Friday, October 17, 2014

I had a stroke on Saturday night: Part 3

Thank you so much to all of you who read Part 1 and 2 and either liked or commented. I feel the well wishes and the love!  Before I get too deep into this post, I must tell you that I fully recovered from this episode. Multiple doctors and neurologists have confirmed that I have no deficits, no residuals, and I am recovering and doing well. This is the last part of my blog recounting my experience with having a stroke which occurred on Saturday, Oct 4th, 2014.  Read I had a Stroke on Saturday night Part 1 and 2 (links at the end of this blog entry) for events that led up to this post. Stay tuned! I am still processing what happened and I find that writing about it helps me and my loved ones, so thank you for reading. I feel blessed..

The information board in my room.  
I finally made it upstairs to my room.  676 Window. There was a dry erase board with all of the information I needed to know at that moment. It was only a few minutes before midnight so my nurse wrote the date 10/5 instead of 10/4. Laura was her name.  She was very sweet, and informative like Crickett. She asked me what happened to me so I told her. She listened intently.  After hearing my story, she performed a neuro check and asked me about my vision.  I looked to my right, where Sean was now sitting and I gasped! It was the first time I realized that my vision was back!  No more double vision or blurriness on my right side. Whew! Thank goodness that’s over.  I couldn't help but smile! 

Laura walked out and returned with a couple of folders to give me. One of them was a stroke packet.  Why is she giving this to me?  Didn’t she hear me say I didn't have a stroke? I quickly glanced through the material, but didn't feel the need to read it because after all, it didn't apply to me.

She also gave me an informational packet about the hospital, Vassar Brothers Medical Center.  Of course I dove right into this packet to educate myself on this hospital!  HA!  Only I would end up in a hospital where the chefs are all grads from the Culinary Institute of America!  I guess that makes sense because they’re only up the road from here.  I proudly told Sean this fact, and he agreed that this was very appropriate for me! If you are a foodie, then I know you can relate to my excitement upon this discovery!

I needed to use the restroom again.  This time, I was determined to go on my own.  However, I was labeled a Fall Risk.  This meant I had bright yellow socks on, a yellow wristband that said FALL RISK, and above my bed, a bright yellow sign with the same words. My bed had an alarm that would go off whenever I got up.  It weighed me, all 125lbs of me.  Laura informed me that before I get up I have to call for a nurse.  Someone would then come and disarm the bed to prevent the annoying relentless beeping sound and an automated announcement saying, “urgent, patient left bed 676” which would repeat over and over until it got reset.

A nurse aid finally came so I got up and went to the bathroom unassisted.  I made it.  I felt a bit shaky, and I was moving slowly but I was able to walk on my own.  I looked in the mirror and saw that my eyes were bloodshot.  My face was red and swollen.  My hair, well, no need to describe that but you can imagine.  Wow!  I looked like I had just been through hell!  I looked worse than I felt.  I have never seen my eyes and face this way before.  I walked back and as I was getting back in my bed, I said to Sean, "wow I look terrible."  He said, no you don’t.  You look way better than you did a few hours ago.  Maybe he was being nice, maybe he was in denial.  I don’t know.  I wondered how I must’ve looked a few hours before...

The good thing is that I didn’t have to pay for my TV!  I watched SNL, laughed a bit and fell asleep at some point.  Laura woke me up every couple of hours for a neuro check:  she checked my blood pressure and my temperature. She asked me to raise both arms over my head, smile, stick my tongue out, resist the direction she was pushing with her hands on my feet and push the opposite way using my feet against her hands.  I did well each and every time. And my blood pressure slowly and steadily came down.

My MRI was scheduled at 8:30am the next day. It was quick.  Loud, banging, clanking noises and 20 minutes later I was done.  When I got back upstairs to my room, breakfast was there waiting for me. It was surprisingly good!  Well, the chefs are from CIA so it had to be good!  I was feeling good because I thought I would be going home later that day.

Dr. Ritter came to share the results of the MRI.  He gave me a printout with words I didn’t recognize.  He told me in this conversation that I had an event.  I heard it as a mini stroke, although I realized much later in the day that I misheard him. He spoke to me in a very comforting way.  He also said I couldn't go home yet. Not that day. This surprised me. I fully expected to be discharged that day and so I was really confused when he told me otherwise. After he left, I had a weird suspicion that I didn’t hear something correctly.  I regretted not reading that stroke packet Laura gave me the night before.  

Sean walked in as soon as Dr. Ritter left my room.  I told him the doctor said I had a mini stroke. He was shocked and asked me if I was sure.  I asked my nurse to see if Dr. Ritter could come back and explain everything to Sean. At the moment, I couldn't remember what he said. But I was told that he was gone and Dr. Dani would be coming up soon.  I texted my brother Roy and asked him to be the one to tell my parents that I had a mini stroke.  I told him that I didn’t want to get upset.  Could he please do this for me, and he said of course.  

Dr. Dani, the neurologist came by a few hours later and confirmed the findings.  He said I had a stroke.  Wait, WHAT?  I asked him to clarify.  Was it a stroke, or a mini-stroke?  I thought it was a mini one?  I didn’t even know the difference at that point, but mini sounded better than not-mini.  I made him repeat himself over again.  And then I said it out loud.  “So we are clear, you are saying I DID have a stroke.  Is that what you are saying?”  He said, “YES, but no deficits.  That is good! No deficits.”  I replied, "So you're saying I had a stroke STROKE?" He said yes, but repeated the words "no deficits." What does that mean?  No damage?  He showed me a picture of my brain scan and pointed to a dark spot in the right hemisphere of my brain.  He said there, there is where it happened.  I couldn’t breathe.  What am I looking at? My thoughts starting running away from me...Brain damage?  A dark spot?  Dead space?  Useless mass?  OMG!  I HAD A STROKE! Gulp!!!
Tears welled in my eyes.  I couldn’t breathe.  I didn't want to cry.  But I couldn’t hold back the tears.  I wanted to scream and yell out loud, WHY???  Why did this happen to ME?  I take care of myself, my body, my mind.  What was the point of doing all of that?  This doesn't make any sense!  
Even right now as I am typing these words, the emotions take-over me and it still feels RAW.  
I have never ever in my life felt so helpless as I did at that moment.  I felt weak, soft, and sad that I was no longer who I always thought I was.  Strong, invincible, powerful!  I laid back down on the bed.   Dr. Dani looked at me, and reiterated that this was positive because I HAVE NO DEFICITS and that's all that matters. I looked at Sean, then I looked at my sister-in-law, Jackie who arrived just moments before. I had no energy.  No words. I didn't want to feel bad and I didn't want them to feel bad for me. Dr. Dani said the words NO DEFICITS repeatedly in hopes that this would comfort me. But it didn't. I didn’t understand what this meant until later on in the evening when nurse Laura came back for her shift.

In the meantime, I texted my family and closest friends and told them I had a stroke. An official stroke. I didn't want to talk to them so a text message was perfect.

Laura came back that evening.  She told me she read my chart and saw the results of the MRI. She said “sorry.”  I knew she meant it. She said that she knew I had a stroke the night before when she gave me the stroke packet to read.  Upon reflection later on, I realized that she is after all, a nurse in the Stroke Unit and has experience seeing patients with symptoms like mine.  She went on to tell me that I am very lucky.  That I should feel blessed.  That someone, somewhere is looking out for me.  That for me to have a stroke in the area of my brain where it happened, and to come out of it the way I did, with no deficits, no loss in memory, speech, motor functions, is very, very rare.  She said it over and over, “You are very lucky!”  

After Laura walked out of my room, I pulled out the stroke packet and read it in great detail. Next, I read the results of my MRI word for word. Under the word Ischemia, which I now know refers to a loss or reduction of blood flow to the tissues, it said: "there is a small medial thalamic rounded hyperintense T2 focus measuring 1.0 x 0.8 cm on the right. This demonstrates restricted diffusion and is compatible with a small acute infarct". An infarct is an area of tissue that is dead or dying because of a loss of blood supply. There it is--describing the location and size of the damage in my brain. There it is--evidence of the stroke. I quickly recalled the picture Dr. Dani showed me of my brain scan.

Now I understood what Dr. Dani, Dr. Ritter and Laura were trying to tell me.  I finally got it.  I had a stroke. Yes, I did.  AND YET, I STILL have all of my abilities as if the stroke never took place.  I don’t remember if Laura said the word “miracle” when we were talking earlier or if I thought it myself, but that is what I felt.  That a miracle had just taken place in my life.  My heart was open.  I felt lighter.  A deep sense of calm and peace had taken over me.  My thoughts finally quieted.  I smiled. I was grateful. I slept soundly that night.

I just had to take a selfie!
The next day, I awoke with an appreciation over what happened.  I had a stroke on Saturday night, and yet I was going to be discharged today, Monday. I once again felt strong, powerful, maybe not invincible, but grateful and truly blessed. I couldn't help but smile. I knew I would be going home. I remembered that I had my makeup bag in my purse so I grabbed it, pulled my mirror out, put makeup on, and brushed my hair. All is well! And yes, I took a selfie!  I liked what I saw.  I sent the pic to my immediate family, a few of my closest friends, and Sean.  I was starting to feel like myself again and I wanted them to know.  

My discharge instructions listed my diagnosis as CVA (cerebral infarction); Hypertensive emergency

More to come….

Friday, October 10, 2014

I had a stroke on Saturday night: Part 2

Before I get too deep into this post, I must tell you that I fully recovered from this episode. Multiple doctors and neurologists have confirmed that I have no deficits, no residuals, and I am home resting and doing well. Because this part of my story has only just started, you should know that this is the second of many blogs that I will write about this event in my life. Read I had a Stroke on Saturday night Part 1 for events that led up to this post. Stay tuned! I am still processing what happened and I find that writing about it helps me and my loved ones, so thank you for reading. I feel blessed...

Part 2:
This is not a picture of the machine that was used in the hospital.
It is an image I grabbed off of Google.  I did not take this picture.  
I opened my eyes and saw that i was looking up from inside a CT Scan machine.  Was I supposed to have my eyes opened and looking up there? Probably not, so I decided to keep them closed.   I realized then that I was no longer in the ambulance, so I must now be in the hospital.  I must’ve blacked out.  I don’t remember getting out of the ambulance and going into this room. When the machine stopped spinning above me, I felt the bed move and slide out.  I felt so hot, and I was burning up and so I ripped the covers off of me. Instantly I heard the nurses in the room start yelling and excitedly cheering, “Look! She’s moving her left arm! Yeah!  She’s moving her left arm!”  Why, I thought?  Was I not able to move my left arm?  I was confused.  

They moved me to another bed, opened the door and rolled me across the hallway into a room within the ER unit.  About 8 nurses immediately surrounded my bed.  One asked me questions about my name, DOB, etc.  One was undressing me and putting the hospital gown on me.  Two of them were putting IV’s in, one on each arm.  Oh but wait, I already had an IV on my left arm.  She asked if they put that on in the ambulance.  I said, “I guess so.”  Another one was taking my blood sugar-this time it was 99.  Another one was drawing blood from me.  It felt like they were all talking to me all at once, and it was so overwhelming.  Everything was still kind of blurry and I still had double vision.  Why am I still seeing double????

Crickett, I remember her name, Crickett, was my nurse in the ER.  She was taking my blood pressure, and was the one talking to me and telling me what was going to happen next.  Dr. Lee came in and stood to my left, she introduced herself to me as my doctor.  I remember Dr. Lee because she was the first person I was able to see clearly.  Wow, I was able to focus on her, no double vision.  This made me so happy!  She stood on my left side.  I noticed that if I look left, my vision was good.  The door to the room was on the left.  Oh good, there’s Sean!  He came in and sat down on the chair on the left side of the room.  I don’t remember what we said to each other, but I could see the relief on his face.  I told Crickett that my vision was good when I looked left, but not right.  She shined a flashlight and told me to follow up, then she asked me to focus on her nose as she moved the light to the left, then right.  She mentioned something about a "delay in the right something-something."  I was worried and she knew it.  She told me to relax, that it would come back and not last.  I believed her.  

Someone else came in the room, and asked me if I had insurance.  I said yes.  She asked, who my carrier was.  It took me a few seconds to remember but then the words “Blue Cross Blue Shield” came out of my mouth.  I was glad I remembered.  There was a moment there when I didn’t know what to say….She asked if I had the card and I said the card was in my purse, and Sean added that my purse was in the car.  The nurse said not to worry.    

Another doctor came in.  Dr. Philip.  He said Dr. Lee had gone home and he was taking over.  He told me he was going to be sending out tests (which meant he needed more blood from me) and asked me if I had ever had high blood pressure before.  I told him I was diagnosed two years ago, but that I was able to manage myself off the meds through diet and exercise.  He asked me if I remember what the name of the medication was.  I didn’t think I would know, but then I remembered, Benicar.  I told him I was on Benicar.  But only for a few months and then my doctor allowed me to discontinue use because my numbers improved through my own efforts with improving my diet and getting on a regular exercise regimen.  I was relieved that I remembered the name of the medicine. It felt good to know that I still had good memory and seemed to know what was going on.  Although, in hindsight, I really did not have a clue what was going on at the moment or why this all happened.   

When things calmed a bit, I turned to Sean and told him I was hungry.  At this point it was 7:30pm, and I had hunger pangs as I was thinking that had this not happened, we would’ve just been finishing up our massages and heading to dinner.   He asked Crickett if I could get some food. She said not yet.  Crickett told me when I was admitted that my blood pressure was 202/111.  It was starting to come down, but was still very high.  Later I found out, that they hadn’t ruled out a stroke yet and didn’t want me to eat because they didn’t know if my swallowing abilities were compromised.  So instead she offered me Ginger Ale.  I don’t drink soda.  But yeah ok, that’s better than nothing.  And as I took a sip from the straw, she watched and put her finger on my throat as I swallowed.  She said, “Good!”

A nurse came in to take my blood sugar.  I asked her why?  They took it already a little while ago and it was 99.  She asked me if I was diabetic.  I said no.  I told her the EMT’s gave me a sweet gooey substance while I was in the ambulance to bring my blood sugar up.  It tasted like jelly donut filling from what I can remember. She pricked my finger anyway and took my blood sugar again.  Fine, I thought!  Prick my finger again.  Well, 99 she confirmed.  I said i know, they did that already.

Another nurse came in to draw blood from me.  Sean and I were surprised because they had taken so much just minutes before.  Crickett checked it out to make sure it was warranted. Crickett confirmed, “Yup, these are all sendouts,” which I later learned refers to bloodwork or blood tests.  I don’t know why, but I trusted Crickett right away.

Crickett told me the result from the CT Scan was good.  No blockages that they could detect.  I liked Crickett.  She was thorough.  She spoke slowly and clearly to me.  She looked in my eyes to make sure I was understanding her.  And her eye makeup was on point!  If you know me well, you know I appreciate good eye makeup!  Anyway, she informed me that they were going to next do a CTA scan to examine the blood vessels in my brain.  This would involve injecting me with a dye to make sure there were no blood leakages in or around my brain. Crickett said maybe I could eat after that test.  I was again on my way to the room where that machine was.  As soon as I got there, a nurse came over and injected me with the dye.  I remember feeling warm all over as the dye spread through my vessels.  It felt so warm that it felt like I was peeing on myself.  Good thing Crickett told me this would happen so I knew not to panic and think that I was really wetting myself!  The feeling however, didn’t last too long.  And the CTA was over fairly quickly from what I remember, and I was wheeled back to my room where Sean was waiting.

Hooked up to my arm was the blood pressure monitor which was taking a reading fairly frequently. The balloon on my arm would fill up with air and I remember feeling the pain that it created as it pushed against the IV on my left arm.  It was very unpleasant to say the least.  My blood pressure was now somewhere in the 170s/90s.  Crickett gave me the green light for food.  Good!  I was starving.  But first I had to pee!  Where is the bathroom?  She told me they would bring a commode in.  What?  Why?  I can walk to the bathroom, that’s silly, I thought!  She said, because my blood pressure was still high, they didn’t want me standing or walking around.  I had no choice but to pee in the room with Sean looking right at me. OMG, I thought.  HAHAHA Just like at home!  
One of the nurses heard we were hungry so she brought food for Sean and I.  Wow!  I must say that the nurses were very nice, kind, and warm.  The blood pressure monitor hooked up to my arm was hurting me so I asked Sean to take it off while I ate my sandwich.  The sandwich was the best-tasting bad sandwich I ever had!  We devoured the cold chicken sandwiches and crackers. And it wasn’t enough.  Sean asked me if i would eat some pizza if he ordered a pie.  I of course said, Yes!  So he called for pizza delivery.  They said it would take about 30 mins.  I asked another nurse to put the monitor back up my arm and she told me firmly and sternly never to take if off again because they need my readings.  I felt like a child the way she spoke to me.  “Ok,” I said.  I knew she was right.  

Sean and I talked about calling my parents and my brother Gum.  But I didn’t have my phone on me because it was in my purse, which was in the car.  I didn’t want him to leave me alone so he said he would get it when the pizza arrived downstairs.   I really didn’t know what to tell my parents.  I didn’t want anyone to worry.  We were still waiting to find out what really happened.  

The neurologist, Dr. Dani came in to explain how they would bring my blood pressure down slowly.  Because it had been so high, he said lowering it all the way to normal state quickly wasn’t a good idea especially because I had probably been living with high pressure for quite some time. So this would be a slow process.  For now my bp was around 160s/90s.

The next moments were spent waiting.  Waiting for results of the scans.  Waiting for someone to let us know what was going to happen next.  Waiting for pizza.

Pizza came and went quickly. I had a slice, and it was the best slice I ever had!  Both CT and CTA scans came back negative according to Crickett. She said no blockages, no hemorrhage. I didn’t have stroke.  She said sometimes really high blood pressure can create symptoms that mirror that of a stroke.  I was happy to hear this. I then remembered that my phone was actually in my vest pocket and not in the car. My vest was with me in the room in a plastic bag with all of my belongings so Sean grabbed the bag and retrieved the phone. I called my Dad's cell because I thought he would be calmer and easier to talk to. I didn't want to get upset. And I knew that talking to my Mom would make me very emotional. So I called and spoke to him first, then her. Sean spoke to my Mom too.  We told them what we knew to be true at that time which to me sounded like good news-that I was rushed to the hospital for high blood pressure, that the symptoms mirrored that of a stroke, but that I didn’t have one according to the CT scans. I told them they were going to keep me overnight for observation especially since my blood pressure was still very high.  My mom sounded worried, and asked if I had an MRI done. I said no. She said I needed to get that. Here she goes again, I thought...knowing better than the doctors.

As soon as we got off the phone with my parents, Crickett said we would be heading up to my room soon. She also informed me that I have an MRI for my brain scheduled in the morning, as well as an Echocardiogram to look at my heart.  Hmmm, I thought. My mom was on point about the MRI. She always knows whats best. I know I'll regret writing that sentence as soon as she reads this, because my mother loves being right! Gee I guess that's where I get it from? (Sigh) But it's true. Mothers do always know best...

To be continued...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I had a stroke on Saturday night.

Before I get too deep into this post, I must tell you that I fully recovered from this episode. Multiple doctors and neurologists have confirmed that I have no deficits, no residuals, and I am home resting and doing well. Because this part of my story has only just started, you should know that this is only the first of many blogs that I will write about this event in my life. So stay tuned! I am still processing what happened and I find that writing about it helps, so thank you for reading. I feel blessed...

Imagine looking at a mirror and watching it shatter into a million pieces.  Then throw water on the fragments and watch the broken images float around and appear swirly...This is what I saw on Saturday, Oct 4th, 2014 at around 5:30pm.  

Sean and I had just arrived at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz a few minutes before.  We parked in guest parking lot F and made our way up many stairs to the hotel.  We walked through the lobby and I remember feeling so excited to be there.  I looked outside and saw the sun shining on rose, golden and copper colored leaves surrounding the lake.  I couldn’t wait to walk around outside.  After all, our couple’s massage wasn’t until 6:30pm so we had till 6pm to explore. Sean said he needed to use the restroom.  I did too.  

After using the toilet, I was washing my hands when I looked up at the mirror to check myself out.  And that’s when it started.  I knew something was wrong.  Could it be my contact lenses? I blinked a few times, but no change.  I felt like I was going to faint.  I made my way to the door and stumbled out to the hallway where Sean was thankfully standing.  I told him something is wrong with my eyes. I knew he was standing on my right side, but when I looked at him, his face was on my left.  It was like staring at broken mirror images that were displaced, or sharp-edged puzzle pieces tossed about on top of each other.  What is going on with my eyes?? I asked him repeatedly if I was cross-eyed.  He looked and reassured me that they weren't. What is going on?

Within seconds, I could no longer stand on my own.  He found a chair in the next room and sat me down.  I could no longer hold my head up.  He thought I needed air.  He held me up and walked me outside by the lake and sat me down on a chair.  He asked me to stay so he could get help. When he stepped back to walk away, I slid down my chair.  He then moved the chair next to the railing and placed my left hand on the railing so that I could use it to hold me up.  He stepped away, and my hand started to slide off.  He told me he thought we should call 911.  I tried to talk him out of it.  I was embarrassed and didn’t want to create anymore commotion.  Then he asked me, “baby do you know that you’re drooling?”  With my right hand, I touched my face and felt the drool coming down the left side of my mouth.  I knew then, I was not myself.  I told him, “ok, call 911.”  

He got the attention of a woman working in the hotel and asked her to get some help.  She tried to help me herself, but Sean demanded she get a doctor right away. A doctor, also a hotel guest, finally came.  The paramedics from the hotel also came.  I wish I had their names.  The doctor started performing what I would later know as neurological tests.  He had me raise both arms above my head, squeeze his hands, touch my nose using my right, then left pointer fingers, smile, etc.  Sean later told me that during this time, my left side was weak. Even when I thought I was raising both arms up, I was only raising my right.  When I would smile, it would be crooked.  I had some motion on my left, but it was delayed, weak, and later on non-existent.  I kept my eyes closed to keep the crazy images at bay.  I was still seeing double. It felt better to just close them and listen.  They were asking lots of questions. I could hear myself slurring my words as I answered them.  They were holding my head up because I couldn’t do it myself.   

I remembered that the Spa at Mohonk had a policy of charging their guests 100% for no shows. I didn't want to be charged so I mentioned this and the MOD of the hotel said not to worry, and that he would take care of it. I was secretly hoping we would still make it in time for the massage. I really needed it. I had been under a lot of stress leading up to this and was really looking forward to relaxing. Why now, I thought?

The ambulance finally came.  I remember hearing someone say that we should go to Vassar because they have a stroke unit.  Was I having a stroke?  Was this really happening?  The driver asked one of the EMT’s if she should expedite.  He said, “do what you have to do.  Time is of the essence.” She said she would turn it on when we got to 299, which days later I confirmed was Main Street in New Paltz. I heard him mutter under his breath, "Geez, I have to tell her how to drive this thing too?" I was amused by this comment. Even in that state, I understood this meant turning the siren on.  I had no idea where we were going.  Sean was following behind the ambulance because they told him he couldn’t ride inside with me.  

While in the ambulance, they put the IV in my arm, poked my finger to check my blood sugar which was really low at 67.  I told them i had breakfast around 11am and a banana around 4pm. They asked me repeatedly if I had been drinking or was on some sort of recreational drugs.  I said no.  They asked again, and I said no again.  I was getting annoyed to be honest.  My head felt like it was spinning and the area around my right eye was hurting.  I heard the siren come on.  I asked if that siren was coming from us.  They confirmed.  The right side of my neck was hurting because my head was tilted left the entire time. I couldn't hold my head up. One of the EMTs had to keep my head in his hand to keep my head up. I felt like I was drunk in the worse possible way, in a way I had never ever felt before. I had no control of my left side.
To be continued....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Love Pounds+Life's Passions = Life's Work

Me and Insanity trainer, Shaun T
The other day I ran into Shaun T, and I felt that uninhibited girly, giddy, oh so corny feeling you get when you have a surprise encounter with a celebrity or an influential figure in your life.  In January of this year, I jump-started my fitness routine (after taking what I will call a love hiatus-ill explain this later) with the Beachbody fitness program, Insanity. You've probably seen the infomercials. As an avid gym goer, and crazy cardio chic, I wanted something that was going to kick my @*$ and snap me out of my fitness funk.  My sister-in-law, Tara, said that this was it.  I remember that first week of doing the workout, thinking and saying out loud every profane word I could think of.  Mostly, I thought it was truly insane, and impossible to do these moves as fast and as accurate as Shaun T and the others in the video were demonstrating.  Still, I forged on and did my best. Day after day, week after week I got better.  And better.  By the second month, it was back to square one with newer, harder, fiercer, kick-ass combos and longer routines. But this time I knew I could, and I knew I would.  I would say out loud, "What used to be hard, has now become easier," before, during, and after my workouts.

There was one specific day I remember clearly.  I was following along with the video and doing the oblique-push-ups.  I was ready to give up.  I just couldn't anymore, I thought.  Then I looked down on the floor, and saw my shadow staring back up at me. I watched her go up and down, one more push up after another.  I thought, wow she's strong!  She's an athlete.  She's determined.  She is in it to win it!  She is never giving up!!!  Before I knew it, I finished the drill fully.  I felt elated, exhilarated, electric!  I finished 60 days of Insanity and haven't stopped since.  I've completed 90 days of Les Mills PUMP, all 21 days of the Ultimate Reset, and I'm currently on day 56 of TurboFire.  I have been drinking Shakeology daily, eating lots more veggies and fruit, and drinking 3L of water a day. Since Jan I've lost 17 lbs.  After years of trying and not succeeding, I am now finally at my ideal weight.  And it is easy.

Me and Sean
So back to the Love hiatus-as you may have read in my previous posts, I met the love of my life early last year and fell deeply in-love.  So naturally, I wanted to spend every waking moment with him, and so I did.  With more and more time spent together, I took a fitness hiatus, and wasn't working out as much as I normally would have.   In addition, we were enjoying each other, having fun, ice cream, steak, wine, and cheeseburgers.  I just had no cares as to what I was putting in my body.  It was all good!  Have you ever been so happy that you let yourself go?  Ever hear of the "love pounds." Yup!  I gained them.  But, it was all good.

Until one day I realized my energy was low, I was sluggish a lot, and I no longer fit in my clothes.  In fact, right after Xmas last year I had to buy bigger pants. Not one size bigger, but 2!  Yikes!  I did not feel good about this, and knew I had to do something. I was determined to prove to myself, and others that feeling good and living in love has no limits.  Whether or not you've uncovered yours, everyone has limiting beliefs and it's important to be aware of them to achieve sustainable happiness.  I knew I was facing one of my limiting beliefs, and so I wanted to demonstrate that I need not create a reality that would limit the bliss I was experiencing with Sean by putting on weight,  feeling unattractive, and having no energy to enjoy our time together.  I knew this was simply a situation only I could change. 

I decided I was done with my weight struggles, and wanted my blood pressure to normalize without having to take medication.   I was finally done complaining and got into action.  In January of this year, I became a Team Beachbody Coach to not only hold myself accountable, but to also help others get healthier too!  After all, the way to create more of something in your life is to find a way to use your passions to give that very thing back to others.  Yes, I experience true joy and satisfaction knowing that I've made a difference in someone's life by helping them achieve their health and wellness goals.  So much so, that I decided to take it a step further.  Last month I enrolled at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I am studying to become a Certified Health Coach.  I am so thrilled that I finally did this after first thinking about doing it, back in 2008.   Also, I am back to teaching intenSati classes, and last month got certified to teach Turbo Kick classes.

Ever hear of that saying, "setbacks are set-ups for come-backs"?  Thanks to the love pounds gained in 2011, I've discovered how to turn my life's true passions into my life's work, and as a result 2012 is wrapping up to be a powerful, significant, turning point in my so called, Life!

If you would like to join me on this journey to experience limitless health, wealth, and happiness don't hesitate to reach out!  And if you know someone who you think could benefit from reading this post, please go ahead and send it on!

Monday, July 2, 2012

I would like to introduce you to guest blogger, Jillian McKee. Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian has worked as a Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment. The article below is about the benefits of eating healthy during and after a diagnosis of any kind of cancer. Each different cancer has its limitations, but if one can keep a healthy body, they can have a better chance to overcome this awful disease. In-Joy!

A Couple of Changes to Supplement Your Fight

Whether just diagnosed, enduring treatment, or successfully post-treatment, one of the most important attacks any individual can make in his or her battle against cancer is eradicating poor eating habits and reforming good practices. Nutrition not only changes the lifestyle one is living, but it changes the way the body processes nutrients in general. Good nutrition fortifies the body with necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to protect it for outside forces. While nutrition is not a “cure all” for cancer, it definitely makes a difference in the body’s defense mechanisms. Just as many different cancer treatments exist, no two physicians suggest the same diet to support the cancer fight. Nonetheless, making simple changes like eating a low fat diet with little animal protein can serve as the first steps toward a plan for nutrition that supports a healthy approach to fighting mesothelioma or any other cancer. (As with any other diet or exercise plan, one should always consult a doctor for specific suggestions and recommendations.) 

Low Fat

The human body is not designed to function at its prime on a diet high in fat, so it seems like maintaining a diet low in fat or at least low in saturated fat should be step taken by every individual. Concerning cancer particularly, fat is a hindrance because cancer cells need lipoproteins or LDL’s to grow. A diet lower in fat reduces LDL’s, which can help prevent tumor cells from growing. Second, fat digestion produces bile which can remain in the stomach and become a carcinogen if not processed by the body. Avoiding fat stimulates less bile production, which protects the body from an unnecessary internal cancer-developing material.

To maintain a low fat diet, focus on eating only 20% of calories from fat. For example, on a 2,000 calorie a day diet, an individual would eat no more than 45 grams of fat or 400 calories from fat. Another consideration is to not just remove fat completely from the diet but to capitalize on “the right fat.” Suggested fats include unsaturated fat, found in beans and vegetable oils, and monounsaturated fats such as olive and canola oil, and omega 3 fatty acids in fish including salmon and tuna. 

Low Animal Protein

Considering animal protein is a must when reforming a diet plan. As a general rule, foods supplied by animal sources contain higher ratios of saturated fats, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Each of these is a problem because fat promotes obesity and prohibits the body from functioning properly, and the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides are known to promote cancer.

When choosing proteins, plant-based are always the best. Look for items such as legumes: beans, peas, and peanuts; nuts including walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios; and whole grains such as brown rice, oats, corn, quinoa, amaranth and wheat. Other sources of plant protein can be found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards, and swiss chard.

While these two considerations only serve as simple guidelines for a healthier, more defensive diet, they still help in the fight against cancer. Any change toward better nutrition is a positive change.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

intenSati with Triccia is BACK!

In a very true way
I co-create my reality

As above
So is below
This is what I know

The above is the standard affirmation for the warm up in every intenSati class.  I love what these words stand for!  And I love how I feel when I say them out loud.  It is quite empowering!  Whether in an intenSati class or life in general, saying these words out loud is a perfect reminder that we are responsible for the quality of our experiences.  It is a reminder that we are the ones causing our lives to be.  intenSati is such a powerful practice because it is about bringing awareness to the synergy that is caused when you employ your mind, attitude, and actions to all line up and match your intentions. 

So it is with great excitement that I share this with you!  After taking a year off from teaching, I taught my first class to a room of willing participants at the Crate&Barrel Corporate Headquarters in Chicago this past Wednesday. It felt great to share the practice with more people who had never experienced it before, and even better to do something I hadn't done in a while with a supportive collective.

In the days leading up to it, many people who signed up to take the class did not know what to expect.  Naturally some were nervous, and some were excited. I was feeling a little bit of both! The night before the class, I barely slept as I was going over the series over and over in my head visualizing the class and imagining smooth transitions from move to move, timed perfectly with the music changes. I silently repeated to myself the words, "I AM endless source of energy, I AM joyous determination, I AM radiant light." I imagined myself teaching every move at 3 different levels of intensities. I imagined myself providing the right amount of challenge for those who wanted it, and taking care of those who needed more support and guidance. Either way I saw a heart pumping, exhilarating, fun class that inspired all to reach within and do more than they initially believed they could. I played these images in my head again and again until I drifted off to sleep.

The next day I awoke before my alarm went off at 5:25am and immediately brought back into my mind my intentions for that morning's class. The last time I taught at 6:30am was almost a year and a half ago, yet gone was the nervous feeling or worry of any sort. I felt great, I felt ready, I was good to go!  I AM UNSTOPPABLE!

The class was just what I had imagined! Everyone said the affirmations out loud, there was a fun spirit from beginning to end, and true appreciation was felt for the beauty of finding comfort within the discomfort. It was apparent that there was such a willingness by everyone in the room to play, have fun, and enjoy!  I am so glad that I didn't let the fact that I hadn't taught in over a year, stop me from teaching this class!  It felt like the right thing to do, and my heart was fully in it!  I tapped into my mind and used it as my source of POWER and sure enough, my actions naturally followed!  I will not post them here, but the emails I got after the class all reflect that it was a SUCCESS! 

Yes, that saying is so true that "life begins at the edge of your comfort zone!"  When was the last time you did something that seemed crazy?  When was the last time you did something that scared you sh*tless?  When was the last time you did something new?  When was the last time you met a CHALLENGE head on with FOCUS and DETERMINATION?  There is nothing better than turning fear into LOVE!  Every time you achieve this, you build muscle to be comfortable with being uncomfortable! Every time I am in unfamiliar territory, I  use one of my favorite intenSati affirmations, "What used to be hard, has now become easy!"  Remember these words as you face both expected and unexpected roadblocks!  Keep in mind that they are all temporary conditions that will change.  The best thing you can do is keep your head up so as not to miss any good that comes out of it!

I loved teaching that class! I loved all of those people! And I realized how much I miss teaching intenSati! So, with that said, I am back! Stay tuned for "intenSati with Triccia" classes coming your way!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hike in the Wildnerness and Appreciate Life

As some of you may or may not know, I am most comfortable indoors and think of myself as an "indoor cat" perfectly happy inside, away from bugs, critters, and unpredictable weather.  So it was a big deal to me that this past Sunday I hiked Slide Mountain, the tallest peak in the Catskills.  I had been on a handful of hikes before, but none that were classified as "strenuous" as this was.  I must admit I was a bit nervous and didn't know what to expect except that it was about 7 miles total and should take about 5 hours.   I believe that anything worth doing, is worth doing well so I was determined to enjoy this.   I wanted to do it well. While in the car on the way there, I visualized myself moving with ease and comfort.  I silently repeated the words, "I AM safe, I AM well, I AM adventurous" over and over again.  This made me feel better and by the time we parked the car almost 2 hours later, I was ready, excited, and all set to go!  We set out crossing a couple of small streams, some rocky patches on a narrow well marked trail.  Within 10 minutes there it was, a wall of rocks, different sizes, heights, and I immediately thought, "oh yeah strenuous hike here we go." 
I kept my head down focusing on rock after rock, making sure I planted my feet firmly before taking the next step.  Every now and then, Sean, my boyfriend would ask if I was ok and I was.  In fact, I was having fun! I noticed after a while, that my thoughts on anything not having to do with this hike just stopped.  I was completely, and entirely focused on the rocks under my feet. "This one looks good, it's dry, not that one because it's wet, this one looks secure, that one is loose, this one is good, oops a little slippery there, this one is good, this one's good too, uh oh that won't work where do I go next?....ok go to the left, hold onto the tree for support, this rock is good, oh finally! a flat surface, good i can breathe now, here comes another wall of rocks..."  I almost didn't hear Sean behind me telling me to slow down and stop and appreciate the sweet smell of the outdoors.  Aahhhh...I took a deep breath and realized we had been on this trail for over an hour and my shirt was pretty soaked and I was dripping sweat.  We continued on for another hour.  I could hear Sean breathing heavily behind me. I was too. This was indeed a challenge.
Finally, the rocky terrain gave way to a smooth, cushiony, flat surface lined on either side by pinetrees. Have you ever smelled Christmas in June?  I have, right on that trail. It was surreal!

When we got to the lookout point we saw a stunning, breath taking view.  I knew instantly that every step was worth it!  In front of me was beauty as far as the eye can see.  Rolling hills of green in a rendezvous with wispy white clouds on a blue sky. This was so worth it!  So quiet, so peaceful, so calm.  We were in the wilderness.  Yes, the wilderness defined as "the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet--those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.  Some nature writers believe wilderness areas are vital for the human spirit and creativity." I agree.  Where there is peace, there can be clarity.  Where there is clarity, inspiration.  Where there is inspiration, creativity is born.  My heart was open.  And I felt different. This was one of those life-changing moments.  For the next two hours while descending the mountain, I thought about how this trail represented my experiences with life. Some parts are smooth and easy, some parts are tricky and require some more thought.  Some are downright challenging and made me question if it was worth taking the next step or should I just turn back?  Some parts are just amazing and beautiful and remind you of a greater presence around you!  Yes all this on the same trail. And I'm so glad we kept going or else we would've missed out on the best parts!
What's more is that the same trail looked different on our way back.  While it was dry on our way up the mountain, it was wet on our way down.  The truth is, things are never the same the second time around, and should just be appreciated and not taken for granted at that very moment!  Wow!  Let me say that again!  Things are never the same the second time around, and should just be appreciated and not taken for granted at that very moment!  My senses were heightened, and my emotions were amplified!  I loved everything about that day.  All in all, it took a little over 4 hours.   And while my legs were shaking and felt fatigued, I was in a joyful state of mind!  I turned to Sean once we got in the car and told him how much I enjoyed the hike and that I couldn't wait to do it again.  "What's beyond strenuous," I asked him?  He smiled in a way that I love, and we headed back home.