Diagnosed with a weakened and enlarged heart at the all too young age of 28, Lisa Major Elders of Double Oak has survived several cardiac arrests, surgeries and other procedures and currently lives with an implanted electronic defibrillator.
She’s been through the kind of tests that would destroy many people and credits her faith in God and background as the daughter of a Methodist minister for giving her the foundation to survive the impossible.
“Life is a gamble, a risk, an adventure, a gift and a blessing,” said Elders. “If we are fully conscious, we can love our life, even our mistakes, and be grateful for every moment of every day. Life is short and hard. There is no need to make it shorter or harder.”
She found out about her medical challenges by accident when she passed out while teaching an aerobics class.
“I began to feel awfully bad incredibly fast, and I was falling…I don’t have words to adequately describe what happened to me that day.”
Especially not after Lisa was given the shocking news that she had a severely damaged heart for someone of her age. Soon thereafter, she discovered her condition is hereditary after learning her cousins had collapsed after running and playing tennis.
Because her physical condition limited her activity, Lisa stopped teaching aerobics and channeled her interest in health by going back to school to become a certified nutritionist and works at Denton Regional Medical Center. She was also inspired to write a book about her experience.
“There is an old saying that you should turn your mess into your message,” Lisa said. “I guess that’s what I’ve done, or tried to do.”
Her new book Shades of Sun: Living a Poetic Life With Heart and Soul deserves your attention because of the simple fact that Lisa bares her soul and shares her personal journey with heart disease.
Shades of Sun is a beautifully crafted hard covered book, filled with personal stories, family photos of Lisa with her husband Eldo and son Zach, without whom she says she would not have made it this far.
“Zach was 18 months old when I was first diagnosed, now he’s eighteen and I am so grateful to still be here and to have been able to watch him grow up,” Lisa explained.
One of the many thought provoking passages comes from the poem Contemplation:
Waking early, living late
Responsibilities just can’t wait
Live out your dreams, don’t hesitate.
Oh Father God, what does it mean?
Things are not as they may seem
If this is life, why can’t I see
What the future holds for me?
Living with the possibility of going into cardiac arrest at any given moment must take its toll.
Lisa says the last time it happened was last June. With that storm looming overhead, how, I wondered, does she manage to consistently maintain such a positive attitude in the face of such adversity?
“I tell people who get this diagnosis look, you can be angry. That’s fine. I was angry at first myself, but at some point you have to stop dwelling on the negative and go live your life. You can’t control the hand you’re dealt, so for me, I wake up every morning and thank God for the sunrise, thank God for the sunset before I go to sleep at night and then get up the next day and do it all over again.”
Lisa will be signing Shades of Sun at the Highland Village Barnes & Noble on May 25th from 1-3p.m. Stop by and share a hearty smile and laugh from a true inspiration.
Shelley Kaehr, a longtime Lewisville resident, works as an Associate Agent with Nationwide Insurance, Randall Crane & Associates.