Monday, September 19, 2016

Nancy Beth Guptill - Living With AFIB - #BePulseAware

I have Idiopathic Permanent Atrial Fibrillation, along with permanent heart damage with an enlarged left ventricle due to AFIB.  I lived with silent AFIB for years that impacted quality of life and had no idea what was going on with my health until fall 2014 when I landed in the hospital. It is a manageable and treatable heart disease and you CAN live a full and active life with a good health plan in place.  Here is part of my story.

Looking back, the first time I recall feeling 'fluttering and flip-flopping' in my chest along with dizziness and weak spells was in early junior high when playing sports, or when sitting comfortably on the couch and standing up quickly.  When I shared with people at that young age what was happening, it was dismissed and I was told not to worry about it.  These AFIB episodes were infrequent, I would estimate 10 times per year where the episodes would last anywhere from seconds to minutes.

This pattern continued throughout my life until the year 2012, when I noticed the episodes getting worse, where they became more intense, lasted longer and came with other symptoms.  I also began to experience other symptoms on a more regular basis, including all the classic symptoms like general fatigue, weakness, dizziness, faintness, confusion, shortness of breath, increased urination, and perspiration.  These symptoms became my new normal as I was living with severe silent AFIB. As a public speaker, I certainly noticed increased sweating, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath as I am known to be very animated and move about the stage and the room.  Not knowing what was happening to me, I figured I was going through the 'change of life'. 

By 2014, I was really sick, finding myself having to take very frequent naps through the day unable to concentrate, feeling very confused, weakness, extreme fatigue, longer episodes of sweating, frequent bouts of severe indigestion, and shortness of breath. I could barely walk up the stairs without having to stop to catch my breath to stop the dizziness because I felt I was going to collapse and throw up all at the same time.  I was so sick, I had to step down from volunteer commitments, decrease my workload, and turn away work because I was unable to fulfill work obligations or meet deadlines.  I also started having time lapses and blank spots in my memory which actually became dangerous while driving and embarrassing in business meetings.  Through all of this I was suffering, for the most part, from Silent AFIB; I did not know I was in permanent AFIB as I could not feel the fluttering on a constant basis, only on an infrequent basis and since I lived with it my entire life, I did not think it was abnormal.

Then, November 2014 came and that is when everything came to the forefront. I was rushed to the hospital with my first very serious bout of intense AFIB where it felt like a heart attack.  Rate and Rhythm were out of control, I collapsed with dizziness, severe confusion, and extreme pain in my chest.

They were able to convert my heart back to normal sinus rhythm using the drip method.  In the month of November 2014, I ended up being in the outpatients a total of 11 times, when it was decided to leave my heart in permanent AFIB and I started on medications right away to manage the rhythm and rate.  It took until March of 2016 to finally find a treatment plan that managed the AFIB so I would have a better quality of life. 

In Summer 2015 I had an echocardiogram which showed permeant heart damage with left atrial enlargement as a direct result of the Atrial Fibrillation. In fall 2015, stress tests revealed I have a severe case of AFIB, as even mild walking caused instant rate and rhythm issues, with my heart jumping to over 190 RPM and severe intensity with the result of me almost passing out and fainting within 15 seconds of level 2 of the stress test.

Prior to March 2016 I had a very poor quality of life to the point where in February 2016 I actually thought I would have to go on disability and stop working all together.  However, in late-February 2016, I had another intense AFIB episode which felt like another heart attack. 

Whatever transpired in that particular severe AFIB episode, once it was over, after a few days of recovering from that incident, I began to feel much better.  I noticed I could put in a 5-hour work day without having to rest and I noticed clarity and sharpness in my thinking was coming back. After approximately two weeks from the time of the last severe AFIB episode, I noticed I could put in a full 8-hour work day and my concentration and clarity was fully back.  Further, while I still suffer symptoms, my overall quality of life improved and I am back to working full time.  I have had to learn working within my 'new normal' but it is very manageable.   

This summer (2016) I recall walking along the beach and feeling complete joy as I was not able to do the same in 2014 or 2015.  I realized just how much my health improved, that I was able to stroll, walk and jog along the shoreline like I used to do to stay fit and healthy, albeit I have limits and have learned to live within those limits. I am not able to exercise at intense levels because it will trigger extreme AFIB episodes, but at least I can actually get up and exercise and work/live within my new limits.


September is AFIB Awareness Month.  I am sharing my story because I think it is very important to share with others the symptoms I experienced and to not take them lightly, to bring awareness to silent AFIB as I often wonder if I had gone for a doctor visit would the outcome be different.  Specialists tell me that the outcome would have been the same given the genetic component and nature of my AFIB.  Still, I would like to bring awareness and share my story because I did not have to suffer for so long, had I known what was taking place I could have worked with my doctors much earlier on a treatment plan.

For more information and to learn the symptoms of AFIB please visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation website and Be Pulse Aware.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Which Social Networking Sites Are Best For Me?

This is a common question I get from clients and audience participants all the time. They want me to recommend the best social networking sites for their business.  

I can confidently say that in pretty much every single interaction I have with new clients and audience participants, the two most frequent questions I receive are:  “Which Social Networking Sites are best for business?"  and  "Are there specific social sites you prefer and recommend over others?”

In answering these questions, I could be foolish in my approach by rattling off the top social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and advise people to start building their online presence within these sites.  While these are some of the more popular sites, it would be completely irresponsible and unprofessional of me to recommend them without gathering some marketing intelligence.

A word of caution to you:  If a marketing or social media consultant starts telling you where to build your online community and presence without first understanding your business goals and objectives, who your customers are and where they hang out online, I recommend you RUN LIKE THE DICKENS because they are lacking a very key part of social media intelligence, and that’s the marketing strategy you put behind building your online social media presence.

Amazingly enough I see this happen all the time. Individuals and companies advising their clients to jump in and get their feet wet and start building a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, without any thought or care as to finding out whether or not their client’s customers are gathering and collecting on these social sites.  

So the question becomes:  How do individuals, companies and non-profits looking to use social media as a way to market, brand and promote their business online determine which social networking sites are best suited for them?

The best way I can answer this question through a blog post without having the benefit of speaking with you directly, is to provide you with a list of questions you need ask yourself.  Find a place where you can give some serious thought and consideration in answering these questions, as they will help guide you through the process of determining and selecting the best social networking sites for your business intentions: 
  1. Do you have a business plan or marketing plan with well defined target markets, customers types and business development objectives?
  2. How do you see using social media to help you reach these customer types and achieve your business goals and objectives?
  3. Have you observed the social channels your customers are using to connect with you? Is it through email, making comments on your blog, connecting with you on specific social sites?
  4. Have you observed or questioned your customers to find out where they are gathering online?
  5. Is there a large crowd of your ideal customers gathering on certain social networks that warrant the time and financial investment it will take for you to build a presence, become connected and engaged in conversations on these social sites?
  6. What are your products and services?  Are there specific niche sites that you should be on versus general public sites?
  7. Have you observed your industry to see what some of the most successful companies are doing online within different social sites?  Where are they hanging out, how are they engaging, and are they having any success?

There is a whole lot more to social media than ‘Just Talking’.  

It goes back to marketing 101.  The social networks you build your presence on will be determined and driven by where your customers are collecting, gathering and hanging out online.  Find large hungry crowds that are interested in what your business or organization offers, and build your online presence within communities they are a part of, then serve up information that is most  relevant and important to them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Choose Your Words Wisely

On the theme of kindness ... the words you use when interacting with others either breathe life or death, bless or curse, lift and elevate or rip and strip. 
Insults wrapped up in jokes are still insults. There's a fine line between being honest and being rude/obnoxious.
You can create an atmosphere of peace or conflict and love or hate all in the words you choose ... so filter your thoughts and choose your words wisely.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

All Things Grow With Love

Today, I am preparing the findings and strategy report for our Cyberbviolence Project. 

Tears are streaming down my face reading some of the stories of victims of cyberviolence. 

We must remember, we must love on both the victim and perpetrator.  As horrific the offence, perpetrators are often victims themselves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Will You Help Us With Our Cyberviolence Research Project?

The Status of Women Canada recognizes the importance of coming up with strategies to deal with Cyberviolence, particularly against young women and girls.

My company Sweet Spot Marketing is working in partnership with EPWIC - East Prince Women's Information Centre on a two year research project for Prince Edward Island. The goal is to address cyberviolence in PEI, to identify root causes and issues in our province, then work with stakeholders to develop strategies to prevent and eliminate cyberviolence in general, and more specifically against young women  and girls.

Our goal is to include a diverse community to represent different members and publics of our society. We're looking to include both genders, all cultures, race, languages, LGBTQ, etc. because different groups are cyber abused in different ways, and we really want to drill down to find out exactly what is taking place here in PEI so we can create, in partnership with various stakeholders including the public, strategies that will work for PEI.

At the moment, I have one question I would like to ask:

In your opinion, what are the institutional barriers and other factors that limit the efforts of communities to address the issue of cyberviolence in general, and more specifically against young women and girls?

NOTE 1: Please comment below or send me a private message through the blog using the contact form to your right. All ideas/comments are good ideas/comments - there is no need to pass judgement against the opinions of others. Please be respectful and polite with your answers. Any derogatory, mean spirited comments will be deleted.
NOTE 2: Cybervioence is defined as any form of violence that brings harm to an individual deliberately using electronic means (e.g. cyberspace, social media, Internet, texting, etc.) including but not limited to internet luring, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, sexual bullying, sexual exploitation, harassment, defamation, character assassination, and trafficking.
NOTE 3: Thank you for your participation. Please feel free to involve your family and friends - to start having the conversation on how we can prevent and eliminate cyberviolence. Please feel free to share this post with your social networks, encouraging their participation.

Nancy Beth Guptill &  Andy Lou Somers


Nancy Beth is an Entrepreneur & Small Business Owner, Founder of Sweet Spot Marketing Canada and a Motivational Speaker for Women & Girl Leadership.

As an Internet and Digital Marketing veteran, Nancy Beth has vast experience in Internet Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Online Safety and Protecting Your Digital Footprint. Since 2010, Nancy Beth has been highly sought after to share her message on being a Digital Leader, using the Internet & Social Media for good, and how to safely navigate the Social Web. 

Keynote Speaker | Executive Coach | Training Consultant | Founder of Sweet Spot Marketing Canada (@sweetmarketing) |(@nbguptill) | Digital Leader | Women & Girl Leadership

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