From pacemaker to pacesetter: Jamie’s #STRONGBEAUTY story

Our first story of #STRONGBEAUTY and personal resolve comes to us from Jamie Richardson, a fitness instructor-in-training in Alma, Michigan and our first Shefit™ brand ambassador! Jamie’s story touched each and every one of us here at Shefit™ Apparel, and we are humbled to bring you her amazing story of survival and perseverance. jamie-580


Hi Sara, you asked me to send you my heart story, so here it is. I apologize in advance for it being so long, just wanted to be sure to give all the details from then to now. I received a pacemaker at the age of 29 (almost nine years ago). Here’s what happened. I was in the shower one Saturday morning; my husband happened to be home. I remember saying “I feel like I’m going to throw up” and just that fast I passed out… while in the shower. I remember waking back up to water hitting me on the face. Dazed and confused, my husband helped me get out of the shower and into a chair. We called my sister-in-law (she works in a hospital), and she suggested we go to the hospital to get checked out. In all my 29 years of life, I had never passed out. We went to the ER. They did a CT scan to make sure I had not cracked my head when I fell and kept asking if I was pregnant, or could be pregnant, because apparently “pregnant women pass out” (I could have been, but I was not). They couldn’t find anything wrong, so they sent me home. This time, my husband was taking a shower and I was sitting on the floor changing my daughters diaper when I passed out again. When I came to I told my little girl to “go get Daddy!” and I told him what happened again. We knew one of the nurses that was working ER that day so we called her to see what we should do. They advised I come back in. The ER doctor decided it was best to keep me overnight for observation so I was admitted and hooked up to heart monitors this time. That night, all my family had gone home and, as I turned my head to go to sleep, I felt myself pass out yet again. As I came to and went to push the nurse’s button, they were already in my room and could see on the monitor that my heart was stopping.

Life hits the pause button, briefly

My heart stopped for four seconds, took two beats and stopped for three more seconds. I believe I am here on this earth for a reason and there is a solid reason that night that I was hooked up to the monitors and recorded information of what was going on. If they had not kept me overnight to observe I may still not know what was going on or worse yet, I could be gone. As soon as that happened that night, they immediately put me up in ICU and called my family to let them know what was going on. I get emotional talking about this part because my baby was only 2-1/2 years old. My husband took her to my sister’s that night so he could come stay with me at the hospital. My baby girl kept crying and crying, “I want my mommy!” which in turn made my sister emotional not knowing what was happening with me and if I was going to make it through the night. The next day, I had several different tests done, saw the cardiologist and was informed I would be getting a pacemaker. At 29 years old, I would be getting a pacemaker! I thought those were for old people, but like cancer, heart conditions have no age barrier. I also saw my own family doctor. He was shocked to say the least that at 29 I was about to get a pacemaker, but he strongly believed in the cardiologist taking care of me and said if I was his wife, he would “100 percent” let my doc take care of his wife. That put me a little at ease and made me realize I was in good hands. The next afternoon I was wheeled into the surgery room, and my life changed. My two-day hospital stay turned into eight days. Unfortunately, there are always risks to having surgery, and for me it was a punctured lung. When my pacemaker leads were being put in, my left lung was nicked. I didn’t even know it until a day after because, at the time, my breathing felt fine, but as I was monitored they realized something wasn’t right. Shortly after that I turned green and felt very ill. A chest tube was put in to help get the fluid cleaned out and to help re-inflate my lung. For the following few days every time they tried turning off the lung machine, my lung would not stay inflated on its own. By this time it was close to July 4. I was missing beautiful fireworks, my family and my home. The night before my last day in the hospital, my daughter screamed going down the hallway. That killed me inside. I prayed like I have never prayed before for quick healing so I could get back home. I was released the next day. (Thank you, Lord! Miracles DO happen!)

Onward: Working out, running, coaching, training, living

I have had my pacemaker almost nine years. I have continued to work out, and started running three years ago. Last year, I finished my first half-marathon in May, and then a second one in September with the Pulse3 Foundation in Saginaw which is part of the Michigan Cardiovascular Institute. I am very excited to be on their race committee this year! Also, I was a “fit feature” in a Michigan-based magazine, Healthy & Fit, in the January issue. Plus, I have finished several 5Ks and a few 10Ks, and have run a few races with my mom, sister, dad and other family members. Last year, I coached Girls on the Run (along with my daughter being in the group. She has run a few races with me as well). I became friends with Runners Performance Stores, and was even an ambassador for their weekly fun runs. I have my Group Fitness Certification and currently teach two classes a week at our local gym, one of my favorites being Kickboxing. I am also studying for my personal training certification.

Achieving ‘Strong Beauty’

Although I may not be the healthiest person alive (due to my heart), I sure have a zest for life and try to live with a positive outlook daily! I try to live the healthy and fit way and continually try to help others live that way as well! I must say I am enjoying life right now, but would love to continue my path helping others! That is my PASSION and I believe my purpose as well! I am currently an insurance agent, but hoping and praying someday I will be able to work full time with people to build healthy and fit lives. Thank you so much for listening to my story! I am so excited for opportunity to be involved with you and Shefit! Thanks so much, Jamie Richardson Alma, Michigan



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