Monthly Archives: August 2015

Let’s Talk About Compassion Fatigue

Hey friends!  I hope you all enjoyed my first crack at guest-hosting Heart to Heart with Anna last week!  This week I take another shot at it.  This episode features my buddy Daniel Miles, who is Assistant Director of Spiritual Education at Carolinas Medical Center.  We spend some time chatting about Compassion Fatigue, which is a topic that I think ALL heart parents out there need to know about.  I’m serious.  The first time I listen to Daniel give a presentation about Compassion Fatigue I was like, “Oh my God, this is SO about me.”  The reality is we spend a lot of time and energy pouring ourselves into others and it leaves us spent…I’m sure you know the feeling.  We have to remember to fill our buckets too!

Anyhoo, please visit this link to listen to the latest episode of Heart to Heart with Anna: Compassion Fatigue: Silent Enemy, Soul Sickness

I hope you find this information as helpful as I have. Please, please, please share that episode with others!

So what’s next?  Well, I have one more episode left to guest-host.  What’s it going to be about?  I’m not telling.  You’ll have to wait and see!  Heart to Heart with Anna airs on Tuesdays at noon eastern time on BlogTalkRadio, and as always I will share the link here so you can listen at any time.  In my non-radio-hosting world, there’s a lot of other fun stuff going on that I’m excited to share with you, I’m just waiting for the correct time to do so.  As always, thanks to everyone for reading and for listening to these radio episodes!

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The HLHS Dad is BACK on the radio!

Hi everyone!  Some time last year I had the opportunity to be a guest on an online radio show called Heart to Heart with Anna: you can read all about it here.  This is a really fantastic show that airs weekly and is aimed at the congenital heart defect community.

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Anna Jaworski is a heart mom who works diligently to put together this show every week.  Recently she reached out to me to ask if I would guest host the show for 3 weeks while she takes a much-deserved vacation.  I was definitely honored that she would consider me and I was excited to try my hand at something new.

For the first episode, I decided to share “This is NOT the Trip I Planned For!”, which is something I also posted about recently on the blog.  Since I’ve received so much positive feedback about it, I wanted to share it via the airwaves as well.  So without further ado, please check out this episode of Heart to Heart with Anna, featuring yours truly:

Heart to Heart with Anna: This is NOT the Trip I Planned For!

Please be sure to share this with your friends and I really encourage you to take the time and explore Anna’s website, especially all the other episodes of her show: http://hearttoheartwithanna.com/

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!  Anna also has a series of books that would be a fantastic resource for my readers, and I would love it if some of you guys could support her work by buying a book or 5: Baby Hearts Press books

Stay tuned over the next couple weeks for more episodes of Heart to Heart with Anna, featuring the HLHS Dad!

 

A Furry High Five

I’m always looking for fun stuff to do with the kids, especially if it’s free.  If it’s free, then it’s for me!  Mostly, though, I want my rugrats to have a good time and make memories in the process.  Around this time of year, a neighborhood near ours usually holds an event called National Night Out, which is to promote crime prevention and safety in neighborhoods across the country.  Of course it also has all the stuff 3 little boys would be crazy about: police cars and fire trucks!

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Hudson was scoping out the laptop.

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Just look at those 3 hoodlums.  I’m surprised they didn’t get locked up that night.

It was a lot of fun.  McGruff the Crime Dog was there, they gave away lots of goodies, there was free pizza, and even a police dog demonstration.  The boys were having a lot of fun, even though it was like 139072390741907120 degrees outside.  Just as I was getting ready to leave with them, my oldest said, “Dad, look!” and I looked over and saw him pointing at our very own Carolina Panthers’ mascot, Sir Purr.

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This really made me smile because, c’mon…who doesn’t like mascots?  But even more importantly it brought me back to a moment in time that will always hold a special place in my heart.  Waaaaaay back in the beginning of this blog, I told the story of the day after Nolan’s Norwood Procedure (you can read it here).  As we were leaving the hospital to get a fresh change of clothes, the Panthers just so happened to be holding a Christmas party for the kids and families.  I was in no mood, but got dragged in anyway.  We were treated with SUCH kindness by everyone on staff, I will never forget it.  We even got to make special Christmas ornaments for the kids (with the help of the players) and we still use them:

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But I will also remember seeing Sir Purr there, and how he ran around the room loving on kids, making them smile, and hearing all the laughter.  I saw him entertained little kids in wheelchairs and a little girl without any hair left on her head.  And for the brief time we were in that room my spirits were lifted by watching Sir Purr in all his glory.  It also reminded me that there will always be a great deal of kindness in this world, and that putting a smile on one person’s face can also put a smile on other peoples’ faces too.

So me and my sentimental self waited in line to meet Sir Purr.  Hudson went up for a picture and a hug first and then Sir Purr walked up to the twins in their stroller, squatted down, and squeaked both of his squeaky paws for them.  And they were both entranced…and then they started to laugh.  And then Sir Purr got a high five from Nolan:

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Wow.  This was SO cool!  It was like one moment I’m remembering 2 years ago, as Nolan was laying in a bed – chest open, fighting – and watching Sir Purr make kids smile…and here I am…later…watching Sir Purr make my Nolan smile.  We’ve come a long way!

I’m sure Sir Purr meets tons and tons of kids, but I hope Sir Purr and the team know just how impactful he is when he goes out in to the community.  Thanks, Sir Purr!

 

 

This is NOT the Trip I Planned For! (Part 3)

This is the 3rd and final entry in my 3-part remix of the “Welcome to Holland” essay (you can check out part 1 here and part 2 here.  I’m really amazed by all the great feedback I’ve received about this series…thanks for reading!

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So you’re in Finland and you’re starting to get better and better at this new life.  Yes, there’s mountains to climb, but you’re meeting people along the way and you’re finding out maybe this isn’t as bad as you originally thought.  Heck, you’re even taking time to help others who are in the same place as you were.  No before you stumble and go rolling down the mountain, let’s find out the three remaining tips I have for making your new home a great home:

7.  Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself

Appointments!  Appointments everywhere!  And sleep?  What the heck is that?

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The reality is that Heart Parents: we’re total bosses.  We can totally kick butt at this life once we set our minds to it and have good support.  But just like a muscle that you work out, you will eventually get a little bit fatigued.  Sometimes that fatigue is physical, sometimes mental, and sometimes emotional.  That’s why it’s important to take some time to take care of yourself.  After all, you can’t climb your mountain if you’re falling asleep at red lights.  You can’t welcome someone to Finland if you can’t even get your butt outta bed.  You are allowed to take care of yourself too!  Ignoring your own well-being doesn’t make you some kind of hero…a real hero knows their limits.  Go do something nice for yourself every now and then.  Tell yourself that you’re pretty stinkin’ awesome.  Be proud of the things you’ve accomplished.  Get involved in a hobby.  You’ll find that there are moments (a lot of them free or cheap) that can help you center yourself and make you really happy and focused.  For more tips on self-care, read this post.

8.  DON’T. EVER. GIVE. UP.

Don’t do it!  You can do this…I can do this…we can do this!  When you’re getting worn down, think about how much better things are than yesterday, or a year ago.  Think about your heart warrior: look at how good he’s doing and how strong he’s getting.  Think about every smile, every laugh, every step you’ve fought for.  Grab onto those things, focus on them, dwell on them.  Reach out for the hand of another traveler on this journey.  We can help!  And when that time comes and you’re down, but you start to think on the good things and gain some perspective, you start to realize you have more in the tank than you thought and you can keep going even stronger!

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So when the mountain seems too tall, just know you’re not doing it for yourself.  Someone depends on you.  And when you’ve climbed all you can climb, you’ll find that you can climb a whole lot more.

9.  Look Back…and Give Thanks

One day you will get to the top of the mountain you’ve been climbing.  And when you do that I want you to stop and rest.  Even for just a moment.  Then turn around and look…look at how far you came.  Maybe there in the distance you see where your plane landed when you arrived here in Finland.  And maybe if you squint you can see the pile of stuff you thought you’d use for a trip to Hawaii but eventually left there.  And then you can see where the mountain started, or that point where you slipped up and threw a grown-up tantrum, or the times you were scared or felt alone.  And those times you met great people along the way.  How…awesome!

Once you’ve gained that perspective, take some time to actually celebrate!  You kicked that Fontan’s butt?  Throw a party!  You worked your butt off to pay off those medical bills?  Well maybe you can’t afford a party, so – I dunno – throw down a pack of Ho-Hos and dance in your living room.  Whatever it is, party like a boss.  You deserve it!  Live that moment up because you know when you turn around again there’s gonna be another mountain.  But this time you’re armed to defeat it.

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So there you have it.  My remixed, brand new, 2015 version of “Welcome to Holland.”  I really hope that “This is NOT the Trip I Planned For” has meant a lot to you.  I also really hope you share this with your friends and also that sometime in the future you periodically come back to read these 3 entries so that you don’t forget what it’s like to live in Finland.  And no, I’m not knocking Finland at all, I hear it’s a great country…it’s just a random one I picked that seemed like the extreme opposite of Hawaii.   But I do want everyone to realize that we’re currently all living in Finland together…and when you think about it…Finland is awesome, Finland is beautiful, and Finland has probably given us a more meaningful experience than Hawaii ever could have, right?  So let’s enjoy our time here, friends!