Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm radioactive!

I had a nuclear stress test done this morning and the results came back normal. That means my cardiac event was not triggered by blockages in my arteries.

It was a pretty uneventful morning, although I was in a foul mood on our way to the appointment, apparently from stress. Three and a half hours later, with an all-clear diagnosis, I was a much happier lady.

Here's a description of the test that was performed today:

A nuclear stress test measures blood flow to your heart muscle at rest and during stress. It is performed similar to a routine exercise stress test but provides images in addition to electrocardiograms.

During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive substance is injected into your bloodstream. This substance mixes with your blood and travels to your heart. A special scanner — which detects the radioactive material in your heart — creates images of your heart muscle. Inadequate blood flow to any part of your heart will show up as a light spot on the images — because not as much of the radioactive substance is getting there.

So, I'm radioactive! I was asked a couple of times if I would be flying on an airplane in the next month. I guess I would light up the scanners while passing through security. Although that sounds like fun, I think I'll pass.

I still have a follow-up with my Cardiologist near the end of September where we can review everything, so far it's all looking good. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, everyone.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Eye for Art

We all think we have talented kids; it's the nature of parenting...somebody's got to see the best in us, right!

My 16-year-old son has been taking Art classes with the same teacher since 6th grade, when she let him into her High School Art Class. We thought he had some real talent, and he does, but one of his younger sister's drawing talent is shining a little more brightly these days. This same teacher is now admitting Katie into her 3rd through 6th grade class even though she is only 7-years-old and going into 2nd grade. On top of that, the teacher said to us, "I hope she won't be too bored. She may draw better than any of my students in the class." High praise!

Katie has a great eye for proportion and detail and in the coming months I'll try to scan some of her artwork and "give you a show." Knowing that she has a propensity for art I gave her my camera to catch a picture of a butterfly on a butterfly bush. She hung on to my camera long enough to get three pictures which I didn't see until unloading my memory card today. These pics are untouched - just as she took them. She knows nothing about light, focus or anything camera related and yet, I think you'll see that she has an eye for Art. If you don't see, don't tell me...I'm in parenting shangri-la.

butterfly in a bush

spider(s?) on a glass wall

juxtaposition of an outdoor stairwell

Saturday, August 29, 2009

ER Musings

In trying to come up with a clever title for my recent hospital stay, I thought about how much I miss ER the TV show. I watched the show years ago when Dr. Ross and Dr. Greene were the hottest things on TV, then I dropped the fixation for most of ER's run, but this past year, knowing it was the 15th and final season, I decided to give it another try. I cried every Thursday night and awaited the next week to see what would happen to the ongoing story lines with the added bonus of getting to see all the actors who had been on the show reappear for their final farewells. It was a good year and I was satisfied when it ended - always a nice feeling.

Little did I know I would be experiencing the reality of the ER this year. On Wed., the 19th, I awoke with moderate chest pain. I went downstairs to my desk to have devotions, but the pain did not decrease or go away and an hour later I got up to take some ibuprofen. (yes, I know, I should have had aspirin on hand...many have reminded me.) Within 20 min. of taking the medication I was becoming more uncomfortable - my left armpit felt like it was in a vice grip; the ibuprofen had done nothing to abate the pain. I told my husband that I thought maybe we should go to the ER to have it checked out and then paced the room crying trying to figure out if I really had to go to such extremes. Of course, Mark thought so and off we went.

In triage they took my blood pressure and an EKG (both were not very pretty) and then they admitted me to the ER. There the nurse took some blood (to check for enzymes) and proceeded with treatment. She informed us that the fastest way to eliminate cardiac pain was to use nitroglycerin. It sounded good; I was ready after 3+ hours to get some relief. She put the nitro under my tongue, explained that I would experience a head rush and a slight headache for a couple of minutes and left the room. After 2 or 3 minutes the tiny pill dissolved and I went from zero pain in my head to the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my entire life. I was writhing in pain on the gurney, holding my head and sobbing. Poor Mark was doing a dance mid-door frame, trying to get someone's attention in the hallway and trying to keep watch over me at the same time. (almost funny) The nurse returned and noticed that my blood pressure had shot to 240 over 214 and that my heart rate had gone through the roof, quite the opposite reaction a person is supposed to have. Mark and I thought to ourselves that I must be quite a wimp, but after I told the nurse my thoughts, she said, "Trust me, your body responded to the pain in a dramatic way. It was quite severe to get that type of reaction." Yay, I'm not a wimp! The nurse went and got the main doc on the floor and he gently informed me that we would be doing that again - two more times. Sweet man! The nurse watched over me and twice more I went through the most shocking pain that within minutes would be gone. By the third nitro I did not have any chest, arm or back pain, but the Dr. quickly admitted me to the Cardiac Unit for tests and observation.

Thus began my pin cushion, fasting stay in what I'm sure will be an expensive "luxury lock down." I was hooked up to oxygen, a continuous EKG machine, and two IV's (after 16 pokes). I had one meal in 36 hours so I could take a few tests that required an empty stomach. I do not recommend a Cardiac Unit diet, although 5 pounds lighter, it did work!

I do, however, recommend everyone get a CAT Scan. That was the toastiest test I've ever experienced! The technician said right before injecting the iodine, "Ok now, you will feel a warm sensation all over your body. This will include your bladder where you will feel like you wet yourself or that you will want's not true. You'll be fine, just warm. The sensation will go away after a minute or two." Interesting! He injects the dye and here are the thoughts that went through my head, "Oh, my eyeballs are toasty from the Oh, my throat, wow! Oh, he's right I do have that sensation...this is neat. Oh, my toes...I LOVE this!" Crazy woman!!

I also recommend, without cause, that everyone get an echocardiogram where you can watch a sonogram of your own beating heart. The contrasts used to show the blood flow were cool and I was just amazed at watching my own body at work. I wonder why God didn't give me talent in math and science; I have such a morbid curiosity about all things anatomy. I would have probably been dangerous! Ha!

I was released Thursday night and am now taking 3 medications. My blood pressure is now better controlled and I go in on Monday to see the Cardiologist for a 3 hour appointment/stress test. Sounds like fun! Not!

After my hospital stay I went right into registration responsibilities for American Heritage Girls. Between Friday morning and Sunday morning I was either sleeping or doing registration work. By the time I got to church on Sunday I realized that I hadn't "processed" any of the week's events. Mark had saved me a seat in church while I checked our girls into their classes so when I joined him, worship had already begun. I started to sing and then just broke into raking sobs thinking, "I'm so glad to be here!" I then immediately thought, "Yeah, 'cause worship in heaven wouldn't be that great." (yes, I'm very sarcastic in my own head.) Continued thoughts..."Well, I mean, I'm glad to not be in the hospital and in church this morning." (the "tomorrow is another day" psychotic tool used to think about grave issues.) Then I thought about a distant family member who told me this summer that my birth father had had his 1st heart attack in his 30's. I thought, "What a gift." Had I not had that information, I don't know if I would have actually gone to the hospital. I have a very hectic year ahead of me and I feel like the Lord put this "intervention" into place so that I'd be on medication that would help me survive the pace/stress. Doesn't mean I still don't have to do my part to eat healthfully and exercise, but I can have a better chance of survival while I work on it, than I did before.

In the end, I was diagnosed with a "cardiac event." That means there was no tissue death (attack), just stress or injury to the heart. It was an early warning sign and now something I can keep my eye on to, hopefully, live a long full life. Much like the caring Dr.'s on the show ER, I was well taken care of and had a satisfying end to the story.

Just like many who have medical scares, I treasure my family just a little bit more. We don't know the Lord's timing in our lives so we need to make the best of each & every day!

"war" wounds - they were blowing through my tiny veins.

(I don't have needle phobia so it was more cool than creepy to me.)

Monday, August 3, 2009

What did you do today?

What did I do today? Thanks for asking...

I ate oatmeal for breakfast.
I checked my work email and sent in my time sheet.
I exercised with my two little girls to a Leslie Sansone video...always fun.
I had my devotions and prayer time.
I had an appointment with my co-op leader at an area church and picked out a huge pile of books to go through for children's choir music.
I ate a late lunch with my daughter at the restaurant where she works after her shift ended.
I colored a page in a My Little Pony coloring book with my little girls.
I played a silly game with my girls.
I rested on the living room floor for a few minutes.
I checked my home email, rescheduled a dentist appointment, checked phone messages.
I created an evite with my son for his birthday party.
I pulled out leftovers, got everyone dinner, and put them back into the fridge.
I loaded the dishwasher.
I spent about three hours organizing American Heritage Girls' registration papers.
I listened to praise music (and Flamenco) on my Zune and I posted on two blogs.

Not too bad for a Monday...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Enjoy the journey

Can you believe it's August already? Part of me is so happy to be on the downward slope of hot and humid weather; the other part of me can't believe how quickly the summer has gone. It always speeds by quickly so I should get over being surprised.

My life is starting to ramp up, so to speak. I am working at my church on Sunday nights for 4 hours and then have to find 3 other hours during the week to make contact with volunteers for scheduling and training. It's been quiet during the summertime, but we're getting ready for Awanas and the work load is increasing.

I have also taken on the job of registration for our American Heritage Girls troop. We have A LOT of families...still don't have a clear number in mind so I don't want to exaggerate, but the paperwork for our troop is heavy. I have already spent about 12 hours just getting it organized and I probably have another 20 hours to go before I'm ready for the big carnival on August 22nd.

Plus, (do you think I'm crazy wait for it...) my kids and I are participating in a co-op this year, every Thursday morning. I will be leading the 1st - 3rd grade choir (36 students) and the 7th & up Handbell choir (3 students so far, so I have to ring bells, as well - so we can play 4 & 6 part pieces.) I played handbells throughout college, but that was a loooong time ago. This music business will be a stretch for me, but as I told my family, "hopefully what I lack in knowledge will be made up in enthusiasm." Yeah, that's what I keep telling myself.

I'm also still organizing our church library on Tuesday afternoons and yes, still homeschooling.

I was whining to my husband about doing errands in the pouring rain yesterday. When I said, "I hate errands!" He quipped, "and laundry, cooking, cleaning." (Big grin!) Uh-huh. Would I be any happier if I had a maid? Maybe, a little. I try to find joy in the midst of doing the housework, but I am no domestic goddess. I do it well enough for me and my family, which is a far cry from the perfectionistic standards I held to during my twenties. I certainly wasn't any happier with a cleaner house and neither was my family. I figure that when they're all out of my house (in 12+ more years) I can go back to grout and baseboards if I so desire.

Isn't it interesting how just a little pun (and Mark meant nothing mean by what he said) can reveal your own spirit to you. I don't want my kids to think I hate everything I do around the house. I know they dread Fridays - cleaning day, so I think I have some attitude work to do.

Today I called three long-distance family members while I was ironing (have to take my mind off of that task any way I can...that's not going to change), but I enjoyed it. The time was filled with laughter and good stories. I cooked up a storm last night for our family and two of Ashley's college friends. Do I really enjoy cooking? No, not really. Do I enjoy good company around the table sharing a tasty meal? That, I love! So...maybe I'll try to use August, one of my busiest months, to try to enjoy the process of everything I do or at least, not vocalize my displeasure. We'll see if that makes for a happier home. Bound to do so, I think.

As my pastor would say, "Not a sermon, just a thought."