Oct 12, 2016

Choosing Whatever

As I wrote in my last blog post, I was diagnosed with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy *(HCM) in August.  The HCM Association, of which I am now a member, encourages those diagnosed to "share their story" in order to increase public awareness of this condition. It's not uncommon (1/500 have it, but many don't even know that they do). And if you have it, your kids have a 50/50 chance of having HCM. So, it's worth knowing about, particularly if you have an unexplained heart murmur or a history of family members dying unexpectedly.

So .... here's my story.


August 2016:  All I wanted was more Ativan so that I could fly to Europe in the fall.  I need to find a new doc since I no longer commute to DC.  So I decide to get a physical. It's the mature thing to do.

The doc listens to my heart and hears a murmur.  It's been there for years and no one cared. I had an echocardiogram at one point but was told it was normal. The new doc orders an echo because the murmur bothers him.

The night I had the echo some cardiologist I had never met leaves a message on my cell. "I read your echo. Your heart is complicated. Blah blah.  I've sent a prescription to the pharmacy for you. Take it immediately. Let's talk in the morning."

I play the message for Mike.  It didn't sound good, but I laughed if off. I do not pick up the prescription. I mean, who was this guy?  I don't sleep much that night.

The next morning Dr. T explains that I have HCM and I explain that I will be leaving for Europe on October 1 and can this all wait?  No it cannot. Within the next 3 weeks I get more and more messages that I'm scheduled for this test and that test.  I dig out my file on family medical stuff. Wow, my father had this. I talk to my cousin and she knows more than I do about my own family. I learn a lot. My father, brother, and aunt died from HCM. There's some suspicion that another brother may have died from it (he died of SIDS at 6 weeks). Some of my cousins also have it.

I'm beyond upset that I've inherited this from my father, as that is a very complicated issue. Does childhood crap ever end? And what about my kid?

September 2016:  All the test results are in. I have access to them online and read them and google every sentence. At this point, I'm a few websites away from opening my own cardiology practice even though I don't really know how the heart works. My father and brother died from sudden cardiac arrest** and they had HCM. Why didn't I know that?

I stop caring about eating. I must be really sick because I didn't know that was possible.

Mike and I meet Dr. T.  He's young and seems smart, but the atmosphere is serious. HCM is why I've been short of breath (finally, something NOT caused by being overweight and out of shape). It's why I had a very difficult time emerging from anesthesia 4 years ago. He insists that I get an ICD as soon as possible so I don't drop dead. An ICD is an Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator.  It isn't a cure and does nothing to treat the underlying heart condition, but will shock my heart in the unlikely (but possible) event that it goes into a fatal rhythm.  I argue back, armed with my own knowledge from google. Dr. T yells at me. Yells. Mike looks pathetic.

Dr. T doesn't do this kind of surgery. And, against my better judgment, I schedule the operation with another doc.  I hate the other doc. He's flip and sounds like he's selling me a new car.  It's a new kind of ICD, the S-ICD!  The wires don't go in your heart!  There's no pacemaker! It's on your side, under the skin, not up by the collar bone! It's a piece of cake.

I have the operation, during which my heart rhythm goes bad, and they shock my heart twice with those paddles they have on TV.  The pain afterwards is unbearable and I am almost unable to move. I develop a blood clot in my leg. I remember my father getting a blood clot in his leg. It's all just too much too fast. I'm no longer leaving for Europe on October 1. It's not a piece of cake. I've lost 10 pounds. I want to kill that doc.

October 2016:  I'm feeling old. I'm supposed to check my heart rate once a day (it needs to stay low) and stay hydrated. I check it every 5 minutes and obsess if it gets too high. I'm drowning in Crystal Light. I'm waiting for that damn ICD to shock me.

I start to feel sorry for myself. I mean there's this thing sticking out of the side of my body and I can feel the wires in my chest and it hurts like hell. I'm told that I have a mild case of heart failure (sounds worse than it is). I'm not that sick but I feel like a patient. Forget my father; my worse fears are coming true -- I'M TURNING INTO MY MOTHER. Mike should divorce me now, but he won't listen.

Lots of fabulous people develop terrific outlooks on life when faced with a road bump. They choose joy. They don't complain. They become grateful for every day and hug those close to them.  They enjoy sunsets and grow flowers and read good literature and become better people. I am not those people.

I am a slug. I binge watch Grey's Anatomy on Netflix, and spend ridiculous amounts of time on google. The meds I take turn me into a zombie and that's my excuse. I try to stamp but all I do is stare at the paper, scribble some mess, and walk away. My friends and family have been amazing and I need thank you cards, but it's not happening.

Now: As the days go by, the pain recedes, my attitude improves, and I'm returning to normal. I'm driving, getting out, seeing friends, etc. I'm not hugging people, or choosing joy, but I'm beginning to get a grip. I'm incredibly grateful for access to good health care and good health insurance and wonderful friends and family.  My husband is a saint.  I'm not in Aleppo. I feel a bit foolish for making such a big deal about all of it.

My appetite returns.  Damn!

I hope to be back with cards one of these days, but the mojo is still buried somewhere. I'm too busy today to write any more. George has just died on Grey's Anatomy, and I'm freaking out. How can they kill off George??  And, will Izzie survive her brain tumor?  Will Meredith and McDreamy get married? Will I ever choose to get off the couch?

I'll keep you posted.


* The majority of folks with HCM have few or no symptoms and live a full life. But others die from it or are severely affected.  You just never know.
** sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops working properly and suddenly stops beating.  A heart attack is different -- it is a when the blood flow is interrupted.  

Sep 13, 2016

What's (Not) Happening

I know my blog has been pretty quiet lately and I don't want to go radio silence with no explanation (especially with regard to Stamping Destroyed My Life!!!).  Since I'm not a fan of vague references online to possible inklings of maybe something that might possibly be wrong, I'll share that I've been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition.  My father and brother both died from this, but I'm fine now and I'd like to keep it that way!!***  So, it is taking up a lot of my time, and more importantly, sucking every bit of energy out of my stamping and writing mojo. In addition, I hope to be doing a bit of traveling here and there over the next few months, and that will keep me away from the craft room.

I've declined all (very much appreciated) design offers and am just putting stamping pretty much on the back burner until 2017.  I do hope to post a few cards that I hope to make, but I'm not sure I'll get to it.

I hope to be back with a ton of content next year!

*** In fact, this may be a blessing in disguise as I've lost most of my appetite!  Great weight loss plan!

Sep 2, 2016

Ellen Hutson Mix It Up Challenge

The September Ellen Hutson Mix It Up Challenge is to make something using both Concord & 9th and Essentials by Ellen products. Well, I have those, and I needed a birthday card. So, I made this.

I stamped on cream cardstock just the flowers from the cake in Concord & 9th's Happy Day and added a sentiment from Essentials by Ellen Totally Awesome. (Yes, I trimmed the flowers right off the Happy Day stamp.) Colored using Prismacolor Pencils and a bit of Tombow Dual Brush Markers. Used a stencil to place black dots and added a few clear sequins.


Aug 31, 2016

Treat Boxes

Made a bunch of these the other day for some little kids.

The clear tiny treat boxes (2 x 2) are from Stampin Up and a snap to put together (no adhesive needed -- just fold). Made a tag with a square die and stamped some fun items from Clear and Simple Stamps. The sentiment is part of a mini incentive (free) stamp with purchase for August.  The candy image is from a set that I do not think is still available.

These would make cute party favors. Or fill with Halloween candy for a party.  Or, grown up candies! The boxes are small, but would fit a delicious truffle sitting on some shredded paper. I'm stopping now because this is making me hungry.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Proud I didn't eat a single jelly bean!

Aug 30, 2016

My Extra Arm

Not stamping related! If you are looking for some awesome stamping, check here, here, or here.


Lately I've found myself in a dizzying amount of medical offices -- all related to essentially nothing, just the usual "wear and tear" stuff for anyone in her 60s. It's like all of a sudden my body said "Hey she's retired. She has time to go to the doctor. Let's throw random pain and swelling all around." (Note - Good health is precious. I am very grateful to have it.)

Of course, every ailment comes with a scan or some other test. So the medical visits have multiplied. And each medical visit includes filling out forms. I've written my name and address, and checked boxes guaranteeing payment and acknowledging the receipt of some privacy stuff (that I've never actually received and do not want) so many times, that I started to wonder. Does anyone read these forms once they are completed?  In particular, does anyone read the medical history part?  Why am I reporting my medications and surgery and the fact that I've never smoked if no one reads this stuff?

Source:  spinept.org
So a few weeks ago, I got amused and wrote under "reason for visit," "I have an extra arm." I handed the forms to the receptionist and sat back to wait to be seen. The longer I waited, the more nervous I got. Would they throw me out?  Write down some psych diagnosis? Order an x-ray of the extra arm?

No, because no one read the paperwork. I left the doctor feeling pretty smug. Not once did he ask about my extra arm! I knew it! I had won my little game in my pathetic little life. 

When I was checking out, the receptionist gave me a code to set up an online medical records account. I declined, not wanting my medical records online - I don't want Russia hacking my account and telling everyone how much I weigh. She explained "Your records are already online. This is how you see your test results and how the doctor will communicate with you." So  I set up the account and got access to my records. Awesome!!!! A neurotic's dream. Stamping would have to wait. I was too busy reading my creatine, BUN, potassium and calcium levels and spending all day with Dr. Google figuring out how many years I have left. 

But then I saw that there is a section in my online medical records that includes my "medical history." Apparently, someone somehow got the idea that I have an extra arm and entered "extra arm" in my online medical records. Unfortunately, this is a real medical condition.  Is there some stamping technique I could pull off with this extra arm?  Wash the dishes and read a book at the same time?

The nuns in elementary school warned us that if we lied, God would pay us back in kind. (This is why, in 38 years of lawyering, I never called in sick unless I was really sick.) Would another arm sprout overnight? Then I got really nervous. Our local hospital is part of that medical record system. What if I was in an accident and they started looking for my extra arm? I imagined all sorts of scans while I lay unconscious. And what if they started asking Mike about my extra arm?? (Do you do this? Do you play out in your head all the crazy stuff that could happen in your life? Glad to know I'm not alone.)

Luckily, there was a way I could edit some of the information, so I edited the extra arm reference. But there was no way to remove the reference entirely. It looked like I had an extra arm, but got it removed.

UGH. So I swallowed my pride and called up the doctor's office and asked them to remove the reference. They did not appear to have a sense of humor, but I checked and my records are now correct.

I think I need to find another doctor....

Aug 22, 2016

Hero Arts 2016 Winter Catalog Blog Hop

Can you handle some winter inspiration? Hey, it's 124 days until Christmas! 3 months until the blazing hot sun and humidity that is the curse of my days turns to snow and ice that is the curse of my days.... have to love the seasons!

Lots of very talented designers, and one average joe, are sharing projects today made with products from the new Hero Arts Winter Catalog. Hero Arts will be giving away three $25 gift certificates selected from comments made on the blog hop (more on the hop below).

I'm sharing two cards -- one featuring the new Hero Arts Origami Happy Holidays stamp set and one featuring the coordinating dies, Origami Holiday Frame Cuts.  They are also available as a bundle. Chose to work with these products because they are fun and versatile. The card below could easily be a birthday card by changing the sentiment. Love that. Expect to see more projects on this blog with these items.

For the first card, I stamped the crystal (or ornament) repeatedly on watercolor paper, painted them with Tombow markers and water, and cut out each crystal. Didn't use the die because I did not want the frame around each image. Added Wink of Sella glitter. Adhered the layer to a Hero Arts Floral Mix Folded Card. (The inside of these cards are white and, therefore, look so professional.) Thought about adding sequins but decided that the chances of ruining this were close to 100%!

See?  Super cute images.

Here's a close up, with 4 of the crystals popped up.

For the next card, I imagined some airy, pretty thing. Not sure I got the look I was going for, but I still like it.

Used the reindeer die to make a shiny green foil deer because stampers can make shiny green deer, or polka dot deer, or anything we want, right?

Hard to capture green foil.

Love polka dots! Used Essentials by Ellen Bokeh Dots to make the background, but the back of any round stamps will also work.

Hero Arts is giving away three $25 gift certificates, drawn from comments left across all blogs in the hop.  For your chance, leave a comment below by 11:59PT on 8/28/16. The winner's name will be randomly selected by Hero Arts and posted on the Hero Arts blog. Good luck!

So, who else is in this big stamparella? Some major talent, that's who!

The Hero Arts Blog 
Jennifer McGuire
Kathy Racoosin
Wanda Guess
Lydia Fiedler
Alice Wertz
Amy Tan
Cheiron Brandon
Debbie Olson
Laura Bassen
Debby Hughes
Heather Ruwe
Ilina Crouse
Isha Gupta
Jenn Shurkus
Jessica Frost-Ballas
Joan Bardee
Karin Akesdotter
Yana Smakula
Kelly Rasmussen
Amy Tsuruta
Clare Prezzia
Mariana Grigsby
May Sukyong Park
Libby Hickson

 There is some serious eye candy in this hop.

MOOD WHEN DONE = Love these products!

Aug 17, 2016

10 Steps to an Organized Craft Room

A Dear Paperlicious Exclusive ***

Every once in a while Dear Paperlicious gets such a fantastic idea that 
it must be shared at no cost to her readers, although $$ happily accepted.  

Today is that day!!!

Is this your craft room after you've cleaned it up?

Source:  https://www.wiredupbeads.com/blog/tag/craft-room/
Out of storage space for your supplies? 
Using a hodgepodge of second hand furniture and cheap wobbly tables? 
Need more electrical outlets and counter space? 
Tired of separating yourself from the family while crafting? (Um, why?) 

Turn Your Kitchen Into Your Craft Room in Ten Easy Steps
  1. Empty the kitchen of everything and sell or donate to charity, or put on your neighbor's front lawn. You won't be cooking anymore. Out goes the fine china, the everyday china, the mismatched mugs, pots and pans, glasses, bread maker, blender, food processor, mixer, kids' report cards, toaster, silverware, slotted spoons, cake pans, strainers, measuring cups and spoons, spatulas, baking sheets, the food, the drinks, etc. In other words, everything. (Amy, keep the coffee maker. Susan, keep a wine glass.)
  2. Donate dishwasher and stove to charity. You won't be needing these overpriced, useless appliances. Feel your mood lift.
  3. Fill space left by dishwasher and stove with additional cabinets or drawers and counter space.
  4. Take a cleansing breath, and make a list of lunch and dinner delivery options. Purchase paper plates, hot and cold cups, napkins, cutlery, and plastic trash bags. Store somewhere handy. (You and the fam can skip breakfast, or put Dunkin Donuts in your freezer. Use as needed.) 
  5. Purchase Sharpies in your favorite colors.
  6. Store all supplies (except those covered in #8) in your now freed-up kitchen cabinets.
  7. Mark each cabinet and drawer with the contents using a nice big bold Sharpie right on the front. Cheap and easy! Plus, this is going to UP the value of your home when it is time to sell.
  8. Store electric craft supplies, such as your heat gun, waffle maker, Big Shot Express, Minc, Fuse, lamps, camera battery, smartphone, etc. on your now empty kitchen craft room counters, near electrical outlets. Here's an example of what you can expect once you are done:
Source:  http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-danger-of-plugging-in-too-132266

Such an improvement, no?

    9. Do you have one of those fancy islands in your kitchen?  Well, Gilligan, this is the perfect spot for stamping -- nice and stable and waterproof! If you don't have an island, get one.
   10. Since you no longer are grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the kitchen, or planning meals, you have HOURS free for crafting! Enjoy!

*** As always, if you are taking this seriously, you are in the wrong place!

But, speaking of serious, I am a huge fan of Jennifer McGuire. I love her videos and card creations. They are easy to follow, and she makes beautiful and clever cards. But I especially LOVE her organizational videos. If you really want to get organized, follow her tips!

And, Jennifer has a new instagram feed, entiteld myworkinghome, devoted to chronicling the design of her new craft space. It's so fun watching the room design from the beginning. (It's like watching Fixer Upper -- even if you aren't going to design a room that lovely, you can pick up a ton of good ideas).

Hope your week is going well!