Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For My Health, For the Health of Others, and In Memory - I Will Walk

This particular walk is meaningful to me, for several reasons.  First the title alone is screaming at me - START!  I have never walked in a charity walk.  I rarely exercise outside the privacy of my home.  With never doing this in my life, I have to start somewhere - so the symbolism of that alone means a lot to me.

But, it's more than just a catchy marketing campaign, much more.  My family, on both sides, has a history of heart disease.  My mother's father died of a heart attack when she was three years old.  This event left a lasting emotional impression on my family.  I hold near to my heart stories my grandmother told me of this tall, handsome man she loved so much.  My mother has told me of the few memories she has of him, coming home from work, always having a small piece of candy in his pocket that she would reach in to get as soon as he walked in the door.

My grandmother (my mother's mother) suffered a massive stroke in 1993.  It was that single event that put me on the road to becoming a nurse so many years ago and has influenced me to return to my dream so many years later.  My grandmother was like a second mother to me, and I miss her dearly.  She lived with my family from the time I was six years old until she suffered the stroke when I was 16.  It was December 20, 1993 and I feel like it was yesterday.  It was cold and snowy and I remember walking into the hospital after some last minute Christmas shopping with my mother.  My grandmother had been in the hospital for pneumonia, but was supposed to go home the next day.  She would be home for the holidays!

It was a smaller town and the doctor was waiting for us as we approached the elevator.  His words ring through my ears like screams after a rock concert.

"Your mother has had a little stoke," he said to my mom.

We rushed to her room to find her in a deep sleep.  Her face was visibly different.  Her right arm was noticeably affected.  The days that followed were a blur of pain, sadness and unknowns.  Eventually, she regained awareness but her words were lost forever.  She was never able to speak again.  She was bound to a wheelchair and spent her last years in a nursing home.  Two years, five months and 18 days she lived in bondage, trapped in her body and mind. 

Her death was a sweat release from the torment left from the stroke.  She went home, finally.

Many family members on my mother's side have suffered from heart disease and heart attack.  It has taken far too many.

My father's family is no different.  My grandfather was the ultimate family man.  He worked hard, as a UPS driver, raising six children.  After years of dedication he retired to enjoy his golden years.  But those years were cut far too short.  In a single moment, walking across his living room, he passed from this life into the next.  A massive heart attack left my grandmother a widow, left my father and his siblings without their beloved father.  Many grandchildren have come since his departure that he is looking down upon from heaven; but I know he would have loved to have rocked them on his knee.

Heart disease haunts my family.  We have the ability to change and prevent heart disease.  One means is simply doing what I'm doing.  Make a commitment to change your life - eat healthy and exercise. The second, is to participate locally in walks like Start! Heart Walk. Please don't take this blog entry as a plea for money, as I am not a fundraiser.  I've listed the banner to the right, should you so wish to donate.  But more so, I'm interested in building awareness, encouraging others to get out there and move and if I should be so bold, inspire someone else to make a change.

Please think of me Saturday, October 2nd.  For me, signing up and attending is an achievement.  While I will push myself to finish - just making the attempt is an accomplishment.


  1. Christina Whipkey HessSeptember 22, 2010 at 3:58 AM

    Don't forget your little cousin, Emma, is also a fighting heart warrior, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome or otherwise known as "half a heart". So proud of what you are doing! Will be there with you in spirit! :)

  2. Thank you, Chris. Emma will be in my thoughts and prayers as I walk.