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Lately she’s been battling terrible migraines. “They’re from one of my medications, but one I have to have. I tried shots. I tried everything.” Last year her doctor sent her to a pain clinic. Now she receives Botox injections throughout specific areas of her head every three months. “It’s quick. They don’t hurt,” says Nikki, “and they do help.”   About seven years ago, Nikki had a rejection episode. High doses of prednisone were prescribed and they increased her regular medication. Weekly checkups were added until things were under control. “I’ve had issues with some of the other things that transplant patients go through,” she says. She trades information and advice in Facebook groups with other transplant recipients and will go to Abbott twice a year for check-ups for the rest of her life. But the couple has had fun the past 10 years, too. Nikki said they like to watch Brian’s brother, Danny, race Wissota modified stock car on the weekends

and they’ve been on two cruises. She enjoys spending time with her two nieces, Olivia and Lilly. She loves to read and belongs to a book club. She also loves to swim, something she could never do when she was young. An only child, Nikki’s dad passed away from HCM when she was 7. “My mom tried really hard to make sure I had a lot of experiences growing up,” she says. “I had a pretty normal life.” When she was young walking slow on flat ground was easy, but climbing hills and stairs were hard for her. After the fifth grade, her cardiologist wrote a note to the school that she was no longer allowed to participate in gym class. “I was really lucky. I lived in a small town in Missouri with maybe 3,000 people and less than 60 kids in my class. Everyone knew and nobody ever made fun of me. Once in awhile a boy would take my backpack and carry it to my next class. Looking back, I really had a good group of people around me. Now there’s so much bullying and

all of that stuff. I never had that.” Nikki has a 22-year-old son, Levi. At age 3, he began being monitored by a cardiologist. “When he was a senior they told us at Abbott that we could do genetic testing,” says Nikki. “They said they’d find the markers in me and would look for those in Levi,” she says as her smile grows. “He doesn’t have it. He doesn’t have to see another cardiologist.  He doesn’t have to worry about giving it to his children. I’m so happy.”  Danny and his wife, Ann, were married just a month after Nikki and Brian. The couples are close and spend a lot of time together. Nikki says they are in talks to celebrate their milestone anniversaries together. And they’ll probably start to make plans for the next 10 years.

Sheila Helmberger is a freelance writer in the Brainerd lakes area.

The Women of CENTURY 21

SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER.®

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GOT SOMETHING SPECIFIC IN MIND? SHE’LL TRACK IT DOWN. WHETHER YOU’RE ON THE HUNT FOR AN EXTRA BEDROOM, A WOODED LOT, OR THAT TOP-RATED SCHOOL DISTRICT, YOUR CENTURY 21® AGENT WON’T LET YOUR TARGET GET AWAY. IT’S OUT THERE, AND SHE’LL FIND IT. THAT’S ONE SPECIAL AGENT.

Fall 2016 | her voice 37

Her Voice Magazine Fall 2016  

Straw Bale Gardening: While she downplays her gardening acumen, Mary Aalgaard gives a thorough how-to on straw bale gardening. • Ladies in...

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