Nameless Heroes

By: Lara Winburn

Lara Winburn In December, my brother-in-law ran a local half-marathon. 13.1 miles. That is an impressive accomplishment, but what happened after the race is truly impressive. He crossed the finish line and was waiting on his wife to finish, when he heard someone call for a paramedic.

Being a former ER nurse, my brother-in-law made his way toward the call for help. When he arrived, he found a young runner collapsed on the side of the course. No pulse, not breathing and clearly in trouble.  A spectator and off duty paramedic had also rushed to aid the collapsed runner.  Without hesitation, the spectator started compressions and my brother-in-law started mouth to mouth resuscitation. Together they worked tirelessly until an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) arrived and they shocked the patient’s heart back into a normal rhythm.

A HEARTBEAT was back. The runner survived.

An ambulance arrived minutes later to provide further assistance. Before he was taken to the hospital, the runner was shaken but was able to tell my brother-in-law a little about himself, where he worked and who would be looking for him to finish. He was alive and talking. Just like that, a terrifying situation had turned hopeful.

As the runner was taken to the nearest hospital, my brother-in-law and the spectator/off-duty paramedic exchanged a handshake and a “good job” before they headed their separate ways.

No fanfare, no accolades, just two strangers who knew CPR.

They knew CPR, they used CPR and a young man’s heart continues to beat. 

Attend Lexington Medical Center’s Heart Fair on Sunday, March 2nd and take a citizen CPR lesson.

For more information about the Heart Hair, visit

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Leah Prescott

Meet Leah Prescott, a mom of three who is learning to navigate the world of homeschooling and will share her experiments and successes teaching her children.

Hi Columbia! My name is Leah Prescott and I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the Every Woman Blog community. I’ll be writing about my crazy days and life here in the Midlands of South Carolina, and hopefully meeting and hearing from as many of you as possible. I hope you are ready because I am sometimes an over-sharer.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Please feel free to share right back. That’s what the comment section is for! I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be writing about, but I do have some ideas….only I’m really indecisive. Any votes?

As for me, I love being married to my husband of ten years. He’s the tall, quiet type, Leahbut he’s always willing to speak the truth. (In fact, sometimes I wish he was a little Iess truthful, but God knows what we need, doesn’t He?) Even 13 years later, he can look at me with those blue eyes of his and it takes me right back to our early days in college. I am so thankful that he has been with me through the ups and downs of the last decade!

Together, we have three of the sweetest, smartest, and most challenging children God ever sent down to earth. Right now, I stay busy homeschooling my seven-year-old twin girls and just trying to keep my energetic 22-month-old son from reaching his ultimate goal: the destruction of my home and sanity. And in the background there is always a barking beagle. Always.

When I’m not combing curls, teaching sight words, or wiping up something off the floor, I enjoy writing, thrifting, creativity in general, coffee, and Pinterest. I’ve really got to tone down my pinning, actually. But maybe you guys can help me sort through some of that also. Want to talk about pin-inspired successes and failures?

Did I mention I’m excited? Not only do I get the chance to share with all of you, but I already met some of the blogging team and what a fantastic, varied group of creative, funny, and skilled ladies! 2014 is sure to be a fabulous year on the Every Woman Blog, so keep your eye on us!

I Gained Weight, But I’m Celebrating

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I wrote this post in late January, but I wanted to share it with you. It was a personal victory of sorts for me, and it’s helped me better define success when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This morning, I weighed myself for the first time in a while. The number was up. I am five pounds further away from my “goal weight” than I was a couple weeks before Christmas. (I’m trying not to obsess too much on the numbers, but the gain now puts me 32 lbs. away from what I’ve chosen as an ideal weight.)

My initial thought was to crawl up under the covers and have a huge pity party with two special guests, Ben and Jerry. And I must admit, I DID crawl back under the covers. I was up early for cardio, but the weigh-in created a paralyzing panic that could only be relieved by an extra hour and a half of sleep. But when I woke up, I took a deep breath and decided to re-boot. And on the way in, I even bought myself flowers to celebrate.

Gained Flowers

 “Celebrate?” you might say. Yep, celebrate. Because while my weight is up from Christmas and my initial loss of nearly 100 lbs., I still have a lot of reasons to celebrate:

  • My blood pressure is down. Significantly.
  • My good cholesterol is up, and my bad cholesterol is down.
  • I now choose stairs over elevators, and when I take them, I no longer nearly fall out at the top of them.
  • I basically eat clean, whole and healthy foods. I have a few processed indulgences, including ice cream and chocolate, but I rarely shop the inside aisles of the grocery store.
  • Whole grains and agave nectar have taken the place of white flour and sugar.
  • I can’t tell you the last time I’ve been to a fast food joint.
  • Some weeks are better than others, but I regularly work out. I strength train. I do cardio. And I am generally much more active.
  • Except for an occasional pizza, ice cream or Greek yogurt, I am essentially dairy-free. I have totally switched over to almond and soy milk, and I rarely have cheese.
  • I eat much, much less meat. And except for an occasional craving for a good steak, meat has become an addition to a meal, such as a soup, instead of the main course. And in most cases, I choose ground turkey breast over ground beef, and always buy the leanest cuts.
  • I not only know how to pronounce quinoa, but I eat it on a regular basis.
  • Cooking is no longer a chore that I dread, but almost enjoy. I usually cook for the week ahead on Sunday, so there are always quick, healthy options available. And I always get excited to add a great new recipe to the rotation.
  • I plan ahead, consider obstacles and work around them. When traveling, I make arrangements to purchase healthy food and/or take my own. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I feel like the odd woman out, but I still do it.
  • When I first started working with a nutrition counselor, the only way I could get my water intake in was to add Crystal Light. Now I prefer my water plain and cold, or I add fruit for flavor.
  • I have finally found a sweet spot for grocery shopping. I have healthy staples in the pantry, including nutritional yeast, and I have a set shopping list for the store.
  • My spice rack is now quite extensive and well-stocked.
  • I have actual muscle definition, and I’m especially proud of the strength and toning I see in my legs.
  • I am now cooking dry beans instead of using those from a can. It’s healthier and less expensive.
  • I can do all kinds of things in the gym that I couldn’t do before, but the one that stands out the most is the elliptical trainer. When I started three years ago, I couldn’t do more than two minutes at the lowest level. Now I regularly do 30 minutes, and the lower level is just a quick warm up.

Today, instead of berating myself for “failing,” I dusted myself off and prepared for a new day. I didn’t drown my sorrows in ice cream, but had some of my favorite healthy foods, including fresh pineapple and strawberries for lunch. And after finishing this post, I’m going to lay out my clothes for tomorrow’s strength training, turn in early and read.

And those 32 pounds? I hope they enjoyed today’s celebration, because tomorrow, they’re history. I may not be able to physically lose them overnight, but I’m not going to let them bring me down or define me. Instead, I’ll use them to re-energize me on my journey to good health, clean eating and physical fitness.

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Lara Winburn

Meet Lara Winburn, a busy mom with two young children, who uses humor to get through life. We can’t wait to hear her stories!

Getting Fruity

By: Shannon Shull

Whenever I need to sign up to prepare food for an event, I’m never the one to offer to bring fruit. I typically stick with chips and dip, sweets or crackers and cheese. I don’t have an abundance of fruit growing in my yard and fruit is flat out expensive – especially if you need to provide fruit for over 150 people. Recently the Women’s Society I’m a member of was in the planning stages of a major wine event – a big, lovely affair that we have every year. I wasn’t at the particular meeting in which everyone signed up for which foods to bring, so guess who was put in charge of the fruit table? Yep, me!

So, I was left with the dreaded fruit table that no one else wanted to claim. But that’s ok; I took on the challenge! I figured I might as well take advantage of this opportunity to have a little fun getting creative with some fruit. I immediately started scouring the Internet for cool ideas for fruit displays. The more I saw online, the more excited I became about the idea of doing something really creative for displaying the fruit at our wine event.

The first step was to find the cheapest prices on fruit! Fortunately I found some incredible prices at Aldi. I’d never been to this store before, but the visit proved fruitful. 😉 hehehhe….

I was ultimately able to pull off a lovely table display. Of course, originally I had big ideas of a grand display – turning pineapples into swans and carving elaborate designs into watermelons. Needless to say, those grand visions did not pan out at the last minute. However, I can say that my final table display of fruit ended up looking pretty darn good and was a hit at the event.

Fruit table and me

Fruit table

One of the ideas I wanted to make sure to share with you readers is to use ice cream cones to hold fruit. The night before the event, I dipped plain and colored ice cream cones into melted dark chocolate. I drizzled all the cones with chocolate and put them in the refrigerator overnight. Once I arrived at the event, I filled the base of the cones with either watermelon or cantaloupe and then topped them all off with beautiful colored blueberries and blackberries. Each cone provided several bites of the perfect combination of sweet fruit, crispy cone and delicious dark chocolate.

Fruit table close up

Fruit table close up 2

Fruit table close up 3

So if you ever have to do a fruit display for an event, challenge yourself to have fun with it and get creative. Just make sure you actually get to partake of your yummy creations…naturally, I did not get one single lovely fruit cone! 🙂

From My Heart to Yours

By: Chaunte McClure

Chaunte McClureI find it quite interesting that my first blog post would be related to heart disease. After all, during my husband’s rants about my lack of exercise, he often reminds me that heart disease is the number one killer of women. He nearly begs me to exercise. He’s a gym rat and he wants me to be one too. Well, not exactly, because he’s shown me a few exercise routines that I can do at home. He says he wants us to grow old together.  Awww… how sweet! Well, obviously not sweet enough because I still don’t exercise.

I want to change that. I need to change that. And if you don’t exercise, you need to make a change, too.

It was a decision my friend, Michelle, had to make in 2006 when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure at the age of 36. She was living in Texas and had symptoms of a common cold that progressively got worse. Doctors diagnosed her with a sinus infection and prescribed her potassium pills and antibiotics. While experiencing these symptoms she returned to her hometown in Columbia, SC, as planned, and actually drove alone from Texas.

Michelle Weight Loss

She still was not feeling better after making it back to the Palmetto State. Walking eventually became a challenge because it was hard for her to breathe. She went to her primary care physician in Columbia and was immediately referred to a cardiologist, who performed a heart catheterization. The cardiologist told her she had a broken heart. (Really, he did.)

Michelle now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and takes six prescribed medicines and an asprin daily. She’s a survivor! Thanks to some lifestyle changes, she’s doing well. Not only does she exercise, she eats healthier, too.

These are healthy habits we can all develop, whether we’re unwell or not. The American Heart Association offers tips on how you can prevent heart disease.  Your heart matters! Don’t skip a beat caring for it. We can do it!

Ham Soup

By: Brady Evans 

I am not sure if this is “ham and bean” soup or “ham bone” soup.  In any case, it has both beans and ham in it, but the bone is removed before serving.

When I was a vegetarian this might be the only meal I ever missed. This is odd because this was the type of meal my mom made maybe once a year growing up, usually after holidays when there was a leftover ham hanging around.

Ham Soup

When my dad said he was bringing a honey baked ham to our Christmas dinner, I immediately notified him that I’d be taking home the bone. He didn’t protest my greediness, and I invited him over to enjoy the soup when I finally got around to making it.

My father loved it so much that he immediately went out and bought another ham just for the purpose of eating this soup.

Ham Soup


  • 1 lb. 15 bean soup mix (recommended brand: “Hurst’s HamBeens.” You won’t be using the spice packet included.)
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ham bone with approximately 2 cups of ham remaining on the bone
  • Enough water to cover
  • Ground black pepper and salt to taste


  1. Add all ingredients to a large soup/stock pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook 2 hours or until beans are tender.
  4. Remove bone from soup. Pick off and chop ham and return to soup, Discard bone.

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Chaunte McClure

Meet Chaunte McClure, a seminarian who enjoys spending time with girlfriends and taking spur-of-the-moment trips. We look forward to reading her future blog posts!

A Test I Loved Failing

By: Lydia Scott

I loved living in Apex, NC as 28-year-old married mom. It was such a pretty little country town with all the amenities of city life, plus the awesome standard of living characteristic of the Raleigh area. Granted, my then-husband, my two-year old daughter, and I had no close friends and no family in the area, but that was A-Okay by me. We enjoyed the anonymity. While I was a big girl (always had been, from kindergarten on), I was young and in good health so keeping up with my energetic toddler was fun. We decided to add to our family (you know, the quintessential “two kids, two pets and a house” American standard), and on May 28, 2000 my quiet, good-natured, laid-back baby boy was born.

The pregnancy wasn’t bad. I’d pretty much kept an annoying on-again off-again sinus infection the last half of my winter-to-spring pregnancy, but that was the only issue. The labor was a little touchy and much longer than it was with my daughter, but nothing crazy. Everything was business as usual. However, a couple of weeks after my son was born, I developed an annoying little cough, probably a carryover from the nagging sinus infection, I thought. I also noticed my post-delivery swelling was not improving, but hey, I was older and heavier (320lbs) than I was for the first pregnancy, so no big deal. But I brought it up to my OB-GYN at my follow up visit and she diagnosed it as bronchitis and gave me some medicine.

Another week or so went by and my cough was unchanged, except that now it was noticeably worse when I was lying down. I found using three or four pillows under my head and shoulders helped to ease the cough so I could sleep. I went back in to my OB-GYN and she decided the bronchitis was hanging on because my immune system was still low, so she prescribed Prednisone and had me stop nursing. She didn’t worry about it being pneumonia or anything serious because my symptoms didn’t indicate that and because I didn’t have “rales” (a characteristic crackling sound in the lungs made by excess fluid). Anyway, I was sad at the thought of ending nursing because my son loved it so, but I produced very little good quality milk anyway, so I complied, stopped nursing and started the steroid.

I’m Not Worried. Really.

Lydia Heart Failure

By the first of July, I had to use seven pillows under my head and shoulders to be able to ease the cough enough to sleep. The cough bugged me when I was doing the laundry, or lifting my children. It was a shallow cough with no pain…no big deal. But catching my breath was a beast. It was like an elephant was sitting on my chest and I just…could…not…inhale.

My OB-GYN encouraged me to stick to the medication but said she wanted to see me the next week. That weekend I got zero sleep. A newborn, a toddler, a husband working all the time, no friends or family, and me sleepless. Why? Because no matter what position I took, even sitting upright in a dining chair, when I started to relax and doze I jerked up immediately, gasping for air like a fish out of water. I admit I was starting to get a little scared at this point. At 6:00 am on Monday, July 10, I rang the doctor on call at my OB-GYN’s office, told him what was happening, and at his insistence, went to the emergency room. It’s still hard to put into words without getting watery-eyed even 14 years later.

At the emergency room they ran the usual battery of tests, including a chest x-ray: a simple, basic, chest x-ray. I still wish I’d thought to ask my OB-GYN for one. The x-ray showed my heart was enlarged. But even that was not really a big deal, they said. It could be because I’d just had a baby, or because I was morbidly obese. Regardless, they wanted to do an echocardiogram, which is basically an ultrasound of your heart. It lets them see how the heart is moving, and measure how much blood it’s pumping in and out.

I’m Not Old Enough for That!

After a couple of hours, the cardiologist came to the ER bed to talk to my husband and me. She kindly yet firmly explained that the tests showed I was in congestive heart failure as a result of post-partum cardiomyopathy. I remember everything kind of slowing down, and all I could think was how I couldn’t have any kind of heart failure because you only get that when you get old and your heart gives out. My paternal grandfather died from congestive heart failure in his eighties. How did this happen? What does it mean? How did I get it? Will it go away? Am I going to live? What do I do? Why did this happen to me?

The cardiologist said that this was a 30/30/30 disease: about 30% totally recover quickly; 30% stay about the same or never reach a full recovery; 30% die. Some of these people will have had a heart transplant; some would not. I asked her if I got this because I was fat. She said it was impossible to know, but that studies had not shown that it was more prevalent among obese women; however, my weight could have been the “red flag” that put my heart over the edge.

Then she lowered the boom: my heart was an overstretched balloon functioning at 19% capacity, meaning it was only pumping out 19% of the blood that was coming into it. I couldn’t inhale because my lungs were full of the fluid that my weak heart couldn’t pump out. It was basically like drowning, slowly. My kidneys and my liver were stressed and weak, at best. I needed to be put on medications and admitted to the hospital because I was at high risk of aortic rupture, sudden cardiac death and heart attack.

That’s when the negotiating began. I told her it was impossible for me to stay in the hospital because my husband had to work to put food on the table and we had no close friends or local family to help care for my newborn son and toddler daughter. She stared at me for what seemed an eternity but was probably only a few seconds. I remember her sighing, looking down, and then looking directly in my eyes and saying that under the circumstances she would allow me to stay at home on very strict bed rest if I would give my word on my children’s lives to do exactly as she told me. I told her I would do so, but that it would have to be couch rest, because, again, I had a newborn and a toddler. I can almost hear her grumbling now, ha-ha! She agreed, I promised, and she wrote my discharge orders.

I was prescribed an extremely strong diuretic; a beta blocker; an ace inhibitor; a low sodium diet; and a low fluid diet. The low fluid diet means I could not have more than 48 ounces per day of anything that became liquid in your mouth. I thought this was odd, and asked why. The doctor said it was because my kidney function was weak and they needed to rest, so the less we put through them, the better. Okay, that made sense. Home I went, to start living a new way. But hey…I was living, and that was great!

How Do I Make This Work?

Over the next months, I lost about 30 pounds, most of it excess fluid from the “congestive” portion of the heart failure and I got below the 300 lb. mark. I was able to go back to a fairly normal diet too, thank goodness! I went to see my cardiologist weekly, then bi-monthly (the same one who cared for me in the ER). Part of my instructions were that I was not ever to lift more than five pounds above waist level; I was not to get too hot nor too cold; I was to keep a strict sleeping routine and get eight hours of sleep at the same time every night; I was to avoid bending over for more than a few seconds; I was to avoid all alcohol and many over the counter medications; I was to avoid stress as much as I could; I was to work hard to lose weight. I succeeded at most of these, except losing weight, and sometimes I lifted my babies higher than I was supposed to, albeit very carefully. But my daughter and son were so cuddly and sweet, how could I resist?

I learned how to use tricks to handle my motherly duties. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with an office chair with wheels and a rectangular laundry basket! The stroller was a huge help to me as well, because I could put my son to sleep in it for day-time naps instead of his crib, which required me lifting him in a way that was not good for my heart. I did my best to put both children down for naps at the same time, or at least for quiet time, so that I could lie down and rest too. We did a lot of things at or near floor level, which the kids actually loved! I learned how to stagger the heights I lifted and lowered them to, so as to reduce the pressure on my chest and thus on my heart walls. Yep, creativity definitely came in handy!

A Miracle Doctor!

So, how was my recovery during the second half of 2000? Unfortunately, it was not good. My blood pressure was plummeting on the ace inhibitor my doctor prescribed, often averaging around 85/55 (talk about seeing stars when you sit up!). She changed the strength until it couldn’t go any lower, then she tried every other current ace inhibitor on the active market. The ace inhibitor was the key drug in helping my heart get stronger, which in my case, because the heart walls had ballooned out and were so thin, was absolutely necessary. After four months of no success and my heart function still at 19%, she scheduled me at Duke Hospital for a cardiac transplant evaluation in February of 2001. It was obvious she was very worried about me. She had told me early on that if a woman was going to recover from this, it would usually happen in the first six months after diagnosis. That “golden window” was almost gone for me.

During this same time, she signed up for a cardiologists’ convention in New York, specifically to pick the brains of top cardiologists for a way to help me. (Did I mention I love this doctor? I wish they were all just like her!) She came back from the convention with a new tactic: the cardiologists there had told her to use an old ace inhibitor that wasn’t really in circulation anymore. It was considered inferior and old school. They said there’d been success with it when the new ace inhibitors weren’t being tolerated. “Capoten,” I believe was the generic name for this medication. She started me on the lowest dose and waited. After a couple of weeks with no “graying out” or stars and my blood pressure not going ridiculously low, we realized her efforts were successful. YAY!

Total Failure.

In February, 2001, I went to Duke and had my scheduled transplant evaluation. I was terrified of this test, mainly because I knew that if I “passed” it, meaning I did qualify for a transplant, I still might not be able to have one because I was morbidly obese. Not to mention, all the huge risks that come with any transplant. The test was basically a review of your history, an EKG, and an echocardiogram kicked up a notch. When the results came back and they called me in to discuss them, I was so, so scared. I didn’t know if I was more terrified of having approval to have a transplant, or of being too obese to be considered.

As it turns out, I failed the test. That sounds bad, but it was the best possible news I could have ever dreamed of, because my heart was now functioning at 43%!!! I did not qualify for a heart transplant anymore. The old-fashioned ace inhibitor, combined with the other medications and lifestyle adjustment, had been doing their jobs!!! My cardiologist saved my life, because she gave a darn. About ME! I tell you, I’d never been so happy to fail a test in my life!!!

Starting Over…Again.

Lydia and Darrell Teamwork

From there on, over the next few years and some non-cardiac surgeries, my heart function slowly increased to 50%, then made it to the 60% range. I experienced a bad episode with atrial fibrillation in 2008 and still have PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) every now then, although now that I’ve gotten much healthier and continue getting healthier (that’s another blog!), they are almost non-existent. I take no medications anymore.

And best of all, a day I thought would never come: in June 2013, my local cardiologist told me to never come back, and to go train for a marathon…I was finished being sick.

I cried. It was over, and life was just beginning.

I shared my story with you today in hopes that it will inspire you to listen to your body and your instincts, and to take care of the body you have. Make it the very best you can, because time and chance fall upon all of us. You might not be able to escape a disease, but a strong body can give you the tools to give the disease one heck of a fight! If you don’t fight for you, who will? It starts with each of us. Be proactive. Get the tests you’ve been putting off. Start the healthy eating regimen you keep talking about. Get moving…movement is like lifting weights for your heart. Make it strong! 

Meet the New Every Woman Bloggers: Sherree Thompson

Sherree Thompson enjoys sharing tips about gardening and finding locally grown foods. We look forward to reading about her favorite local farmers and her tips for clean eating.