Shelby, where have you been?

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written on my blog or shared any artwork. Some of you may have wondered where I’ve been.

On March 22, I woke up at about 6 a.m. feeling strange. I was hot, clammy, and I had some pain in my arms. I felt bad, strange and I began to suspect I was having a heart attack. I called my husband, who had already left for work, and told him to come home, I needed to get to the emergency room.

I should have called an ambulance but I was still in denial, so I waited for my husband and we took an Uber to the ER. The staff at the Brooklyn Hospital moved much slower than I was comfortable with until they took the first EKG, then things began to move faster. Test after test, doctor after doctor, I knew it was getting serious. They confirmed that I’d had a mild heart attack.

They did a heart catheterization and found no blockages and no need for a stent–thank God! In fact, the nurse said my arteries looked really good.

The next day, I demanded my release because of the complete incompetence of the nursing staff in the hospital–that’s another story. They sent me home with 5 medications and I was told I would be taking those meds for the rest of my life. Whatever–I just wanted to go home.

One of the medications I was given was a blood thinner that I reacted badly to. When I called the doctor, she immediately called in a prescription for 2 more medications! I began looking for another doctor the moment I hung up. I wasn’t going to end up taking 20 pills a day!! No thank you!

To make a long story a little shorter, I found another doctor and I like him. We don’t know what caused the heart attack exactly. I will tell you that I was taking quite a bit of Advil for various reasons. I was practically living on the stuff. Just after my heart attack, the warning came out about the risk of heart attacks while using Advil. My first thought on the morning that this began was that the Advil had something to do with it. I still feel like it was the major risk factor. I was also feeling a lot of stress and that certainly added to the mix to form the “perfect storm”.

Over the past few months, I’ve been my own health advocate. I knew I didn’t want to take the drugs that had been prescribed for me. They made me feel sick and I knew they were horrible for me. I read every thing I could find about the heart, cardiac drugs, diet, and nutrition. I came to the decision to take my health into my own hands and go on the Mediterranean Diet and eat mostly plant based food, rather than take the medications.

I bought a Vitamix and started juicing fruits and veggies. After the first smoothie, I had so much energy! Instead of grabbing a coke for kick, I grab a smoothie. The boys love them too! Now, we can’t keep spinach in this apartment! I’ve taken to buying 2 shopping bags full at the local farmers market.

Our small NYC apartment has a tiny kitchen with little room to actually cook. The plan was to eat out or order in–not cook!! Now I’m cooking all the time in that small space. I’ve spent a lot of time organizing the kitchen and looking for ways to make it functional. There’s no dishwasher so I feel like I’m washing dishes all day. It’s a learning process and it’s taking up all my time.

The good news is: I’ve lost 7 lbs. over the past month and I’m feeling really good. I’ve made some incredible food that the whole family loves. I’m learning to meditate and de-stress. I’m taking time to live in the moment and relax and focus on me for a bit.

The bad news: I haven’t been able to paint in months. I’ve had no choice but to focus on my health and so painting hasn’t been a priority. I’m not planning to stay away for much longer. I’m itching to get a paint brush in my hands and I’ve got lots of ideas bubbling inside.

This event in my life, having a heart attack, still seems so surreal to me. It sounds weird when I say it to someone, “I had a heart attack.” Writing about it seems like I should be writing about someone else, not me. But here I am, it was me. Wow! It takes time to sink in. It has been overwhelming and terrifying, but I’m thankful for every moment I have.

That’s my story. That’s why you haven’t seen my in a while. I’m doing well and my doctor says I’m going to live to be a cranky old woman. I hope I’ll be a sweet old lady covered in oil paint.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe, joy filled summer. Live in the moment!