Stuff I Miss… since my diagnosis of coronary artery disease.

We all “miss our stuff”…

We always miss what we don’t have.  With heart disease, specifically coronary artery disease due to atherosclerosis, much of what you miss is the food – the high-fat and high-sodium foods!

High-fat. High-sodium French Fries

High-fat. High-sodium French Fries

I miss crispy, greasy, salty French fries.  A large order of French fries from McDonalds is usually around 5.4 ounces. The large order of McDonalds French fries has 500 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 63 grams of carbohydrates, and 6 grams of protein and 350 mg of sodium.

High-sodium Bloody Mary

High-sodium Bloody Mary

I miss high-sodium Bloody Marys. Your daily sodium intake should be less than 1500 mg a day. One bloody Mary alone (on average) contains 1,500 mg of sodium – that doesn’t even count any sodium she will get from food.

Greasy, Squeaky Cheese Curds

Greasy, Squeaky Cheese Curds

I miss squeaky, rubbery, high-fat cheese curds, especially the deep-fried ones!  Culver’s Cheese curds have 670 calories with 30 grams of total fat, 15 grams of saturated fat and 1740 mg of sodium!

But the one thing I miss most, since I was diagnosed with coronary artery disease is…
running.

Running was my outlet… my adrenalin… my daily dose of joy that allowed my world to feel completely perfect.   Running takes you into the moment.  Your heart beats faster.  Your breaths become deeper.  You feel SO alive!  You forget all your troubles and become so confident in your thoughts.  Your mind fills with the most creative and inspirational feelings.  You become so wise just by putting on a pair of sneakers!

Those thoughts all came bounding back to me when I happened upon an old leather bound journal.  I filled the weathered pages with a multitude of running stories and innermost thoughts… I could feel the adrenalin and joy and fulfillment in each page.  With that statement, allow me to share that day:  June 19th, 2004.  I believe it was one of my favorite days ever!

Hand-written June 19, 2004
Marathon running has become an indescribable addiction.  Running Grandma’s Marathon – an elite race – left me feeling like I could endure anything and accomplish all.  It was a special event, as always, and the scenic views along the North Shore of Lake Superior only enhanced the beauty and blessings that God has bestowed upon us.

The shoes that took the steps toward being healthy.   "Do with heart."  My mantra then and my mantra now.

The shoes that took the steps toward being healthy.
“Do with heart.” My mantra then and my mantra now.

Steve (husband) and I, along with Rebecca (daughter), Martin (son-in-law) and grand-daughter Samantha ventured “up North” to Duluth, MN over the weekend to attempt Grandma’s Marathon.  It is Martin’s and my attempt to gain a marathon medal in another state.

Martin and I (the runners!) were up for a 6 AM bus to Two Harbors, MN, as the marathon providers drive you up the North shore along Lake Superior and YOU run back to Duluth!  It is a very scenic course, but also very cold and windy.  We had to wait until 7:45 AM to start, so we froze until we were allowed to start running.

Martin and I both finished together (a delight, in itself), although our “chip times” are a wee bit different.  Martin’s read 5:19:42, while mine read 5:19:43.  I suppose I will always have to admit that Martin came in first!

I have to make excuses and say that I had to stop and “empty my bladder” at a porta-potty and had to wait in line for 10 minutes.  DARN!  All the guys merely ran behind a tree to “take care of business.”  It took them only seconds!  I did see a gal try it and she came out from the trees with wet shorts – made me chuckle – but I am sure she got a better chip time than me!  Who is chuckling now?  My other excuse is that we had a head wind instead of a tailwind.  I like to think that I could still cut time off and hope that next time I can come in under 5 hours.

As I ran and heard the song “I Loved You Before I Knew You” on my iPod, I thought about the fact that 30 years ago on this very date, I was in labor with Becky!  Who would have ever thought that I would be in Duluth, running a marathon – 30 years later on her birthday – and running it with my daughter’s husband?

Grandma’s Marathon has been an awe-inspiring event.  I enjoyed our fellow runners:  a mother and daughter team with the younger one’s t-shirt reading:  “I finally talked my mother into running a marathon.”  There was a sister-brother couple with each t-shirt saying they were running with the other.  Then I saw a shirt that read:  “With God, all things are possible.”  That said it all as He is our hope in all life’s situations.

The above was written immediately after the run… when the words come so naturally.

Today, chronic angina stops me from running, but now I am an avid walker.  I have a new pair of sneakers too – walking shoes.  How fast and how far I go depends on the day.  There are good days.  There are bad days. I find myself so grateful and so uplifted on the good days when I can go a bit further and a bit faster.

I saw a poster at the marathon that read:

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

And the miracle continues as I continue to move forward each day, step by step.

Every morning I wake up and thank the Lord for the gift of another day, for the people that surround me, for the earth and the air and the new sneakers on my feet.  Gratitude fills my very soul.

But there is still “stuff” I miss.

What do you miss?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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4 Comments on “Stuff I Miss… since my diagnosis of coronary artery disease.

  1. Hi Sharon – I love this post as it brings back many memories of my old favourites too. But unlike you, I no longer deprive myself of my old favourites – as a rare treat however.

    I found that my ongoing list of NEVER EVER AGAIN favourites is simply unrealistic and ultimately sabotages my day-to-day healthy regimen. To think that I will never ever again for the rest of my natural life have a French Fry? It’s not going to happen.

    The difference now, post-heart attack, is that I may enjoy a few fries (stolen from my family’s plates!) every two or three months, not every weekend. I may have a Bloody Mary once or twice during a hot summer – not every weekend. In between, daily exercise (yes, EVERY day!) plus lots of heart-healthy fruit, veggies, fish, high-fibre whole grains, very little if any red meat – and of course red wine and dark chocolate! When I was at Mayo Clinic, cardiologists there recommended some variation of the Mediterranean Diet for heart patients, which is a pretty darned delicious way to eat.

    But now I never say never to an occasional treat – as long as I remember to make it “occasional”! Like cardiologist Dr. John Mandrola likes to say: “You only have to exercise on the days you plan to eat!”
    regards,
    C.
    PS A tip: It’s difficult to find the “Leave A Reply” section on this article because you include your whole article in one uninterrupted text on your homepage. You can make it easier for your readers to leave their comments beneath each article. WordPress makes this painless: just click the INSERT MORE tab about a paragraph or so into each article while you’re editing: this means your homepage will show just the first couple paragraphs of each post; readers will have to click that “Read more” link and then they’ll find the Leave A Reply box at the end of the article. Thx!! 🙂

    • Hello Carolyn,

      Thanks for your, as always, excellent response to heart-healthy living. Your words have always been an inspiration to me. My hope is that I will be able to hear you speak someday as well. Truly, your words have brought me through some dark days and taught me lessons I will always remember. Most importantly, though, you do feel like a “heart sister” and I feel less alone in this journey. I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart.

      I recently retired due to health reasons and have begun to use blogging to fill a void I am not sure how to fill yet. My profession has always defined in my mind who I was and where I needed to go. My blogging, although more therapeutic than informative, makes me feel “whole” again. Therefore, I NEED ALL THE TIPS I CAN GET on blogging. I appreciate your blogging knowledge input and will remedy the Leave a Reply section. THANKS so much for being YOU!

    • And an even BIGGER and LONGER YAAAAAAAY on this side of the blog! You have no idea how long I have tried to remedy that. Thank you again. I love the “Welcome to Holland” blog and know it well. I worked in Women’s Health prior to this and knew the blog from an obstetrical point of view. Indeed, “Holland” is a beautiful place. The analogy is poignant from all perspectives. “It did my heart good” to read it again.THANK YOU, Carolyn, for all you do. THANK YOU for caring.

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