Archive for June, 2013

29
Jun

This I Just Can’t Resist…

inquisitive

I know I said I wasn’t posting for a while, but this is just too wild for me not to discuss with my hallowed readers immediately. Yes, I do sometimes “play” with the truth about my life just a bit so we all get a good laugh, but this one is all too real.

Like most folks who have made several trips to the ER recently, I am now receiving the best Get Well cards in the business. My family and friends know me all too well–send MaryAnn something well-written that makes her giggle out loud. Trust me–my dear ones–you are making me guffaw!

But today a card came from some folks other than my readers and my family and friends–on the outside, it read: “The Cardiac Lab Staff wishes you a speedy recovery” with the logo of the hospital that “resurrected” me from my heart attacks. Now, that’s nice, right? I thought so, too, but wait–it gets better. On the inside it read: Hope your visit to Blank Hospital and the Cath Lab was a pleasant one.–Your Cath Lab Team.”

What?! For those who haven’t had their coffee yet this morning, a cath lab team surgically cuts a hole at the top of your leg and inserts a catheter up to your heart so they can figure out why your heart is malfunctioning and if a stent, balloon or other treatments can be administered to stop your heart attacks, they do so while “in there.” Sometimes they need you to take a deep breath while they’re looking at your heart, so you are basically only drowsy while this is going on. I have had this done to me 4 times now and trust me, while the team that greeted me this last time was, indeed, very respectful, polite and did their best to comfort me, I don’t think the adjective I would choose, for any of these procedures, would be “pleasant.”

For one thing my counselor brain reads nonverbal behavior like a book and I could tell from the faces of my team that I was in big trouble when they were looking at my heart on their screen the 3rd time (I was too out of it to remember much about the 4th time). Ummmm….the adjective that came to my mind describes, well, manure. (My ITS is going off again.)

Now, if that wasn’t enough, my “team” actually hand-signed their first names to the card. Wow. That takes guts. I noticed my cardiologist (who was also in the room at the time) did not sign the card. Glad he’s the smart one.

And to boot, the inside of the card contained pen-drawn heart-shaped balloons. Awww.

As a budding elderly writer, may I suggest a revision for the inside? How about “It was a privilege to be a part of your recovery. We are wishing you a peaceful transition to full health once again.” If one must go for the laugh, then how about, “Hope you recover fast enough to earn enough income to pay our enormous bill! The giant sucking sound you hear is the vacuum we’re using to empty your bank account.”

I might add that just yesterday I received a humongous survey from said hospital asking me about every aspect of my care there. I’m so glad I didn’t fill it out immediately–today’s answers might have a bit more sarcasm and I may not be able to resist that little golden opportunity no matter how much I try to muster the “sincere Christian” side of me. Hmmm….sounds like future fodder for a blog post somewhere…

Since I am blessed to be surrounded by other great writers, would you like to take a stab at the “re-write”? “Points” for satirical, humorous or even better suggestions than above, but please don’t use the word “pleasant.” It may make me visit the bathroom.

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Recuperating, Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4, Lessons Learned from a Routine Examination

28
Jun

How I Cope with a Heart That’s a Ticking Time Bomb…

anxious

Warning: You may want to get 2 beverages first. (I promise I will go back to shorter posts soon!)

My cardiologist said, quite accurately, “A Prinzmetal Angina heart attack leaves the survivor shell-shocked.” And even though I survived 2 other Prinzmetal Angina heart attacks in 1999, I’m right back to shell-shocked. Thankfully, because of the 1999 episodes, I know that, with time, this feeling will dissipate. Still, I do find myself reminding myself to breathe!

Let me first briefly tell you what I learned about coping with this condition in 1999 (Go here for a more thorough discussion of what I learned then.).

  1. God is in control of my life, death and Heavenly journey. Not me. Not medical science. Not anyone else. But, that is a good thing, because I could not be in better hands.
  2. I was a youngish person who now was viewed, by most, as a person with a heart condition. (This was a tough thing to accept.)
  3. The toughest part of surviving a heart attack is looking at the scared faces of all the people who I love and who love me.
  4. Prior to 1999, I had a lot of low self-esteem issues and wondered why I was on the planet. Based on the love shown to me in 1999 in a multitude of ways and on having a lot of hospital bed time to think about why I was on the planet, I no longer have these issues!
  5. The toughest part about knowing I could have another heart attack in 10 to 15 years was that my youngest might not be out of the “nest” yet and my husband must travel extensively for work. I hated the thought of a nanny having to take care of him. Therefore, I chose to take darn good care of myself “in between” so I could survive the next heart attacks. (Looks like that was a good decision, hunh? My docs would probably agree, too.)
  6. There are worse places to die than in a hospital. I had pain meds, an attentive nursing staff, a loving family, generous friends, a comfortable bed, adequate nutrition, and awesome doctors all looking out for me. Shortly after coming home, we rented “Saving Private Ryan” to watch. After watching someone die on a battlefield, I was thankful my brush with death was not in that horrible manner.
  7. If one survives a Prinzmetal attack, one should not waste any more time getting around to doing what God created him or her to do. I may not always perfectly understand His plan for me, but I’d better make a tremendous effort to do what I think He wants done.
  8. I can either lie in my bed and wait for the next attack or I can live my life to the fullest and let whatever happens happen. I chose the latter, since it seemed that I had flashes of heart pain whether I rested or got up and moved around. You can’t live your life well if you live it with constant fear.
  9. Whoever is in front of me right now is God’s agenda for MaryAnn today.
  10. God gave me certain gifts to use for His will for this planet. I need to stop doing things that I’m lousy at doing and get busy doing the things He intended me to do and gifted me to do. That would be why I don’t stress too much over housework and cooking anymore. I don’t enjoy these activities and others are better at them than me. Why not let them do what God intended them to do??? In the beginning it was difficult to quit bringing home-cooked food to friends and to let the dust bunnies build up, but I learned that the friends still appreciated “take-out” and that the dust bunnies will still be there tomorrow waiting until I can get around to them. Besides, my children needed to learn how to cook and clean anyway.
  11. Everyone has challenges in their lives somewhere. Mine just happen to be health problems, so I choose to view them as “lessons” for my life and call them “health adventures.” They certainly keep my life from being boring and I hate boring!

 

So, what did I learn this time around?

  1. Unfortunately, each heart attack is going to scare the crud out of me, despite my history with them. And, it’s going to scare the crud out of my family and friends, too.
  2. The most frustrating part of having a lot of life-threatening, painful conditions is that I live in a small town and have to be transported to a mega-hospital. Why? Because I then have to convince a whole pile of people, while in great pain, that I’m not an addict (despite being on heavy-duty migraine meds), that I’m telling them the truth, that I have a brain, that I do follow a healthy lifestyle, and I follow doctor instructions just as much as I humanly can. Thank God for my hubby, who is willing to tick off droves of people until they understand this and then change how I am treated.
  3. Some of the most dedicated, kind, and smartest people work in emergency rooms, cardiac intensive care units, and on helicopters. I needed their mercy and hard work and I got it, even with #2 happening.
  4. As you get well, the level of care goes down, at least in the hospital where I was admitted. Thus, family members advocating on your behalf is critical to long-term survival. It’s understandable, but frustrating. And family members are often forced to go through the “wringer” for you. Yes, there are “pain-in-the-neck” families who ignore doctor orders and conduct themselves in negative ways that add to the patient’s ill health. But, if you have a family that stands beside you during your hospitalization, thank the good Lord for such a family. They are saints.
  5. Hospital staff have unseen hurts. This may influence how they care for you, despite their best attempts to do otherwise. If you get the privilege of helping them with those hurts, your hurts get better.
  6. I’m glad I did that counseling degree.
  7. I need to get over my unwillingness to cry in public. How did my new doctor finally begin to understand how MaryAnn typically operates? I blubbered like a baby in front of him, out of total frustration and exhaustion. Yes, I shouldn’t fall to pieces with every little bump in the road, but sometimes tears are the best way to get through to someone.
  8. I now know why I pray every time I hear a siren, see a highway accident, or see a medical helicopter overhead. God reminded me of why when I was finally settled in my first Careflite. I still smile when I think about this. You never know when you’re going to need the prayers of total strangers.
  9. I am thankful for the Internet and social media. In 1999 my family and I had to retell my story over and over again to those who were concerned. It was an exhausting process, although we appreciated the concern. Today, I can quickly update people on Facebook, Twitter, and through my blog. So. Much. Easier.
  10. I am not alone. Usually, cardiologists only have a few patients, at most, with Prinzmetal Angina. Thanks to new research, we now know that there are at least 139,999 other Prinzmetal survivors besides me.
  11. It’s so much easier to recuperate with adult children in the house! It’s quieter; they know what Mom needs, and they can run to the store when you need meds or run out of toothpaste. While we were blessed with friends who came to our rescue in 1999 for all of these things, it’s nice to just hand the teenager your credit card and say, “I need…”
  12. I’m glad we updated our wills last fall. Thank you, Dave Ramsey.
  13. Death is not something to be feared. Not preparing for your inevitable, eventual death is selfish, foolish and makes life more difficult for your family—the very people who need less stress when grieving.
  14. I’d sacrifice my life here if that meant that all of my adopteds, family members, and friends all wound up in Heaven with me one day far into the future. Yes, it’s that important. (That is not something I was ready to say until this year.)
  15. If you’ve been holding back telling a loved one something you are convinced they need to hear and that may alienate you from that person permanently, say it anyway. You may not get another chance to do so. True love is being willing to live without it being reciprocated. Quit being such a coward.
  16. I used to think I had a relationship with Jesus. I was wrong. He has shown me a whole new level of “relationship” and it is mind-blowing.
  17. Pay attention when “circumstances” all start “pointing” toward preparing you for a future “bad” event. That’s God’s doing.
  18. Actually prepare for that bad event in advance the best way you can.
  19. If you fail to do # 18, God is amazingly patient and still has you in the palm of His hand.
  20. My back porch is the best place for MaryAnn to read, appreciate God’s magnificent creation and to unwind when stressed out.
  21. The best medicine for getting over a heart attack is hearing the voices of your children, your siblings, your “adopteds,” your hubby, and your extended family.
  22. My friends don’t listen to me when I say, “We’re fine.” But then, I usually don’t listen to them, when they say the same. It’s just their own personal brand of “revenge.”
  23. Southern hospitality is served up best when there is a crisis.
  24. They don’t call southern women “Steel Magnolias” for nothing.
  25. God has answered the prayer I uttered in 1999 to let me live through my children’s “growing up” years and then some. I am so blessed He chose to honor that prayer.
  26. Journaling can bring on a heart attack. Blogging about it can heal my heart.
  27. Anything I get to experience from here on out is a “bonus.” I need to fully appreciate that bonus.
  28. Whatever is evil on this planet sure doesn’t like me much.
  29. I hate to lose.
  30. Evil is in for a big fight. It just doesn’t know it yet. 

 

Note: I am going to take a “breather” from the blog for the next few days so I can do another kind of writing–thank you note writing! I promise to be back when I’m done with that. If you want to know if I’m still at home doing well, just pay attention to Facebook and Twitter–as long as I’m posting there, I’m good. 🙂

You might also like: The New Information on Prinzmetal Angina, Lessons Learned from Recuperating, Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4, and Thank You, SCC.

 

 

26
Jun

The New Information On Prinzmetal Angina…

experiment

For the last 2 days I have sarcastically witted on about my last 2 heart attacks. But, it’s time to get serious. In 1999 I tried and could not find very much information about Prinzmetal Angina. I had to rely upon the information coming from my cardiologist and personal doctor. Here is what I was told:

  1. Prinzmetal Angina occurs when coronary arteries spasm. If they spasm hard enough, they create a blood clot which then prevents blood flow to the heart. This creates a heart attack.
  2. You can have Prinzmetal Angina without any of the “traditional” heart attack risk factors. This was, and is, oh, so true of me.
  3. In 1999 1 out of every 2 Prinzmetal Angina heart attack victims died.
  4. Negative stress is related to this condition.
  5. Eating right and exercising regularly will not change my risk of having a heart attack.
  6. An EKG and a stress test will often not show a Prinzmetal attack. This is also true of me.
  7. A Prinzmetal patient can expect to have a heart attack every 10 to 15 years. My 3rd and 4th attacks (I actually suspect I may have had a 5th attack that went undiagnosed, based on my symptoms.) came just a little over 14 years after the 1999 attacks.
  8. Prinzmetal attacks often occur when a person is at rest. Three of mine occurred this way.
  9. No one knows why Prinzmetal Angina occurs. You can’t even do an autopsy on a deceased Prinzmetal Angina patient to gain insights.

 

Here’s the good news: Largely thanks to the Internet, I can now find droves of information on this topic! So, here is the new information I am learning:

  1. Cocaine use is a causal agent of this. (That should be easy to stop.) 🙂
  2. They often occur like “clockwork” between the hours of midnight and 8 am. (The last 2 heart attacks occurred almost exactly a week apart right around midnight.)
  3. Beta blockers, commonly used for treating heart patients, are often “bad news” for Prinzmetal Angina patients. I was on a beta blocker when # 3 and # 4 occurred. Because of this new finding, I am now off this med and have been switched to a newer med.
  4. Exposure to the cold can bring on an attack. This is not good news for my migraines, where colder “climates” often help!
  5. 50% of Prinzmetal Angina patients have no conventional risk factors. Thus, you can be a professional athlete in perfect shape and die from this.
  6. Angiography can be used post mortem to examine the spasmed coronary arteries of Prinzmetal Angina victims. This means the medical community might be able to actually make some progress in figuring out what is causing this condition!
  7. When this occurred in 1999, my mother told me that her grandmother (my great-grandmother) died very suddenly at a young age. She wondered if her grandmother could have had Prinzmetal’s and it just had not been a diagnosed condition in “her day.” Now, there seems to be evidence that there could be a genetic component to this condition. In other words, Mom may be right. In fact my mom was always right, so let’s just go with what she said to save time.
  8. Conservative estimates suggest that 140,000 people have Prinzmetal Angina and most are younger heart attack patients than regular heart disease/heart attack patients.
  9. My new cardiologist has another Prinzmetal Angina patient. She also suffers from migraines. Migraine is a known risk factor for stroke. Migraines are caused by constriction of the vascular system of the brain. Strokes, of course, are related to heart attacks. Thus, there may be some connection here that warrants further study.
  10. The American Prinzmetal Angina Association has been formed in order to educate, support research grants and connect doctors who know things about Prinzmetal Angina!

 

Tomorrow’s Post: How MaryAnn Survived 4 Prinzmetal Angina Heart Attacks….

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Recuperating, Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4, Thank You, SCC, So, Where Are My Posts?, 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part 1

 

 

 

25
Jun

Lessons Learned from Recuperating…

blood pressure

Warning: You may need two beverages first.

You might reason, “If you had 2 heart attacks in 1999, surely there are no new lessons to be learned from recuperating from 2 more.” Well, that would be true if 14 years hadn’t transpired in between and I hadn’t been on morphine drips both then and now. It’s starting to come back to me now, but apparently, going through this in your 50s is not like going through it in your 30s. I wonder how bad it would have been if I hadn’t exercised my butt off and tried to eat reasonably for most of that 14 years??? Oh. The list would have been even longer? A reason to be thankful that I exercised, hunh?

  1. It may not be such a hot idea to have a blood pressure cuff. Seeing my current blood pressure readings….well, raises my blood pressure readings. I sense a vicious circle here.
  2. Even on Xanax I can hear the youngest’s alarm clock from across the house, through 2 closed doors. He, on the other hand, won’t hear it for another 15 minutes…after I go and throw a cup of ice water on his head.
  3. Pouring a cup of ice water on the youngest’s head raises my blood pressure.
  4. The hubby doesn’t understand portion control or the elements of a heart healthy diet. I’m not sure I care.
  5. I can drop 6 lbs. in 4 days…while on a morphine drip. Remind me to attach a morphine drip next to my treadmill when I’m cleared to exercise.
  6. I’m supposed to rest during the day. I don’t think the doc has ever been to my house in the daytime. A war zone is probably quieter.
  7. Hockey games put me to sleep. See # 6.
  8. Basketball games raise my blood pressure. Once a Hoosier, always a Hoosier.
  9. I will do just about anything to avoid helping someone move.
  10. I will do just about anything to avoid another Texas Tech orientation.
  11. If you travel extensively for a living for 30 years, your wife will make you pay for this by taking the youngest to Texas Tech orientation…without a referee or a face mask or a baseball bat.
  12. To prepare your hubby to take your youngest to orientation, he will need a folder full of documents, 16 Internet links in an email, and the rest of your prescription for Xanax.
  13. I have good gift elves—they not only shop for me, but they get it on sale and wrap it. That gift elf needs a breakfast at IHOP on me. Now, if I could only get an IHOP in our town. For that, I think I’m going to need bigger elves.
  14. I asked God to get my mind off the heart attack concerns so I could sleep one night and the next thought that popped into my head? Toilet plungers. God is efficient.
  15. # 14 would be the epitome of “Be careful what you ask for…”?
  16. People still doubt that God has a sense of humor. See # 14.
  17. I no longer care about IRS scandals, surveillance of my cell phone, and Oklahoma tornados. But, I do care deeply about getting a Twinkie on 7/15 and seeing the minions again. I have a Master’s, right?
  18. A good day prior to 6/6 was to spend 4 hours writing and maintaining my web site, spend 4 hours doing housework or running errands, mentoring the 18 year old, studying my Bible, sorting the mail, reading 1/7 of a book, watering the plants, and helping some charitable endeavor.
  19. I now view having a good day as putting on mascara. Just so I don’t scare people in public.
  20. We need a new thermostat at our house. One moment it’s too hot in the house and the next moment it’s too cold. Are heart attack survivors required to go through menopause again? Probably really interesting for the male heart attack survivors.
  21. My blood pressure graph resembles the side view of the Titan roller-coaster at Six Flags. And I didn’t even get on the Titan to do that.
  22. I have about as much luck avoiding heart attacks as Marco has at winning IRL races with an excellent car. Maybe he and I need to start a support group for people cursed by gypsies?
  23. Eating dinner with your family, watching TV, and writing in your journal trying to de-stress…causes heart attacks. So, if I breathe deeply, I’m back in the hospital, hunh? Where is that oxygen tank?
  24. My arms and hands now make me look Iike I’m a heroin addict. I don’t remember getting the high from that addiction. Of course, that may be due to the morphine.
  25. I did have plans for the youngest’s last birthday at home before college. Think we can make it up to him by giving him a new car? Oh. Wait. Hospital bills. Never mind. Maybe he wants a Twinkie for his birthday?
  26. My brother informed me they don’t give frequent flyer mileage for Careflites. Dang. I wanted to go to Tahiti this year. Oh. Wait. Hospital bills. Never mind. Texas looks like Tahiti, right?? Maybe I can wire some coconuts to the cacti??? Mai-tai’s look like margaritas if you stick an umbrella in them?
  27. Readership of my blog goes up when I tweet from a hospital bed. I’ve ordered a hospital bed for my office.
  28. When I have heart pain, I develop Internal Tourette’s Syndrome (ITS?). The risk of “oral leakage” at these moments increases my blood pressure.
  29. The hospital chaplain assures me that Jesus has heard cuss words before. Probably because people generally use His name as a cuss word. And that was your sermon for today.
  30. If you go to RealAge.com and tell their calculator that you’ve had 4 heart attacks in 14 years, it computes your “real age” as “corpse.” It computes your life expectancy as -2. This explains the pale face and dark eye circles that now greet me in the mirror on a regular basis.
  31. Based on # 30, I now qualify to be in the next zombie movie. No makeup required. Apocalypse optional.
  32. When you start posting about heart attacks on Facebook, your banner ads are for comfortable walking shoes, selling your home, eye glasses, and auction houses. Refer to # 30.
  33. My “co-mom”, who helps me parent the “adopteds” said she can’t parent all these kids on her own. Note to self: Need to designate a successor “adopted mom” for her. Perhaps the successor will be more successful at getting IHOP to my little town. And can we get my “co-mom” a prescription for Xanax and energy formula multi-vitamins for women 50+?
  34. I think I have Recuperative Stress Syndrome, or RSS. I knew they weren’t giving me the straight scoop about what that RSS thing meant.
  35. Never watch “Puss in Boots” while on Xanax. ‘Nuf said.
  36. I no longer care about ironing. (My children are doing cartwheels in celebration.) Unless I can figure out a way to iron out the flabby skin I have from 6 lbs. of weight loss in less than a week.
  37. I am constantly hungry. And yet I weigh less than I have since the first child was born. Does this mean I’m pregnant? If so…need…more…Xanax. Oh. Wait. You can’t take Xanax while pregnant. Where is my box of chocolates??? Oh. I ate them already.
  38. To get a follow-up appointment with my cardiologist 6 weeks from now, I guess I have to practically die. Oh. Guess that won’t work, either. Not even if you do it twice in 1 week.
  39. While trying to get the follow-up appointment, I was admonished to not leave multiple messages. Kinda hard to do, since they keep leaving me multiple messages about how the dates I’m available are all booked and they never actually answer their extension when I call back. My solution? Leave one long “filibustery” message giving them my attorney’s contact information.
  40. For the record, my attorney’s name is Mr. Pitbull. He probably won’t answer his phone, either, because he likes to go “hunting” pretty often. He also seems to have an anger management issue, too. Sooo thankful he chose to go to a different counselor for that.
  41. I opened my underwear drawer and the Spanx apparently have amnesia—they don’t recognize me now that I’m a skeleton. Maybe they’re on Xanax, too?
  42. I am now required to find an allergist. Since we don’t have those in our little town, this IS an excuse to go shopping for skeleton-sized clothes, right? (I plan to shop in the “Pre-Anorexic” department of Macy’s.)
  43. My new allergist is conveniently located next to my favorite heart-healthy restaurant: The Cheesecake Factory.
  44. Wheelchairs sound so much more appealing now. My mom-in-law named hers, “Sally.” I think I will call mine, “Roy.” I always wanted a family member named after Bruce Willis.
  45. Twisted humor lowers my blood pressure. Not sure what it does to yours. But, I have a blood pressure cuff you can borrow.  I’ve quit using it. See # 1.

 

Tomorrow’s Post: Some actual useful information…

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 & 4, Lessons Learned from a Routine Examination, and Lessons Learned from My Dentist.

24
Jun

Lessons Learned from Heart Attacks 3 and 4…

ICU

Warning: You may want to get 2 beverages first. 

For a little background on why someone like me would wind up in the hospital with heart attacks last Monday, please go here.

The very last thing a cardiologist should do to a writer is strap her down to a hospital bed for 8 days with medical “leashes”, put her on morphine and Xanax, and then think that she won’t use this “quality creative time” to her full advantage. I hope you’re up for a little gallows humor, because I’m about to explode with what I learned.

  1. Two sips of Merlot and I’m in the ER. I always knew I hated red wine.
  2. I think I now have a phobia about Merlot/red wine.
  3. Nurses have amnesia, particularly when it comes to remembering my birthdate. Thanks to them, I can’t seem to forget it. As a token of my gratitude for helping my memory, I’m sending them Merlot wine.
  4. My scooter still works. I didn’t even know I had one.
  5. Don’t hug and kiss the Careflite nurse.
  6. I got to cross off “Ride in a helicopter” from my Bucket List, but I don’t remember putting it on my List twice. Maybe it’s the morphine.
  7. I also got to cross off “Travel down the main thoroughfare of our fair town with police permission while wearing nothing but a hospital gown on a gurney accompanied by 2 guys who aren’t my husband at 1 am in the morning.” Yeah, I was surprised that was on my Bucket List, too. The hubby was even more surprised.
  8. We need to repave the main thoroughfare of our fair town. Remind me to vote for local road improvement at the next election.
  9. If you’re claustrophobic, don’t ride in a Careflite helicopter. If you’re bigger than me, you may need to become a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to fit.
  10. I have an alter ego. Her name is Mrs. Hook.  And apparently, my alter ego has a different address. She’s smarter—she decided to live closer to our local schools and my church. I wonder what illnesses she has. I hope she is okay.
  11. While attaining my counseling degree, I studied nonverbal client behavior. That is not a good skill to have when watching your catheterization team look at your coronary arteries.
  12. My nurses loved my mani/pedi. Note to self: Always schedule a mani/pedi 3 days prior to your next heart attack.
  13. I have “young skin.” This gives me a new reason to stock up on my favorite Bath & Body Works products, right? Think I could be their “Jared”?
  14. I baffle doctors and nurses because I don’t smoke, drink, eat too much, and exercise too little. They aren’t used to patients who follow their instructions?
  15. I now know why I’ve been reading all these books on Heaven and death. God’s sick sense of humor just moved to a whole new level of twisted. Where were the books on resurrection????
  16. Since I had symptoms prior to the gurney ride, my doctor ordered a nuclear stress test, in which they shoot dye into your coronary arteries prior to making you run on a hamster wheel until you fall off. Thanks to the Merlot, that was cancelled. I consider this a good thing since I only want dye applied to one part of my body—the part with the gray hair.
  17. While scheduling the stress test, the receptionist gave me the following instruction: “No funny stuff between now and then!” I guess heart attacks are serious???
  18. Always chew the chicken in your mouth prior to the next morphine drip.
  19. I neglected my children’s musical education—they didn’t understand my Carly Simon reference when I uttered: “I haven’t got time for the pain.” Of course, it could be that I was morphine mumbling it and trying to chew my chicken at the same time.
  20. I can recite the Lord’s Prayer in my sleep, unless the sleep is induced by morphine. Did you know Carly Simon lyrics are part of the Lord’s Prayer? Me neither.
  21. I know night nurses can get bored so I like to keep them entertained with projectile vomiting every so often just to break up the monotony. Let’s just say my capacity to do this means I coat walls better than industrial spray paint equipment. Guess that will teach them to put that little plastic tub too far from my hospital bed, hunh?
  22. My aforementioned little skill requires the contractor size of a Hefty bag to contain the clean-up materials. Maybe I can be Jared for Hefty??? Okay, so that would be awkward, too.
  23. The hubby can conduct business from anywhere. For his next magic trick, he plans to take conference calls on Mars.
  24. The hubby has an interesting career. You have no idea what Morphine MaryAnn does with the conference call term, “cows in heat.”
  25. Morphine confuses my sense of direction. I thought my room was in the corner. That may be because I spent a good portion of my childhood there.
  26. Doctors and nurses don’t believe me when I tell them the truth about my medical history. Of course, I’ve always thought my life story would make a good musical comedy. At least it would be more believable than “Cats.” My theory? “Cats” was dreamed up during “quality creative time” while on morphine.
  27. Doctors are finding more Prinzmetal patients these days. Dang. I liked being unique.
  28. However, few Prinzmetal patients actually produce heart attacks from their vasospasms without other heart disease risks. Guess my over-achiever/perfectionistic tendencies apply to my insides, too. Probably need to work on that sometime, hunh?
  29. If you’re “tied to your hospital bed,” you go to bathroom by “committee.”
  30. I never liked committee meetings.
  31. I missed my treadmill. Yes, I missed my treadmill. Maybe I need to check into Bellevue next.
  32. Last time they put me on Demerol. This time they said I would become too addicted to Demerol. (So, you can get addicted with a 14 year absence of Demerol in your system???? That’s impressive. Must add this to my things to do as an over-achiever.)
  33. They injected morphine ad nauseam (literally) and then told me to get off the morphine because I might get addicted. This little “lecture” came 24 hours after the first injection. You can get addicted to morphine within 24 hours of the first injection? Yay—another way to be unique! And I have so much access to morphine living in small town suburbia. And my favorite way to entertain myself on the weekends is to stick needles into my veins.
  34. Does morphine come in Merlot flavor? If so, I’m sending a case to my new favorite doctor, along with a 6 month supply of needles I found at Wally World on sale. I think they were on sale because they were “reconditioned.”
  35. While attaining the master’s in counseling, we talked a lot about projection. See # 33. Dr. Freud would be so proud.
  36. I’m supposed to endure torturous pain without morphine or Demerol. But, Xanax is fine? They didn’t study the same textbooks I studied. Uh, Doc? Xanax comes in pill form, thus eliminating the inconvenient need for needles from Wally World. (It’s so inconvenient to run there when you’re in withdrawal.) I guess morphine/Demerol addicts never take pills too often.
  37. I think I’m beginning to understand why addiction is such a problem in the U.S.  And why counselors (who generally try to help addicts) so commonly abuse drugs.
  38. A heart attack will bring a couple together more than a marriage retreat. Unfortunately, they’re usually more expensive than a marriage retreat. I personally think the reason why heart attacks bring couples closer together is because heart monitoring electrodes look so alluring by candlelight. They complement the IVs  quite nicely.
  39. A heart attack is not enough for me. I like to throw in migraines, anaphylaxis, non-stop nausea and pericarditis just for grins. You know how I hate boring. My doctors and nurses were not amused.
  40. Want to clear your busy schedule for a while? Have a heart attack. BOOM! Schedule cleared. Even your demanding writing schedule lightens up.
  41. In a unit where you’re encouraged to rest, the nurses and patients are pretty deaf. At least that’s my conclusion after hearing them yell at each other. Either that or morphine and Xanax improve my hearing.
  42. To deal with # 41, ask the youngest to fill up your iPod with inspiring songs.
  43. The same child informed me, after heart attack # 3, that I have now had as many heart attacks as children. He said, “No more children, Mom.”
  44. After heart attack # 4, I started looking around for my 4th child. The daughter always wanted a little sister. #4 is my “favorite” since she never required diaper changes, potty training, “the talk”, adolescent tantrums or enormous college tuition bills. She has good skin like her mother.
  45. It really hurts when you fall out of your hospital bed after hearing the Newsboys lyric: “They Don’t Serve Breakfast in Hell.” What?! No IHOP in Hell???? Geez. I guess I really will have to believe in the Big Guy now. I don’t want to miss breakfast.
  46. The youngest apparently has the same twisted sense of humor as God.
  47. I am blessed to have the best prayer warriors on the planet in “my corner” to make sure I don’t miss breakfast—ever. No Merlot necessary.

 

Next Post: Lessons Learned from Recuperation…

You might also like: Lessons Learned from Committing a Neatness to my Laundry Room, Lessons Learned from a Routine Examination, Lessons Learned from My Dentist  

23
Jun

Thank you, SCC…

guitar

In the heat of the “battle” of two heart attacks, I asked the hubby to have our youngest (who was holding down the fort at home and taking care of our dog) to reload my iPod with songs that would help me cope with all these crazy health issues. I asked the right person to do that…my kids know my taste in music way too well….probably because I kept blaring it at them at ear-shattering volumes throughout their childhoods.  When this song played one night right after heart attack # 3, tears streamed down my cheek. While this is an oldie, it’s definitely a goodie. And nobody writes music or lyrics like Steven Curtis Chapman. So, Mr. Chapman? Thank you for writing what I could not. This song is “spooky” in terms of how much it applies to me. But then, my God has been called a Ghost before, so “spooky” just happens to be His domain.

If you have the time, listen to the actual soundtrack at the bottom–the music is powerful, too.

Bring It On by Steven Curtis Chapman

I didn’t come lookin’ for trouble
And I don’t want to fight needlessly
But I’m not gonna hide in a bubble
If trouble comes for me
I can feel my heart beating faster
I can tell something’s coming down
But if it’s gonna make me grow stronger then…

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall, let it make me strong
Bring it on

Now, maybe you’re thinkin’ I’m crazy
And maybe I need to explain some things
‘Cause I know I’ve got an enemy waiting
Who wants to bring me pain
But what he never seems to remember
What he means for evil God works for good
So I will not retreat or surrender

Now, I don’t want to sound like some hero
‘Cause it’s God alone that my hope is in
But I’m not gonna run from the very things
That would drive me closer to Him
So bring it on

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let it make me fall on the One who’s strong
Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow
Bring it on
Let me be made weak so I’ll know the strength of the One who’s strong
Bring it on
Bring it on

Here’s the link to the audio track:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mktjoryv_8Y

Tomorrow’s Post: Those infamous Lessons Learned…

You might also like: So, Where Are My Posts?, The Real Winner, Pomp Romp, Back-a-Hairy-It, Wedding Cake, I’m Glad to Be Your Man, When East Meets West, For Boston 

22
Jun

So, Where Are My Posts?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Warning: War and Peace was shorter. You’re going to be here a while.

“We interrupt MIP’s usual weekly posts for a rather odd event in MaryAnn’s normally boring life. We will resume MIP‘s regular “programming” when MaryAnn stops reaching for her nitroglycerin pills.”

I should have seen it coming. Actually, I did and it scared the stuffing out of me.

When I began this blog in January, I chose an ambitious goal–to post 6 times a week. If the Lord can work 6 days a week, I probably should, too, right? I also chose to do “series” posts on various days of the week, one of these being, “Slow Reader Thursdays,” in which I review books that I’m reading. I have a pile of books that should have been read a long time ago–many of them gifts from family and friends. But, attaining a master’s degree, working, and raising a family often left me too tired to focus on reading them by the end of the day.

I have been letting God “choose” the book to review each week–even if I look at the cover and have a “meh” reaction. These are mostly Christian books so far–which would be a big indicator of not only who my family and friends are, but also a little bit about me. Lately, God had me reading back-to-back-to-back books on death and Heaven. How did I respond to this? Well, I obediently read the first two and then pulled a big “Jonah” on the last one. I knew God was trying to warn me and yes, I knew what he was warning me about and I tried to substitute another, happier book. I should have known he’d throw a big whale at me if I did that and I live in central Texas where whales are so plentiful!

If you don’t know me well, we have to go back in history a bit: In 1999, at age 39, out of the blue, with no risk factors for heart disease, I had 2 back-to-back heart attacks. I was at a healthy weight; I had low blood pressure; I didn’t drink; I didn’t smoke; I didn’t have diabetes and no history of early heart attack. We also learned that my arteries were pretty clean for a 39 year old American woman who’s been through childbirth 3 times. So, why would someone like me have a heart attack, let alone 2?

It turns out I have Prinzmetal angina, or vasospasms. This means my coronary arteries spasm; the spasm causes a blood clot and the clot creates a heart attack. To this day the only thing they know is a risk factor for Prinzmetal, for sure, is cocaine use. I do have powdery stuff around my house, but we tend to refer to them as dust bunnies. There is considerable speculation that stress is a factor, but I don’t know how to completely rid my life of stress. If you figure it out, please let me know.

Here are the “facts” of Prinzmetal:

1. You cannot exercise or diet your way out of it.

2. 1 out of 2 die from Prinzmetal angina when they have a heart attack.

3. There is no way to diagnose your risk for Prinzmetal’s at this time.

4. If you have it, you can pretty much guarantee yourself that you will another heart attack every 10 to 15 years. And no one knows why.

5. Verapamil (I personally view it as a wonder drug.) can stop vasospasms. And this it did very kindly and very successfully, for 14 years. And that brings me to recent events in my life.

On June 6th, that “old, familiar feeling” from 1999 reared its ugly head again. And I was in the metroplex of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area (about 75 miles from my home), without my drugs. Why? Because I had been healthy as a horse for the last 14 years and I get tired of being a walking pharmacy and sometimes a girl just needs more room in her purse or a smaller purse. (Stupid, right? I agree. Lesson learned–from now on the heart meds will be with me, no matter what. If I’m swimming in a pool soon, I’m putting them in a ziploc bag and strapping them (very unattractively) to my bathing suit.)

Fortunately, I have the world’s best hubby and he rushed me to a nearby convenience store, grabbed Bayer aspirin and I crammed 2 aspirin down my throat. The pain, thankfully, eased. I got home and took all the heart meds. It eased more. I went to bed and stayed there most of the weekend. Unfortunately, by Monday, my blood pressure was still up and my heart was cranky (My term for flashes of cardiac pain, but not heart attack symptoms.). I decided to go see my local doc and he ran tests. No sign of a heart attack, but knowing my wacky history, he ordered a nuclear stress test for 2 days later (We needed a cardiologist on-site for the test and I live in a very small town and this was the first opening with the cardiologist.)

Late on Monday night, the heart attack symptoms returned with a vengeance. I took the heart meds and nothing worked. I alerted that spectacular hubby of mine and we dressed quickly and went to the ER (which we can arrive at in less than 5 minutes, if necessary.). Bing. Bang. Boom. I was on a CareFlite going to the same hospital I went to in 1999. I was met by the heart catheterization (I tend to refer to arteriograms as “heart caths.”) team and bing, bang, boom, I was having an arteriogram yet again. And yes, again, they saw vasospasms. Unfortunately, this time, the spasming arteries were too small to insert a stent to keep the artery open and heart attack free (as they had done in 1999). They shot nitroglycerin (I usually call this nitro.) straight into the affected artery to no avail. Oh and one other thing, you’re awake for arteriograms, so my “counseloritis” was reading nonverbal behavior and not thrilled with what I was seeing from the heart cath team.

Plan B? Change and tweak meds until a winning combination was found to stop the vasospasms. Plan C? Nada. There’s nothing one can do to replace or repair a still healthy heart.

Now all of the above would be plenty for a gifted cardiologist to handle on a normal day. But I like to check and make sure docs are really on their game when I visit them. Thus, I throw chronic migraines and anaphylaxis to a variety of drugs into the mix. These little conditions all irritate the other, thus initiating one vicious cycle after another. It’s just loads of “fun”–trust me.

Thankfully, Plan B worked and I was home by Friday. Having been down this road before, I know that lots of bed rest, taking it easy, and clearing my schedule post-attack is required. I did so, only deciding to plant myself in my church pew on Sunday morning so I could say goodbye to my pastor and his family. They were moving to a new church and they mean a lot to me and we mutually cried our way through the service. I didn’t stand for the singing and let people come to me, if they wanted. I felt just fine.

Sunday night I couldn’t sleep, despite taking the prescribed sedative. I’m rather gifted at being a night owl insomniac. It’s when I “write” in my head, unfortunately. Normally, I would combat that with some treadmill time, but of course, this was not an option post-heart attack. So, I decided to put the “writing” on paper in my journal and pray it was out of my head enough to let me sleep. I finished up at midnight.

Almost at the same time, that old, familiar feeling returned again. Seriously? I grabbed my heart meds and tried, again, “to gain the upper hand.” But again, no response to the meds. So we pretty much repeated our prior week’s journey back to the metroplex hospital. What ensued for the next 24 to 48 hours was not pretty. This heart attack was different–my pain ebbed and flowed; the pain “floated” from one part of my heart to another; I was extremely nauseous; I had a hideous migraine and nothing worked. For the first time, I gave into groaning and moaning, sometimes yelling at my very faithful hubby, who never left my side. He and my nurse worked their rear ends off trying to solve my “issues.” I couldn’t even feed myself or swallow my meds on my own. My arm and hand veins, probably remembering the IV and blood sample pain from the previous week, did a rather large disappearing act. So, very soon, not only were my arms and hands radiating with pain, but they were badly bruised and throbbing almost non-stop.

I wasn’t sure how much more I could take. Thankfully, the chaplain from our local hospital, also a personal friend, paid a visit late into the evening and mercifully counseled me. (More about that later!) I could only muster a weak smile of thanks.

At one point I asked if they could just put me in a coma. My only relief was to sleep for a few hours and as soon as I woke, the pain and issues all returned. For some odd reason, I elected to have the hubby feed me the really bad hospital mashed potatoes…very, very slowly. Unlike all my usual nausea self-help foods, this seemed to work somewhat. They asked me if I could handle Mylanta or something similar. Usually, that just makes my vomiting worse. Then, from the deep reaches of my ancient memories, I remembered that I could sometimes thwart my nausea with Pepto Bismol tablets. The liquid did me in, but for some reason, I could handle the tablets.

Since this is not the normal treatment these days for nausea, it took them a while to get them to my floor, but I chewed the first two and felt less nauseous. I used that opportunity to eat more potatoes and a few other bland items. I asked if I could have more tablets. Two more were given and it improved even more. Pretty soon, the nausea was under control. Then, the medical staff could zone in on heart and migraine meds in full force to control these other issues.

Soon, the migraine was gone. The cardiologist did another arteriogram and indeed, I had had yet another heart attack. Tweaking meds began again. By Thursday, I was chomping to be discharged and now I’m back home yet again. Let’s hope I stay put this time.

Some have suggested that God is trying to teach me something and this is His way of getting my attention. I agree that I’ve learned a lot having had 4 heart attacks in 14 years, but trust me, I asked God what He wanted to teach me back in 1999 and I changed my lifestyle considerably and continue to do so, based on what I felt/feel He was/is showing me and teaching me. So, this time around I tend to think that God wants me, even in the midst of my agony, to be merciful to those around me who may be hurting in unseen ways. And that proved to be true. Some of the people taking care of me seemed to need an informal ‘counseling session’ from my hospital bed. Do I think there are other things I am to learn this time? Yes. Of course there are. He has been choosing to deepen his relationship with me even prior to these last 2 attacks and that proved to be really useful during the attacks.

The one thing that Prinzmetal teaches you emphatically is that you are not in control of your life. If you think you are, that’s an illusion. I know that God brought me into this world and He can take me out at any moment. So, I am literally painfully, aware that He is in charge–not me. And not my doctors and nurses. And I was ready to go to Heaven last Monday night if that was His will. (If you don’t believe me, talk to the hubby.) I don’t have a choice about it, so I might as well be willing. I choose to let Him order my life and whoever is in front of me, that’s my to-do list for the day. I cherish every moment here, but I also choose to look forward to Heaven where there is no more pain and I rest in Jesus’ arms and can be reunited with my “welcoming committee.” That’s not ghoulish…that’s just reality. And my God is very real.

Many of you have asked how you can help our family during this time. Trust me–we will contact you if help is needed, but by and large, we are fine. I just need time to heal. However, I do think 1 reason I was allowed to stick around for an additional 14 years was to make people aware of Prinzmetal angina, so please, please, please help me do that any way that you can.

And, of course, please pray for my family and friends. This is really tough on them when I go through this stuff, so I covet your prayers for them.  Finally, be the person God meant you to be. Don’t waste time on things that won’t get you closer to that goal. You never know when your next breath is your last breath. Doing that will help me the most, because I love you all and do get concerned when I see you straying from who you were designed to be. You will lower my stress level considerably if you get laser-focused on that. Change is possible–I’m living proof.

I now have a very interesting, very rare viewpoint that most do not get to experience and I actually consider it a gift to get to be a part of the Creator God’s master plan in small, but hopefully, meaningful ways because of my “health adventures.” Oh, and one more thing: I choose to poke a little fun at this, because what else am I supposed to do with this??? And so…stay tuned….your favorite “Lessons Learned” are coming your way sometime very soon. (In fact it’s already drafted–I tend to think God actually writes these–I’m not that funny in real life–trust me.) Laughter is a great healer and I prefer to think that God has the sickest, most twisted sense of humor on the planet when it comes to me.

In addition to sharing my “Lessons Learned,” I also want to share some of the stuff I learned this time, both practically and spiritually and share the things that God chose to use during the latest health adventures, so forgive me for interrupting the normal flow of posts here on MIP (Expect me to post at odd times! I don’t get to dictate my energy level or cranky heart moments right now.) temporarily to do so. I promise to return to them just as soon as God decides I’ve had enough helicopter rides for a while.

Tomorrow’s Post: The Song that Says It All…

You might also like: 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part I; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part II; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part III; 2 Heart Attacks Too Soon, Part IV

11
Jun

26 Tuesdays: Caroline Previdi…

sweet girl

Last week’s 26 Tuesdays honoree was Noah Pozner. Noah had a great heart, according to those who knew him. This is about all we know of Noah and so, I wondered how I was going to do something that would involve just caring and having a great heart. Thankfully, my answer was given to me quite easily and randomly.

As I was returning home one day, I noticed a lawn care and landscaping truck and trailer turning and going up the street where I live. As they turned, they lost a gas can off the back of the low trailer. They started to increase speed to go up the hill and I realized they had no idea they had lost one of their gas cans. How was I going to flag them down, since I was quite far behind them? I honked my car horn several times in rapid succession and they finally stopped further up the hill, quite obviously surprised by my honking.

I stopped my car near the gas can and hopped out to get it. It was pretty full of gas, so I was glad that I had honked my horn–they most likely were going to need the gas in the can for the rest of their work that day. Two men slowly got out of the truck and then realized why I had honked as I made my way up the hill with their gas can. They walked faster, going to meet me in the road. I apologized for honking so much and handed them the can. The man taking the can thanked me.

I like to think that Noah looked down from Heaven and knew I needed some help with my act of kindness this week and just gave that gas can a little nudge off the back of that trailer. I’m probably wrong about that, but it’s how I like to think about it. And when the men got their gas can back, he smiled up there somewhere. Particularly, since the gentlemen in the truck didn’t appear to be able to speak a lot of English. Acts of kindness seldom need mutual language comprehension. They just need to be done.

That means that our MIP Acts of Kindness stand at 60 today. How did you honor Noah this week? Please submit a comment below letting me know that you participated!

This week we honor Caroline Previdi. Like Noah, not much is reported about Caroline’s likes and dislikes, but here’s what CNN said about her:

Caroline Previdi, 6
“You were a sweet little girl and you will be missed.” That’s the message that Caroline’s aunt reportedly tweeted, saying goodbye to her niece, according to the online version of the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, California. “It hurts even more to see a familiar name on that list,” the report said Paige Tremblay also tweeted. A Facebook page called “RIP Caroline Previdi — Sandy Hook Massacre Victim” contains dozens of messages. One reads: “Rest in Peace, sweetheart. I know for sure that God is with you and all the other sweet little angels. I feel so very sorry for all these families who lost their precious kids, my heart goes out to all of you.”‘

 

Tomorrow’s Post: The last College Freshman Orientation…

You might also like: 26 Tuesdays: Noah Pozner, 26 Tuesdays: Jack Pinto, 26 Tuesdays: Emilie Parker, 26 Tuesdays: Anne Marie Murphy, 26 Tuesdays: Grace McDonnell

10
Jun

Word of the Week: flehmen

Picture picture

Picture picture

Last week’s word was nascent. Merriam-Webster defines nascent as coming or having recently come into existence. I think we can safely say that scandals are rather nascent for Mr. Obama, or at least that’s the way it appears!

This week’s word is flehmen. Here are my definition attempts for it:

flehmen 1. the adjective used to describe Cherries Jubilee. 2. men who reside in a not-so-nice motel 3. the partial mispronunciation of Filet Mignon.

What’s your definition of flehmen? Submit below!

Tomorrow’s Post: A very random act of kindness…

You might also like: Word of the Week: nascent, Word of the Week: canorous, Word of the Week: carminative, Word of the Week: fuliginous, Word of the Week: thimblerig

08
Jun

The Real Winner…

Indy Car engine

 

Let’s buy out the store
For snacks galore
And we’ll need plenty of ice
To cool drinks down really nice.

And we need checkered hats
Along with programs full of stats
And plenty of sunscreen
In case the heat is really mean.

We’ll need lightweight clothing
To keep us from sunny loathing
And then primo parking
For when our feet are barking.

Then it’s time for souvenirs
Gee, I hope my check clears
For they’re not too cheap
Even if bought off the back of a jeep.

Then, we find our nifty seats
And get out our edible treats
And divvy up names
As if we’re playing high-stakes games.

Soon, the call is given
“Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines”
And the pace car starts down the lane
Much to the impatient racers’ pain.

And then that flag is waved
And drivers fly down all that’s paved
In hopes of being the first
Or at least not being the worst.

But, whoever gets the flowers
And whoever avoids the sparking showers
The real race winner all alone
Is the first fan who reaches the garage at home.

 

Monday’s Post: What was your guess for nascent?

You might also like: Pomp Romp, Back-a-Hairy-It, Wedding Cake, I’m Glad to Be Your Man, When East Meets West, For Boston