10 Months post SCAD & HA

This week saw me reach a milestone in my journey – 10 months post SCAD and Heart Attack…….

The 10 month mark finds me with more energy, a clearer mind (thanks to the sun coming out) and plans for the rest of the year being made.

I am able to comfortably walk for 45-60 minutes and have enjoyed being able to walk for longer periods of time. Today I ran into one of my cross-fit buddies and the angst of not being able to rejoin is tough. My cardiologist cleared me for a return to cross-fit a little while back at a reduced tempo and with modified sessions – unfortunately, the truth is I can’t be trusted! I know that I would quickly get swept up in the joy and pain of the box and would be trying to once again lift heavy and work harder than the day before. My family have also said ‘no way’ and I cannot argue with that.

Another first has been having my husband away for three nights this past weekend. It seems strange coming from an army wife, but three nights was bloody tough. I have never been able to sleep well when he has been away but due to being healthy and working I was always able to manage. These three nights were really hard. The lack of sleep left me absolutely shattered and antsy by the time he returned. The girls were fantastic (little man was away golfing with dad), and were great at ‘mumma sitting’. Upon the boys arrival home, I was in bed at 1930 and slept for nearly 12 hours straight – it was amazing.

I am more aware of my body and what it is trying to tell me. I feel every twinge and to be honest, sometimes I over think every little heart flutter and I will be working on getting in control of some of the anxiety that sometimes creeps in. Thankfully, it is not an everyday occurance.

A recent check up with the GP for bloods was met with great results. The concoction of medication I am on has thankfully not affected my kidney or liver function. Platelet count is fantastic (always a good sign when you have previously had really low platelet count and no spleen), cholesterol is great (never been an issue) and all other counts look great. I struggle to take head ache medicine so being on this amount of meds everyday I still find difficult but am fully aware that the benefits currently outway not taking them.

March is coming quickly and we look forward to spending spring break by the ocean and seeing some amazing friends. March will also see my Cardiologist follow up appointment. It will be just shy of 12 months and I look forward to chatting with him about the future and new research that has come about.

This week is SCAD Awareness week and I encourage you to talk to your friends and family, point them in the direction of the SCAD Research Australia website https://scadresearch.com.au, read the stories of survivors and to follow the most update research/ findings available, ways to become involved, donate, volunteer.

New SCAD t-shirt

As always, thank you for following the journey.

Lessons I have learnt as a Mil. Spouse and from other Military Spouses.😀

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a Military Spouse, we get to experience so many levels of emotion and change. For me, the past 22 years have been challenging and amazing. We have said many ‘see you soon’s to our Soldier and to those around us. We have meet and made so many wonderful friends across the globe, shared wonderful times and of course said many goodbyes.

I am proud of they way I have been able to conduct myself and have never been caught up in the battle of spouses and spouses ranks. I have, however been on the other side where my husband’s rank has been significant for other spouses. There have been times when I have been introduced as Mrs Mulligan, the wife of insert rank Mulligan and have had spouses not engage in a conversation either because my husband was an Officer or a lower/higher rank than their spouse – I admire people for being themselves and for the way they conduct themselves as people not because of who they are married too (regardless of military or civilian)

Below you will find some amazing words of wisdom and guidance from spouses I have been fortunate enough to be on this crazy journey with.

Kindness

Always choice kindness. Surround yourself with positive people, especially during a deployment and avoid drama as much as necessary.

Spouses Rank

Don’t wear your spouses rank, be approachable because we were all that junior wife at some stage and we were all intimidated by the more “seasoned” wives.  

Your spouse is the rank wearer. Never confuse that with your role. I am not in the military therefore I am a spouse…not a LTC.

Inclusion

Always provide an inclusive environment. Everybody wants to be a part of something and to feel welcome. Remember we were all newbies at one stage and in fact everytime we pcs / post to a new location we are that person again.

Experience

Share your experience and guidance but do so in a kind and non patronising manner. Whilst we are all going through the same things (deployments, field exercises, long absenses, courses) we all manage differently and by sharing your experience you may just help somebody else.

Get Involved

Get involved in your surroundings, the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion. This does not mean you have to immerse yourself in everything military, but knowing who to contact in an emergency, where you can gain support and meet people.

Attend family functions, parades.

Try to get involved in something you enjoy whether it’s a job, volunteering, taking classes, getting together for a play group with others mums, etc. the more you reach out and form positive relationships with others the better your experience will be.

Get involved quickly – you meet the most amazing people that way. Focus on the amazing things the military brings – great opportunities, new people and new places – and amazingly resilient children.

Support

Remember that we are all in this together and that we need to support each other not judge each other. Surround yourself with like minded people.

Support each other, support the Unit, the Squadron, the Battalion and Family Support Groups, Defence Community Organisations.

Look for opportunities to help others out, especially if you are feeling down or isolated. It will bless you as much as those you are helping and if you ever have a need you won’t feel so bad about asking for help.

Find a good friend who enjoys a wine (& a whine!) and you’ll be fine!!

Stay true to yourself

If you have something you enjoy doing keep doing it, if hubby is home still do what you enjoy (it is only going to be be a few hours).

Faith

If faith is important to you I would encourage you to grow deeper in this area. The knowledge that there is a grand plan and they are never truly alone even though sometimes it feels like it is extremely comforting.

Communication

Is what keeps an army marriage healthy, find the time after both having busy days to talk, this way there is no second guessing, you both know how each other are at that time and what is happening in the family.

Calendar

Always get a rough calendar from your spouse (if possible) of events, field excerises etc so you can plan yours and kids lives whilst he or she isn’t there.

Try not to get stressed about things you have no control over.

Understand that while your spouse wants to spend more time with you and the family his job is such that the mission comes first and it is inevitable that he/she will miss birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays… it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.

Posting / Duty Stations

Make the most of the places you are posted to.

Every job and duty station in the military is temporary but at the end of the day family is the most important so nurture those relationships even if it means sometimes making sacrifices.

You will almost always be stationed away from family so do not be afraid to create family from those around you.

Don’t compare the places you live to one another. Just go to the next PCS, plug in and hunt the good stuff!!

Gossip and Private Situations

Speak positively about your spouse and your children to others and work through challenges between the two of you or with the help of a professional instead of “airing dirty laundry” to anyone willing to listen.

Spouse gossip doesn’t just hurt the spouses in the rear, it makes things harder for the troops on the front line as well (from a US Commander).

1998 – my first year as a spouse.

To me, being a Military Spouse is an amazing honour. One that I am proud to be. To my battle buddies across the globe, Thank You! Thank you for the sacrifices that you make each day, thank you for the support you have given me, thank you for the laughs, tears and wine we have shared.

Thank you for your wisdom in the words above, for guiding me and mostly thank you for being you!

A little 'Mind Fog'!

This week I admit has been a little tough mentally! The weather is grey and so is my mind. I’m not sad or concerned, I’m just caught in a funk due to the weather.

Yes, I am a warm weather, sun loving girl! The snow is beautiful when it’s falling and and I am sure if we were on a specific snow holiday it would be amazing. Living in it is completely different, the melting snow, the slush is not so beautiful.

My whole family has cabin fever, cabin fever for the golf course, the sun, the vitamin D and for being outdoors – yes there is plenty that we could still do outside but we are warm blooded soles.

The weather affects me mentally, it makes my mind feel as clouded as the sky and only the sun shining warmly will fix it. Whilst I am in this funk, I have however managed to keep my body active thanks to the treadmill and spin bike. I have been sticking to my goals made earlier in the year and have been enjoying (up until this week) walking outside most days with some great ladies.

To help with this fog, I have ejoyed some reading on SCAD in the news, looked at holiday plans and binged watched some tv…….how do you clear your mind fog?

2020 – Making Goals not Resolutions

39 Weeks post SCAD & Heart Attack

As we welcome a New Year we often set ourselves resolutions that we rarely stick to for more than a few weeks or months. I too have been guilty of setting myself unrealistic or unattainable resolutions.

This year I have set GOALS and not RESOLUTIONS and to understand why we first need to look at the definition of both and from there we will understand why this is the perfect way to ring in the new year.

A goal as defind by Lexico is The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. https://www.lexico.com/definition/goal. or by Cambridge as an aim or purpose: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/goal

Cambridge defines a resolution as a promise to yourself to do something: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/resolution.

By setting ourselves goals and not resolutions we are giving ourselves something to work towards, an attainable achievement. A goal can be achieved by working towards smaller goals, smaller achievements along the way – a place were small progress is made and seen. Once we start setting ourselves resolutions, we are promising ourselves to do something, this in itself is often unattainable as we set ourselves one major promise without being able to celebrate each and every small step along the way.

Resolutions around the world are predominantly centred around weight loss, fitness, healthy eating and saving money – all with one set number or achievement in mind. Whether you are wanting to loose 5kg or 50kg, save $1000 or $40000, run 1km or 42km setting smaller goals will help make this achievable and you will be able to celebrate the smaller victories along the way – helping to keep you focused and on the way to complete your journey.

Now to me, no resolutions only goals. The goals I have set this year are also along the same line – fitness, weight loss, healthy eating and saving money. These goals are not extreme, I am not looking at running a marathon, loosing 50kg or saving vast amounts of money. What I have set are the following and the reason for these is also set out.

1. Walk Outside – this might sound crazy but since my SCAD & heart attack in April I have not been for a walk outside by myself other than to do the groceries. I have been walking on the treadmill in our basement. I want to get back to being comfortable to walk a few km outside in the fresh air. (quick update – my mum had been visiting during Christmas from Australia and we were also dog sitting – we walked everyday and I am excited to share that on the 1st of January I went for my first 2km walk with just myself, the dog and fresh air. It was amazing and has meant I accomplised for first goal of 2020, I have also been everyday since).

2. Swim – as my SCAD and heart attack symptoms began in the swimming pool after I had been swimming medley every four minutes with a minute rest in between I have been frightened to return to the pool. My goal this year is to jump back in (new swimmers purchased as the ones I was wearing were cut from me during the emergency). Swimming will again be different than before – no butterfly and not backstroke, simple freestyle and breaststroke.

3. Fitness – continue rebuilding following my SCAD & Heart Attack in April. Cross fit will never again be apart of my plan but walking, swimming, biking and golf are all attainable. With my golf, I aim to being more consistant and to get a handicap.

4. Weight – my heart medication has played a big part in my weight gain after initially loosing 10kg from the heart attack and recovery. Whilst I am still on the medication (8 tablets a day) I hope that will more regularly moving I can shift a little weight. Small increments but my heart health is the most important.

5. Medication – I see my Cardiologist in March and hope that some of my medication can be futher reduced. He is my person and I trust his medical advice.

5. Money – Team Mulligan have some big plans for when we return to Australia this year. We have set ourselves several money goals this year and if we stick to our budget, all with be attainable and we will be travelling in comfort next year.

I look forward to reaching my little goals along the way, celebrating the best of me and enjoying the challenges that the journey presents along the way.

I wish you the very best for your goal setting in 2020. Go ahead, be brave, be consistant and follow the journey.

Quick Snippet

From our family to yours, may 2020 be full of love, laughter, good health and lots of memories.

May you move into 2020, with a healthy heart and mind.

May you be the best version of yourself.

May you continue to follow the journey.

I look forward to sharing a new blog post with you all soon.

Celebrating Christmas as a Military / Defence Family🎄

As a Military / Defence Family we quiet often celebrate Christmas away from our blood families, however, this does not mean we don’t celebrate or celebrate with ‘family’. Australia’s posting cycle is a major factor in Christmas plans – we usually get to spend one Christmas in our home in the posting location we are at as we are usually packing up a house and moving our life to somewhere new. December is the peak posting (PCS) cycle for us, it’s hot, the school year has finished and summer holidays have started.

One of the many joys of being a military family is getting to meet and form close relationships with other families all in the same boat – away from their own families.

This year we are lucky to have my mum visiting from Australia and although we were hoping she would have a white Christmas, it doesn’t seem likely (we had a big dumping of snow prior to her arrival). Whilst this takes our family count to 6, we will have a house full and a table set for 21!

We are excited to be welcoming other Military families into our home for Christmas who are also international and have no family here. The table will be set filling both the dining room and living room with 6 people from Australia, 4 from New Zealand, 3 from America, 4 from Spain and 4 from Brazil. Lunch will be a multicultral experience with roast lamb, roast vegetables, turkey, glazed ham, potato bake, cheesy brocoli, corn, peas, trifle, pavlova, Spanish wine and desserts also from Brazil and Spain.

The chatter filling the house will be vast and a learning experience for us all. The Spanish and Brazilian families working on their English and the rest of us excited to learn about other cultural experiences and Christmas traditions. Our eldest and the children from Spain and the eldest from Brazil know each other well and spend quiet a lot of time together both in and out of school, this will be a great memory for them to share.

Today, we had our Christmas photo taken with Santa while at Bass Pro. This year like some previous are shared with other special people joining in our photo. Today was Matilda, friends of ours from the UK who are also here on Exchange. Matilda is great friends with our daughter and she came along to spend the day. She is in the front row of our photo and we love that she joined in – more memories to share and treasure.

Christmas as a Military / Defence family may seem at times quiet and separated from the usual experience that families have at this time of year – we have shared many Christmas’s in motels, once at West Point Acadamy asking the Night Manager to write a note for the kids explaining they need to find their presents under a motel Christmas tree (they searched under 3 trees) and Christmas’ with family and friends.

From our family to yours, no matter what you believe or where you are – have a very Merry Christmas a happy & safe holiday.

Christmas can also be a lonely period for the Military / Defence Family with members on deployment, recalled from leave and those who we have lost. Consequently, spare a thought, say a prayer, open your home to other families and create new memories.

Taken at Christmas 2018 in South Dakota.
The Christmas stockings are our childrens and they travel with us every Christmas we are on the road.

Changes after Physical Trauma.

Taking up new obsession after cross fit.

Life after physical trauma can leave us with many negative thoughts and reactions – how we emotionally conquer these is half the battle!

After trauma, life changes and it generally changes for a lifetime. We have to reevaluate our day to day journey and the one we often took for granted – we have to learn how our new journey will take place.

Life for me prior to my SCAD / Heart Attack was busy, active and one that was simple. Prior to our posting to the US, I worked full-time in a primary school that I absolutely loved, was busy chasing the kids from activity to activity, had a husband in command, social activities were a plenty, two dogs that needed to be walked everyday, a spin bike that needed riding, I enjoyed the occasional drink(s).

We had never contemplated me becoming so close to not being here.

Life now, 8 months post SCAD / Heart Attack is still busy chasing the kids, still active but not quiet as simple as it onces was. I am currently not working due to being in the US and to be honest, I couldn’t work full time at the moment – the tiredness would see me napping under a desk.

Two of the biggest hurdles have been finding a new pace to keep active, keeping my mental health in check and embracing this new way of life.

I’ve discussed before my love for lifting weights and hammering it out in the gym, these days the activities I do are walking, indoor cycling (no hills) and playing golf. The pace is totally different and one that I am coming to terms with. The irony of my SCAD & Heart Attack is that I was doing everything in my power to keep my heart and body healthy – cardio, strength training, good diet and plenty of sleep and it seems that my love for hammering it out in the gym literally tore my artery….crazy!

The biggest mental battle I have is the medication – I am terrible at taking medication. I don’t like taking paracetomol for a headache so taking 8 tablets a day is just something I have to do but not something I will get used to – I do know it’s not forever and appreciate the benefits of why I’m taking it.

I have aways been fairly body conscious and stuggle most days with the way my body looks and the way it’s feeling at the moment. I try to focus on the the healthy points – my heart is strong, my artery has healed and I am alive. My husband is amazing and always tells me that he would rather have me a little rounded than not here…love the man for loving me the way I am.

For SCAD, the chance of reoccurence is about 30% and this sometimes plays on my mind – the what if’s. I don’t dwell on this number and I am certainly not living my life consumed by the number, nor do I think about it daily. I am aware, listen to my body and would rather live my life taking the advice and medical knowledge we currently know to ensure my heart stays strong but without putting undue pressure on it (no crossfit).

My family has also been impacted by the changes and the way we communicate on a daily basis has especially changed. I ensure that if I miss a phone call or receive a text from either my husband or kids, I reply asap. A wait in reply doesn’t necessarly send them into panic mode, but it does make them a little anxious. If I am going for a walk, shower or a nap, I send a quick text to let them know and one after when I am finished – I am certain this will tapper off but not just yet. It gives them a little piece of mind.

We all go through changes whether from a physical trauma, loss, move, change in circumstances, how we move forward is part of the challenge. My journey is still going forward:)