This Saturday thousands will descend on Target Filed, not for a Twins Game, but to walk for a purpose. To walk in memory of a loved one, in honor of a survivor, for themselves, and to show their support for others. They will walk on behalf of the American Heart Association to raise awareness and funds to stop the number one killer of all Americans. Minnesota is home to the largest Heart Walk in the country and words cannot describe how moving it is to see thousands of people walking for a better day. The MN Heart Walk means I get to put on my survivor shoes and walk for those who have touched my life.
I walk for Emma, she was the first infant in the state of Minnesota to receive a heart transplant. Sadly she died 3 years later due to complications of the common cold. Thou her life was short, she made a huge impact on pediatric cardiology. What they learned in those three short years is helping save thousands of babies each and every day. Emma may be gone from this world, but she will never be forgotten. Since her passing Minnesota has become a leader in pediatric cardiology and we have a tiny little girl to thank for that. I walk because Emma never got to grow up, she never got to graduate from high school, go to college, travel the world, and because her sister Chloe got cheated out of having a best friend.
My Father Greg is my best friend, psychologist, sounding board, and my compass. No matter where I go in this world I always manage to find my way back home. I walk because God gave my father a second chance. Twelve years ago I was a freshman in college when I got the call that he was fighting for his life. His body was weak, his heart was sick, yet there was a small ray of hope. Knowing that he was at the Mayo brought us hope, they did not give up and they put this broken man back together again. They fixed his heart and 10 years later he got to say hello to his first granddaughter. Research saved his life and it will continue to save the lives of others. Without research we have no hope.
Hope is what keeps me a float on bad days. October 22, 2009 was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day I became the very survivor I was advocating for. It’s still hard for me to believe that my hormonal contraceptive device almost took my life. I drove myself to the ER with sever chest pain, shortness of breath, and a whole other mess of complications. They quickly ruled out a heart attack, yet they knew something was terribly wrong. The ER Doctor explained it was most likely an infection in my lungs and that I would be out of there in no time. For some reason unbeknownst to me he stopped in the doorway turned around and asked me “by chance are you on a birth control?” I quickly replied yes and he asked the nurse to order a d-dime test. I was being wheeled to x-ray when he stopped the nurse and told her to bring me back. I will never forget the look on his face and the fear in his eyes as he explained that the d-dime test came back positive. I got a CT-Scan and within 30 minutes a code blue was issued.
I was in serious trouble, a blood clot in my left lung was blocking the main valve to my heart. I was in sinus tachycardia, my oxygen level was falling and my blood pressure was rising. In laymen’s terms “I was fading fast.” Clot busters were administered and my stroke was stopped in its tracks. The highest dose of Heparin was administered and I would be staying a while. The ER Dr. walked with us as they rolled me to the elevator bay. He took one look at me and said “remember for as long as you live, that you should be going down there, that’s the morgue and not upstairs. Very very few people survive this. Remember that!” I walk because I got to blow the candles out on my 27th Halloween themed birthday cake.
Research has allowed me to live a vibrant life and it has given me five borrowed years on this earth. In those five years I said goodbye to my son, stepped out of a loveless marriage, moved to uptown, adopted a muppet like dog, fell in love, became an aunt, found a job that I love, but mostly I shared my story and found myself. None of the fore mentioned would have been possible if it were not for the life saving research that is funded by the American Heart Association. I walk because their research saved me.