Maybe it's because it's the first full week of the New Year, and reflecting on the last 12 months and planning for the next, is what we're supposed to do. Or, maybe it's because my kids still have two days left of their 2.5-week vacation and getting them back to a normal routine can't come quick enough...Or more likely, it's the fact that my life has changed so much over the past year, and when I sit down and think about everything I've been through (where I've come from and where I'm going), it's almost surreal to think of how much my family has grown because of it all.
I think about change and what it does to you and those you love. I also think about how I have changed due to circumstance. Perhaps that's what's finally happening. I'm taking it all in. Looking at me from a hole in the wall and accepting what I see.
In 2014 I certainly saw change. From commuting to the the city for my corporate job to working at home. Moving to another country. But before the big move, my kids and I living on our own for nine months on a 53-acre farm in the middle of ice storms and house showings, and my husband setting up shop 2423 km. To me undergoing two surgeries (one to rectify an electrical problem in my heart), to moving into our family's trailer for the Summer during our transition to the US after we sold the country property (talk about a humbling experience)... Then losing our beloved dog, Maurice, and leaving our family and friends behind in Canada. The kids started a new school and joined new sports teams, and we started a new life here in Colorado.
So much change. So many amazing memories. So much to look forward to. So many doubts. So much red tape. So many times I've counted my blessings. We're very fortunate to experience it all. And thankfully our friends and family have supported us every step of the way. You'll never know how much you mean to me.
So in light of starting an exciting new year--with two feet planted on the ground as a proud Canadian living in America for now (I can't believe it's already been 3 months in the Mile High City), I just had to jot things down because time seems to go by so fast and I didn't want to forget any of our journey so far. So this is for my kids.,,,my family,,,my friends,,,for me. Change has happened. Change will happen. But the biggest gift of all is that change is happening.
To put more simply, life is happening and we are blessed to be in each others' lives. I love my life--the old and the new. I cherish the people who have come and gone and those who I am yet to meet. I just needed some time to get used to the change that comes with what we call TIME. But we get over it and we learn from it. We grow. We reinvent ourselves. We need time to get to know ourselves, our passions, our insides and out. And more change will surely come. That's a given.
But I will never forget where I come from. Because that's what truly makes me the person who can endure this change and remain positive.
I know that everything is going to be OK in my life. If you have a chance read this post written by another amazing mom, Rachel, in her blog called Finding Joy. All of the fear and stress that comes along with the day-to-day of being a mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter and woman with aspirations, goals and desires, seems to have subsided... at least for now. I know those feelings will come back one day. But for now I am OK with taking a breather. And I am OK with where I am and what's ahead of me. The unknowing is a part of life. I've always been a lover of change. Open minded to making leaps and taking chances. However sometimes not being in control of what happens to me and those that I love can feel like a slap in the face.
But I know I'm not alone. Because this is life and there is a plan for each and every one of us and that is what makes me excited for this next chapter. My life has changed. My goals have changed. The way my kids see me has changed because life has progressed. But what I've learned is that I am still the same person under it all. Deep inside. The things around me have changed and maybe the way I see some people. But I am still a woman with high hopes and dreams, and lots of love to give everyone in my life. I have grown and learned from what I've been through. And you have too.
Every day is a new adventure. And with this, I want to start 2015 off with a clear vision of where I am and who I am. I accept all that comes with me. So here's to me being enough. Happy New Year. -klb
Three days ago I had a Cardiac Ablation or RFA (Radiofrequency Ablation) to rectify my heart’s short circuit. Basically, without getting too technical, an electrophysiologist conducted an Electrophysiology Study (EPS) to test my heart’s electrical system and how it works, and once he figured out the areas that weren't working, he destroyed (ablated) the "dead spots". It's called an "AV Node Ablation due to a Slow Pathway."
Turns out I had an unusual dual-pathway where the blood flowed and this is what was giving me problems when pumping blood to my heart. So one of the pathways was eliminated. The procedure was quite invasive. Four catheters were inserted into my blood vessels (veins) on both sides of my groin and moved along until they reached my heart. Radio frequency energy traveled through the catheters in order to “silence” the cells where the abnormal rhythm was coming from.
I remember laying on the operating table anxiously watching the numbers on the screen. The surgeon instructed the “heart pace” technician to elevate my heartbeat to 250 bpm into a state of tachycardia, and then slow it down to normal, and then up again to 300 bpm, and so on. This went on for two hours so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was.
Even though I knew I was in good hands, and in a controlled environment in the hospital, I had no control over what my heart was doing and felt very overwhelmed and constricted; not knowing if my heart would stop at any time. But the deal was that they had to emulate the irregular heart episodes I'd been having because they've been interrupting my normal way of life. And at 40, with two small kids, this wasn't ideal. So when they finally found the faulty circuits, an electrical surge was sent down the tubes -- and I felt the burning sensation (heat) as they burned the dead areas in my heart.
After it was all over, and I was back in my bed, I had a panic attack when two nurses were putting pressure on my incisions. They were pressing so hard on the four tubes to stop the bleeding that I instantly felt faint. They called two more nurses in to help and immediately dosed me with Gravol to calm me down. I remember the exact same symptoms when I had a panic attack a year ago in the cafeteria at work -- cold sweats, feeling sick, and not knowing whether to fight or flight the scene. Then I cried uncontrollably. The nurses at the Trillium Cardiac Health Centre were amazing and knew exactly how to get me through it. A half an hour later, I fell asleep.
After I woke up, the doctor came to speak to my husband and I about how the procedure was a success. Then I was allowed to get up and take a few steps. But when I did, a pool of blood gushed from the top of my right leg. The blood did not clot at one of my incisions and there was blood all over the hospital floor. The nurses rushed me back to the bed and applied more pressure in order to avoid losing too much blood. They said it could have been a result of me not going to the washroom and my full bladder was putting pressure on my groin. But finally, after more pressure, I was able to get up and go to the washroom (I couldn’t even force myself to go on the bed pan).
The next day, I was instructed to take it easy and move slowly. I had to hold my incisions every time I sat up or down or used the stairs, but I could have a shower and take the bandages off. I felt some periodic shooting pains in my chest and an aching pain in my groin where it was starting to bruise. I also felt a pressure on my left side that went through to my shoulder blade – similar to how I felt last January (2013) when I had my initial heart scare. (Read my full story in Chatelaine magazine.)
Today I am walking more, but still slowly, and feel much better. The doctor told me not to go back on my heart meds and wait to see how I feel at our next follow up appointment in 8 weeks. I am hopeful that my fast heart beat does not come back, and so far, it's looking good. I am so thankful for my family and friends who are here to help me.
I hope to (in some small way) help others who may have noticed some irregularities in their heartbeat, unusual shortness of breath, or panic attacks, and alert those who are under a lot of stress. Don't sit back and think it's nothing, because it could lead to further complications down the road. Believe me, if there's one thing I've learned from my heart journey over the past 13 months, it's to listen to my body. Please call your doctor today and be heart aware. Stay well.
Just over a year ago, after wearing a Mobile Cardiac Arrhythmia Diagnostic System (loop monitor) for two weeks, I was diagnosed with Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia (PSVT). The doctors had been doing a bunch of different tests on my heart at the time because my heart was not beating regularly, and I had a frightening health scare several weeks prior.
This explained the sudden rapid heartbeats that were causing my unusual shortness in breath, and why my heart often jumped from 70 bpm to 230 bpm in a matter of seconds. My heart would literally shift into overdrive without warning, and I felt like I was running a marathon even at rest. (And anyone around me could physically see my heart pumping through my clothes. Scary!)
Although I remember these episodes in high school, they were never as frequent as they had become in my late thirties. I am told they only get worse with age and my lifestyle most likely did not have anything to do with it because I am a non-smoker, eat healthy, and not overweight. It is a mechanical "short circuit" problem.
But surprising to some, I was actually relieved when I found out that I had PSVT because to treat this, cardiologists are able to locate and remove this alternate pathway and prevent this bypass from occurring. I was getting more and more out of breath going up and down stairs and this was very unusual for me, as I was only 39 at the time. Needless to say, I had to get to the bottom of my condition and figure out next steps so I could feel normal again...
What I've learned:
PSVT means there is a short circuit in the heart that bypasses the desired pathway to make blood flow occur normally, which enables the heart to beat excessively fast. Since PSVT results in a significant increase in heart rate beyond what the heart is really designed to do, frequent and prolonged attacks can also cause damage to the heart muscle. In a typical heart attack, there isn't enough blood flow to the heart (supply) due to blockage of the arteries; but in the PSVT heart attack scenario, there is excess demand due to the rapid heart rate, and the body can't supply enough blood flow to meet it. Depending on the amount of damage, this could lead to poor functioning of the heart and eventually heart failure.
Stay tuned for more on my heart journey,
On this last day of Heart Health Month, February 2014, I wanted to share a little bit about why it means so much to me.
It all started on Christmas morning in 2012. I felt a heavy tightness across my chest that I had never felt before. It felt like someone was tightening a belt around my breasts and holding on for dear life. The feeling lasted for two weeks and was so foreign, but I just shrugged it off as normal holiday stress.
After our family returned from a trip to Florida a few weeks later, I started having scary heart-racing episodes 3 to 4 times a week. They would start and stop suddenly for no apparent reason – and it felt like I was running a marathon even at rest. I was also having more headaches than usual, aches and pains in my upper body, shortness of breath going up and down the stairs, and was tired all the time. One morning at work, I even had a panic attack standing in line at the cafeteria. These events were not usual for me because I’m not a smoker and not overweight and have always considered myself a healthy person.
But the next night, as I was putting my kids to bed, I had the most horrific feeling. I got a sharp pain in my right shoulder that shot all the way down my arm. It felt as though someone hit me hard with a baseball bat. Then pain started to trickle around my back so I ran downstairs to where my husband was standing in the kitchen. My arm started to go limp.
Panic-stricken, he asked if he should call an ambulance. But I screamed “No!” because it was my right arm. (Needless to say since then I’ve learned that women can experience different symptoms like pain in their right arms, a feeling of indigestion, or back aches during an attack – but you seldom hear of it.) Then, I had an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. It was only 8 o'clock but if I had of stood there any longer, I would have fallen to the floor.
Looking back I know I should have gone to the hospital that night, but I was in denial. After all, I was only 39 and I had to get the kids to bed, right?!
This is a typical reaction of moms, and women in general, which I've since coined "Supermom Syndrome." It's when we simply do not think about ourselves in times of need.
This was the beginning of my heart health journey and now 13 months later I am happy to report that I am feeling better than ever (except for a torn meniscus in my left knee but that was my own fault during an intense workout. Ouch!).
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about my heart health is that if it can happen to me, then it can happen to anyone. I wasn’t leading a bad life before. I don’t smoke. I'm not obese. I have no history of heart disease in my immediate family, and I don’t have high blood pressure. But I was stressed – and I didn’t realize how much. My body was ready to shut down and I wasn’t ready to listen, until I had to.
This past month I’ve been fortunate to tell my story on various radio and television shows and I hope that my story will inspire others to think about their heart health and take note when their body is telling them to slow down. It’s not easy to do, but it’s very important.
According to a recent Leger survey commissioned by Jamieson Vitamins, only 25 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 25-44 believe they are at risk of heart disease, which is so not the case! In fact, the CANHEART Health Index states that 90 percent of Canadians in this age group are actually in poor cardiovascular health. That's 1 in 5.
It's not just an older person's issue. I'm proof of that.
So there you go, my friends. This is just a snippet of my tale and the self love and healing continues. When I reflect, I truly feel my health scare was a catalyst for what I am doing now: Helping spread the word about being heart aware. After all, the universe does work in mysterious ways and perhaps this is what I was meant to do.
I hope you'll check back for more on what I’m doing to stay on track with my eating, exercise and supplement program; as well as tips on how to lessen the stressors in your life. These are the things that I took for granted before my wake-up call last January and I really want to make sure you think about them in your own lives.
Stay heart aware,
Every time I look at my children, I am truly humbled. I still can’t believe that they’re mine. Even underneath all the dirt, cheekiness, messiness, and often craziness, they are real little people trying to figure out the world around them.
For those of you who don’t know me outside of cyberspace – I am a wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and most importantly, a motivated (sometimes control-freakish) mom of two awesome boys. Connor is 9 and Brock is 4.
I am constantly learning and they are constantly surprising me. So as I tucked them into their beds tonight, I couldn’t help but think of the things they’ve taught me in their little lives so far. They’ve taught me that I don’t have to prove anything to them, because even on my worst days, they are still there to greet me at the door with a big smile. They’ve taught me that there really is nothing like a mother’s love for her children and the special bond that is formed from day one. They’ve also taught me more about myself than I could ever have done on my own – and that being a parent can be really tough.
Now I’m not sure if my blog will be around when they’re old enough to read and understand this (or whether they’d even want to), but my hope is that they grow into loving, street-smart, grounded people who respect life and those around them.
I'd like to thank my kids for accepting my flaws, and helping me realize that they are a reflection of me. My kids make me happy. They make me mad. They make me proud, and sometimes, they make me sad. But most of all, they make me who I am today.
So in the spirit of Mother’s Day coming up in a few months (hey, I like to prepare early), I’d like to salute all moms out there who are humbled by their children. No matter how they came into your life, they are a part of you forever. And I want you to know that you are doing an amazing job.
What do you cherish the most about your family? Take a moment to hug someone you love so much today for more than 15 seconds. It feels so good.
This past year has taught me so much about myself as a career person, mom and wife. I have realized that my health is more important than any job, connection or promotion - and that happiness can only come when your true passions are being honoured. My family being my number one priority with my health leading the way.
I have learned first and foremost that without your health you can't be there for your children. So I have changed my way of living and thinking.
TODAY I am recharged and look forward to an exciting year. I no longer think of my career as a means to an end, but rather, an end to a means. I love what I do and share my elation with friends and family, but not because I feel I need to.
TODAY I no longer feel the need to climb for the sake of climbing or impressing anyone.
TODAY I reach for new heights in my heart and soul because it inspires others.
TODAY I am more myself than ever before, and I love it. The world is now my stage and my efforts to help others achieve their goals and aspirations is the reward.
What do you reach for in your heart? Are you following your dreams? Are you fulfilled? Think about these questions on a daily basis and try to take small steps to reach your goals. Even the smallest change can make a big difference.
One of the reasons I started this blog was to address specific questions that I've gotten over the years from readers who are still looking for the "inside scoop" on how to get ahead in the fitness industry. Things such as:
How do I take the first step in the fitness world? What kind of jobs are there in the industry? What's the secret to losing weight? How can I land a magazine cover? How am I going to balance training with my family? or Do you think I'll ever look like so-and-so?
Well, my friends, the truth is that there is not one simple answer that suits everyone's needs. Take it from me, it all depends on what your ultimate goals are, how you plan to achieve them, by when, and what's your desired outcome. Maybe you want to get a six-pack back after baby, your doctor is advising that you need to strengthen after surgery, or perhaps you want to lose a few pounds for your wedding, enter a fitness contest for the very first time, or train for a marathon.
But are your goals realistic? That's the million-dollar question! Well, whatever your motivation to get back to fitness, one thing's for sure, it takes two things to make it happen: DEDICATION and A PLAN. Are you ready to take on fitness?
We all have different reasons for focusing on our health. What are yours? Send me your questions and my plan is to address every single one — and if I can't through my own experience, I will go to the best people in the industry to find out for you. Because the more people we can help get back to fitness, the better. Are you in?
As a kid I was never afraid of a challenge. For 15 years (until I turned 18) I spent most of my time in the studio or traveling around North America as a competitive Irish Dancer. In my teens, I remember training very hard, sometimes 7 days a week, with the best instructors. Competition was fierce on the stage and even in class, but nonetheless, I managed to make it to the World's Competition three times representing Canada.
Back then failure never seemed to knock me down. I always got right back up (even if that literally meant falling down during a performance or practice - or not placing as high as I had hoped after months of training). I didn't care what other people thought of me. I was young. I was proud. No one could take that from me.
It wasn't until my twenties that a different kind of competition took over my life. Pressure to land a great job and make a name for myself. Being able to tell my friends and family what I was "doing for a living" seemed like an accomplishment in itself. So I kept pushing myself. Climbing the corporate ladder was the new challenge. It became my priority. Not only because I was learning so much and had more responsibility, but because I could tell people. I was still strong - but in a new way.
Then once I had children, I felt a rush of excitement I had never felt before. I immediately loved them so much and never thought I'd love anything as much again. And I still haven't. Not even close. My responsibilities have changed (as they do) and my competitive edge in life has become even clearer.
My role as a mother has been the most challenging yet. It is very different to what I thought growing up. In fact, if you had of asked me years back, I would have told you that I didn't think I'd have children. There was no time.
But life works in mysterious ways. The competition I deal with today is within me. The expectations on my personal abilities to be a good parent have changed me - and I am OK with that. I still push myself in all areas of my life and try not to compare myself to other more seemingly capable moms - but that can be challenging. The good news is that I am confident in myself to take on the experience.
What are the biggest challenges in your life? Have they changed? Have you changed as a result? Write them down and think about how you've grown as a person to get to where you are today.
Kerrie Lee Brown is a sought-after health and lifestyle expert. She writes books, blogs and articles and is published all over the world. Kerrie Lee is also a heart-health survivor and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows sharing life-saving tips for women on how to listen to their bodies and slow down. Kerrie Lee is a mom and proud Canadian living in Denver, Colorado.