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Heart-Stopping Stress Why I Had a Pacemaker Implanted a Month Before My Wedding
In April of 1998, a month before I was to marry my wonderful husband, Shawn, and find out whether or not I’d passed the bar exam, my body decided I didn’t have enough stress on my plate: It threw in a life-threatening health condition on top of the two most important events of my adult life. I made it through unscathed and happier than ever, but looking back on those days, I’m not exactly sure how. On April Fools’ day that year, as I was driving to my intern job at the law firm, I blacked out for a split second at the wheel. This terrifying development came completely out of nowhere. At first, it seemed like an isolated incident, so I kept on cruising down the road, with the worst headache imaginable. By the time I made it to the office, I started to feel woozy in a sickening way I’d never experienced. A few minutes later, I woke up on the floor, dazed, distantly aware that someone was talking to my mom on the phone. Soon I was in a hospital bed, answering a bunch of questions from a pack of doctors. “Are you eating okay?” I wasn’t. “Are you stressed?” Well yes, I was stressed, I told them. I was waiting for the results of the most insanely difficult and important test of my life while planning a picture-perfect ceremony and ... and then everything went black again. You never forget the first time a defibrillator sends an electric current through your chest. I awoke to a literal shock and a bunch of doctors hovering over me, plastic paddles in hand. After
everything had settled down a little, they gave me the lowdown: The signals from my brain to my heart were short-circuiting, causing my heart to stop intermittently with no rhyme or reason.
On top of all the chaos in my life, this entire debacle happened when I was 25, in the three-month window after I’d been forced off my parents’ health insurance and before I got my own. Somehow, in the midst of everything, I was concerned about money, a concern that only magnified after I’d been transferred to a better-equipped hospital for treatment and they gave me the real news: I had to have a pacemaker put in, or I would die. I did not take this well. “Are you crazy?” I asked. “I’m only 25 years old — now I have to have this huge box hanging off my body? Now I won’t even be able to eat microwave popcorn?” “First off all, you can have popcorn with a pacemaker,” the doctor replied. “You can go out and fill your house with microwaves, and you’ll be fine. Secondly, pacemakers are the size of a small spoonhead these days. They’re really not as inconvenient as you think.” I kept protesting. I told him that I didn’t have insurance, and even if I did, I was getting married in one short month. Couldn’t we do something to get me past that day? There was, he told me, but he wouldn’t recommend it. He had a look on his face like I’d gone insane. He stepped out
of the hospital room for a quick chat with my
fiancé and parents. “You have to convince her to have this
surgery,” he told them. “If she doesn’t go through with the procedure, she will die.” When they heard that, the situation was pretty much wrapped up. “This is not even a question,” Shawn told me. “You’re getting this done, Nicole.” After passing out and being rudely awakened by the defibrillator once more on the way to surgery, they installed the pacemaker in my body. The surgeons even scooted the normal incision spot down a few inches so that the minimal scar would be covered by my wedding dress. In the end, Shawn and I were married on our planned wedding day, May 30, with my pacemaker regulating my fluttering heartbeat. And needless to say, I passed the bar. Like I said, I’m not sure how I managed to survive the stress of that confluence of events. One thing’s certain, though — after going through that, dealing with other lawyers doesn’t seem so stressful.
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The Importance of Spring Cleaning Your Utility Room
The start of spring brings everyone’s favorite seasonal chore — spring cleaning! As you dust, vacuum, organize, and declutter, don’t forget about the one room that often gets neglected. This year, give special attention to the utility closet. The utility closet houses your furnace, boiler, water heater, A/C junction, and other similar large appliances. Homeowners often forget about these appliances because they are out of sight and out of mind, and this can cost a lot in the long run. Like all the other rooms in your home, this space needs to be kept clean. Dust, for instance, can be hard on HVAC systems. Over time, it accumulates in the HVAC intake and clogs the air filter, reducing its effectiveness and efficiency. This results in a short lifespan for your system, higher power bills, and a poorly heated or cooled home.
• Family homes (three or more occupants) with no pets or allergies: 3–6 months.
• Family homes with at least one pet or minor allergies: 2–3 months.
• Family homes with multiple pets or allergies: 1–2 months.
In addition to changing the air filter, it’s important to schedule a routine inspection of your home’s HVAC system. This includes an inspection of the appliances themselves and any connecting ducts. Dust, dander, and mold can accumulate in the ducts and spread throughout the home, which can lead to health issues, including respiratory problems. A routine inspection will identify potential problems in your HVAC system. On top of that, you can get these systems professionally cleaned and maintained. These are simple steps that will keep your home’s air systems running smoothly for years to come. Plus, you’ll be ready for the summer months ahead!
How Often Should You Replace Your Air Filter?
• Homes with minimal foot traffic (single or double occupancy) and no pets or allergies: 6–12 months.
Why Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance System Should Stay Intact And Why Critics Are Trying to Scrap It
At the time of writing, Michigan is embroiled in a bitter battle over an auto insurance issue that will affect drivers across the state. Just last month, a bill package was introduced into the state House, proposing to scrap Michigan’s no-fault insurance act and shift to the tort model favored by most other states. By the time this newsletter reaches your hands, the legal landscape may have changed, but we still wanted to offer our perspective on the proposed changes. As personal injury attorneys, we see clients all the time who have been through catastrophic auto accidents. Despite having perfect driving records their entire
necessary medical costs following an accident. This vital source of compensation can be a tremendous boon to someone suffering after a catastrophic accident and trying to keep their life afloat. This is all thanks to the no-fault system. But right now, the 40-year-old system that has worked tremendously for drivers throughout the state is at risk of being scrapped. Critics of the system argue that the no-fault act causes high premiums for all drivers, resulting in an underinsured state. But what these critics don’t realize is that repealing the no-fault act does not benefit drivers — it benefits the insurance companies. Most states have coverage caps in their auto insurance systems that will cover $25,000 in medical expenses in the event of an accident; in Michigan, those costs are unlimited across an entire lifetime. This results in a lot of financial exposure for Michigan insurance companies as they’re forced to cover the injuries of insured drivers across the state.
lives, their worlds are turned upside down by injury, mounting medical bills, and loss of income. Luckily, in Michigan — which arguably has the best insurance system in the nation — the quality and access of the medical care these drivers receive is better than anywhere else in the country, with no-fault insurance paying for all
It’s our position that repealing the no-fault insurance policy would be a catastrophe for Michigan drivers. If we move to a tort model and you get in a terrible car wreck, the quality and urgency of the care you receive will be greatly diminished, and so will your quality of life. Is that really what Michigan drivers want?
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Get Lawyers Wrong 3 WAYS COURTROOM DRAMAS
Ever since the first season of “Perry Mason” was broadcasted in late 1957, legal dramas have been a surefire hit for Hollywood producers. From “Matlock” and “JAG” to “Law & Order” and “Suits,” it seems that nearly everyone can get invested in the inherent drama presented by a packed courtroom. But that nail-biting tension? That ceaseless hunt for justice? The sudden, unexpected turn as the last bit of unheard evidence gets rushed up to the judge? It’s all fake. Here are three of the biggest ways fictional media gets the courtroom wrong. Court Cases Take Weeks It’s hard to fault a show for collapsing a large span of time into 30 minutes, but it really can’t be stressed enough: real-life cases take time. In fact, according to a 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, it takes 14 months on average to process a federal appellate case. There will be setbacks and delays, and opposing litigants may intentionally stall cases to test the willpower of your attorneys. In the end, it’ll be a matter of months, not weeks — and the case may not actually be over when the gavel falls. Every Case Is Decided in Court It wouldn’t be very exciting to show a client signing a settlement before the case even went to court, but that’s usually the reality. According to the U.S. Justice Department, as many as 97 percent of civil cases settle out of court.
And if they do go to court, there are never last-minute submissions of key evidence or witnesses barging through the courtroom doors after a change of heart. Every Case Is Exciting All of us at Winston & Damman love our jobs, but we rarely bore our friends with extensive talk about
complicated legal processes and court filings. The truth is, law is a painstaking, thorough process with stacks and stacks of labyrinthine paperwork, time-consuming research, and a lot of emailing back- and-forth. If every case was a thrilling nail-biter, you could just take a trip to the local courthouse instead of watching TV. However, we can assure you that if you’re not an attorney, you’ll certainly find all the work that goes into your case completely overwhelming. In any legal matter, it’s best to have an experienced and compassionate lawyer fighting by your side. Call Winston & Damman at 866-966-WINS and ensure you’ve got a professional in your corner.
Laugh Out LOUD
When you think of St. Patrick’s Day cuisine, corned beef and green beer are probably the first things that come to mind. This year, consider adding colcannon to your March 17 menu. It’s basically mashed potatoes on steroids, and it’s utterly delicious.
• 3 pounds potatoes • 2 sticks butter • 1 1/4 cups hot milk • 1 head cabbage, cored and shredded DIRECTIONS 1. Steam potatoes for 30 minutes. Peel skins and mash flesh thoroughly. 2. Chop 1 stick of butter into small cubes and add to warm potatoes. Once melted, slowly add milk, stirring constantly. 3. Boil cabbage in water. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to tenderize.
• 1 pound cooked bacon, chopped into pieces • 4 scallions, finely chopped • Parsley, for garnish • Salt and pepper, to taste 4. Add cabbage, bacon, and scallions to mashed potatoes, gently stirring to combine. 5. Serve garnished with parsley and a pat of butter.
Inspired by foodnetwork.com
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this edition INSIDE
Bar Results, a Wedding, and a Pacemaker Operation Spring Clean Your Utility Room Why No-Fault Insurance Critics Are Wrong What Courtroom Dramas Get Wrong Irish Cuisine St. Patrick’s Day vs. the Color Green
Green Dominates St. Patrick’s Day for a Reason
Why Green Is the Color of St. Patrick’s Day
There’s only one day of the year you’ll be scorned for not wearing green: St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ve ever gone the whole holiday wearing any other color, you’ve probably been pinched by your peers, family, spouse, and anyone else decked out head to toe in green. Green has become so deeply associated with the St. Patrick holiday that many people are unaware that green wasn’t always its official color. Blue was the first color to symbolize St. Patrick’s Day, and the saint himself is almost always depicted dressed in what’s known as “St. Patrick’s blue.” What caused the shift from blue to green is more speculation than hard fact. Some have theorized that the change happened sometime in the 17th century, when the symbol for the United Irishmen Rebellion became the clover. St. Patrick used the clover to teach the
the three colors in the flag have their own symbolic meaning: green for the Catholics who live in the country, orange for the Protestants, and white for the peace between the two. Of course, you can’t forget leprechauns, the little creatures that have always been affiliated with the holiday. But just like St. Patrick’s original blue garb, these impish tricksters used to wear red instead of green. While green overtook blue as the shade of choice for St. Patrick, leprechauns began putting on their signature green suits. You might wonder where the tradition of pinching comes from. We can thank the leprechauns for this one. It’s said that if the gold-loving redheads caught you not wearing their favorite color, they would pinch you. To avoid pinches from leprechauns and people alike, be sure to put on some green this St. Patrick’s Day to blend in with the festive crowd.
Irish people about the Holy Trinity, and it eventually became a symbol that represented both the saint and the holiday. Another theory comes from Ireland’s nickname, “The Emerald Isle,” which was coined because of the plentiful green foliage that adorns the country’s landscape. It also relates to the green in the flag. Each of
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