February is for lovers and now thanks to the American Heart Association it is now known as National Heart Health Awareness Month. Or simply “Go Red!” Before October 22nd, 2009 it was about my family and sharing my family’s story. I wore my red dress proudly, shared Emma’s story, and talked about almost losing my father to heart disease. Today I still wear my red dress proudly, talk about Emma, my Dad, and now I am sharing my STORY.
A story of hope. I am living proof that with the right care you can survive a stroke and come out on the other side shining. Sadly not every survivor bounces back and they struggle to find themselves again. I often think about the ones who died, most never saw it coming, and their families were left wondering.
I admit that I have survivors guilt. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering why did I survive that day? I think about my cousin who died at the age of three she wanted to live, she wanted to grow, yet God chose her that day. I have stood at funerals and thought “God you saved me……Why couldn’t you reach in and save my friend? What makes me different? Ah moments often come to me when I am in the shower or driving in the Prius. One day it dawned on me, the ER Dr told me that day “AmandaJean if you had gotten here five minutes later than you did, you would have died.” By sheer luck I beat death.
Luck was on my side that day. I often tell people I consider myself lucky. Lucky because I had a pulmonary embolism induced stroke. People usually give me a funny look and say “Why the hell is that lucky?” Its simple really, if I never had my P.E. induced stroke I wouldn’t have found the strength to fight for me. My stroke taught me to fight for myself. In hindsight I think it was God’s way to prepare me for the worst year of my life. In October I had my stroke, in May my son Alucious died, and in June I walked away from a loveless marriage. Now those three events add up to one big pile of shit. So to me my P.E. induced stroke was the training wheels I needed to get myself through the worst 9 months of my life.
Mostly it has allowed me to be a voice and to lobby for a better day. A day where we are all living heart healthy. My dream would be to find a cure for heart disease and eliminate stroke. It’s a big dream however I am confident that we can achieve it together. Hundreds of women came together to celebrate “Go Red” at the annual lunch and learn event held in Minneapolis.
The room was filled with amazing energy. Every single woman was wearing red and we demanded a better tomorrow. Stories were shared, our blood pressure was checked, we got red lips, and we made promises to our hearts. A promise to live a heart healthy life.
On National wear red day my Twitter feed exploded. So many amazing beautiful women tweeted "I'm going red for @NinjaInTheCity." I was literally in tears hundreds of men and women across our great state wore red in honor of me. Even their children wore red and that made my surviving heart burst with joy. I am deeply honored by their simple act of wearing red in my name. So if you wore red on February 4th in my honor, know that I thank you from the bottom of my surviving heart. You made my day so bright and are encouraging me to be a thriving survivor. I promise to not only survive, but to thrive!
A promise to carry this energy of finding a cure and preventing heart disease into the next 10 months of the year. To contact my legislators, congressman, and anyone who will listen to me to enact legislation that will better the lives of all Minnesotans. Each of you are capable of saving a life. All you need to know are three letters C. P. R. Take a few minutes and google it, watch a YouTube video, or heck take a first aid course and learn how to perform CPR. Once you’ve earned your CPR cred you can learn the meaning of F.A.S.T.
When dealing with a possible stroke you need to be: F.A.S.T.
F—FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
When you are F.A.S.T you can save a life.
So go ahead make a promise to yourself, your family, and to the world that you will be heart healthy. Take the time to learn CPR, remember to act F.A.S.T., and listen to your heart. You only get one heart and that heart will never steer you wrong.