LIfe at High Altitude in Colorado

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Three Years Post Heart Attack

Today is the third anniversary of my heart attack.

edited/enhanced photo of a moss-covered heart stone in the forest behind my house

Often, people ask me if I've changed since that early-morning wake-up call on January 8, 2010. Initially, without hesitation, I adamantly said, "No!" because that's what I wished was the truth. But, after three years of rebuilding my health, I must honestly answer, "Yes. Of course." 
A heart attack is a life-changing event.

I'm a different person now than I was on January 7, 2010, the day before my heart attack, when I still thought that I was invincible. Isn't this what most people believe until something happens that changes their health, their mind, and their life? 

I can't say I'm a better person now. All I know for sure is that I'm changed in large and small ways that markedly define and affect my life: 

I no longer spontaneously lift my grandchildren (or anything over 25 pounds) without giving my effort a second thought. I always carry 4 baby aspirin somewhere on my person wherever I go. (My cardiologist says these tiny, low-dose chewable aspirin might save my life in the event of another spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) and heart attack.) I wear a heart rate monitor when I exercise strenuously. I don't "push the envelope" in exercise like I may have formerly. I'm more body-aware; any chest discomfort or shortness of breath would register immediately as an emergency.

I surround myself with positive people who enrich my life. I move away from discord, anger, judgement, and competition. I try to release tension in ways that won't hurt myself or others. I attempt mindfulness so I can understand and appreciate life's twists and turns. I express love and appreciation more readily. (Who knows when my time to do so might run out?)

I write my thoughts and feelings both to keep a record and to forge connections. Writing has always helped me be more myself, but since the heart attack, it also serves as a healing therapy. 
I've written about my initial SCAD event and also my healing process in the hope that my journey might help someone else. Today, feeling strong and well, I write again.

I consider January 8 a positive anniversary celebrating my heart. 



Blessings from my Heart to yours.




56 comments:

  1. Good morning Barb!
    Im so happy that you have seen all those extra mornings, blogged all these days, posted all those lovely pics, and most of all lived to experience all that you have.
    Just having you around in blog land has been enlightening, and inspirational, so having you around in peoples real lives for your family and friends has to be a wonderful gift, not just for you but for them too. (i know this is all obvious) but like you i am finding it essential to say things as well as think them.
    Good work Barb! Yay!

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  2. Dear Barb, I don't really know what to say. I'm glad you're okay. Maybe even more than okay. It sounds like that terrible moment has somehow helped you live your life more fully. For that, we can only be grateful. A big hug X

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  3. Happy Anniversary and a big YEEHAW!!! :D :D

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  4. This is a beautifully written post--a heart-felt reminder to us all. You are nurishing your soul as well as your heart.

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  5. Congratulations on your anniversary, BARB. Your changes sound very sensible to me, and it sure appears that your life is richer than ever. May you continue to be blessed in the year ahead.

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  6. May your future continue to have suce wise days. We all know we are not invincible...but we do not like to think about it.

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  7. Good for you learning something from your experience and then passing it on.

    It took me a long time to realize how important staying positive and surrounding oneself with positive people is. Negative thinking is corrosive and contagious. My little corner of the internet with people like you really helps me.

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  8. I wasn't aware of your heart attack. You always appear to be the picture of health and I envy your hiking and skiing ventures.
    You have managed your life so successfully after that life changing event. Well done.
    As a cancer survivor, I tend to count the years after diagnosis as birthdays. I am becoming a teenager this year.
    Welcome to two going on three with many many more.

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  9. I'm glad you're still here! Many blessings.

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  10. Great reminders for us all!Wishing you continued health and blessings in 2013

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  11. I think it would be wise for all of us to take a page from your book and live life more mindfully, conscious that we aren't invincible.

    I loved this post! Happy anniversary my dear virtual friend!

    xxoo,

    RMW

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  12. I love your thoughts, I love your writing, I love that you have made positive changes in your life, I love that you survived and recovered, and I love that I found you in this big blogging world. Happy Anniversary!!

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  13. I can't believe that it's been three years already Barb! Where does time go? I remember this very well. I'm pleased with your recovery and your thoughtfulness of your heart. It's not always easy learning to slow down and to be more mindful of what we are doing physically. We should all take a page from your book and be more mindful of our health and well being.
    I'm so glad that you are here today to post this! Love Di ♥

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  14. Dear Barb, Happy Anniversary and I'm so happy you are as healthy as you most definitely sound. You've done all the right things to recover and move forward it sounds. I was nearly killed by a drunk driver who hit me head on many years ago and it look me quite some time to recover and move forward. I guess that's why I'm working so hard to have and do things I want now. Because every day to me is a true gift and what I do with it is so important. I don't want to waste a single moment in the negative. I'm happy for you. Carol

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  15. I am sorry the things that you have learned had to come at such a price. But they are valuable and powerful lessons and the points of awareness (aspirin, picking up the kids) keep things at the front of mine. I would hope that none of us are the same after something so major -- or for that matter, less major but life changing. We should all learn from you before we are confronted with something so challenging.

    I thank you for sharing so generously. I am so pleased you are recovering/have recovered so well and that you face every day with a different and beautiful sense of being.

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  16. Wishing you many more years to celebrate this anniversary!

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  17. It sounds like many positive changes to your life since your heart attack. They say that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that. And in sharing your changes with us it also teaches us. You are a great example.
    Wishing you many, many more years of health and happiness!

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  18. This day marks your second birthday, a time of change and new beginnings. Happy first day of the rest of your long life.

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  19. Congratulations on your anniversary! You are so much more active and more health conscious than most people I know. I think it's great of you to share your experience, thoughts and feelings here as I am sure others have or will stumble upon your blog at a time when they need to read something exactly like this.

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  20. Dear Barb, - what a wise woman you are. A beautiful post in style, but most especially in substance. Life is so fragile and disaster can strike so unexpectedly - it pays to live it mindfully, giving and getting our utmost from each day. Happy anniversary!

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  21. A good enough reason to celebrate and to pause for thought. And of course, learning from life is a sign of great wisdom.

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  22. Barb, I was just thinking of you today. I was wondering how you were doing. It was good to read this post for many reasons. I found it informative as I help my husband in his recovery efforts. I also appreciated reading about your preventative measures. I will now carry those four baby aspirins with me at all time for my husband, or for me. I will encourage him to do the same. I also was interested in reading about your 25 pound limit. I think that is important information.

    Thank you for this beautiful, inspiring, heart-lifting message of healing and health. I also wish you many more anniversaries.

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  23. Hello, Barb, congratulations on the Anniversary! I’m so happy that I encountered with you via Tomoko and have been inspired to see your living wise and fullest with self-awareness and self management. I understand heart attack is life-threatening, therefore, is life-changing for more fulfilling life. Thanks for this reminder and for guiding us.

    Yoko

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  24. A good way for all of us to live, even without the wake up call.

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  25. And blessings to you too Barb..
    I was a little worried about your month off blogging in December
    after your checkup
    so pleased to find you back blogging..
    always rejuvenated myself reading your words and seeing your wonderful photos!

    Having a heatwave here in Australia, with awful subsequent bush fires.
    Never known the whole country to be so impacted at the same time.

    Enjoying family visits, but time for me to make a move and sell this old house..
    as you say, new options open for all of us!

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  26. You are an inspiration...and a joy to be around. I hope to go back to read what you wrote about the initial event, because I think I may have just begun to visit then and I didn't take it all in. I am just so glad that you are well and happy and that you write -- and share - - about it all.

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  27. very powerful blog post...love your positive energy+sharing it with us, many more happy anniversaries from me,big warm flower-power-hug!

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  28. You're reflections of a life changing event remind me of my own........cancer.
    What a powerful post & a great reminder to me not to ever forget my own event.
    Thanks for reminding me to continue to be more aware of what my body is saying/doing and that I must strive to be a better me every single day as we don't know how many days we have left to walk this earth.
    Congratulations Barb on this anniversary!

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  29. Beautifully written Barb. Seems you are generally more aware of the privilege of life and appreciate things all the more. Hoping you have many, many more years ahead.

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  30. As I was reading your changes, I was thinking that some of them are changes we should all be making to live a more fulfilling life. I'm glad you're doing well!

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  31. Your post gave me chills. You expressed the changes so perfectly. This is a big anniversary, and I know that you are an inspiration to others (I've sent some people to read your blog and about your heart attack). Your focus on positivity and mindfulness is wonderful.

    That last photo is exquisite. It almost doesn't look real because it's so delicate and so very gorgeous. Happy January 8. I have a similar date in my life that I celebrate, although most people would say that it was a day of a "bad" event so I understand completely.

    From my heart to yours, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with all of us.

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  32. A beautiful post Barb. These are things we should practice heart attack or not. Thanks for reminding us.

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  33. Happy New Year Barb (belated).

    There are so much we have to be thankful. More happy moments and best of all the best of health.

    Cheers!

    P.S. My blog is working now, and will try to do more plug ins.

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  34. I love the things you say you do now.in fact, they jolted me into awareness of how little I do from day to day to ensure equilibrium and contentment.
    Thank you for the reminder and best wishes for continued health.

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  35. Good wishes to you dear Barb, for many, many more anniversaries.

    May your life continue to be enriched by positive people and wonderful experiences.

    x

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  36. Best wishes for continued good health- I carry baby aspirin too!

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  37. Best wishes and good health to you, Barb!

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  38. I'm so glad that you continue to do well. The heart photos here are beautiful representations of your loving heart.

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  39. Hi,Barb, The first photo of a moss-covered heart stone is beautiful. Purple is my favorite color.
    The elegant and delicately woven pattern in your photo undoubtedly implies your positive way of thinking and something beautiful which is to come in your life.

    Congratulations on your anniversary, Barb.

    My 2013 will finally start here after spending time with my extended family in Nara and visiting my mother in Tokyo.
    Tomoko

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  40. Long time no see! I didn't know you had had a heart attack. Like yourself, I believed you were invincible, unyielding. However I know now I am right. I am just happy to visit here again and know you are inspiring me, readers as before. Congratulations on your third anniversary!
    I'm looking forward to your wonderful post (including lovely stones, oh, what stones are in store for!) this year.

    cosmos

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  41. Happy Anniversary Barb!! I had no idea you had a heart attack. I just read your linked posts so that I could 'compare notes' to my experience. This past September I had my anniversary of my heart attack. Like yourself I have always been active and ate well, taking good supplements........doing everything right. Ignoring the more than obvious 'signs' for months (I really thought is was age-related!). I am 64 now. The problem for me was that I was recovering from a severe concussion and thought some of the things I was experiencing were related to that.
    Well, they weren't. I had/have a 'sub-artery' outside the heart that was 80% blocked. I was admitted much like yourself IMMEDIATELY! Had an angioplasty procedure and which turned out that they could put in a stent because of it's size (small) and location (very difficult placement). So they said it would eventually re-route itself around the block and that the medications would keep the rest clear. I have heart disease and require the meds. However, I do realize that the 'statins' I am on can be nasty. So I approached my cardiologist (a 'hottie' too my the way) and she agreed with me that I could decrease the amount and get the same positive effect from that drug. My plan is to reduce it further in 6 months.
    So, as you can see Barb, your post has hit a nerve with me in a positive way. You know what affected me the most? It was the humbling effect of the rehab I went through for 12 weeks. I saw that what I experienced was minor compared to what some of the men and women in the class went through. It took me a while to feel safe in my body again. I continued to do my walks/hikes as soon as I got out of hospital and continued to do so. I too have tried to stay away from stressful situations.....sometimes failing miserably.
    Ron has been my 'life-saver' in all of this....as I am sure your loved have been for you.

    I attempt to 'stay in the moment' as much as possible and am realizing the benefits of such a practice. Just trying to calmly take things as they occur in life.
    Thanks for your insights Barb. I enjoy reading and seeing the calmness you bring into your life.
    Jim

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    1. That should read...."....and which turned out that they could NOT put in a stent....."

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  42. Hi Grammy Barb! I'm glad you came by to visit another Grandma Barb and you nice comments. Congratulations on the 3rd Anniversary of your heart attack.
    I strolled through a few of your posts and you have gorgeous nature photos. I looked for a place to follow you and didn't see one. But I am adding you to my blog roll so I should see whenever you post.

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  43. What a moving post – I am so glad you are well and with your strong attitude you will have many birthdays in the years to come. It is important to see the big picture and to enjoy life. Congratulation and happy birthday.

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  44. This is so very interesting, Barb. January 8th--last Tuesday--proved to be a very fascinating (perhaps life changing?) day for me as well. January 8th was also my departed grandma's birthday. A special day indeed. So glad you were able to open your heart even further after that auspicious day.

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  45. A most wonderful anniversary to celebrate! May you have many, many, MANY more years of wonderful adventures!

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  46. You are an inspiration. Change is such a part of all our lives. I know you will always have an open heart. Wishing you continued good health and many many more adventures.

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  47. A blessing to you as you continue with being consciously alive. xo

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  48. Hi Barb :)
    Happy anniversary in celebrating your heart. While you may be more cautious in some of your activities, I can say that you are an inspiration in all that you do post-heart attack. I think for many people, that would have side lined them to a less active lifestyle... but not you! I doubt I would be able to keep up with you on a hike :)
    Your positivity is an inspiration as well- life is short, and while things get us down from time to time, reminders of the brevity of time help us to enjoy the time we have.
    Hope you are staying warm & enjoying January. I am home with family now & will be making pots with my mom today- yay!
    :)

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  49. This is so beautifully written, Barb, and I thank you for writing it. The sharing of real life experiences in a positive voice is so beneficial to me and others who love life.

    Keep living - for your heart, for your loved ones, for yourself. :)

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  50. Barb, So glad you are taking such good care of yourself and doing so well. Something like that does make you stop and reevaluate your life. Keep up the good work, and may you live to be 100. Mickie ;)

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  51. Barb, did I miss this post somehow, even though it is on my side bar list? 3 years, maybe a lifetime for some, but definitely a day to be super glad, enjoy the winter, spring will rejoice with you and yours in health, happiness, and your wonderful caring spirit that encourages others, helps them along the same path, when they are stumbling over the stones in the way, you clear the track with your cheery words.I am ever grateful for your friendship and your words for Hugh and myself.you are a true lighthouse in our lives. fond greetings from Jean. written January 15th NZ time.

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  52. Congratulations for making it to this landmark. I look forward to many more landmarks for you and wish you peace and delight in everything you continue to do.

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