My Crazy Blood Pressure!

About a month ago, I had someone reach out to me on behalf of Welch Allyn to see if I would review a blood pressure cuff for them.  I said sure!  That means  that this post is sponsored by Welch Allyn but the thoughts and opinions are my own.

The blood pressure cuff arrived the day before I was going out of town.  I was feeling really crappy and according to my cheap $20 blood pressure cuff, I wasn’t really sure what by blood  pressure was running.  I had time to take this new one, the Welch Allyn Home 1700 Series Blood Pressure Monitor, out and use it once before we went back home to Ohio for my Gram’s funeral.  According to the reading I got, I probably should not have gone but she had been my last living grandparent and I would get to see almost all of the family of mine that still lives in Akron. I hadn’t been back for 11 years since my Grandpa died.  Based on the quality of the cuff which is excellent, I felt like I probably should take the reading more seriously but I just wanted to get on the road and get to Ohio.  So, you know I left it at the house because I didn’t like the reading, don’t you? I actually had been having chest pain that combined with the reading from this cuff meant that f I should have taken it more seriously. 

Anyway, I didn’t and off we went for the 13 hour drive to Akron.  We ate a lot and had a few drinks while we were there.  I swear when you are with family you eat an entire buffet about every two hours.  I kept feeling worse and worse and by Sunday morning,  I couldn’t even drink coffee.  I have to tell you that I have to be feeling really bad not to drink coffee.  My chest pain was increasingly painful and I was working myself up thinking that I was having another heart attack.  Of course, I did not want to be admitted to a hospital in Akron where I didn’t know any doctors and such so I just didn’t tell anyone and went on like nothing was wrong.  We left Monday to come home and finally my husband asked me if I was feeling ok since he noticed that I didn’t drink coffee Monday morning either.  In fact I didn’t hardly eat at all on Monday. I told him I had been having chest pain and he was ready to stop at the first ER we came to.  I told him no that I wanted to be where I knew I was in the right place for cardiac care with a hospital I knew.

We arrived home around four in the afternoon and I took my blood pressure with the old cuff.  It showed it was fine–about 130/85 but I felt like that wasn’t true.  There sat the new one Welch Allyn sent me calling my name, taunting me to take my blood pressure with a real blood pressure monitor.  I took my blood pressure and knew this was probably the right reading.  The cuff on this monitor is like one they would have in a doctors office or hospital. It just feels substantial.  Not wanting to believe the 188/122 reading (my blood pressure was 200/120 the night of my STEMI), I told my husband to try it.  He took it and his registered at 119/72.  This is when I know for sure that the reading the new good cuff is giving me is right.  Off to the ER we go.  I spent the night in the CCU and checked out with a healthy heart and no blood clots in my lungs.  Lots of testing led to severe acid reflux. (this may be the thallium stress test that makes me permanently glow in the dark 😉 ! ) Good to know my heart is healthy and now I am not eating bread and sugar. This solves the acid reflux and the scale is already down.  Win-win. Plus, I never really realized how much equipment in the ER and the Cardiac Care Unit is manufactured by Welch Allyn.  In the end, my first reading was so high because I had worked myself up thinking I was having a second heart attack.  For those of you that delay seeing treatment because you are afraid it won’t be anything, don’t.  I’m not worried if I end up there and nothing cardiac is wrong.  That is the best outcome I could hope for but I wouldn’t know that unless I went to the ER!

Anyway, the WelchAllyn 1700 Blood Pressure Monitor is very accurate in the readings it takes.  At a price of $109.00, it is a bargain for peace of mind knowing that I am getting the accurate readings that I need to get. It takes it fast and I don’t feel like I need to take it 10 times just to make sure that I get somewhere close to the same readings each time.  This is good because I don’t have time to do that every time and still work on my bathroom remodeling (more about that in my next post!).  My husband takes his more now too.  It is much, much easier to use than less expensive monitors.  He feels like he doesn’t have to wrestle with the cuff and I would wholeheartedly agree with that.  Another good thing?  It is small and it sits on the arm of my chair. (And yes, this is my real blood pressure on no blood pressure meds! WooHoo!)


That is the good about the cuff.  Here is the bad.  It comes advertising that it connects to the Welch Allyn home app and can be shared with your doctor via a Welch Allyn portal for doctors.  This is super cool except it didn’t work for me.  I downloaded the Welch Allyn home app on all my devices.  I couldn’t use it though because even though it should sync with your devices via Bluetooth, I could not get it to work.   I could not sync it with my iPhone 6, my iPad, my husband’s Samsung Galaxy Tablet or his Samsung Galaxy 5.  My Windows 10 laptop recognized it via Bluetooth but there is no app for the computer. I think it may be related to Bluetooth version that the cuff is compatible with.  That is about all I can come up with.  I tried calling their customer support a number of times but the number was always busy.  I finally emailed their technical support yesterday but I’d expect that they don’t work on Saturday or Sunday.

Even though I couldn’t get the technology side to it to work, I would still pay $109.00 for it based on the general superior quality. Of course I will update this post should I hear back from technical support and be able to use the technology

Now that I have all of the heart stuff worked out, I’m back at it and getting ready to gut the upstairs bathroom!  Stay tuned for some details!


Until Next Time–Cheers!  Jodi






Things Not To Own After 40? Who Says?

Things Not To Own After 40? Who Says?

I am filing this blog under The Skinny Bitch Chronicles which is my heart portion of this blog and you’ll know why at the end.  I came across this article on MSN and usually I don’t click on articles like this.  For whatever reason, it caught my eye and I was super curious about what kind of grand advice could be given to someone over 40.  

Let’s break these down one by one.  Here we go—-my responses to 40 Things No Woman Over 40 Should Own by Deanna Pai.  I did a little social media surfing and I can say with 99% certainty that she knows nothing about being 40.  Here is her list:

1. Celebrity Fragrance.

She advocates eating well to smell good.  Whatever.  I am vegitarian and I wear Gucci.  Plus, the last time I bought it, I found it on a rock star sale at Nordstrom Rack (really, $10.00).  Personally, I am going to wear the fragrance and let any other woman who would judge me for it stand way far away from me.  Any woman who does that to another woman is not my tribe. My tribe doesn’t do that.  My tribe says rock your favorite fragrance all the way to the casket!

2. Uggs.

Psst…They are warm and I hate, wait, detest the cold and that is the best I have for winter.  Enough said. Alas, I had to get rid of mine because I wore the hell out of them all while I was over the age of 40.

3. Tights with holes or runs.

And these are ok under 40?  Is it not unprofessional to walk around like that under 40?  What makes her think that this is something that women specifically over 40 do? This is just good practice all together no matter what your age!  Personally, I avoid this by not owning a single pair of tights or hose.  I had one pair last February when the oldest daughter got married and I threw them away at the reception!  I can stand hose for approximately the length of one wedding ceremony!

4. A Nylon Duffel Bag (She advocates leather because it is first class)

About a year and a half ago I took a two week trip on a WWII Western Front Battlefield Tour in Europe with our local high school. My two youngest went with me and there were 72 from our little town that went.  It was the most fabulous trip through England, France, Belgium, Germany and Poland.  I literally had walked the soles off my hiking boots by the last day in Poland.  Now, had I been carrying a leather duffel bag, can you imagine how heavy that would have been? And that is before you even pack it.  Nylon all the way, lightweight, practical and travels so much better. Make sure it is a rolling duffel and then it is light and you can roll it!  Seriously, I own some great solid leather handbags and I never carry them.  They are pretty and “in” but so heavy before you even put anything in them.  I carry a nylon crossbody that I bought for that Europe trip and never quit carrying.

5. Alcohol in Plastic Bottles & 19. Plastic Wine Glasses

I personally don’t drink much post heart attack and closing in on my 49th birthday means it would only take a couple drinks and I really would care less if alcohol was being poured from plastic or glass.  That is precisely why I am lumping in 19. Plastic Wine Glasses with 5.  Generally, when my friends and I are together at home, we are outside on the deck barbecuing and having some drinks and playing some yard games.  We go one step lower and drink wine out of paper cups and not even a plastic wine glasses.  My friends and I are all about the party and the precious time with friends that we know is a gift.  I know that I easily could not have this time with friends—my tribe. My cardio thoracic surgeon told me the night of my heart attack that had I lay down to see if I felt better, I would have never woken up. I would have died in my sleep.  Let that sink in and then tell me how important what I drink wine out of is. Who the hell cares what I drink my wine in?  And honestly, why the hell do I want to wash wine glasses? I’m allergic to doing dishes! Throw those cups away (in the recycle bin) and start planning the next wine in paper cups, fortunate to be here, worth everything in the world get together with my tribe. I have an entire set of beautiful crystal wine glasses—they are wrapped up in a box in my basement 😊

6. An Ex’s Hand-Me-Downs

This I agree with.  However, I agree with it for every age. Why over 40? What made her pick this? Is that the magic age that it becomes tacky to keep your ex’s college sweatshirt or what?  I just stepped my 18-year-old daughter through this after she broke up with her long time high school boyfriend.  She is off to college this fall and doesn’t need any of that.  This is for all you ladies of any age!  Leave that behind and move on.  There is a reason you broke up—there is someone else out there for you.

7.  Harem Pants

WTF???  Where did this even come from? Out of all the choices, how did you pick that you shouldn’t own harem pants after 40?  Did you just watch Aladdin? These are harem pants:

(These are available at Amazon)

Here is my feeling on this. If you own harem pants and you love them, rock them all the way to the grocery store, to the library and the parent teacher conference.  Here is what would happen to me if I wore them. 

The dog, Lola, would get out of the yard and I would have to chase after her in my harem pants.  I would get all tangled up in my harem pants and trip and that would be a trip to the ER.  After all, doctors need to make a living—they depend on people like me.  “Doc, I was wearing my harem pants, I had to chase the dog and I got tangled up in my pants and tripped. This is how I broke my ankle.”  This, this is my reality.  You see, harem pants have nothing to do with age and everything to do with coordination and grace. (Is there an ICD-10 code for getting tangled up in harem pants?)

8. A Magnifying Mirror

Now, I must have a magnifying mirror as I get older because my eyes get older too. I’d have terrible looking eyebrows if I didn’t have a magnifying mirror because I wouldn’t be able to see exactly where to pluck them with a regular mirror!  Only someone with young eyes thinks this.

9. Sparkly Eye Make Up

What does she know?  I wore sparkly eye make up the last time I went to the heart and stroke ball.  I loved it and would wear it again for the right occasion.

Me at the AHA Kansas City Heart and Stroke Ball

10. All Those Bridesmaids Dresses

I’ve long since been out of the age where I wore bridesmaids dresses and have long ago donated them.  If you still have yours after 40 and you still fit in them, you have earned the right to rock them at whatever event you want!

11. Headbands, 12. Scrunchies &  13. Claw Hair Clips. 

I have very short hair and don’t need any of these but I’d rock a hippie headband, tie-dye scrunchie and claw clip every chance I got if my hair were long. I wear super short hair because it has always been easy mom hair and now that I am this age, it has been easy to grow in my newfound white hair. I’m 80’s through and through and I own every bit of it! I’ve never once looked at a woman and thought OMG, I can’t believe she’s wearing a headband.  There you go.

14. Stolen Hotel Slippers.

I don’t wear them but it has nothing to do with being over 40.  I don’t wear them because usually I am wearing Birkenstock sandals.  They are far better than slippers at any age!  However, if you are in need of some slippers and there are some at the hotel, wear them home on the plane if you want!

15. Cubic Zirconia, 27. Charm Bracelets , 32. Choker Necklaces & 38. Cheap Jewelry

While I agree with getting rid of anything that turns you green, if you bought expensive jewelry for every occasion, you’d never retire.  I was just at my 30 year high school class reunion and a couple ladies had on choker necklaces and they looked super cute so no to this one.

16. Printed Leggings, 20. Sweatsuits, 21. Clothes With Blatant Logos, 22. Tube Tops, 30. Low Rise Jeans Number 31. Peasant Blouse 39. Single Socks & 40. Sorority T-Shirts

If you are 60 and you feel good enough and are confident enough to step out in a tube top and low rise jeans, you have earned the right and you just go on and wear them. Blatant Logos?  Hello Nike, Reebok, Harley, Life is Good.  Whatever, I have a t-shirt or sweatshirt with just about every logo on it. Sorority T-Shirts? I never rushed but does that go for college logos too? You know, because Rock Chalk Jayhawk and all the shirts I have with that beautiful bird on them.  Really, no one should tell you what to wear which is why this whole list is wrong.  If someone has time to worry about what you wear, they are not living their own life.

17. Concert Posters

Does she not like music?  My very first concert was Elton John in 1986, last week I saw Lyle Lovett and His Large Band and next week I am going to see Foreigner and Cheap Trick. I have seen Boston, Rush, Pink Floyd, Train,  Sting, Paul Simon, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, James Taylor, George Winston, Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn–you name it–I have seen hundreds of concerts.  You have no idea how much I wish I had a vintage poster from each one of those that I could hang in the basement.  Buy the poster :).

18. A Bulletin Board

These are surely off limits after 40.  I’m just going to leave this one here.

23. Elaborate Keychains & 24. Tassels

I’m going to combine these because, well, KC Royals Tassel, Go Red For Women and Rock Chalk Jayhawk:

25. DIY Nail-Art Kits

She gives us this example and asks if you can imagine a board meeting with them:

Why yes, yes I can.  I could rock these in a board meeting any day (and so could you) as long as I knew my topic inside and out.

26. Beat Up Bras

Yes.  This.  A million times over.  Beat up and ill fitting bras.  Go get fitted.  You will thank yourself.  Again though, why just after 40?  Any age.

28. Kitschy Phone Case & 29. Wristlet Purse

Bling up your phone if you want.  It is your phone.  Oh, and wristlets aren’t just for the clubs.  They are super functional at fun, grown up things like charity balls when you don’t want to “schlep around your tote bag.” 

33. Dust Ruffle, 34. Half Dead Plants, 35. Expired Sunscreen, 36. Stuffed Animals & 37. Colored Pens

My dust ruffle hides my containers with my off season clothes that are under my bed.  Do you have to be 40 to have half dead plants? I didn’t know that requirement.  I’m sorry to all my dead plants in my 20’s. Apparently 20 somethings own no half dead plants (because they know how to use the internet better)! I have a stuffed bear with a heart embroidered on the chest sitting next to my bed.  My tribe brought it to me the day after my massive heart attack when I was in the CCU.  I love to write in pink.  

Expired sunscreen?  Yes but insulting that she thinks that only women after 40 don’t know this.  No one should keep expired sunscreen.  It doesn’t protect you at any age.

Here is why I file this under the heart portion of my blog.  I file it here because who the hell cares?  Step in my shoes. I am a STEMI survivor and I have spent time volunteering for the American Heart and Stroke Association with the most amazing women.  They are heart attack and stroke survivors.  They are CHD survivors and heart transplant recipients.  They don’t care about any of this.

I file this here for the many women under 50 I know who have battled cancer–stage 4 breast cancer, stage 4 abdominal cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer.  I file this here because I stood at a 30 year class reunion a couple weekends ago with a woman that has a tumor that is a Grade 4 Glioblastoma–stage 4 brain cancer.  My cousins wife was diagnosed with stage 4 triple negative breast cancer at her first mammogram at age 40.  It has metastasized to her liver, bones and beyond.  None of these women care what she thinks about them wearing a sorority t-shirt.

As women, we should support each other and the trials and tribulations that life brings us.  We shouldn’t judge others.  Just because I wouldn’t step out in a tube top and low rise jeans doesn’t mean that I don’t have deep admiration for another woman that has enough confidence at our age to do just that.  To each their own.

Find your tribe, love them hard and accept everything about them at any age!

 Until next time–Cheers!  Jodi

Click HERE to see my new favorite products.  I love them so much I just had to share!





Furniture Can Wait

Furniture Can Wait

I had a post done about our visit to the Avon Mega Store and I had a post together about a great dresser I have been working on–you’ll love it!  I am also working on blogs as I take you through the update of my home. I am bringing you along also via Facebook live videos.  I promise, you can update your house with very little money! If you don’t follow me, you can follow me here and get tips like this:

How to edge…

Posted by GypsyHeart Design on Saturday, April 1, 2017

I still have The Vintage Sunflower attached there because Facebook is being a jerk about changing my business name!

I had all of this planned out and then I read this great blog post that put a halt to all other blog posts.  I generally have two parts of my life these days.  My life is divisible by pre and post heart attack.  Before, I was a regular person with no first hand knowledge of chronic illness. I was living life like I was invincible; never really thinking that all of the bad things that happen to people could start happening to me at the young age of 42.  I knew of Go Red for Women, but never really paid attention because well, heart disease didn’t apply to me. How could it?  It was incomprehesible in the before.

I’m sure you are expecting me to give you the after in a gloom and doom perspective.  I can’t.  I can’t because I could have never imagined the upside to being a heart attack survivor.  Oh my gosh, the amazing, strong women that are heart disease and stroke survivors that I have met and are now life long friends.  These women are awesome and the reason that I would never give back the the bad. Yes, there is bad but I rarely speak of it.

The blog post I read today was by my friend and heart sister, Jenna, who blogs at Grapefruit and Tattoos. Jenna was on the heart transplant list for 300 days spending the last 36 days in the CICU at St. Luke’s because she was too ill to be at home.

Jenna received her new heart last February after being in heart failure for eight years.  Here is her story:


Her story came full circle last week and she writes about it in a powerful blog that kicks off April which is Donate Life Month–a blog about her donor’s mom finding her.  It is an amazing and powerful story about the gift of organ donation and you can read it here :

Introducing Katelyn

In honor of Jenna and her donor Katelyn, I am holding a contest on my Facebook page this April.  My friend Carolyn Thomas who blogs at Heart Sisters is in the final edits of a book she is writing for Johns Hopkins University.  She will be the fabulous author of “A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease”, Johns Hopkins University Press.  It is scheduled for print in November of  2017.  She has so graciously put a couple blurbs in there about my story!  I am very honored.  So this is the contest:

  1.  Like Gypsy Heart Design on Facebook.
  2. Upload a picture of your driver’s license indicating you are an organ donor to my page.  Please, please, please make sure you leave off any personal information–DL number or address–important stuff
  4. .Share the picture you upload to your Facebook page and hashtag #DonateLife with a message encouraging your Facebook friends to become organ donors.
  5. Tag my page The Vintage Sunflower/GypsyHeartDesign in the shared post on your page.

In honor of Jenna and her donor, please help me raise awareness that organ donation is such a gift!  I will pick two winners and when Carolyn’s new book comes out in November, I will send you one along with one of my favorite paint brushes! I know, it is delayed gratification, but the cause is so worth it!

Next week, I will post both blog posts I have completed about the blogger event at The Avon Mega Store and about the cute blue and green gypsy dresser I have been working on!  Thank you for indulging me as I share such a timely blog about organ donation!

Until next time–cheers!

or, as Jenna would sign off on her blog: 

Courage, dear heart. ~C.S.Lewis



My Radio Interview

My Radio Interview

The 2017 American Heart month took place in February.  February 3, 2017 was National Wear Red Day.  I haven’t written about this because I have been knee deep in building this new website that allows me to combine all of my blogs!  If you look for The Skinny Bitch Chronicles, the old blog will redirect you here. If you have followed me as Gypsy Heart Design (formerly The Vintage Sunflower), well you are going to be getting some heart health blogs as well.

Again this year on National Wear Red Day, my friends and family turned out in amazing force to put on red and raise awareness that heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of women killing one woman every 80 seconds!  See for yourself:

I badger the heck out of everyone I know to help me raise awareness and they never dissapoint! The reason I do this is because if it saves just one person, it was worth annoying others. If you are freinds with me on Facebook, you know that I wage a full on campaign in the two months leading up to National Wear Red Day.

I have had several women private message me on Facebook over the last five years to tell me that they were having symptoms of something strange and all they could think of in the back of their heads was me. Because of me, each of them sought ER care and each of them was having a heart attack. Each of them expressed to me that they would have ignored thier symptoms if it were not for me and, just like me, each one of them would have died had they not sought ER care.  This. This is why I write this blog and this is why I am very vocal on every social media platform.  You knowing the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke is my life’s mission.  It is the reason I survived.

I was vey honored this American Heart Month again to appear with Steve Kuker who owns Senior Care Consulting on his raido show Senior Care Live.  It is always a pleasure to talk with Steve! Here is the podcast:

Next year, consider joining me in raising awareness and posting your Go Red Selfie!


Unitl next time–cheers!


P.S. Just so you know,  in order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. The FCC makes me tell you that!

Reality Check

Reality Check


Having passed the 5 year anniversary of my heart attack on October 13 and having turned 48 in November, I was celebrating the fading of the presence of heart disease in my life. Want to know what I got for Christmas this year?  I got a little reality check that I do indeed have heart disease.

Three nights ago I was minding my own business, having settled into bed for the evening when shortly after midnight I was awakened by violent vomiting.  Sweet–I had the really and I mean really nasty gastrointestinal flu that is going around here, or did I? About 3 am after 3 hours of the stomach flu, I started to feel my heart rate racing.  Between bouts of vomiting I hurried and got my blood pressure cuff.  I took my blood pressure and although it was okay–110/75 , my heart rate was a little concerning at a resting 95.  I figured it was just because I was sick and went back to having every bit of liquid exit my body.  At about 5 am, my heart was racing so fast that I was dizzy and couldn’t catch my breath.  Another blood pressure check revealed that my blood pressure was still okay but the lowest heart rate I could get was a resting 130.  At that point the blood pressure cuff makes all kinds of noises and flashes indicating I should probably get my ass to the hospital.

All I can think of is all the stories of nausea and vomiting being an indication of a heart attack and I am trying to determine through my dizziness and shortness of breath if I am having cardiac symptoms caused by the stomach flu or if I am having a heart attack with nausea and vomiting as the symptom.  It is the first time in almost five years that I had felt like I was actually having a second heart attack in my 40’s.  I could hear my early rising husband milling around downstairs so I called him on his cell phone because I was too dizzy just to go downstairs. He didn’t answer but instead yelled up the stairs at me.  I said I have to go to the hospital. He was trying to find my shoes for me and I was just yelling that we have to go right now or call an ambulance. I headed out the door in the cold with no shoes on. I’d rather freeze my feet off than die.

My husband was running stop signs and passing people to get us to the ER and even as I was struggling to breathe, I still managed to tell him how to drive! In my mind I was thinking of my dear friend and heart sister Julie who had just been in an American Heart Association Blog about holiday heart attacks. How did I not see this coming?

We arrived at the ER and somehow mentioning that I am a STEMI survivor, I have 5 stents in my LAD and I can’t breathe got me right in.  It turns out that I was severely dehydrated and that caused the spike in my heart rate which was actually over 140 when I was standing. The 130 was when I was laying down.  After about 6 hours of laying in the ER and my heart rate still being 115, they decided better safe than sorry and admitted me.


They gave me a total of 5 bags of fluid by yesterday morning. The very nice hospitalist decided that my heart rate had come down enough that I could go home when she came by to see me.

When I got home, it was clear to me that they weren’t 100% convinced it wasn’t a heart attack either.  They handed me about 5 pages of lab tests and results to give to my primary care physician. Right there in the middle were multiple tests run for my cardiac enzymes which measure for myocardial injury. It was a better safe than sorry thing because they were normal but it was nice to see in print that I truly didn’t have a heart attack. Still today I am a little queasy and I probably overdid it a bit today (I’m heading to bed as soon as I publish this) but I’m glad I went to the hospital. Nothing like a scare to bring heart disease back to the forefront of my life!

I always tell people to get to the hospital if they are having cardiac symptoms. I have been twice to the ER for this–once I was having a heart attack and once I wasn’t.  I don’t feel bad about this time when I wasn’t.  It turned out either way that the hospital was really where I needed to be. For those of you that are people who “just don’t go to the doctor”, let me tell you that there are no trophies for the number of times you should have gone to the doctor and didn’t. In fact, it can cost you your life and the only trophies for that are a coffin and broken-hearted friends and family. The number one thing I hear from people and more often from women is, “I would be embarrassed if it was nothing.”  Well, better embarrassed than dead!

Take care of yourselves this holiday season and pay attention to your health!  Here’s to a happy and cardiac event free 2017!

Until next time–Cheers!


P.S. Just so you know,  in order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. The FCC makes me tell you that!




Five Years Post STEMI

Five Years Post STEMI

In 11 days on October 13, 2016, I will  mark the five-year anniversary of my STEMI.  Five years since my reality of healthy privilege was shattered.  Honestly, as I was laying in the hospital five years ago, my world as I knew it imploded and I didn’t think I’d actually live another five years.  At the time, the diagnosis of STEMI and heart disease felt like a death sentence.  I was only 42, how was this all possible?

The mistake I made at the time was trying to look five years out and not looking at today for today.  It was the way I was used to living–always living in the future and not stopping for today.  As I started to live one day at a time, heart disease became manageable.  I did the things I needed to do to make sure I lived one more day each day.

As I am farther and farther away from the heart attack, it is less scary and I do less of the things that are good for me.  As a result, I weigh 30 pounds more than I did when I had my heart attack.  It is the last hurdle to really good health.  As the five-year anniversary has approached,  I have realized the importance of coming back into the mindset of doing the things I need to do day by day and not looking at it in a long-term light.  What do I need to do today?  When I do that, the results are immediate.  I am down 5 pounds in the last two weeks.  I have 68 more pounds to go which seems like a lot but not  a lot when you look at each day as its own.

This last year, as you can tell by my limited number of blog posts, I have come to a point in my life where STEMI does not define me.  Being a heart attack survivor defined me in the beginning and that was a good thing.  I took it and spoke publicly on women and heart disease and I shared my story.  I worked with the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women educating  women.  It is important work and I spent a lot of time doing it.  I developed some friendships I will always have with other survivors of heart disease and stroke.  I cherish those.  I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

I have educated my friends and family and get Facebook messages often when someone is in the ER. They were having chest pain or jaw pain and thought of me so they sought medical attention.  I want my friends and family to always seek medical attention and I am happy that I am the reason.  Being open about my experience and reminding people at least once a week on Facebook is still important to me. They Go Red with me on National Wear Red Day every year and it is quickly coming up again!

My friends.jpg


It is an important mission, it is just not quite as important that I am on the front line of the fight anymore.  I have made changes to my life such as stepping out of the corporate world.  I miss it though.  I find that the five-year anniversary makes me feel like I am going to live.  I find that it is time to re-asses some of the changes I have made and redirect again.  I feel hopeful and feel like although this is something that is still a part of my life, it isn’t going to get me any time soon!  With that feeling I can look forward to growing older and celebrating each birthday.  I never feel bad about getting older, I always feel happy to have the chance to have another birthday.  I get the chance to attend 30 year high school reunions for both Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission South next summer.  I look forward to those things and cherish them.

My friends, take care of yourselves.  Make sure you know the signs and symptoms of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Go to the doctor and know your numbers–cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.  Do this in celebration of the five-year anniversary of my STEMI and do this so that I get to cherish my friendship with you for a long time to come!

Until Next Time -Cheers!


P.S. Just so you know,  in order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. The FCC makes me tell you that!

Julie’s Battle

Julie’s Battle

I want to write tonight and tell you the story of my friendship with my heart sister Julie.

In the spring of 2013, I attended the Go Red For Women luncheon put on by the American Heart Association in Kansas City.  I was sitting at a table with new volunteers and I met Julie and her sister Jamie.  After the luncheon, Julie wanted to know more about my story so we talked for sometime and I told her to read my blog.  I asked her about her story and all she could say is she had an event.  Of course, I am thinking to myself what the hell is an event? Being me, I asked outright if she had a heart attack.  She hummed an hoed and said she had a stent.  Still not having an answer to the heart attack question I said heart attack or no?  She responded with a little heart attack.  She also went on to explain that her heart attack was in 2010 and she had never told anyone outside of her immediate family.  What?  This was so foreign to me.  We were so opposite.  Me? I was posting to Facebook from the CCU the day after my STEMI.  I couldn’t believe it and I guess I needed to know that other people couldn’t believe it either.

An odd pairing, Julie and I became fast friends.  We did the Color Run that year:


We started being concert buddies and our first together was Styx and Foreigner at my favorite venue, Starlight:


We have done heart walks:

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After this heart walk in 2014, I put together a video and I had to tag her as Heart Disease Survivor instead of Heart Attack Survivor.  She still hadn’t told anyone!  I didn’t say anything though, it wasn’t my place.  I felt like she could do so much education if she would say heart attack in public.  It wasn’t my decision though.

Then, all of a sudden the next fall, she was ready and in American Heart month 2015 she did live local TV!  I cried when I watched her.  The only other person that truly understood how far she had come was probably her sister.  I went to Heart and Stroke Ball with the new-found heart attack survivor and then the 2015 Go Red For Women Luncheon:

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Then, this last fall, she was named a National Spokeswoman for the American Heart Association!  I was so proud of my friend!  I knew if she would just say the words she would have so much to offer and could change the face of heart disease education.  I was right!

AHA-458-Julie Her AHA story here.

Tonight, another moment that made me so proud of my friend.  She sent me a text this afternoon to tell me she would be on the NBC Nightly News (click for video.).
Oh my gosh!  My friend that couldn’t say heart attack in April of 2013 was telling her story to the whole nation tonight!  My heart bursts with happiness for her!

Julie and I were an unlikely pair in the beginning but we were more alike than we knew.  I am forever thankful for my heart attack because it has brought me to women like Julie!  Our friendship continues and we bond over other things like our love of 80’s music–in just a few short weeks we kick off the summer concert season at Starlight with Boston and Paul Simon in the same week!  I know we will have a lifetime friendship and I look forward to it!

As stated on the NBC Nightly News story tonight, silent heart attacks are becoming not so out of the norm and they are deadly!  Heart attack and stroke do not discriminate– please learn the symptoms and never, ever ignore them!

May is American Stroke month.

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In an it’s a really small world news story this week, a post from Strike Out Stroke popped up in my Facebook news feed that proves that heart attacks and stroke do not discriminate.  One of the doctors that worked with a practice I billed for in my former corporate life (My Decision to Leave) had a stroke.  I tell you this because I preach it.  Heart disease and stroke DO NOT discriminate.  It affects nurses who are primary stroke coordinators (See Teri’s Story-Stroke in Her 40’s) and it happens to doctors who are usually the caregivers and not the sick ones in our minds. (See Survivor to throw out first pitch for Strike Out Stroke night at Reds game.) If it can happen to nurses and doctors in their 40’s, it can happen to any of you! As American Stroke Month winds down, know the signs and symptoms and know how to act F.A.S.T.

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Melancholy Reflection

Melancholy Reflection

April 9 marked the one year anniversary of giving my notice to my corporate job and April 23 was the one year anniversary of my last day.  (My Decision to Leave) I have done some melancholy reflection over the last week.  I still feel somewhat sad to have left a job that I worked hard at and was proud of.  On the other hand, my health was suf with that job.  I’m quite sure that no job is worth that.

There are things I miss about that job. I miss some of the best staff and coworkers  that anyone could have wished for.  I miss the people and the relationships I built with the software clients. There are other things I don’t miss.  I don’t miss the stress of the actual job of managing medical billing and I don’t miss the effects that stress was having on my health.

The Friday before I gave my notice I was sitting at my desk pressing my knuckles into my sternum wondering if I should call an ambulance or because I could see the hospital from my desk would it be quicker to drive myself. I took some deep breaths and the chest pain subsided and I rested until my cardiologist appointment the following Tuesday.  It only took the strong urging from my cardiologist combined with opening a crappy email from my new boss (from the company that bought us out) when I got home to make me type my resignation.  With no plan set in cement, I turned in my resignation sure that if I didn’t it would kill me. I have ended up opening a vintage furniture store part-time and working for a new software company part time.  I really like working for them.

When I walked out of my corporate job on that last day, I did not feel one pang of regret other than the people.  I knew right then and there that I would never go back to that world.  This last year has been an interesting one.  It has brought the end of the grief from losing my pre-heart attack life and an acceptance of my post heart attack life.  I think what has surprised me the most is there is actually a grief process to work through after a life changing medical diagnosis. Not only that, but how long the grief process has taken given my heart attack was 4 1/2 years ago.  Mostly what I think you grieve is the gift of denial.  You grieve the loss of what my heart sister Carolyn Thomas calls in her blog  healthy privilege. (Carolyn blogs at Heart Sisters) No longer is ______ disease (in my case heart disease) something that happens to other people.  I will be 48 this year and saying I have heart disease is still strange.

I had a cardiologist appointment last week and it was so much different from the absolute fear I felt when I saw her last year.  I got very good news this year.  My ejection fraction was 65 and my nuclear medicine stress test showed nothing new.  It only showed the original damage from my STEMI. That is the sweetest news I could hope for.  Last year I cried in her office because I was sure I was going to die and this year I cried in her office because apparently I get the privilege of sticking around a while!





I No Longer Cry–American Heart Month

I No Longer Cry–American Heart Month

Another National Wear Red Day was a huge success.  My friends never disappoint! A record number turned out in red and boy did they look fabulous!  See for yourself!

I have not blogged this February.  I realized it is because I’m not sure I have anything to say about heart disease, heart attacks and heart failure.  I came across this yesterday and it was striking to me:

12744598_10154002478638707_8903841493589121522_nI can tell my story and I no longer cry.  Am I healed? I don’t really know.  What I do know is I no longer have time to let heart disease define me–to let being a heart attack survivor define me.

There is no arguing that experiencing a massive heart attack at 42 was life changing and has had a huge impact on the current incarnation of me. On doctors suggestion, I stepped out of Corporate America and opened my own business, The Vintage Sunflower.  As up-cycling furniture does not make a ton of money, I also work part time at a local software company in the mornings.  Not one thing I am currently doing causes the chest pain of my old job.  My heart attack brought me here and here is exactly where I should be.  Here still includes being a heart attack survivor, it just includes one that doesn’t cry when she tells her story anymore.

So while I will always educate others and tell my story to make sure women know that heart disease is their number one killer, it just won’t define me.

Happy American Heart Month to you–know your risk and know the signs and symptoms of heart attack, heart failure and stroke and call 911 if you have them!  It saved my life and can save yours too!

We Are Young

We Are Young

It has been four months since my last blog post.  I can hardly believe it.  Life has gotten in the way of blogging!    So many blog posts in my head and no time to write them down. Alas, I have been busy getting my shop The Vintage Sunflower up and running.  This leaves no time to write any of those blog posts that reside in my head.

Today, I find myself with rare downtime.  It is hard to decide which post to pluck out of my head and write about, but February is coming up and it seems like a good time to write about the importance of Go Red For Women.  If you have followed me, you know I have been heavily involved in the American Heart Association here in Kansas City and February is National Heart Month.  I am no longer a Go Red Ambassador or the Chair of the ambassadors as my schedule no longer allows it.  I have switched to being a social media ambassador for AHA Midwest.  This is only online and no meetings and that fits into my schedule much better!  Friday, February 5 is National Wear Red Day.  This continues to be a very important day to me.

Although I no longer live my life revolved around heart disease, it is still in the back of my mind.  My heart sisters are always on my mind. Over the summer, my heart sister Sadie got her new heart!


Sadie with her transplant surgeon

My heart sister Caroline got two new hearts.  Her first one rejected, and most recently she was in the hospital on the verge of a second rejection.  What is in the back of the mind of every woman with heart disease is that even though you feel well, the fight is never over.


Caroline during her most recent hospitalization to help save the second heart.

They were able to treat it, she was able to return to college and she now has only three rotations left before she is officially a veterinarian!



Sadie and Caroline when Caroline was in the hospital

My heart sister Jenna is currently in the hospital until she receives a heart.  She blogs at Grapefruit and Tattoos and you should read her most current blog, 1A.


Jenna’s hospital selfie.


Jenna and Sadie last spring in healthier days.

My heart sister Susan had heart surgeries two days in a row before Christmas and was hospitalized again with complications around the first of the year.


My heart sisters Julie and Angie were both named to the 2016 Class of Real Women this year and, like me, are both heart attack survivors:


Julie–Read her story here.


Angie–Read her story here.

And last but not least, here is me:


What do I want you to know by posting the pictures of these women and how does it relate to the importance of Go Red For Women?  These are the faces of women with heart disease and we are young.  We are not the image you have in your head of someone who has heart disease. In case the pictures of these young women did not convince you, you can also read the stories of other young women I have featured:  Liz, Keri, Teri and Shelly.  Before my heart attack at 42, I could have never imagined being sick or knowing so many young women who are also sick–especially not sick with heart disease.  It never dawned on me just like it does not dawn on you that this is possible.

However, it is possible.  National Heart Month is February and National Wear Red Day for Go Red for Women is Friday February 5, 2016.  Heart disease is the number one killer of women killing one in three. Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable with education and lifestyle changes:


Education of women and the men that love them are key!  Women need to know that heart disease is their number one killer but that they can change that. Men need to know so that they can make sure the women they love know it.  Heart disease is also the number one killer of men but has killed more women than men every year since 1984.

Help me spread the word that heart disease and stroke kill one in three women–that is approximately one woman every 60 seconds. Seriously, 60 SECONDS!  Can you even wrap your head around that?  I need you to get in your red on Friday February 5, 2016 and post your selfie–both ladies and gentlemen! Tell everyone you know why you are wearing red! Just to get you in the mood, you can read last years National Wear Red Day post. Look for the local Go Red events in your community and take part and learn what it means to Go Red. Tag me in your Go Red Selfie!


You can tag me at @skinnybitchchro on Twitter or you can post it to my National Wear Red Day event on Facebook.

Cheers and Go Red for Women!  xo – Jods 


Boycotting Heart Disease

Boycotting Heart Disease

It has been almost two months since I have blogged.   This blog sits in the back of my mind as I keep thinking to myself that I really need to write.  Truth is, I have kind of been boycotting heart disease.  I have taken the summer off; not from having heart disease but from thinking about it defining me.

My move from the corporate world has been a whirlwind.  In a matter of five months, I have gone from being an expert in anesthesia billing to owning The Vintage Sunflower,  a vintage furniture and home decor store.  I haven’t had time to think about heart disease.  I’ve been busy following my passion.

IMG_20150805_212434I love making old worn out pieces of furniture pretty again.  I love getting up and putting on jeans, a t-shirt and a pair of Birkenstocks and making my way the mile to my store.  What a change from commuting an hour each way.  I love meeting my customers and getting to know my community better.

These days, I don’t think of heart disease as often as I did.  I really just don’t have time.  The great thing?  I don’t have any symptoms to constantly remind me.  My symptoms of chest pain were so bad before I quit my job that I was sure I was very quickly going to have a second heart attack before I turned 50.  Now, I don’t feel that way.  It is amazing what stress can do.  In fact, one study published in Behavioral Science and Policy states that stress at work is as bad for you as second hand smoke.

My summer off from heart disease defining me, my boycott,  is over and that is ok.  I was asked to be the chair of the Go Red Ambassadors for The American Heart and Stroke Association in Kansas City.  We are a volunteer group of survivors and advocates who educate women in our community that heart disease and stroke are the number one killer of women.  It is a great honor and I am proud to serve as the chair.  I can’t wait to work side by side with such amazing ladies!  Without heart disease defining me, I would never know them. That my friends is the beauty of ending the boycott!

No More Chest Pain

No More Chest Pain

It has been almost three months since I stepped out of my corporate job.  I realized the other day that I am a different person now.  I’m me again. My cardiologist said after the testing that there was nothing physically wrong with my heart, only stress, and now I believe her.  It feels good to believe her.

My last day at work was really surreal–I still couldn’t believe I’d made the decision to leave.  The funny thing?  When I walked out the door, I knew I would never return to that world.  Just about as monumental as the decision to leave the corporate world was the decision to turn my hobby into my job.

This decision is like the weight of the world off my shoulders and literally lifted the pain out of my chest and I feel as if I can breathe.  I have long salvaged furniture and turned it into something pretty.  I have signed a lease on a shop in the downtown of my little town and am opening an up-cycled vintage furniture shop.  As my girls and I were coming up with a name we knew we wanted to incorporate being from Kansas.  The result?

The Vintage Sunflower


Perhaps not everyone can make this move but I was forced to in order not to kill myself.  I think you need to realize how detrimental stress is to your life.  When you are in the middle of it, you can’t see what it is doing to you.  Once you are out of it, hindsight is truly 20/20.  Please take steps to reduce the stress in your life before it harms your heart!

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