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As I slowly opened my eyes, struggling to get a clear view of my surroundings, I could feel this excruciating pain everywhere in my body. It felt as though I had been crushed in a press, like a piece of scrap metal being made ready for recycling. I could barely focus my eyes on the things around me. As the blurriness started to clear, I scanned the room trying to figure out just where the hell I was and what the hell happened to me. Is this a bad dream or is this real? At first, I couldn’t tell. I soon realized that it was very real and I was laying in a hospital bed. I was unable to move my arms and legs. The only thing I seemed to have any control over was just a little bit of movement in my neck.

There were tubes coming out of every hole in my body and there were a few new holes that had been made for more tubes and needles. I was intubated and had tubes in my mouth and down my throat. I was hooked up to a machine that was breathing for me and was connected to eight different other machines, all injecting life sustaining medications. I was very frightened and all I could think of was my husband. Where is he? Is he okay? My eyes scanned the room for him and then finally after what seemed like several minutes, I saw him. There he was, right by my side. Then I immediately thought to myself, well if I had been in some kind of accident, either he wasn’t involved or if he was, he wasn’t hurt. Either way, whatever is going on with me, he is here and watching over me, so I will be okay. Then I closed my eyes and everything went black again.

The next time I woke up, the extreme pain was still present and, in fact, it seemed to be worse, though I didn’t think that was possible. My right hand and arm was bandaged to the elbow and had some kind of brace on it to keep it from moving. It felt like there was something seriously wrong with it. I was so confused! What was all of this? What was happening? But, once again, I saw my love right there beside me and then, after a moment or two, I could hear my mother’s voice in the background.

As I focused, I thought to myself maybe I was in some kind of car accident and had been thrown from a vehicle. Or, maybe I had pulled someone through a car window, trying to save them. Maybe this could explain what happened to my arm. My right arm. The hand and arm I use to sketch and paint and create. What is wrong with my right arm? Why can’t I used it? Why wouldn’t it move? Maybe it got slashed open by the glass from a broken window? That must be it?

It seemed like a lot of time passed, though it really wasn’t very long at all and then my husband told me that I was here because I had a heart attack. This was confusing because I still could not understand why my hand and arm were wrapped up and why I was unable to move either of them. Then, I tried moving other parts of my body again and nothing would budge. I tried to speak. Nothing! I thought to myself what the hell is happening?? Then I remembered that there were tubes down my throat preventing me from speaking or making any sound at all.

Anyone who knows me would definitely say that not being able to speak, must have been one of the hardest things for me. Why you ask? Because I love, love, love to talk and sing and truly just make noise all the time! When I wake in the morning I start talking to whomever is present. It doesn’t matter who it is. I talk! It could be my husband or one of our three house cats, it doesn’t matter. It is usually Jam, she is our oldest indoor cat. She is typically lying right beside me on the bed. I start talking and singing in the morning and I do not stop until I go to bed. Unless I get into a good television show. Then I’m quiet, for a little while, maybe. Sometimes I even talk in my sleep! Just ask DW! lol

I thought to myself that this was going to be quite a challenge for me, not talking. I certainly hope it isn’t going to be too long until I am able to speak again!

Next I thought, okay, this must be pretty serious, and why can’t I move? Damn it! My husband could tell I was confused. After a few moments I started to remember going to the Moncton Hospital with chest pain, in a fast moving van, and then some pieces started to come back to me. Slowly, I started to remember the things leading up to the moment when everything went black, in Moncton.

He told me that I was in Saint John and I knew what that meant. It had to mean that I was transported there for ugent care and probably by ambulance. This must be serious? I still wasn’t clear on what had happened. But, it was enough information that I could at least process that it was really serious and I was not out of the woods yet.

My husband looked so tired but relieved to see my eyes open again. He told me afterwards that he didn’t want to explain everything all at once, as it might have been too much, too soon, for my mind to process. I agree, it would have been very overwhelming to have been told every detail of what had happened to me, in those moments. In fact, at that point, I had no idea that I had been in a coma for two weeks. I think that knowledge alone would have been very upsetting, in my fragile state.

He could tell that, even though I could not speak, I was able to understand what he was telling me at that moment. This was a huge relief because none of the doctors were really sure what level of brain function I would have when I woke. Considering how long I was in full cardiac arrest. It was a little over 35 minutes. Not to mention all of the other complications that followed, during the two weeks I was asleep and there were alot of them. My husband was told, on four different occassions, that he should prepare, as this could be it…

I will talk more about that in future writings.

As the hours passed that day and I started to understand a little more about what was happening. My husband started to talk to me about things we had done together and experiences we had. He started with things from way back, when we first met, and slowly and subtly, over a couple of hours, worked his was to the present day. I did not realize it at the time, but he was trying to get a feel for my cognitive function and memory retention. As the day progressed, it was a huge relief for him and a win for the doctors. My mind was showing good signs of a full recovery. As time passed and I worked through my lengthy rehabilitation process, my doctors and other medical professionals would perform many tests in order to find out exactly how much brain function I managed to retain. I have lost some of my abilities and capacity for memory retention, but, all things considered, I am very happy with progress I have made…

I have had to work very hard to get to where I am now! But, I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to truly live, this time around. My second kick at the can…

Stay tuned for the next post, this is a long journey and we’re just getting started.

In fact, my book, Bear It All, which we are planning to publish by this coming summer, if everything goes well, tells my whole story. I have started from my earliest childhood memories to present day, in explicit detail. It’s quite a story! Even I have a hard time to believe it sometimes, as I read through while editing and proofreading, and I’m living it! We are going to self-publish this first edition, as an e-book to start, then in paper copy as things progress. It will be available on the store page on this site as well as some of the more well known global platforms, such as Amazon Kindle. I will continue to post regular updates on our progress, as we get closer.

I thought maybe it would be a good idea to include a contact/pre-order form, at the bottom of this post, in case anyone would like to have an email notification when we are ready to publish.

With Love, As Always,

Tanya Jean

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As I said in my last post, everything went black after the second spray of nitro was given to me. The last words I spoke were to call my mother. If I had to do it all over again, those would not have been my last words to my husband. As he was calling my mother I went into full blown cardiac arrest in front of his eyes.

One of my main arteries was blocked one hundred percent. As far as the doctors could tell, a piece of plaque broke off in one of my arteries. As far as they could tell it must have wedged and then my body’s natural repair system kicked in and started to clot where the plaque broke off. The problem was that it clotted and blocked the entire artery so there was no blood flowing to my heart.

The doctor and his team worked tirelessly on me for a little over thirty five minutes to try to bring me back. They gave me a clot buster hoping that would open the artery, even if it was just a little so that my heart would start to pump again. Shock after shock my husband stood watching my lifeless body. The medical team tried to get him to leave, but as I said before, my husband is a large strong man and if he doesn’t want to do something no one can make him.

I am glad they couldn’t make him leave. I could feel him mentally calling to me and I to him. I believe if he had left the room that day, I probably would not be alive today. He was saying “don’t leave me”. I heard him and I hung on to that with what strength I had. Our connection has always been strong but I had no idea of its incredible power.

As the team was about to give up, the lead nurse suggested to double up the pads and shock me one more time. They did just that and stood back hoping that would do the trick. My husband said it was like nothing he had ever seen before. It brought me right up off of the stretcher, with limbs fully extended and eyes wide open. After that, as my husband kneeled on the floor beside my lifeless body, trying to find the words to say Good bye, while one technician in background muttered under his breath, “just call it already”. I guess he didn’t realize my husband was on the floor next to me. The Doctor asked for one last check for a pulse. To which the nurse replied, she had a pulse. It was faint and very weak but there was a pulse. This was much to everyone’s surprise and relief!

During this crazy time my husband had to call my mother a second time and told her if she didn’t get there soon, I would be gone. She was working for my brother at the time and she said she was waiting for someone to come and relieve her of her duties, if you can imagine. If I was told my daughter was dying and I needed to go to her, nothing would stop me from leaving immediately. That’s my family for ya.

My mother showed up made a rude comment to my husband and then came over to my side and told me that I needed to pull through this because there were people who were depending on me. I guess she must have meant herself. However, I was still in darkness. She was speaking to my lifeless body that was barely clinging to life and fighting to hang on.

Once a pulse was found, the doctor came to my husband and told him that if I had a fighting chance they needed to transport me to the Saint John Regional Hospital immediately. This hospital has the best cardiac care unit in New Brunswick and if anyone could help me it would be them.

The doctor said that he did not know if I would make the trip but they had to try. My husband wanted to go in the ambulance but there was simply not enough room. A nurse would have to go along with the ambulance crew. He was told he would have to follow along behind and if he had anything to say to me, he better say it now because there was a real good chance that I wouldn’t make it and this could be the last time he would see me alive.

The EMT said if my husband saw them on the highway pulled over to not approach the ambulance, that they would be working on me and they would come to him, it would not be safe for him to approach.

My husband said his good bye to me and we left for Saint John. He quickly gave instructions to his brother on how to get the dogs that were still in the van waiting to be groomed home safe. They would not be groomed on that day after all. I always kept a scheduling book with me that contained all of my customers info in it, thankfully. I am so thankful he was there in our time of need. I am forever grateful!

Once the dog situation was quickly handled my husband grabbed my mother’s car keys and headed to Saint John with her and my mother-in-law on board. He was but couple of minutes behind the ambulance. All the way watching closely in case the ambulance was pulled over on the side of the road.

I was later told that the car ride to Saint John was the most quiet, intense and fast ride any of them had ever had. He said he was so thankful that he never came across the ambulance stopped on the side of the highway. Upon arrival at Saint John Regional, he stopped the car in the middle of all traffic at the entrance, jumped out and sprinted inside to find me, leaving the two mothers to deal with the car and parking..

I woke from a comma about two weeks later…

A lot happened in those two weeks but that part of my story will have to wait for another day.

As Always, With Love,

Tanya Jean

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Buckle in this is going to be a long read.

So I have written some tidbits about my cardiac event in earlier posts and I think now would be a good time to share a bit more.

I had been feeling extremely tired for a year or more before my event. I tried to loose weight by changing my diet and the quantity of my food intake. I also starting getting up earlier in the morning to go for walks to try to get my metabolism going. But everything I was working so hard on seem to fail.

My thought was that I was going through menopause which was making it hard to lose weight and why I was always feeling so tired, all of the time. I have always ate well, maybe I am just eating too much, was my thought.

I went to my family doctor and asked for some help to loose weight. I told her that any tips or suggestions she could offer, would be greatly appreciated. I also explained that I was feeling very tired and just generally felt unwell. She suggested a full blood work up and gave me some pointers for weight loss and then sent me on my way.

When the results from the blood work came back, she called me in for an office visit. She told me that the results came back showing that all of my levels were great. All be it, I was over weight I was in good shape. Her advice was to keep trying to get some weight off, reduce my stress and go enjoy living my life to the fullest. So, I tried to do just that.

At the time, I was eighty pounds heavier than I am now. I did not have high cholesterol or diabetes, in fact for the most part, my doctor thought that maybe it was, just as I had suspected, stress and menopause.

The thing about stress that I did not take into consideration is that as it builds over time it has an accumulative effect. We, as humans, take on stress and then we get used to that level. Then we add a little more and we get used to that new level and so thru the years it accumulates to what we then consider normal. Then eventually, your body says, okay, I have had all I can take and then you start to feel physically ill. My doctors think this is what happened to me.

Personally, I think it was the stress of never feeling like I was ever good enough, that caused what happened to me. The doctors too believe that this is what happened, but really do not think it can be proven.

I internalized how my family treated me and I felt like nothing I ever did was ever good enough for them. I was constantly told how to act, what my beliefs should be and was made to believe that my feelings did not matter. I had to build my grooming business three separate times, with no help, except from my husband, but that wasn’t good enough to gain their respect. I would drop whatever I was doing to go to my mother’s aid and that was never good enough for her. She always found something to complain about or give me a hard time about. It could be because I did not spend enough time with her in her mind. It could be anything really. My father would be upset if I did not attend some function or call him to inform him of what was happening in my life so he could answer inquiring questions from individuals, that we both knew. I just stopped calling him because he never really listened to me and never really seemed interested anyway. He just needed to seem like he was in the loop, for appearance sake. My brother and father would have what they called a family night and never once invited my husband and I. The list goes on and on. Yet I would continue to give my time and effort, over and over again, to go to there aid. Or, follow them around like a lost puppy to events of there choosing because it was good for appearance sake.

Eventually, I felt the stress of never accomplishing or completing any of my own projects and interests. This is because I was always busy helping or doing things for others. I could usually be found cooking and cleaning or entertaining, either at my home, or someone else’s. I was always helping others with their projects, while never finishing any of my own. I would have been okay with it, if it had felt like my efforts were appreciated and they showed some compassion or sent some love my way. I never felt that. I felt distain and disappointment from them, always.

I internalized all these bad feelings and thought to myself that, I must not be doing enough or it was because it was not perfect. The next time, I will do more and make it better, then they will love me. It was never enough for them though and I guess it just simply never would be.

When my doctor talked to me about stress, I just figured she meant I was working too hard. The thing I realize now however, is that after awhile, not only was I trying to be enough for my family but I started doing this with everyone I would come into contact with. It just became a motto for me and I still struggle, even today, with thinking I am not enough, or I am not doing enough. It is a real sickness and an extremely hard thought pattern and habit to break.

I feel that people like to judge what they think they know. But please remember that I have lived this horrible reality. Ignorance is bliss in judgmental eyes. But the pain in mine is real.

Approximately three months after visiting my family doctor, I woke early, as I always did, so that I could be ready to leave the house by six thirty in the morning. I liked to have the chores done before I started my day because by the end of the day I was too tired and did well to get a shower and supper before retiring for the day. You see, I had my grooming shop on the property that we now reside on. We live about twenty five minutes from town and I provided a pick up and delivery service for my clients. This was extra work but I enjoyed my drive, it helped me to prepare for my day. The route is very scenic and it would give me time to have my morning cup of tea.

It was November 28th, 2017 and the Christmas rush was about to start. For those of you that have dogs that require grooming on a regular basis, you understand that you need to book in advance if you want an appointment as close to Christmas as possible. Everyone wants to have “Fluffy” smelling good for Santa and any company that they may have over the holiday season.

This particular day I was extremely glad to have only four dogs booked because I woke feeling very unwell. My thought was that I could get these four dogs groomed and them back home by lunch. Then, afterwards, I would do some Christmas shopping, seeing as I hadn’t started yet. The rest of my working days were booked solid until Christmas. I could get a good start on my shopping and it would ease the craziness of the holiday season for me.

My unwell feeling seemed to be discomfort in my chest and I was even more tired than usual. I thought maybe I was having some indigestion from the previous night’s lasagna. So off I went, to pick up my furry friends for a fun morning of scrubbing and beautification.

As my pick ups went on, I started to feel worse and worse. Driving home I felt slightly sweaty and I remember thinking to myself that maybe I should pull the van over. My next thought was that I was nearly home and putting the window down would ease this feeling. The fresh air felt good and it was only another two miles and I would be home and in the driveway.

As I pulled up the driveway my husband was still home and loading up his truck to start his day’s work. He came over to the van as I parked and looked at me with an odd stare. His comment was that I did not look well. My response was that I did not feel well at all and blamed it on our meal from last evening.

He said maybe if I left the dogs in the van for a few minutes I could walk around the yard and it may make me feel better. If it was indigestion. I agreed, but as we started to walk I suddenly felt the need to go to the washroom as I felt sick to my stomach. I rushed to the bathroom and yes you guessed it I brought up the contents of my stomach. As I exited the bathroom, I felt like I was staggering and fell upon the couch because I knew if I had stayed standing it wouldn’t be long before I was on the floor.

As I landed on the couch my arm started to feel weird. I told this to my husband and he immediately asked which arm. You guessed it, it was my left arm. He grabbed me and practically carried me to the van, because I had no strength to walk. I was 265lbs of dead weight and looking back I don’t know how he found the strength. Good thing he is a big and strong man.

He got me in the van and we headed to the hospital, and yes, the dogs went too. He is an extremely safe and relaxed driver but on this day he was safe and fast. Normally from our home, the drive to the hospital would take approximately twenty five minutes. We made it in about thirteen. It is a good thing too, because if we had to wait for an ambulance to come to get me, I would not be writing this today. We pulled up to the emergency room entrance on two wheels I think. At least it felt that way.

My husband got me into a wheel chair and rushed me in. I was grasping my chest and at this point having difficulty breathing. There was an elderly man seeing the triage nurse. The nurse got one look at me and asked the elderly gentleman to have a seat in the waiting room. I don’t think he was impressed because he moved very slow and with distain. I remember hearing my husband saying, “please, hurry sir she is all I have in this world”.

My eyes filled with tears as I heard him say those words. The nurse took my blood pressure and quickly asked what was happening and she rushed us back to triage.

The medical staff quickly stripped me down and started hooking me up to all kinds of wires and tubes. I was scared! I could feel the tension in the room and the look on my husbands face said it all. I said to him that I thought he should call my mother. I knew my condition was bad, I just didn’t realize how bad. Until they gave me the second squirt of nitro. Then everything went black.

Well folks, I hope you will stay tuned for the next post, there is more to come, much more!

As Always much love,

Tanya Jean

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Welcome to my story

So here’s a little about me and why I’ve decided to do this.

The picture you see above is of my girl Jam and I approximately 10 months or so after coming home from several months spent in hospital.

I have always been an animal person. I have always felt a connection and found comfort in the presence of animals. Though it wasn’t until recently, after doing a great deal of research, that I started to understand what this gift of mine really was. It was like I could hear them and understand how they felt or what they were trying to communicate. It was with this in mind, some twenty-five years ago, when another “just for now job” fell through, that I decided to become a pet groomer. A perfect fit I thought. I would get to work with animals all day, everyday. What could be better for someone like me? I so loved working with the animals. Until one day, completely out of nowhere, I had a massive heart attack. It was the type of cardiac event commonly referred to as the “Widow maker”. I had a 100% blockage and was in full cardiac arrest for approximately 35 minutes. I was forty-eight years old, at the time.

We were told by my medical team that less than 5% of individuals who experience an event such as mine survive. Add to that the “arm’s length” list of complications that I had to overcome and it is truly a miracle that I am still here. It’s a miracle that I am here and able to share my story with you. It is in writing this blog and the book I am currently working on that I find strength, comfort, healing and purpose. It has helped me to not feel so alone…

I thought my world was complicated before, and it was. However, it is amazing how an experience such as the one I am living, can change one’s perspective in such a powerful way. It certainly gave “complicated” a whole new meaning for me. This “arm’s length” list of mine has opened up a whole new world for me. A world that I’m sooo looking forward to sharing with you.

Its been one hell of a journey… A journey I hope you will find interesting and enjoy following.

Maybe it will become something you would want to share with someone close to you. Or maybe, someone you know who is experiencing challenges and difficult times in their life or with their health. It is my hope that through sharing my experiences, we can help those who are struggling in their own life situation. Maybe they too will come to see that they are not alone and that there is always hope… even in the darkest of times.

With love,

Tanya Jean