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.

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.

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:)

Being Thankful this Thanksgiving:)

As a Aussie family in the US we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey and pumpkin pie for dessert (we will go without candied yams (sweet potato and marshmellos).

As I sit and ponder the process for the day, what time to put the turkey in and how many people will be filling our house – we like to open our home to those that are not travelling to family or those that are not having family visit – another part of Military Life, I cannot stop thinking about all that I am Thankful for.

I am thankful to be here to celebrate with my family and to welcome new friends and old into our home.

I am thankful for my husband who I have always loved and admired and for the man he is today. It’s been a journey for us and has certainly made our marriage even stronger.

I am thankful for our children who keep me busy, who understand when I need a nap and who keep me laughing and smothered in love, even if they are laughing at my grey hair. It’s the hugs and the ‘love you mumma’ that I am thankful for the most.

I am thankful for the love and support that we have received this year from those we love and for those who we had only just met.

I am thankful for the generosity of those we live near.

I am thankful for the phone calls, text messages, facebook messages I have and still am recieving from people checking in to see how my beating heart is. I understand how busy everybody is but am truly thankful that these are ongoing – our lives are filled with amazing people.

I am thankful for those that have offered their prayers for our family and for those that paused to think about us.

I am thankful that I have found the joys and frustration that is the game of golf to keep my mind focused, body moving and some amazing ladies to laugh with.

I am thankful for those that have joined me on my blogging journey and for taking the time to read, share and follow.

No matter where we are, we do not need a Thanksgiving holiday to be thankful. Be kind, give somebody a helping hand, make that phone call, tell somebody you love them, give that hug, cook that meal for somebody, write that note and be the best version of you!

Don’t take anyone for granted, be thankful for the people in your life, show them love, show them kindess

The joy of writing and why I do (try)!

My writing style is free and casual. I write about feelings, thoughts and opinions that are important to me or about topics that have affected my family and I.

My writing comes from my knowledge, my own personal knowledge, by talking and listening to others.

My writing comes from experience – the experience of being a wife and mother, an army wife and mother, a mil spouse, a friend, a daughter and a survivor.

My writing is based on what I am thinking and feeling at the time. I take notes, both written and mental during the day, when I’m grocery shopping and when I’m trying to sleep.

My writing is an outlet and a journey for me. A place to share, connect and hopefully help somebody else on their journey.

My writing for me is therapeutic in a sense, the struggles I face, the acceptance that my life has changed a little as opposed to what it was nearly 7 months ago but also the struggles we all face.

I believe that every person has a story, a story to be shared, a story that we can all learn from. My battles are centred around as strange as it sounds – not being able to workout the way that I was, that I am learning to respect and trust my body again, to keep calm when I get a niggle in my chest/back/arm or jaw and to be aware of my emotions and triggers that may send me into a flood of tears – these battles are shared by many, but my battles are nothing compared to others. I am thankful for my health, my family and our friends, I am also thankful for the roof over our heads, the warmth from the heater, the food and clothes that we have and also for the experiences we have had and look forward to.

We all have a story. Be kind, be respectful and carve your own journey!

Life after SCAD – update

5.5 months post SCAD & Heart Attack
The wrinkles are raw, the muscles are gone, the grey hair is coloured and my bald spot is regrowing….BUT, here I am!

This week has seen me hit 5.5 months post SCAD and Heart Attack!!

I have written about my MUGA Scan and short hospital stay in August but wanted to share a little more information about what I undersent and have learnt since then.

After receiving the brilliant news on 3rd July that my heart function had normalised and was pumping at 62% we had a small set back at the beginning of August when I experienced chest pain that didn’t seem to budge, of course this was exasperated by anxiety concerning another possible heart issue – thankfully my Cardiologist and the amazing medical team at Providence Medical Centre knew my history and proceeded to set mine and their minds at rest.

I underwent some heart scans prior to returning to my ward for a burger with fries, a can of coke, chocolate chip cookie and ice-cream…..bazaar to be eating in the Cardiac Ward however, it was for a cause. As I had been injected with contrast dye, I needed to eat a fatty meal for the next set of scans to fully work.

The next step was a stress test – this was no ordinary treadmill stress test. For me, it was a Chemical Stress Test with me seated in a comfy recliner. I was injected with medication that speed up my heart rate and dilated the arteries in just the same way your body reacts during exercise. I was instructed to sit still, was covered in monitors and warned that once the chemical makes its way around my body, I would literally have my breath taken away as I would during hard exercise. It was crazy, surprising
and I can assure you no kilograms were lost during this type of ‘exercise’. While the scan is being taken, the medical team are monitoring and are able to see any ‘cold spots’ in both the heart and arteries.

The results were all clear, my heart and arteries were functioning exactly as they should, and the diagnosis was residual chest cavity inflammation – GREAT NEWS!

Since this little scare, my mind has taken a complete reset. Not only do I have a healthy and fully functioning heart, my mind is clear and not frightened. The percentage for reoccurrence of SCAD is different on every research undertaken but ranges between 10-30%. Upon my initial diagnoses, this scarred me greatly, however, the numbers are in my favour and I am not going to live in fear of something that may never happen.

Life is for living and we can only control what we can. My exercise routine is slow but I am back exercising every day, whether it be a 30 minute walk on the treadmill, 30 minutes on the spin bike or golf I know that for my mind and heart, this is what I need to do. Would I love to be crossfitting – absolutley….but I won’t.