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Let's Have a Heart to Heart

This heart locket is available at Etsy's birdzNbeez for $32

I've received a few emails asking why I haven't posted as much as I usually do. You know I adore my readership--many of you have come to be regular email buddies, Facebook friends, and people I have known in person for many years.

Chic & Green has been a special part of me, much like my business. Both are reflections of who I am outside of being a mom, wife, and friend.

Last week I had an earache. No biggie. Nick and Ben finished antibiotics a couple weeks back for ear infections. I don't like to go to the doctor. I go when I need a check up because I know it's important. An earache wouldn't normally take me to the doctor, but something in my gut just said to get it checked out. Nicholas had winter break last week and I didn't want to take away from a day of family fun, so I went to After Hours to check on what I thought was an ear infection.

During the routine taking of vitals, my blood pressure was what they called "dangerously high." Easily into Stage 2 Hypertension. The doctor was so worried that he said if I didn't promise to go to my own doctor in the morning, that he would be admitting me to the hospital for testing and medication.

My blood pressure has always been great. Always, that is, until the past year or so. It's funny. In a little over a year, I have changed my lifestyle in an attempt to prevent health issues that have affected so many other members of my family. I carried some extra weight after having Ben--the weight I lost after I had him returned easily when I was in a cast for a couple of months when he was a baby. The cast on my leg, combined with my love of cooking, and some emotional eating to soothe myself after my father died made it easy for me to hold onto the pregnancy weight.

In late 2007, I decided to change things.  My dad went on high blood pressure medication at a young age, and several other family members on that side have been on blood pressure medication, or suffered strokes, heart attacks and congestive heart failure. 

I lost nearly 40 pounds, started exercising regularly, started drinking mainly decaf coffee, etc. I don't eat processed foods and am as label conscious with my foods as I am with my beauty products. I thought that I was doing everything right so that I wouldn't have to worry down the road. Despite these changes, my blood pressure has crept up gradually--and then quite rapidly from slightly high to very high.

When I went to my own doctor, she was very concerned. She was blunt and what a wake up call I received. My average reading over those two doctors' visits was 194/114. It was higher with one test, slightly lower with another. My doctor said that if I hadn't come in for a simple ear infection the night before that I may have had a heart attack or a stroke in a matter of a couple weeks' time. That is a very eye opening experience. It is a very scary thing to hear when you are 33 years old and have a 3 year old and a 5 year old at home.

I was thinking, "I have done all the right things. I feel just fine and dandy." Denial.

Fine and dandy, unless you think it is OK to suddenly be unable to catch your breath going up and down the stairs, something you've done dozens of times daily with ease. Fine and dandy unless you think it is OK to have your chest hurt when you're walking in the cold air. Fine and dandy unless you think that your computer keyboard is causing your hands and fingers to become numb at times. Fine and dandy unless you think it is OK for your ankles to have some swelling. I chalked that up to that old broken ankle that sometimes swells when it is cold--although it was both ankles with some swelling the other day.

All of those things were signs I had been ignoring. I realize that now. I do not know why I was discounting these subtle and not so subtle signs. Fear, perhaps? Denial is the answer, I believe.

When you're 33 and your doctor tells you that you have cardiovascular disease, will be on medication most likely for the rest of your life, and that you may have damage to your kidneys or heart, it is a very sobering experience. I will be going this week for an EKG and will have the results back from all of the vials of blood they tested last week. I will find out what other tests I'll need and am hopeful that the blood tests will turn out OK. I also need to go to the eye doctor to check the pressure of my eyes because this is something that the doctor says is a good indicator of cardiovascular health.

I bought myself something the other day--not a new lipstick or perfume--but a blood pressure monitor since I am supposed to be keeping track. My medication is helping a bit. It is still at a stage 2, but it may take a while to get under control. I am very, very tired from this medication--I actually slept until 10:30 yesterday, which I believe is a record--I don't believe I've slept that late since 2003 before Nick arrived.

Something else I have taken to heart is the advice of my doctor, a dear relative who spent years as a cardiac nurse, and a close friend, a straight-talking nurse in Texas: I need to slow down.

I have to. Slowing down is not really in my nature. I swear that the thought of sitting with my feet up doing "nothing" is driving me batty. I am busy. I am either doing something with the boys and Tom, my business or writing something for the blog. I remember being on bedrest while pregnant, and the boredom was just terrible. I wanted to be up and moving and doing something.

The first thing I am going to do, which will spare about 30+ hours per week from my schedule is to close my shop beginning Saturday. This is not permanent. I will finish up all of my orders and give people a chance to replenish anything they need before I close. Then I will be closed for most of March. 

All facial products will still be available when I return. I will eliminate bath and body products (except deodorant, which I have dozens of made ahead). I have still been doing custom orders for people which has taken a great deal of time. Much to my chagrin as a "yes" person and people pleaser, I'll be stopping custom orders when I reopen. I have also temporarily closed my LolliShops shop.

When I reopen, the Bee Facial Bar made by Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps will be available, as will my line of cosmetics. Much of the cosmetics are made and packaged right now, so this will not be a problem. I have finished most of the foundations, the bronzer, finishing powder and the lipsticks will be ready to go, too. I thought about delaying the makeup, but I love makeup and the way I see it, life is way too short to keep putting off what you get joy out of!

That is my plan of action right now. My health is #1 right now because nothing is more important to me than my family, particularly my boys. 

I most likely will not be posting daily or multiple times daily like I typically have done here on Chic & Green. I will post as often as I can and try to write more ahead that I can publish later on so there's something new for you to read. I am currently doing a review I hope to have ready tomorrow for the Almay eyeshadow which is part of their organic and paraben-free line.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know what is going on and I will keep you updated.

Before I finish, may I also get up on my soapbox to please remind you if you have that feeling in your gut that something just isn't right--go get it checked out. I have been feeling "off"--no other way to describe it than that. I have learned that you have to trust your gut even if you do not know how to describe what it wrong. Just get it checked out.