Kelsey passed out while working out and the nurse practitioner decided to run a test to see if it could be related to heart disease. No one expected the results that discover she has a rare heart disease and her career in the military was over. But it was. Kelsey shares her experience in the Navy along with the challenge of transitioning and work she does today as the host of A Veterans Podcast
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Check out the full show notes at https://www.airmantomom.com/2021/08/heart-disease/
Check out the full transcript here.
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Welcome to Episode 147 of the women of the military podcast. This week. My guest is Kelsey Gumm, Kelsey and I met because she runs the A Veterans Podcast, and I was a guest on episode 27, which I'll link to in the show notes. They have a mission to honor the military, men and women who have served and give veterans a platform to tell their personal story of service transition triumphs, and obstacles they've overcome. After being a guest on that podcast. She is now a guest on my podcast, and she talked about her experience of finding out how a medical diagnosis caused her career to end and being medically retired. So we talked about what that transition was like, what her experience was like in the Navy and what she's doing today. So let's get started with this week's interview. You're listening to season three of the women on the military podcast Here you will find the real stories of female servicemembers. I'm Amanda Huffman, I am an Air Force veteran military spouse and Mom, I Korean women in the military podcast in 2019. As a place to share the stories of female service members past and present, with the goal of finding the heart of the story while uncovering the triumphs and challenges women face while serving in the military. If you want to be encouraged by the stories of military women and be inspired to change the world. Keep tuned for this latest episode of women on the military.
Sabio Coding Bootcamp 01:45
Women of the military podcast we'd like to thank Sabio coding boot camp for sponsoring this week's episode. Sabio coding boot camp is a top ranked coding boot camp that is 100% dedicated to helping smart and highly motivated individuals become exceptional software engineers visit their website at www.sabio.la to learn how you may be able to use your GI Bill benefits to train at savea your tuition and monthly BAH stipend may be paid during your training period. They are also 100% committed and helping you find your first job in tech. So don't forget to head over to www.sabio.la to learn more. And now let's get started with this week's interview.
So welcome to the show. Kelsey, I'm excited to have you here.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited. I actually found your podcast A long time ago and like listened to a whole bunch of episodes. So when we finally connected, I was like, This is awesome.
Yeah, what drew you to the podcast when you first found it?
Well, I was searching just for like, podcasts that were military related, or veteran related. And then it was kind of an added bonus that it was like a female podcast or an A female podcast. And so I think all of that was kind of what drew me in.
Yeah, that's cool. So let's start with your military story. Why did you decide to join the military.
So I joined in July of 2004. Why I joined in September 2003, and was in delayed entry until July of 2004. I joined. While my grandpa used to tell me like C stories when I was younger, because he was in the Navy soon learned that some of those c stories were very embellished stories, but either way, so that kind of drew me to it. And then when September 11 happened, I knew that I wanted to make a difference. And I wanted to kind of fight for our country. And I didn't want to go to college. So all those things combined, led me to join the Navy.
So did you join right after? I mean, you had to wait a long time. But did you start the delayed entry program where you're still in high school? Or did you start looking into the military after you left?
So I was 17 when I signed the paperwork, so my parents had to like sign as well or whatever, like sign their rights away. I was a senior in high school. So I waited my whole senior year and then left for boot camp a month after graduation.
So you are more waiting for to graduate and not for a job or was the waiting because of both things.
I think it was it was partially both things. The job that I had initially signed up for for aviation electronics took a while to get into but I also had to graduate high school before I left for boot camp. So I think that was like the first available date I could go
So September 11. Happened your like sophomore year of high school?
Yeah, I was a sophomore in world history class, actually. And the teacher came in and was like, the plane hit the World Trade Centers. And I was like, Oh, that sounds like a bad day. Like I didn't, I didn't really know what it meant at the time. But a scary thought process for me was my grandfather, and sub gamma were flying to New York that day. So I was like, pretty nervous, because I didn't know I was young enough to like, not really know, like, what flights they were on, or any of that information. I just knew they were going to New York, and my mom worked third shift. So she was sleeping, she had no idea what happened until I got home from school. So it was just kind of a crazy experience. And I was actually sitting next to a girl in my study hall, the following class, and she was there from Palestine. And she looked at me and I will never forget, she looked at me and said, my parents sent me here. So I didn't have to worry about things like this. And that was like, a huge moment for me for like, how serious the situation is, and what a big deal it was, and what was about to happen.
Yeah, wow, that's like a crazy story, essentially, for someone who's still in high school, and to have that moment happen, like right away where she knew she knew what was going on, because she had, you know, experienced it, and that her parents were trying to get her away from it. And then a terrorist attack happened within America. And I think Americans were very, like, unaware, because we just lived in this, like, alternate reality of, like, the rest of the world didn't really exist. This was before the internet really existed and isn't kind of changed how interconnected we are.
Yeah, definitely. I think it was one of those things where you realize like, although America's is great and powerful, and we're a strong nation, in that moment, it was kind of a reality check of, but they can still get us. You know, so it was definitely life changing, for sure.
Yeah. And were you like, sort of thinking about the military, or you had no intention. And then September 11 happened, and then you started to think about the military.
I was kind of thinking about it. I mean, I always thought it was cool. And, uh, I always thought it would be fun to be in the military. I had a really close friend of mine. He was in the Navy. So, you know, I had heard of his adventures and thought like, that was really a cool situation. And so it definitely, from that point forward, I was like, This is what I have to do.
So you went to boot camp right out of high school. And what was that experience, like?
I cried every single day of boot camp, I'm not even ashamed to say that I was 17. When I left for boot camp, I turned 18. In boot camp. I had never really like left home, except for like a week of summer camp, here and there, or whatever. So when I, when I went to boot camp, I cried for probably like the first four days, all I did was cry. And then I cried like, every day after that, not because I was sad, but like, I was so overwhelmed, if that makes sense. Like I miss my family. And I missed, you know, my little brother and my parents and my brother and sister. But I was so overwhelmed with being thrown into a situation where it was like, instant adult. Like, you go from being like a kid. graduating high school, life is easy. And all of a sudden, you're like an adult. And then there's no like smooth, easy transition. So it was, it was really a crazy experience for me, but I absolutely loved it. And like thrived in that environment. I just cried a lot.
So it was a big adjustment. And you emotionally It was really hard, but you also thrived in it.
That's good to hear.
For me, it was difficult, because I was only like, 45 minutes from home. So knowing I was so close and knowing, like all these mind games that I was playing with myself, um, but I, I really think like, that was probably the best thing for me was to really experience independence in a completely different way.
Yeah, that makes sense. So you're from like the Chicago area. Is that where you went to boot camp?
I went to boot camp in Great Lakes but I'm originally from the Waukee area. So up in Wisconsin just over the border. I was close.
So that's really interesting that you were like, so close, but so far away, it's like, I'm so close. But I'm also like, a million miles away, because it doesn't really matter how close I am to home.
When the worst part was like when we left maps, you know, like most people fly to where ever their boot campus, right? We got into like a little bus. And they just drove us straight there. So when everybody else is arriving at like midnight, we got there at like, noon, and just sat in a classroom for like, 12 hours, which was incredibly terrifying, because you're like, I can't fall asleep. I don't want to look at anything. I don't know what to do. I don't you know what I mean? Like my breathing too loud. So that was kind of crazy, too, because I knew how long the car ride was, or the bus ride, whatever. So I knew we were getting closer. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is all kinds of bad.
I really relate to your experience. I mean, I went to officer field training, but I was just so overwhelmed. And I just, I don't I just was really hard for me. And I remember like, the closer I got, I was flying and like the closer we got there. I was like, Oh, no, it's like, actually tell me. Why did I do this? Yeah, that that really resonates. So you made it through boot camp. And then where was your first assignment?
I graduated boot camp in September of oh four. And that's like right at the end of hurricane season. And I was supposed to go to Pensacola, Florida, for schooling. But I think I want to say what's Hurricane Ivan, I could be completely wrong with the timeframe on that. But so a hurricane like completely devastated the base. So they shut that base down to like, repair and clean up and do all those things. So they kept us at Great Lakes, and they just transferred us across the street, to the school base, or the trading base across the street. So I stayed there for I think, like five months. And then we went down to Pensacola. And then I failed at a school. I didn't I didn't think like I had to really apply myself in school. So that was a problem. Because I, I didn't apply myself very much in high school. And so when I got to my tech school, I just thought like they had to pass you because you were in the military, which, you know, clearly was not a great idea. And so I failed out of school. So then I had to be transferred to a different school in Virginia. And I finally passed that school. And then when they had me pick my duty station, they said, you know, pick your coast of where you want to go. So I wrote East Coast, West Coast, and I think I put Florida, which I knew wasn't close, but that's what I wanted. And they sent me to Japan. So that was great.
And then we should stop and talk a little bit about like tech school, because that's a really good point. You were like, I joined the military because I don't want to go to college. And the first thing you do after basic training is go to school. It's interesting that you were like, well, I'll just pass because I'm in the military. But I wonder why no one said, Do you think anyone said that you needed to pass? Or was that just kind of like, you assume that you just had to show up every day. And that would be good enough.
They talked a bit about like the attrition rate. And, you know, this money people fail out or whatever. And I was like, Oh, that's not going to be me. Like, you got to be stupid to fail at a tech school. You know, at this point, I'm 18. And I'm unstoppable because I graduated boot camp. You know what I mean? my thought process was very, I felt very invincible. You know, I'm doing this school, and it's all like electronics and math. And that is not my jam at all. Like, I am not a math person. I could write stories for days and do all kinds of things like that, but I am not a math person. And within a few weeks, I knew like this was not headed in the right path. And so you know, they they send you through all these like academic review boards and make you go into like, tutoring and all these things. And I just didn't get it. Like it just wasn't making sense to me and they were like, Oh, this is probably not safe for you to be in this job. So let's find something new for you.
Do you think that your recruiter explained the job in a way that you understood it? Why did you end up picking a crucial that relied on math? If you didn't like math? That's a good question.
Um, I don't think he explained it at all. Like, I think he explained the cool parts, oh, you're gonna be on the flight deck. And you're gonna, you know, make sure that the helicopter can fly or the jet can fly and, you know, hyped up the job. And, but didn't tell me like, you need to know math, or you need to be, you know, able to process like, the electricity component of it. I thought it was just like, oh, screw some screws, hit some switches. And you know what I mean? So, yeah, I don't think it was explained to me at all. Really?
Yeah, I think that's really common. Because when I was enlisting into the Air Force, the recruiter was like, Oh, you want to do this job, because it's really cool. And he didn't ever talk about like, anything else about the job. And I think sometimes when we're in the military, we forget, like, all the details that people don't know when they're in the military. So we feel like we're explaining it, but we're not explaining it at all. And we use words that don't make sense. And then I was just like, Okay, that sounds good. And I yeah. So I just think that's interesting, because it's like, it seems like, that would be an important thing to know. Like, I don't like math. Okay. Well, maybe we should find a career field that doesn't have a lot of math in it. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Yeah, I think there needs to be more research done in like picking the jobs instead of like, looking at a book and seeing like the highlights, but finding out finding like, that's part of the purpose of the podcast is to find out more about different career fields so that people can actually understand it and not just read the like paragraph description in the book, because it's so much more than that paragraph.
Yeah, definitely. I agree with that. 100%. Because Had I known that I would never have chosen that job at all.
Right. So they eventually cross trained you and what career field did you switch into?
So then I became an operations specialist, which is essentially the person when you see in movies on the ship when they're looking at like the radar screen. And they're talking about, like, I see the enemy at this, whatever. That was my job. So we watched the radars and did that kind of stuff, and looked for like submarines. And so it was completely different from what I was in, but it was it was a pretty cool job.
Did it require a lot of math to actually a little bit? Oh, like, I feel like there's math involved in that.
But this math was much easier. And it was more about like angles and like distance and stuff. So it was an easier formula to remember.
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. So the math that you were doing for the other job was like super technical, and a lot more complicated. And this one was still using math, but a lot easier to understand.
Cool. And you said that he wanted to go to Florida, but they're like, and we'll send you to Japan?
Yeah. So apparently, and I don't know if it's still the same way now. Because obviously, it's been, Oh, my gosh, like 16 years or something crazy. If you got overseas orders. You had to have like, no waivers when you came into the military for any, like police issues or drug waivers or anything like that. And because it was my first enlistment, you had to be single. So no dependents. And unfortunately, my roommate in a school when I was there for operation special, she got trouble. And so they switched our orders. And they said, You know what, we need you to fill these Japan orders. So you're going to Japan and I was like, wait, hello. That's so far away. I am not ready. And I was pretty terrified. I was still 18 and I turned 19 like two months after I I got to Japan. And it was a pretty surreal experience.
Yeah, I can't even imagine being night 19 and going to a foreign country. Yeah. on your own.
Yeah. Yeah. Like it was. I mean, it was crazy. I was grateful because there was a friend of mine that I knew from high school, who was stationed out there. So we connected pretty shortly after I arrived. And he kind of showed me the ropes of where to go and what to do. But essentially, I was 19 years old, in Japan, and making 19 to 21 year old choices in Japan. So I spent a lot of my time doing, you know, partying and doing things I probably shouldn't have been doing. And kind of like learning how to be an adult. While I was 1000s of miles away from home.
Yeah. So besides that, you learned a little bit about yourself and about how to be an adult, did you go on any deployments from Japan or have any stories from that experience.
In Japan, they call it the forward deployed naval forces. So instead of like, like a six month or seven month deployment on the ship, you go out for like three months at a time, and then come back for a little while, and then go back out, essentially, because you're kind of helping keep peace among China and Taiwan, and all those countries over there. So we spent a lot of time out to sea, which was really a cool experience, in hindsight, because I learned so much about my job, which helped with advancement, and helped me kind of become a better sailor, I definitely got my sea legs. I was pretty seasick like the first few months on the ship. But then, with all that time underway, I was able to get my sea legs and and really learn about the Navy and learn what the Navy is. So being forward deployed, there's not really like that, oh, I want to on a deployment, you're just kind of considered always deployed out there. It wasn't until I went to my second ship in California that I went on my first Westpac deployment, and that was probably the most personally challenging, physically challenging, and emotionally challenging deployment I've ever been on. And why was that? So I changed jobs again. Because I just wanted the full Navy experience, actually, I got out of the Navy, after my first four years, because I thought I knew what was best for myself. And I got out during the 2008 recession. So there were no jobs, there was nothing to do. And I realized I had made a poor choice, because I got out specifically for a guy that I thought I was gonna, like, marry and be with forever and never. And that proved to not happen. So my first piece of wisdom to anybody listening is do not make military decisions based on a significant other. That's good, nice. So I rejoined, went through boot camp again, or half of boot camp again. And then became a damage control man, which is like a firefighter and went to a ship in San Diego. And on our deployment, we were one of the first ships to respond after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March of 2011. I guess, like the whole irony in that situation is I had grown to love Japan. And that was like, my home away from home, essentially, because I grew up there. You know. And so when we, when we got news of the earthquake hitting, and we made it there, like overnight or whatever, when I walked outside the next morning to see the devastation, and to see houses floating in the water, and to see this country that I loved in complete, like disarray, was a gut check, like I've never experienced in my life.
Yeah. Wow, that's really powerful. And it's interesting, because you had been in Japan before, and I bet if you hadn't been in Japan, it wouldn't have been the same emotional connection to it probably still would have been hard to see the devastation. But you had that emotional connection to the country and the people and then seen,
yeah, and there was so much uncertainty when we arrived off the coast and, and we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into. It was just so, so much and we were only like a few weeks into our deployment when this happened. And it was like, we weren't expecting it. We didn't know what we were going to do to respond. It was just a crazy feeling for them. Next month, I think I, I averaged like an hour of sleep at night. If that you kind of sleep when you could, you know, like lunch or sleep, I would sleep instead of eat lunch. That was all we had, because I was on the flight deck team. So we're launching and recovering helicopters that are delivering relief aid to the Japanese. And then we had to worry about the radiation. Because the nuclear reactor had melted down at Fukushima, the power plant. And so my job as the chemical, biological radiological warfare club mission was to assess the amount of radiation we're being exposed to, and come up with a plan to minimize our exposure and to decontaminate the ship of the exposure was receiving. So there I was 24 years old, with a mountain of stress on my shoulders. And really saddened by what I had seen the locals going through, as well as battling with like, how do you even like process at all? But you don't, because this is your mission, and your mission needs to be completed? So I don't know. It was kind of a crazy, crazy time.
Yeah, I think the military does a really good job of training people to respond to the mission and not worry about their emotions. But then the military doesn't really ever say, okay, we need the missions done. We're back. Now let's process the whole experience that you went through. They're just like, keep pressing forward. And you're like, I was able to do that. But I need to go back. You know, yeah. fix whatever happened.
Yeah, I think that's a really great way to describe it. Because I, it took me, gosh, I think four or five years, post that deployment to really be like, Whoa, what did I go through? What did I do? What did I see? And really come to slowly come to terms I mean, I'm, I still am going to therapy. And I'm not ashamed to say that I firmly believe in getting mental health help for everybody. But it's taken a lot of time to process through that and really allow my brain to process what I experienced.
Yeah. And I, I just released an interview, Episode 137, with Cohen Veterans Network, and I got contacted by them to do the podcast episode. And then I was like, wait, what you have free counseling for veterans. And you know, how to deal with PTSD and trauma from deployment. And so I'm actually in the process of getting connected through their resources to get counseling for my deployment that happened 11 years ago, because I still have stuff that I haven't dealt with, because I haven't been able to talk to anyone. And when I first talked, so when I got home, they're like, oh, you're fine. But I'm not 11 years later.
No, I feel that I, you know, everybody has different experiences, with their VA days, wherever they're located. So I'm only speaking on behalf of my experience. But when I really realized that I was struggling, and that I needed to talk to somebody, I went to my local VA, and made an appointment with mental health in which I had to wait eight weeks, to be seen for the first time. And when I was seen 20 minutes into my appointment, the therapist said, you don't have that severe of a case of whatever you've got going on. So we can just pick this back up in six weeks. And he sent me on my way. And thankfully, I fight for myself and advocate for my health and all these things. And so I called Wounded Warrior Project. And they were able to get me in with a counselor within three days, and paid for me to have 12 sessions with that counselor. And then if I felt like I needed to extend it, they would extend it for me, but at that time, I felt pretty solid. And now they've connected me with a new counselor who's prior marine. She's super awesome. And just kind of gives it to me straight, which is what I need and when of where your project has been covering that counseling care. So I'm, I'm grateful for that because I did not have a great experience with the VA.
Yeah, I think it's unfortunate And it really makes me frustrated because they're like, well, it's not that big of a deal. You're like, well, it's a big deal to me. Yeah. I'm here. So that really, that really bothers me. And it's frustrating that so many people experienced that.
Yeah. I think a lot more people experience it, then are willing to talk about it. You know? Yeah,
yeah. I just did my initial intake. And the psychologist was like, Yes, you don't have PTSD. But you do have trauma from deployment. And I was like, it's so nice to like, have a clinical diagnosis, because the last counselor I talked to was like, you're fine. And I was like, No, I'm not. And she was like, No, you have everything you're saying makes sense. And this is why it's not PTSD, because you have to have a certain thing to be qualified, but it is trauma related to your deployment. And we can help you and I was like, oh, my goodness, I just needed someone to tell me that there was something wrong with me, because I, I knew there was, someone kept telling me, I was fine. So
yeah, I feel that it's, it's nice to get a diagnosis. And it's nice for somebody to take you seriously.
Yeah, it's been really helpful. So let's get back to your career. Mental health is important. So I'm really glad for our tangent, but let's go back to your career. And for was that specific incident, like, seeing Japan the way that it was working all the stressful hours to get the mission done? And then just getting through the rest of the deployment? Was that all the challenges? Or were there other challenges on that deployment?
I mean, there were other challenges. It was. So we went from the Far East, over to the Middle East. So then we're talking about like, just a high operational tempo, just a lot going on, and the heat and the stress from everything we've experienced in the first, you know, two months of deployment, and now we're five months in and, you know, it was just so much. It kind of gave me like a whole new perspective on like, what it meant to be in the military, which I feel like sounds silly. But when I was forward, deployed, it's such a unique experience. But this was really, I mean, I had never spent more than three months underway. And now I'm, I was at like, month five, and a, and I was very ready to go home. I had had enough. So it was just a really mentally exhausting deployment. And we were really undermanned in our divisions. So we were battling with like, longer hours. And it was it was just so much like, I don't even know how to put it into words. But that was the toughest deployment I've ever been on.
Yeah, it sounds really tough. And it's a good way to explain it. Because I think sometimes you think of like the Navy or like, oh, they're out on their ship out on the water just. Yeah, it's not. It is not at all. That's funny. Yeah. I think that's why it's so important to talk to people about their experience. Because like, you don't really you're like you see the ship and you see the the airplanes or the helicopters flying off. But you don't really think about like all the work that goes into like each mission. And all the behind the scenes and all the people and all the work they're doing. You're not just yeah, it's not a cruise deployment. Yeah. So you came back home from that deployment? And then were there any other experiences for the rest of your career? Because you ran for about 10 years, right?
Yeah. So from there. After my deployment, I finished out some time in San Diego. And then I came back to Great Lakes and actually became an instructor at boot camp. I came home because I was ready for my shore duty. And it was time for me to spend some time at home and I had just married my first husband, who was also in the military, you think I would have learned from the first go round, but uh, so I got married, and he was from the area. So we were I got orders to Great Lakes and he got out and I instructed at boot camp, and that ended up being my final duty station. And that's where I was medically retired from, and that's kind of where my story ended, I guess with the military.
And do you want to talk about the medical retirement and all the details or as many details as you want to share about Yeah,
sure. So the whole, like, 10 years I served in the military, I would pass out, like unexplained passing out. And every time I passed out, when I get to the ER, they would tell me I was like dehydrated or exhausted or had anxiety or a list of things that they would like acid reflux, I don't know, they would, they would tell me things. And I believe them, because they were doctors, and doctors don't lie to you. So I just believe that that was, what was wrong with me. When I was at Great Lakes, I was working out on my lunch hour, and everything went black, and I hit the ground. And when I woke up, somebody had mentioned that my body looked gray. And I couldn't feel my arms and legs. And I knew something was really wrong at this point. So the ambulance came and picked me up, took me to the ER. And I told the nurse practitioner, I said, something like, my arms and legs felt like they fell asleep. And I couldn't really feel them. They were just Tingley. And she said, Oh, well, we'll just put in a cardiology console just to be safe. And I just kind of laughed it off, because I didn't have any family history of heart disease, or any heart issues. So I was like, whatever, I'm, I'm pretty healthy. I was a smoker back then. But that was probably My only advice. And so I didn't think much of it. So they told me, I couldn't work out for six weeks until I had this appointment. And then after this appointment, they would reevaluate whatever. So I went to the appointment six weeks later. And because I was close to home, my mom came with me. And they were doing the Echo, which is like an ultrasound of your heart. And the guy doing it kept zooming in on a same part of the picture. And obviously at that time, I had no idea what I was looking at, because ultrasounds look just like static TV to me. And they put me in the doctor's office, they sent me to the doctors actual office afterwards. And I was like, Oh, this isn't good. So I had joked with my mom, and I said this is like in the movies where it gets really quiet. And then the doctor comes in and tells you you're dying. And we started laughing because we really thought like it was silly. The doctor came in. And the first thing he said was Petty Officer GM. I don't know how to tell you this, but your career in the Navy is over. Wow. And I was like what? And I said some other things, but you know, people edited. But basically, my response was what. And then he told me I had a very rare heart condition called left ventricular noncompaction cardiomyopathy, which means the left side of my heart was like a sponge. So it wasn't pumping the blood to my body properly. And when I was passing out, I was going into fatal heart rhythms that could have killed me. Had I not hit the ground as hard as I did.
Yeah. So. So that sucks. I went through the medical board process, which, if anybody is listening, then they have never done it, and they're going through it. It's kind of a daunting process, right? You have to prove that you didn't know anything of what is wrong with you prior to the military, you have to prove that you're really sick. You have to prove all these things, right. And for somebody like me, who was in 10 years, I wanted to do 20. And I wanted to make it a career. So to mentally process that now, everything I knew about adult life, and being in the military was literally about to be over in months. And oh, by the way, I have this heart disease. That is basically a death sentence. from Google's perspective, it was just a lot to take in.
Yeah, that would be really hard.
It was definitely a learning experience all the way around.
You said from Google, it's a death sentence. But does there like a happier story that like there is a cure? Or is it something that you're still living with that you have to worry about?
So I'm still living with it. And essentially, the only cure for what I have is a heart transplant. So as of right now, I'm pretty healthy. And I say pretty healthy because I'm on a series of medication that I take daily. That kind of, you know messes with you just as a person in general, but it keeps my heart rate low as to prevent me from passing out or going into cardiac arrest. I also have a pacemaker defibrillator implanted in my chest. So if I were to go into a fatal rhythm, it would shock my heart out of that fatal rhythm. Thankfully, I haven't had to use it yet. So I'm grateful for that. Because it, it really is like in the movies, when you know, when they're like clear, and they zap you like, that's what would happen. And I don't really want to experience that. So I'm really grateful. But yeah, I will, I will have this for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I stay as healthy as I am now. But I just live each day like it's my last healthy day, because you just never know. So yeah, I'll have it forever. But I definitely have a much more positive outlook. Now, you know, seven years post diagnosis than I did when I was diagnosed.
That's just crazy that the nurse practitioner was like, Okay, well, let's, let's just try this, because it's probably nothing. And then it ends up being this, like, diagnosis that, like, not only changes your life, but like, because you got out of the military, but changes like everything about your life in the sense of, you have to take medications, you had to have surgeries, and you have to kind of have to live your life in a new way. Because you know that you have this. And you had no idea before you got diagnosed. That's crazy.
Yeah, yeah, it was pretty overwhelming. And thank God for therapy, because because that definitely helps me process. What it is, yeah, you know, I'm young, I'm, I'm only 34. And, you know, heart disease, a lot of people picture it as like this old white man's disease, you know, and heart disease is the number one killer of women. So, I mean, that's above all cancers combined. So it's like, it's pretty serious. And so I just, you know, I try to advocate as much as I can, so that people can learn, as well as it's healing to talk about your story, you know. So,
yeah, which you just said, talk about your story. You are also a podcaster. So let's talk a little bit about your podcast and who you're podcasting for, and what you guys are doing.
Yeah, sure. So I'm the host of A Veterans Podcast. And it is solely focused on the transition out of the military. So we like to interview people when we interviewed you. And I think your episodes coming up shortly. We interview people about not so much the story of what what they did while they were in service, but how they transitioned out of the military, because I don't think enough people keep it real when they talk about that process. And I think a lot of people struggle with their military transition. And so where I work is a nonprofit that helps veterans in crisis. And we were trying to figure out a way to reach veterans during COVID when everything was shut down. And we decided to start a podcast, and I've met some really awesome people, which I'm sure you could agree to the same. Like you're doing these interviews, and you're like, Man, these people's stories are great. Yeah. You know, and, and it's a cool experience, but really to get information out there about different services and different organizations, anything that'll help a veteran transition. I mean, we've interviewed all different backgrounds, from special forces to just your average, you know, soldier, sailor, Marine, we even have a few Coast Guard people that have been on, you know, it's just been a really cool experience.
Yeah, I definitely kind of grew to that. I mean, you get to talk to the most amazing people and hear their stories. And, and I always relate to the stories and I get something out of it. So I really enjoy podcasting.
yeah, and it's therapeutic. You know, it's nice to know, you're not alone, for sure. And I think like that's the biggest thing is a lot of times veterans do feel alone, and they feel isolated, and listening to other people talk about, you know, their transition sub two, and they wish they would have done this differently. Well, I'm glad you feel the same way, because that's how I felt. And now I know, I'm not the only one who felt that way. You know, so I think it's really a cool experience.
Yeah, that's so true. That's exactly. That's exactly how I feel about the pot. Yes. Yeah. So do you have anything else from your time in the military that we didn't cover that you wanted to talk about? Before I ask my last question, I don't think so. I think we covered a lot. All over the place, but we covered a lot. So let's end the interview with my final question, which is what advice would you give to young women who are considering moving Service,
I would say do it. And I would say, take the time to really research what you're interested in as far as like an occupation or even type of military service. Every branch is so different. And depending on what you're looking for, depends on the branch that you should join, really. And I honestly feel like you shouldn't fully rely on what your recruiter tells you. And I love recruiters, I have friends who are recruiters, but I think that everybody should find somebody who has served in the military, and talk to them through your network of friends, somebody knows somebody who served. And I know, any veteran or active duty is willing to sit down and answer questions of somebody who wants to join. And they will give you real honest, you know, unedited answers. And I think that's so important, because had I, you know, done some research on the jobs that I eventually worked my way through, I probably would have had a smoother start. Had I known some of the things I knew later on. I think
That's really good advice. And I think the recruiters are great, but they ultimately are working for the military. And you really need to advocate for yourself and find out as much as you can, and talking to another veteran or service member is great. And, and then the podcast is a great resource to Yeah, and I think too, you know,
If somebody is listening and, and they're thinking like, well, I don't know who to reach out to, or whatever, you can look up like military podcasts. And I guarantee if you reach out to some of these podcasters through their social media, they will definitely answer your questions. I mean, I love when people reach out and ask me about things or you know, say, Hey, can I be on your show? Like, I'm more than willing to answer questions of somebody who wants to join the military?
Yeah, and I have a girl's guides in the military on my website. So I'll link to it in the show notes. If you're interested in joining the military, you have questions, that guide can help get you on the right step to start asking the right questions. That's awesome. So thank you so much for being on the podcast today and for sharing your story. Thank you for having me. It was great. Thank you for listening to this week's episode of women of the military podcast. Do you love all things women on the military podcast become a subscriber so you never miss an episode and consider leaving a review? It really helps people find the podcast and helps the podcast to grow. Are you still listening? You could be a part of the mission of telling the stories of military women by joining me on firstname.lastname@example.org slash women of the military or you can order my book women of the military on Amazon. Every dollar helps to continue the work I am doing. Are you a business owner? Do you want to get your product or service in front of the women of the military podcast audience get in touch with the woman of the military podcast team to learn more all the links on how you can support women in the military podcasts are located in the show notes. Thanks again for listening and for your support.