Friday, August 31, 2012

Cardiology appt...

Today was not as bad as I thought. I did not have any tests except for a chest X-ray. Dr. Lane decreased one of my meds, the Amiodarone. So instead of twice a day, I'll do just once. The X-ray showed fluid on my right lung, and the only way to get rid of it is to be admitted back into the hospital to have it drained. She called me this afternoon to tell me that. It's up to me what I do. I can either go into the hospital and be admitted tomorrow or I can go in Tues afternoon. I'm not sure if this is a day procedure or what. The doctor will take a big needle, insert it into my lung and drain whatever fluid is on it. That should get rid of my cough as well. I'm electing to do this Tues, when MY doctors will be there, rather than when the weekend/holiday crowd is there. I'm nervous, as usual. Dr. Lane also said that I need another EKG, but the order didn't go through yet, so it'll be next week sometime. An electrophysiologist is also supposed to do a cardiac MRI on me in about 4 weeks. This will show the electrical activity of my heart. Doing this determines whether or not I can get rid of this lifevest, and whether or not I need a defibrillator put in. I so do not want that. I went from 30 to super old overnight. My bp was 93/52 today. I added 2 prescriptions to my other 4, but those 2 are cough meds. Hopefully, after the procedure Tues, I can stop taking them. I think it's called a thoracentesis. I know -centesis means to drain fluid with a needle, so that's probably what it is. Anyway, I think I'm going to nap, I've had a busy day and I'm exhausted.

The meaning of "scared"...

I'm writing about being scared bc I thought the scariness was over. I don't walk around in life scared. I've had scary instances, but nothing too bad. I was scared when I had back surgery, bc I was 18 & I could have been paralyzed. I was scared when I was 4 months pregnant w Rianna, & had placenta abruption & almost lost her. That was the most scared I'd ever been. When I went into Prompt Care, I was fine. It's when she came back & told me the EKG was bad that I started becoming a nervous wreck. I was scared of the VTACs I was having, scared I was having a heart attack, & scared I was going to crash, esp while David wasn't there. When Dr. Lane told me what the Echo revealed & I had to have surgery, scared became my middle name...well, Scaredy-cat became my middle name. I had the surgery, & although I'm healing nicely & I get more mobile and strong every day, there are still things that scare me. Last week, I went to the surgeon for a post-op check. I was scared of the pain I'd feel when the PA removed those 2 stitches, which turned out to be nothing. Fast forward to today...the reason(s) I'm terrified.

Today, I meet w my cardiologist. I have to have my 1st Echo since surgery. What if it says, "nice try, you fixed the ASD & mitral valve, I have something new for ya"...ok, so I know the machine's not going to talk, & esp in the words I used, but what if my heart is playing a nasty trick on me since it let me live as long as I did before surgery was necessary? Also, what if I can't live comfortably w/o this lifevest? As aggravating as it is to be hooked up to it, I now feel like it's my security blanket, & that I sincerely need it, even if it's to maintain peace of mind. Maybe my main fear is this: the doctors originally did a lot of those tests pre-surgery bc they wanted to see what they were getting into. They didn't want to go in blind, & they didn't want to put me through surgery if what I needed was a heart transplant. They said that if they didn't feel confident doing the surgery, they would have sent me to Emory to get on the transplant list. That was so...well, to use my vocab word of the day...scary. After surgery, Dr. Hunter said that everything went well, but my left ventricle was larger than it should be. He said that it may or may not return to its normal size bc there's no telling how long it's been enlarged. He said that my heart may not know how to act since it spent 30 years like this. So in case you were wondering why I'm such a nervous wreck today, it's bc I'm scared that it's not fixed. I'm scared that I'll eventually need a transplant. I don't want that option. Do you know how long heart transplant lists are? Do you think I really want to go through another thing like this? Bc if I did, how do we know it'll work? So yes, the reason I'm scared of this appt and probably many others in the future is bc I'm scared that my time is more limited now, than before all this happened. I know we all have to die, I know that I'm not more special than other people who die everyday from heart issues, but I can't help but to be scared. I don't want to be at one of my appts and hear that I will live only such & such more time. So, if my appt goes well today, then good. I'll be worry-almost-free...that is, until time for my next checkup, which is Sept 10th...sigh...& now that I've become a nervous wreck, I have to tell the doc my fears, bc they don't want me start going nuts. I don't want antidepressants, which is something they put a lot of open heart patients on. I was on them in the hospital, & said I wouldn't need them when I got out. I'll still hold my ground to that for a certain extent, it's just when I start going completely nuts that I will probably need them. I hate medicine...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Slept through the night, whoo-hoo!!

I sound like a newborn's parents, but I did, I slept through the night for the 1st time since surgery. I woke at 630. That means David got a good night's sleep too. I hate waking him up, but I can't get up by myself yet. I stack up 4 pillows so that I'm pretty much sitting up in bed. Then I don't need help up. But sometimes during the night, I slip down, and when that happens, FORGET IT. I need help up! So I was happier that my hubby got to get some sleep. I hope I can keep it up, lol. So, my "wounds" from the chest tubes are not healing the way they should be, I don't think. I won't go into details for the faint of heart, but I'm currently not wearing my lifevest for a few hours. I will put it back on soon, so I don't freak myself out about it. Basically, the PA said that I should keep gauze over it, bc my lifevest can rub up against it, and that isn't giving it air to breathe. So I am taking a break from it. No big deal...oh, so I got such a great surprise yesterday. We went out to lunch bc we were all ready to get out of the house. After lunch, I was exhausted, so I laid down in my chair and was drifting off to sleep. I heard a knock at the kitchen door (no one knocks at the kitchen door!) and in walks my friend Katie. I haven't seen her in so long. She wanted to surprise me, and didn't have David's number, so she texted his brother to get it. Then apparently, they were texting back and forth, hatching her plan to come over. It was a great surprise! Today, my friend Judith was supposed to come over, but the kids have a little cold, so I told her I don't want her getting sick, so she's gonna come over tomorrow. Well, until next time...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


So I'm feeling sort of accomplished today. Here are some of the things I accomplished on my own: I put my own tshirt on this morning. I've been having to wear wide neck shirts or button downs, and so I grabbed one of David's old ones and was able to put it on. I put my hair up today. Not perfect, and it hurt a little, but better than it has been. Most importantly, tonight, I took my shower and shaved my legs all by myself!!! I am so glad I took a pain pill before the shower though, bc I definitely felt it. Monday, I had my post-op appt with the surgeon, Dr. Hunter. Or in my case, I saw his PA. She took my stitches out (only 2, from the chest tubes). It stung, but it was ok. She said I can start doing a little more. I go back in 3 weeks, and we will start cardiac rehab, and possibly, I'll be able to drive again. Which means I can get on campus for my class. I'm looking forward to being back to normal again. Next Friday, I'll be going to see my cardiologist. Hopefully, she can help me with other stuff that I forgot to mention to the PA. Most importantly, this stupid right arm of mine. It feels tired one second, then it's painful, and it's constant. Pain pills do nothing for it. I'm thinking it's either the position they had me in during and after surgery, or maybe the IV team pinched a nerve somehow during the PICC line insertion. I'm not sure, but it's driving me more batty than this incision and sternum pain. Ugh...I'm trying so hard to remain positive, to be thankful that they caught this finally and that they were able to fix it without too much of a problem. I'm grateful to be alive, and relatively healthy. I'm extremely grateful that I have my husband and kids. But dang, I just want this pain to go away, this uncomfortable feeling in my arm, the dependence I have on everyone...can I just be done now?!?!? Anyway, Mon, I got a visit from my friend, Kat, who came to fix my hair for my appt, and today, my friend, Codie, came over with...The Hunger Games!!!! Awesome, right? She's coming tomorrow and I may rent The Lucky One, or some other chick flick on Apple TV. We'll see. I've got some of my thank you cards written and handed out, but I still have a lot more. Ok, so it's bedtime...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cardiac Baby...

When I was in the hospital, the nurses called me their Cardiac Baby. I was the youngest person in the cardiac unit. The nurses said they would fight over me, bc they liked the change from a 70 year old. When I'd be walking around the unit, I'd have people staring at me, probably wondering what the heck I was doing there. I am home now, and I'm going to try to blog a little each day, or at least a few days a week. I don't want to be stuck at home, so I do go a few places, I just can't drive for about 5 more weeks. I have to take 3 meds every day. I take Amiodarone 2 times a day, a baby aspirin once a day, and Metaprolol twice a day. Pain meds if needed, but it's Hydrocodone, so I really don't take it much. I may take 1/2 a pill a day, and it's usually at shower time, bc I have to stand up so David can bathe me; it wears me out and makes me hurt a little to get undressed, shower, and get dressed again. I can't wait til I can shower normally again. I can't wait to drive again either. I'm loving being at home with my family. I missed them so much. I miss my nurses too though. I will be going to visit them sometime in the near future. I want to check in with them, and take them a card and a gift. They were all pretty awesome.

Every day, I ride with Umma to take the kids to school and pick them up. I want to be involved as much as possible. I still haven't met their teachers yet, but I emailed them to let them know I'd like to have a meeting here soon. David told them at Open House what was going on, so they are understanding of it. I emailed my 4 professors for this semester, and let them know what is going on, and I requested to work at home for the 1st 4 weeks. One of my professors, for Anthropology, said yes. I've had her for 3 other Anthro classes, so she knows me. 2 of my classes are online, w occasional meetings throughout the semester, so they are ok with it too. I only had to drop my main class, bc it's a science and it's way too hands-on to miss so many weeks. It sucks, but there's always spring. So classes start tomorrow. I have an appt with my cardiothoracic surgeon at 130, then David is taking me to buy my schoolbooks. I will start my work as soon as they give it to me, bc I don't want to get behind. With my 2 online classes, as long as I'm done with all the assignments by the last day of class (in Dec), there's not much of a timeline. But I get bored during the day with the babies at school, so I'm going to do it.

My friend Kat is coming over in the morning to straighten my hair for me. I've had the worst hair day for going on 3 weeks now, and I feel gross. David can wash my hair, but there's no one who can fix it for me. Rianna will brush it and put it in a ponytail, but it's not exactly what I want. But I love that my baby girl takes care of me. She and Gage have been great. They do little things for me and without complaint. They bring my pillows, pull out the recliner, get my phone, etc...the only downside we had so far is when I 1st came home. Gage was really scared of my zipper. He didn't want to see it, talk about it, or anything. He also didn't want to go to school. He said he didn't want to leave me again. It was sad. He's doing well now. David bought him an arc reactor toy (from the movie Iron Man), and I told him that we were alike now. I even had him pose for a pic of our Iron Man chests, lol. It's cute. I haven't decided if I will share it or not. Well, for the most part, I am caught up. There was probably lots that happened in between, but it's kinda monotonous and boring. Anyway, til next time...

Playing catch-up...

I haven't written lately, actually since my surgery, so I need to catch up. On August 8th, I had my surgery. I was terrified!!! They woke me up at 330am to take my sanitizing shower. I fell asleep until they came to get me at 515. My nerves were shot! They took me down on the bed, to a pre-op room. David, my stepdad and his wife, Connie, were there. I cried the whole ride down. Dr. Abercrombie, the anesthesiologist, came in to see if we had any questions, and we didn't. I remember them taking me into the OR, having me scoot from the bed I was on onto the OR table, and then Dr. A was softly talking to me. Then I was out. Before I went in, I told David to call the kids at 730 to tell them I love them. I also had told him that when I was in the PACU recovering, to talk to me and make me wake up, bc not waking up was what I was afraid of. Last year, my papa died during open heart surgery. I know that we had two different circumstances, but I was worried. He went into cardiac arrest twice during surgery and they couldn't finish the surgery. I was so worried. I don't remember much after surgery during my time in the PACU, but David told me. He said that I had this tube down my throat, and since I couldn't talk, I was gesturing to him. I was making my hand show a telephone, and he said I was asking if he called my babies. He said yes, that he did. I don't remember them taking the tube out of my throat, which is probably good. I am not a very good patient. I complain about every little pain or discomfort. When I was working on waking up, David was talking to me. He recorded me, and after coming home and seeing the video, I wanna kick him! I cannot accept responsibility bc I was still coming out of anesthesia, that's my disclaimer. I hope he doesn't show anyone. Anyway, I only had to stay in the PACU for one night. They said it was a good thing. Oh, but I remember the dang chest tubes. When I was 18 and had my back surgery, I had a chest tube. It was in my side. I thought that hurt when they pulled it out. No-pain came when the PA came in to remove the 2 I had in my chest. That was some major pain. By the time I left the PACU, they had taken away most of my IVs. I was taken back upstairs to a new room. They still had problems with my blood pressure. Some of the time, they had to skip my meds bc of my too-low bp. 

Dr. Hunter, my surgeon, told me that the surgery went really well. Before the surgery, he told David that it could take 6 hours before he could come out and tell him what happened. David got 2 phone calls during my surgery. The 1st was the let him know I'd gone on bypass, and the 2nd was to let him know I was off bypass. About the bypass...I wanted to know everything that they were going to do to me. And how...was I going to be on bypass? Yes. Would he take my heart out and repair it, or leave it in? Leave it in. Things like that is what I wanted to know. Oh, and the question they had for me...did I want to be resuscitated if needed? Um, yes! My blood work showed that my platelets counts and WBC counts were low still. I may need transfusions of both during surgery. Afterwards, I learned that no transfusions were needed! Yay!

I came home on August 13th. Longest day ever!!! And it was emotional, well, I was a wreck. I was worried about being at home, bc my nurses weren't going to be there. I was going home to my babies, which I was so happy about. That trumped everything else. But, there was a catch. I needed to wear a lifevest. They want to be extra cautious, and I am having to wear it for 3 months. Ok-in order to go home, there were things that needed to be accomplished. I had to sit up in a chair 3 times that day. Ok-easy-peasy, I did that after day 1, bc I had to change positions a lot. Also, I had to make sure that I could walk about 150 hearts. In the unit I was in, every 25 feet, there were heart stickers on the floor. I had to be able to walk those. I went 2-3 times a day. I wound up doing 220 just on the last day. So I had done my part. What were we waiting for? Well, for one, my insurance company didn't want to cover the cost of the lifevest. At this point, I was just ready to have them bill me for it, and just get home. But, the case manager worked it, and insurance agreed. Finally!!! The lifevest person would be in shortly to fit me for it. Shortly meant 4pm...ugh!!! She came in, fitted me, explained how to work it, and that took an hour. Basically, when I heard about this lifevest, I'm thinking Kevlar type vests. Or vests you use for a boat. But, what it is, is a lot of straps. There's a strap that forms a racer back pattern on my back, and straps like a backpack for my shoulders, and a strap that goes around me under my chest. On the racerback part and the left side, I have rectangular electrodes, and the rest of the straps consist of circular electrodes. If my machine beeps, I need to press these 2 buttons and read the screen to see why it's beeping. It could mean low battery, an electrode isn't touching my skin, etc. could also mean I'm in distress. So I press the buttons, I'm ok. If my heart stops or something, the machine will shock me. She told David that even if he sees this happening, to not touch me. Let it shock me, then get me to the hospital. It's kinda scary, but the doctors only want me to wear it as a precaution. They doubt I need it, but just in's aggravating, but it's ok. After the lifevest rep was in, I only had to wait on the IV team to come remove my PICC line. My nurse went over my discharge instructions, and that's all I was waiting for. 2 1/2 hours later, the IV team (ok, just one person) came in, and literally took 5 seconds to pull the PICC line, measure to make sure that it was the same size as what they'd put in, and that was it!

I got to leave the hospital at 8pm...David and I dropped off my prescriptions, and then I got to see my babies!!!! Best moment ever. I had missed them so much. Yes, we had FaceTime, but it was not the same. I was a happy mama!!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

T-1 day...

I'm a bundle of nerves today. For one, I was supposed to have had surgery this morning, but they came in yesterday and said it would be tomorrow. The reason was bc of the doc's on-call schedule. He wanted to make sure that if I needed him the night that I had my surgery, that he would be the one on-call. Plus, he was on last night and didn't want to do my surgery after being on-call all night. I have to respect that. This morning, at 11, my family and surgeon (along with his PA and NP) met up in my room to discuss every little detail. Risks, outcome percentages, everything that I could both be happy and upset about. This is the real thing. Open heart is major. I know I need the surgery, bc they already said that it's amazing I made it to be 30 years old. When you hear something like that, you think it's an exaggeration. But my doctor was not exaggerating. She said without the surgery, I probably wouldn't live 10 more years. I need longer than that with my husband and kids.

Late yesterday, Ashley came and sat with me. We talked for a long while. We are planning our next concert :) She's great. David gets to spend the night with me tonight, I'm very grateful. He needs strength too, and I've prayed for it. He has been strong, but today, he started losing it a little. But, the good news is, we were by ourselves for awhile today and we got to talk. We haven't really been able to do that, bc I always have visitors. I'm glad I've had such great visitors, but he and I really needed that today. If I ever had any doubts about us, they are gone. I'm gonna aggravate him forever...and ever!!! Bwhahahaha...anyway, the kids had their first day of school today. David took them and he let them call me at 730 this morning to talk to me. He was making their lunches and Rianna was giving me a play by play. I talked to both Rianna and Gage and told them that I love them, I want them to have fun at school, and that I'll be home as soon as possible. That's my goal. David is picking them up this afternoon and they will call me to tell me how their first day went. Actually, we will be Facetiming. I'll get to see their beautiful faces. So visitors today included my stepdad and Connie, mom and dad, and Aunt Debra. Along with David, but he's not a visitor, he's my husband, my better half. My sister, Tammy, told me that in her times of need, she focuses on Psalm 91. I read it, and I will read it over and over. I love that she showed me that. David will be the only one who can see me tomorrow and possible the next day. I sent out a note on FB that basically said that anyone who has been sick, is getting sick, has sick kids, or even feels like they are getting sick, does not need to come here. I catch colds easily when I'm well, so I definitely don't need the chance of getting sick after surgery. I need to be as strong as possible. Well, I may write more later tonight, but for now, I'm going to try to take a nap.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Nothing too *medically* to report about Sunday, but it was a good day. My Sam came to visit today, along with other awesome visitors! Sam is soooooo sweet, I love her. She used to live next door to me with her husband and beautiful babies, but they live near Atlanta now. She drove all that way to visit me. I love her and her family so much, so it was so nice to see her.

My babies brought their new school clothes to show me, and they wanted me to pick out what they should wear the 1st day. It was so funny, I told Gage to wear one thing, but he wanted to wear something else, so he kept repeating it. So I picked the one he wanted to wear, and made it like it was my idea. He's so adorable that it doesn't matter what he wears! Rianna too! My girl is growing so fast!!! Tomorrow is the last day they will see me for almost a week. It was recommended that they not come up after surgery (obviously they can't while I'm in PACU), but even when I'm in a regular room again, they should stay home. Mainly, bc I will look different, trying to recover, but bc they will be back in school, sharing germs with the world once again. You know how kids are-it's hard to get them to share their toys or play area, but germs are a sure thing.

 My other visitors today were my dad, stepdad, mom and dad (David's parents), and someone super special, Uncle Lynn. I'll tell you about Uncle Lynn. He and my stepdad have been friends since they were 17. That's almost 50 years!!!! So when we were growing up, Uncle Lynn would take each of us kids somewhere for our birthdays, whatever restaurant we chose. He and I had a special bond. He took me to my 1st concert (Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett), took me to the Abbeville Opera House many times to see plays, and a new restaurant each time. The kind of restaurant you should dress up for. My sisters and brother would choose places like McDonalds or something, but we went to unique places! Oh, and the only college football game I've ever been to-Wake Forrest @ GA Tech. His team is Tech, and they lost...but it was so much fun. And it was freezing cold!!! So, I was so excited to see him, bc it's been years! 

Mrs. Cole-Marshall, a teacher and great friend at David's school, also came to see me. She has been here 3 times, and she was the only one with me when I found out that I was going to have surgery. And boy, am I glad she was here. David had gone back home to feed the kids and get my phone charger bc it had died, and the doctor delivered the news. She was quick to jump up and call him to tell him to get his butt back here. She's a sweet, sweet person, and she adores David like no other. She gives him hell, which is good, he needs it sometimes, lol. Oh, and I got a call from the principal who used to be at David's school. It's amazing the support I have and I am so very lucky to have such special people in my life. Even my friends who can't be here now are precious to me, calling me or facebooking me (I know, FB just became a verb!). I was so happy to see mom too! She is in a lot of pain though (she has to have surgery next month), and I feel so bad for her. The kids went home with them tonight, and for that, I'm grateful, bc they can play with their cousin Elizabeth and get their minds off of me. Well, night!!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Since I'm awake at 530am...

I thought I would get a few definitions down...

1. VTACs (ventricular tachycardia)-a very fast heart rhythm that originates in the ventricles of the heart.

2. ASD (atrial septum defect)-congenital heart problem that results in a hole in the wall bw the heart is having to work harder than necessary bc the venous blood is mixing with the arterial blood (deoxygenated vs oxygenated, respectively)

3. EKG (electrocardiogram)-a test to show the electrical activity of the heart

4. Echocardiogram- a sonogram of the heart

5. TEE (transesophageal echocardiogram)-basically, an echo from the inside. Luckily, all I remember from this procedure is the yucky tasting spray that numbs the back of my throat. I go in, lie down, they hook up the vitals stuff, give me oxygen, spray the throat spray and make me swallow Lidocaine 2-3 times, and then, I'm guessing, I swallow the probe that will show the images. I'm kinda foggy on that part, bc I'm usually knocked out by then :) I usually stay foggy for a couple hours after. I've also had a 3D one done, same procedure, different views, like a 3D ultrasound when pregnant.

6. Heart catheterization-a procedure that includes inserting a catheter through from the groin. The catheter then travels to the heart. I luckily don't remember that either, except the getting sick afterward. When I was in "recovery", I vaguely remember them waking me and I was trying to turn on my side. They were yelling at me and holding me down, saying that I needed to lie still. I said that I was about to be sick, and I turned back over just in time. After that, the good patient in me came out and I laid how I was supposed to :)

7. PICC line (peripherally inserted central cath)-A long slender tube (think coffee stirrer, lol) that is inserted into a peripheral vein in the upper arm. The whole setup was so crazy to watch! So, the IV team (so it's really just one person on the IV team) comes in, puts a sign on the door that lets people know that a sterile environment is being set up and that no one is to enter my room. Then, he has to sterilize my table, as that is the table he uses to set out all the "equipment". It is very intricate, and very sterile. He changed gloves 6 times. He laid a sheet out over my entire body, left open the part of my arm where he needed to go, sterilized my arm, used an ultrasound to find the vein he would use, put this remote looking thing on my chest, very painfully inserted this cath (yes, he put Lidocaine on it, but I felt the pain of the pressure), and that was about it. Well, then he used the ultrasound to make sure the cath was in the right place. The PICC line is useful bc I was stuck over 8 times, just for blood draws and IVs (not counting the shots I get in the belly), and the PICC has 2 tubes hanging from it, one for drawing blood and one for giving meds. I won't get stuck anymore and it'll stay in me until I get ready to leave. You may be wondering if getting stuck is really that bad to need this, and the answer is, heck yes! I have a huge bruise from every single whole right arm on the inside is almost one huge bruise. Plus, I couldn't really move my arms or hands with those IVs in them.

8. Sleep-that thing they always tell you to get, but refuse to let you have, bc they interrupt a lot. :)

9. Love-my husband...who is the best ever. Sorry, gals, he's mine, all, he's so strong, and he's been my rock. When I've felt like going nuts over all this, he's helped calm me down. He makes me want to fight, along with the kids. He makes me feel safe, and he's really useful at vacuuming the house, cooking, and everything else around the house :D No, seriously, he's awesome and he cleaned even before this.

10. Love-my children. They are being so brave! Their innocence just reels me in. They are so lovable!!! And adorable!

11. Friendship-wow! I have the most amazing friends. They have visited, checked in with David, even those that have never met him, offered everything up to us except their 1st born, it's been amazing, and I could never thank them all enough for the support! I love them. Speaking of friends, 2 others that visited me on Sat were Helen and Tabitha. I left their names out of the post for Sat, and I apologize, as it was a great visit and they had me laughing like crazy!!

I think that is all for now. I'm finally sleepy again. It's 626, so I'm sure the shift changes will wake me up at 7ish.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sat, 8/4

Today was a pretty good day...let me start with this morning, around 2am. I was woke up by a visitor. Guess who? It was Calvin, my hero from the ER! He was on his lunch break and walked over to see how I was doing. I hugged him, thanked him for everything, and we talked for a few minutes. He said that he is bringing his wife by to meet me this weekend. See why he will make the finest nurse? He doesn't work in Heart & Vascular. He works in the ER, or most times, as an EMT. Basically, once I leave the ER, he doesn't have to worry about my case anymore. He says that I impacted him...but I'm sure he's got it backward. He is a great man. So, today was the day for visitors!!! And since it's a weekend and nothing new was really happening besides vitals, I could wear my own clothes. I just had to wear a necklace thing to hold my heart monitor. David brought my fave yoga pants and a tee shirt that has a boatneck so that the on-call docs and nurses could easily access my leads and check my heart.

So...who visited today? My babies and husband, of course. My stepdad, who took the kids for a few hours so David could get some things done; my dad, grandma, grandpa, and Aunt Joanie...let me pause here. I've never seen such worry on my grandpa's face. It made me sad. I love him so much. I was his early morning buddy when my sister and I would spend the night there as kids. My grandma, sister and aunt would sleep late, but grandpa and I would get up at 5 and have breakfast and either read the newspaper or watch the birds. It was nice, and definitely something I'll never forget. He had tears in his eyes today, and he hugged and kissed me and squeezed my hand. I'm so glad they came to visit, but I hate seeing him upset.

Who else visited? Holy cow, um, Jennifer, Judith (who gave me such a great massage that I seriously calmed down), my sister, Ashley, Kat, and I think that was it. If I left your name off, I'm sorry!!! Needless to say, I didn't get a nap today, so I'm super tired. So besides the vitals, the stinking shots of Lovenox to the belly, and some other meds, I'm feeling ok and I'm glad I have so many people around me who care. Tomorrow, mom and dad will be back home, and my bestie Sam is coming to visit me from Atlanta. Also, my friend Judith is meeting with David at 9 in the morning to help him shop for the kids' new school clothes. I have great friends. Everything has to go ok, bc I've got some serious paying it forwards to do!!

Fri, 8/3

After this blog post, I'll be all caught up. Today, I had to have another chest X-ray, bc I'm having surgery...every person having surgery gets an X-ray. The X-ray wasn't bad. The surgeon decided he wanted a 3D TEE done, so we did that. It was the same as the one I had on Wed, all I remember is the nasty spray and Lidocaine. The doctor was very pleased with the results, bc it told him that there is nothing else wrong with my heart, only the mitral valve leak and ASD...ha, only...I had some visitors today. My 2 dads (my stepdad and bio dad) (they are awesome and they get along really well), my husband and kids of course!!!!, my aunt Jennifer, my friend Ashley, and I think that's about it! I have such support coming from everywhere, and I'm so grateful for it. This evening was my kids' open house at school. I didn't get to go, and it felt like crap! I never miss out on those things. But...this surgery is so that I never miss another one. They came up afterwards to tell me who their teachers are, what friends they saw, and everything else. Tonight, after everyone left, I was feeling bad. I am scared, and I'm allowed to cry. However, I am not allowed to give up. I have to be strong for my husband and children. My husband and I were texting tonight around 11ish, and I told him how scared I am. I woke up at 2am, with the best text message from him that I've ever received. I'm totally not sharing on here :) Til tomorrow...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thurs, 8/2

I had a few visitors today. I haven't been overwhelmed with visitors, bc they are kind of stretched out. I enjoy visitors bc it gets boring in here. I don't want David to stay the whole time, bc he needs to rest, but he doesn't sleep well at night. It sucks the stress that this has brought on to the family. It still feels like a dream. The other day, I didn't know what to do, so I wrote David, Rianna, and Gage each a letter. It made me feel better, and they got to come see me!!!! Best present ever. I'm the luckiest mom in the whole entire world. All I think about is that I don't want to leave them alone. Which means I can't die. I have to be strong enough to get through this surgery, get home, recover and live. Watch my kids grow up and grow old with my husband, if I don't drive him completely crazy first. I had to have a chest X-ray today, I'm not sure what all they are wanting. I get 2 shots of Lovenox (blood thinner) every day in my stomach. It doesn't feel too good. I also have to take some other meds every day, like an antidepressant and a baby aspirin. I hope that when I'm done with surgery and I recover, that I won't need tons of medicines. A nurse in here has told me that he was on antidepressants for 9 months after his heart surgery. I also had a PICC line put in my arm today. It hurt, but at least they can draw blood and give meds into it and quit sticking me!!! I've been stuck 8, I think, times so far. Oh wait, make that 14, bc I still get 2 shots a day in my stomach...Anyway, on to Friday.

Wed, 8/1

Today, I had to have some tests done. One is a TEE, which is a procedure that enables a camera to go down my throat and take pics of what it sees. It's like an inside echo. My friend Jennifer works down there and got to be in the room with me. She is so sweet. She was very calming. She told me that they would spray this really nasty stuff down my throat to numb me, and then I'd have to gurgle and swallow Lidocaine. After that, I don't remember anything, which is good. After the TEE, I had to have a heart cath. I don't remember the heart cath, which is a good thing. I got so sick afterwards, probably from the sedatives. I don't remember much about what happened after that. Rough day...not much else happened except for sleep.


This talk was not what I was expecting. Dr. Lane came in and told me what was wrong and how we were going to fix it. Yikes. I was NOT prepared for the words "open heart surgery"...there must be some mistake. Just the other day, I was fine. Just a million other days (ok, not a million), I was fine. She told me that I was born with this, and it's amazing that doctors did not catch this, especially when I had my back surgery. This should have been fixed at least 20 years ago, she said. So, I have to have an open heart surgery, they have to repair my mitral valve, which is leaking, and patch the hole. So far, they think they can use my pericardial tissue to patch the hole, and sew a ring around my mitral valve. If they can't use the ring, they will use a bovine tissue...I hope they can just sew a ring around it. I pray that this will have such a positive outcome that I won't be faced with more surgeries, or worries that something will happen to me. I'm doing my best to be a good patient, I have never asked "why me", bc that is not fair. Why not me? I'm no better than anyone else to have to go through this. The only question that I asked was, "why now?" Why not earlier before I had kids? That way, my already broken heart didn't have to be hurting worse for not being able to see my kids much. I have to miss their open house for school, their 1st day of school, even their 1st week of school. What mother does that?!?! Mamas were made to be that person who is involved with everything in their children's lives, how in the world can moms make time to be out of commission???? I don't have time, was my main worry. It was a lot to take in, not only for me, but for my equally stunned family. I'm sure David is a nervous wreck. I hate being a burden to him. I hate that this is making him do everything, bc I'm stuck here. I hate that this is draining us of more money, and that this bill is going to be astronomical. I hate that I didn't have time carved out of my beautiful crazy life for this. And most of all, I hate that I'm breaking hearts by trying to repair my own. David and the kids should not have to go through this. I know he can handle it, I just hate that he's kinda become the single parent. My kids are not understanding why I can't come home with them. Rianna needs her mama. My Gage needs his mama, he is my baby boy. Most of all, I need all 3 of them. They are the hearts that live outside of my body, the ones that keep me alive more than the one inside of me. I have taken advantage of what I was given. When I get out of here, I won't take advantage anymore. I miss being at home. I miss Gator, our dog, who drives me batty, but is the sweetest thing ever. I miss my job, my coworkers, and my family. I am ready to get this over with, so that I can go home.

The ER, 7/30/12

The ER was packed. I had to wait a little bit, but it wasn't too bad. David went home to feed the kids and the dog. And you'll see that if David wasn't here, I was definitely ok with that. He became both mom and dad overnight, I didn't want him here this entire time, especially when there was nothing he could do. My main concern through all of this was that we try to keep the babies as much on their normal schedule as possible. When I was called back, a nice, older gentleman named Calvin had to do an EKG. Now, let me take a second to introduce Calvin properly, bc I believe he was one of my heroes, as he didn't give up when searching for what was wrong with me. He was determined to understand why a 30 yr old, relatively healthy woman was having such bad EKG results. Calvin has been an EMS for 27 years, and is now working on a bridge program to become an RN. He was called in that night, basically to do whatever was needed. He helped calm me down, and he's going to be a great RN one day. After that EKG got the same results as my 1st one that lead me to this hospital, I was put in a room. They were thinking I was probably dehydrated. I so wish that were the case. I was hooked up to IVs, and had tons of bloodwork done. I have been told numerous times here that I'm an interesting case. I don't like this sound of interesting...can't I just be boring again??? Calvin was asked to come do some orthostatics on me. These are blood pressure readings they take while I lay flat, then sitting up, then standing. I got a little dizzy the 1st time, but not too major. What in the heck was wrong with me?! I'm sure the nurses and doctor were ready to close this case. Calvin was asked to come back and do another orthostatic on me. When I laid down flat, I started having trouble. I was having the seeing spots episodes. Calvin said, "are you feeling this?" I couldn't speak but I could nod. He said that my beats per min had gone up to 181. He sat me up, and took my blood pressure again, and I had another episode, 181 bpm. Calvin ran from the room to get the doctor. He couldn't press print quickly enough on the monitor to record these things, so he prepared to hang out with me to see if he could catch another one. Then, he remembered that since I sent alarms off, that I should have the printouts at the desk. He informed the doctor, found the printouts, and started cutting and pasting on a piece of paper to fax to the on-call cardiologist. Calvin then had to take a quick break bc he has diabetes and needed to eat. I told him to go ahead, and I'd see him soon. Boy-I didn't realize that he wouldn't get a bite to eat right away. I had another episode of what I'd been having, but this one was worse. I was just lying there and I saw Calvin walk by with a Chick-fil-A bag, and he mouthed something to me. I couldn't respond, I was frozen, and he shouted. 6 people came rushing into my room, and started shouting orders. I had tears running down my face, and I was terrified that I would be crashing. Let me tell you-it is super scary when you are frozen, can see and hear what's going on, but can't speak.

What was happening is that I was having VTACs. Those are rapid heartbeats that start in the ventricles of the heart. These are crazy arrythmias. This was what I was experiencing at home! The doctor came in and said that I was definitely not dehydrated, and I was spending the night. I was transferred to the Heart and Vascular Institute, and this is where I am today. I think Calvin was my hero, bc I had a lot of people scratching their heads at me. Calvin was determined to figure this out, and he did. He is so smart, and so caring, with a determination that will make him a fantastic RN. I'm going to get him a thank you card or some little something when I get out of here.

So it's 3am, and I've just arrived at the University Hilton, haha. That's what they call it. Anyway, I've got IVs in both arms, tests that I'm having to take, questions that I've already answered, and still-puzzled looks on everyone's faces. What could be wrong with me? My blood pressure was horrible during this time. I went from 79/51 to 83/72 to different others. I think the highest it's been since I've been here is 120/90. I was instructed not to get up bc of it. So...time for sleep, but I'm too wrecked for sleep. I was terrified of going to sleep. What if I don't wake up? That was one of my thoughts, the other being that I was about to leave my children motherless.

Later that morning, I had an echocardiogram done. That was what showed my hole in my heart. The cardiologist, Dr. Lane came in and explained how interesting my case was. She said that she had about 8 different cardiologists looking at that echo, wondering what in the world let me live 30 years with this, with no complications. So, she came back in and said that the echo revealed that I had septum primum ASD, an atrial septum disorder. Basically, a hole in my heart. It means that I am missing that septum that prevents arterial blood (high oxygen content) from mixing with venous blood (low oxygen content). They aren't supposed to mix, and mine has been for 30 years. It's congenital, I was born with it. No one caught on during these years, bc for one, I was asymptomatic, and two, they thought it was a heart murmur that I would grow out of. Time to talk...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I decided to document my heart journey...

I decided to start this heart blog so that I can update my friends, but also so that my kids can read this one day. This journey started out pretty much by accident. Mon, July 30, I was sitting on the couch at 1am, catching up on my Big Brother episodes. I started seeing spots and got lightheaded. I thought I was going to pass out. It happened about 5 times, in a row, lasting only about 20 seconds each. I decided to go put some clothes in the dryer, and saw the spots again. I went to bed, thinking that bc I'd closed Sat and opened Sun at work, then stayed up past 1am, I was just overly tired. I had 2 more episodes while lying in the bed, but I quickly fell asleep. Mon morning, I was in the middle of telling David (my hubby!) what had occurred overnight, when it started happening again. And again, and again. I told David to go the gym, that I'd be alright, but that I was going to call the doctor, just in case I kept on having those episodes. My doctor couldn't see me, so I was forced to go to prompt care. David and the kids took me to prompt care, and she ran a few tests, one of them an EKG. The tech who did it left, and the doctor came back, cheerful as can be. She said, "well, we have an ambulance coming for you." I laughed and said, "haha", and she said, "seriously, I'm not kidding, the ambulance will come bc your EKG is looking really bad." I lost it, started crying uncontrollably, and she ran to get David. David and the kids came in, and she explained to him what was happening. I asked if it would be ok for David to just drive me, so we wouldn't scare the kids. She said yes, but told us to hurry. Instantly, I thought I was having a heart attack. The drive to the ER was the longest drive ever! I will post the rest of day 1 later.