Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Four year Heart Attack Day

Monday was my 4 year Survival day after suffering a Stress-Induced Heart Attack at the age of 43. I think my daughter summed up the day best when she texted me Monday morning and said, "Happy Heart Day".  That is exactly how I felt. I didn't feel fearful or anxious or sad or worried....I just felt happy. I remember the day of my heart attack as if it were yesterday. I think it will always be one of the scariest moments of my entire life. I literally almost died. The year following the heart attack was really difficult. The heart attack was brought on by a step family member and I had to learn how to break away from what can only be described as extreme dysfunction and toxicity. I am a big people pleaser. I love to make people happy. I chose a career where I bring happiness to people every day.  What brings more instant happiness than an adorable fluffy puppy?!  Puppies are the embodiment of complete love and happiness.  I love that. For my entire life, I always and I mean always put everyone else's happiness above my own. I rarely said no to anyone. "You want to come on Easter morning to visit the puppies? SURE!"  "You want me to drop everything and make your needs more important? SURE" "You want the last piece of my birthday cake that I was saving? SURE!" I thought that taking care of my own needs was selfish. After my heart attack, it took me a while to learn how to say no.  It took me a while to learn how to remove myself from toxic people. It took me a while to learn how to not feel guilty. It took me a while to learn that yes, taking care of myself IS important.  In fact if you take care of can be even BETTER at taking care of others. This past year I finally put the final piece in my puzzle. I started exercising regularly.  I began strength training for the first time in my entire life.  I added whole foods to my diet and stopped missing meals.  I even added breakfast to my daily routine which is a meal I had not eaten for over 30 years. At first, taking 45 minutes to an hour of EVERY day JUST for me seemed ridiculous.  How could I spend that much time on me?  I have SO much to do!  I never sit down as it is, how can I spare that much time?!  It was hard for me to say, "I am going to go bike ride or walk or lift weights" when my list of things to do was never ending.  BUT I did it.  I made a commitment to myself and when I make a commitment - it is a done deal.  Mr. Yesteryear Acres was SO awesome about the change.  He always pitches in on my chores so that I can go take my walk or ride my bike. Slowly something magical happened. I became healthier.  I was able to do more work easier and faster and better than I ever had before.  The more I was able to help my family with some of the hard farm work, the more I was appreciated by my family.  The happier they were with all that I could do.....the more I appreciated myself. My daughter recently told me that she always worried about me and my health. She wondered if I would die from another heart attack. I told her, I wondered the same thing. She told me that this past year, she finally stopped worrying. Me too.  When I got the most excellent doctor report confirming that I am in optimal health, I felt every last nagging worry vanish. My four year Anniversary of my Heart Attack was "Happy Heart Day". I am grateful and happy and strong.  The best part - I know my heart is too!

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