Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Matters of the (Wimpy) Heart

What a wild ride the last month has been. I was born with a congenital syndrome named Holt-Oram. This caused 2 ASDs (heart) defects that were corrected with open heart surgery when I was 7. I also had 2 thumbs on my right hand and both hands/thumbs are slightly deformed and my arms are not quite as long as they should be, again a slight difference that goes mostly unnoticed. When I was
3 1/2, they removed the 2nd thumb. This was a real thumb, not a skin tag, one I could move and use. They waited until I was that old to figure out which one to remove, which one would look more natural. At 37, almost 38, I was diagnosed with arrythmias and a low heart rate (25-30) and wound up with a pacemaker. I was told at the time that with this syndrome, there could be other heart problems that come up as I age.
Mid Oct, I started having some breathing problems. Our weather had turned colder and that's usually when my asthma gets triggered, so I put it down to that. Over a week and a half, it just got worse. I couldn't sleep unless I was sitting up, I got deathly sick every time I ate, walking any distance made me gasp for breath. I still told my asthma and kept using my inhaler. On 10/24, I walked upstairs to weigh myself, because I'd not eaten more than a few bites of anything a day for a week and knew I'd dropped a few pounds. I walked up my stairs, which greatly winded me, but when I stepped on the scales, I had gained 8lbs....?!? What?? This was when that little voice in the back of my head started saying..something's happening here. I chose to ignore it. A friend called me that afternoon and wanted to meet for dinner, so we met out. I ordered, but couldn't eat as I was so uncomfortable from not being able to breath well. I got mine in a take out and she and I walked out to my car. When she saw how winded I was, she begged me to let her take me to the ER. I told her no, let me go home & think about it. I went by the grocery store on my way home and when I almost passed out on my front patio from carrying in 3 bags of groceries, I realized that I needed to do something. I fed the cats and put out a full bowl of dry food for them, packed an overnight bag and headed off to the ER. I was in such distress by the time I got across the parking lot and in the front
door that I could hardly talk to the guy at the desk--who just so happened to be someone I had
worked with in the ER at Greenville Mem years ago. He immediately called for a wheelchair and they took me straight back, started an IV, gave me aspirin, clipped on an O2 sat monitor, popped on heart monitor pads, took labs....lots of activity. I had called my friend on the way there to let her know I was going, so I called my family from the ER. The doc came in and told me they were going to do a chest X Ray. I had been looking at my O2 sat numbers and they were normal. If this was an asthma problem, they should not have been. I asked him why they were normal, and he just looked at me for a moment. I said, this isn't my asthma, is it? He answered, no, you're in heart failure. For one of the few times in my life, I had nothing to say. I just stared at him, then said, what does that mean? He started explaining heart failure, but I told him, I know what heart failure means, what does this mean to me, my life, what do I do next? He said we would talk more once the X Ray was done. They did that then the nurse came in and gave me nitro and hung a bag of lasix. My step mom and some of the people I work with were texting me and wanting to know if I wanted them to come up but the friend from earlier lived very close by, so I texted her, told her I was scared and if her offer to come
up was still open, I'd appreciate the company. So, everything pointed to heart failure. The lasix made
me trot to the bathroom every 15 mins or so but every time I went, I could breath easier. Once they released me, I headed home and even with having to get up and dash to the potty the rest of the night, I slept better than I had in a couple of weeks. The next morning, I got back on the scales and I had dropped 9lbs overnight.
So the last 3 weeks have been a flurry of tests, cardiac echoes, pacer checks, cardiologist appointments, 2 day stress tests and in 2 days another pacer query to try and pinpoint when my A Fib started. I've found out that my ejection fraction, which was 55-60% 2 years ago has dropped to 25%, normal is 50-70% and I'm in a constant state of A Fib. I'm now on a diuretic, a blood thinner and 2 ace inhibitors. This coming Tuesday, I go back to the cardy and find out what comes next. This can
not be cured but it can be managed. It could also be a whole lot worse, so I'm trying to stay positive
and remember that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Angels

I once saw Angels. I know that sounds nuts, but it's true. I was around 6 and had rode with my dad to take my younger sister to my grandma's to spend the night. My dad was in the yard, standing on the walk talking to my grandma who was standing on the porch, holding the screen door open while my sister was on the floor of the porch, playing with something. It was that part of the late afternoon, when it's not yet dark, but it's coming soon, and the sky has all these beautiful almost sunset colors across it. I tried to get Kim to come out in the yard and play but she wouldn't. I was very hyperactive and was running circles in the yard. I ran to the edge, towards the water tank that was across the street from my grandma's house, when something in the sky caught my eye. I stopped and looked up and there on a fluffy white cloud stood 3 angels. Now, even at my young age, I knew this was not something you normally see but I was awestruck. I couldn't see facial features but they were standing side by side, not facing me straight on but turned slightly to their left. I could see wings and halos and long flowing gowns, and they were bathed in a reddish-orange light from the sunset. As I stood there, they, in unison, raised their hands together, clasped them in a praying position, placed them under their chins, bowed their heads then all 3 slowly lowered to their knees. At this point, I was so thrilled by seeing this I ran across the yard yelling for my dad & grandma to look at the Angels in the sky. I was jumping around, looking at my dad and pointing back behind me, but when I turned and looked, they were gone. I remember a funny look passing between my dad & grandma, almost a frightened look, then my dad looked at my grandma and said...Oh kids and their imaginations. I tried to explain to him and her it wasn't my imagination, that I did see them, but they just dismissed me. I stood in the corner of the yard, hoping they'd come back until we left. I was so mad at my dad for not believing me that I wouldn't even speak to him on the way back home. As soon as we pulled up, I jumped out of the car and ran in and told my mom. She looked shocked and looked at my dad, who again dismissed it as my imagination. I was so upset with them. I know what I saw!
Years later, I had a friend over for dinner and during our conversation, I told him about this. I then picked up my phone and called my dad. I reminded him of this and asked if he remembered it. He said he did. I told him that speaking as an adult, I was telling him that I did see them, that it was real and that moment is still so clear in my memory. He quietly said....I never doubted you. I asked him why, why did you and mom say it was my imagination at the time? My poor dad said, Cindy, we were looking at you having heart surgery the next summer that no one was sure you'd survive. Your mom & I didn't want to think about what you seeing Angels might mean.
That was kind of a kick in the gut. My poor dad and mom, how this must have scared them.
But I did see them and have no doubt they were my guardian Angels.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Homemade Coasters

So, I have a friend with a birthday coming up and I decided I wanted to make her a unique, one of a kind gift. She's a wine lover so I made these cute wine label coasters. They were so much fun to do, I thought I'd put the steps here:

I bought 4x4 sandstone tiles at a local home store. They were less than $4 for a square foot, which of course, is 9 tiles.

I added these cute felt stickies on the underside. I did add a drop of glue just to make sure they stayed 

I found pictures I liked on line and did a screen shot, trimmed them to the size I wanted then reversed the picture. I printed them up on my printer on plain paper--don't use picture paper, it won't work. There are many free apps you can use to do this. 

Now, I painted the top of the tile with Modge Podge and put the picture face down on the tile. 

Let this dry completely. I usually let it sit overnight, but you can put it under a fan for an hour or so. 
Once dry, put the whole tile under running water and soak it well. 

Then gently start rubbing with your finger. The paper will rub off and leave the print on the tile. 

Once it looks acceptable, allow it to dry, then brush on a clear glaze/protectant. 

And here's the finished product. Suitable for use as coasters or to use as decoration!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Problem with the Security Guard

A number of years ago, I had a roommate. We took turns running bills to be paid...etc...although we did split all down the middle. Now at this point in time, I worked an odd shift (4:00pm-4:30am) and my roommate worked evening shift (4pm-midnight). I had more days off than she and we were both night owls. This means that bill paying, most of the time, was done at dropboxes in the middle of the night. 
On the night in question, I was off work, my roommate was working until her usual time and we had pizza and a movie planned when she got home. The power bill was on the table and I decided, before she got home, I would take it to Duke Power and drop it in the dropbox. I got the bill and payment and headed out the door. She was usually home by 12:30 but she was picking up the pizza so I left out sometime around midnight. Greenville is a smallish town but even in the smallest of towns, traveling after dark can be a little scary. I always circled the parking lot and made sure I saw no one around before I'd get out of the car. I saw the security guard standing to the side of the door, in a large glass window--there was one on either side of the main door--so I felt a little safer getting out of my car. Now, I am a somewhat shy person, even more so then than now. The guard just stood there as I approached--me not making eye contact. He just stood there staring, not moving. I threw him a quick wave and he still didn't respond. I dropped the bill in the box and again waved but he still just stood there staring. I wanted to look him straight in the eye and give him a dirty look, he was being so rude, but I didn't, I scurried back to my car and left. 
I got home and shortly after, so did my roommate. We ate a couple of slices while I told her about the very rude, unfriendly security guard at Duke Power. She couldn't believe he was so rude either, so, we decided to drive back up there, in her car, and she would march right up to the door and wave at him while looking him in the eye. If he ignored her, she was going to tell him off through the door. We went back up there and I decided I was walking up with her. We parked and started towards the door...and he was still standing there. However as we got closer, we both cracked up laughing. The "security guard" was actually a cardboard cut out of the maytag repair man they had placed in that window. We got back in the car but we're laughing so hard it took a few minutes for us to get it under control and go back home to cold pizza and a movie. We never did tell him off!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Gloom, despair and agony on me......ohhhhhhhhhh

Deep dark depression, excessive misery. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on meeeeeee!
Remember what that's from??
This has been my attitude for months now. Months! I go through my bad moments, we all do. But I've been in this black depression for months that I can't shake. This is unusual for me. I have my poor pitiful me moments, but I get over it quick. These days I'm feeling particarly ....... Useless, pointless, of no good for anything, like all I touch turns to crap.  I'm tired of friends who are only friends when they want something from me. Too much has changed in the last 5-7 years and not all of it feels for the best. Maybe I feel things too deeply. But I'll never show it. Maybe that's part of the problem.
I dunno. All I do know is that functioning day to day is becoming a major struggle. I don't sleep or I sleep too much. I've lost joy in anything in my life. Just go through the motions, no thinking, no happiness. I can fake it, I've always been ablet to hide what's going on in my head from others.
I have an appointment with my doc on Feb 2. Something's got to give. I can't be this person. This isn't living.