us.  

I have had a life filled with many ups & downs, including chronic illness, with there being no cure for a few of those.  I've asked myself on many occasions "if the pain became unbearable and/or I had no quality of life left, both physically & cognitively, would I want to end my own life?"  Since I'm not there yet, I can't really say...just being honest.

Being raised in the church, the answer would have to be no when following Biblical guidance.  When I look at others, especially family members, who face/faced excruciating pain, literally loosing their minds, who am I to say what is right or what is wrong.  The Bible is filled with many contradictions, mainly between the Old Testament & the New Testament, but what does "God" say...now that's a thinker?  On one hand, I cannot imagine that my God would want to see someone with mouth cancer, like my stepbrother, lying in a hospital bed as the cancer literally ate his face off down to the bone before dying.  But then again, God watched as his very own Son died a horrible death on the Cross.

I hope and pray that I never have to watch one of my children or grandchildren die a lengthy, painful death.  I cannot say I would or would not end their life if they asked me to do so, as my stepbrother asked my stepfather to do for days before he passed.  I would want the strength to not pull the plug, but I would in turn also want the strength to pull the plug...the ultimate decision in one's life.  If I am the one who is dying and in pain, I would want God to grant me the strength to not ask my children, or anyone else, to pull the plug.  

But...I am not in that position and can honestly say that I don't know what I would do under either situation.  Just being honest, and I think that if everyone else would be honest with themselves, they would answer the same way.  When I eventually come to that "fork in the road" I can only hope & pray that I would make the right decision...

I didn't write this article in one fell swoop...I kept coming back to it and have now reached the conclusion that should that time ever come where I have to make the decision to choose life or death, that I do what I've always done when it comes to touch decisions.  I'll let God make the final decision, after all, He has what I don't...a Winning Record!

*For God so loved the world that He gave His one & only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16

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Is Christmas Really Only 83 Days Away? Let The Stress Begin!

October 4, 2019

Really?  83 Days??  I'm old enough to know just how fast 83 days can go...it's more like a nano-second!  I already hear people talking about how stressed out they are, and it's usually about the cost of Christmas.  I find this ironic, because when I now think of Christmas I think of the ultimate cost that newborn baby born in a stable paid for our sins, not the cost of presents.  I admit it took me growing up to realize this, but once you get it, truly get it, your stress can be reduced, if not having left all together!

I've spent many Christmas' looking for just the right toy, just the right gift, only to have the toy left behind even by the end of the day, and that gift you stressed over for your friend has been re-gifted by the end of Christmas.  Spending quality time with your family & friends is PRICELESS!!!  It becomes a memory, not one to be forgotten, and you can't re-gift it...time.  It usually takes a death of a loved one to wake us up to the important things in life, and trust me, buying the latest toy, or most expensive gift becomes a moot point.

So this Christmas, give your family memories, maybe a trip that all will enjoy and photos that will last a lifetime.  Give that best friend a coupon for a long lunch or dinner together to catch up in this crazy world we live in.  I've made both mine & my daughters' Christmas much easier when it comes to me.  I treat them to a nice dinner somewhere we ALL can sit down at one large table and eat together, which is my gift to them (of course grandkids get a little extra), and their gift to me is just showing up...the Gift of Time!  Camera's are going off from beginning to end.  In these days of technology, no one prints out photos any more, with the exception of me...I want my grandkids to have something tangible that will bring memories back when I'm long gone.

When you begin to stress out over this Christmas, take time to think about what's really the most important thing you can both give & ask for...TIME.

"Time isn't the main thing.  It's the only thing."  (Miles Davis)

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Knowing When To Say When!

September 21, 2019

I'll never forget the day that I woke up feeling like my back & every other part of my body was hurting.  Sure, I had exercised as always the day before, having done nothing differently, so why all the soreness?  

First I thought I might be coming down with the flu, but my stomach and head felt fine, which usually accompanies the other flu symptoms I have.  When I glanced at my calendar to see what the rest of the year held for me, I zeroed in on the day of my next birthday - UGH!!!!  Could it be?  Could it be that I was going to turn 66 years old that held the key to my hurting body?  I had to be honest with myself...I was no longer a "spring chicken" which had enabled me to do those workouts I had been doing since my 30's.  It was time for a new norm regarding my workout sessions!

So, I toned down the number of reps with my free weights, the number of pushups I was doing daily, and although I kept walking the same distance, I was no longer doing my version of power walking.  I returned to the Yoga I had dropped years before, as well as bringing out the old dusty exercise bike to replace those days it was too hot to walk let alone breath.  Within weeks, I noticed I was no longer hurting, but rather experiencing a soreness associated with proper exercise.

I remember my parents saying that they just couldn't do what they used to, and thinking they were just making an excuse...now I know what they meant!  I recently told my daughter that I couldn't run for two day's straight helping her shop for her new apartment.  Her reply was "are you kidding me?  It's just getting in & out of the car, going into stores!"  So I posed this question to her..."can you do today what you were able to do 20 years ago?"  She contemplated that for a minute or so and then replied "Nope."  Aging is not for sissies!!

We should count our blessings that we are still here to experience all of the joys of life, including the bad times.  It's called LIFE.  When my friends all get together and the subject begins to take the on the form of our wrinkles, skin tone, and sagging of our body parts, I chime in with "this is my face, this is my body, so deal with it...I do." 

"To every thing there is a season" (Ecclesiastes 3 KJV) including exercising properly as we age...who would have thought it?  Not me.

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School Zone Speed Limit Is There For A Reason!

October 19, 2019

And that Reason is for our children and our grandchildren!  Most schools have been in session now for at least one month, allowing drivers plenty of time to learn to slow down to 20 miles an hour when the lights are flashing.  If I had to give a percentage of just how many do slow down, I would have to say less than half from what I've experienced.  I've had other drivers riding my tail, going around me, honking, and even some giving me the universal sign language we all understand.

The only way of slowing these low intelligence, uncaring, bullying individuals down is to have law enforcement presence at ALL schools to pull each & every one of them over and then ticketing them with the highest amount allowed by law.  Usually it will only take one officer, with his flashing lights on, having pulled someone, over to slow the rest down.

What is it about some drivers who believe that only certain laws were meant for them and that they can pick & choose which ones they want to follow?  These are the ones who I refer to as the "pushers" and I don't mean drugs.  They push everything as far as they can until one day they get caught, and even then for some, that's still not enough.  Another word for these individuals is narcissists who believe that what they are doing is truly not wrong, at least in their minds..

That extra 4-5 minutes you might lose in time is better than a parent losing a child.  SLOW DOWN!!!  Yes, contrary to what you might believe ALL laws, even School Zone Speed Limit areas, pertain to YOU!!!

**A little side note to School Superintendents, Legislators, & those entities who have the power to enforce the  School Zone Speed Limit, if you are so concerned for the safety of our school children, why aren't there seat belts in place for each & every child riding a school bus?  The bus driver has one on.  I'm willing to bet all of you do too!  I would like to encourage someone, anyone out there, who can get a law passed making seat belts on school buses mandatory, to do so!  You'd have not only my VOTE but the vote of all teachers, parents & grandparents who only seek the safety of our children.... 

The price of a child's life?  PRICELESS!!!!

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Never Lose Your Childish Ways!

September 16, 2019

Somewhere along the way of becoming responsible adults, we have lost our ability to think & act like children.  Speaking for myself, I cannot pinpoint that exact moment when I lost my childish ways, but nonetheless, sadly I did.  Joy seemed like a planet far, far away unable for me to reach.  I can count on one hand people I know who have turned into responsible adults yet never lost their childish ways.  It's an art, one that takes great balance.

Adults these days rush constantly, working more hours so they can buy a larger home, a Mercedes, join all the right Clubs, and are literally killing themselves due to having lost the child in them.  

Nothing, and I mean nothing, puts a smile more quickly on my face than watching kids at play, laughing, giggling, and filled with so much joy!  When is the last time you passed by a swing, or a slide, and got on that swing, swinging higher & higher, or got on that slide going down it twenty times in a row, laughing the whole way?  For me, it's been years.  I think about it, then of course look around to see if someone is looking.  Since when did other people control our joy, our lives?  It's time for a change my friend!

I recently went to our community's Festival, and loved watching the joy that the kids got out of just running and chasing each other, but nothing stole my heart more than watching a 2-3 year old little boy dance to the music with both of his parents dancing even harder than he was.  They didn't give a care about who was looking, what they might have looked like, they just added to their little boy's joy by joining him.  We all would be better served, not only for ourselves, but for our children, to do the same.

So the next time you pass a swing, slide, or get a chance to dance, like no one is looking, with your child or children, take a chance and JUST DO IT!  Who cares who's watching, and if they are, you can bet that they are jealous that you are one of those rare individuals who have once again found their childish ways...good for you!!!

"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.  There are seven million."  (Walt Streightiff)

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Is Stress Killing You?

September 12, 2019

Stress is the No. 1 killer of everyone!  Ongoing chronic stress can be tied to serious health issues, mental health issues (depression, anxiety, etc.), Cardiovascular disease.  So why do we keep letting ourselves get stressed out, even over minor problems, whether personal or professional? 

We live in a world filled with greed, cheating, lying, where winner takes all, leaving many of us to deal with uncontrollable increased levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol.  Should your stress become chronic, it could interfere with your basic learning & memory, increased blood pressure (about 75 million adults are living with HBP), and a lower immune system, yet we continue to stress out daily.

It seems most of my life has been one filled with stress, which has lead to many of my chronic heart issues.  With age, however, I am now learning to "be still."  No one knows how to be still any more.  It's rush here, rush there, never once taking a deep breath and just being.  Everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses...I want to know just who this Jones family is because they're killing the rest of us!  People knock over, kick, and punch other people in order to get the latest, greatest toy for their kid at Christmas time, who will be bored with it even before Christmas Day is over.

I want to encourage others to be still...to listen to relaxation music in a quiet space without interruption for at least 15 minutes out of each day.  When I suggest this to friends & family, it's like "who has the time?"  I'm willing to bet that if they checked the time they are on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, which can be stressful in itself, they would realize that they are spending far more time on these stress-building social media sites than if they just took that 15 minutes to be still.  It's not easy at first, but once it becomes a part of your life, like brushing your teeth everyday, the stress will slowly but surely dissipate into a puddle of relaxation - AGGGHHHH!

Don't say you'll begin tomorrow, because tomorrow just might be too late...literally!!!

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Remembering September 11, 2001

September 11, 2019

Eighteen Years ago today, American's lives changed forever.  2,977 people lost their lives in three different locations in the United States when terrorists took over four commercial aircraft, with two flying into the World Trace Center in New York City, one flying into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and another nosediving into the ground in a field near Shanksville, PA.

We came together as a nation that day under one Flag and under one God, grieving over those who lost their lives and their families.  Never has there been such camaraderie  between all Americans.  But somewhere in these past eighteen years, Americans have once again lost their way, burning the American Flag, one American fighting another American over the sanctity of what the Flag means, and literally in some cases Americans who have become terrorists themselves, threatening, hurting, and even killing those who believe in what our Flag & God stands for.  So when I say "God Bless America," it's no longer just a saying, it now sadly comes from the depth of my soul...


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FDA Approved...But Is It Truly Safe?

September 10, 2019

Your physician suggests a new medication, but you're not so sure.  The physician than tells you that it's safe, it's FDA approved.  It took years of being chronically ill to learn that everything that the FDA says is "safe," is not.  So many medication & devices are approved not on merit, but with back-door money.  So who do you trust?  I trust my gut, and do my own research into the medication being offered or a  device being recommended.

Before I was ever diagnosed with Chronic Cardiovascular Disease, I believed that anything that had 'FDA Approved' on it was safe due to believing the FDA would never steer me wrong.  I was wrong.  I liken this to my belief in Santa Claus when I was a child, but at some point during my growing up process I learned that there was no Santa Claus.  The FDA is similar to our belief as children in Santa Claus, because we just knew that Santa heard our wishes for just the right gift to be under the tree on Christmas morning.  The same holds true for believing that the FDA has our best interests at heart when approving each and every drug/device, when so many times a med and/or device slips through the cracks that the FDA is constantly filling with untested, unreliable, sometimes dangerous, and even deadly meds/devices.

It's okay to be optimistic, and to trust, but when it comes to our health, we need to be very, very careful that we are making the right choices for both ourselves & our loved ones.  We live in a world where we look at the back of boxes and cans when grocery shopping, checking out calories, fat content, sodium, fiber, protein, even down to the percentage of potassium that a product contains per serving.  The same should hold true when it comes to our meds/devices, but the news is filled daily with stories of false claims on the back of not only boxes & cans of food but medications and devices.    Educate yourself, soak up all the knowledge you can, and then speak up!  Those who are my age were raised in an era where questioning a doctor or medical professional was a no-no...not any longer.  Who better to advocate for oneself than yourself.

So, when you see that medication and/or device with FDA Approved stamped on it, don't believe it...find out for yourself and then move forward responsibly.

Santa Claus doesn't exist and neither does FDA Approved...


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Passing Down Congenital Heart Issues To Your Grandchild

September 4, 2019

I could hear my youngest daughter, but every part of my body went numb with fear.  My youngest granddaughter had been struggling with running fast, stopping suddenly, then becoming lightheaded to the point of blacking out.  It was like deja vu for me as at approximately her age, when I ran fast, stopped suddenly, I blacked out.  The doctors were at a loss as to what was causing this, because back then, they never knew to check the heart for any congenital issues that occurred at birth.  At age 65 I still can't run fast, stop suddenly without getting lightheaded.

As my daughter continued telling me about being at Children's Hospital all day yesterday, going from cardiologist-to-cardiologist, my mind was screaming "Nooooooooo, not my granddaughter, who has a bigger heart than anyone in our family!!"  They only ran the basic heart tests, which showed nothing, but will now move forward to research any congenital heart issues that were not found by her pediatrician at birth, or before now.  By all standards she appeared normal, so why go looking for trouble?  

Trouble eventually went looking for her & now here she is in a world that is hard enough for me as an adult to understand, let alone for an active ten-year-old :(   I'm glad that we are now in an era within the field of medicine where heart issues are no longer ruled out for women & children, blaming it on stress, panic & hormones.  I have been praying since I took that phone call that they will find my granddaughter's congenital issues(s) and be able to fix them with the least amount of medications/invasive procedures/surgery.

So...now the "guilt" comes trickling down into the gut of my stomach knowing that she has congenital heart issues because of me.  Not that I asked for my heart issues, as there is absolutely no family history on either side of the family, and all of my siblings are heart-healthy!  But there is still a part of me that feels this guilt that out of all the things that her papa has given her (ponies, four-wheelers, coolest sneakers) that it was "me" who gave her heart issues.  To say my heart is breaking is an understatement....

I have told my daughter to let all of those cardiologist's involved in my granddaughter's heart care know that I am more than willing to share any & all of my cardiac/congenital medical records if it will help.  It's the least I can do.  I realize that in order to help my granddaughter that I first have to get rid of any guilt I'm feeling, and concentrate solely on her!  Working on praying the guilt away & praying more for her healing...

Heavenly Father, watch over my granddaughter and grant that she may be restored to that perfect health which it is yours alone to give; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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Defining Heart Failure

August 20, 2019

Wouldn't a heart that's failing in one way, or many ways, constitute Heart Failure?  If the heart is failing on any level wouldn't that be Heart Failure?  As a heart patient with a variety of blood flow issues regarding the heart, I would have to say that yes, it would be.  There doesn't seem to be a definitive line to distinguish whether or not a patient is in the throes of Heart Failure.  Many of those symptoms provided for Heart Failure are not helpful as most patients with heart issues face many of the same symptoms listed for Heart Failure, yet never diagnosed with it.

It can definitely get confusing for patients!  On Mayo Clinic's website, under Heart Failure Causes, the first paragraph states, "Heart failure often develops after other conditions have damaged or weakened the heart.  However (don't you just love that word), the heart doesn't have to be weakened to cause heart failure." In another paragraph regarding ejection fractions is another head scratcher.  It states, "An ejection fraction is an important measurement of how well your heart is pumping and is used to help classify heart failure and guide treatment... but (and here's the 'but' word) heart failure can occur even with a normal ejection fraction."  Huh?

Those are just a few examples that are confusing to a heart patient when discussing Heart Failure.  It's like a meteorologist on TV stating "well, it is going to rain today or it's not."  Viewers are left to wait to see the rain...or not.  

Recently there was much discussion among cardiologists on what to call Heart Failure other than Heart Failure.  If they're not sure what to call it, how can they diagnose it?  Just sayin'.  Did you know that there's even another name for the human heart?  It's often referred to as the 'cardiac muscle."  An EKG, the machine used frequently to monitor your heart, is now also called an ECG.  Is there a difference in the two?  No.  

Much confusion remains for millions of heart patients who don't understand the intermingling and changing of terminology regarding heart health, especially when it comes to Heart Failure.  For me, I really don't give a shit what you want to call it, if it's happening I want to be diagnosed, and not next week, next month, or next year, I want to be diagnosed ASAP.  After all, it is my heart (or cardiac muscle..yadda, yadda, yadda), and most of all it's MY LIFE!!!  Cardiologists need to work harder at helping their heart patients understand the terminology they use, so the patient can better advocate for themselves.

Last, but not least, if any portion of my heart is failing, then I'm going to call it what it is...Heart Failure.  

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The Waiting Room

August 12, 2019

Every one of us has been in a waiting room, especially a physician's, at least one time in our life.  Some have waited 15 minutes, some an hour, and some even longer.  I've been in the "waiting room" for 16 years now.  Not for an appointment, but for answers as to why I have heart issues that I suffer daily from, as well as my idiopathic pulmonary hypertension.

Waiting for your doctor appointment is frustrating, but waiting for years for answers is even more frustrating!  I know.  It's not that my present Cardiologist and Primary Physician aren't doing their jobs, it's just that my health issues are very complicated and they want to get it right.  I want them to get it right!  And that takes time.

When I get frustrated with the waiting, I think about those individuals who are terminally ill, with no hope of even having one year let alone 16 years to figure it out...they are dying.  They might have an answer, but it's definitely not the one that any patient is searching for.  So grace, patience and tolerance are qualities that I now strive for in my daily life.  Where there is life, there is hope.

In two weeks, I will have two heart procedures that both my cardiologist and I hope will produce answers.  Maybe not all of the answers we are seeking, but at least some.  When I don't have answers for family & friends, especially after 16 years, some understand that my health issues are complicated, some walk away, and some go into denial that I'm not even chronically ill.  Me?  I just get frustrated...again.  This is where grace, patience & tolerance come in and I remember those who are no longer chronically ill but terminally ill, and I cry...not for me, but for them and their family & friends.

I will continue to patiently sit in the "waiting room" knowing that one day all of the answers will show themselves, good or bad, so I can have peace.

With God ALL things are possible...

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August 11, 2019

Hope.  Such a simple word yet so hard to accomplish, especially during times of trials & tribulations.  Nothing tests our Hope like a Chronic Illness.  I should know as I have chronic heart & lung issues and have been attempting to keep my hope up even though it's now been 16 years since I began being properly diagnosed.

I believe in God, and I believe that His timing is perfect, but after so many snafu's in my treatments, it's difficult not to become discouraged & lose Hope.  So, how do we as chronic illness patients, continue to find joy in everyday life, when we never know when our chronic illness will rear it's ugly head & come knocking on our door?  Lately, this has been extremely difficult for me.  I used to have excruciating chest pain 3-4 times a year, controlled by meds, but in the last 4-5 months it's been more like 2-3 times a week.  This is a "significant" change, and hopefully on the 22nd of this month, I will have answers as to why this is occurring.  I'm having both a right and left catheterization in order to better see my mitral & tricuspid valves which are worsening, as well as to check the blood pressure numbers in my lungs.  Is there a chance that these procedures may not answer the question of why my chest pain is occurring more often, and lasting much longer than ever?  Yes, but I will continue to have Hope and pray that I will receive answers.

When I get down and feel that there just is no Hope I refer back to this scripture:

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh will rest in Hope.  (Psalm 16:9)

There is always Hope in God...

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Who's Really Driving The Bus Of Your Medical Care?

August 1, 2019

The answer to this question could result in numerous answers...insurance companies, fellow medical partners, politics, greed, etc.  

In my case, it was a fellow medical partner, possibly mixed with a little touch of politics & greed, in the cardiology group of my cardiologist.  For the last 12 years my cardiologist & I "alone" have always made the decisions regarding any tests, meds, procedures, and surgeries.  This all changed this past week, leaving me stunned, confused and angry.  It was my 6 month visit where I explained that I was having excruciating chest pain, lasting sometimes up to 15 minutes 2-3 times a week rather than the 3-4 times a year.  Eventually my nitroglycerin spray, after two independent sprays, would kick in and the pain would begin to subside.  At my last visit we had discussed the need for another left & right heart catheterization, to see if there had been any change to my mitral valve and the blood pressure numbers regarding my pulmonary hypertension.

My cardiologist was also concerned and set up both the right & left cath for 2 days later.  She asked if I was okay with one of the other cardiologists performing these procedures as she regarded them as more than competent.  I trust my cardiologist with my life so I stated that would be fine.  Everything was set for that Friday, my daughter had requested the day off to take me and bring me home, and I had let a few family members know.  Early the next morning I received a phone call from the nurse at my cardiologists office stating that the cardiologist who was to perform both procedures had cancelled both my left & right caths without consulting me first!  She instead wanted to perform a CT angiogram to get a better look at my coronary arteries...I DO NOT have coronary artery disease, and any coronary artery blockages were ruled out years ago and even recently.  I was NOT happy.

So how did this cardiologist come to be in charge of my heart health.. my life?  I only ok'd her, due to my cardiologist's faith in her to do the right & left caths, to do the procedures, not to run "my" heart health.  This happened at the end of last week, and I'm just as angry today, if not more, that she took it upon herself to cancel procedures that my cardiologist deemed necessary...after all, I've been with my cardiologist for twelve years, we know each other, trust each other, and respect each other.  I reached out to my cardiologist, letting her know just how disappointed I was, and to find out what happened?  Blood is thicker than water.  Although I asked numerous questions through messaging her in MyChart, none of my questions actually got answered, but she did apologize that this occurred.  I'm sure she had to be careful what she said in writing about this other cardiologist, but let me just say this...I don't give a damn whether or not this other cardiologist get's her feelings hurt, or even get's written up, I care about my quality of life & staying alive!!!!

So, here I sit, wondering when my next chest pain event will occur and when, and if, I will still get my right & left caths?  Patients deserve better... I deserve better!!!!

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My Body Says I'm 65 While My Mind is Screaming 25!!!!

July 29, 2019

My body & my mind are at war & I'm struggling to decide who's side I'm on.  Although there are many "perks" about being 65, such as not giving a crap about what others think about you anymore, the downside is the health issues that often come along with age - UGH!!!  When I take a walk, and I get that urge to run because my mind is telling me to do so, my heart says, "I don't think so!" This is the downside to being 65.  When I'm sitting poolside with my two daughters & 16 year old granddaughter, all three in bikinis, my mind is saying why didn't you put one of your two pieces on?  Then my body reminds me I'm NOT 25 anymore...sigh.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm very blessed to even still be here with all of the heart/lung issues I have, but I want to know how to turn my 25 year old mind off, and find peace with my 65 year old body.  I'm much more conscientious of how I dress, although I do love all the new fashion that the younger generation is enjoying...it's just knowing where to draw the line.  My oldest daughter teases me that if I live to be 90, I'll still be wearing my ripped boyfriend jeans, white tank top, flip flops & ball cap...she's right, I will.  Out of all the outfits I've worn in my life, this one is my all-time favorite & always will be.  If I were having a funeral, which I'm not, I'd be wearing this getup, but I'm being cremated.  Guess I could go into the oven with the same outfit on, right? 

Many women, my age, some younger, some older, are also trying to figure out how to age gracefully, yet still feel young, dress fashionably, and still have a "girl's night out" without making a fool of themselves.  All I can say, is that it's a work in progress for all of us, and one worth taking the time to figure out.  So, ladies, being 65 is not the end of the world.  In fact, it's just the beginning!  Let go of your past, live in the present, and know that you have a future worth living for, whether or not you can ever wear that bikini again.  We clean out our closets, so why not clean out our minds and get rid of that 25 year-old mentality and embrace our 65 year old awesome selves!!

"Aging is not 'lost youth' but a new stage of opportunity and strength"  -  Betty Friedan


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Is It Denial Or Am I Just Tired?

July 25, 2019

For the past four to five months I have had chest pain whether at rest, asleep, or being active.  I was used to having this pain several times a year, but now it's two-to-three times a week.  It's excruciating, striking at dead-center of my chest, combined with head & neck aches, back pain, and sweating.

When my chest pain first reared it's ugly head, it was off to the ER each & every time, but now, well now, not so much.  Each ER visit ended with the same result...I'd be admitted immediately, being a heart patient, then they would want to run the gamut of tests such as thyroid, which after fifteen years of testing, has proven I do not have thyroid issues.. then they'd suggest sleep apnea testing, which I have been tested for, and the young man who monitored me all night, actually fell asleep himself due to the fact that I did not move one inch all night until I woke up for good. No sleep apnea. 

I tried, although in vain, to inform them that I was NOT looking to be "diagnosed," but only wanted to know if I was having a heart attack, or had one.  By time I was dismissed, there was always the dismissive, wary looks from the medical staff to deal with.  And this, is why I refuse to go to the ER even though my chest pain is now lasting for fifteen minutes instead of the usual three to five minutes in previous years.

I spend my time as a National Patient Advocate telling others, especially women, to not let the judgmental looks from doctors and nurses  deter them from getting the help that they need.  Yet, here I am doing the exact opposite which begs the question, am I in denial or am I just tired?  I'm not in denial, as the pain is real, but I am tired.. very, very tired.  After a chest pain event, I feel as if I've just run a marathon, and any energy I began the day with, has dissipated into thin air.  

I see my cardiologist in six days, but did, however, message her on MyChart to let her know what we would be dealing with at our visit.  I explained why I was refusing to go to the ER, but when I got a response, not from my cardiologist, but someone covering for her, their response was "patient should go to ER to be evaluated."  Duh!  Did they not read the part where I go into detail as to why I wasn't going to the ER?  No one really listens anymore.  They've become robots with quick, easy answers that often never address the issue at hand.  Fortunately for me, my cardiologist would have understood my message, as we've been together for twelve years now.  But sadly, I'm not her only patient, and she deserves vacations with her family, like the rest of the work world.  

I DO NOT suggest doing what I am doing...waiting.  If you are having chest pain for the first time, or the one hundredth time, seek medical attention immediately!  I'm going to keep on doing what I do, because I'm tired, and because I can.  Praying that when I do see my cardiologist next week, that we can either adjust my medications that deal with the chest pain, or seek other answers as to "why" these events are happening more often, and are more severe.  

And if I don't make it until next week, I have no one to blame but myself...

**Heart Disease Is The Number One Killer Of Both Men & Women**

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Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


Finding Yourself Again After Losing the Loved One You Were Caregiver For

July 20, 2019

A year and a half.  That's how long I drove back and forth from one state to another to care for my terminally ill stepfather.  I would do it all again if I had to, but to be honest, there is a sense of relief, not only for my stepfather who has passed and is now at peace, but also for myself. 

Finding yourself again after giving of yourself for so long is no easy task.  Take this blog for example.  This is my third go at writing it, when it used to be so easy.  It's not the subject that's making it so difficult, it's getting my mind focused on writing it, and telling the story the way I want to, and the way it deserves to, be told.  I have a whole lot of thoughts running around in my head, but they keep bumping into each other.  It's like bumper car in my mind...crash, bam, wham, bang!

I often find myself standing in the middle of my living room, walking in circles, not knowing what to do next.  I'm trying to find myself again, yet at a total loss as to just how to go about doing so. Where to begin?  The one thing I know for sure, is that person I was before the last year and a half, has disappeared and has now re-surfaced as someone else.  The events of the last year and a half have changed me forever.  

I'd like to think that the changes that I'm noticing are more positive than negative, but then again, I'm only a month out from my caregiving duties, so the jury is still out.  I'm reading again, exercising more, granting myself more "alone" time for reflection, and am slowly allowing my creative juices to flow once gain.  

Finding one's self again, after such a long period of time caring for a loved one can be daunting, but I'd like to think I'm on my way.  I digress at times, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ways.  Sometimes I even forget that he's gone.  Just the other day I went to Subway for his neighbors who helped me care for him, and it wasn't until I got in the car that I realized that I had bought a Subway sandwich for my stepfather as well, just the way he liked it.  

Then there's all those pesky business matters to tend to after a loved one has passed, making it hard to get back into your old routine.  Closing accounts, utilities turned off, life insurance processed, and in my case having to do a voluntary surrender on a car that was worth much less than what was owed on it.  I had to laugh when the bank told me that they would clean the car up, take it to auction, and then retrieve the rest of their money from his estate.  Estate?  This man had nothing, let alone an estate.  I paid many of the final bills that were due, but the car wasn't going to be one of those!

I believe that I am a more patient, tolerant, compassionate human being as a result of the past one and a half years.  We all like to think of ourselves as a "good" person, but often find out when we are challenged with life's difficulties, that there is so much more to learn about life, not to mention so much more room in which to grow.  Who knows, maybe I even picked up an attribute or two from my stepfather along the way.  

Fitting words that describe my stepfather, that will always come to mind when I look back on my journey in life, especially those end years, spent with him:








Maybe I'm not as lost as I think I am.  Maybe my journey took a sudden turn for a reason and this is actually just the beginning of a another chapter in my story...one to leave behind for my grandchildren.   

My Blog

Strong people stand up for themselves,

but stronger people

stand up for others...


The Right To Die Debate

March 20, 2019

Most individuals make out a Will prior to their deaths so that their wishes may be carried out as to burial, division of property, etc. upon their death.  This is their "will," or a legal list of their wishes.  People get so caught up in what will happen after their death, that they stop thinking of death itself.  Attorneys often suggest a DNR (do not resuscitate) be added to their "Living Will should they not want to sustain their life by unnatural means.  However, there isn't a legal form, or any paperwork, to be filled out in the case where an individual wants to end their life due to excruciating pain or absolutely no quality of life left.  Thus, the debate.  Do individuals have the right to die under their own terms?

Having heart & lung issues, not to mention I'm not getting any younger, has me questioning what I would do if I knew I was dying, was in excruciating pain, and had no quality of life.  How would I sort out any conflict that might occur between my physical pain with that of being raised to believe "God giveth life, and only God can take it away."  I honestly don't believe I could answer that question until I would be in a position to make that decision.

**Talk abt putting animals down & abortion**

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National Wear Red Day

February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019 is National Wear Red Day! The excitement has been building for a while now, and everyone is checking their closets to see what they have that’s red for the occasion. Women prepare their red dresses, while men go thru their tie rack looking for a tie with even a hint of red in it. I love this day as it brings out not only excitement, but also attention to the number one killer of both men & women...Heart Disease.

As a woman living with heart disease, I have experienced many of these National Wear Red Days, as well as every February’s Heart Disease Awareness Month. What I have a hard time with is when all of the hype & enthusiasm of both this special day and special month wanes, and heart disease is placed back on the shelf until the next February. It’s as if men & women don’t die the other eleven months out of the year. So, I find myself wondering where we, those of us who work tirelessly in order to bring awareness to heart disease, are failing in keeping that same excitement & enthusiasm going longer than just the month of February. Is it a marketing issue or is it like the Holiday Season, a time where everyone is just a little bit kinder, but when it ends, so does the kindness? What is breast cancer awareness doing right, that heart disease awareness is getting wrong?

Heart disease remains the number one killer over all cancers combined, all other diseases, and all other leading causes of death. Sometimes it’s good to be number one, but with heart disease not so much. If heart disease is the number one killer of all, that means that every family has at least one family member either living with, or at risk of heart disease. Yet, here we are, year-after-year, still spinning our wheels in the mud & the muck.

Although men and women are both dying of heart disease, women are dying of heart disease at a faster rate than that of men, due to a lack of education and understanding when it comes to the differences in how women present and how men present with both heart disease and heart attacks. This goes for the patient as well as the physician. Women are often viewed as having panic and/or anxiety attacks, hormonal issues, or even in some cases referred to a psychiatrist, then dismissed just to go home and die of a massive heart attack. We must do better!

After being diagnosed with heart disease fifteen years ago, I still find myself fighting the good fight in order to be heard. Why? Because I don’t look sick. I am one of those patients who is considered off-the-grid, atypical, and definitely not textbook. I make no apologies.

Whether you are a heart patient or a heart organization, it’s vital we keep the excitement and enthusiasm going all year round regarding Heart Disease Awareness. Who knows, maybe by the year 2020 we can make heart disease the number two killer rather than number one.

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When Medical Bills Threaten Your Credit

January 25, 2019

Many individuals find themselves in financial straights these days, for many reasons.  At the top of that list of reasons is medical bills.  The cost of medical care, especially pharmaceuticals, has skyrocketed, and insurance premiums are out of control! 

Most patients who find themselves in medical debt will take out a second or even third mortgage, get a second job, or in some cases have to let their house and/or their car go back to the bank.  They can't get a loan, as their credit has now greatly been affected, negatively, due to the mounting medical bills coming in each & every day.  This should never happen...especially in America, but it does, and it happens more often than not.

I speak from experience, in that my credit has suffered greatly due to insurance premiums, high deductibles, amounts owed after payment by insurance, and co-pays.  When I could no longer work outside the home, I was still forced to pay for my medical insurance, which was $679/mth, for a total of $8,148 a year.  And this was just for my insurance premiums!  Having chronic heart & lung issues, there were many tests, procedures and surgeries that left me with thousands of dollars owed after insurance paid.  Being single, I had no one else to rely on but myself, so it didn't take long for both my retirement pension and bank accounts to disappear.  My life as I once knew it was no longer.  My credit score went from 816 to, well, let's just say I'm surprised my score made it to the minimum of the credit score scale.

I obtained all three of y credit reports, and noticed several issues regarding the wrong information, so I called the first credit report company in order to correct those mistakes.  The woman I spoke with was very kind & compassionate.  She informed me that she would send out a form for me to fill out regarding those mistakes on my report, and to then mail back.  But she didn't stop there in her quest to help me.  She also stated that there was a comment section, whre I would be able to, in 99 words or less, explain how my credit score took such a nosedive, and that all three credit companies offered this.  In many cases, credit scores then increased to a respectable number, which is what I was looking for.  No, I don't believe that my life should be judged by three numbers on a report, but when I leave this world, I want to do so with just a little bit of self-dignity and pride in how I lived out most of my life, not just six years of my life affected by my chronic medical issues.

Patients with chronic illnesses often become depressed, anxious, and have feelings of worthlessness.  The last thing they need is for someone to confirm that they are both useless & worthless...enter the world of credit. 

I am anxious to get the form, complete it, and then mail back in to all three credit companies.  It will be interesting to see just how much my credit score comes up, if at all.

Your health comes first, and stress can affect your health, especially financial, so act today, and call for your credit report.  Check for any errors, and then request the form to make those corrections.  Don't forget to fill out the comment section regarding "why" your credit has taken a hit...medical issues.  

I wish all of you well in your endeavor and will be following up when I know whether or not my own credit score has increased after explaining my medical history.


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Is Medical Testing Equipment Reliable?

January 23, 2019

After 15 years of every type of medical testing using every type of medical equipment regarding my heart, I can say without any hesitation that my experience has shown me that medical equipment, no matter the facility, is not always up-to-par, nor is it always reliable.  I've been told that I have mitral valve prolapse, and then with the next test, I don't; I've been told the regurgitation (leakage) in both my mitral & tricuspid valves is moderate, just to be told after the next test that it's mild, or as the most recent MRI report stated a "trace" of mitral regurgitation; I've been told I have aortic valve regurgitation, just to have the next echo state that I don't.  

So, what DO I believe?  The machine?  M own body?  I've had six stress tests and passed each & every one with flying colors yet still have heart disease as well as having experienced a heart attack.  Much like most types of machinery & equipment, medical equipment also is checked for safety & accuracy which is gaged on time frames and not on usage, i.e. how many times a machine, and/or piece of equipment, has been utilized.  For example:  If a cardiac MRI machine is scheduled for an inspection every year, and that machine has been used to test 1,000 heart patients in a year, but another cardiac MRI machine, also scheduled for yearly inspections, has been used to test 10,000 heart patients in a year, wouldn't the second MRI machine show obvious increased evidence of wear & tear, therefore creating an expectation of unreliable test results?

Accountability regarding the accuracy of medical equipment has taken a back seat to profit in many medical facilities.  Speaking from experience, having heart disease is scary enough, but not being able to rely on the medical equipment being used for testing is even scarier!  My mitral valve regurgitation started out as minimal/trivial after having my first echocardiogram, which means there is nothing really to be concerned about, just to be watched.  Eventually, my mitral valve regurgitation reached the next level of mild, then with the next echocardiogram it reached , the level of moderate, greatly affecting my quality of life.  The only level left on the chart is severe, so my echocardiograms were ordered more often just in case.  However, miraculously, my mitral valve regurgitation went back to mild, then back up to moderate, and back-and-forth.  Talk about riding that rollercoaster!  Problem is the mitral valve cannot heal itself and neither does medication.  Medication can only stabilize this issue, but can never cure it.  Recently, I even tried going to a completely different facility, using a different echo tech, and having a different cardiologist read my echocardiogram.  In his opinion, I only had a "trace" of mitral valve regurgitation, which is even less than what I started out, which is impossible.  ARRRGGGHHHH!!!

For me, the echocardiogram is presently the best way to view my valve regurgitation, so I'm as they say, stuck between a rock & a hard place.  So, I will continue to receive echocardiogram testing.  It's like when Forrest Gump's mom said to him in the movie Forrest Gump, "Life's like a box of chocolates Forrest...you just never know whatcha gonna get."  

Sadly, with each & every echocardiogram I'll never know what I'm gonna get :( 

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Artificial Intelligence Used Medically

January 17, 2019

The first time I ever heard the words "artificial intelligence" used, I thought it meant someone who was pretending to be intelligent.  I was wrong.  Artificial intelligence is "the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence."  In the medical world artificial intelligence is now being incorporated as ways in which to follow a patient's activity, and/or health issues.  

In regard to the heart, artificial intelligence using wearable health technologies, i.e. the Apple Watch, is now making it possible for medical professionals to monitor a patient's heart rhythms.  They can do so for days, weeks, or even months via wireless electrocardiogram (EKG) patches.  The Apple Watch makes it possible to record real-time EKGs.  Being a patient, and not a physician, I'm still just a little leery about this new form of technology, as I often wonder if it truly works, or is it just a ploy to get scared individuals to purchase an Apple Watch so they can detect a possible heart attack?  

Then a product called The Zio patch, another way for physicians/cardiologists to monitor their heart patients, comes along.  The Zio patch is a 2-by-5-inch adhesive patch worn on the upper left side of the chest, and is water resistant allowing an individual to wear it around the clock while working, exercising, sleeping, or even taking a shower.  It continuously monitors heart rhythms, storing EKG data for later analysis.  Therein lies the issue.  The challenge lies in analyzing the vast amounts of data in order to distinguish "reliably" the difference between harmless rhythm irregularities and potentially life-threatening heart issues.  The key word here is "reliably."  

Much research is being conducted in making sure that any and all artificial intelligence heart products are reliable, however, there is much work yet to be done.  As with any product, this will take time, and for heart patients time is of the essence, but accuracy is vital to outcomes.

So, the question remains "will artificial intelligence  save the lives of heart patients, or not?"  The jury is still out.

**Check with your physician and/or cardiologist before relying on ANY artificial intelligence to determine whether or not you have heart issues, or to determine your heart rhythms if you do have heart disease**

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Expectations for 2019

January 6, 2019

Although the New Year began on January 1, 2019, it has taken me until now to grasp what I truly envisioned my new year to look like.  I tried to write something, anything, on New Year's Day but it was as if I'd divorced 2018 & was still reeling from the loss.  I was unsteady on my feet as to what 2019 would bring.  I don't do New Year's Resolutions, so I eventually decided to ask myself questions and in return answer them: Who do I want to be in 2019?  Where do I want to go?  Can I complete at least one of those items on my "Bucket List," if not more, this year as last year was a real "bust" in this area!

So, who do I want to be in 2019?  I want to be a better person in many ways.  I want to be more patient, more graceful, more understanding, more fun-loving, more forgiving, more tolerant, more willing to take chances...more like how I used to be.  Somewhere along the way, I lost my way.  I forgot who I was and all I had worked so hard for in life in regard to my virtues and who I wanted to be.  The world continues to only get crazier with each passing day.  What used to be wrong, is now right.  What used to be right, is now wrong.  In today's world, many can't see the forest for the trees...the trees of hate, intolerance, impatience, selfishness, unforgiveness.  I don't want to be or become that person.  If I want to be a better person, then the onus on doing so is on my shoulders, and my shoulders alone.  I want to be ME!

Where do I want to go in 2019?  I want to go back in time when I had no fear of going to a movie by myself, hit the driving range to hit a basket of golfballs, heading out to an event/concert by myself, having the confidence to speak up & speak out on my beliefs without wondering what others thought without any hesitation...I want to go back in time.  The choice is mine.  So far this year, I've seen a movie by myself, with plans to hit some golf balls at a heated range, and I've found that running errands shouldn't be a race to the finish, but one where I can take a quick right or left turn  on a whim without any guilt, and go into a shop or restaurant that I've never been in but wanted to.  These are actions that I used to never even give a second thought, but in all the chaos & drama of life in 2018, somehow I lost the courage to do so.  I'm off to a good start this new year, and only expect it to get better with each passing day.  I want to go EVERYWHERE!

I saved the best for last...can I complete one or more of those wishes I'd like to see come true, that remain on my "Bucket List?"  I was on a roll up until 2018 when my world came crashing down around me like a building that was being imploded.  Some of these circumstances were my own responsibility, however most were, at least I thought were, circumstances out of  my control.  I made choices, some I regret, some I don't regret, but can now look back and see how I might have handled things differently.  After much thought, I knew what I had to do, which would not be an easy task, but one that needed to be done if I were to survive 2019.  It was time to take my life back.  To determine when I said "yes," and when I said "no" and stick with those  decisions!  I'm going to begin by working on making the most important decision on my "Bucket List," which is moving to either Costa Rica or Belize, where I can afford to live cheaply on a limited income, but in a good area, and where I can write until my heart is content without all of the distractions I faced last year.  I hope to also knock off another wish or two from my "Bucket List" which are doing missionary work & learning to play the guitar again.  I want to wake up in the morning hearing the waves crash into the beach, rather than cars & people needlessly crashing into each other.  More than anything, I want PEACE... that's it, I just want PEACE.  I like the sound of that...


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Being a Caregiver When You're Chronically Ill

December 20, 2018

Since being diagnosed with Heart Disease 15 years ago, I have gotten really good at taking care of myself.  What I hadn't counted on however, was taking on the responsibility of caring for an elderly parent while being chronically ill myself.  There are so many facets, some known, some unknown, in doing so.  I guess you could say that I'm learning the hard way as there are no rulebooks for this.

Although the first six months of taking care of my stepfather's needs, medically, financially & personally, were exhausting, they have also at the same time provided such special memories!  Then it happened.  As his health continued to deteriorate to the point of being diagnosed with aggressive terminal cancer, with a touch of dementia, things got ugly fast.  

He refused to stop driving, even after I explained that it wasn't just about him, but also about all of the other innocent persons on the road should he cross the double yellow line, which he was seeing as "squiggly."  He could no longer take baths or showers, and he had lost all control of his bladder & bowels, many times at the most inopportune times.  He finally agreed to wear depends which helped in that area, but his hygiene, driving & memory continued to worsen.

This man, my "second" father, who had never said a cross word to me in his life, began throwing angry, misguided accusations at me, cursing, and even on a few occasions swiped at my arms/hands.  All of this became worse when I took his car keys away after a one-week hospital stay which left him horribly weak.  The verbal abuse became so bad, I checked in with his attorney who had completed his Will, with me as Power of Attorney over both Medical & Financial issues, as well as his Executrix.  Legally I either had to find him incompetent, going through Probate Court, which could be a lengthy process, or return his car keys.  I returned his car keys.  Now I pray...a lot!  

With my own health on a downward spiral from the stress of driving from one state to another often 2-3 times a week, taking him to doctor appointments & grocery, not to mention getting a 6'4" 195 lb man in and out of a car by myself, I found it was time to let go and give him the "independence" that he kept demanding for on a daily basis.  I have now reached out to other family members to take over while I take a much needed break.  If I'm no longer here, then I can't be of help to him or anyone else.  

Sometimes we just have to let go & let God... it's knowing when to that's the KEY!

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Building Trusting Relationships Between Patient & Physician

December 1, 2018

Building a trusting relationship between yourself and your physician can often become just as difficult as building a house...most marriages end due to the stress of building a new home, so it would only stand to reason that the stress between a patient & physician could just as easily be destroyed while building a relationship.  I know.

We're taught to go into all of our relationships with an unconditional love & trust.  Often times that same type of love/trust is not reciprocated.  That's when there is no trust, no respect, and definitely a lack of communication, all of which damages and eventually destroy's the relationship.  I liken it to an emotional car crash.  Yes, there are many emotions that go hand-in-hand when forming a relationship with a new physician.  You've heard such wonderful words and praise for your new physician, yet when the visit actually takes place you find the physician to be arrogant & lacking of compassion, as he or she rushes through your exam like a horse at the Kentucky Derby.  You walk out of the physician's office in a state of shock, replaying the visit over-and-over again in your head while driving home.  Many questions are left unanswered.  Did they really say that?  Was I not clear enough about my symptoms?  Should I have said more...said less?  You feel as if you've just lost your best friend even though you only knew them for a good five minutes.  Your expectations were high, as well they should have been, and that fall from grace, leaves us, the patients, empty.  No patient should ever leave a physician's office feeling this way.  

Don't despair and don't give up!  They say there is someone out there who is meant just for each one of us, which also includes physicians.  Like when building a home, there is need for partners to communicate so that the room sizes are correct, the wall paint is just the right color, and that the end result is one that makes everyone happy.  When there is no communication, or especially lack of listening from both sides, the home begins to crumble.  No one survives.

If you are starting fresh with a physician and their attitude is patronizing as they minimize & scrutinize what you are trying to tell them, it's time to stop building the house, and/or car, and get out before it crashes.   

I encourage all patients to never give up if they're struggling in the area of having an open dialogue with their physician, new or old.  There truly is a physician out there just waiting for you, who you can trust, have communication with, be able to ask questions of & get answers...one who will build that House of Trust with you, by earning it! 

Healthy Body/Healthy Mind; Healthy Mind/Healthy Body

September 27, 2018

You cannot have a healthy mind without a healthy body and vice versa.  It just doesn't work that way.  One has everything to do with the other.  

From my own experience, I have found that if I have remained faithful to my workout routine, that I can think better, and handle the most frustrating, frightening details of my life.  I have also found that keeping my mind alert by reading, learning, and utilizing my cognitive skills, my  overall physical health benefits as well.  

Having heart disease can often be a deterrent to following through on my own advice.  I hate when this happens!  On those days that my body just won't allow for exercise, I find it much harder to write, or think appropriately.  The other side of that coin is those days where I am mentally exhausted, I find it difficult to follow through on my exercise routine.  It took me some time to connect the dots between my body & my mind, but now that I know the two are deeply connected, I push just a little harder on the bad days.  And then there are those days where it's just not going to happen, I have learned to lay back and relax, reading a book, meditating, or just resting.  Getting your body & mind to work together is work.  Each person is different and therefore has to find what works for them individually, which may not be anything like my routine.  The key is to recognize your own body and mind's ability to function under pressure, and then to figure out what work's best for you.

Find a physical exercise that you enjoy doing, or you won't stick with it.  I do pushups for upper body, along with hand weights & hula-hooping.  That's right...hula-hooping, a long forgotten art.  For $4 I found that using a hula-hoop was a great all-around body exercise & it's FUN!  Who would've thought?!  When I can't get outside to walk, I have a small step-climber and a sit-peddler to take the place of walking so that I can get my cardiovascular workout in.

Cognitively, when I can't concentrate on writing, I pick up a book to read.  Not an educational book that will make my mind work harder, but a book just for entertainment purposes.  If I don't have a book handy, then I go to my go-to magazines, where I can check out all the latest fashions...I keep it simple.

Don't forget that eating healthy and getting plenty of sleep are also important factors in keeping the body & mind working properly.  My next blog will go into more detail regarding these two key components of leading a healthy lifestyle.

So get started today!!  Get your body moving & your mind turning, and be the best you can be :)

Drinking & Driving DO NOT MIX!!!!

September 16, 2018

When I was in my young adulthood, neither I, or any of my friends, thought twice about getting behind the wheel of a car after having had a few too many.  If an accident ensued, even if a fatality was involved, that's exactly what was placed on the police officer's report...car accident.

We now know however, that getting behind the wheel of a car after having a few too many, which can be as deadly as a gun if mishandled, is NO ACCIDENT.  And if a fatality is involved, most likely there will be jail and/or prison time for the drunk driver, as well as there should be.  Even more so for those individuals with numerous priors under their belt.

It took my 18 yr old grandson being hit head-on by a drunk driver one week ago for me to blog about Drinking & Driving...it shouldn't have.  My grandson walked away from the photo on this post, but only by the Grace of God!!  The officers on the scene told the family & I at the hospital that they all agree my grandson is truly a "Walking Miracle!"  I agree.  My daughter, his mother, and I have posted photos of my grandson's car, along with commentary, on Social Media in the hope that someone will realize that drinking & driving do not mix and can often become deadly as a result.

My grandson is slowly healing both physically & emotionally, but my daughter & I are still struggling in the emotional department, as we know that one week ago yesterday evening, a young man chose to drink & drive, and almost killed my daughter's only child, and my first-born grandchild.  We could have been planning for his funeral this past week, rather than for his future.  The drunk driver who hit him had two prior OVI's, walking away from one, and with one conviction.  He was convicted of the first OVI in 2016 and placed on Adult Probation for three years.  His second OVI resulted in injuries to both the driver and their passenger after he crashed into the back of their vehicle, then fled the scene.  He had no driver's license or insurance, and to this day, the victims have not been compensated.  In my grandson's case, this same drunk driver happened to be  driving his dad's truck, who thank God, had insurance.  This repeat OVI offender is in jail, where he will remain throughout the course of my grandson's case, and eventually be transferred to prison where at least for 1-3 years we know he won't be able to hurt or kill anyone else.

You do not want to be my grandson, and you do not want to be the drunk driver who hit him, so on behalf of my grandson I say...PLEASE DON'T DRINK & DRIVE!!!

September 11, 2001 - NEVER FORGET!!!

September 11, 2018

As Americans, we have learned to take many things for granted.  We wake up, eat, walk, talk, see & hear which allows us to move through our day freely & and for the most part  smoothly.  The expectation that the next day and all the days that follow will bring us the same routine, make us become complacent, having a false sense of security, and taking each day for granted.

On September 11, 2001 that type of thinking came to a crashing halt for all Americans...some more than others.  Some innocently sat in planes & buildings never realizing that for them, life would soon be over in a split second... some suffered unimaginable pain, fear & the knowledge that they would not be going home that night.  Others never knew what hit them. 

There are times in our lives when we remember exactly where we were when a horrific tragedy occurred.  For example, when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed, I remember sitting in my 6th grad class at my desk when the loud speakers asked all teachers to come to the auditorium immediately.  When our teacher returned with tears streaming down her face, she turned the classroom television on, telling us that our country's President had been shot and killed while riding in a motorcade.  Those images on the TV remain embedded in mind even today.  

On September 11, 2001, I remember exactly where I was when the first plane hit the North Twin Tower in NYC, soon followed by yet another plane crashing into the South Twin Tower, killing everyone aboard both planes & many who were in the towers working.  The next plane hit the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. killing all passengers and 125 pentagon workers.  Passengers on the fourth & last plane knew they had been hi-jacked, frantically calling family & friends, learning of the other plane crashes.  It was then a few of the passengers realized that they could just sit and wait for it to happen, or they could attempt a take-over of the plane, knowing it might cost them their lives, but they were quickly running out of options.  So, with amazing courage a few passengers after getting the go ahead by Todd Beamer who's "go code" was 'let's roll' went after the hijackers, but were outnumbered and the plane ended up crashing into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania killing all 40 passengers & crew.  In a matter of a few hours, 2,996 innocent victims lives were lost, with more than 6,000 injured.  

The events of 9/11/01 were catastrophic and even to this day, American's across our great nation relive that day over & over again, but none more than those families who were left behind to grieve & try to make sense out of what will always be a senseless American tragedy.  We, as Americans should NEVER forget that day, and the many lives that were taken in the matter of a few hours.  Many tears were shed that day, and have been every day since.

I pray that this type of terrorist attack never again happens on American soil, and if it should, and if I am on a hijacked plane by any Terrorist group, that I can put my fear aside, putting America first & foremost before my own life.  And, like Todd Beamer I hope & pray that God would give me the same strength he gave Todd on September 11, 2001 to be the one to shout "Let's Roll"...


Every Dog Has It's Day...

August 30, 2018

Arf... Arf...  And yesterday was my dog's day.  Actually most dog's days are much better than the one I had yesterday.  Why?  Because they're expected to sit, lie, eat, sleep and just be happy, so they do.  Just sitting, lying, eating, sleeping does not work for this dog, but my bad days demand that I do just that...like yesterday.

Many individuals talk about how they took a day just to be "lazy," and do nothing at all unless it was something that brought them calmness & peace.  I don't have lazy days, as I do not enjoy my bad days, and I find myself jam-packing my good days with the errands and demands of my daily life, in order to play catchup from the bad ones.  When I tell friends and/or family that I went from the bed to the couch for the whole day, to them that's considered a lazy day.  For me?  It's considered a bad day and brings me no relaxation nor does it bring me a reprieve from difficulty breathing and extreme fatigue.  I hate it.  The thought of wasting yet another day of my already shortened life makes me want to scream, but I'm too exhausted to even do that.

I am not sharing this as a pity party or an oh, please feel bad for me moment, but to let others who are not chronically ill  better understand the world that many of us, who do live with chronic illnesses, do experience.  There is no way to get those bad days back, and I find myself praying that God will place me on a deferment plan, like banks do with monthly payments, allowing my bad days to extend to what would have initially been His expiration date on my life.  I'm sitting here laughing, because what I just typed made me think of that joke "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him YOU have a plan."  I'm expecting the sound of thunder any moment now, which I will choose to define as God's laughter.

I have now added to my "Bucket List," yes, I have a Bucket List, a Bad Day Deferment Plan designed by God & God alone, and without any help from me... Arf!

Patients Over Profit... Or Is It Profit Over Patients?

August 27, 2018

I recently read an article in our local newspaper regarding hospital revenues rising.  It was entitled "Fewer hospital stays but revenues rose."  Well, duh!  Most insurance companies only allow a patient so many in-patient days, and will stop payment on any days past that cut-off point.  For chronically & critically ill patients it is a necessity to incur extended stays with many insurance companies refusing to cover the costs.  

The whole article addressed ONLY hospital profits & percentages with patients only being mentioned in the context of money, not  type of, or quality of, care their patients received.  At one point, the discussion led to a statement being made "We're putting off getting stuff fixed."  That "stuff" being referred to is the one-in-same medical equipment (MRIs/CATs/Echos/andmore) that we patients depend on being trustworthy & good working condition, resulting in true readings.  If the "stuff" isn't being properly maintained, cared for, or is out-dated, the patient will be the last one, if ever, to know.  

The author of the article was delving into those challenges of Ohio's marketing strategies of hospitals and health insurers only.  He also discusses Ohio's changing horizons in health care.  I would like to remind the author that without patients, marketing strategies & changing horizons in hospital health care would be a moot point...we, the patients are why there are physicians, hospitals, and health insurers with profitable businesses.  Take us out of the equation, which most do, and profits & percentages mean nothing.

Are there caring & compassionate physicians, medical staff, hospital personnel?  Yes.  But, through my own personal experiences, they are sadly becoming, each & every day, few and far between.  If profit continues to come before patients, eventually patients will have no choice but to forego costs of insurance, medications, treatments, and will choose to just die.  Is there anything more sad than that?  NO, there isn't!!


Time Flies

August 16, 2018

My how time flies when you're not having fun.  And trust me when I say the last two months...scratch that...last two years  have NOT been fun. 

When my friends and I were younger, we were told by our parents that life would get easier as we got older...WRONG!!  Maybe it did for them back then, but in today's world, not so much.  The distractions available with today's technology, not to mention the "me generation," are overwhelming at best, and often get the best of us!  Minutes become hours, hours become days, days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years.  Before we know it, a decade has passed and we can't remember where we were, what we did, or who we are any longer.  

I've been back in my hometown now for the past two years, and other than those "special" moments that truly fly by like a shooting star, those two years have been a nightmare.  Drama.  Drama.  Drama.  And more Drama everywhere...family, friends, country, the world itself.  I often find my mind wondering off into a place of PEACE, one where there is a beach, the sound of an ocean, island music playing, but most of all peace, total peace.  A place where I can achieve what I set out to achieve in life...becoming an author.  I love to write, and have so many ideas running through my mind that sometimes I feel as if my head will explode because I can't get those ideas and thoughts down on paper.  Writing has always been very cathartic for me, bringing me total peace even without the beach, sound of the ocean & island music.

When I looked back at my blog and saw that June 26th was my last "completed" blog, I was blown away.  How did that much time go by without me even writing one blog?  I saw where I started a blog on July 4th, but never finished it...I did today, August 16th.  People say that we just have to say no to those distractions that keep us from doing what we love, but when some of those distractions are actually the people we  love & care deeply about, how does one say no?  One doesn't.  All families have dysfunction in one way or another, but in my life, dysfunction has now become a way of life, not an option.  I have even put my own heart health on hold in order to take care of immediate business at hand, and when I say immediate, it has the potential of making the difference between life and death...I'm just putting my life & death on hold.  No, I'm not a martyr by any means, but I have a conscience, and the guilt of not being there for those who can't help themselves would place such a huge guilt trip on me, and not one that would take me to a beach with an ocean!

I am writing in my blog today, because I feel as if I am making some progress in sorting out the difference of those needs of others & my own.  However, I will take it slow, as I know that dysfunction is cowering somewhere around the corner just waiting to rear it's ugly head once again.  I'm not being pessimistic, just trying not to get my hopes up...been there done that.

They say that faith can move a mountain.  But right now a "little faith" is all I have...


July 4, 2018

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!!  Thank you to our servicemen & women who have served & those who continue to serve our country, allowing us to enjoy those freedoms that are often taken for granted...God Bless You All & May You Return Home Safely to Your Families!!!!

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Does Your Facial Expression Correspond With Your Disease?

June 25, 2018

Happy...smile.  Sad...frown.  Pain...grimace.  Frustrated...scream.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well, it's harder than that for those of us living with a chronic illness.  Many of us smile when we're sad, frustrated, and in pain, giving the wrong impression, just so others don't have to feel it.  We can't expect others to be mind readers.  If we don't use the corresponding facial expressions with what we are truly feeling, then we can't expect others to know.

As chronic patients we need to understand that we are not responsible for how another person reacts to our honesty when asked the question, "how are you doing?"  Not wanting to be seen as a complainer, a downer, we smile and say, "I'm doing great!" which couldn't be farther from the truth.  It's okay to reply, "today is not one of my best days, but I hope that tomorrow will be."  Depending on who is asking you, and you are comfortable enough to be honestly blunt, say what I say, which is, "Although I know I am truly blessed, today sucks...I'm having difficulty with my breathing, and I feel as if there are 50 elephants sitting on my chest!"  If the person on the receiving end can't tell how much you are hurting, exhausted, and frustrated, that's okay.  Sometimes just telling it like it is becomes cathartic for oneself.  After all, it's not about them, it's about you.  They asked, and your response should be respected.

I often return home after checking off my daily to-do-list, sometimes feeling as if I cannot even take one more step out of exhaustion and having difficulty breathing, yet it never fails, a well-meaning neighbor catches me before I reach my door wanting to chat...trust me when I say, that's the LAST thing I wanted to add to my to do list!  However, I stand there smiling as if I slept with a coat hanger in my mouth overnight, nodding appropriately, because I'm too out of breath to answer.  Having grown up to be a "people pleaser," I find it hard to do, but I have nonetheless learned to immediately let them know I'm not feeling well and need to lie down.  I have yet to have anyone resent my response, at least to my knowledge.  Maybe they're just good actors?  Hmmm...

Bottom line is, we as chronically ill patients cannot expect others to understand what our days, and many nights, are like for us, or to realize that we aren't the same people we used to be, and that it's okay for us not to smile...it's okay to even frown.  If you're in pain or exhausted, show it, although an astute person should be able to recognize this if we are showing the corresponding face with that of our disease.  We can point that finger of shame at others all day long, but in the end if we're not honest with what we're feeling we need to turn that finger toward the real culprit...ourselves. 

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When You're Chronic Illness Becomes Your Full-Time Job!

June 24, 2018

Once upon a time, I had a full-time, six-figure job.  Then I was diagnosed with chronic illness which has only worsened over time, changing both the description, and the location, of where I once performed my full-time job.  Prior to my diagnoses I worked on the 7th floor of a government building, now I work from a small office at home.  I once made six figures, I now have $0 income.  Everything changed...everything.

My days, once filled with overseeing 136 employees, responsible for over 35,000 child support cases as, well as the staff who handled those cases, have now been replaced with doctor visits, tests, insurance companies, procedures, calls & emails, along with checking my electronic medical records to make sure that the documented information is correct, which is not, resulting in more visits, calls & emails.  And what really sucks, is that you're paying them, not getting paid!  

My fights used to involve delinquent parents who owed back child support and their attorney's.  Now I find myself fighting the medical system on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin!  Most patients don't fight the system.  They just give up, with many of them dying due to medical errors and medical record errors.  If you don't learn to advocate for yourself, and find the confidence to stand up to the white coat, you will succumb to that white coat one day.  Don't get me wrong, there are many wonderful doctors out there who truly do listen with something more than just their stethoscope, but they are becoming fewer and fewer in a world where it's not the quality of care for a patient as much as it is about the quantity of patients seen in a day.  It has become a system much like that of farm life with much of the time spent by a doctor corralling in the herd.  Don't get lost in the herd, or like cattle, you will end up going to the land of no return. 

It's not only medical errors that can kill you, but those mistakes made in recording your medical record.  EX: I just had a cardiac MRI which stated under "history," that I suffered from Hypertension (high blood pressure), something I have never experienced in my lifetime, yet is now set in stone in my electronic medical records.  I actually have the exact opposite, hypotension (extreme low blood pressure).  The next time I end up in the ER, I can guarantee that the ER staff, based off of my electronic medical records, will attempt to treat me with medications for Hypertension, which could have severe, if not fatal, complications.  I have yet to end up at an ER, and/or after being admitted, and find myself receiving  the correct medications.   Most ER doctors go willy-nilly in requesting tests that have nothing to do with my actual diagnoses.  Well, it could be this, or it could be that.  I am not there to be diagnosed, I am there to be treated for chronic heart issues...it's all in my chart(s), errors and all.  It often becomes all-out war between me and the doctor on duty, usually ending with me kicking them out of my room.  Yes, you can do that, and if you believe a doctor is not listening to you, or taking advantage of you, resulting in you becoming the next guinea pig of choice, SPEAK UP!!!!  Your years in your body trumps that of those years the doctor spent in medical school...if done right, it becomes a team effort with each knowing where their strengths & weaknesses lie, and respecting each other.

Not a day goes by, where I'm not placing a call, email, or messaging one of my physicians or cardiologist regarding test results, that by all means should be under test results in my electronic chart, but instead the words, 'the content of these test results cannot be displayed.  Please contact your physician for results.'  I thought electronic records were supposed to alleviate that step...nope.  So you message your doctor, which can take days to get an answer, or call, which often results in the same wait time.  And my favorite is when they do answer, they don't answer the question(s), but go off on some minor issue tangent that you haven't even inquired about - UGH!!!!!  Many nights I go to bed feeling as if I've been in the boxing ring with Muhammed Ali, which results in a very restless night, leaving me more exhausted than I normally am the next day, not to mention still angry from the fight the day before.  And then I begin the process all over again.  

I could go on-and-on, but it's all the same...if the doctor only took the time to truly listen to their patient, took down the information correctly, placing it on their electronic medical records correctly, alleviating any medical errors, both their world, and the patient's world would be much simpler.  Sometimes it's hard to locate exactly where the problem initiated from.  To save you some time, don't even try.  It's like the phone game we played as children, where the first person in the circle told something to the child sitting next to them, and so-on-and-so-on, until reaching the last person in the circle.  It's absolutely mind-boggling what comes out of that last person's mouth.  This my friends is our healthcare system.  I would welcome you to it, but it would be commensurate with welcoming you into the Seventh Circle of Hell...

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Chances of Dying From Medical Record Errors

June, 18, 2018

If you are living with a chronic illness there is a greater  chance that you will die from incompetency within the medical profession's ability to get your records recorded correctly, than you will from the illness itself.  Many chronically ill patients are so busy trying to stay alive & fighting with their insurance company that they fail to obtain a copy of ALL of their medical records.  And when they finally do, the real shock sets in.  You all of a sudden have an illness you didn't know about, and out of the one's that you do have, there's a good chance that they're all not listed.  Although you've relayed to the nurse over-and-over again, which medications you are still taking, and those you aren't, the ones you stopped taking remain on the list, and the new one's aren't even listed.

Electronic Medical Records (EMR).  Let's discuss those shall we?  All of my electronic medical records, from each physician I have, fall under the name of MyChart, which means, all of my medical records, visits, test results, health summary, etc.,  are all electronically recorded supposedly for my convenience.  Other than blood tests, I rarely pull up a test result without seeing the words "This result cannot be displayed in MyChart.  To get the result contact the ordering provider."  And I have MyChart "why?"  Another issue with EMRs, is that if a patient should end up in the emergency room, their EMRs are retrieved by ER staff for review, and if there are mistakes on your medical records, those mistakes could result in errors being made by ER staff based off of those EMR errors.  You could be given the wrong medication, or have the medication you need withheld.  You could be treated for an illness you don't have, and mistreated for those you do have.  You could die.  

Try arguing with either a new physician, or ER staff, that your EMR's are wrong.  There's a good chance you won't be believed, but the errors will be, especially if you are a woman.  When a female patient argues with medical staff regarding her medical care, she is often viewed as being difficult and/or having panic/anxiety issues.  Over the past 15 years of dealing with many physicians and numerous visits to the emergency room for my heart, my medical records are peppered with the words "anxiety," and "patient is very difficult to deal with."  Damn straight I'm difficult!  I'm trying to help you to keep from killing me due to errors in my medical records.   

So, who's truly at fault for all of these medical errors being made on a daily basis, then passed on?  Is it the physician?  Is it the nurse?  Is it the medical stenographer?  Is it a medical staff individual?  Better yet, will we ever truly know who's at fault, or will the "hot potato" game continue, having those medical records you're questioning thrown from person to person, never landing on anyone's particular shoulders?

I could go on and on for days regarding this topic, but for the sake of both my sanity & yours, I won't.  If you are a patient, chronic or otherwise, do yourself a favor and request ALL of your medical records from each & every physician you see, and every hospital you have been to.  Then sit down one morning with a nice cup of coffee, and rather than read a newspaper filled with the horrors of the world, read and review your medical records for any horrors...uh, I mean errors, and/or missing information.  It just might save your life...

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Is Social Media Healthy?

June 16, 2018

There has been an ongoing discussion regarding whether  unlimited access to a variety of social media outlets is  healthy or not.  It is my opinion that like any other product that has the potential to turn into an addiction, moderation is key.  But with so much technology in the world, how does one keep it under control? 

On the positive side, social media allows contact to be made with other individuals, especially those in the same field of work, or those with the same interests, and not just nationally, but internationally.  I personally, as a heart patient, love having the opportunity to interact with other heart patients, cardiologists, physicians, nurses, and all others in the field of medicine from all over the world on Twitter.  I have learned so much from their words, their cultures, and the information they forward through their tweets.  I love the fact that twitter is short and sweet, and although we all have at one time or another shared a family photo or two, or beautiful photos of landscapes, and even prophetic quotes, the norm is to stick to health care for all.

I have never been on another social media site other than Twitter, with the exception of maintaining the blog on my own website.  I get asked all the time why I'm not on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.  If I were to be on each an every social media site available, which there are some individuals who are, when would I eat, sleep, exercise, work, complete my book, spend quality time with my family, and most importantly when would I have the time to take care of myself and my heart?  This is where the negative aspect of social media often comes in.

So many social media addicts, yes addicts, become obsessed with the number of followers they have...quantity becomes more important than quality when connecting with others.  And the bullying that occurs?  That's a whole other blog.  Many Facebook users find themselves comparing their own lives to that of others, solely based off of those photos made available, and trust me when I say, the photos you see on Facebook are not always what they seem, thus leaving the lonely, non-confident, conflicted, self-loathing, depressed people of the world feeling even worse about themselves.

We have teens walking into telephone poles and falling into Shopping Mall water fountains while texting on their phones.  Even worse, we have teens dying, and oftentimes  killing others while texting and driving.  People are committing suicide due to cyber bullying, and babies are drowning in bathtubs because mommie is online playing internet games, or chatting with friends on social media.  Then, of course, there are the adults who pretend to be teens just to make personal contact in order to rape, or in some cases even murder our precious, innocent children.

I won't lie.  When I first got on Twitter, and my followers grew, it was extremely hard to shutdown my laptop in order to stop.  I'd say, just one more tweet...just one more look at my new notification or DM (direct message)...just one more.  Alcoholics and drug addicts are very familiar with the "just one more" phenomenon  After about a month of that, I regained control of my actions, getting back into a routine, exercising more, calling friends I hadn't spoken to in a while, and meeting family and friends for lunch or dinner.  I once again had what I refer to as an assemblance of a life...my life. 

If you want to remain healthy, physically, mentally, and emotionally, prioritize which social media you feel you get the most out of and shut down all the others.  Then regulate the time you utilize that social media site, your texting, and all other technologically-driven equipment.  Everything in moderation...everything. 

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Waiting on Medical Test Results

June 12, 2018

I was never much of a "clock-watcher" when I was an employee, but as a patient waiting for test results, I have now become one of them.  I watch the clock knowing what time my doctor's office opens, and when it closes, waiting anxiously for that phone call.  I check my emails constantly just to make sure I haven't missed the doctor trying to reach me thru an email rather than by phone.  I faithfully begin my watch around 7:00 a.m. and continue until about 6:00 p.m.

Of course nowadays, we have Electronic means i.e. My Chart to check for any messages from our doctor, or see if there are any test results, that you just haven't been contacted about yet.  Today, I've been burning up the information highway roadways since early this morning, even though I was told that it could take a few days to get the results of my cardiac tests from yesterday.  I then convince myself that if it were anything to worry about, then I surely would have heard something today, right?  Wrong!  A cardiac MRI is the second half of the testing, and here I thought that the 3-hour time spent in a narrow capsule, sucking in breath, just to let it out and hold it, was the crux of the test.  Between the cardiac MRI & other testing yesterday I was there from noon until approximately 8:15 p.m.  which is quite a long day for me!

As chronically ill patients, we want to believe that our health issues are more important than the next patient's but that couldn't be further from the truth.  There is always someone worse off, as I witnessed walking the halls of the hospital while going from one testing unit to another.  It's not hard to recognize who the patients are as we all have anxious looks on our face, without anyone ever having to see our hospital bracelet, our slow pace, and/or the desperation in our eyes.  I am one of those rare chronically ill patients however who doesn't look sick, so no one ever gets past my looks and physic long enough to see the panic and desperation in my eyes or in my quick movements.

It is now the end of the day, way past the 6:00 p.m. deadline of receiving a phone call.  Sleep will not come easy, and even if I do fall asleep it will be restless due to the anxiety both my mind & body are experiencing just waiting for the next day to come.  I rarely rush thru my days, as it just might be my last, so I long for them to last forever.  But after going thru a battery of vital cardiac tests, I just want that phone call.  That email.  That test result to be noted in My Chart.  At least my tests were performed on a Monday and not a Friday, which would mean waiting over a very long weekend, which is excruciating at best.  No one ever hears from their doctor regarding tests over a weekend unless it is a dire situation needing immediate attention.  Better to wait thru  the long weekend to end than to get THAT phone call.

So, until tomorrow, or possibly even the next day, I will stay busy, entertaining myself with my writing, blogging, putting photos of my family, my grandson's graduation this past weekend, and photos of his last three ballgames in their respective albums.  Maybe I'll finish that book I got from the library last week?  Or, maybe I'll just lay in my bed wearing myself out just thinking of all the possibilities my test results hold.

Patience is a virtue... I really need to work on that when it comes to waiting for test results.  

I think I'll go with finishing the book.   

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Why So Many Patients Give Up So Often

JUNE 10, 2018

There are patients, then there are patients.  There are those patients who visit their primary physician once a year for their annual check-up, and who might have a few additional visits due to a sore throat, a lingering cough, or an ear infection during the year.  Then there are patients, like myself, who see both my primary physician four times a year, and my cardiologist who I see sometimes up to six-to-eight times a year, depending on my heart symptoms.

When a patient falls into that second category, it not only takes over their life, it becomes their life.  In between those doctor visits are often times tests and sometimes procedures/surgeries.  The calendar you once had filled with lunch plans, shopping with friends, attending sporting events, and meeting friends for a drink after work, all of a sudden are replaced with doctor appointments, medical test after medical test, procedures, and in some cases surgery and the recovery thereafter.  Many patients who become chronically ill end up not being able to work and soon begin losing touch with friends and co-workers, resulting in sitting home alone, where the phone no longer rings, and no one visits.  If a patient has been sick for some time, there comes a time when everyone is "over it," and they walk away.  As the patient, we don't have that option.  We wake up with our health issues, and we go to bed at night the same way...worn out.

Having a chronic illness, or illnesses, will wear a patient down faster than any job ever could, as it affects them physically, mentally & emotionally 24/7.  It becomes a full-time job with no pay and no benefits.  Patients often feel as though they have become a burden to family & friends, and stop asking for help.  Chronic illness is the "new lonely."  Chronically ill patients no longer know who they are, getting lost in a system that has lost it's way.  Dealing with insurance consents and claims alone is daunting at best.  Phone calls made by a patient to their insurance companies, their physicians, and hospitals can easily take up a whole day, if not more.  

Then we have the bill collectors.  That's a whole separate world of it's own.  They can be relentless, even for those patients who only have a few days, weeks, months to live.  There just is no more fight to go around, so, patients just give up.  They give up fighting to be heard; they give up fighting for a diagnosis; they give up on being tired all the time; they give up on thinking others will help them; they give up on those insurance companies they've paid money to for so many years, who are now refusing to give consent and/or pay for a claim; they give up on their future, their dreams; they give up on trying; they give up on life...


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That Feeling Of Sitting On A Time Bomb

June 7, 2018

We've all had that feeling at one time or another in our lives where we feel as if we are sitting on a time bomb.  You know it's coming, you just don't know when.  In my case it's not even just a matter of when, but how?  

I have numerous heart conditions, but the ones with the utmost priority are my mitral valve regurgitation (moderate level), tricuspid valve regurgitation (moderate level), a left circumflex anomalous artery & a mobile atrial septal aneurysm, all of which are causing serious blood flow issues.  My valves will not repair themselves, but according to my cardiologist, and the opinion of a cardiac surgeon, "I'm just not quite there yet."  You see, I have one more level to reach, severe, before the surgeon will consider doing open-heart surgery.  There are no known additional risks to performing the surgery at this time, at least not for me the patient, but due to the Do No Harm Oath, there is the fear of a lawsuit for not waiting until I reached the "textbook" level of severe.  Nothing about my cardiac health is textbook...never has been & never will be!  The two congenital issues are not serious enough on their own to warrant open-heart surgery, which I agree with, however, they will be repaired during the open-heart surgery, should I ever measure up to their standards of the normal heart patient.  There is a reasonable chance that repairing the left circumflex anomalous artery might just be the culprit in my diagnosis of idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension...just one more issue I'm dealing with.

I am the one living with the daily chest pressure, difficulty in breathing, and the extreme fatigue, and I say "Let's Roll!"  Every day I'm left to wonder if my worn out heart will just give up, and cardiac arrest will step in, putting me out of my misery...every day.  During the last plus years I have been fighting the good fight to get this surgery performed, I have been diagnosed with "minimal" aortic regurgitation, mild dilation of the left aortic cusp, the possibility of the beginning stages of heart failure, and infiltrative cardiomyopathy, all of which have been at the core of my greatest fear...that I would end up with either more heart issues, or another disease, leaving me too weak to have the surgery when they deem appropriate.

Then there's the actual surgery itself, which I sit and anxiously wait for.  Yes, patients-after-patients are having open-heart surgery every day, with wonderful results.  I just want a chance at being one of them, but the longer we wait, the further away a better outcome gets.  The cardiac surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic informed me, through her nurse, "I would definitely need the open-heart surgery at some point, but felt that we just weren't quite there yet."  The surgeon didn't even have the decency to personally see me, or make the phone call herself.  When I do have my open-heart surgery, I want that surgeon to know the color of my eyes, who I am as a human being, and know that I am not just another number on a chart.  Let's just say that the surgeon taking the "wait-and-see" approach will NOT be performing my open-heart surgery!

I fight so hard on my really bad days just to breathe and to move from room-to-room.  I shouldn't have to also fight a system that is more worried about being sued than giving a patient their quality of life back.  My life matters, and it should matter to the medical world as well.  After all, I am 50% of the equation, as I am the one being cut on and  paying for it...financially, physically & emotionally.

I am not a quitter, so I continue in my search of finding a cardiac surgeon who sees my quality of life, or in this case lack of, as important as I do, and I finally hear those two words I've been waiting to hear..."Let's Roll!"


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Partnering With Go Red For Women of Cincinnati, OH

June 6, 2018

Today I met with two of AHA's Go Red For Women Cincinnati staff, Jenni & Courtney, to discuss pulling our resources together, in order to partner in saving the lives of those women living with, or at risk of, heart disease.  It was a great decision!  After all, two hearts are better than one.

I have been a National Patient Advocate for over ten years, and between my experience as a patient advocate & as a woman living with heart disease, it was a no brainer for Go Red & I to join forces against the No.1 Killer of women over all other diseases & causes of death.  I like what they have accomplished, where they are at in the fight, and their vision for the future.  I look forward to the opportunity to work together in every area of Women & Heart Disease Awareness.  It's a GOOD fit!!!

I have been a patient advocate on my own for a few years now, but in reality, it truly does take a village to make a difference, and when you're facing the reality of the affect heart disease has on women, there is power in numbers!  Yes, heart disease is also the No.1 Killer of men, however, women are dying at a faster rate due to being ignored, blown off as having symptoms of panic/anxiety attacks, hormonal issues, or even in some cases, being seen as psychotic.  We've "come a long way baby," but we still have a long way to go.

I look forward to working together with the Cincinnati Chapter of Go Red For Women in order to help bring awareness to heart disease, and to educate female patients on how to better advocate for themselves when it comes to their heart health, as well as to help educate physicians on how to listen to their female patients, presenting with symptoms of heart disease/attack, with something more than just their stethoscope!

Yes, this is most definitely a GOOD FIT...

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WEGO Nomination for Patient Leader Hero

June 6, 2018

Today I was informed that I had been nominated for the WEGO Patient Leader Hero Award.  I must admit that I am both humbled & honored to have been nominated.  This was totally unexpected, yet highly appreciated!  I became part of the WEGO family after attending the #HealtheVoices Conference back in April of this year.  WEGO is a mission-driven company connecting healthcare with the experience, skills and insights of Patient Leaders, and I feel blessed to be a part of their family.

Speaking of family, many of the Patient Leaders I have met through both the HealtheVoices Conference & WEGO, are now a special part of my family.  Although many of us suffer from a variety of chronic illnesses, the support among our group is outstanding!  We all understand that although the person who sat next to us at the conference did not look sick, they were, with some hiding it better than others.  There is just some pain that one cannot hide, and shouldn't have to.  There's physical pain, mental pain & emotional pain, and it was palpable in the common area where we met every  morning, but not always noticeable.  This is why it's important to get together, and get to know one another, so we truly know another person better, recognize their pain, and what we can then do to help. 

I would like to take this time to CONGRATULATE all of those Patient Leaders who have been nominated, as well as those who were not.  We all are an integral cog in the wheel that rolls round and round in our fight to be heard.  My nomination does not make me more important, or better,  than someone who was not nominated...we're all in THIS together!!

Once again, I want to thank whoever nominated me, as well as WEGO, for recognizing my passion in life... saving hearts & saving lives, which I will continue to do win or lose.

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Patients Have Power!

June 4, 2018

This piece has been entered in the Patients Have Power Writing Contest run by Clara Health designed to raise awareness about clinical trials. I am passionate about this cause and hope it will help raise much needed awareness about the power of breakthrough research.

After being diagnosed with heart disease, I began receiving requests to participate in medical clinical trials.  Having worked in the field of law and law enforcement, the only trials I had ever been involved in were those trials held in a courtroom in front of a judge.  My first thought was NO WAY!  I'm not going to be anyone's "guinea pig!"  However, just out of curiosity, I began researching the importance of participating in clinical trials, and realized they weren't all bad, nor were they just about my heart health issues, but that I could help other women living with heart disease.  So, I searched for a clinical trial that would fall under the category of women and heart disease, finding one being conducted at the Barbara Streisand Cedars Sinai Women's Heart Center (BSCSWHC) in Beverly Hills, CA, regarding microvascular heart disease found in women.  I had the same symptoms that were provided for the disease, and was a woman, so I made the call.

With only a few glitches along the way of the 6-year trial, I continue to participate in, I have had an overall good experience.  I was found to have microvascular heart disease, and was placed on the drug Ranexa, which worked beautifully for my issue of chronic angina (chest pain).  Here's one of the few glitches I ran into however:  When I ran out of the Ranexa, the doctor at the BSCSWHC wrote a prescription for me, but when I went to retrieve the drug, it was, with tax, over $500 a month.  I told the pharmacist "I don't think so!"  I called the office of the clinical trial, and was told that they only provided the initial medication, but after that it was up to our insurance to pay.  I explained that my insurance did not cover the drug as it was not offered as a generic.  They did offer a discount card, which was all of $5.00 off the over $500, but that was like putting a bandaid on an arterial bleed.  I called, and wrote, to the pharmaceutical company who manufactured the drug, regarding my difficulty in obtaining their drug, Ranexa, for a chronic heart-health issue.  It took me eight long months of having to fight, all the while suffering from severe chest pain, but I finally wore them down, before I did, and they began mailing me the drug at no cost, not even a shipping cost.  This lasted for almost two years until I went on Medicaid, who did pay for the full amount of the Ranexa.  My fight in getting the medication I so badly needed, is a great example of being your own best advocate. Just goes to show patients DO have power!

The only other downfall to the clinical trial was the additional cost, due to the location of the clinical trial.  There was the cost of the flight, taxi's, the hotel, which did give me a patient discount, and food...let's just say the food in Beverly Hills is not cheap.  I did run into Rod Stewart and Rachael Hunter at a restaurant I was having dinner at, where they sat right behind me, so all was not lost.

I did write to the BSCSWHC clinical trial department, suggesting that Ranexa be written into the budget portion of any future clinical trials regarding microvascular heart disease. I also suggested that there be inclusion of travel, hotel and food costs as well. These are all issues to be taken under consideration before entering a clinical trial, so that there is a full transparency regarding those incidentals involved in participating.

I learned a lot about clinical trials going through this one, but the most important result of participating in the trial, was that I found a drug that although might not have alleviated the pain in my chest altogether, it did greatly minimize my chest pain, making it all worth it.  Participating in a clinical trial is an individual decision, one to be made by the patient, and the patient alone, as it will be their body put through the necessary testing in order to see if the clinical trial has the end result of a worthy one.

I just happened to be one of the lucky one’s...mine was without a doubt worthy and I would do it all again!

If you want to learn more about clinical trials, go to www.clarahealth.com or check out their Podcast at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/patients-have-power/id1321097377?mt=2 for more information.

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Being a Patient Advocate Shouldn't Kill the Patient

June 4, 2018

When a patient, especially a chronically ill patient, becomes a patient advocate, it shouldn't be at the cost of their own health.  It's very easy to get caught up in wanting to help, but many patient advocates, either through putting unrealistic expectations on themselves, or others applying expectations, end up being drawn into social media, patient advocacy organizations, blogging, and eventually find themselves overwhelmed and burned out.  I should know, as I have been there done that, and have now found myself just recently falling down that slippery slope of wanting to save the world.  Well...I can't, and neither can you.   

If you find yourself, as a patient advocacy going down that same slippery slope, take a few days to yourself, staying off social media, not looking at e-mails, and telling yourself it's okay if you don't reach out to those fifty patients in need that contacted you in the past week.  It's called self-care, and there's nothing selfish about that!  It's like what flight attendants say when instructing the passengers...please place your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others.  Basically, if you're not breathing, you can't help anyone else to breathe.

It's hard to admit, but it's time for me to put my oxygen mask on.  To pull away from all the distractions, and once again get my priorities back in order.  First, I need to concentrate on writing more "paid for" freelance articles regarding Women & Heart Disease and Patient Advocacy, as the income from these articles are a part of my financial responsibilities.  Second, I need to FINISH my book!  I have gotten so far away from working on it, let alone finishing it, due to scattering all my energy about like a dandelion seed head in the wind.  I recently began writing for a funding opportunity that would have enabled me to once again begin a Women & Heart Disease Support Group just to realize the task of just completing the paperwork itself has become daunting to say the least.  So, I have decided to "table" it until next year's funding availability.  One down.

Many of the organizations I have met this year, and might I add wonderful organizations, are reaching out to me to blog for them, write for them, become a part of Instagram and Facebook, both of which I am not utilizing and never have, to better connect with patients.  If I connect any better, I'm going to have to start a commune where we all can live together in one big house.  There are only so many hours in a day, and I refuse to sit in front of my computer in order to do so.  I need...yes, I need, to make sure I get cardio workouts in each and every day, eat healthy, and rest as these are all vital to my health since I will be having open-heart surgery within the near future, and need to be strong.  Putting my oxygen mask on first, again.  Two down.

I love to read & listen to music to relax, and even more so, love to spend time with my family.  In order to make this happen, I cannot be everywhere for everyone else.  On my "good days" I have many adventures  planned with my grandchildren for the summer months ahead while they are out of school, and I don't have to compete with homework and extra-curricular activities.  They are growing up so fast, and will be on their own journey of life in the blink of an eye.  I choose my family.  Three down.

Due to my heart issues, I need at least eight to ten hours of sleep a night, if not more, and this is coming from someone who just three years ago could go on only five hours of sleep.  If I don't sleep, I am guaranteed to experience one of my "bad days" the following day.  I cannot afford to give up any more days than I already have to.  I choose sleep.  Four down.

I am not the only chronically ill patient, who is also an active patient advocate, and who realizes they too are going through many of the same agonizing decisions regarding priorities.  I don't think that anyone cares as deeply about another patient as a patient does.  They understand just how life changing & challenging it can be, thus driving us patient advocates to the brink of exhaustion.  As a chronic patient, you are already giving up so much of life and who you once were.

Patient Advocates:  It just might be time to place the oxygen mask over your own face, before attempting to do so in order to help another...it's not selfish, it self-preservation.

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Memorial Day Weekend

May 26-28, 2018

This weekend, for most, is a weekend of picnics, grilling out, and gathering family & friends together to celebrate.  However, this is only a part of what this weekend truly stands for.

It means remembering those we have lost, and as we remember those we have loved & lost, let us not forget the ultimate sacrifice by those Heroes who gave their lives so that we may live ours!!  God Bless Our Troops & God Bless America...

May Your Memorial Day Weekend be a Fun & Safe One!

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May 24, 2018

Today is #RedNoseDay2018!  What is this silly national day for?  All across America, people have purchased their red noses at their local Walgreen's store for $1 each, and then today, we all go Nose-to-Nose to raise awareness and to fund children in poverty, not to mention that it's a hoot when you have yours on, and people are staring at you wondering why an adult would have a clown's red nose on.  I lost my vanity years ago, so I'm wearing mine today everywhere I go, to encourage a conversation about childhood poverty, and how we must do better for our children...our future!

Tune into NBC for a special night of celebrating Red Nose Day and helping to raise money for those children living in poverty.  Until tonight...GET YOUR RED NOSE ON!!!!!

I thank you & the children thank you :)

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End of Life When It's Not Your Own

May 23, 2018

Do you believe in divine intervention?  I do.  Two days ago, I innocently began a conversation with a woman who was also shopping at a consignment shop where I visit now and then, just to find out that she only had less than one year to live, if that.  She had breast cancer which had metasicized and gone to both her bones & her brain.  Not sure how to react, as all patients are different in how they wish to be perceived and treated...victim, helpless, strong, and/or confident.  I decided that at the very least, a hug was in order, and she received it with joy.

With tears in her eyes, she told me her story, but as she did, it was as if she were telling it for the first time, and reliving the day she received the news that she was going to die.  I told her I still believed in miracles, and would pray that she would be one of the fortunate one's to receive a miracle.  She said she used to believe in miracles, but she had seen the proof of her demise with her own eyes, which left every doubt in her mind that a miracle was coming her way anytime soon.  I explained that I had chronic heart disease, and was in no way comparing my situation to hers, but I could understand how helpless one feels when they have no control over what is happening to their body...to their life.  

To change the subject, I noticed she was buying two pieces of exquisite home decor.  I said, "Good for you for still getting up, getting out, and getting something nice for yourself."  She replied that she had taken $100,000 out of savings, and had every intention of buying her kids and grandkids everything she could, down to the very last penny.  I commented that her children and grandchildren were very lucky to have her in their life, and that these things she was buying for them weren't a consolation prize for her not being here any longer, but memories of the times when she was.

Another customer, who was overhearing the conversation, asked if we might all three pray together outside the shop?  My answer was "yes" exactly at the time the other woman with cancer replied "no."  What to do now, I thought?  The woman with terminal cancer, her eyes tearing up once more, thanked us both, but said she gets way to emotional, and she didn't have time for that...she had more shopping to do.  I wish she would have allowed us to pray with her, but I have to admit, I admired her spunk!  We all three hugged, and the other customer and I stood right there inside the store, where she prayed not only for the woman with terminal cancer, but also for me, and I found myself getting very emotional with tears running down my face, only the tears weren't for me...they were for the woman who was dying.  I, in this case, was the lucky one.

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Tired of Being Tired

May 18, 2018

One thing that patients living with a chronic illness have in common, is always being tired.  Most of us are tired the minute we wake up, even if we have had a good night's sleep.  It takes all we have to just swing our legs over the side of the bed and then stand.  We shuffle into the kitchen for coffee, or bathroom, which ever one is needed most at the time, in the hopes that the fatigue will lessen as the day goes on.  It doesn't.  Some of us are fortunate enough to get what we refer to as a good day, maybe even two in a row if we're lucky, where we have energy...maybe not the energy we had before our diagnosis, but nonetheless, energy.

After 15 years of worsening heart issues, and a diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) affecting the lungs in 2011, I still am fighting the stigma that there must be something else triggering this extreme fatigue and being tired all the time.  I continue to hear in emergency rooms, and even when my own cardiologist is just at a loss for a textbook explanation, "let's go ahead and test for Thyroid issues, Sleep Apnea, and Anemia in order to explain why you're continuing to worsen."  In my mind, isn't the fact that I have worsening chronic heart issues, where I am now bordering on having to have open-heart surgery in the near future enough to explain the fatigue & being tired all the time?  Why do we have to go looking elsewhere when the reason is staring us right in the face?

Having been tested at the beginning of my heart diagnosis  for thyroid issues and sleep apnea, and had neither, I have refused time-and-time and again to have any tests completed in order to chase down a ghost that doesn't exist.  My recent blood tests did prove that I do not have thyroid problems, which felt good to be proven right for a change.  The majority of my heart issues, along with my PH diagnosis, is more than enough to explain my fatigue, weakness and being tired constantly.  The textbook states that my mitral & tricuspid valve regurgitation needs to be at the "severe" level before surgery can be performed, but is presently one level below severe, at the "moderate" level.  As the patient, my common sense asks this question, "wouldn't it be better to do the open-heart surgery now when I'm as healthy as I can be, rather than wait until I get worse, and may then possibly be too weak to have the surgery performed?"  Add to that, that I am the one living this hell, day-in and day-out, leaving me with a quality of life, or lack of, that no one should have to maintain, let alone on a daily basis, when there is the distinct possibility that surgery might help.

It's called the Hippocratic Oath to "do no harm."  It's also called, "if I don't go by the textbook, even though you're not a textbook patient, I could be sued if anything goes wrong."  The Hippocratic Oath goes both ways in my mind...do no harm can mean do not take any action, or it can also mean not taking any action.  There is a very fine line to walk here, and even though I am willing to cross that line, knowing full well what the risks are, not many docs out there that are willing, including mine. 

So, until I find that one cardiac surgeon who is willing to take the same risk I am, then I will just have to settle for being "tired of being tired."

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What I Learned At HealtheVoices2018 Conference

May 5, 2018

I wasn't sure what to expect when attending my first HealtheVoices Conference in Chicago, but I am glad to report that it exceeded my expectations by leaps & bounds!  I was so impressed by how well organized the conference was, the friendliness of those in charge, and their willingness to recognize each and everyone one of us attending as patients, knowing that at times, due to our chronic illness, might feel the need to step away and regroup due to our illness

That was the other beauty of this conference.  Every chronic illness, and more, was represented, which lifted the level of comradery among patients to a new high.  I found myself, someone living with heart disease, talking with others who had diseases ranging from Psoriasis to HIV, many of which I knew nothing about, but knew something about before leaving on that jet plane.  Everywhere I looked, I saw people, not patients.  People who just happened to be handed a raw deal in life, but who never stopped smiling, or who always stopped to lift up another attendee.  Personally, I'd never been to a conference like this one, but knew by time it ended, that I would walk away with new friends, new information about other diseases, new ideas on how to better advocate for others, but more importantly, walking away in the knowledge that I was not alone.

I'm sure many who are reading about a conference with all patient attendees are also picturing a bunch of patients crying nonstop, holding pity parties, and just plain old feeling sorry for themselves.  This couldn't have been farther from the truth.  There were so many smiles the four days I attended, that I felt as if everyone, including staff, had gone to bed sleeping with a coat hanger in their mouth...they just couldn't keep from smiling!  There is power in numbers, and let me just say, that there was so much power at this conference that it was seeping out of the hotel and onto the streets of Chicago.  Sure, there were a few moments of tears among us all, but they were tears of understanding & love for their fellow attendee.

The individual who stands out most of all at the HealtheVoices Conference, as a speaker, was the one & only Kevin Hines.  I have never met anyone like him, and never will.  I won't tell his whole story here, as there is not enough room, but I will tell you this much...Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco at the tender age of 19 and lived to tell about it.  Not only does he tell his story, but shares it so that others who are considering suicide may live.  He tells it in a way that is spellbinding.  When Kevin spoke the last day of the conference, he took that whole room of attendees on a roller coaster ride that no one there will ever experience anywhere else, ever again.  Should you want to hear about this amazing man's journey, and of how he travels the world in the hope of saving lives, go to www.kevinhinesstory.com...you won't be sorry.

I will end by first and foremost thanking Caroline Pavis and the HealtheVoices Team of Janssen who worked tirelessly in order to make this Conference happen...I'm applauding you all right now, even though you can't see me - Ha!  Because of Janssen, I was able to attend this conference with my  expenses paid for by Janssen...thank you.  I would also like to thank those partners who helped to make the HealtheVoices a reality:  YouTube, wisdo, healthline, HealthCentral, Twitter, WebMD, WEGOHEALTH, and Facebook.  This conference was definitely a team effort, which resulted in a very successful conference, and I cannot wait until HealtheVoices2019!!

The walkaway message from the HealtheVoices Conference, for me at least, is that none of us is alone...we are ALL in this fight against Chronic Disease together.  I'm so glad & so blessed that I had the privilege of sharing it with all of YOU!!!

**Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow." (Mary Anne Radmacher)**

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Healthy Lifestyle

April 15, 2018

Being young and healthy can sometimes give us a false sense of security when it comes to our health.  We rarely give aging and health issues a thought.  It won't happen to me.  Breaking News!  Everyone ages, and for most, health issues will rear their ugly head somewhere along the way.

I woke up one day just to find out that I needed reading glasses; I needed more sleep and could no longer could stay out late with friends and still make it to work the next day; I found out that eating some of the foods I loved were keeping me from fitting into some of the clothes I loved.  It all happened in a New York minute as they say although I lived in Ohio.  It was at this point I realized that I needed to change my lifestyle if I were to remain healthy.  Changing one's lifestyle is not an easy task.

Getting reading glasses was easy.  What wasn't easy was changing my sleeping habits, which meant going to bed earlier, saying no to social invites, as well as having to change my diet unless I wanted to change my whole wardrobe.  

"While sleeping requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best." (HelpGuide.org)  Lack of sleep can take a toll on a person's energy, mood, mental capabilities, and their ability to handle stress, which can wreak havoc on one's mental and physical health.  It is imperative for you to know how much sleep your body and mind requires in order to function properly.  

Eating habits are often the hardest to change, as they are acquired from childhood on, and include foods i.e. pizza, ice cream, butter, pastries, eventually alcohol, and worst of all fast food!  Many of our food choices are based on pleasure, which makes making healthier food choices even much more difficult.  Hard day at work, well I deserve to have a couple of drinks.  My two year relationship just fell apart, so if I want to eat a half gallon of my favorite ice cream tonight, then I will.  It's football season, and I can't watch a football game without my beer, chips, and pizza.  All of these excuses to eat improperly will eventually catch up with you however.  Moderation is key.  Everything in moderation.  The importance of maintaining  healthy eating habits will help you maintain a healthier future lifestyle.  Unhealthy eating can lead to diabetes, heart issues, cancer, and many other diseases that can be prevented when making the right food choices.

Exercise goes hand-in-hand with diet.  As children, at least in my day, running, jumping, and skipping were as natural as breathing.  The only time I wasn't physically active was when I was asleep.  Getting children interested in sports at an early age will help develop not only their bodies, but their motivation in the desire to lead an active lifestyle later.  Then, BAM, life gets in the way...jobs, family, illness and much more, keeping you from fitting into your busy schedule a half-hour walk or run, an hour at the gym, or any exercise at all.  Although some believe otherwise, the world will not fall apart if you take an hour or so for exercise, which isn't just for you by the way, but for those you love.  Without exercise, your body will suffer, and so will your family.  

I have, for the most part, conquered the world of sleep I require in order for me to be at my best, as well as eating the proper foods that provide the nutrition I need to make it through the day, and to cognitively communicate with others.  I have also made time for exercise, even if it is only for twenty minutes at a time.  The one thing I haven't conquered however is... "now where did I put those reading glasses?"

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Drug & Alcohol Addiction

April 14, 2018

No one ever thinks it will happen to them, or to someone  they love.  Yet drug & alcohol addiction takes millions of lives a year, which when looking at the numbers, the chances of you, or a family member, having one or both of these addictions is quite real.  And oddly enough, it's usually the last person you would think of as having an addiction of any type, as they appear to have it all together.

Most people in today's world, put on their happy faces, day-after-day, but are slowly dying inside.  Alcohol and drugs can take that dying feeling away, but can also ultimately, and sadly, result in death.  The key is for someone, rather it be you if the addiction is yours, or someone else close to the person who has the issue, recognizing that it's consuming our/their lives.  It's a tricky business addiction.

Interventions, behavioral support, rehabilitation, are all ways of coping with drug & alcohol addiction, but in the end, it takes the person who is addicted, to WANT to quit...to want their life back.  I've watched people I love turn into people I no longer know.  They have lost homes, cars, jobs, but more importantly, themselves.  The once put together, professional, rising star becomes disheveled, incoherent, lacking in hygiene, can no longer relate to loved ones, and are unable to recognize the difference between reality and fantasy.  This doesn't happen overnight, but over time.  

So, why don't we recognize it sooner.  It's as if the mask we, or others wear, are glued to our faces.  We smile, we laugh, we pretend, both the addict and others.  But the addiction is always lurking underneath it all, and eventually bursts through the mask of deception, for all to see.  I'm not going to spew out statistics, and try and give a lesson on drug and alcohol addiction, as I'm not equipped, or licensed to do so.  However, as someone who has been a witness to the destruction that drugs and alcohol abuse causes, I can talk about it from the outside in.

There is a fine line between reaching out to someone who is addicted, or possibly enabling them.  Reaching out is letting the addict know that you care, and that you are there for them, but with guidelines in place.  Enabling someone, is watching them do it over and over again, and never putting guidelines into place...in other words, tough love is never incorporated into the mix.  Most addicts have to hit bottom before ever even thinking about rising up again...the lucky ones live long enough to rise and conquer...the others, not so much.

If you, or someone you love, is struggling with drug and/or alcohol addiction, please seek out professional help for both them, and for yourself.  Although sobriety is ultimately up to the addict, it's important that family, friends, and others to know proper techniques on how to handle an issue that no one should have to know, but the reality is, addiction is here to stay, and we ALL need to participate in the healing process through love, and yes, even tough love.

National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Hotline: (800) 662-HELP