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With Valentine’s Day just behind us, I wanted to take a moment today for a blog that’s more personal than usual. Heart Health Month took a personal twist for me this year. My Dad, who has had a long and hard winter with multiple bouts of what was believed to be pneumonia, took a health turn in the wrong direction. After a 911 call in the middle of the night, a 100-mile ambulance ride, and multiple days in the ICU, it was identified that months of misdiagnosis had missed congestive heart failure. 

Now 10 days later (and nearly 35 pounds lighter), thanks to the heart team at the Minneapolis Heart Institute , my dad went home today. For the first time in months, he is without a tank of oxygen at his side.

He’ll have to do things a little differently from now on: less sodium, careful watching of his weight, and adding a little exercise won’t hurt either.  But, it’s an amazing gift when only 10 days previously, you weren’t sure if tomorrow was going to happen.

My son learned a valuable lesson as well. At 17, he was there when the ambulance whisked his Grandpa to the ER. He accompanied his Grandma to the hospital, and stood with her as they put in all of the IVs and breathing support necessary to make another day not only a possibility, but a wonderful and joyous event.  He’s learned not to take his time with his grandparents for granted.

I encourage you, too, to not take your time with your loved ones for granted. Take the initiative to visit your family and friends – even if your schedule already feels full.

And don’t take your health for granted. Heart health begins with just a few extra steps in your daily walking routine – and a few less carbohydrates in your diet. It’s worth it.