Let me start at the beginning. Dan deployed for the second time on January 8, 2010. I learned quickly in Dan’s first deployment that Ellen Degeneres was the woman to get me through this.  I challenge you to watch Ellen and not smile! I can’t watch her without laughing out loud!

So, I was DVRing Ellen every day to make me smile. For those of you who don’t know, Ellen is amazing. She’s funny and smart and genuinely kind. She runs a campaign against bullying called, ‘Be cool. Be kind. Don’t judge’.  I am a special education teacher by trade and so when I heard of this I was in love. If you know me, I need the perfect outfit for every occasion so if I was going to start teaching this motto I needed the appropriate apparel. I was on Ellen’s website searching for a tshirt when I saw a link requesting stories about ‘Military Families’. I thought how cool!  She’s asking about the whole family not just the soldiers. My dad served for 32 years and my father in law served for 21 years. Both my grandparents and Dan’s also served.  Dan himself is reaching his 10 year mark this May.  We have a military family and I decided to tell Ellen all about it – limited to 250 words of course!

I later got a call from someone at The Ellen Show saying that Ellen loved my story and wanted me to come see the show.  AHHH! I was FLOORED! I love love love Ellen and now I was flying to LA to see her show! This was November 2010.  I called my grandma, apologized that I would not be at her house for Thanksgiving as early as I had planned and off I went!

Here is what happened when I saw Ellen – click here

Don’t cheat and read on until you watched the horribly embarrassing video!

So you saw it!  Ellen Degeneres gave Dan and I a trip around the world in a private jet!

Our jet! About 80 people were on our trip. You too can purchase yours for about $70k per person
Our jet! About 80 people were on our trip. You too can purchase yours for about $70k per person

So Dan and I were off to Lima and Cusco Peru, Easter Island, Samoa, Australia, Cambodia, China, Tibet, India, Tanzania, Jordan and Morocco! It was amazing!  We took the trip in February of 2011 escorted the whole way by National Geographic professionals. Sometimes I still don’t believe it happened but I have about 5,000 pictures to prove it did!

Believe it or not this story actually does pertain to my heart! My internal cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) was implanted in my chest in July 2008. It looks like a pacemaker but doesn’t constantly pace my heart. It is only there to provide a jolt of electricity if my heart stops or starts beating a dangerous rhythm. It is made up of a generator (battery) and a lead (wire). Here is a basic idea but mine only has one lead.

ICD implanted under the skin with the lead (wire) in the heart.
ICD implanted under the skin with the lead (wire) in the heart.

Luckily (*knock on wood*), my ICD has never fired (shocked me).  From what I hear it will feel like being kicked in the chest by a horse. Not on my list of fun!

When Dan and I returned to the states around February 28th, we were in Texas picking up our dog and heading back to Kansas. That morning we woke up to this weird beeping sound. We couldn’t figure it out but Dan got up and I went back to get more rest. I heard it again and still couldn’t find it so I got up. It sounded like a truck backing up but there was no sign of one in the neighborhood. I went downstairs and heard it again.  What the heck?!?! The beeping is following me!  No, the beeping IS ME! We called Medtronic the maker of my ICD and they told me to go to the Emergency Room. There a technician from Medtronic came to check on my ICD. The device was indicating that the lead was compromised and possibly breaking. At this point they told me, “if it breaks, you will be repeatedly shocked as your ICD will not be able to register a heartbeat”. EXCUSE ME?!

So here we are in Texas needing to drive back to Kansas and my ICD could start shocking me at any minute!  What are we going to do if we are in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma and this thing starts shocking me? We ended up seeing an electrophysiologist in Texas that suggested that I fly back and Dan drive. This sounded like a safe option and we got home just fine. I saw my doctor and they looked further into my damaged wire. Sure enough, it was about to break.  They also informed me that it first detected the malfunction around February 26th. What?! February 26th we were in Morocco! What in the world would I have done if I was being repeatedly shocked in Morocco! Thank goodness I made it into surgery on March 11th of 2011 without being shocked first! The recovery was quick and I was back on the straight and narrow! Check out the blog I kept while we were traveling to see pictures and hear more about our trip!

My blog from our trip around the world!

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