6 months ago today I had failed heart surgery/Case of the (Motivational) Mondays 1A

Hey all!  So today (August 18th) is an interesting day for me as it marks the 6 month anniversary of the day I went into the hospital for heart surgery...and it wasn't exactly a success.  You are probably thinking everything from, wait what?  Where are the scars?  I had no idea you had heart problems?!  Are you ok?  I shall explain all!

Wasn't that scared going in.  I was casually reading so my mom snapped this pic (as in this wasn't staged).  Book-What Would Grace Do??


I have a lot of things wrong with my health, but most notably I have a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia (or SVT) and because of (for layman's terms) some bad wirings in my heart my beats per minute randomly go up to 200 bpm while chilling out watching Netflix or something equally relaxing (the average adult heart rate at rest is usually around 80-100 bpm).  The first time it happened it was scary because I had no idea what was happening (it feels like what a cartoon must go through when they're scared or in love and you can see their heart beating out of their chest) but the past few times it's happened I've been more annoyed than anything.  You're just sitting there, minding your business, and suddenly your heart is pounding out of your rib cage.  Sometimes it goes down on it's own but if it doesn't after a few minutes you have to go to the hospital.  Some people pass out from an SVT attack, which baffles me because I consistently get the other common reaction which is to get an adrenaline rush that makes me leave the apartment with a cloud of smoke behind me like the Roadrunner (let's stick with the cartoon analogies!) because I can't sit still to save my life.  What happens if your heart rate still doesn't go down upon being checked into the ER and they can't do it manually (there's this breathing trick they make you try but it never works) they give you a drug through your IV that's totally awesome and totally scary at the same time called adenosine.  What adenosine does is it actually stops your heart.  Yup-you flatline and everything (for a second or two).  The reason it's safe is because it's metabolized by the body within about 10 seconds (hence you only flatline for a second) and your heart then resets itself at a healthier and lower heart rate.  Between being really good in a crisis and being used to the dramatics of these ER trips I'm usually just annoyed by the inconvenience and unexpected change in schedule and feel fiiiiine otherwise.  But then usually right before they spring me free I hit a huge wall because the adrenaline goes away and between the workout that 200 bpm is, ER trips are always draining, and the aftermath of the stress of having your heart stopped I crash completely and feel like a bus hit me for the next several days.  That's the part that's the most disruptive, at least for me.

Usual scene from getting your heart stopped.  Note the defibrillator pad on the floor after they were done that was attached to me previously "just in case" my ticker didn't restart. 

After a SVT attack right before Halloween last year I got put on the surgery trajectory.  It took 5 years to get to that place because I only have an attack that lands me in the ER every 1-2 years on average with a few smaller ones that go down on their own inbetween.  Some people get SVT attacks monthly (yikes!!!) so I'm a somewhat moderate case comparatively.  That said, I'm a complicated case because I have other health problems including energy issues so some medications they could put me on for preventative purposes aren't necessarily a desirable course of action.  By Halloween of last year the doctors were strongly suggesting I think about surgery and I was ready to go for it as there is a bit of a "sitting duck" sensation that I was more than ready to get rid of.

My first SVT attack in early 2009.  No, I didn't ask for this picture.

Sparring you from every last detail of what it all entailed and what went wrong (I could write a legitimate book on my story), here are the nuts and bolts:
  • The surgery is what I like to call "in the future surgery" because instead of cutting you open they insert tubes with wires in them in your lower abdomen and fish them up through major arteries and perform any function they need to do from there.  From my understanding, unless you need something removed or replaced, more and more surgeries are being done this way.  A good girlfriend of mine has had a least a half a dozen of these procedures but on her brain!!  Brave new world we live in!  Anyway, as some people have been baffled in my real life...that is the reason why you do not see scars on my chest.
  • The surgery had to be aborted about an hour in.  The plan was to locate the part of the heart that was causing the miscommunication, and then burn (or "ablate") off the cells there that cause the problems.  My problem area was in a place so rare that I wasn't even warned about (I was warned of needing a possible second surgery and having a 1/200 chance of needing a pacemaker if things went awry, so the warnings were fairly covered) which was in the part of your heart that is next to your diaphragm.  Had they ablated, I probably would have had paralysis of the diaphragm...which would have been one of the worst possible complications that could have happened so the doctors were forced to stop.  
  • There were complications anyway.  Because they enter through major arteries, a fear of bleeding out is legit.  They have to apply a lot of pressure on the area they inserted the tubes into...which hurts and nearly makes you pass out (oh yeah, you're awake for this too.  You're on a cocktail of anti-pain and anti-anxiety but they need to keep you relatively lucid because if your heart gets too sleepy that may not be able to do what they need to do and you need to give them commands if they're poking your heart too hard...seriously).  I don't know if it was the fact that the two men applying the pressure on me were more than double my size each or if I already had a dormant injury of sorts there, but basically while they put pressure on me I had never been in more pain in my life and the pain never really went away for the next 2.5 weeks (I never complain about pain too).  After this my whole abdomen was twisted and lopsided and I had a lot of difficulty moving for the next several weeks.  This is an incredibly rare reaction, almost unheard of (I'm special...I guess). I think they messed up as they were quick to tell my mom about a muscle strain while I was being wheeled to recovery-despite that they were telling me that pain was normal, but I don't know.   This was whole saga (excuse my French) was a bit of a mind fuck because it's typically a relatively successful surgery and not only is muscle strain uncommon for this procedure but I'm not usually one to be stopped by pain, so all in all digesting everything that had happened was pretty brutal.  
Let's go back to the twisted abs for a second and the fashion part of this post.  Once I got moving a little better 2-3 weeks after, I was still in some pain.  (Think about it: your abs are connected to most ways you move...which is why I was down for so long).  I was still tender from the incisions and while I had good days and bad involving the muscle pain, but certain clothes were out of the question because of both the incisions and the pressure against the abs-like jeans because most jeans are too tight or even certain skirts that sit too low.  Luckily, I love high waisted bottoms.  That said, this was now early March in Colorado where it could snow one day, be 50 the next, and then maybe have a summer day in there too...so half of my wardrobe was out because it wasn't warm enough.  When I finally started to get back to life as normal and I could drive again, I went to Forever 21 to invest in some cheap maxi dresses (they'd cover my legs for colder days and wouldn't have waist lines that could bother me).
Getting away with high waisted skirt on a hotter day on the left 3 weeks later.  Wearing one of my newer maxi dresses for St Patrick's day on the right a month later-you can see in my face here that I'm a little worn out.


But then while browsing through some dresses I found these shorts:

Outfit details: Shirt-H&M, Shorts, Forever 21, Bracelet- Charming Charlie, Shoes- Guess

You can't totally tell because of the shirt I'm wearing but they're high waisted so in that sense they were easy to try on in my condition-which I totally had to because I'm obsessed with tropical prints.  The problem though was that because they're so tight...I had no idea how well they fit.  They "fit" in the traditional sense that I could get the zipper up, but remember...I was completely distorted and lopsided in that area and I couldn't for the life of me tell if the fit was flattering-which are two very different issues involving trying on clothes.  They were inexpensive so I took a gamble on them.  Mind you, despite the fact that I was healing a little at this point...there's still those irrational parts of your brain that wonder if you're ever going to be 100% better (especially when your complication diagnosis is dice-y at best) or if it'll be a reoccurring issue. Luckily within a month later I was back to normal physically and you could never tell that these bad boys were once potentially unwearable!

Why am I sharing all of this with you?  Well, there's a few reasons.  For one, I'm somewhat in shock that it's been 6 months already so I guess I'm noting the time passage.  Given that I'm a fashion blogger and that this piece of clothing caused me concern I figured it was a story worth sharing.  The bigger picture of it all though is that with social media...whether we're normal Facebook users or bloggers...we all have pictures of us smiling and showing off the best parts of life and actual studies have shown that that can make people depressed because while always viewing biased views of others lives it makes our own feel inadequate.  I never for a second want anyone to feel sorry for what I've been through as much as I want to point out that behind a lot of the smiling photos of me wearing pretty dresses I posted this spring...I was in a lot of pain-both physically as well as mentally/emotionally as I realized parts of my health problems were more permanent than expected and I needed to grieve certain hopeful longterm hopes and plans.  Seriously, I was spinning until roughly June and I met a very strong majority of my fashion friends in the recovery time period (to which I need to thank-you all as though it may sound trivial, making friends via outfit pics and cheerleading each other on was an amazing and consistent positive influence in my life-so thank-you so much!!!)  I wanted to point out that no matter how a picture seems, never feel like it's the whole story and feel bad about your life because you have a home court advantage to make yourself depressed in that you see all of your ups and downs.  Anybody's Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or blog will rarely showcase things in such a layered way so remember to keep things in perspective!

Also, I'm very much a believer in not letting anything bad that happens to you happen in vain.  My answer to a negative event is always to try to do something positive or enriching in it's place (even if it takes me a hot minute to get to a place where I can do so).  In that light, I also want to announce that I'm starting a new weekly series called "A Case of the (Motivational) Mondays" that may be part fashion or may just be general self esteem and living the best life you can (which I think plays in with personal style way more than meets the eye...humor me the next few weeks if you disagree!).  I'll better explain it Monday the 25th as this has already been a mouthful of a post, but I really hope you check it out next week and hear out why I think it's important and why I feel like I'm in a position to do such a thing.  I'm really excited about this and I can't wait to delve more into it!  For now, have a lovely rest (or what's left) of your Monday night and a super fun rest of your week.  XOXO

Instagram-@demurelaurenblair
Twitter-@LaurenBlair23




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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Oi, but what a douzy! That must have been horrible! And here you are full of smiles! (^-^) You are truly amazing! A modern day superwoman!!!
    I understand what it's like to have to live with an irksom and sometimes debilitating issue. I suffer from a rather painful and extremely annoying gastrointestinal disorder that leaves even my doctors perplexed. Since they can't figure out what I have they just slapped my with a all encompassing IBS... T.T Lovely.
    Oh well c'est la vie
    I'll have to share my story with you one day on why my instagram profile picture is what it is (^v^) it's a long bit to me funny story.
    Well anywho, back to point. Thank you again for sharing! You make me want to study harder, get into grad school, and help make big strides in neuroscience research!

    Sincerely
    Lyynnbrooke

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    1. Heya!! Aw, "modern day super woman!" I'm blushing! I'm sorry this hits close to home for you! That sounds awful. I have friends who have IBS-both the more traditional kind (whatever that means) or the "we're going to lump you in with that diagnosis because we don't really know" kind like yourself. It seems like NO fun! Gotta love how advanced we are with medical science and let so much can still slip between the cracks. I think I've told you before that I love, love, LOVE that you're studying neuroscience because I love to read about the brain, but more to the point it's amazing how we are on the brink of discovering all kinds of things with the neuro world that would have been impossible until now. I can't get over how cool it is what you're doing and I look forward to tracking your process :) Also, I'll def be reading when you share your story via IG too! XOXO

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  2. Thanks for sharing your story. You are such a strong an inspirational person after having gone through all that! You're definitely right about Instagram/social media being a shield against what our lives are really like. Everyone's life always seems so perfect but it's because that's the view they are presenting to the world, when in reality, so much can be going on in the background. It's important to never judge a book by its cover. I love seeing all your outfit posts and I hope you continue thriving in the fashion blogosphere! I am so happy we are blogging buddies! <3

    xo, Serli
    www.lesoleilchic.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey lovely! Thank-you! I think especially with the death of Robin Williams people need to look more and more beneath the surface of everyone and look to see what they can do to not help themselves or others hide behind veneers. I'm SOOOO glad we're blogging buddies and wish you all the same success!! XOXO

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  4. Wow, That's quite a story! I'm glad that even after all that you are still able to have fun and express yourself! (plus show us your amazing Fashion!)

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    1. Thank-you so much!! All the more reason to have fun, right?? XO

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Perspective is such an important thing to have especially in the blogging world (and the everyday world as well) - you could never even tell you were in pain during those photos! You are so brave for going through it and sharing all of this with us! Praying for your health and keep us updated!

    Michaela || The Monogrammed Midwesterner

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    1. Thank-you so much for you kind words-I super appreciate them!!! XO

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  6. Wow, thank you for sharing that story! I hope that your health will get better!
    You are such a brave, strong, & inspiring person! You are a very motivational person, that's for sure, so that is the perfect title for your Monday posts.

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