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

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.

Going Through The Holidays

It has been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. The holidays are full swing here at our house but lets catch up first.

Halloween was a lot of fun. I dressed us as Flynn Rider while K-Dub dressed like Rapunzel. Evie was Mickey Mouse and BrittWhitFun was a witch. Check out our pics.

No Halloween could be complete without some pumpkin carving and trunk or treating with the nephews.

Thanksgiving is and will always be my favorite holiday and this year was no exception. I made lunch for about 10 people and I made all the fixings. I made the turkey, Mac and cheese, green beans, stewed cabbage, mash potatoes, and rolls. I also made cake pops for the kids, a butterfinger cheesecake, and a apple pie. It was so good I spent the rest of the afternoon passed out on the couch.

Now we are at Christmas and our house is in the full Christmas spirt. The gifts are bought, tree is up, and the lights are shining outside.

Got some great stories coming on the blog this week after having a reader reach out to me wanting an update. Stay tuned.

 

Pumpkin Time

Fall is here or at least it has been here for a couple of weeks. I wish that outside felt more like it. It still feels like summer. Today as I am writing this it is humid and sticky outside. Gross!

I love the when it is fall. The leaves change color, it gets colder, bonfires, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and pumpkin spic lattes make this season great. Speaking of pumpkins, one of the best traditions we have as a family is to head over to the Pumpkin Patch at Riverbend Farms and pick out our pumpkins.

This year we went with my brother and his family and had a blast.

Climbing on fake animals…

and tractors.

Sliding down the slides

After playing it was time to get on the hayride.

The real work began as it was time to pick up out pumpkins…

I think my family had a great time and it gave mine and my brother’s family some time to enjoy each other.

Much Needed Labor Day Weekend

It had occurred to me about a month a go that I had not taken any time off since Disney so I decided to take some time off. It also so happened to be Labor Day weekend.

So my wife and I took the weekend and spent time together as a family. It was nice to spend some time together. We went to a few shops, ate at some restaurants, watched Disney movies, cleaned the house, and even my wife did some crafts. It was great to take some time out of the usually day to day and just be a family and relax.

We took the kids to The Disney Store and they lost their minds. They always enjoy going and picking out a new stuff animal. Evie sometimes thinks she can leave the store with a handful of stuff. You have to watch her.

I got some good training in this weekend as it fell on my leg and push day. I am getting stronger heading into week three and my body is changing in ways I am loving. I really do believe I will be show ready on time.

Me and the kids got some much needed naps in.

We even had the nephews over and played with them to get us ready. We will be keeping them in two weeks. One house, two adults and four kids… GOD HELP US! Although I did find out they can be bribed with mashmellows

By the time Sunday rolled around we were tired and spent the day getting ready for the next four days of work and school but we found some time to take fun pictures.

Not a bad way to say goodbye to Summer.

The Past Week

First off let me start by saying thank you to all who called, emailed, texted, commented on our latest blog entry about losing Tanner. Our family really has felt loved. It has been an adjustment without him around but we are moving forward the best we can.

The past week has been insane. Football season has begun and I got the opportunity to go to the opening preseason game. It was a lot of fun.

I have recently stopped my individual plan at my crossfit gym and decided on a new goal. I am training for my first ever physique show in 2018. I have a new coach who has me working out six days a week and has me on a high protein and high calorie diet. I am very excited to step out of the realm of crossfit and start something that is extremely new to me. I have never worked out at a real gym before and I have already learned so much. I can’t wait to see my body change and compete at a whole new level.

My wife is continuing her weight loss journey and has lost over 10 pounds and continues to stay committed. I am so beyond proud of her and I really want her to they one the classes at the new gym cause I am sure she would love. Her meal prep skills are off the chain.

The girls are the girls. Evie is still sassy and mean but I love her. All K-Dub wants to do these days is watch Powerpuff Girls and do spin jumps.

More on some of the events tomorrow.