Open Heart And Open Mind

I have been MIA the last few months cause I have been dealing with a medical issue that has consumed my entire life.

Back in September I went for a routine check up with my primary care doctor. I just expected the usual you are healthy and I will see you in six months type of visit. What I got was not that but only to be told my blood pressure was high. I was 32 at the time and I never would have thought I would have a blood pressure issue. The doctor told me to monitor it for 30 days and get back to him with my results. After 30 days there was no change so he put me on a low dose of  blood pressure medication. After another 30 days of no change he told me it was time to see a cardiologist. After he said that I knew this was serious.

When meeting with the cardiologist, she insisted on me having a echocardiogram done to see if there was something wrong. When the results came back they informed me that they saw something but but they were not sure what it was. They wanted me to have a TE done at the local hospital. A few weeks later I went to the hospital to have my TE done and afterwards was told by the doctor that I had a bicuspid valve, and also a hole in it that was causing the blood that should be pushing out, to fall back into the valve. The only thing that was going to fix this was open heart surgery. 

At this time if you were telling me about having open heart surgery then I would have laughed in your face and then cried my eyes out as soon as you left the room. It was scary to hear and even more scary to think about. I was beside myself and my faith was shaken to the core. How does this happen to me? I eat right and exercise and stay active so why me?

After an amazing trip to Disney World, I came back from Florida ready to just get it over with. I took the spare time and planned my estate and had all my funeral arrangements taken care and my life insurance papers ready just in case something was to fall to the wayside. I know this sounds dramatic but I needed to make sure my wife and kids were taken care of. I packed my hospital bag the night before and laid in bed but only slept for an hour.

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The day of surgery came to be completely honest I don’t remember a whole lot. I had to be at the hospital at 5:00 in the morning and prepped and I remember going back and being outside the OR. I was talking to the nurses and then I woke up in recovery at Midnight on Tuesday. It was the best sleep of my life. I remember only wanting something to drink and they saying no cause they did not want me to choke. It took me about 30 minutes before I even thought to look down at my chest that had a long piece of tape over the incision. Soon after I was all together they moved me into a room on the cardiology wing of the hospital.

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The one thing I remember from past experiences with loved one who have had this surgery is that it is important to get up and walk so that is what I did. I got up and walked 3 laps around the department the first day, 10 the next, 15 the next and 25 the next day. Soon my appetite came back I was starting to feel like myself again. I spent a total of 7 days in the hospital before being discharged home. I went that long without seeing my kids cause they had a ban on small kids due to flu season. I was so happy to see them.

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I am still in recovery. I am still not able to drive. I still cannot lift anything over 10 pounds. I have home health come in about 2 to 3 times a week. I am getting better. This week my wife went back to work so I am doing things for myself which is good so I can get back in the groove of things. I am doing better.

I must say that the only thing that made pushed me through this recovery was how my friends and family gathered and help my wife and I. I need to thank the following:

My wife’s job showered her with gift cards, casseroles, and even donated time off to her so she could get paid while being out with me. 

To all the friends, coworkers, and family that came to the hospital the day of and the days after to check on me and see how I was doing and making sure I was in good spirits. 

To my sister in law Kate for going way above and beyond for my wife and I. She made a meal train, setup a Go Fund Me, spent the night the day of surgery to take our kids to school, spent the day at the hospital and then came back to visit me. She brought food to us and has even picked me up to get me out of the house since I can’t drive. I know there is more and right now I can think of the rest but it was well appreciated. 

My brother for coming to the hospital and spending time with me and then also mowing our nasty backyard. You are the best brother and I love you more than you know.

To all the great people who brought us food. I don’t know all of you but thank you so much for taking time to either make something for us or picking something up. You made our lives easier and made us feel loved. 

For everyone and anyone that sent us money to help us make ends meet while I have been out of work. We really appreciated it and we can’t thank you enough for your kindness. Words cannot express how thoughtful it was. 

Finally, I wanted to thank all the friends, family, and strangers who took time to send a message, make a phone call, send a email and for the prayers. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and I know that the outcome of this medical issue would have been a lot different without your prayers so thank you so much!

Now that the surgery is over and I am recovering I am ready to get back to normal. I know I have a long way to go before I will be 100% again. I have my good days and my bad days but now I am having more good days latley. I am starting cardiac rehab soon which I am excited about. I have joined an OHS Support Group. I will be able to dive again in about another week so YAY! I am ready to hop back on my bike and ride as the weather will be getting warmer soon and to hit the road and run more and get my butt back in the gym. I am happy to be alive and happy that I made it out of such a dramatic ordeal. Since so many people helped my wife and I out during this I want to do the same for someone else. So if this situation has taught me anything is that kindness goes a long way and we should help one another out as much as possible. Thats what I plan to do.

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Birthday Mountians

Well 2019 has been good so far. I just celebrated my 33rd birthday! I was exactly what I wanted. It was very low key and only spent with people I love. I got tons of birthday wishes on Facebook and Instagram so that made my day better.

The coolest new thing I got for my birthday that I have become super obsessed with is a road bike my brother got me. I love this bike. I got to try it out when I went on a group ride through Indian Trail two weeks ago. I gave me a fire to get into the cycling world. I have since purchased a helmet, lights, and a jersey so that my next ride will be more fun.

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Back in October my friend Steven and I have really found a love for the Appalachian Trail and hiking some of the most hardest sections. We even started a non profit charity to raise money and awareness for veteran suicide. We call the charity Mission 22- 22 cause of the 22 veterans that commit suicide everyday.  We have recently gotten a lot of attention by other Facebook groups and our page continues to grow.

Last weekend we went and climbed Mount Mitchell, which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. So Steven and myself, along with two other guys set out to climb the toughest mountain but to also camp in the coldest conditions. I have to say it was cold. That night it got down to 15 degrees. I was wrapped up in so many layers and tucked in my sleeping bag that I stayed warm through the night.

The climb to the top was hard. You had to be careful as there was ice on the rocks so that made most of trip very hard. I did fall a couple of times. Having tracking poles this time did help a ton. I think I might use them on my next hike. When we finally made it to the top it was super foggy, cold, and wet. We got our pictures as we hung our Mission 22 flag and hurried back down the mountain before it got too dark.

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I love weekends like this where I get to camp in the wilderness and reflect on what is important. The past year ended in a way I did not expect. I have been trying not to get depressed and stay positive but I am finding it harder these days. To be able to climb a mountain really brings things into perspective to the point where you believe you can do anything and face any problem head on and know you will be ok.

Thats all I am trying to do is be ok

Back At It Again

It has been a long time since my last entry. There really are no other excuses other then life happens and that sometimes breaks are a must. That does not mean that I am not ever coming back. It just means that my time was spent on more important things like my kids and family.

There last entry I posted was in February and so many things have happened since then. Let me take a second and update you.

K-Dub is getting big. I sometimes cannot believe she is five cause I swear in the last few months she has hit a growth spurt. She looks more like she is 7. In my last update I told you she was starting dance. She has since had her first ever recital and loves it. We have plans for her to re-enroll in the fall.

Speaking of enrollment… K-Dub is starting Kindergarten in less then three weeks! Where did the time go? We were very lucky she got accepted at one of the local charter schools near where we live. She is excited and this weekend I am going to start gathering her school supplies while BrittWhitFun gets her school uniforms. I just can’t believe that we are finally at this moment and it makes me sad and joyful.

Evie is a force of nature. She has been getting big also. She has really come around on the loving Dad front and now she never wants to leave my side unless Mom is around. She has been really trying to grasp this whole potty training thing. She has #1 down by #2 has been a really struggle for not only her but for Mom and Dad. I may have stepped on poop while putting her on the potty. It just kind of rolled out of her underwear. Sorry. I hope you were not eating when you read this.

We have tried to transition Evie from her crib to toddler bed but it was a disaster so we decided to keep the crib a little longer. She is just not ready and until she is fully potty trained she really needs to stay in her crib.

Here are some of the other highlights of the past few months:

My SIL got married back in April. 

K-Dub learned to swim

My brother and I could not be better

My brother dressed like a lady for charity

I decided to take on swimming

Easter was a lot of fun.

We went to the Zoo

I won Coordinator of the Quarter

Had a great Mother’s Day Mingle At The Mint Event

Got a Vasectomy and my wisdom teeth out in the same month

K-Dub graduated from Preschool

BrittWhitFun and I celebrated 7 years of marriage

I tried float therapy and like it and did not drown

I did a build for Habitat for Humanity

Enjoyed 4th of July with friends

What is next for the family? We have a lot of things coming up. K-Dub starting school, Evie is turning 3 and we are heading back to Disney World in less then 90 days and I am not even close to being ready!

As always comments are appreciated and I can’t wait to here from you.

 

Now She Is Five

It is really hard for me to believe that I now have a five year old in my house. She has grown up right in front of me faster then I care to share. Now I just look at her in aw as she is turning into a kind and gentle soul.

I guess I need to start from the beginning as it is February and I am just now writing a blog entry about my daughter turning five, which happened last month. Can you say slacker dad? You see my daughter loves her birthday. We have heard nothing but her birthday party plans since before last summer began. Those plans have changed from a Frozen themed party to an Ariel themed party to now just a simple princess themed party. I am not going to lie I was so ready to dress up like Olaf or come in rocking my amazing Jamaican accent. Anyways, she is obsessed with her birthday. I wonder where she gets that. I mean I love to remind everyone about my birthday starting in October so I can make sure I have a good gift and cake ratio. Ok so she gets it from me. Man you guys really know how to make a guy confess. Just another reason why I could never get away with murder.

It came to the day of and I may have went a little over board with the decorations and making my daughter feel extra special. The birthday crown and matching sash may had been a little to much. What do you think?

My wife really is the grand champion of all things birthday party related. She sent out the group birthday part invitation text, bought all the food, and made sure the house was clean. All I was in charge of was getting the decorations and picking up the cake. These things I knew I could handle.

When it came down to party time. our house got full real quick. K-Dubs friends all came along with her cousins and of course little Evie was right behind them as they ran around the house screaming. I have never heard so many screams of laughter in my life. It was cute but also made it very impossible to carry on a conversation with any of the other adults at the party.

Being there crowd fearing person I am, I worked hard to keep the party moving so after about 30 minutes of mingling around and greeting guest I pushed for it to be cake time.

There is nothing more special to me then when I get to sing happy birthday to my kids. It is just a confirmation that they are getting older and more importantly that I survived another year of parenthood.

Then it was time to open gifts and one of things I have found hard about this is trying to get my kid to say thank you. Here we are surrounded by family and friends and some strangers and the last thing I want people to think is that my kid is an ungrateful monster. Usually when people pass judgement on me based on my children I am quick to point my finger in my wife’s direction but she was in the same boat I was in. Also it is really hard to enjoy my kid opening presents when there are so many kids around her trying to grab her new toy out of her hand and yelling that they either want it or they already have one. Its like watching zombies attack the only human left on earth. I seriously asked my brother for his taser.

After the presents where opened I spent the next hour opening all the presents out of their packaging so my daughter could play them. I must say that the toy companies don’t need to worry about someone stealing their stuff cause they may it very impossible to their toys out. so many rubber bands, plastic twists, and tape make it very impossible. You need a knife to open this stuff.

Finally the party was over and we were left to clean up. I remember just sitting on the couch and thanking the Lord I made it through another party alive. Then I looked over and saw happy my daughter was. I smiled as she came over to me and sat on my lap and kissed me on the cheek. We stared at each other and then she said she wanted a Belle themed party next year!

Help me.

Back At It

So it has been a while since my last post but I am back. A lot has happened since my last post. My family and I have been very busy and things don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

First, Happy New Year, I missed writing this blog, I missed you, yada, yada, yada. I am not going to waste my time or yours writing about goals for 2018 as if I was going to try and stick to them anyways.

It is really hard to find the words to put on the screen. Usually it is pretty easy but I am finding it hard these past few months to find my voice again. I really hate to waste your time so lets start with some updates.

K-Dub has been enrolled in dance and LOVES IT! All she talks about is dance class and her teacher. She is really cute in her outfit and to watch glide across the floor. She just turned five and the attitude is starting to be more intense. I cant believe that it will not be long before she is in Kindergarten. Where has the time gone? She still is a Daddy’s girl and I love every minute of it.

Evie is Evie. She is still mean as a snake. The best way to describe her is that she is a sour patch kid. She hits you in the face one minute and then the next she is hugging your arm and telling you she loves you. She is not a big fan of me but a die hard follower of my wife. She loves my wife. Her new thing now is to fight going to bed. When she commits to hating something she really commits to it.

BrittWhitFun is still the same. She is the leader of the pack. She spends her days working and calculating schedules and making lunches in the evening. She keeps our family going and I really have no clue what I would do without her. She is awesome.

As for me…My job has taken off in a very different direction then I ever thought would be possible as I am now more then ever in the core of my magazines. South Park Magazine has really taken off and we just had Greg Olson on this months cover. Carolina Bride has a new editor and I am working very close to her to get our magazine in front of as many eyes as possible.  In addition to working with the magazines I am also coordinating events which puts me in front of some new people and new places. I think this is by far the most fun thing about my job.

As far as fitness goes I have been in slump for the past few months. I have given up Crossfit and decided to journey out on my own. So far I am just not feeling it. I have however been focussing on my nutrition very heavy. Trying to find what works best for me and how different food affect my body. Once I find a new balance I will get back to it.

Very thankful to be here working hard to be a better me.

Football, Splash Pads, & Life Lessons

Let me start by saying that I am sorry for not following up on this past weeks blogs. Things have been nuts around the house and and trying to find the time to blog and update you guys has become difficult but I will talk about that later.

Picking up from my previous entry, the past few weeks we were grieving the loss of Tanner and things are still not the same. You would think with all the losses that my family and I have had that we would be come pros with dealing with grief but it still is easy and I have come to the conclusion that it never will be.

Many people know that my relationship with my brother has never been the best and I am not going into much detail about it but just know that we did finally have a talk and decided that we don’t always have to hang out or see each other every day. I can work with this. After mending some fences he invited me to the open preseason Panther game and you know I love my Carolina Panthers!

I had a great time. Too much of a great time and maybe should have never drank that 6th beer. Anyways, I was really glad to spend some time with him and enjoy some football also.

Finally the weekend came along and we had another birthday party to go to. This time it was for my other niece Charlee as it was her birthday. I can’t believe my niece is going to be in 1st grade this year! Where has the time gone?

The party was fun and even I got on the splash pad and got soaked. My girls had a blast and it was great to be around family and friends.

One thing that I never stop doing is learning. I always try to learn life lessons and sometimes I learn thing even when I don’t want to. I have learned that no matter what happens to just forgive and move on. That does not mean keeping the person around but to not let that hurt control your everyday life. Just let it go. Now sometimes it is harder then others and I struggle myself sometimes but you need to let it go.

The other lesson I learned was to stay out of God’s business and other people’s business and just worry about your business. This has helped me at work. When something does not go my way I have to tell myself I cannot control other people and what they do. I can only control what I do and how I react. This is more then likely my biggest lesson to learn.

I have a lot of cool things happening on the blog soon. A lot of fun things with the kids that need a post so stay tuned.

Killer Week

This week has been crazy. Last week was crazy. I think I have come to the reality that vacation is in my near future. Work and kids have seemed to have swamped my life and is just enough to keep in purgatory.

Work has been insane. Magazines are keeping me busy and my reps always need me. It is a good thing to busy in this day and age. I know a lot of people who have easy jobs until their organization gets smart and cuts them off and now they are struggling to find employment. I actual just got the biggest section of the year put on my lap this week. Living Here is the biggest section The Charlotte Observer publishes. It has one 300 advertisers in it so I have the lucky job to coordinate this publication with only three months of experience. If that is not trust I have no idea what is. It is a great opportunity but I am scared out of my mind. I have a lot of people putting their faith in me to no screw this up.

My wife is a superstar. I can’t ever say that enough. She is like super mom. I really don’t know how she does it and she works full time. The past few weeks we have ad a run of bad luck it you could say that. My truck broke down. The freezer went out and most not the meat that was in there had thawed out so I had to toss it. Then the battery in the truck died so I had to replace it. It has just been one thing after the other.

This weekend we are planning to get away. We have not had a day trip in a couple of weeks so we decided to head up to Lake Lure. We have never been there and are looking forward to exploring and will make a great blog entry next week.

Hope you all have a great Thursday and I will be back on Monday with another #MedalMonday so take care.