Facebook Pixel

Michaela Gagne: A Heart Health Approach - Putting Your Life in Perspective

Rate This

I know it’s hard. That ice cream sundae looks like a creamy boat of deliciousness. And, man, that pizza seems like it could be the best thing in your life since Velcro.
To top it off, your gym card has been lost in the war zone of your pocketbook, and that has been holding up as a worthy excuse to miss your morning work-outs…and let’s not even talk about your stress at work.

Here’s the deal, though. No one truly feels all warm and fuzzy, deep down inside, about making unhealthy decisions for herself.

It’s hard. We all have our choices to make, and sometimes they seem beyond impossible. I’ll throw an idea out there for some personal heart health motivation. Maybe, just maybe, this can be made easier by trying to put a new perspective on our lives.

Here is mine.

Three years ago I traveled to the Bukoba region of Tanzania. With the group Jambo Tanzania, I helped set up a medical clinic out of an abandoned shack. For most residents of the local villages, this is the only medical care they ever receive. Many do not survive in between the two year visits. When I watched children dying of malnutrition, dehydration, and other ailments to which I rarely gave a second thought, I realized I am a lucky lady.

Having been diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition at 17, I recognize that had I lived in certain other places in this world I probably would never have been diagnosed, and I certainly could not have been treated. As I held a little girl dying from malaria in my arms, this fact slapped me right in the face.

Luckily, we were able to save that little girl, and the trip was an eye-opening experience to me. Don’t get me wrong, though…it wasn’t all stress. The native dancing and singing were beautiful, the late night festivities were a blast, and the artwork was fascinating. One of the most memorable moments, however, was meeting a 70-year-old man we were treating for an STD. He had fathered over 60 children in the local villages and was asking if we had brought any of our American Viagra for him. It was interesting to try to explain to him the various reasons that we thought he should stop procreating. Trying to describe our modern concept of child support was a whole additional ball of fun.

So, let’s go back to the fact that we have choices.

That fact alone makes us very lucky. We have the ability to choose our foods at a supermarket, rather than scramble for any morsel available. We have the luxury to choose in which fashion we want to work out, from ballroom dancing classes to kayaking lesson, rather than exercising from the need to run or walk everywhere we go. We have the extravagance to set up routine doctor’s physicals, the privilege to choose what kind of occupation we have, and the power to say “yes” or “no”.
We have the ability to give ourselves all the attention we deserve. It’s a pretty sweet deal, so embrace this freedom. Find a new perspective that you can put on your life, and find the courage to move toward loving yourself in the best way possible.

At 17-years-old Michaela was diagnosed with LongQT Syndrome, one of the conditions responsible for causing Sudden Cardiac Arrest and claiming the lives of many young people unexpectedly. Michaela turned her obstacles into opportunities when she became Miss Massachusetts 2006 and began to speak nationally regarding SCA and heart disease. To learn more about Michaela please visit: www.HeartScreenAmerica.com/michaela.
Michaela is speaking the morning of February 23rd in Des Moines, Iowa for a special Heart Health event at Mercy Hospital. She will also be providing workshops on February 22nd and February 24th at the New England Youth Sports Festival held at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.


Get Email Updates

Arrhythmias Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!