This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association / American Stroke Association for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I have suffered great losses in my life. If you haven’t, well, here’s a quick synopsis for you.
When I was about 13 or so, my mom revealed to me that my “dad” was not my biological father. He was my step-dad, and they divorced and he moved away. I very quickly went from having two parents, to just one and having no clue who my biological father was (and really, I still don’t know). When I was 17, on the first day of summer vacation, my mom was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a brain tumor. Over the next couple of months, in between chemo and radiation treatments, she learned it had spread from her lungs and was also affecting one of her eyes. On October 1, 2014, I learned that at the age of 17, I was pregnant. Three weeks later, on October 22, my mom passed away in her bed.
The next summer, my sister lost her husband to a very traumatic brain aneurysm that left her a widowed and single mother of four. Then our grandmother passed away and neither one of us got to say goodbye. My grandpa (he’ll always be my grandpa, even though he was my step-grandpa), passed away as well and well, I was left with not many family members who cared about me or had the decency to stay in touch with me.
So, I’m familiar with loss. I’m familiar with the pain of having your entire world slam down into the ground, lifted back up and slammed back down again to ensure all the pieces are broken. I’m familiar with the feeling of being alone, of being scared and clueless as to what to do next. I miss them all so very much and even though time has passed and people have said time heals, I still have my days. Mother’s Day is particularly hard. Father’s Day is also tough, but because I don’t know “him” and have never met “him”, it’s manageable.
In all of this, I can admit that I do have regrets. I regret that I didn’t call my grandma every week, or every day like my mom used to. I should have. I should have picked up the phone and listened to her sweet southern drawl tell me about our family, about grandpa’s garden, about anything. I regret that even though he was my step-dad, I didn’t stay in touch. He still fathered me, he still loved me. He bought me clothes, gave me a house, let my friends sleep over. He was still a dad and the only dad I ever knew. I regret that I didn’t spend more time with my brother-in-law. I have a hard time remembering who he was before he passed. He was smart and artistic, and I see that in my nephews and niece every day.
I also really regret that I spent those last few month’s of my mom’s life being selfish, staying out all night and never wanting to be at home. I know it was my way of coping, my way of trying to escape everything. I know that could of, should of, would of holds very true. I was old enough to understand that I should have gone to appointments with her, and helped more around the house. I should have hugged her more and fought less.
In all of this, all of these losses and heartaches, I’ve learned that I need to be more aware of my own health. I have children of my own, I’m an adult now. I can’t control the past but I can certainly work hard NOW for a long future.
My family has a very long list of medical history – and that’s only on the maternal side that I know of! I hate when a doctor asks if anyone has or had X, Y, Z because I can pretty much check them all off the list. It feels like I’m doomed. Thanks, genetics.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association defines a healthy brain as a brain that is functioning at its best, free from disease and is receiving normal blood flow and oxygen levels. Normal blood flow and oxygen in the brain may be impacted by high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, heart disease (such as heart failure) and stroke. Well, guess what? My mom had diabetes and high blood pressure. I’m sure the others were there too. I don’t want a bad heart or a bad brain, so I need to be eating healthy and getting active. It feels important, like it’s my job, to at least give healthy options and healthy living a chance to try and prevent (or at least delay) heartache for my family. You know what I mean?
If someone in your family suffers from a medical condition, you know what it’s like to want to do what you can to be healthier. Brain Health is important too, so eating well and getting enough sleep can help keep a brain sharp and functioning well.
If you feel like your medical history is just as wack-a-doo as mine, let’s chat in the comments below. What can we do to live longer? What changes can we make, big or small, that will have a lasting impact on our lives? Check out the steps you can take to improve your brain health.
Life’s Simple 7 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle
- Preventing or controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes,
- Eating healthy,
- Sleeping well,
- Being physically and socially active,
- Limiting alcohol intake,
- Controlling weight and
- Not smoking.