Archive for June, 2009

BetterMe!!

June 30, 2009
Did you know that heart disease and stroke are the #1 and #2 killers of women in America??? Those diseases kill nearly twice as many women as all forms of cancer. Pretty shocking isn’t it. Well, there’s more… As you get older and age, you lose some of your body’s natural protection against heart disease. So, as they say, there is no time like the present to start taking care of your heart!!
At Go Red For Women, they have developed a 12-Week program to help teach you more about how to take care of your heart and become healthy. Simply saying “Well, I eat healthy” or “I exercise all the time” isn’t enough. Your heart effects every other organ in your body. When it shuts down, the rest of your body does too.
And if you don’t think you can do anything to prevent heart disease, well think again! About 80% of heart disease IS preventable if we choose to act now and start living heart healthy!! Still not convinced?? 1 in 3 women will die of heart disease. 1 in 3!! So 2 will live and 1 will die. I know you want to be in my group!! Ha!
It is never to late to start loving your heart. Knowledge is power, but it’s not enough. Take action with me. I’m chosing to live, will you?
Sign up for your 12 week program today: http://www.goredforwomen.org/BetterU/index.aspx
Become a BetterU and a Better Heart!

[clearspring_widget title=”BetterMe Coaching Tool” wid=”4a146c35506b0253″ pid=”4a4501eb7cd7020d” width=”300″ height=”272″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

This will be a new series on the site (BetterU) so you can follow my progress of how I am doing, and let me know how you’re doing as well.
Here are my goals for the week:
1. Eat a heart healthy fruit, veggie, whole grain, or lean meat with every meal.
2. Exercise at least 10 minutes three times this week.

For anyone new to this site, that second goal may not seem like anything to you, but for me with a severely weakened heart who hasn’t been able to exercise its a big one! And I plan on accomplishing it!

Join me and LOVE YOUR HEART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Give an Inch, Take a Mile

June 26, 2009

A friend of mine posted the best quote on her facebook page by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” In essence that is what I have done over the last month & a half. I’ve been holding on as tightly as I can. Over the years I’ve come to realize that MS doesn’t sit still for very long. Just when things are quiet enough and your guard is down, the MonSter (as us MSers so adequately call it) will strike. Unfortunately I am learning that Heart Failure operates in much of the same fashion. I’ve been too tired to fight, so I’ve tied my knot and held on. And what’s the saying – it takes more muscles to frown than to smile?? Have you ever seen a serious fighter enter into a battle giggling? I would put my money on no. While I’ve been too tired to fight, I haven’t been too tired to smile or share a good laugh. And that has been what’s held me on that rope.

When I got diagnosed with MS I decided that “never” was not a word that would enter into my vocabulary. Any sentence with that word in it was simply a sentence not worth listening to. If someone told me I couldn’t, I would prove I could. I tried to take the same approach with Heart Failure. I’m quickly realizing it doesn’t quite work the same way. “Never” with HF may simply mean “just not right now” or it may truly mean “never” if I want to stay alive. And if I’m serious about beating this and not letting go of that rope, I have to understand and respect the difference. I’ll give you an example – skydiving, one of my loves and passions in life! My doc told me yesterday that I would never go skydiving again. In my heart I hope that really means just not right now. But in my mind I know the reality is my heart will probably never be strong enough again to sustain the intense adrenaline kick of skydiving. (with my heart as weak as it is right now, if I went skydiving there is a good chance I would go into cardiac arrest and be dead before I ever hit the ground). To be honest, if my heart does get back into the “healthy” range, I’m not so sure I’m willing to take that risk anymore. A definite change of perspective. At least I can say I’ve jumped not once, but three times…. And I have the video proof to watch when I get those urges to soar.

Yesterday I went to my monthly checkup with the cardiologist. My ejection fraction has bumped up from 25% to 30%. It’s still not in the “healthy” range, but we are moving in the right direction. In the past I would take this news and just run with it – literally. Badger my doc to let me back into the gym, back into my dance class. He would give me an inch, I would ask for a mile. (actually, if I’m being completely honest here, I would ask for the whole wall of China!) But today as I am grabbing a hold of my rope, I’m just going to be thankful for the inch I have. Thankful that while I am too tired to fight, I’m not too tired to smile. Because I do believe it was those deep belly laughs and smiles on my heart that gave me those 5 points yesterday – and nothing else. So, I will take every inch you will give me and polite decline asking for the mile.

Who Says You Can’t Go Home??

June 23, 2009

I will never forget the day I left to go to college. I had my Jeep packed to the rim and drove off as my mom stood in the driveway crying and waving goodbye to her little girl. When I said goodbye I also said I would never come back home (I would come home for holidays, but I would never move back home). At 18 I already knew everything there was to know about the world and was ready to tackle it. And in that knowledge I knew that home was never where I would be happy or be successful. Once I started college, I kept my word. Each summer I stayed in Knoxville, anxious to finish my degrees and become queen of corporate america.

I moved to Atlanta after college and just fell in love with this city. I loved the fast-paced lifestyle, I loved the competitiveness to climb that ladder faster than anyone else. I loved the push to be better, to look better, to have the best “things”. And for almost a decade I have kept up with this grueling pace. But between MS and my heart failure, I have quickly come to realize I no longer live in the land I once knew and something is going to have to change.

“I was looking for something I couldn’t replace
I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known
Who says you can’t go home
There’s only one place, they call me one of their own”
  (Bon Jovi – Who Says You Can’t Go Home)

Lately I have been spending a lot of time back in my hometown of Tifton. People often make the mistake of saying that because Southerners have a thick accent or they talk slower, or overall operate at a slower pace means they aren’t as intelligent as others. I beg to differ. I always fought the slower way of life, but here lately I have come to appreciate it more and more.  No matter where you go, no matter what happens in your life – you always have home to go back to. And as much as I swore off that, as much as I fought hard to never have to go back home. I have a serene peace in being there. A comfort that I can’t find here in Atlanta.

“With every step I take I know I’m not alone
You take the home from the boy, but not the boy from his home
These are my streets, the only life I’ve ever known
Who says you can’t go home”

My doc has begged me to slow down, to relax. In Tifton I can do that. Because that is just how business is done down there. And don’t underestimate the financial power of this town. You make time in the morning to read the paper and drink your cup of coffee. You make time to sit down and eat lunch. You make time to cook dinner and eat together as a family. And you make time to share a few laughs and share what’s going on in your life. But in the midst of all of this, you get business done too. That’s just not how it works here in Atlanta. It feels like its a rush to find your way thru the chaos that’s called life here. You eat breakfast in the car, you’re constantly fighting traffic, you have to schedule time to catch up with your friends. And it makes me wonder just how much of life we’ve been missing….. Maybe as I’m getting older I realize more and more the importance of family. Or maybe I am finally realizing that slowing down doesn’t mean you can’t be productive and happy or successful. It’s actually the opposite.

“It doesn’t matter where you are, It doesn’t matter where you go
If it’s a million miles away or just 10 miles up the road
Take it in, Take it where you go
Who says you can’t go home”

I turn 32 years old this year. And I always thought I knew my sister pretty well, that we had a close relationship. But it has been the most special gift from God the time He has given me with her over the last couple of months. I get so excited to stop by the farmer’s market on the way to Tifton and pick out whatever goodies I’m going to cook. I look forward to cranking up the ipod, grabbing a cucumber for a microphone and singing and dancing our way around the kitchen. I laughingly enjoy getting up in the morning and reading all four pages of the Tifton paper. I cherish the talks, the laughs and the cries we’ve experienced. I feel like my sister has brought me back home, a place that maybe I belong. She has helped to open up a way of life to me that I just couldn’t find in Atlanta, a way of life I so desperately needed to survive. In a way, Julie has been a pivotal stepping stone in helping to save my heart. I don’t know, maybe in our own little ways, we’ve helped to save each other.

So who says you can’t go home? For the first time in my life, I no longer have any ties that are keeping me in Atlanta. And that in itself is such a freeing feeling. Knowing I can go anywhere my little heart desires.

Take this sinking ship and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice, you had the choice
You’ve made it now
”   (The Frames – Falling Slowly)

I’ve got my life vest on, but I know my ship won’t sink. It’s just a matter of turning the tides to point me home again. And there is such a safety knowing I can always go home again.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

June 15, 2009

I used to hate this comment as a kid. I always wanted to know my birthday gifts before my birthday. And every year I would get the inevitable, “Good things come to those who wait…”. I want everything with my heart to get better over night. Now I get this statement from my doc, along with the other laundry list of orders I follow. If you follow this blog then you already know that patience is a virtue I struggle with. When I decide I want something, I want it now. The interesting thing is that this whole heart failure journey is slowly teaching me that the fast way isn’t always the best way. Sometimes its good to let things sit and marinate.

If anyone out there cooks then you know meat taste better when it’s had time to marinate. One of my favorite lamb recipes says you can marinate it for 2 hours. But it honestly taste better if you marinate it overnight. And if you especially want the meat nice and tender, then let it marinate for 2 days. The longer you marinate, the better the flavors infuse into the meat and tenderize it. Same holds true for my homemade salsa. Its always better the next day after all the ingredients have had time to really incorporate. Good things come to those who wait.

So…. what happens if you are the extremely impatient one in the equation? After a long time searching, you finally “think” you know what you want. What if it’s just not the right time? What if in the end it’s not the right answer you’ve been waiting for? How do you truly know? I keep being told to sit still and listen. To be patient. And at least over the last month I have. (My way wasn’t working, so I decided to give the patience route a go at it). From doing this, so much has come to light with me, so much has come to the forefront that I never considered before. So… obviously now it has my mind spinning in a million different directions. But as its spinning, there is at least one clear path I see. A path that was completely hidden from my sight before.  But it’s a path that I don’t 100% feel if I am ready to walk down. I could wait….. and see…… If good things really do come to those who wait…..

But what if I am waiting on the wrong path? At what point do you let go and accept that this isn’t the way God intended your life to be? How do you know? And in the meantime…. are you passing up what could be right in front of you?

Good things come to those who wait. I just don’t know how long I should let this one marinate????

It Betta For You

June 12, 2009

If you had to guess, what do you think would happen if you put 15 women in a house together, locked the doors for the weekend, forced them all to share bathrooms, made sure that the most controversial topics are discussed, oh… and splashed a little alcohol on top for good measure? Most people would think this sounds like a disaster in the making, a volcano waiting to explode. But if you are one of the ladies in the Bowyer family, this is the best weekend of the entire year – Girls Rock Weekend at Rocky Top Rendeavous!!

Whether its listening to all the bears hybernating in the same cave, popping those VIVA pills,laughing at Ray Charles playing Apples-2-Apples, contemplating the irony between cellfish-cannibals that are canadian- psychics who do well in physics, or being sung to sleep by the lovely melody of Adel Weise (sp??), this weekend has become one of my most cherished memories year after year. And I believe in the bottom parts of my heart, that there is truly no better medicine for my heart or my soul than the sound of all my “sistas” laughing and giggling with me. Or sitting at the dining room table, hugging and crying with me.

The bond this family has forged is strong enough to move mountains – even “Rocky” ones that we all face in our lives. A smile here, a wink there… a laughter contagious enough to spread across the whole house (even if you are asleep..). The tears you see are all specs of joy leaving one soul and reaching out to grab another – to bond us tightly together like blood sisters. A bond that will never be broken. And I hope you ladies know, that each and every one of you are a few of my favorite things.

For anyone in the clan who couldn’t make it this year, you were deeply missed. We hope you will make it next year, cuz partying with the Rocky Top Girls it betta for you!! Now getcha boots made for walkin’ and I will see you again next year – somewhere over the rainbow!! I love you ladies!!

Posting Comments on this Blog

June 11, 2009

With this blog I have made the commitment to post the good, the bad and the ugly going on in my life. The same is true with the comments people leave on here. While I moderate all comments that are left, I welcome people to disagree or challenge my thoughts and perspectives, especially if you strongly feel otherwise. But if you want your comments posted for the rest of the world to read, then clean up your language and have a little respect for my other readers. This isn’t just a blog written in outerspace – I have family members, doctors and collegues that follow this site, people of all ages. And the comment I received on “So You Think You Can Dance” was so too filthy and vulgar to even approve.  I acknowledge the fact that you very clearly don’t like my blog, and that’s fine. Well, newsflash – if you hate it that much, stop reading it! If you want to find a more PG-rated version to express your hateful views then you’ll get your comment posted. If not, go find another blog to harrass. This is not the place.

Oh, and PS – don’t think I didn’t catch the “crunk”. I am far from being naive, stupid or predictable. Don’t underestimate.

So You Think You Can Dance????

June 10, 2009

Your centerstage, it’s the audtion of your life. If you can make it to the Top 20, your on the national tv show and destined for stardom. But not everyone gets thru so easily. A select few get the ticket to Las Vegas immediately, and others have to come back for choreography to see if they can hack it. Once in Vegas, a week of grueling routines to push your body to the limits and test your true capabilities as an artist. You have pulled out every trick in the book, every move you have ever known to show you are one of the best to show that yes, you CAN dance. And now you are being told, “You must dance for your life”. Here is the moment you will literally dance for your life.

I feel like that is how MS and HF (heart failure) have been inside of me lately. It’s been this dance-off to see who is better to capture the title. Who is strong enough, has enough talent to make thru to the next round. They are going back and forth, each time one showcasing a move the other has never seen before. A move unique enough to get them that round’s vote.

I can just see the judges comments now…. MS, you have the pop and lock down solid. Your hip hop is a step above the best – your lines are crisp! HF – your contempary is par none, such fluidity in your movement. You are definitely in your element! But can you bring some character to the competition? You have the training, how flexible are you with different genres? It’s now time to dance for your lives….

If I am giving my vote, right now it goes to MS. I have to say MS truly brought to the forefront a new move that none of us had ever seen. The way you twisted that spinal seizure to lock my neck in place against my shoulder was priceless. And yet, while you had it locked, not once did you ever stop the continual movement of spasms down my lower back showcasing the power in my abs. It was the best reverse snake if I’ve ever seen one. Yes, you get the ticket to continue to the next round.

But wait…. what’s this??? HF isn’t done just yet? If you want to win this competition you have to bring a little some’em-some’em that is unique, different, fiery, ferocioius! You have got to bring it!

Well, as Nigel would say, Que the Music! Stay tuned to see how this dance off plays out…..

And, Que Music!

RockStar

June 3, 2009

“You can’t be me, I’m a Rockstar. I’m riding on the top of a cop car.”  Well, actually I’m hooked up to an IV right now in the infusion center. I’m listening to N.E.R.D., but I do feel like a rockstar right now. I should be mad and frustrated because my MS has been going haywire. One day it’s my heart, next MS, then my heart again, then employment shit, then this or that. Naaahhhh…. this IV is a good thing. I think this is going to be a turning point.

Wait, what’s that sound…. “its my heart beat, it’s getting much louder, my heart beat… it’s stronger than ever. I’m feeling so alive…” (A Twist in My Story, Secondhand Serenade). Sorry, I can’t help it that I have some really good music on my ipod…..

The funny thing is my heart actually isn’t stronger than ever right now and that’s okay. That song goes on to say “it’s time I opened up & let your love flow thru me”. And that’s what I have done since unplugging. I was so mad at everything going on with my health and how it effected every aspect of my life that I wouldn’t open up and let anyone’s love flow thru me – not my parent’s, not my friends’, and worse of all, not even God’s. Sometimes you just have to let others fight the fight for you. As much as the martial artist in me wants to get on that mat and open up a big can of whoop ass on reality, I’m just not physically strong enough to do that right now. And that’s okay. ROCKSTAR!
And just in case you might be thinking along the wrong train of thought, HELL NO this doesn’t make me weak. Continuing to beat myself up, continuing to push my heart past exhaustion, continuing to try and fix MS on my own, continuing to think I have to carry the entire weight of the world on my shoulders – that makes me weak. (Besides, “technically” it’s Obama’s job to carry the weight of world on his shoulders…)

It has taken me 6 months to get to this point. A place my cardiologist has fought tooth and nail with me on. He will be ever so pleased when he gets back from China!! I finally just unplugged. Just pulled the cord out of the wall to stop the electric current of craziness to my brain. So, for anyone out there thinking I’ve given up – think again! I’m simply sitting on the bench and sending in my back-up players: my doctors, my medicine, my family & friends, GOD to do the fighting for me so I can sit still and rest. And when my body is strong enough then I’ll get back on the matt. Every quaterback has a back-up, every baseball team has multiple pitchers. The same goes for me. It’s time for me to sit a few games (or in my case, fights) out. Ironically, I had warned reality that when you mess with me, you mess with my whole family. Betcha didn’t think I’d actually pull out a whole army on ya, huh?? There is one of you, there’s a lot more on my side. We’ll see who taps out first now! Ha!! How’s that for strategy! ROCKSTAR!

One thing I would like you to understand is that with the addition of heart failure, my power had been compromised and I needed to feel strong again. Hence, I did what I knew how to do best, I fought. I fought like hell. Strength somes from more places than just your physical muscles. With MS I always used to say it didn’t matter if it took away my legs, it would never take my mind and your brain is the strongest muscle in your body. So as long as I could use that, I could fight. About damn time I started using it, huh???

So… to answer the question that I know is burning in your mind – No, you still can’t be me, I’m a ROCKSTAR!!