I was going to publish my blog on why I love the article The Science of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day and how it relates to heart disease and clean eating this week but it will have to wait. I’ve been sitting on this blog for a week not entirely sure how to write it. You see, last week we lost one of our heart sisters. Sweet Sadie passed away after too much rejection and failure of her donor heart. Thirty one years old with two very young boys.
I first met Sadie through the American Heart Association in Kansas City. We volunteered and advocated together. I really got to spend time with her in May of 2015 at the Kansas City Heart Walk. Back then, she was hauling around an LVAD that was keeping her alive until they could find a donor heart. She certainly didn’t let it slow her down and we had a great day. What she was going through was sudden onset and I do believe she was happy to be with women who all had heart disease. Her smile was gorgeous and contagious and so full of life.
Sadie with Dontari Poe of the Kansas City Chiefs
As May turned into June in 2015, my daughters and I flew to New York City. I can remember being in the NBC building when the news came that they had found Sadie a heart. I remember being so happy and elated for her and yet incredibly sad. What an odd conundrum to hope that someone gets a new heart for it means that someone else has to die.
Sadie continued to volunteer and became one of our heart sisters, one of the survivors; survivors of heart failure, stroke, heart attack and congenital heart disease. My heart sisters are an amazing group of women that I became a part of after my widow maker heart attack at 42 (although recently a cardiologist told me by the looks of all of my records I actually suffered SCAD). I really think her favorite event was Girls Night Out at the K. The Kansas City Royals sponsor a great fundraising event every year. She loved going out on the field with the survivors and running in the ketchup, mustard and relish race with our heart sister Debbie. She’d just gotten her new heart and there she is dragging that hot dog costume around on the field. I personally missed that one but the story is Epic among the heart sisters!
Sadie at her first GNO on the right as ketchup
Sadie at the 2017 GNO with her mom and boys
She was striving to be well enough to go to GNO at the K this coming Friday. Instead, two days ago we gathered to say goodbye. I gathered with the other amazing survivors that have supported me and inspired me on my journey. It was a beautiful service and the church was packed and we laughed, cried and spent the day reminiscing.
As we gathered to spend the day and say goodbye, the underlying feeling of mortality was palpable between all of us. We have all survived events that are the number one killer of women.
The harsh reality is that the number one predictor of having a cardiac event is already having had one so we are all at super high risk. Heart disease is a chronic and progressive diagnosis and as much as we try to get back to normal life, that notion is always in the back of our heads. Most of us have done an excellent job of recovering and returning not to our old normal but to a new normal. I have spent significant time trying to make sure heart disease does not define me. On a day like Sadie’s funeral, I wonder if that has been the right path.
Maybe that path has led me to not make it a priority just one month short of 7 years post STEMI. The newness has worn off and I survived it. Losing my heart sister and knowing that this my fate too at some point is sobering. I get farther away and less compliant and my pre-event lifestyle starts to creep back in. I’m sure there is a happy medium somewhere between hypervigilance and totally ignoring the fact that I am a survivor of a heart attack. I am trying to find that right now. Moving my way back to plant-based and getting up off the couch is a good start. It is a struggle to find the happy medium. In the meantime, I am going to move back to the camp of being proud that heart disease defines me. It is the better option.
As I am traveling this road back to skinny bitch, I need something from all of you. In honor of Sadie I need you to become and organ donor if you are not already. You can register here and make sure it is on your drivers license. Also make sure your family knows your wishes. Even though it may not sound like a long time to you, those three years that Sadie got with her family were precious minutes to them. You can’t take them with you when you leave but there are countless people who need organs to save their lives and experience priceless extra time with those that love them.
Godspeed sweet Sadie, Cheers to you.
Until next time — Jodi