Still Pumping

6 years ago today I received the amazing gift of life. I can still remember my mom coming in and waking me up and telling me “we got the call!” Just like that, a whirlwind of emotions hit me. Obviously, I was happy but also scared. I remember not crying when my mom told me. I wanted to be strong and not break down and be a mess. I did cry when I said goodbye to my dogs, because I’m a loser and love my dogs more than I probably should. I also teared up on the plane ride to Houston (long story, we had a private pilot take my mom and I to Houston in his plane, it was pretty legit) because it was a breathtakingly gorgeous day. It was cloudy, but still full of sunshine. The doctors had always told my family and I to be prepared to receive the call for my heart in the middle of the night, during bad weather, because that’s when the most accidents occur. It was just amazing to me that we got the call on a Sunday, at noon, during one of the prettiest days. God definitely had a plan for that day. I remember getting to the hospital and the nurse making a comment about my lacrosse sweatshirt. After that, I don’t remember anything but waking up and starting to cry because for the first time in my entire life my heartbeat sounded “normal.” Growing up with my old, sick heart, my heartbeat always sounded just a tad bit strange to me. Sometimes it would misfire and my pacemaker would have to jolt my heart into the correct rhythm and that heartbeat was all I knew, but I knew it just wasn’t right. When I was waking up after my surgery, I was trying not to cry, but I was just so happy to know that I had a healthy normal sounding heart.

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A lot can change in six years. I’ve gone to college, made new friends, and have continued to live life to the fullest.  Before my transplant, I never would have dreamed of going to college seven hours away from home, but I do, and I love it. Right after my transplant, I never would have thought I would never be off less than eight different medications, now I’m on four. Now six years out from my transplant, I live an extremely normal life, more normal that I could have ever dreamed. I have an internship that I love; I have amazing friends and family (who always help me remember my 8 am and pm medications), I go to college, I babysit, I run around the backyard with my dogs, I go hiking, I eat an unhealthy amount of half baked Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, I blog, I dream of becoming a youtube star, I spend way too much time on pinterest, I go for runs,  I travel, I rent a house,  I annoy my brother, I hangout with friends (we really just sit around and try to find stuff to do), and I wake up each morning and am amazed with the life that God has given me. 

Six years from now (I’ll be 26…what) I hope to be back in Austin. My dream job (if I can’t be a YouTube star) is to do public relations work for a hospital. I would love to write press releases about new medical innovations and findings. If some day, a hospital can grow a heart from stem cells, I want to write that press release. Besides living in Austin, I hope to own a great dane (yeah, I have an obsession), and possibly be married. Who knows. I do know that in six years, I’ll have outgrown Texas Children’s and I’ll have to get a grown up doctor…which I’m not looking forward too, but it’ll be a new chapter in my life.

I do want to encourage everyone to become an organ donor and to tell their family and friends their wishes of becoming an organ donor, if anything were to ever happen.

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A big thank you to my doctors (Dr. Denfield, Dr. Dryer, Dr.Morales, Dr.Fraser, and Dr.Ayres), nurses (David and LaToya) , transplant coordinator (Corey and Sarah) and many more, who have always kept me smiling and truly mean the world to me. I feel like I can’t thank y’all enough for all that y’all have done for my family and me. 

Thank you to my donor family. I’ve never met them or contacted them, but they truly did give me the gift of life.  I cannot imagine how hard it was to make the decision to donate all of their daughter’s organs, but they did, and I will be forever grateful. I am so blessed and God has given me such an amazing life and an amazing story for me to share with others.

24. Complete a Half Marathon [UPDATED]

The video is finally done! Here it is!

I am still in shock. I can not believe that yesterday I completed my first half marathon. I am sad it’s over because I’ve been looking forward to the half marathon all semester and now that it is over I actually have to study for finals. I am so glad I finished and had so much fun doing it.

I went to Oklahoma City Saturday morning with my friend Kelsey to pick up our race packets. We parked the car and walked to the Cox Convention Center. There was so much going on in OKC on Saturday. The Thunder played the Mavericks (Thunder won, boo) that night at the Chesapeake Arena which is right next to the convention center so there were people EVERYWHERE. Once we got into the convention center, Kelsey and I got really excited. I think it hit us that the next day we would be participating in the the 12th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and half marathon. Once getting our packets and bib numbers, we went and walked around the health and fitness expo, which I really enjoyed.

Later that day I had to go pick up my mommy from the airport! I left at 2:30 so I would be on time to pick her up at 3:15 well my GPS wanted me to take a highway that doesn’t exist any longer, so I ended up not getting to the airport until 3:50. I was beyond frustrated because I honestly could not find the airport…finally I got on the right highway and found my way there. First we checked into the hotel, then headed back down to the expo so I could show my mom around. It was really fun walking around and spending time with my mom. I am so grateful that she could come up for the race.

After the expo we went to Macaroni Grill to carb load. I think I ate more than I ever have…I had potato cakes, mushroom ravioli, and some chicken. I was so stuffed after that meal. We ran some last minute errands before heading back to the hotel to get some rest. It took me awhile to fall asleep, but once I did I was out.

4:45 am came a lot sooner than I wanted it too. Once, I was awake, the nerves and butterflies hit me. I was super excited but still nervous. What if i didn’t finish? What if it was pouring rain the whole time? Was I really ready for a half marathon? Once I got dressed, got my bib pinned on and ate some breakfast, we headed down to find parking. As we were driving down there, I was getting anxious and was still in some shock about what I was about to do. Getting to the starting line was when it really hit me. I and about 30,000 other people were about to do a half marathon or full marathon. Crazy. Once the clock hit 6:30am, the race began. I said goodbye to my mom, and jumped in with the rest of the crowd to start the half marathon.

I jogged the first mile and a half with the 9 minute pace group which was probably not the smartest thing. It tired me out pretty quickly. I started walking until I found a group that was more of my pace. Miles 1 – 4 flew by. There were people cheering us on the whole way and that made it easier to keep going. Around mile 6 it started pouring down rain…the rain felt good for the first few minutes, but then it just became annoying…luckily it only lasted about a mile or so before it stopped. It still sprinkled most of the race, but as long as it wasn’t pouring, I was good.

My friend Lindsey, who is an athletic training major, was working one of the medical stations. She thought she’d be working at the mile 10 station, so when I saw the medical station at mile 10, I took off in a dead sprint, only to learn she wasn’t there. I was bummed but knew she had to be at one of the stations and I’d eventually see her. Once I got to mile 11, I saw a girl who looked like Lindsey, helping a runner put a bandage on a blister. I ran up, grabbed her face and yelled “I LOVE YOU! SEE YOU AT THE END!” Luckily, it was Lindsey and I wasn’t yelling in some random girls face. I continued to jog on. A few minutes later I heard someone yelling my name, I turned around to see Lindsey jogging after me. We hugged, she told me she was proud of me, and I was off again. Seeing Lindsey definitely gave me the boost of energy I needed. Mile 10-13 were the hardest. My knees had started hurting, along with the bottom of my feet, but I was so close and knew I had to continue on.

When I saw the finish line, I took off in a sprint. I was so ready for it to be over. I just wanted to cross that finish line. I started crying before I reached the finish line, because I did it. I finished a half marathon. I honestly never thought I’d be doing this. Five years ago, stairs were my enemy. Now, stairs are my best friend and 13.1 miles is my enemy. I teared up off and on through out the half marathon, because I wasn’t doing this for me anymore. I was doing this for the family who had the strength to donate their daughters heart that made it possible for me to live the amazing life that I have. Someday, I hope I can write them a letter telling them all I have done with the heart they’ve given me. God has blessed me with an unbelievable second chance at life and I refuse to let it be anything but ordinary.

Whenever it got tough, I would remind myself of how blessed I was that I had the opportunity to participate in the half marathon. The Ben Breedlove story had a huge impact on me. I had watched some of Ben’s youtube videos and his passing really hit me hard. I was lucky enough to have had my heart transplant before I got really sick, Ben didn’t even have that chance. When I signed up for the half marathon, I wrote in my planner 3 reasons I wanted to do the half marathon. I wrote do it for Ben, do it prove them wrong, and do it make this year different.

I did this half marathon for those 18 people who pass away daily waiting for an organ and to show others that an organ recipient can live a more than normal life. I might have to take medications every morning and evening, have doctor check-ups, and take more precautions when I get sick, but I can still participate in a half marathon, go to college, and live a normal life all because I received the gift of life

I’m going to continue to keep running and training. I’m planning to do the Austin Half Marathon on February 17, 2013. I’m trying to get my mom to do it with me! My friend Emily Ronck also plans to do it! Eventually I’d like to do a full marathon, but I’d like to do a few more halves before that. My friend Kelsey, who did the full marathon, finished in 4:45 which is amazing. I am so proud of her to for finish with such a good time! It was so fun training with her, we always encouraged each other to go run or congratulate each other after we finished a run. I’m so happy I had her there along the way. My final time ended up being 3:27. My pace was slower than I would have liked it to be, but it was my first time, so I’m just happy I finished. By the time the Austin half marathon comes along, I’d like to have a 12 minute pace and finish in under 3 hours.

I can officially cross number 24 off my bucket list!!!! If you ever get the chance, train and participate in a half marathon! It was awesome and I can’t wait to do another!! Thank you to everyone who helped encourage me along the way and for all the kind words after I finished! They really mean a lot to me!

Remember the Ten 10k.

This past Saturday I participated in my first 10k! Four friends and I did the Remember the Ten 10k in Stillwater, OK! For those of you who have never been to Stillwater, it is a pretty small town. The 10k felt like it looped over and over again; it made it super tough to keep going, but we did it. I stuck with one of my best friends (and a soon to be OSU alumni), Emily Ronck, for the whole 10k. She is an extremely fast walker. Whenever I would slow my pace, she’d keep going and I would have to push it to catch back up. The whole time Ronck and I just kept telling ourselves “We just have to finish!” Eventually, we did finish and crossing that finish line was an amazing feeling. Even though my time was beyond horrible, I am so happy that I finished. We even got medals at the end, so that was a plus! While the 10k was tough at times, it was a great “pre-race” before my half marathon this weekend.

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This morning I was lying in bed trying to fall back asleep and it hit me. This Sunday I’ll be participating in a half marathon. 13.1 miles. Am I crazy?! I am so excited and a little anxious, but I know it’ll be worth it. Five and a half years ago I couldn’t walk up a staircase without stopping to catch my breath…now I’m doing a half marathon. I am beyond blessed to have had such a successful transplant and to continue to stay healthy. There will always be bumps in the road for me and my health, but I know that I can get through it. I am even more blessed to have amazing parents who always support me when I participate in crazy things such as rappelling down a building and doing a half marathon. I also have a supportive older brother who has always encouraged me to keep going, even when times are tough. I am well aware that the half marathon is going to be a challenge for me, but I will finish. I will cross that finish line and give my mom a hug and be beyond thankful that I made it 13.1 miles. On Sunday, I’ll cross bucket list item 24 off my list.

‎”If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” – John Bingham
 
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 
 

Karaoke!

This is kind of cheating, since doing Karaoke was never technically on my bucket list, but it still counts since it is WAYYY out of my comfort zone! People who know me, know that I don’t have a good singing voice…at all. I sing in the shower, in the car and randomly to entertain people. I would never actually get up and sing in front of an audience. Well that changed when I went to Buffalo Wild Wings this past Saturday night when some friends. I got up and sang footloose with Allie (read her blog here), Goodbye Earl (video here), and Wannabe by the Spice Girls. It was SO much fun. Seriously. I had a blast. So if you’re ever bored on a Saturday night, get some friends together and go do some karaoke!

P.s. I have a really exciting bucket list item coming up in the next few weeks and I am going to need some help with it! I’ll keep you posted!!

What are you passionate about?

Once again, this doesn’t contain a bucket list item. Sorry, it’ll be a slow start to the year. I promise, I’ll get to it very soon.

Last night, my brother and I had a really interesting conversation about why more people don’t wonder how much their bodies can do. For anyone who doesn’t know Ryan, he’s obsessed with running and anything outdoors..he’s also a medical student learning all about what the body is capable of. I’m used to hearing him ask these kinds of questions about pushing your body to the extreme to see it’s full power. Whenever we talk about this, all I can think about is how God made our complex bodies and how amazing they truly are, so why not push them? . While training for this half marathon, I often will get to a point where I just hit a wall. I could easily keep going, but my mind tells me I’m tired, so I stop. We discussed what could a human do if they trained for a year? Could someone run 50 miles straight? After two years, could they do 100 miles? It’s crazy to think about,  how far could you run if you didn’t stop and just kept pushing your body to the extreme? Ryan said something last night that really hit me though. He said “I’ve got this crazy desire to pack my running bag with water and electrolyte packs and just start running. I don’t want to stop until the most forward motion I can manage is to crawl.” I love that. Can you imagine pushing your body so hard, that you’re literally crawling just to keep going. If anything, this showed me his true passion for running. This got me thinking, what are you so passionate about that you’re willing to crawl to achieve it? Think about it.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, a few weeks late…

This is not a bucket list post, but it does include some future plans!

 Happy new years everyone! I hope 2011 was amazing and 2012 will be even better! Personally, 2011 was a great year, I accomplished a lot of things and learned much more. I celebrated my 5 years with my new heart, learned that I’m not scared of heights unless I’m rappelling over a 32 story building, and everyday I am reminded in someway or another of how truly blessed I am to have a second chance of life.

And because I have had a second chance at life, I deserve to prove to myself all that I can do. With help from some very encouraging friends, I’ve decided to knock number 24, to do a half marathon, off my bucket list. The half marathon isn’t until April 29th, but I’ve started training now and after a few days, I’m already feeling the burn. For anyone who knows my brother, and I, knows that I am the napper and he is runner. Two years ago my brother participated in a marathon and helped raise money for the American Heart Association along the way. Seeing him cross the finish line actually made me tear up because he accomplished a goal he had been training so hard for. Now it’s my turn. 2012 will be my year. I don’t want to be the napper anymore (except every now and then) and I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this. I have a second chance to prove to myself that I can do this, so why waste it?

 

Some other random new years resolutions include giving up soda completely, become healthier, and study harder. I believe these are pretty simple, but as they say, always easier said than done.

 

This year has been amazing, but I can’t wait to cross off more items to my bucket list and continue to add more!

 

62. Get on the field at Boone Pickens Stadium

Little J and I

Before the huge Bedlam game, I was nervous. Every single Oklahoma State fan knew that this game would help determine our fate. This Bedlam game was probably the most exciting game I have ever witnessed in person. The line to get into Boone Pickens Stadium was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it. Once getting into the stadium, the student section was shoulder to shoulder. The volume coming from BPS that night was insane and just what the cowboys needed. In the last few minutes the cowboys were up 44-10 and students started to head towards the field. As time ran out, students were rushing the field, and I knew I had to get down there.

I grabbed my little, Jordan, and started pulling her towards the edge of stadium. I knew we had a 9 foot drop ahead of us and I was never nervous to make the jump. This was my chance to celebrate with my cowboys. Jordan went over the edge first. Luckily, a gentleman helped her get down safely and she helped me down, and then we both helped our friend Miranda down. We all survived the first obstacle. Little did we know, that the real obstacle would be not being squeezed to death by the huge amount of fans on the field.

Once we were on the field, safely. I did tear up. We are the Big XII Champions. We beat OU for the first time in years. We had a chance at the National Championship. I was just so excited. Everyone was so hyped and the energy was amazing. At one point, Justin Blackmon walked by and I reached out and touched his back. I know I sound like a fangirl, but it was amazing. Side note: earlier this week I got a picture with Brandon Weeden and Clint Chelf, so patting Blackmon on the back was icing on the cake.

Clint Chelf and Brandon Weeden

While on the field I got to lay down in the end zone, touch the goal post, and Wop. Yes, I got to Wop on the Boone Pickens Stadium. This sounds stupid, but anyone who knows me, knows I love the Wop. It’s ridiculous and perfect. Wopping on the field was one of the funniest thing I think I’ve ever done, especially because I had Jordan film it and I look absolutely stupid. I love it. I hope if you ever get the chance to rush the field, you do. It’s amazing being in the same place as a team that you have all your faith in. Last night will definitely be a night I’ll never forget. I cannot wait for the Fiesta Bowl on January 2nd. Go Pokes!

Black Friday

This week while home for Thanksgiving break, I decided I would help my mom cross something off of her bucket list. When we started discussing the idea of something we could cross off together, Black Friday was suggested. We had never participated in Black Friday and honestly, I was almost scared too. You always hear those horror stories of people being trampled and I did not want to buy anything that badly.

We decided to go to Old Navy at 12 am and check out some of the sales. We got there around 12:05 and there was a line wrapped around the building, no joke. We ended browsing for a good amount of time and purchasing a few things. The worst part about Old Navy, was waiting in line to check out for an HOUR! Yes, a whole hour. While standing there, we kept debating if it was worth it…I believe it ended up being worth it. We purchased 5 items and ended up saving $121. One of the things we bought was a Pea Coat that was originally $89.95 and we got it for $35. What a steal. I was so excited.

Next,  we went to Macy’s to look around and it was packed. After Macy’s we finally headed home around 3 am. We fell asleep right away and went back out at 9 am. We went to Dillard’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods. At Dick’s, Nike shorts were 50 percent off, so of course every girl was going crazy. I ended up buying two pairs for myself.

Black Friday was exhausting, but also a lot of fun. I loved spending time with my mom and being able to help her knock something off her list.

 

p.s A video of our experience will be up eventually!

The Message.

If you could share one message with a large group of people, what would it be?

Created by Megan Horton and Katelyn Kelly.

Thank you to everyone who let us interview them!