{Hearts on 22} Life, It Goes On 

Year six

“Dear 26 year old Self,

If I had known what was going to happen today I would never have gotten out of bed. But you being the optimist got up, you put your cranberry colored flats on, left a half eaten muffin on the counter, guzzled some coffee, and drove off to work. You just started a new job, a new challenge always gets us excited you were knee deep in learning the ins and outs of repossessions and collections. Because you were knee deep in lets face it we were trying to impress our new boss, so we brushed off our gut feeling that something was wrong.

Since Monday you brushed away the sick feeling, the raging pain, fever, shortness of breath, and everything else you did not have time for. You made it to the Sun Ray shopping center, you started to feel an annoying stab in your lugs, you being you ignored this. The situation did not improve and by the time you reached Saint Paul you could barely breath. Yet for some reason you thought you’d be all right, truth is you were not all right. Something in you made you take the Lexinton Parkway exit and head back to Woodbury.

Turning around was the best decision you made that day. You contemplated going home, the voice in your head said go to the ER, thank God you listen to it. Within an hour you were told that your situation looked bleak, your chance of walking out of there alive was slim. Your oxygen level was below 50%, a massive clot was blocking the main valve to your heart, and not to mention a few of your lung sacks exploded, and to top it off you had a stroke. You my dear almost died five days before our golden birthday.

Year 26 was to be the end of your story, but something in you decided “today is not the day” and you reached down to grab the last shred of hope you had and fought back. You AJ got the best birthday present. It did not come in a box with a fancy bow nor did it have a pretty gift tag, you got a second chance, you got life. There is no greater gift than the gift of life. Smile young lady, you are the 1 out of 5 who got to walk away and live another day.”


Life, it goes on.

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how amazing my survivor journey has been. I have gotten to do a lot of incredible things that would not have been possible without the fast action of the Woodwinds ER team, nurses and staff. I am alive today because they looked past the norm and dug deeper to find out why this healthy young woman could no longer breath.

The clot was found because the Doctor took the time to ask me five little words: “are you on birth control?” Those five words saved my life, because I said yes a d-dimer was order, that test lead to the CT scan that found the massive clot in my left lung. I have no long term cognitive or physical side affects from my stroke because I received the life saving clot busters, they made all the difference and allowed me to walk out of that hospital on my own.

Ever since that day I set out into this world to make sure no other woman had to endure my fate, I have succeeded in this. My story has educated and saved countless lives. “Oh the places a birth control related P.E. and Stroke will take you!” From billboard, to public service announcement, to the steps of the United States Capital building, my story has been heard loud and clear, and my struggles are paving the way so that others can know the sign of blood clots and stroke.

I do not consider myself a victim and I refuse to live in the Nuvaring’s shadow, I am a survivor and Merck can never take that away from me. It doesn’t matter that Merck does not have to accept responsibility for my injury, I know that there product did this me. In away that moment of disaster catapulted me into an amazing second chance that is filled with passion and purpose. Nuvaring almost took my life, it will not take my second chance away from me, that is mine and mine alone.

Life, it goes on. I became a mama to a baby in heaven not once but twice. I got divorced, rented my first apartment ever, adopted a dog, quit my job without a plan, only to find a job that I hands down love, and I managed to find MYSELF. I got to watch my niece take her first steps, hear her little voice yell “AUNTIE” excitedly, and mostly I get to bond with her as I paint her little toes pretty colors. I’ve gotten to reconnect with my parents through crazy little road trips and spent my summers collecting glass on the beach. I fell love only to fall out of it. I miss Charlie every day, but I have to believe that he somehow lead me to Jay, in Jay I found home and soon I will be his wife. I got to meet and hold my nephew Jack, his sweet little chubby cheeks will melt your heart.

If it were not for the Woodwinds ER staff and medical research the fore mentioned would not have been possible. My niece and nephew would be learning about me through photos. Jay and Charlie would never of had the chance to fall in love with me. There would have been no participating in the Go Red campaign, there would have been no participating in lobby days or giving a speech on the capital steps, and this blog would have ceased on 10/22/2009. My Mama would have picked out my urn instead of my 27th Halloween themed birthday cake, and my story would have ended as silently as it started. I am alive today because of RESEARCH, research is what saved me, and I will support medical research for as long as I am standing. Because if you need proof, its right here, I am proof that it does and will continue to save lives.

Words cannot express how thankful I am for the doctors and nurses at WoodWinds Health Campus, that place is more than a hospital, it is where my second story begins and for that I am grateful, grateful that because of the care I received, I got to walk out of the front instead of being rolled out of the back door.

To learn more about Pulmonary Embolisms and Women’s Heart Health Please visit the following sites:

Pulmonary Embolism: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-embolism/basics/definition/con-20022849

To learn more about blood clots: http://www.stoptheclot.org/

Women’s Heart Health: https://www.goredforwomen.org/

To learn more about strokes: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/

To join us in the fight for a healthy tomorrow: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/default.aspx

To learn more about the dangerous side affects of the NuvaRing: http://nuvaringtruth.com/

“Educate yourself and safe a life today”

{Heart Walk} Tomorrow is Why I Walk 


TOMORROW is why.

I want to have a billion more tomorrows. A billion chances at seeing the sunrise and set. I want a billion nights under star filled skies and a billion bon fires by the shore. I want a tomorrow. I want to get married again. I want to build a tiny home (I am obsessed with them), have a family, travel the world, and mostly I want to secure a healthy tomorrow for all of us. That is my wish that every single one of us will have a billion tomorrows. Life is so uncertain and your tomorrows can be ripped from you in a blink of an eye. I am going to focus on living in the moment and not waste a precious drop of sweet sweet time.

Life is why! 

Research will guarantee a healthy tomorrow for all of us. Please join us in the fight against heart disease and stroke, walk with us on April 25, 2015 at Target Field. 

Twin Cities Heart Walk 2015

{Affordable Care Act} D.C. Meet AJ

There are moments where I have to pinch myself to make sure that I really am living this life. I went from survivor to advocate, to spokeswoman. Last Thursday I received an email from the American Heart Association’s National Advocacy office inviting me to Washington D.C. This just wasn’t any old regular invite, this this was an opportunity of a life time. I was invited to Washington D.C. by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. When Nancy Pelosi invites you to D.C., you go, YOU GO and I did just that.


I went and I became a part of history. I was invited to DC to speak at a press conference celebrating the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. The conference was held on the Capital Steps and it was organized by Leader Pelosi and members of the Democratic Caucus. Together we celebrated the Act and the fact that is working for millions of Americans. I am just one of the millions of Americans who benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

This was my moment to put a face to a cause. Words cannot describe the impact the Affordable Care Act has made on my life. As a Pulmonary Embolism / Stroke survivor I can no longer be denied coverage or be forced to pay more because of my medical history. In the eyes of the law I am equal to my healthy peers and because of this I am able to afford quality insurance and put my health first.


Yes, I found myself struggling to choose between paying my bills or paying for the medical care that I needed. For 18 months I went without health insurance and for part of that time I was only making $12 an hour. My most expensive prescription was $287.00 a month and I tried skipping it for a while, that just turned into a very expensive disaster. No one should ever have to choose between life saving care and bills. I never for one thought I would ever be in that position, but at 28 I found myself there. I found myself struggling to stay a float and was ashamed that I could not afford the health care I desperately needed.


Today I am no longer ashamed, I am empowered. I have an insurance card in my pocket and I owe it all to the Affordable Care Act. I no longer had to settle for a job, instead I got to hold out for the one I wanted. I no longer have to check the couch for spare change just to pick up my prescription. Instead I walk right into Target and pay only $20.00 for a brand name drug. I can afford to go to the doctor and I am now getting routine care. I can for the first time in a very long time, put my health first. Life is not worth living if you do not have your health.

{MNSure} To Be An Insurable Human Again

I can read a benefits packet and analyze a prescription drug formulary like no buddy’s business. For three years I worked for the nations largest Pharmacy Benefit management company and was taught the ins and outs of the insurance world. I received numerous calls from people trying to get medications covered for pre-existing conditions. The only thing I could do was offer up prior authorization or connect them to a pharmacist to look for a covered option.

At 27 I was a freshly divorced pulmonary embolism/stroke survivor, I quit my job, and found myself trying to get insurance in a world that didn’t want to cover a risk. I was no longer seen as AmandaJean, instead I was seen as a pre-existing condition, a drain on an insurance plan. I was young and vibrant, yet my PE plagued me. I searched for an affordable plan, the cheapest one I found was $700 a month for sub par coverage. I couldn’t find fulltime employment, instead I became a contractor and that offers no benefits what so ever. From October 2010 to June 2012 I went without health insurance.

Going without health insurance was like jumping into shark infested waters without a cage. I quickly learned how much medications really cost and had to decide between picking up my medications or paying my student loans. Needless to say my medications trumped my student loan payment and soon the collection calls started. Medical bills started piling up and before I knew it I was $10,000.00 in the hole. CT scans and echocardiograms are not cheap, neither are trips to the ER or urgent care. Since I didn’t have insurance I would try any over the counter remedy before giving in and going to the doctor. The Doctors I saw knew I was a self pay and they did their best to hook me up with samples and alternative care.

In the fall of 2011, I worked myself almost to death and managed to get a staph infection in my knee. I begged and pleaded with the doctor to let me go home, I told him “I can’t afford this, just let me go.” I got to go home four days later and waited for the bills to come. I cried when I saw the total and cashed in my 401K to pay most of the bill off. Only to find myself racking up new and bigger hospital bills. By the time Christmas rolled around I was desperately searching for a job that would offer me good health insurance. I went back to what I knew and took a job at a collections firm. I know, collections is not my cup of tea, however their insurance plan was.

I cried the day my insurance card came in the mail. I finally didn’t have to worry about paying full price for medications or services. I had insurance and I was happy. My job with the collections firm was short-lived, I found myself without a job in January 2013 and I knew one thing: “I was not going to go without insurance again.” I set out and search for an individual plan. The prices had come down quiet a bit since my last search and I knew I could not be denied this time around, thank you Affordable Health Care Act. I decided on an individual plan with HealthPartners, I filled out the online application and waited to receive my certificate of coverage in the mail.

At first I though HealthPartners was playing a joke on me and that the stated premium amount was wrong. I called and spoke to a representative, she double checked, and said AmandaJean that’s right your premium is $94.63 per month. After a long pause, she realized that I was crying. I explained to her that having affordable insurance meant I could hold out for the job I wanted and not rush into something that would give me insurance. By the end of our conversation she was crying right along with me, HealthPartners gave me peace of mind and my life back.

MNSure is an incredible idea and now thousands of Minnesotans will be able to apply for insurance without having to worry about pre-existing conditions and cost. On Tuesday night I logged onto the site and was very impressed by the easy to navigate layout and the types of plans offered. The online form is simple to fill out and asks you questions about income, family size, health habits and so on. Once you sign up for an account you are able to see what your real estimated premium would be and review the options best suited to you.

While MNSure is not the perfect answer, it is a good start and it provides easy access to health insurance for many Minnesotans. Best part is if you are like me and have a pre-existing condition you can no longer be denied nor can you be forced to pay a higher premium than your healthy counterparts. I learned the hard way: going without insurance is a bad idea one cannot afford to go without health insurance. Insurance is now an affordable option and there are many resources out there to help you in your insurance decision.

Here are a few resources to get you started:

http://www.ehealthinsurance.com ——-> (This is what I used to find my affordable HealthPartners insurance plan)
http://www.mn.gov/dhs ———> (Minnesota Department of Human Services)