Sunday, September 20, 2020

Quiet Moments

  This hangs on the wall above my computer. Helps me to be reminded that quiet is good (not boring) and that if I don't shut up sometimes I can't hear. 

  It's been a crazy few weeks and things are settling down now.  I had 2 follow-up dr appointments yesterday with the cardiologist and the surgeon and everything is right on track. It was a long tiring day and I came home and fell into a nice sleep.  lol  I am still way more tired than normal [for me], but they assure me that open heart surgery will do that to a body. All my lab work and tests are in line. I am cleared to drive again (can't wait) and can start cardiac rehab and begin lifting 15 pounds instead of 8.  lol  It's the little things in life.  I can even vacuum my own floors, as long as I take it easy and rest if I feel tired.  (I do that anyway).  Funny how the littlest things of normalcy feel like such a big deal. Having health issues like this throw me for a loop. Everything feels surreal and weird and I am way more of a creature of habit than I like to think I am.

  I have earned some really important lessons of late.  Lessons about accepting help and lessons about who says they will and don't. One reason or another... all reminding me that my happiness CANNOT be contingent on anyone else's behavior.  People will be how they are, and because I am in the recovery community, a lot of the people I know are not necessarily the most reliable or trustworthy.  Old habits die hard. Bless them, and change me, as one of my friends says.  My part is not having expectations of people.  Their part is growth.  I always say that we are all on a path... and most of us are at different places on that path.  It's the trudging that counts.  What is that saying ?  Before Enlightenment--chop wood, carry water.  After Enlightenment--chop wood, carry water.  You still gotta chop and carry. lol  I would say I am learning patience too, but that might be a lie.  Some days, if anything, I am more impatient than ever. With myself AND with others. With my body. With healing. Sigh...

  I am having some issues with my leg where they harvested the veins. The gouges don't want to heal right. So I went through a painful process of debriding last week and go again on Tuesday. In the meantime, I am packing the holes with an iodine soaked strip and changing it twice a day. It's gross. And it hurts now. My sleep is erratic. Some nights I simply cannot fall asleep. Some nights I doze off and on. Some nights I sleep like the dead for 7 hours or more. Something I will talk to them about on Tuesday. The cardiac rehab starts tomorrow and we'll see how that goes.

  All in all-- that's about it from the Hill. Husband and I went grocery shopping today and it about wore me out.  Had meant to go all week, but decided I shouldn't do it alone just yet. He did all the heavy lifting of course and was very sweet about it all. We got home, I laid down a bit and we had some leftover Caribbean stew for supper and watched some tv. Masterpiece Theater for one. A police mystery set in Amsterdam.  It was quite good. I have a 10:30 AM appointment in the morning, so I hope to be in bed and asleep at a reasonable hour. Am munching on a small bowl of green grapes and thinking about the weather change... I was freezing last  night, so tonight I put a nice thick warm blanket on my side of the bed. I also got the little bathroom heater out when I took a shower this morning. Nights have been in the mid forties and today never hit 70. One of the meds is making me sick at my stomach, and I think it may be the antibiotic she gave me for my leg. I've been actively nauseous or queasy all day.  Yuck.

  I have a few dishes to do before I wind this night up. I've been trying to get this piece written for 4 days.  lol  Ah...  finally.

Friday, September 4, 2020

My humble, broken heart...


  On August 9th, 2020  I had a mild heart attack.  I'd been having some minor issues for several days (weeks?) like  tightness in my chest (ala acid reflux, I thought), some shortness of breath and unexplained random nausea. Himself took one look at me and said-- put your shoes on, we're going to the ER.  I said, no, wait.... let me sit a minute and see if it passes.   I've been to ERs 4 times over the last 15 years with this stuff and it was acid reflux every time (they said). I got really clammy and sweaty and hot and he practically threw me over his shoulder and carried me to the car.  He asked if I wanted to go to Alton and I said NO--take me to Litchfield , which was about 5 minutes closer. We got there and my blood pressure was sky high, about 248/135.  I had checked it at home and it read about the same, so I assumed my cuff wasn't working right. lol  They did initial tests and said they were going to keep me overnight for observation and run the tests again in 5 hours.  When they did, I was off the charts. They came in and told us they were making arrangements to send me to Springfield (our state capitol) to St John's and the Prairie Heart Institute. They said I had had a heart attack. I was baffled.  I arrived up there sometime the next morning and was put in a bed on the Cardio Vascular Care Unit. That afternoon a cardiologist came in and filled me in. Said the troponin levels were trending back down, which was good news.  He ordered some more tests and blood work and said that when he got those results, he would decide if I got a stress test or a heart cath the next morning. I told him I was pretty sure my heart was okay.  He smiled and said-- we'll see.  But..but.. I eat way too much brown rice and kale to be having a heart attack !! I don't smoke !!  Never have.  I don't drink !  I eat healthy !  He said he had looked at my family history of heart disease and sometimes genetics win.  Came back in later that evening and told me that I was scheduled for a heart catheterization first thing in the morning.Gave me a bunch more information that I don't remember. 

  The heart cath showed a 90% blockage in the big artery and 60 and 80% blockages in the other 3. He told me they call that big  artery the widowmaker. Seemingly healthy people walking around and suddenly drop dead in the garden.  So, I was scheduled for a Quadruple CABG first thing in the morning on August 13th.  It was about a 7.5 hour surgery.  Except for the vein harvest in my leg, it went off without a hitch. Luckily I came with all my own spare parts, but the guy had a helluva time getting that leg vein to cooperate. Said he NEVER had problems like that one.  So my leg looks pretty gnarly (it's healing, but damn...).  Seems the process for this surgery is pretty grotesque.  They deflate your lungs to get them out of the way. They somehow dehydrate your body (for less messy cleanup, I'm assuming)  lol.  Then (as one nurse said when I was complaining about my back hurting)--"They lay you out like one of those flattened deboned chickens".  After the fun is over, they wire your breastbone back together and glue and stitch you up. Start the process of RE-hydrating you. They must have pumped a million gallons of fluids back into me  lol  Then after you are out of the Cardiac ICU, they put you on lasix to get any extra fluids back out of you.  It's dizzying. I had a terrible time coming out of the anesthesia. I have been clean and sober for over 30 years, and being bombarded with all the drugs sent me into a tailspin. I hallucinated for 3 days post op. I was so scared, I can't even tell you. I was afraid I had brain damage. Then they tell you you need rest, and proceed to wake you up about every 3 hours for blood tests and xrays and vitals checks. About 7 days later, if you're lucky, you get to go home.  I was lucky. So, now I have been home a little over 2 weeks. Everyday I am a little stronger and mostly feel a little better.  I am still tired a lot and nap a couple of times a day. I am pushing myself to try to do a little more every day. I am on a lot of medications (many of which I swore I would not take). But I promised himself that this time I would do everything they told me to there's that. I am not a good patient. Ever.

  I have a visiting nurse that comes twice a week to look at incisions and check me out.  My friend came down from up north to stay with me these first 2 weeks at home to help, and I could not have done it without her. I can never repay her for her kindness and assistance.  💜  Thanks Angela  💜   The outpouring of love and cards and gifts and well wishes from hundreds of people in my little world has been overwhelming. I am beyond humbled by the kindnesses.  I already know how traumatic events can change a person and this is no exception. In the midst of this pandemic the whole world is changing.  My little corner of the Universe, and myself (as the Queen of Quite A Lot) has shifted once again.  I am grateful to be alive.  And to have had maybe some of the best nurses and doctors in the whole world. The surgical team was most amazing, the hospital experience was stellar, and the nursing care was some of the best I have ever seen. So many things could have happened so differently...

  True to form, I was the life of the party at the hospital (esp before the surgery), lol  I kept them laughing and acted like a complete Pollyanna thru the whole thing.  After I came home, I broke down for a bit and cried myself to sleep almost every night. Tears of gratitude, fear and relief.   Tears of getting way more love from people than I deserve.  Tears of coming a little too close to dying. It's not so much that I'm afraid to die, as I told a nurse one night, it's just that you're dead for such a looooong time.  lol

  In the middle of my hospital stay, my mother-in-law died.  My husband left Wednesday to go to Wisconsin to help his siblings deal with stuff. His dad is in a nursing home there and he needed to see him. Life goes on... it's messy and the timing is bad sometimes and the wheels just keep on turning. Somewhere in the future, we will find the time for things to get back to normal. 

  Personally, I can't wait.