From Pregnancy to Heart Attack to Healing: Surviving the Unimaginable
This podcast episode of “Stand Out from the Inside” features Eliz Greene. Host Edgar interviews stress management consultant and speaker, Eliz, about her journey of becoming a stress management professional. Eliz shares her personal story of surviving a heart attack while seven months pregnant with twins and undergoing open heart surgery. She explains how this event led her to a career in stress management and the importance of stress management for those with a repaired heart. The conversation also touches on the significance of blood donation and how it has affected her family. Join the conversation as they delve into the topic of stress management and the impact it can have on our lives.
Guest: Eliz Greene
Social Media Handles:
Stress-Proof Your Life is available at www.stressproofnow.com
About Our Host:
Edgar Daggett born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He currently serves as the Specialty Programs Marketing Associate at Versiti Blood Centers, where he focuses on direct involvement and campaign management on specialty products and diverse groups. Past family experience inspired him to begin his journey at Versiti in 2020. He knew that the need for diverse units was growing year to year, and because of his personal history, he decided to make the change – and help make a change.
Through the Stand Out From the Inside podcast, he hopes to empower new and bright individuals in his community and beyond to spread the word on the need for diverse blood products through donation and blood drives.
“I hope you all enjoy the Stand Out from the Inside podcast presented by Versiti, where we talk about the needs of the community and ways we can become stronger!”
About - Podcast Show Series
STAND OUT FROM THE INSIDE presented by Versiti is a podcast where—we recognize community with light, uniqueness, and identity. Edgar Daggett will talk with individuals to celebrate ethnicity and blood type — it is part of our survival. Because within our communities, we have attributes that we give and serve in our community. This is a fresh podcast that will give voice to diversity and inspiration. We will promote strength, trust, caring, inclusivity, and positivity. And will go deep on the lifesaving impact of blood donation. How do you Stand Out from the Inside? https://www.versiti.org/standout
EDGAR: What's going on everybody? This is the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast presented by Versiti. I'm your host, Edgar Daggett. I wanna thank you guys all again for visiting the show, listening. If you're listening on Google, Apple, stay tuned cause we have an amazing guest for you guys all. You know, we're talking about positivity, bringing donation to life and to the front where we notice the importance of it. We're recognizing it, we're sharing it with all of you, and we're hoping to make a difference in each and every one of your lives. You know, to start off, we have an amazing guest. She is a stress management professional. She's also a speaker and has a little backside story about her life and where blood donation has taken it to. Welcome to the Stand Out From the Inside Podcast. This is Eliz Greene.
ELIZ: I am so delighted to be here. Thanks for having me.
EDGAR: No, thank you for joining the show. Season Three, we've had amazing guests. You know, they've come from everywhere and anywhere, but we are super excited to have a stress management professional, but also someone who is in or has been part of that blood donation world.
EDGAR: We're super excited to not only welcome someone new, something to share that everybody will be listening and learning, hopefully, from, but just to get everything started let's hear a little bit about yourself and kind of what got you to where you're sitting today. You know, what is a stress management professional?
ELIZ: So really my story of how I became a stress management consultant and speaker and my relationship with blood donation is exactly the same story. So if we get in the way back machine and we go back to November of 2000... November of 2000. No additional numbers. November of 2000. I was 35 years old, seven months pregnant with twins in the hospital on bedrest because I was ginormously pregnant and in pre preterm labor. And I had been there for a month at the time. So one Sunday, November 11th, 2000, I was minding my own business on bedrest in the hospital when I had a massive heart attack. And fortunately I was there in the hospital. I had great care right away. They determined what had happened to my heart. I went to the cath lab and they looked, saw that something in my heart needed to be repaired. They delivered my daughters by C-section, and then I had open heart surgery. [00:03:45]
EDGAR: Oh, wow.
ELIZ: Which involved also harvesting an artery from the knee down on my left leg. So there was lots of surgery that happened. Those are particularly bloody surgeries, so I did lose quite a bit of blood. About two days after the surgery, I needed to have a transfusion because I was not able to recover my blood volume. And without that, I wouldn't have been able to recover and had an amazing life with my wonderful husband and our beautiful daughters who are now 22 years old and seniors in college. That is how I entered the world of wellness and stress management because I knew from the time that I started to recover that, because I have a repaired heart, stress is a risk factor I can't afford. I need to make sure that my stress is under control so that I can have all of the moments with my family that we wanna have. You know, we've had all of that time in those 22 years and developed ways to recover from that, all of that surgery and help my heart recover as well. And to avoid that stress. That's what I've been sharing for the last 22 years. One of the outcomes of that experience is my husband and one of my daughters are avid blood donators. They know how important it is because of my experience, and they go in and when it's their time, they sign up and donate.
EDGAR: No and thank you for sharing. No, it's something that's unexpected. You know, you went in, you didn't expect to have this dramatic event happen, and because of those donations from other community members, they gave their lifesaving donation, you're able to share those experiences and it's something that you didn't expect to happen.
EDGAR: And so your, your husband, your children, and they're currently donors today.
ELIZ: Correct. That's right. And even this past November, my mom, who is 80 years old and has been in very good health, had a health crisis.
ELIZ: Right before Thanksgiving where we needed to take her to the emergency room. Her blood was not carrying enough oxygen, her hemoglobin was very low, and without a blood transfusion, she wouldn't have made it. So, yeah. Yet again, somebody's generosity in donating blood saved a member of our family again. And we did at that time have a conversation cuz both my husband and daughter had recently donated and they're the same blood type as my mom. Whether or not they were actually... is it possible that they received the... [00:06:52]
EDGAR: —the blood? Yeah.
ELIZ: Right! That they received the blood within the family, which is a pretty cool idea.
EDGAR: No, it's amazing that we hear some of these stories. Cause you know, I get it for everybody, it's unexpected and normally for most people, unless it happens to you or around you, you normally aren't the one donating blood. Until unfortunately it does happen to you. And then, you know, everything changes. And that's why we say thanks to all of our donors and all the people that are interested can always go to Versiti to learn more about the process of donating blood.You know, just learn the process. What it takes to be a donor and how to continue to be a provider for the community. You never know who's the next person that's gonna be me.
EDGAR: And it could be someone super healthy that just something happens like that to them. So and ever since that your children, your husband has been donors; they're continuing to donate and that's a huge impact. And that is something that we continue to talk about and something that's super important. Now go on from yourself. So you said it led kind of same story, it led into what you're doing today, right? As a stress management consultant. Professional. Alright. So what does that imply? What does a stress consultant talk about?
ELIZ: Well, I work with companies, associations who recognize that their people are very important; that their business really relies on their employees, on the people in their organization and the health and wellbeing of those people. So when an organization really values their people and they recognize that just by the nature of the business they're in, it's a stressful environment. I work with a lot of engineers and healthcare people. Anybody who has a very technical skill, a work environment that either has a high pace, there's stuff coming at you all the time, or a short request for proposal turnaround or something like a large project. A lot of construction. Worked with NASA, so lots of different things like that. Or an environment where, for example, hotel managers are just under constant pressure and, right now, with not enough people to get the job done. Those are the kind of environments that I actually love to get into. Look at what's causing stress in the environment. A lot of times there are opportunities to impact that stressful environment. For example, sometimes it's as little as in a restaurant getting new saute pans. [00:09:59]
ELIZ: Or it is having a better system for hotel managers when staff calls out. So it can be something relatively simple, but a lot of times that environment isn't going to change very much. People aren't gonna get a bigger budget or more time to get a project done. Then we look at what are the strategies that we can put in place? What are the skills that people can practice so that the stress from the outside doesn't impact us on the inside. And I look at stress sort of like a balloon. And in fact, on the cover of my book, it's a balloon inside a vice. So you can sort of hear that like *eeeeeeEEeeE* noise as the balloon that's inflated and you squeeze it and it sort of makes that squeak. That's where we don't wanna be, when the pressure on the inside is so tight that we can't absorb the pressure from the outside. A less inflated balloon, you can squeeze that a lot and it doesn't pop. Or what we wanna avoid is flattening the balloon — where we don't have the ability to be resilient to the pressures from the outside. And that pressure is just on the inside a natural reaction to what's in our environment. And I have a little story if you'd like to hear it, about how that stress reaction actually works.
EDGAR: Yeah, I would love to hear it. I think all of our viewers would love to.
ELIZ: All right, cool. So let's imagine that we're driving down the highway, and we're going along and it's fine. It's kind of a busy time. We're in the right lane because two exits from now, we're gonna get off. There's traffic coming on our left, but we're doing just fine until all of a sudden on the first exit ramp, on the on-ramp, there's a big truck coming there, and it seems like the driver is not paying attention and your brain quickly does that calculation and figures out that you will soon occupy the exact same space with that big truck.
ELIZ: That causes a stress reaction in your body — potential car accident. Cortisol, the stress hormone, shoots into your body and all kinds of things start happening. Your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure goes up, your blood even gets stickier so that if you were in a car accident, maybe you don't bleed to death. All really good things.
ELIZ: If you're gonna be in a car accident. Your brain is also completely focused on the task at hand: avoiding that big truck. If the car radio is on, you no longer hear it. You are just focused on that potential accident. Now when you look to the left and you see that there's an opening and you get over and you avoid that accident, that cortisol level starts to go down and all of those things that started to happen come back down to normal, and that's what that stress reaction is supposed to do. It goes up when you need it, right? And it comes back down when you don't. What I find really fascinating about it is your reaction to a surprise birthday party is the exact same reaction to that potential car accident — triggers all of the same things. So stress isn't good or bad, it is just a reaction to what's in your environment. And our bodies are naturally inclined to process that cortisol out of it, but sometimes it needs a little help.
EDGAR: Oh, wow. That's, that's fascinating how it compares to a birthday party. Because, I've been in that same situation where, you're like trying to plan out the future. You're like, okay, if I go that route, do I slow down? Do I, you know, loosen up. And then your brain starts overthinking and you're like, okay, what are my next steps? And then after you're like, you get off the exit, you did everything all you're like, you just start relaxing.
ELIZ: Right? And you get that sort of like tingly, woohoo feeling.
EDGAR: Like I did it, you know?
EDGAR: I made it. And, but everything, what I think is, and... question what I think is everything else that you've been thinking about, whether it's the music or maybe you just we're having a thought. All of that leaves. All your energy is focused on that and that's your sole direction and tension is on that.
EDGAR: You know, is stress ... does the reaction of stress block out anything else around it that you're not being focused on? Is it like completely like diving in parallel with what is?
ELIZ: Yeah, that's our stress reaction. We are completely focused on what is causing that stress and everything else gets put off to the outside, which is great if you're gonna get in a car accident; not so great if that stress is caused by uncertainty. That never goes away, so you're constantly triggering that stress reaction and you are trying to make a complex decision or do something creative, and your brain is occupied by all of this uncertainty. And your brain just doesn't work the way you would like it to because it is too busy with all of that stress, which is why stress really limits your ability for critical thought and creativity. [00:15:38]
EDGAR: No, 100%. And that's something that we don't... I'm not thinking about every day, but it's something, you know, now that's inside like to flourish and you're like, wow, you're starting to understand.
EDGAR: And I feel today, in today's world, you were talking earlier about labor shortages.
EDGAR: How that impacts stress and that's something that the whole world is dealing with currently.
EDGAR: You know, not enough labor. People are ... Do we have the staff? You had the example in the kitchen staff. You're cooking on the line, you're cooking for x hundreds of people, but you don't have enough people to start having the new pans ready.
EDGAR: You only have one dishwasher that, that is cleaning. So, things are taking long and you start getting stressed. You're like, I need to cook. I need, you know, everything takes long. So.
EDGAR: My question is, some of the strategies when you labor is that you're not able to solve it with labor. What other tools or like what other items could you, like, could it help reduce that stress? You know, if this was in the kitchen what are potential problem solvers that you can put into place?
ELIZ: So when we're thinking about that balloon.
ELIZ: The more we can decrease that pressure from the inside, the stress that's happening inside of us, the better we are able to handle the external stress that we can't control. Most of that external stress. We can't do anything about it. We can't do anything about how many people are ordering in the restaurant or, you know, those sort of things. But what we can do is recognize when our stress is elevated and there are all kinds of signs. So we talked about the one where if you find yourself staring blankly into a computer screen, trying to string together enough words to make a coherent sentence. It's probably time to check your stress. That might be an indication that it is time to take a moment and see what you can do to lower that cortisol level. And there are things that we can do, skills we can practice that are signals to our body to let go of that cortisol. It's like, hello, something has changed. It's time to let that cortisol go and let everything come back down to normal. One of the most efficient ways to do that is to raise your heart rate, keep it up there for five to 10 minutes and let it come back down again. It is why exercise is often called the antidote to stress because when we're elevating that heart rate, letting it come back down again, it is a signal to let the cortisol go too. Very great strategy. But we don't have to exercise to raise our heart rate, or that traditional exercise. There are lots of us who are sports fans. [00:18:35]
ELIZ: And if you're the type of sports fan who tends to stand up and cheer for whatever team you are cheering on, and maybe that's loud and energetic. I am a huge women's college volleyball fan.
ELIZ: Go Wisconsin Badgers! 2021 National Championship. My husband and I followed them down to the NCAA championship. I'm also an Apple Watch wearer, so as those two games are going along and they were incredible, hard fought games — I'm on my feet, I'm screaming at the top of my lungs, and my watch says, are you working out? And I'm like, Hmm, yes, I am. Because my heart rate was elevated, it was going on for a significant period of time. And then when the point is scored and you sit back down, and you feel that sort of like, you know...
EDGAR: That calm down calming feeling.
ELIZ: Yeah. That's cortisol leaving the body. So you don't necessarily have to exercise to get that heart rate up and come back down. If you are a video game player, especially ones that involve strategy, particularly playing with other people and you get so involved and your heart rate goes up because you're very involved in the game. And that goes on for a while, and then you stop and you get that feeling again. That can be a good strategy. I'm not saying you should play video games 24 hours a day, but if that is something that allows you to get that cortisol level down, that is a good strategy.
EDGAR: Wow, that's, that's amazing. And it's something that you don't think about, like, you know, obviously the Apple has the heart rate sensors and you're looking at it.
EDGAR: But it's almost like a sense of relief when it just all goes down.
EDGAR: So relaxing and you're like, okay, what happened? You know, and then you're able to think everything starts flowing. It's a hundred percent, like whatever, better feelings, especially probably more in a stressful, where you're like, oh, I, I got past it and it's... and it's gone.
EDGAR: So how does that... you're dealing with all— you're a consultant with all these businesses. What was the idea behind your book? Being an author and being able to share now all this knowledge with so many more people around the US or around the world.
ELIZ: The book is called Stress Proof Your Life, and it is the collection of all of the strategies and skills that I've used to keep healthy for 22 years, and what I've used with clients and audiences for that period of time as well. I wanted to put it all together in one... somebody called it a private work stress workshop in a book. So you could walk through the entire thing. It would be like having me with you for like a 12 week series, right? So it's, it's a big workshop in a book, but it's also designed because I recognize people are busy, that you don't have to read it cover to cover. You can go in and there's an executive summary in the back, read the executive summary and say, oh, you know what, what I really need to work on stress caused by uncertainty. Go to that section, do that, and then go to the next one, but start where you need to start. And it really talks about how do we deal with overwhelm; how do we deal with uncertainty? How do we deal with the physical impact that stress causes? How do we deal with the psychological impact that stress causes? How do we become more resilient? And how do we actually put all of this into action? And that's what the book is. [00:22:41]
EDGAR: So there's a bunch of different sections and you're able to pull what benefits you, which I think is super useful. Or you can do the whole, the whole thing.
EDGAR: All righty guys, we are gonna take a quick break. This is a two-part episode to start off Season Three, Eliz Greene it's been a pleasure talking to you so far. Everyone who's viewing, everyone who's watching, catch up on the next episode as we continue to dive in into Eliz Greene's personal and professional career in ways that you can handle stress. We will see you all next time. This is the Stand Out From The Inside Podcast presented by Versiti. Once again, I'm your host Edgar Daggett, and we'll see you all in the next episode.
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