Seems appropriate for this rainy Michigan morning to share the quote “No rain, no flowers.” Call me crazy but I actually adore the rain. The smell, the sound… I don’t however enjoy being wet so I prefer to enjoy it from inside. I remember as a little girl sitting on our avocado green sleeper sofa staring out the window at the rain. The harder the better.
I know it’s an inconvenience to many. This morning I had to drive my daughter Violet to the bus stop because it was raining so hard and the sidewalks were flooded. I also noticed that our gutter was overflowing and washing out our flowerbed. In the grand scheme of things it’s just water. I can fix the flowerbed. Violet will dry. I mean, her name IS a flower so some rain might have done her some good right? Ha!
There are seasons of life that it may rain a lot, and even seem like the storm is relentless. Honestly, I’m in one of those storms right now. I’ve fought with depression and an anxiety disorder for much of my life. I get panic attacks out of the blue and thankfully I can manage it pretty well. I can’t pinpoint what the exact cause is but I know that stress is a big part of it. This time of year is crazy busy with end of the school year, camping season beginning, company coming and going and our kitchen remodel has been a huge source of stress as well. When it rains it pours right?!
Sometimes the uncomfortable things in life are there to teach us lessons because to go through a change of habit, we need to feel uncomfortable.
— Mo Seetubtim
A life without discomfort, inconvenience or struggles would teach us nothing. Use that discomfort to motivate yourself; to become more determined, work harder, and succeed. Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Would you want a life that went 100% as planned and perfect all the time? It’s my belief that you cannot achieve success without hard work, mistakes, plateaus or failure. Or all of the above.
I love this graphic that shows what a true weight loss journey looks like. My journey to lose half myself (165lbs) was not a straight line. I still have the ups and downs. The emotions are a crazy roller coaster and in my experience with helping others in their health journeys I’m not alone on this ride. I love that I have an amazing community of like-hearted people that share in the struggles on the path to optimal health. We support each other like it’s our job (well it IS my job LOL) in both rain and sunshine.
Flowers don’t grow without rain. It’s no surprise that we need rain to survive and thrive. Flowers see rain as a life-breathing opportunity. They can’t control how little or how much rain comes; they can’t change their roots. They don’t stress about the unknown. They just do their thing and bloom right where they are planted. Why aren’t us humans the same way?
When it rains, let it pour into you as an opportunity for growth. When your sky of life opens up absorb as much as possible and let it cleanse and heal you. Allow it to hydrate your soul, wash away all your fears of failure and help you to flourish.
Since my surgery I have struggled with my own personal health. I don’t weigh myself often but I can feel the heaviness in my body, my clothes are tighter and I just don’t feel good. I know what I need to do. I have all the tools I need to snap out of this funk. I have amazing support with my health coach, husband, friends, and family. Today is the day that I stop letting the rain relinquish life and take back my health!
When rainfall hits your life this week, how can you use it to your advantage? What is your personal action plan for growth, regardless of any unexpected interferences? I challenge you to look for the opportunity to make positive changes in your life to bloom.
In September 2017 I had my 2 year post Carotid Artery Dissection (CAD) follow up with my interventional radiologist. He broke up with me that day. He literally said, “We can’t see each other anymore.” I cried a little out of sadness but really was mostly out of pure JOY. My body had healed itself and I was longer in need of his services. I was given the all clear to get off baby aspirin and start exercising again (with some modifications of course). After losing over 140lbs I was ready to tone my flabby bod!
I was feeling so amazing that I joined a gym (which is basically the second biggest commitment of my life next to marriage!). I went 5 times when it happened. A moment that I never saw coming. November 27th, 2017, almost 2 years to the day of my first CAD I had identical symptoms 20 minutes into my workout. First the ocular migraine, an hour later a dull headache that wouldn’t quit. I waited things out thinking there was no way this could be happening again. Carotid Artery Dissections are rare, a second one? Even more so.
The next day after a long discussion with myself about how ridiculous I was being and noticing that my Horner’s Syndrome had returned I drove myself to the ER. A few hours and a CT scan later I was diagnosed with a second CAD but this time it was on the opposite side.
I was hospitalized for 6 days. I was determined not to let it be the 19 days it was last time. This time I was better educated about blood thinners and how my diet affected the medications. Being away from my family again was tough but I knew everything was going to be OK in the end. Having a prior experience really helped me mentally get through it and stay positive. I was worried about the kids and how they’d react when they heard I was back in the hospital but they handled it well. I had lots of visitors (including #hospitalbff Amy that I met the first time this happened!).
I had some issues with roommates again, rooming with a very sick older person is never easy. I felt really bad for poor Arlene! My headache was excruciating and having a roommate that is hard of hearing is never a good combo. I eventually got moved to another room with a better match. Praise God!
When I showed up in my interventional radiologist’s office the following week he was in utter disbelief (as was I!) that I had a second CAD. I was his first repeat CAD patient (lucky me!). He assured me that the exercise I had been doing was perfectly fine for a 2 year post CAD patient considering my age and health status. This is when I knew that I was special. I had done a little research about genetics playing a part in what I was experiencing and he agreed that it was time to get some answers.
I was immediately referred to a geneticist at University of Michigan. It’s not as easy as calling and getting an appointment either. You have to have a referral with pages and pages of documents, family history, medical records and test results for them to even consider you. You basically have to be something super interesting, like a unicorn.
When I received a call a week later that I had been chosen to receive genetic testing I was ecstatic. Finally, an opportunity to get the answers I had been looking for! I spent hours filling out family genetic history paperwork and bugging my mom every day for more information. I went to the appointment, we chatted a bit about the testing process and they took a vial of blood. The sample was then sent off to California and the 2-3 week wait for results began.
So yesterday was day 20 (not that I was counting!) and I got the call. 24 out of 25 of the connective tissue related genes were negative (normal. Great news!). The one that was abnormal was inconclusive. The COL5A2 gene is associated with Classical Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). There are many different types of EDS including a vascular type (the worst case scenario) and I had been totally convinced this was what I had. It would explain both of my CADs.
All types of EDS can cause connective tissue fragility. With a badly-constructed or processed connective tissue, some or all of the tissue in the EDS-affected body can be pulled beyond normal limits which causes damage. Connective tissue can be found almost anywhere, in skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, blood vessels, ARTERIES, organs, gums, eyes etc.
Turns out I do not have the vascular type (that’s one of the 24 that were negative) but I could have the classical type. An inconclusive result means there is something different about that gene but they aren’t really sure what it is yet. I’m headed back to U of M for a physical exam where they were check me out for physical attributes of EDS to maybe get a more definitive answer. I’m also aware that there is a skin biopsy procedure that can help diagnose EDS as well. There is no cure for EDS, just more prevention.
I’m glad to finally be getting some answers and am blessed to not had more abnormal genes but frustrated that nothing is definitive. Time will tell, whether it’s more testing or genetic research that needs to be done. I’m still convinced that I’m a unicorn though. Shiny, colorful and rare.
I was doing some reorganizing in our basement this morning when I came across a huge unlabeled box (the horror!) and discovered it was all “before” clothes. I hate even using the word “fat” when referring to my former self. It isn’t a kind word in any context except when referring to food. I’m all about being kind to myself and others and all but when I see photos of my former self I see a fat girl. A sad girl.
So when I rifled through the box this morning not only did I find my “fat pants” but I also found maternity clothes that I had been wearing because they stretched in every which way to accommodate my growing body. I knew other moms that continued to wear them years after birth who didn’t even have a weight issue so I didn’t see a problem. (So there!)
So when I held up said “fat pants” I first asked myself, “was I REALLY that big?!” Yup. I said, “Hello Fat Pants. We meet again.” This time we met in a totally different context. I recalled that these particular pants while they had a tag that said 26W I was indeed a 28W. I Just had refused to go up yet another size. I wasn’t even sure where I would find a size 28. That was the moment that I knew I had to make a change. A healthy change for my husband. For our children. For MYSELF.
As I type this I am still on the journey for a healthy weight. I’m 20 pounds a way from a goal I never even dreamed of. Finding the “fat pants” has confirmed how far I’ve come in my own journey. I’ve lost 151lbs which is a whole person! I’ve also helped over 80 people achieve better health and release over 1300 pounds! Holy cow, that’s almost as much as an average cow! (can you tell I’ve been having fun using this cool website??)
I wish I had a photo of me in my “fat pants” but I did everything to avoid the evidence. Though, in that image I would have seen a beautiful sassy diva just screaming to get out! I’m so glad I released her. Saved her life and in turn saved myself.
Goodbye Fat Pants.
If you or someone you know are in need of a life changing health intervention please don’t hesitate to share this post and let’s connect. I am living proof that it’s possible! #h2oUw8n4
When I was 321 pounds I remember looking at THAT girl… the one who wasn’t skinny. The one who could stand to lose 20ish pounds. She’s healthy but not fit. You know, THAT one. The one who in my judgemental mind I could find 15 flaws with but I envied her body (I didn’t even selfishly find the perfect body). I wished I could trade with her, flaws and all just so I could make the weight disappear.
This occurred most of my life when I gave myself a moment to think about it. To really think about how miserable I was. I tried not dwell on the negative 99% of the time because really, it got me nowhere. Many people comment today about how my personality hasn’t changed much, I was happy then and I’m just a little happier now. I have a glow about me. I have to agree!
My positive attitude certainly got me through many weeks of little scale gains throughout my journey. A gain on the scale meant a gain in knowledge for me though. A gain in self awareness, a gain in strength and a gain in motivation to do better the next week and continue on.
So now that I am to the point where I realize I AM THAT GIRL. The one I was jealous of. I’m THAT GIRL with 20ish pounds to lose… the one with 15 flaws that someone may wish they could trade for to make the weight disappear. I would give it to them in a heartbeat and even keep the 15 flaws (let’s be honest I have about 1500). Although it’s physically impossible to do it I am thrilled that as a Certified Health Coach I can help! The relationship begins as a coach/client relationship but turns into something so much more that includes a physical and mental transformation and best of all HOPE. The hope that they will become THAT girl (or guy!) too. 🙂
If that’s YOU let’s talk about it. It’s completely confidential and doesn’t cost a cent to just hear what I have to offer. I can be reached at 586.549.6224 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 months into my new health program with a personal health coach and I am so close to my goal weight I can taste it! I’ve lost 43lbs since February (which makes for a total of 135lbs lost to date) and who know how many inches (why didn’t I measure myself?! Oh I know why. I thought this would be another program that wouldn’t work…) but I went from an XL/Size 16 to a Medium/Size 12. I have about 25lbs more to go to get to my initial goal weight of 160. Check this before and after out!
My non scale victories (NSV) have been probably more rewarding than the numbers on the scale. My energy level has been through the roof, my mental clarity has returned after having kids and clothes shopping is actually FUN now!
I’ve been personally coaching about 25 clients with this program over the past few months and overall they have lost over 200lbs! I absolutely LOVE helping others achieve optimal health and feel incredible! My own coach has been such an integral part of my success and she has been such an incredible mentor and friend.
One of my favorite clients of course is my husband! He’s lost an incredible 40lbs and is seriously on a mission to relieve the pressure on his bad knees as he prepares for a knee replacement. He may have been the toughest client yet but I’m super proud of him!
I truly believe that this program has transformed my life. As I continue with my journey to optimal health I realize I will not be a “new” person as I reach my goals. Instead I am shedding layers of doubt, fear, and negative self talk that have existed for so many years. The more I progress, the more I am feeling connected to my true self. I hope you are too! If you’re not, let your journey begin today. Don’t wait another minute.
As the year anniversary of my Carotid Artery Dissection was approaching I had many feelings spring up. I was feeling guilt because I knew many people would be curious to know how the last year has played out and I’ve been bad about writing blog posts. I was feeling joy because my health has been improving tremendously but then feeling sad for those that have the opposite experience with CAD. Some have lifelong effects of this injury and some sadly die from it.
There are still many unknowns about CAD and in my case we still aren’t sure how it occurred. After looking back at my week that week I was fairly stressed with several fundraiser events coming up, my mom visiting, some bad news for the chorus I sing with and was exercising 4-5 days a week. Two nights before I had spent about 4 hours cleaning and organizing the chorus storage room with a friend. I had been reaching overhead lifting boxes and bins. The day after that I went to Jazzercise and that’s when it all began with the headache and then wound up in the hospital the next day. I may have created the perfect storm for the injury to occur. We just don’t know.
I’ve had several MRAs over the past year, each one drastically improving from the last one and thankfully the headaches have nearly come to a halt. I’m blessed to have a body that repaired itself quickly and I’m thankful for everyone who helped me get through it and move on!
On November 19th just 69 hours after I was discharged I began to have symptoms that were described in my initial post and put me in the hospital for 12 days. I happened to be at the salon at the time (no, I wasn’t back to work that soon, I was treating myself to a much needed haircut from one of our awesome stylists Jennifer).
I had just gotten off the phone with my doctor with my INR (Coumadin blood thinning level) results from the day before, a 1.8 which was low but nothing to be alarmed about really but I was concerned that my levels had dropped even lower that day. I expressed my anxiety about not being checked for another 5 days after being checked daily for 12 days in the hospital but he didn’t seem the least bit concerned. I was upset. I know my body and I just had a feeling that I needed to be checked.
Less than 30 minutes after that phone call with my doctor I began to get an aura in my left eye again, this time it was covering my entire eye. I couldn’t see out of that eye at all and I was panicking. My persistent headache was really bad at that time too. I called the doctor’s office back and was told to go to the emergency room ASAP so our salon apprentice Adrianna drove me back to the hospital.I NEVER imagined what happened next.
They wanted to immediately start an IV so that they could do a CTA (a CT angiography combines a CT scan with an injection of a contrast to produce pictures of blood vessels and tissues) to get a look at the dissection again and make sure it hadn’t gotten any worse. hey also wanted to see if there was anything else going on to cause the worsened headache. It took 5 excruciating pokes and an hour and a half to get my IV in. BIG thanks to Marie in pediatrics for getting my baby veins to cooperate!
My INR draw was taken immediately . When I was released from the hospital on that Monday, November 16th my INR was 2.4. (We want that number to always remain in the 2-3 range to prevent a stroke or excess bleeding). Wednesday the 18th it was 1.8 and now Thursday the 19th it’s 1.4. This was not good. In fact, it was downright scary. A whole point down in 3 days is BAD.
Coumadin resistance is rare but does happen. I was told it was most likely genetics that was causing me to take such high doses of Coumadin. When I left the hospital I was taking 12.5mg, average for my age and weight is about 5mg.
I spent the next 7 days in the hospital. The first 2 I was classified as outpatient/observation and on day 3 I was finally admitted and reunited with my old roommate Amy in room 5527. (I’ll be sharing more about Amy and how this miraculously happened VERY soon!) I was so excited to be back in the “dorm room” and out of the CDU where its nearly impossible to get any sleep with a curtain as a “door”.
It appeared my INR was going to crawl back up to therapeutic once again so I braced myself for another long haul. They immediately bumped up my Coumadin to 15mg. They also started me on Lovenox shots twice a day. Lovenox is a blood thinner derived from Heparin that works quicker and more efficiently in the body. As soon as it’s injected it’s like a 12 hour insurance policy. They had me start doing them myself because I will have to do it should the Coumadin stop working and/or I get low. I am praying that I don’t have to rely on the Lovenox not only because it’s expensive and they hurt but because of the rarity of my Coumadin resistance it may be my only option as a blood thinner. In that case our insurance will have to cover it, but not without a fight.
Amy and I continued to walk together every day and night and have shenanigans “downtown”, go shopping at the “mall” and do our Starbucks run every morning. Even the kids were very fond of her and couldn’t wait to see her (and she didn’t need cookies or jello!)
Essential oils also continued to be a big part of my pain relief, emotional well being and overall recovery. Some dear friends totally surprised me and showed up in my room all the way from Alabama and brought me a special blend of Helichrysum and Cistus to support my circulatory system. My hubby also brought in my diffuser so our room smelled amazing and helped Amy and I relax at night.
My Coumadin was increased slowly up to 20mg, my INR literally crept up .1 everyday until Tuesday it was 1.8 and it jumped to 2.2 on Wednesday morning. I was elated and knew it was safe to return home to my family just in time for Thanksgiving! I also got news that Amy was also being discharged that day too!
So now I hope to be home for good. I’ve been resting up, trying to manage this ever present headache so that I can return back to the salon this week. I will be off for frequent blood draws and doctor appointments in the months to come.
We are planning on getting a consult at University of Michigan to discuss my Coumadin resistance, perhaps figure out why this happened to me and make sure this doesn’t happen again. When I asked the neurologist, hematologist, the attending and my doctor if I had any restrictions they said no. I’m not really sure that going back to my 4-5 days a week of an hour long workout is smart. Again, I know my body and something is telling me that I need to take a breather from anything that increases my heart rate. I want to provide the best possible healing environment for my arteries!
What really gets me is how healthy I thought I was. I had lost 100 pounds by eating whole foods,portion control and had just started routinely exercising to tone up and increase overall health. Then BAM! I blow an artery. I think a lot about what may have happened had I not lost the weight. Would it have been worse? Would I have had a stroke and died? I’ll never know but it’s scary to think about!
I’m now mourning the fruits and veggies I’ve grown to love because they have drug interactions with my Coumadin. I feel like this is some sick prank. What do you mean I can’t have kale, broccoli and spinach?!? Shhhh, don’t tell my doctor that I snuck a brusselsprout on Thanksgiving. Most people would be thrilled to have a reason to not eat vegetables but this is a cruel injury for a health nut!
Many of you are still offering help and after a month of this our family could really use it! There are a few ways you can help, we ask for prayer and positive thoughts for me to stay steady, heal quickly and have patience!
Thirdly, a friend set up a Go Fund Me account that will help to fund my medical expenses (19 days hospital stay will NOT be cheap, even with insurance!) and also the lost wages for approximately 4 weeks of time off of work. Those of us in the beauty industry do not get sick days, vacation time or disability. We appreciate anything that you can donate to help offset these costs during this holiday season! Click here: https://www.gofundme.com/uta4z97s
I again appreciate all of you who continued your prayers, positive thoughts, sent cards and visited me in the hospital this second time around. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top of my torn carotid artery!
On November 4th I was at my normal Wednesday morning Jazzercise class. About halfway through the class I saw stars a little, thought to myself that that was a bit weird and backed off a little. When I got into my car after the class I realized I had an aura in my left eye (it looks a lot like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVFIcF9lyk8). I knew what it was because I had an aura in the same eye back in 2003, I was told it was a visual migraine, no other migraine history.
By the time I got home (about 10 minutes) it had traveled up and out of sight. A few minutes later I began to get a dull headache. I took some ibuprofen, smeared some essential oils on my head and continued to my Weight Watcher meeting. I then came home, took a 2 hour nap, rubbed more oils and took more ibuprofen and then headed to work. Nothing was touching the pain except my essential oils, at least that gave me temporary relief and allowed me me to go on with my day. I was beginning to feel really sorry for my friends who get really bad migraines. It wasn’t debilitating, but it was a fairly intense dull ache. This was no joke!
That evening I stopped for some migraine medicine at the drugstore, took one and went to bed. I woke up at 4 and took another one (I didn’t realize the dosing was one pill every 24 hours). When I woke up I still had the headache but life had to go on so off I went to work for a full day of nails.
Around 1 o’clock I noticed my right eye was at half mast. I couldn’t open it more if I tried either. I asked my client if she saw it too and she agreed that it wasn’t the same as the left. I texted my migraine expert BFF and asked if this was ever the case with her and she said no. I decided to finish my 1 o’clock client, cancel the rest of my day and go to the doctor at 3:30. About a half hour later the right side of my face began to get tingly and numb. You know that weird feeling when the novocaine is wearing off after a dental procedure? Yeah, that’s how it felt. It scared the you know what out of me.
I didn’t tell my client I was working on what I was experiencing. I was trying to process what was going on and what my plan of action was going to be. At this point I was fairly certain I was having a stroke. I was trying not to panic and I was waiting to see if it would all go away. I finally told her the sensation I was having and demanded she take me to the hospital right then and there. I of course insisted on finishing because I’m committed like that (or just plain stupid)!
When I arrived at Troy Beaumont they took me right away because my symptoms were quite worrisome and if I were having a stroke they needed to act fast. I had 10 doctors crowded around me, taking vitals, shining lights in my eyes, saying things I didn’t understand. I started to get really scared.
An IV was started, tests and scans ensued late into the night including a CT and an MRI (which with a bad headache and no pain medicine was absolute torture). Late that night I had been diagnosed with Carotid Artery Dissection.
Carotid Artery Dissection is a tear in the artery wall that allows blood to leak between the artery layers and separates them. As the blood collects in the area of the dissection, it forms a clot that limits blood flow through the artery. If the clot is large enough to completely block blood flow, the result can be a stroke. Equally dangerous, pieces of the clot can break off and travel up through the bloodstream to become trapped in the smaller arteries in the brain which can limit the blood flow to a region of the brain and cause a stroke. This injury usually occurs with blunt force trauma, like a seatbelt on the neck in a car accident, a fall or hitting the head. Mine was possibly exercise induced but could have just been spontaneous or genetic (which just about anything can be!). For more information on this you can visit https://goo.gl/o6dqyz
I found this image helpful if you’re a visual person like me!
After the diagnosis I was sent for an MRA for a better look at the dissection and for another CT to see if there was anything else that may have been causing my horrible headache. Unfortunately my pain management at first was dreadful and it was very frustrating. I was so thankful I had grabbed my oil again on the way out the door the morning before so I had a way to manage my pain to some degree on my own. Thank you peppermint oil for keeping me comfy!
I was told the dissection was extensive but would heal on it’s own with the help of Coumadin (a blood thinner which also prevents clots). I was also told that I didn’t need surgery and that I should plan to stay about 2-3 days while the blood thinners did their magic.
I wound up staying for 12 days because my Coumadin (INR) levels were not increasing to the numbers they needed to be (between 2-3) in order to release me. They’d go up, then back down again, then back up. It was a very frustrating, exhausting experience. Frequent visits from these munchkins really made my evenings. I like to think they were excited to see me, but the jello, cookies and ice cream I had waiting for them each visit was probably a big part of their eagerness to visit!
The only thing that really made it tolerable was my roommate Amy who had been there for over a month. We realized that we had a lot of mutual friends through our churches and my kids’ school and had many things in common. I truly believe God put us together for a reason. Every nurse and doctor that came into our room commented on how we were the “fun room” and that our room smelled so good between my essential oils and all the flowers we had scattered around the room. We even were treated to pedicures by our dear friends one day. It was more like a dorm room than a hospital room!
On day 11 I got the news that my INR level had finally reached a 2 and that if the next day it was over a 2 I could go home. The next day it was a 2.4! My family had missed me terribly and clients were sending well wishes but were obviously concerned about when I would be returning to work. My only sadness about this was leaving my new BFF Amy.
Amy and I had a courtyard photo shoot the morning I left.
I had quite the haul leaving!
Part of my new normal was living with a persistent dull headache. I was told it was caused by the nerves in the artery being inflamed and it would possibly remain until the dissection healed itself in the next 3-6 months. Again, oils will be part of my daily regime to keep me comfortable and sane! Not sure I would have made it without this line up!
Another part of my new normal was going to be figuring out a new diet since Coumadin is very sensitive to Vitamin K and works against it. I now know more about Vitamin K than any normal person should.
Over the 12 days I made the best of it, Amy and I talked a lot and we both had Campus Passes so we could explore the entire hospital. We would go “downtown” (downstairs) to shop at the “mall” (the gift shop) and get Starbucks. It also allowed us to have dinner as a family downstairs in the cafeteria.
So many friends came to visit, sent flowers and cards. It meant so much to me and made my days go by so much easier!
Darren was even able to get permission for Snubby to come for visits! That totally made my day both times he brought him. He loved all the attention and was just as ecstatic to see me as I was to see him.
I think he missed me!
Made Amy’s day too!
Many of you have asked if there is anything you can do. Good news! THERE IS!
There are a few ways you can help, first pray for me and my family. Pray for healing and patience. Second, there is a meal train that a PTO parent started for us. There are some dates left, you can sign up here: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/95vy3v
Thirdly, a friend set up a Go Fund Me account that will help to fund my medical expenses and also the lost wages for time off of work. Those of us in the beauty industry do not get sick days, vacation time or disability. I appreciate anything that you can donate to help offset these costs this holiday season! Click here: https://www.gofundme.com/uta4z97s
Check back soon for an update to this post… the fun didn’t end here!