Post-Op Success

Wow! Overwhelmed is how I feel. I could not thank you enough for all the support and prayers. Hands down, this was the easiest procedure I have ever had. The entire time, even just moments before they put me to sleep, I felt calm. It was incredible and I couldn’t have done it without ALL of your support.

I have created a new video blog to explain all that happened on December 20, 2013.

 Post-Op Results

Below are a few pictures from my heart catheterization procedure:

Checking in @ Cath Procedure
Checking in @ Cath Procedure

 

IV Time
IV Time
My anesthesiologist
My anesthesiologist

 

In the heart catheterization lab, talking about my procedure
In the heart catheterization lab, talking about my procedure
A map of my heart tissue. The dark purple/blue is the healthiest tissue. As it turns green and then yellow to orange, the less healthy it gets.
A map of my heart tissue. The dark purple/blue is the healthiest tissue. As it turns green and then yellow to orange, the less healthy it gets.

 

After the procedure, passing the time
After the procedure, passing the time

 

My wonderful and supporting mother!
My wonderful and supportive mother!

I received great news on December 20, 2013 and I am looking forward to making a full recovery after my next surgery in January!

Pre-Op Heart Catheterization

When anyone checks into the hospital, they are supposed to receive a visitors badge. For the 26 years I have been a patient at Children’s Hospital, I have never been given a visitors pass. Somehow, I found the back door and I never “properly” check in.

And today was no different.

I headed into the waiting room, where I was greeted by several families, all wearing their visitors badge. My check-in time was at 9:00am and I was scheduled with tests and appointments all the way through 2:00pm.

My schedule:

  • 9:45 EKG
  • 10:00 Pacemaker Check
  • 10:30 Cardiologist Appointment
  • 1:00 Exercise Stress Test

A fun filled day with a lot of waiting around. Luckily, I was accompanied by my dear friend Paige. We had a lot of laughs and had plenty of time to catch up on our last few months.

There was nothing unusual about the appointment. The cardiologist ran through tomorrows heart catheterization plan and what he hopes the outcomes will be. During the heart catheterization, he will cause my heart to go into atrial flutter (what I have been experiencing for the past several months). He wants to see where the atrial flutter is occurring and hopefully get rid of the problem all together. He will also be taking pictures of my heart and measuring the pressure.

A lot of this is shop talk. And they do an excellent job at trying to explain it to me but most of the time I walk away a bit confused. However, I have SUCH confidence in my cardiology team. They have gone to the moon and back for me and have provided me with such great care (even when I was thousands of miles away in Michigan).

The big question…am I ready for tomorrow?

I am as ready as I will ever be. I am confident that all the appointments, tests and procedures will allow for better heart function and quality of life.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey thus far. I have received many emails, cards and prayers and they have all lifted my spirits.

Below are a few pictures of today’s appointment. Also, click on the “Exercise Stress Test” link to be a part of my experience.

Exercise Stress Test

Welcome to the Cardiology Wing

Playing around with the EKG machine

The most supportive and dedicated Cardiology Nurse and Doctor (they both decided to get on my level)

Wish me luck!!

 

 

Restless Nights

I need a full 8 hours of sleep to function. Sometimes, I wish I had the super power to only sleep a couple of hours and be recharged for the next day’s adventures. Do you know what I could do with all that time??

Here I am, three days before I fly home to San Diego. My bittersweet feelings fill my mind. I hop into my bed at 10:00pm, bundle myself up in my three down comforters (yes three… it is cold in Michigan).

An hour goes by. I find myself tossing and turning…

Another hour goes by. Praying to rest my mind…

And another…three hours later and I am still restless.

I can’t fall asleep because my heart exerts strong beats and then reduces to minimal strength constantly. Now I am fearful to fall asleep. If I ignore my heart, and fall asleep, will I be here in the morning.

Sounds morbid…I am aware. But this is what I have been dealing with for months. I have been constantly reminded that I am sick.

As I lay here, I am crying out to God to comfort me. To make me feel his arms around me. To give me peace in my mind. To love me through my pain. To turn my fear into trust.  

I can’t fake a smile and make it seem like my life is in a state of control. But what I can say is that I have joy, even among this pain. I can take these trials, and have hope that the Lord is right by my side, no matter what situation I am going through. 

Romans 5:3-5 is my life verse. I call it my life verse because it keeps me grounded in times of struggle and reminds me that God is greater than I can comprehend. And this is what I hold onto.

 

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Seven Days

Hi All!

This time, next week, I will be having my “last meal”. In any medical procedure, you are instructed to not eat anything, several hours, prior to that procedure.

I try to always make my “last meal” a good one. Since I haven’t been in SD for SEVERAL months, I can guarantee that I will be smashing my face into a whole Justin burrito from Rico’s Taco Shop (shout out to Encinitas) at 12:00am. Completely healthy, I know.

But more than smashing my face into a Justin burrito, I know that I won’t be able to restfully sleep that night. My mind will be cluttered with thoughts about the next day and how it will all play out. I know the routine and I will try to run it through my head. Preparing myself and hoping to brace my emotional fall. But as much as I prepare, I can never fully be emotionally ready for a heart procedure.

Being a week away from my heart catheterization, I wanted to give you an insiders look on what I will face that day. Below are a few pictures from my last procedure in 2009.

Receiving an Electrocardiogram (EKG)-a test that checks for electrical activity in your heart

My nurse

Gateway to the Hospital Cafeteria

Walking around the halls

My tradition since I was six years old. I always give a thumbs up before entering the OR.

Romans 5:3-5

CHD Awareness

I was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect (or disease-all one in the same) when I was six weeks old. From that point on, I had three open-heart surgeries, all before the age of seven.

After my last open heart surgery, I have been relatively healthy. I had a scare back in 2007 when I suffered from a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is often labeled “mini-stroke”. I am thankful that no long-term damage was done and the doctors were able to correct my issue without an invasive procedure.

Having CHD means I will never NOT have CHD. My life has been and will always be a series of appointments, procedures and surgeries.  In the next month and a half I will be going through a heart catheterization (December 20, 2013) and a heart surgery (January 6, 2014).

There are thousands of kids who are survivors like myself. We live with our condition day in and day out. Because of research, funding and modern medicine, we are able to live out our dreams.

So come join me on my journey of recovery and CHD awareness. I will be posting pictures, videos and writing through out my experience. You can follow me by visiting my website: www.lindsaykathleen.com. And don’t forget to check out my first video blog below titled, Heart Steady.

If you would like to email me with questions or to stay in touch personally, you can email: lindsaykathleen535@gmail.com

 

Heart Steady

 

 

Romans 5:3-5

Leap of Faith

I am a young, independent, professional woman that is ready to take on the world. I have everything I have every wanted. I am living in a new town, working for a University and building a life for myself. But apart of me already deeply misses home. As much as I tried to despise North County (ever since I was forced to come home from the University of Oregon), I ended up truly falling in love with my home town.

Home is the reason why my journey has led me to this new chapter. My mom always tells me to look at my life in a five year span. And when I look back on these past five years, I am in awe of how God was preparing me for this opportunity (and all the while, I had no idea).

A stroke took away the “college experience” I always dreamed of. I overcame the devastation of losing Oregon. I sought out Jesus and began to truly form a real and authentic relationship with him. I made friends that pushed me to be a better person while supporting me through my toughest moments. I went to Palomar College, recovered college credits, transferred to CSUSM, and was honored to be the 2010 commencement speaker (all in 3 years). I overcame a sexual assault, forgave and healed. I obtained an M.A. in Educational Counseling. I moved to Seattle and three months later, moved home for a job in education. I was humbled and took a job as a middle school campus supervisor. I had the courage to ask a potential employer a simple question, which led me to working for GEAR UP at Palomar College. I worked alongside the most dynamic and passionate professionals. I learned how to be an authentic manager. I worked with at-risk students and their families to obtain a higher education. I took a leap of faith, began applying to jobs. I flew out to Ann Arbor for a second interview. I accepted a job at the University of Michigan.

I am sharing with you pivotal moments in my past five years because it is important to realize that in every season of your life, you will experience challenging moments as well as joyful moments. In each moment, take the time to reflect and realize that everything has a purpose. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,”  Ecclesiastes 3:1.

I often encourage you to take a leap of faith because how can we truly grow without challenging ourselves? That leap may be moving to a new city for a job, going on a missions trip oversees, starting a new career, applying for Graduate school, or finding a new community. Some people never take that leap becuase they are afraid of failure. Our culture looks a failure as a negative thing. But every “mistake” or “success” helps define our character. It is from our failures that we can learn the most. As Michael Jordan states, “To learn to succeedyou must first learn to fail.”

Although this leap in my journey is daunting, I know that all the pivotal moments I am about to experience will continue to shape who I am and will teach me humility and patience. Don’t be afraid to fail….just go for it!

 

 

 

Eleven Years Ago

Eleven years ago, fathers were reading their children a bedtime story, not knowing that that would be the last night they would kiss their kids goodnight.

Eleven years ago, a young ambitious professional was setting her alarm, ready for another working day in downtown NY. She had no idea that she would be running for her life, down the stairwell of a burning building the next morning.

Eleven years ago, a firefighter was starting his 24-hour shift that would be the most life-changing 24 hours of his career.

Eleven years ago, a pilot was sleeping, preparing for his flight across country that would take off and never make it to its destination.

Eleven years ago, no one would believe that a tragedy such as 9/11 could ever happen to America.

Eleven years ago, I was in eighth grade. I could tell you, in detail, what I was doing and where I was when I watched the twin towers collapse. However, I had no idea that this night, eleven years ago, I would witness a tragedy such as that. But more than facts that would eventually fill a history textbook, we all witnessed human suffering and a country in shock. Something that will stick with us forever.

We can’t change what happened 11 years ago to our country but what we can do tomorrow is show respect to those who lost their life. Show human value tomorrow by putting others before yourself. Buy a stranger coffee. Give a homeless man your spare change in your pocket. Open the door for the mom who has two kids by her side.  Text your family you love them. Bake cookies for your spouse before they come home from work.

As you tuck yourself into bed tonight, consumed with all that is going on in your life, take a minute to pause. Remember that life is full of uncertainties and often too short. Embrace the people around you and thank God for all that he has provided.

 

Keep the Faith

Budget meeting at 8:00am

 My outlook calendar reminder pops up on my screen…snooze. Ten minutes later…dismiss. It is not something I would choose to start my day with, but nonetheless, it was something that needed to be addressed. Any conversation dealing with money is always a sensitive topic. With the economy continuing to decline, the word budget is the new buzzword. Everyone gets a little restless when money comes into play.

Our budget meeting was nothing out of the ordinary. We had an excel spreadsheet with our past expenses subtracted from our overall funds. Looking at the funds, we seemed to be on the right track.

Nothing exciting to report… but what ended up happening was that the business manager, principal and myself began to have a deep discussion about the uncertainty of America. We are all in limbo and no one can be confident with what this next year will look like.

I gave my two senses and spoke of the fact that my generation is on an uphill battle.

My heart sank for our generation

We are not fortunate enough to have a lucrative society where ALL dreams are easily accessible. It seems almost impossible to even get a decent paying job, let alone your dream job.

How many of you have a college degree and are back living at home with no career job?

 You are not alone. This is becoming more common among my generation. We just don’t have the opportunities our parents had. But here is the thing…like anything else, you have

TWO CHOICES:

  1. Let it make you
  2. Let it break you

In life, we will always face challenges. Whether it is the economy, family, friends, health…life will never be ideal. But you have a choice to make the best of your situation.

If you currently have a job, count your blessings. For those who are still searching, begin to explore ALL options. Never be above taking a temporary job to get by. Continue to volunteer, intern or network. If you continue to

ACTIVELY PURSUE A CAREER

It will happen. For me, when I completed my Graduate course work, I wanted a high paying job right away. When I finally realized that was not going to happen I decided I wanted to at least be playing in the game and not just watching. I took a position as a part time Campus Supervisor on a middle school campus.

Definitely NOT my dream job

But it allowed me to learn humility and patience. Because I was networking in the educational field, I was able to receive my current full time job. My point is, don’t be afraid to sacrifice. These are tough times and sometimes we have to take a position that isn’t ideal. Just know that your perseverance will pay off.

And always…KEEP the Faith!

 

 

It’s about them dollar bills…or is it?

My car is going to cost a minimum of 500 dollars to fix. Hello Monday morning!
About a week ago, I was driving back from North Park and was on the 805 freeway. I was in the fast lane, just passing the Miramar exit when a large piece of material made its way into my lane. I had three choices: slam on my breaks (possibly avoiding hitting this large object) and definitely causing a collision behind me, swerve into the right lane, hoping that no one was next to me, or press on the brakes and brace the impact. My split second decision led me to brace the impact. In that moment, I had no idea what was going to happen. I held onto the steering wheel and hoped I wasn’t going to regret my split second decision.
I felt the impact and heard my car scrap the object along the freeway. I didn’t want to get out of my car and I had no emergency lane to pull over into (the 805 is undergoing a lot of construction and they have no place to pull over for an emergency such as this). Completely frazzled, I managed to get the object out from under my car by dragging it several feet and then I pulled over onto the right side of the freeway.
Shaking, I took a deep breath. I hopped out of my car and checked for any damages. From my sight, I couldn’t spot anything immediately. But with the amount of time that I was dragging the object and the impact, I couldn’t imagine there being no damage. Sure enough, my AC doesn’t work the next day.
I found time to take it to the mechanic and he called me today with the prices for all the damages. Nothing below 500 am I expected to pay. On top of that, I received a traffic citation that is due this month…another 300 dollars.
I took a deep breath after I hung up the phone with the mechanic. “It is only money,” I kept telling myself. But 800 dollars…there is so much I could do with that! I started to feel entitled (again) and thought, why me. Pointless thought, which would lead me absolutely nowhere. I paused and reminded myself…it’s just money.
How easy it is to get lost in money? Especially in America. Money seems to be the leading factor in all of our lives. Frustrated with the fact that I actually have to tap into my savings account, I stood back and thought, “at least I am blessed to be able to pay off this cost…debt free.”
It is all about what perspective you take. We could let money rule our every thought and decision or we can use it as a tool to navigate through life.
So here is my view on money: never let it control your every move. If you find yourself constantly hoarding your money or constantly spending your money…you need to create the balance that I wrote about in yesterday’s blog titled “If only…” Also, always save for a rainy day. You never know when an emergency will arise. And you can ALWAYS count on an emergency being stressful. Do yourself a favor and reduce your stress by having enough money saved for that rainy day.
Am I sad to see 500 dollars gone quicker than earned? ABSOLUTLEY! I would be a fool to tell you that I am not somewhat upset (and I may have even shed a tear =)). But by not allowing money to control my life, I am able to see the bigger picture.
Things could have gone so much worse for me last week when my car hit that foreign object. I could have flipped my car and been critically injured. Instead, I walked away with a broken AC and my savings account reduced. I’m counting my blessings and willingly handing over 500 dollars to the mechanic.

If Only

Have you ever had those moments in your life where you thought, “If only I had this or I only lived there, then everything would be perfect. If only I could have that one thing then I would have TRUE happiness.”
I have found myself there more often than not. Let me give you a few examples:
In high school, it was the relationship I didn’t have. I could find everything right in my life except the lack of a boy liking me (or a certain boy). I put all my energy into trying to make the relationship work. I let all my thoughts wonder to the possibilities of the great memories we could create together. I invested my heart into something that never ended up being.
In my college years, I decided that all I needed was the BEST college experience ever. I wanted a selfish life where I only had concern for the current moment. Then life happened, a stroke took away my ability to stay at the University of Oregon all four years. Stuck at home, attending CSUSM, I would look at my UO friends Facebook photos, tags and statuses and long to be up there. I would sit back and say, “If only I was there, all my other heartache would disappear.”
After graduate school, I put all my focus on getting a career job. I felt entitled to have a job because I completed my Masters in less than a year. I would complain about the lack of employment and I became so frustrated that I decided to pack up all my things and move to Seattle. A new home was now my new answer.
So what am I trying to get at…there is no ONE answer for happiness. Over this past year, I have learned that life is all about balance. You can’t invest all your heart and soul into ONE thing. If you focus all your thoughts on a man, a job, a friendship, etc. you will only end up dissatisfied because nothing is perfect in this world and all things are temporary.
I want to encourage you to have a healthy balance in all aspects of your life. Be sure to have time for your significant other but also have goals for yourself. Have ambition in your career life but don’t forget how blessed you are and make time to give back. Invest in your friendships but never forget to have your quiet time. Be involved in a ministry or outreach but don’t make it your everything or try and solve ALL the world’s problems.
But above all this, have Christ be your center. Continue to grow with him, even if you feel hopeless or you feel so far from him. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”