Friday, September 30, 2011

Busy Week

On Wednesday I went for my stress test. In more years than I can count, I was not able to walk on the treadmill and had to have an injection instead. This year they put me on the treadmill itself. I was nervous since I am still recovering from the surgery but they assured me it was safe. They set my target heart rate at 138 and told me I would walk for a minute and they would speed it up and then start an incline and things would get more intense after three minutes. After just two minutes I had hit my target rate. While that may sound good, my heart beats very fast right now. With that my blood pressure rises. They stopped the test and told me that was a baseline to see whether I should go to cardiac rehab. If so, I will have to take it slow to start out with and be closely monitored. Right after that I had an echo done. I am still waiting to hear from the cardiologist about these tests and hope it's sometime soon. He has called me late in the evening, and on weekends. He's a busy man. Yesterday I went to see my kidney specialist who was very pleased. I am down another three pounds and there seems to be no fluid that I am retaining right now. I confessed that I have been eating some salt now because my morning weights show that I am no longer retaining fluid. I am still on the medication to prevent that and I may be on it forever. That's okay as long as I am able to breathe. She thought I looked wonderful and much better than most people who are just 8 weeks post surgery. Everyone says that but my face is so thin now and my neck is a mess. I am thinking I may start wearing scarves with everything! I have some dark scars on my neck from where my swan was sewn in. My chest scar is not straight and still quite dark and much longer than the old one. I refuse to dwell on those things because I can breathe once again. After struggling for breath for the last year this thrills me. I have to remind myself to take slow that my recovery will be four months longer. In the meantime I am reading and keeping busy. I just read The Help. It was a good read. Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Surprise Email

Last week we tried to fix my mother's old desk top. Impossible. I spent two shopping trips with her to find a laptop and printer and today she got one. When I moved her AOL email over to Google she found many old emails she hadn 't opened when she was still caring for my Dad. In one was this picture my sister's friend had taken of them the Christmas of 2009. I had forgotten he looked so alert then. This past Christmas he was disconnected from most of Christmas and us with a faraway look. It's been six months since he left us and I still miss him. I still cry when I see pictures and remember how difficult the last two years of his life were. Noone could have convinced him that he would have ended up so helpless. Now he is gone and my mother struggles and living to regret that she didn't want to be bothered with information that we know struggle to find. Their stone has been ordered and should be there for his birthday, Oct. 27th. We are hoping to have a family unveling of the stone followed be a gathering. I can hear my father laughing at that saying "Wow they throw this shindig for you when you can't attend. Is that fair?" My father's death has taught our entire family something: you truly don't know how much you love someone until they are gone. No matter how much you think you know what it will be like, you can't imagine. Time goes on and the freshness of the pain lessens but the void remains. Life goes on and you must too. It's what he would have wanted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday and Serenity

Today is now Serenity Saturday. We have done all our chores for today (which include a few more hours trying to get a printer to work with my mother's computer), getting photos printed from a flash drive, getting take out lunch and we are home and hoping to relax. Since my visit with the heart surgeon, I feel more relaxed. I am so relieved to know there is no fluid currently in or around my lungs. First time in about two years. My breathing is easier.

I really love having Rob home on weekends. We have known each other twelve years and I still enjoy the ease I feel with him and the way we can finish each other's sentences (which began happening after a few weeks together.) My life has never been easy and I know what it's like to only be able to rely on myself. If I have to do that I can but it's just so much easier with someone who shares it all with me.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Great Report from Surgeon

Yesterday Rob took off work and drove me to Philly so see my heart surgeon. What a wonderful man who took so long to view and point out things on my xray and answer every question we had. Surgeons like this are rare. He told me that I looked great and my heart sounded strong. The xray showed no fluid in my lungs or pleura at this time and I was so happy. (It is too early to be certain that this problem will not reoccur and it will take several months to know.) My sternum is healing enough for me to drive and lift light things. I have some pain still and it's worse in two areas. One was the top of the sternum under the neck. He told me he had cut it all the way up (this wasn't done the first time.) The other pain appears to be a rib injury. He told me he had to open me up much more than the previous surgeon had. He showed me where he had to go to get the mitral valve in. Not only was it in an awkward place but the valve itself was much larger than the first. He also replaced my right coronary artery with a vein from my leg (leaving me a small scar of about two inches.) He did an excellent job. There are still problems and next week I will be undergoing a stress test and another echo. If they are good, I will then be starting a cardiac rehab program to build up my strength.

My mother wants to have a family dinner on my father's birthday. She is really struggling now. This is the problem when a spouse is so dependent on the other. My father did everything: made every decision, paid the bills etc. She has no confidence about doing these things and asks her five kids who all give her different answers, leaving her even more confused. Case in point: her computer. It isn't working properly and she can no longer read her email. We went there yesterday and tried for hours to fix it and her printer. No go. I had her all set to get a laptop which would be so much easier for her since her old pc is upstairs and she spends most of her time downstairs. She began calling my brothers and one told her it was a mistake. Now she doesn't want to do anything feeling she will be making a mistake. It's frustrating to deal with.

It's raining here and rain is forecast for the next few days. Blah. My spirits are good and overall, the pain has lessened from the surgery. I am oh so hopeful that things will continue to improve.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rob's scribble and more

Firstly, Rob did did a "scribble project" (he loves to draw) and they posted it on the website along with some personal information about us. Please check it out: Scribble Project. I was very touched by it.

Last Saturday was my niece's wedding and we had so much fun. Of course, I missed dancing (way too painful and too risky if someone bumped into me) so I kind of moved a bit in my chair. It was on the beach and lovely, the temperature and sky were perfect and some seagulls quietly attended. My sister is a very private person and doesn't want anything written or pictures posted about her. I respect that so instead I will post a picture of Rob and I attendees. I had this dress altered and it was still too big. My weight seems to have stabilized now but I am down about 40 pounds from the winter and had lost 30 pounds the previous year. Having to give away most of my clothes. I had saved some clothes from about 20 years ago that were expensive. They now fit me but are so out of style (shoulder pads etc.) that I will end up giving those away too.

I saw my cardiologist in NJ and he said I looked great. I was somewhat disappointed that my heart still has problems and that we won't know until December how much the repair helped and if the main issue is really gone. I go on the 22nd back to Philadelphia to see the surgeon again. On the 28th I have a lot of tests to undergo to determine if I can handle some cardiac rehab. My incision is much less painful than it was but the muscles going across my chest and into my shoulders are still hurting. I am now permitted to drive short distances locally but it is painful and only done if I have no alternative. I am moving about, breathing and functioning better than I was a few weeks ago. They tell me it will be late December before I have recovered. I am so very grateful for the improvements in breathing alone.

Weather has changed. Yesterday started out at 80 and temperatures dropped twenty degrees in a few short hours. It's really cool out today. Duffy with his two coats of fur is in heaven! Nothing makes him happier than a cool breeze blowing throw that luxurious coat.

I'm going to take it easy today as I had company yesterday and had to go for a chest x ray. Been a busy week with lab tests and the paperwork that never ends.

It's a weekend and that means Rob will be home with me for a few days. :) Have a great weekend and just think the new crop of apples will soon be here.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend stirs a lot of emotions for me. September third is the day my one grandfather died. (He had been misdiagnosed with pneumonia and when it hadn't cleared up in two weeks they discovered he had stage 4 lung cancer and he was gone a few days later.) It was also the birthday of my first love, my teenage love, whose heart I broke. He died ten years ago but I still remember him and our three years together. He taught me what it was like to feel truly loved. Labor Day weekend many years ago was a day spent waiting for my son to be hospitalized for a bone marrow and on September 4 we learned he had leukemia but it would take several more days to find out what kind. I can still remember the physical feelings I experienced when they said those words and I fell into a chair in utter shock. I am so grateful that he survived it, that we got through the three and a half years of chemo he needed and that over the years he has learned to let a lot of anger go. It's hard to lose your junior year of high school and return your senior year when you feel you no longer fit in. It's hard when the time comes to try to return to what was your normal life before.

Today Rob and I slept in until almost 8 a.m. Normally the dog will not permit this. I took a shower while Rob made his first cup of tea and then I made a list of things that needed to be done. He got dressed and bolted out the door to begin the shopping. He went to Staples and got ink for our printer, went to the supermarket and got several bags of groceries, then on to the Home Depot where he got a new shower nozzle. This one can be hand held and will be a big plus when Duffy needs to be shampooed. Our old one was a water saver that felt like you were being teased as opposed to having a real shower. Hope this is better for that purpose. Rob came home and installed the shower head, dumped and washed the litter box, weeded the flower garden, had lunch and read. Now he is taking a much needed nap. I hope he can find time over the next three days to kick back and relax. Our lives have been so hectic over the past few months........
Yesterday I got a call where I had to regive all my information from my previous jobs. I realized I was about to bounce a check (having finally balanced my checking statement) and called my Mom to run me to the bank for a quick deposit. After doing that I took her out to breakfast and I took her to Costco to get gas (she isn't a member). We went into a candle store for a few minutes so I could pick up a gift I needed and then home again. I can't shut car doors due to the weight so I feel like a child being placed into the car. When we arrived home there had been several messages left from my medical providers. It seems they all knew my health insurance was cancelled as of August 31st. I explained that I had secondary insurance which was now primary. They told me that they were told it was not and I needed to get this straightened out. The company who furnishes my oxygen wanted to be able to verify right away that I would be covered. I was so exhausted and frustrated. Less than six weeks after the surgery I have to go through all this? I had called the insurance company on Monday and explained all this to them and faxed over what they requested that very day. I called them again and "Monique" advised me that I would need to hold while she investigated. I was put on hold and after about half an hour I hung up. NEVER once did she come back on the line. That is considered call abandonment where I have worked and grounds for firing. I called back and got the person I had spoken to before on Monday. She had not received the fax I sent, told me to resend it and she would call to confirm she had it as soon as she got it. An hour went by and I sent it again.....after another hour passed I called again and got Susan. Susan apologized and explained it takes them 48 hours to receive faxes (thanks for all the bs Sadie) and that she would call my old insurance company and have them verify on the phone and she would update the record herself. I was surprised: someone who had intelligence AND initiative unlike the other two reps. I held on about ten minutes and Susan came back on the line telling me she had all the information necessary and would update the system. She then asked if I wanted her to call the providers and verify my coverage to them. Impressive! I told her I would take care of that and thanks her for her help. So about six hours later this was finally resolved.
As soon as my new information was entered a different provider called me to let me know that it was all updated. I'm just thankful that my brain was working well enough to handle all this. It hurts after I hold the phone for too long. Good thing physical therapy is covered....I might need some.
Have a great Labor Day weekend!