Monday, March 5, 2012

march and me


{from the movie, benjamin button}

March always feels funny to me.  it smells different even.
it is the month jb asked me to be his girlfriend, the month i moved to switzerland as a newlywed, and the month i had open heart surgery.  

four years ago in march i was very sick, then hospitalized and then had my chest opened up.
when i was sick i put on a brave face ... I kept thinking being healthy was right around the corner.
until, in march - i realized it was not.  something was really wrong.  but no one could figure it out. it was terrifying.  most of all, to my parents.  
i hope if someone who may be reading this and knows in their bones something is really amiss ... you seek some help.  you do not stop until you have answers.

I don't actually have a full story on my blog, I've written here and there about it.
some of you may know, and some of you may have wondered, and some would rather not hear about heart surgery on monday morning. or ever.  {you have a free pass to click the upper left box}

i was 24.
i was in love, active, healthy, and enjoying life after college immensely.  
until the headaches started.
i started getting excruciatingly painful headaches.
i took advil by the handfuls.  
i was tired.  like really tired.  my back ached, my teeth ached.  
and then one day, after a run along the ocean... i stood up, and lights out.
i lost my vision completely.  when i regained parts of it, it was all wonky. 
then it came back.  
later I would discover this was my first mini stroke.

so i came home, at 24.  to see doctors and discover what was wrong.
weeks of no one having a clue, consult, after consult.
now i added a few more symptoms ... one where i couldn't get warm.
but i was sweating so much i would drench the sheets. 

finally, an echo.
and after that was read i was ordered to come to the hospital immediately.  
i had endocarditis.  an infection of the heart.  
strep (throat) had gone to my (mitral) valve in my heart and taken up residence.

what was next?
6 weeks of everyday IV antibiotics. {that turned into much longer...}
oh, and heart surgery.

one choice would leave me unable to have kids, another would leave it hard to have kids with an inevitable heart surgery in 7 years time ... but when they did the surgery, they were able to fix it instead of replace it.  this was a miracle. 

but after heart surgery, i wasn't getting better.  
instead, i was filling up with fluid.  
i was hospitalized, sent home and re-hospitalized. 
until i filled up with a gallon worth of fluid. 
and could not breath.
i coded.
turned blue.  my oxygen saturation hit scary lows.
 then it was time for a thoracotomy.
aka- something that hurts waaaay more than heart surgery does.
and gave me another huge scar, this time across my back.  

but, i got better after this.

i studied for my GRE.  and by fall i was headed off to graduate school on a full ride.
with an assistantship in whaaaat?  non invasive cardiology.  
God is good.

and then i got engaged, married, moved to switzerland, traveled all over, started my own business...
my health was restored, my life given new meaning. 

when i was 24 there were moments I couldn't believe my misfortune, I think most of us have moments like that if we're being honest.  how unfair!  i thought.  i saw my friends enjoying life, while i was hanging out with 80 year olds every single day during my infusion... talking about our ailments. ha.  feeling pretty much like the ugliest girl on earth.  i was just getting used to my new scar covered body.  

with thoughts like that, when i should have been thankful beyond measure just to be alive
well, i didn't deserve much mercy and grace.
but that is what i was given.

maybe you're in that "how unfair!" moment now  ... {i'll confess at times i still think this way}
 please know that 

fact.

Happy Monday and Happy March, Friends!  

79 comments:

  1. ugh. LOVE YOU. thats all. oh and your my idol. the end.

    ReplyDelete
  2. i just really, really, REALLY needed that today. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think you're really precious!

    ReplyDelete
  3. LOVED reading this post! you are such a brave and inspiring person :)

    xxx,

    Fashion Fractions

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love you, Sadie! So glad God gave you a heart big enough to make it through so that I got to meet you.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much for the inspiring story, you are truly an amazing person

    ReplyDelete
  6. Praise, praise, praise! So true!! Thank you for sharing your heart, and for your honesty. So happy for all the sweet blessings you're reaping now- and ALL the many you have to look forward to! Much love, and blessings- Katie ;)

    ReplyDelete
  7. you have been through so much, maybe that's why you're so wise, compassionate, PASSIONATE, positive and so many other things. This was a huge trial in your life and you came out a changed woman. I'm so happy I know you!

    P.S. My mom called me the other day to tell me "I really like your friend Sarah, on your blog" I said, "Yeah! That's the girl I met up with in Paris" She said "I know, I read the blog post." I laughed and asked why she liked you. She said "She just seems like a very happy person, I really like her"

    My mom doesn't say that about many people - you should be flattered :) haha But she has a great instinct about people. And she's definitely right about you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow. Just Wow. Thanks for sharing that Sarah. Praise God for your health <3 Love the quotes... And that movie. I balled my eyes out. I love seeing the good God blessed you with. Xoxoxoxox

    ReplyDelete
  9. Wow. What a powerful story..it goes to show why you are such an incredible and strong person. Truly you have been beautified by trials, and came out with a heart of gold.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a story! I'm so glad that your health is better. You seem so happy & definitely blessed.

    God is good! ��

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm a open heart person too! Only my parents got to experience all of the terrifying moments because I was just a baby but I know how it feels. Every time I pass out or get dizzy, or my neck hurts, or I see flares, I text my cardiologist. But its always better to be safe. ALWAYS. So I agree with this.

    I need to just take the leap...to stand up. GULP.

    ReplyDelete
  12. loved this post, so truly inspiring!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You're amazing Sarah - and such an inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing this with us today :)

    xxx
    Jenna

    ReplyDelete
  14. At 24 I don't think I could've handled all that (but I guess you have no choice). What a great reminder to not take your health for granted & live each day to the fullest.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Whether this post relates to 1 person or 10 people, you have inspired us all. Thank you for your passion, your writing, your past, your future and mostly your heart. Just thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. wow what a fabulous post to read first thing monday morning. You are a very lucky girl! :) Fabulous quotes! I love them all! :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. what a great post, I had majort heart problems as a child and I have een fortunate enough for them not to creep back up on me, so keep blessing us girls! great monday inspiration sarah!

    ReplyDelete
  18. you ooze positivity and joy, which is never easy after such a trying time. you are an inspiration to us all and i think i speak for us all when i say, we are so happy to have you! thanks for sharing your story with us :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. gee, sarah...you're truly inspiring and amazing! this post made me smile because you truly open your loving heart to all of us. simply beautiful. thank you, for this reminder. i certainly needed to hear this <3 hugs!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I always wondered what the full story was about your heart, and I really appreciate you sharing this story. I agree, we have ALL had moments of "why me? why now? why not him or her?" But it's these experiences that make us so much stronger, so much more appreciate, so much more open to love. When people share their honest stories, I always feel inspired to share some of mine, but I'm just not ready yet. Happy Monday and happy March!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I feel like this post was written for me. I have been having a really hard time dealing with the "unfair" feelings right now. Not to pour out my life story to you or anything, but my husband and I had been trying to have a baby for almost a year when we discovered we had some fertility issues. We finally grieved that news and decided to move on to fertility treatments. Had a consultation with a specialist and we were excited about moving ahead. The next week, I had my annual exam and the nurse found a lump on my neck. Fast forward 6 months, I had surgery to remove half my thyroid. Turns out, I have thyroid cancer. Had another surgery to remove the rest and have to do oral chemotherapy. My prognosis is really good, but the chemo means we have to wait another year to start fertility stuff.

    I know I will be fine. But it seems so unfair to have to go through this at 26.

    Anyway... sorry for the novella of a comment, but your post today meant a lot to me. And I'll keep reading that last quote over and over until things get better.

    THANK YOU!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love this post Sadie, thanks for sharing inspiration. Seems like that was a lifetime ago...you have come such a long way! I'm so thankful for you and your big heart! :) xo

    ReplyDelete
  23. This made me ball my eyes out! So much!! I haven't read any blogs in the past few days, but this morning yours was the first one I clicked on! I am so glad I did.

    I just want you to know that you aren't alone, seriously, you aren't. When I was born, I came out blue almost black...I had no oxygen or blood flow to my heart. I was then diagnosed with Congenital Heart Disease! After the doctors told my parents there was nothing they could do and within 3 months I'd turn blue and die, another doctor heard my of case and at 3 days old I had my first open heart surgery, then the next one at 10 days old, and then the next one at 3yrs old, and another at 6yrs old...and another and another...I've had more Open Heart Surgeries then I can count. But I guess that's what happens when the wall is missing between your Left Ventrical and Right Atrium.

    Anyways...I have a huge scar down my chest and another around my back as well, and I can't forget all the little scars here and there from IVS and feeding tubes! It's hard to wrap your head around it all, Having Heart Problems and dealing with SCARS. Sadly, it's something I as a heart patient have never been able to fully get over, having scars. But then I remember WHY I have them..I am alive because of them. :)

    Like I said, You aren't alone! And WE are the lucky ones! :)

    - Ashlee Michelle

    ReplyDelete
  24. wow, that's a lot to get through at 24. I am happy that you are healthy and everything is well with you.

    I suffered from health problems on and off for 2 years and I know how hard it is. But thankfully, I am much better now and I truly thank my lucky stars each day!


    Thank you for reminding us to cherish each day and be grateful :)

    Christine

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow, yes you will definitely be looking at March differently than most. I'm so glad things have taken the turn for the best =)

    - Sarah
    http://agirlintransit.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Stories like this always seem to come at the right time for everyone to hear them. It's amazing that March is a month full of such happiness and sadness for you all at the same time. And it's amazing to see how much your life has changed in the 4 years since! Enjoy celebrating your many, many years ahead of not taking life for granted.

    ReplyDelete
  27. wow sarah.. i've snooped around your blog to find any posts written bout your surgery.... but i had no idea what you actually went through before and afterwards...

    let's just say, without getting too emotional, i am so happy you are here, alive, happy, and sharing your life with us (:

    you seriously motivate me to enjoy everything there is (and this was BEFORE this post)... and i LOVE these quotes because it seriously is never too late to be happy, be who you want to be, etc.

    thank you so much for sharing this, Sarah.. you are an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  28. What an inspiring post - thank you so much for sharing with all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi, Sarah! I found your blog a couple of months ago and have been an avid reader since. It's so nice to hear your story and to see where you are now. Your positivity is infectious. I feel like if we knew each other we would be great friends :) Sending love all the way from CA xxx

    Aisha
    www.themiddleofhere.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. I'm going to be honest...Tears just welped up in my eyes like you wouldn't believe. Thank GOD. Praise him. You are such a beautiful person, Sarah. You really, really are. You're a true inspiration and your outlook on life is incredibly touching and you've handled all of this with grace. You are a doll and I'm so thankful that you have shared this story. You're amazinggggggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Thank you. That was so needed today.

    You wrote: do not stop until you have answers. Did they doctors put you off at first? Did they ever say "sometimes these things just happen"? What do you say to that?

    ReplyDelete
  33. You're so amazingly strong. I can't even believe it. Happy March to YOU. YOU are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  34. A-MA-ZING! Thank you for these words. During a moment of personal weakness, these words have filled my soul!

    eachdayinthislife.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. love you, love this post, love your outlook. :-)

    xoxo from Trinidad

    ReplyDelete
  36. You are so brave and positive :)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thanks for sharing your bravery Sarah. Reading posts like this one helps us all take a moment to appreciate our fortunes and readjust our priorities. I'm so happy that everything worked out - you more than deserve this beautiful life you have now!!

    ReplyDelete
  38. You are wonderful.

    Just teared up. Needed to hear this today. I had a tumor removed from one of my breasts last week, and now have a much larger scar than anticipated. Then, I was diagnosed with two different diseases. It's been quite an interesting week!! :)

    Thanks for sharing. Really.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Such a beautiful post, Sarah. As my dad likes to say, "March is the beginning of Spring, which is a new beginning." Thanks for sharing your story. God is truly blessing you and your family!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Sarah,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I've also had my fair share of medical issues - possibly facing down another surgery at the moment - and I truly appreciate your candor and honesty. It is so wonderful to hear of stories like yours and the good things that can come.

    Wishing you the best!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I'm so happy that you're healthy now! The world is a little bit brighter with you in it :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Wow. Thank you for having the courage and honesty to share this and to encourage others along the way. You are beautiful inside and out.

    ReplyDelete
  43. thank you for reminding me how incredibly blessed I am. and thank you for your bravery in sharing your story- your positive spirit is such an inspiration :)
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  44. So happy that you are doing well now!
    Being healthy is all that matters!
    We can be anything if we are healthy!! It is such a blessing!

    And we should embrace every single day - it can change so fast and without anybody seeing it coming!

    Sending you a big hug!! xox

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for sharing, that was an amazing post.

    ReplyDelete
  46. You are a strong, strong person and truly inspiring.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Sarah, I am blown away. God is good indeed. Look at all the lives you've touched. You are an inspiration in every way. So proud of your bravery and strength. I'm so glad you shared. xo

    ReplyDelete
  48. you are so strong and i'm so happy you shared your story. i'm in the process of coming out of that "it's unfair" stage. i had neck surgery last year and still have some pain that doctor's are trying to figure out. your story touched my heart and i'm so happy you shared it. you are such a strong lady :)
    xo
    Erica

    ReplyDelete
  49. You are such a strong and inspiring girl. I'm very happy that you have your health again.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Oh sweet Sarah! I knew you had mitral valve surgery just from reading your blog for so long. And being the cardiac nurse that I am I always wanted to know more but hated to pry. Not to mention the fact that I lurked for a long time until I realized the value of a comment. Thoracotomy patients were always some of my least favorite to take care of because their pain was so intense. And I've often wondered what the difference in pain level was for heart surgery vs lung surgery. And recently I was on the caregiver end of things when my mom went through a thoracotomy. I just adore you and I'm so glad you finally wrote this down for us and for yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh Sarah! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you opening up and writing this. You are a beautiful girl and an inspiration. Cheers to you, cheers to your happiness, and your health :)

    ReplyDelete
  52. Such an honest, open post and beautifully written. Thanks for sharing Sarah. Love your attitude after everything you've been through. Some people slow it down, but you never let it defeat you. You are brave and strong and so very beautiful! Never change. X

    ReplyDelete
  53. Goodness, this post made me tear up. You are so strong and such an inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Oh Sarah... this was so beautiful, and I have tears streaming down my face right now. What a wonderful story, and words I desperately needed to hear. You are an inspiration. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  55. You are truly an inspiration! Thank you for writing this. I really admire you. Have a great day! C

    ReplyDelete
  56. sayd this is so powerful. the lord has given you an incredible story and I'm so glad you're sharing it! i love you!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Girl, thank you for sharing. I can't imagine how scary all that must've been. So glad you are still here sharing your joy and beauty with us via the Internet but one day real life!!!

    ReplyDelete
  58. God is SOOO Good!!! Praise Him is right my friend! So thankful for the way He's blessed and restored you. Love you Sadie!

    ReplyDelete
  59. trying not to cry...trying not to cry. love you sarah, God is good. and i love that quote - in Gods time He restores everything in ways so good you could not dream them up yourself. thank you friend, i needed that :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. this is an amazing post. you really are an inspiration! plesae keep doing what you do... i love reading your blog :) xx

    ReplyDelete
  61. You are so amazing. It is amazing to see what God is doing in your life and how He is using you to shine into other's lives. Thank you for being so genuine and humble and sharing your story every day!

    ReplyDelete
  62. Wow. I needed this today. God bless you and He is so amazing. Always--even when we can't see it, we just have to trust, hope, love and have faith in Him. Praise God for your health! :)

    ReplyDelete
  63. This left me in tears. Thank you for sharing with us. I can't imagine going through that. You are so strong and amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  64. You've been through so much, and I'm so thankful for your life :) God is so Good!

    ReplyDelete
  65. Amazing! Thanks so much for sharing your story. Happy March! :)

    ReplyDelete
  66. Sarah,
    I cant even express how much I needed this. I am 22 years old and hanging out with old people all the time now, in doctors offices I shouldn't have to ever see. I was a healthy girl before the pain. I'm having my "how unfair" moments daily. I used to be happy go lucky "I love my life for reasons i cant even explain" kind of person. Smiling was soooo easy and i loved to do it all day, even in my sleep! But now, I'm struggling. I'm inexplicably negative. I cant find my smile. I try on fake ones all day trying to find mine again. I have an amazing family that is so supportive of me, but sometimes they just cant understand. I wouldnt wish my pain on anyone, but in a way it makes you misunderstood. Doctors cant figure out what is causing my pain, it makes me feel hopeless. and until i read your post, i felt like no one understood the confusion and just general feeling of "this sucks, why me!", but you do. And you're all better now, which gives me hope. for this i am soooo grateful for having your blog in my life! Your story is an absolute inspiration :)
    merci beaucoup,
    Sarah K P

    ReplyDelete
  67. Hi Sweet Sarah! Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. You are such an inspiration to so many. It is wonderful to see the Lord's work in your life, and to witness the impact you are having on others. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  68. this was so incredibly inspiring, and exactly what I needed right now. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Thanks for this post! We've never met, but I'm the lucky one who gets to be EmFlem's bestie and experience first her her Tuscan nuptials. I was hit (and subsequently run over) by a crazy old man in a pick up who drove through my cross walk. I'm alive, and will mostly recover, but have my share of scars now too. Mostly on my foot, now aptly named
    "Frankenfoot." I think the name suit it. Matches the crazy limp. Anyway, I just really appreciate the perspective!

    ReplyDelete
  70. you are the sweetest. i know people probably look at you and think you haven't 'earned' your happiness.. life looks to easy. i love your story and i love that you are thankful for how god brought you through the path. it makes the happiness on the other side all the more enjoyable. :)

    ReplyDelete
  71. I needed this post too, Sades. Obviously I enjoyed the gory details of your surgeries. But more than that, I needed to hear that blessings will follow suffering. I'm going through rough stuff too...thankfully nothing major health-wise...and it honestly pales in comparison to what you've been through. But it still makes my heart hurt, even though I chose this path. Thank you for your little part in restoring my hope. It means more than you know.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Amazing...and inspiring...God is Good :-)

    ReplyDelete
  73. This was an amazing post. Thank you for sharing your story.

    And whilst I've never had a health scare such as yours.. I've had plenty "How unfair" moments recently. I am living in the Netherlands with my Dutch boyfriend, and got so terribly homesick somedays that I lose sight of this incredible opportunity we have been given. We are lucky to have found each other, and live a life full of travels (we love Switzerland), that I lose sight of that because I feel guilty from being far from my family... missing weddings... birthday's... baby showers... etc.

    I have my down days during this life abroad, but in reality, I am incredibly lucky.

    Thanks for the heartfelt reminder.

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  74. hey sarah,
    I've been reading your blog for awhile now, but just read this story. It brought me to tears and touched on a personal level. My grandmother (my second mom, more like) passed away from Endocorditis August 15, 2010... She found out she had about a month after I was born. She lived with it for 19 years in and out of hospitals 5-12 times a year. She fought long and hard. Questions often times going unanswered by doctors. She learned about the Heart Institute in 2006 and had been talking with them and planning for a surgery. She wasn't fortunate to have been able to get it before all her years of fighting wouldn't matter.
    I found out when I was six that I am a "carrier" of strep throat. I get it about 8 times a year and every time it completely scares me. "Is this going to be the time I'm hospitalized?" "Is that terrible heart disease creeping up?" "I don't want endocorditis.". It's scary for sure.
    You're an amazing person (thought that from the get go) :) I'm glad I got to read this, and I'm glad I stumbled upon your blog when you had started 1000 gifts.
    Thanks for sharing!
    XO-Lyndsy
    www.pursuitoflyndsy.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  75. Sarah,
    I have just discovered your blog and I feel so inspired after reading your story. You have such an amazing attitude (and are so real) and I can tell you truly cherish each day and live your life to the fullest. I know you must be such an inspiration for others and help people put things in perspective. I look forward to getting to know you better through your fabulous blog!

    Brooke
    bstylewise.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you (: