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CAROLYN1213

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Heart Health

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

In October of 2008, I had only been at my new job for two weeks when I ended up at the doctor's office with a health crisis. I had the worst headache I had ever known and felt nauseated. When the nurse took my blood pressure it was 180/110. In case you don't know, that is not good. As a matter of fact those number put me at high risk for a stroke. The doctor did an in office EKG and it came back suspicious and she thought I had had a 'heart episode' of some sort and sent me to the hospital for more extensive evaluation. I was a very sick, stressed and sad girl. My doc even looked sad, and I said to her "When we know more, we can work together to change what I can and deal with what is". I was scared, I'm not going to lie.

When I went back to my office I told my new boss, Dan, that he might want to check with HR to see if there was a 'lemon clause' on my employment contract. He sat me down and gave me some fatherly advice. He told me how important it was to know my heart risk numbers and my family history. He told me of his mother who died of heart issues related to high cholesterol and his father who has a heart attack. Dan was trim and fit, he ran almost everyday, he knew he had high cholesterol and had changed his diet and was taking meds to help lower his cholesterol.

I got busy right away learning about heart health and how to lower my blood pressure. I cut down the amount of sodium and my diet and tried to walk some. I was also seeing a physical therapist for plantar fascitis so walking was painful. When the test results came back, my heart was fine! My body was retaining so much fluid from stress, poor diet, little to no exercise, and too much sodium. That fluid was pressing on every organ and tissue in my body, causing my blood pressure to be high and causing my heart to work harder than it should. Just by decreasing my sodium, I dropped 12 lbs. in two months. And I will admit, I was not motivated to make any additional changes at that time. I was complacent and satisfied with merely feeling better.

Two months later (March 2009) , I came into work on a Thursday morning to find out that Dan, my new boss, had had a catastrophic heart attack and died. He had gone out for a run (he was an avid runner) and upon returning home, he simply dropped to the floor and never regained consciousness. We would find out later that the type of heart attack he had has no warning signs, there is no recovery, it is an immediate death. Some of the cholesterol plaque in his arteries broke lose and blocked the flow from his aortic valve. He died before he even knew he was having a heart attack. He died, too young, at 61.

I only knew Dan for a short time, I was only his secretary for five months before he died. But, he left a huge impact on my life. Two months after Dan died, I was back in the doctors office this time with a cough and cold symptoms that would not go away. Ends up the cough was a side effect of the high blood pressure meds I was on and the cold symptoms and fatigue were actually because I was depressed.

My doc changed my blood pressure meds and offered my a low dose anti-depressant which I declined. I'm not against taking meds if I need them, but I could see that if I didn't start taking a more proactive role in my health care, I was quickly going to be taking more meds than I was comfortable with. So, in June 2009, I slowly starting changing my life to be one that was worth living. It was slow, but I was hopeful. I purchased a Wii Fit program. That first week, I could only stand on that balance board for six minutes before my feet were aching. But, I would do it each day after work. Each time I'd try to make myself do one minute more than I did the day before. I started to make small food changes. The first one I remember is that when we ate fast food (which was frequent), I would just get the sandwich and a bottled water, no fries, no soda. The more little changes I made, the more confident I became, the more active I became the stronger I felt. Before long I was riding my bike a couple miles a day and that grew into riding my bike 25 miles every Saturday.

It all started with a little movement and a little change, that has made the biggest difference. Today I am 67lbs. lighter. I run four days a week, I work out with a personal trainer two days a week, I'm training for a 1/2 marathon (which I will run in honor of my boss, Dan) and my blood pressure in 120/76. Next month I get to stop taking all my meds!!!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BROWNIE223
    Life is too short. It's time to pay attention to our hearts. I've been hearing so much about it these last few weeks.
    3874 days ago
  • HEALTHYCURLY
    Hi! I just joined SP and atfter reading your inspirational blog with two separate inspiring stories it makes me sad and hopeful for my own success and recuperation,as I am currently having heart related health problems.May you be blessed with great health from now on!Best Wishes! (Diana)healthycurly
    3877 days ago
  • REMCMFA
    Thanks for the wonderful blog. I bet that was scary for you. It's good that you're taking care of you.
    3877 days ago
  • NGCHILD
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    So glad that you are on your way!! Awesome blog and a great tribute to Dan!
    3877 days ago
  • HINDYPATTI
    Great blog. Thanks.
    3877 days ago
  • TINYDANCER
    Such an inspirational blog post. Thank you for sharing.
    3878 days ago
  • SEVENKITTY
    Great blog...thanks!
    3878 days ago
  • ELISADEL
    That's an amazing amount of progress you've made. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational story!
    3879 days ago
  • STARRTWINKLES
    You are an inspiration and you are doing great. Keep up the great work. God bless Starr
    3879 days ago
  • 4DOGNIGHT
    Very good blog! Your boss Dan is smiling up in heaven at you. He helped you a lot and you took the guidance and ran with it. Good for you.
    3879 days ago
  • PEPCEA
    What a great story!!! Wonderful, wonderful!!! You've done the right thing. Continued success to you!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3880 days ago
  • STLRZGRRL
    Dan went out the way Tim Russert did... I have cardiac issues in my own family and when Tim died I was just astonished at how fragile a life really is. I keep one of his quotes very close:

    "The greatest exercise for the human heart is to reach down and lift someone up."

    For your boss... a runner, I can't think of a better way to go out...

    I am so happy you took his death as a lesson in how to LIVE... and that you have grabbed your troubles my the scruff of the neck and are SHAKING the negative out of them!!!

    YAY, YOU! Dan is going to help you run that race and so will all of us!!
    emoticon
    3880 days ago
  • GAILRUU
    I work in a Cardiac Rehab unit. I see far too many people who didn't take the steps to prevent what has happened to them. Good luck on your health journey.
    3880 days ago
  • MARIE625
    Awesome blog! And what a great reminder that it is the little things we do...

    I too worked with a guy that had that kind of heart attack - at work. He was dead before he even hit the floor. When I first started running it worried my husband half to death because he was afraid I would give myself a heart attack, and frankly, it worried me too a little. Now, I've become so obsessed with running that I've decided I'd be ok with it if I die out on the road, all soaked with sweat and a big old smile on my face. Sounds to me like a much better way to go than sitting on the couch in front of the t.v. with a bag of chips in my hand. But then, hopefully, all the running will cause me to live a long and happy life and I'll die in my sleep on my 99th birthday. :)
    3880 days ago
  • NATALIE1964
    I lost a dear friend to the same kind of heart attack.. what a shocker..
    I'm getting myself on track also.
    This blog inspired me to keep on going as I didn't lose anything this week
    I'm kinda discouraged.. but not giving up .
    thanks
    ^..^
    3880 days ago
  • GONE2THEDOGS
    Wow, great blog - very informative! You have come such a long way... We just don't realize how important our health is and how much we can control by making healthier choices - it's not just about fitting into smaller jeans (although that would be a nice bonus too!) It is so sad to hear about the "Dan's of the world" who are taking care of themselves and yet something happens to them...I think running your first half in his honor is a great way to show how much he impacted your life and the healthier woman you have become!
    3880 days ago
  • URSULA125
    Wonderful blog! Thank you for taking the time to share. Congratulations on your success! emoticon
    3881 days ago
  • CHANGEDIN09
    WOW great post..very inspirational. Congrats on your success.
    3881 days ago
  • EMPOWEREDRUNNER
    great job!
    3881 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2010 10:07:54 PM
  • EMPOWEREDRUNNER
    Sorry for the multiple posts! Didnt think they were posting. Didnt know how to delete them, so I just edited the message each time. Feel free to delete them. But you have really motivated me. Will be sure to sure your story with friends.
    3881 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2010 10:10:53 PM
  • EMPOWEREDRUNNER
    Loved, Loved, loved this!! Just today, I had a similar conversation with two coworkers on the importance of getting our numbers down. WE are all past 40, so being healthy is so much more the focus than just looking good. I am the only one not on BP meds and I plan to keep it that way. I have been told I may need it but I am exercising and working on improving my eating.
    Like many others, I gasped to read what happened to your boss. So sorry to hear this, but glad it jumpstarted you into getting healthy. Keep up the great work and much success on your half!! They are a blast to completed, esp when people dont expect this to be something you could do!!
    3881 days ago
  • EMPOWEREDRUNNER
    You are awesome!
    3881 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2010 10:09:06 PM
  • SEAGLASSQUEEN
    Reminds me to continue choosing to be healthy.
    3881 days ago
  • MASE72
    Thank You! for sharing! Great Blog! emoticon
    3881 days ago
  • LDY_ALI_79
    Spectacular story! I'm sorry to hear how your boss Dan died, but at least you had a warning and your life was spared.

    emoticon with the 60+ weightloss!

    Take care~
    3881 days ago
  • no profile photo CD1370153
    wow it takes something huge to get you thinking the same with me...thanks for sharing your story with us and congrats on losing all that weight and staying focus you have done a great job!!!!
    3881 days ago
  • DESERTFLOWERG
    Small, incremental steps get us to a healthy lifestyle. This is what is so different from the "diet" mentality. Keep spreading the word and keep enjoying your new lifestyle!
    3881 days ago
  • DESERTFLOWERG
    Small, incremental steps get us to a healthy lifestyle. This is what is so different from the "diet" mentality. Keep spreading the word and keep enjoying your new lifestyle!
    3881 days ago
  • THROOPER62
    Congratulations on your weight loss. Great blog. emoticon
    3881 days ago
  • MSPLACEDAGAIN
    Thank you for sharing this story. I actually gasped when you described how Dan passed away. What a shock for you and his family. What a great legacy for him to leave with you, healthy living!

    And congratulations on your weightloss, and fitness!

    3881 days ago

    Comment edited on: 2/5/2010 1:34:26 PM
  • LIZZYMITCH
    Thanks for the blog -- reminds me how grateful I need to be for my healthy predispospition...how it's a disgrace to all the people who have unresolvable health issues to disrespect the body I have. Great post =]
    3881 days ago
  • BETHLOVESBIKING
    Carolyn, what a MOVING blog! You've made such amazing changes in a short period of time! And Dan was such an important motivator in your life! I'm glad you are dedicating your 1/2 marathon to him.

    BRAVO!! BRAVO!! You are one of the people that motivates me! emoticon
    3881 days ago
  • CHRISCROW
    Wow - I am so proud of you - even more than I was when I first started reading and following (that sounds stalkish...lol) you - you are a leader for sure - this will help any other women/man starting out where you did know they can do it too... thanks for the motivation you are always sooooo good at that.. Keep up the great work - I take blood pressure meds also and I hope that one day they will tell me 'you don't have to take those anymore' hasn't happened for me yet but I hope to say that it does... I hope that all this hard work and effort will pay off with big HEALTH rewards in the future for us all!
    3881 days ago
  • ILOVESP
    emoticon
    3881 days ago
  • ~MISS_TEA~
    thank you for sharing another piece of you! you are an amazing woman that I am glad I am getting to know :)
    3882 days ago
  • DOPKIGIRL
    So sorry to hear about your co-worker. That is truly a tragic loss. People think they have to be unhealthy in order to get disorders, etc., however, it can happen to the most healthy people too. We all need to be aware of disorders that can plague us. Heart Health is VERY dear to my heart, because my father has suffered multiple heart attacks and last year, had to even have a 5 bypass. It was very scary and still remains scary because he isn't taking any better care of himself. Its SO frustrating and emotionally tolling. I think that will be the death of him, unfortunately. I am taking precautions myself, because of the family history. It is always better to be prepared and have nothing happen, then to shake it off and ignore it and something happens.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us all. I am SO happy you are taking care of your HEART and keeping it healthy.

    Blessings to you!
    3882 days ago
  • TABETHA2005
    An incredible, inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing this with everything, because honestly, I am one of those people who need to hear it.

    emoticon
    3882 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4927412
    I'm sure that Dan looks down and smiles at you. Thanks for sharing this story. It is very touching. ((HUGS))
    3882 days ago
  • MAXBALLARD
    When I wear Red tomorrow, it will be in your honor!
    Thank you for sharing your story!
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3882 days ago
  • LITTLESIS21
    Wow.... I initially stopped by to say I loved your profile photo as it just seems to scream "Hey Look! I DID IT!" and then I read your bio on the main page and read this blog. Amazing and heart wrenching. I'm sorry to hear about Dan. He "sparked" you and now it's having a ripple effect. You should be very proud of all you have accomplished and all you are about to. I wish you good health and luck on all your endeavors. I too suffer with Plantar Faciitis and was wondering how your doing with that through all your training? Thank you for sharing such an emotional account in your life. God Bless.
    3882 days ago
  • MAGODANO
    This story also reminds me to live every day, love life and others. THANKS!
    3882 days ago
  • LILYGIRL44
    WOW! Dan would be so proud of you! A very sad loss, he sounded like a real wonderful,caring man.A terrible loss. Have you ever wondered how you just happened to have the opportunity to have a man like that in your life under the health circumstances you were in? Fate? Something led you there to meet that man and to give him the opportunity to help you turn your life around. I'm not a very religious person but some things are certainly not just because of chance. That was a very moving story and you were so lucky to meet him as I'm sure you realize. Amazing story & YOUR amazing response to it! Congrats on your accomplishment!
    3882 days ago
  • TINK9305
    Way to go keep up the great work!!!!!
    3882 days ago
  • TKTMTA
    Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about Dan and I know the first year is the most difficult. Keep up the good work you are doing with the changes in your life. And good luck on your 1/2 marathon.
    3882 days ago
  • no profile photo PIXIECN
    What an amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. emoticon
    3882 days ago
  • USARUNNERGIRL
    Honey, your story moved me to literal tears. emoticon I am so proud of the changes and choices you have made to turn your life around. I know that Dan is looking down beaming that he helped you change the course of your life. On our day of the mini I will pray for you and be rooting you on knowing that you are running a race that is far more precious to you because you are running it out of love.
    3882 days ago
  • KARLYNCANDOIT
    Oh, thank you so much for sharing, that same thing happened to my friends boss who was a doctor. He was only 45 though. I am so glad you found the courage and strength to do what you have done for your body and mind. My husband battles depression and I know alot of it has to do with his diet. We are making small changes in his life style. Baby steps that he does not notice. It is the thin guys you would not expect to die that way. My girlfreinds husband died that way, thin and 49 but no health care because he was having no issues. A big thing to watch is heart burn. That is all the signs he had. Life is short, life is sweet!!
    Your body and heart loves you now!!!!
    Do you use a heart rate monitor. Are you suppose to?
    Have a great day!!! Thank you so much for sharing.
    3882 days ago
  • YOGAKARMAGRACE
    Okay, let me get the tissue out....wow! Inspirational blog, I'd say, even though Dan is gone, his memory will always be with you in your lifelong will to be healthy. Sometimes things like this make us take a step back and reassess what is going on with us. I am glad that you were able to learn what needed to be done and were here to do that.

    Thanks for the wonderful blog and perfect timing too!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3882 days ago
  • NANNER2121
    What a wonderful, open, achingly honest blog and just in time for Heart Health Month. I am so very glad you got in control of your condition and that you are here with all your Sparkfriends. I had an uncle who "dropped dead" from a heart attack at the age of 42, no warning signs, no health history. Just in conversation with his wife, fell over and the Dr's said he was probably gone by the time he hit the floor. How incredible to have a compassionate boss, they are quite rare. I know my previous boss was more concerned on how my cancer would affect him and the business and he wasn't even paying benefits!
    3882 days ago
  • ANGELICA534
    thanks for sharing, this is extremely touching and highlights the importance of taking care of your overall health. As my blogs highlight I am a huge advocate of making lifestyle changes to increase the well being of your body rather than unhealthy changes that merely cause a drop in the scale. Thank you
    3882 days ago
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