Are you the quarterback of your own heart health team?

by Carolyn Thomas

Karla Marburger is a self-described “Type A computer geek”, a Nebraska woman who is also a survivor of both congestive heart failure and acute renal failure at the age of 43.

I first met Karla along with 45 of our heart sister companions when we attended the 2008 WomenHeart Science & Leadership Symposium for Women with Heart Disease at the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Exactly one year after that amazing training experience, she announced:

“Today, I’m going to a bridal shower — my bridal shower. Two weeks from today, I am getting married to John!

When she first met John, she reported that she was concerned about how he would feel about dating someone with heart problems, someone with dietary restrictions that make it hard to go out to eat, someone who sleeps with oxygen every night, someone who is stubborn about protecting her workout time – and someone who was still healing emotionally from this experience.

“After 2-3 dates of watching me order my meals and scheduling our dates around my workouts, John started commenting on my healthy lifestyle. Not yet ready to trust him with the whole picture, I alluded to a ‘major lifestyle change’, but left it at that.”

But as their relationship turned serious, Karla knew that she had to talk to him about the full picture of her heart condition. She explained:

“He handled the conversation very positively. For John, my heart disease is not a blot on my future. Instead, he treats it as part of my life that has shaped the woman that I am today. And, we help each other by cooking and eating right.”

Karla has become a true expert in cooking and eating right, by the way.  Since her hospitalization in 2007, she has lost over 100 pounds as part of her heart-healthy lifestyle makeover.   Continue reading “Are you the quarterback of your own heart health team?”