Monday, December 29, 2014


We got rid of our cable TV a long time ago. It's not bad - apparently lots of people are doing it now. I mean why pay for cable TV when you can watch it all on Hulu, Netflix, or Vudu for less? My it comes. So with Hulu you have access to TV shows from their very first pilot show. The first few days I found myself eagerly clicking on the Hulu app to see what TV shows I could watch... WKRP, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and then Grey's Anatomy.

I was a huge Grey's Anatomy fan, an even bigger McDreamy fan. Then, if I'm being honest, life as a mother of newborn twin boys got the best of me. I stopped watching a lot of TV including the one with McDreamy. So fast forward to heart failure 2010, Kevin gets implanted with the LVAD and I'm sitting in the waiting room overhearing another family discussing Izzy cutting someone's LVAD wire.... then hearing Grey's Anatomy... best episode ever. Then I thought "note to self: don't google LVAD + Izzy and to never watch Grey's Anatomy again."

Well, here I am telling you that I watched it. All of them. I've been through my fair share of tissue boxes but in my defense George O'Malley dies. Well, that's not the only reason for my tears. And if you're wondering why I would torture myself with Grey's Anatomy? I've no idea but curiosity definitely got the best of me and after a few episodes it started feeling better. Almost like a right of passage. Does that make sense?

Let's be honest, how many of you reading this are willing to talk with me about what I've truly endured as a caregiver, as a wife, as a mother? How many of you are willing to just sit and listen to everything I wasn't allowed to deal with in the moment? Sure maybe there are a few friends but I know for certain that no one in our families want to relive those moments. I've tried but it gets difficult and they've all moved on and I'm sure they're thinking "why can't she move on?" So many things happened and while everyone around me was allowed to cry about it I felt I had to be the strong one and push through. Don't get me wrong I had my moments but there were times where I felt I couldn't .... I just had to plow through it all. So when I found myself eagerly sifting through all the TV shows on Hulu, I thought what the hell... why not watch it from beginning to end?

Kevin absolutely thought I was crazy for wanting to watch it but when I would come across something on an episode that actually happened to him??? Well, let's just say it became very interesting for both of us and the conversations that followed made things so much easier for me. I became fascinated with it all. I would text my friend Gina about it (she's a serious GA fan) and sometimes her replies would hint to me about what was up ahead and I'd be cautious. I'll admit the Denny Duquette episodes were not fun. I think my heart actually stopped when Izzy really did cut his LVAD wire. Then I wanted to reach through the TV and stop her. Watching episodes of wives sitting alone in the waiting room. The episodes where transplants didn't go as planned. Compartment syndrome episodes were not my favorite. I know it's only a TV show but most of it is based on real life experiences. And unfortunately I can relate with it as we lived through a very long medical roller coaster of emotions.

People have sometimes hinted towards my direction that I shouldn't live in the past. That in doing so, I'll never be able to move forward. Sure while this might apply to some folks, it doesn't apply to me. My opinion. My blog. Watching the show brought back moments that I never had the opportunity to face. Moments that haunted me in the form of nightmares. Moments I had closed the door on but apparently they needed opening. By watching the show it gave me an outlet to be at peace with the past. Sure there are other things I still need to find peace with but that will hopefully come in due time. Moving forward one step at a time is really all that anyone can do and if you do it with a smile on your face... if you look for that silver lining in it all... well then you'll be where me and my little family of four are at.... happiness.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you for my husband's new heart.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Pain is weakness leaving your body."

It's been quite some time since my last blog. My only excuse is that I'm literally feeling the most normal I've ever felt in a long time.

Since October 2013, the date of my last entry, I've been busy.  Been busy being normal. I turned the very ripe age of 40. I have eliminated the negative people from my life and am still grateful for the positive ones I know I can count on. My little family of four went on two vacations this past summer. I am the same germaphobe I was when I started blogging four years ago.  I started going to bootcamp three days a week - I have actual muscle now. My boys still remain the absolute loves of my life. Kevin is now 3 years post transplant and is doing wonderful (someone go knock on wood). His doctors told him on his last clinic visit that he was a rock star patient and to keep up the good work.

In the months I've been absent from my blog I have come to the realization that it's OK to let that closet of nightmare memories open up. That I should no longer stand up against it trying to push it back shut. I was never a big fan of discussing the early days of Kevin's heart failure but for whatever reason it always manages to be topic of conversation. I get it, but it doesn't mean I have to like talking about it. The mere subject is like that of Superman and Kryptonite...a weakness that leaves you helpless.

"Pain is weakness leaving your body." The very first time I heard this was from my trainer during my first month of bootcamp. I didn't like him very much that first month because he was doing his job. He was working me out and putting me on the road to a healthier me, along with everyone else at bootcamp. After that first month I was doing things that amazed me. I had more energy. I was actually enjoying working out and let's face it I have muscle now. I started to schedule everything else around bootcamp workouts. Bootcamp helped clear my mind. It still does. I crave working out nowadays. I'm running my first 5K on Sunday and am taking on the Spartan Race in December. OK, where am I going with this?

Two months into bootcamp Kevin saw the results in me and started coming to bootcamp with me. Well, this is where pushing that closet shut stopped for me. Ya know, for those of you that have never participated in a bootcamp, let me just tell you how tough it is. Very. Tough. Watching Kevin go through what I went through that first month of my bootcamp was very hurtful for me. It always caused concern and put me into panic mode. It threw me off my game a bit at bootcamp. The things that would run through my mind as he stopped during a workout caused nightmares for me. It caused actual moments in time to reoccur in my dreams. It opened that closet of mental pain I never wanted to experience again but as Kevin progressed through bootcamp I got through the ugly stuff on my own. A challenge that apparently had been waiting for my acceptance for quite some time.

Bootcamp has given me not only physical results & a healthier me but it's given me the power to deal with things from my past about his heart failure that I was never able to confront before. I recently had breakfast with a friend and we talked about the first 2 days in detail. Things I had never said out loud before. I had to stop when I got to a certain point but I did it. I've learned since my last blog entry that I can face the harsh memories that have been locked up in a closet. I no longer need to be afraid of those 11 days. Facing the memories only helps me to move forward in a positive motion.

So with moving forward on my mind, tomorrow is our last bootcamp.Well, it's our last bootcamp being trained by Brian Peeler. He's moving on to the next chapter in his life and Kevin and I  wish him nothing but success. We wish him nothing but the best but not before I say thank you.

Thank you Brian Peeler for being a part of our lives and for inspiring us to keep going. For pushing us at bootcamp and telling us "yes you can!" For reminding us that giving up is never an option. For giving us the foundation to move forward on our path of workout success. For helping take care of Kevin's heart. And I'm sure our donor family, whoever they are, wherever they are, would appreciate your part in our lives.

We are Peelerbuilt.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My flavor

Falling in love doesn't happen every day but when it does, look out. You always hear people telling you that it'll happen when you least expect it. Some even say they see fireworks when they kiss for the first time. Goosebumps when your love enters the room. Swept off their feet. They stole their heart. So many different sayings about love. "Falling head over heels" is one that absolutely holds true for me. 

I happen to be a very lucky girl. You see, on this very day three years ago, the waiting had ended, and the weight of the world had been lifted from me.  One of those moments you can't believe is happening.  I was physically walking towards him, my heart was beating so fast. Was he really awake or was I dreaming? Then I walked through those doors and the ICU staff was grinning from ear to ear in my direction. I couldn't hear a word they were saying to me. It was a too good to be true deafening experience. As my feet got closer, I turned the corner, and there he was.....looking right at me reaching his hand out towards me. With tears running down my face and a smile so big...I can honestly say at that very moment I fell in love with him all over again. The challenges ahead of us didn't matter because together we are a force to be reckoned with. To this day, he still rocks my world. He's my flavor.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Autumn memories

Autumn has got to be, hands down, my favorite time of the year. 

One of my earliest autumn memories is watching my brother and sister raking the leaves in our yard into these giant piles. Then I can recall that silly feeling as if it were yesterday .... taking that running jump straight into a giant pile of fresh raked leaves. Leaves everywhere, dust, dirt... was all worth that one jump into the pile. Who cares if you had to rake them again... so exhilarating. 

Another autumn memory for me is the pink sweater. For those that know me, they knew that when the pink sweater made an appearance, it was officially autumn. The fresh smell of coldness in the air. Wearing layers of clothes as opposed to a jacket. The pink sweater provided warmth yet so fashionable in a sea of orange, yellow, brown, and gold. I wore it for years until I had to finally retire my old friend. 

My first weekend getaway with Kevin was in autumn, with some friends for Oktoberfest in the mountains. Yes, the pink sweater was there. That was a weekend to remember for sure. Dancing to polka music, drinking German beer, laughing until our faces hurt, and enjoying the company of our friends. Good times indeed. 

This autumn was the first year in three years where thankfully no one has reminded me of you know what.  I'm guessing we've all reached our new normal. We are "living" post transplant as opposed to just living post transplant. Are you following me? We've come to some sort of acceptance, possibly all moved forward. It's also quite possible that everyone remembered but finally respected the fact that I prefer to remember the good about my favorite time of the year. 

For my kids, I'm hoping their earliest memory of autumn is when Daddy proved the family motto true......that we don't give up. He never gave up and we never gave up on him. Where there is a will, there is a way. I'm hoping when they're in their twenty's they recall all of our friends and family that stepped up to the plate with us, encouraged us when we struck out, and stood next to us cheering on their father when he hit the grand slam we were all waiting on. That our friends and family are the "rise to the occasion" type of people. 

For me, my newest memory of autumn is one that I will never forget. It's a story I enjoy telling over and over again. I get goosebumps just thinking about the events of that particular day. In a few days it will be exactly three years when I looked into Kevin's eyes and fell in love with him all over again. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Move forward

A quote from a television show I found some truth in....

"Trauma always leaves a scar. It follows us home, it changes our lives. Trauma messes everybody up. But maybe that's what pushes us to move forward."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

grocery bags

I can't remember when the whole save the earth, in your face,  movement started happening but I do know I have about half a dozen (probably more) of those re-usable grocery bags. Friends of mine have them, family members, and people I don't know have re-usable bags.  A few stores have even stopped using plastic bags so you're forced to help save the earth and get a re-usable bag. Some people have really fancy ones or ones from Target, Trader Joe's, you get my point. Recently I acquired this one. It's a Donate Life re-usable bag. The bottom right reads "reuse." GENIUS if you ask me. 

I'm always telling people, reduce, reuse, recycle. This should not only apply to our paper products, plastic bottles, soda cans but that it should also apply to our organs. If I'm dead what the flip am I going to do with my organs? I'd love it if I was able to help save a life just like our donor saved Kevin and maybe other lives for all we know. It's something to think about and something to share with your friends and family members.

I've checked off the box that says yes to donating my organs, have you?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

this time of year

This fourth of July will mark two years since Kevin got the call for a new heart.

The fifth of July will mark two years post heart transplant for Kevin. 

This time of year not only reminds me of how grateful I am but it also reminds me of a time when our friends and family stood by us through the storm. The family that gave themselves so freely to us in our time of need. This time of year I get very sentimental and emotional. I play back that phone call, those feelings, the drive to the hospital, the waiting, the joy. When I flip through the clothes in my closet I always stop at the red shirt I wore that day. I can’t help it. I’m surrounded by memories that I get so caught up in smiling at them all.

This time of year always reminds me of how much I appreciate my friends. In particular, those that were with me in the waiting room, the princess blanket that kept me warm, the ones that held my hand, the phone calls, the text messages, those who didn’t think I was crazy when I asked “do I look OK? Do I need more lipstick?” They knew my reasoning. The ones who spooned me, fed me when my hands were too tired to pick up the fork, and those who are still my very closest friends today.

This time of year reminds me that generosity of ones self comes in many different forms. For this, I am grateful. Whoever you are, wherever you are, thank you for my husband's heart. My children and I are thank you from the bottom of our hearts.