Nov 28, 2017

Recovery and a Thank You

It's been awhile, so I thought I'd let you know how I am doing. (Short version -- fine.)

After a few rocky times, I think I'm on the road to recovery. I am driving (yeah!), and pretty much self sufficient. My doc says the surgery** was a success. I can feel a difference. I used to have chest pains every day, but I haven't had a single one since the surgery. I also used to pretty much fall apart after noon, but I find I have more energy than before. I'm still a little short of breath, but it's anemia, not the heart, so it is a temporary thing. 

Nevertheless, I wonder if having the surgery was the right thing to do. That pulmonary embolism was crazy painful and could have killed me or damaged my heart. I'll be on blood thinners the rest of my life (which is not that uncommon but is concerning). Plus, the whole scene was very hard on my husband -- at one point he slept on the living room floor because he didn't want me to be alone and I was in too much pain to sleep in a bed. The man is a keeper and I hate to see him so worried and exhausted. He's still fussing over me and I suspect it will take awhile for him to recover....

And even more worrisome, at some point, both Mike and I began to feel very vulnerable. It seems like just yesterday that I was accompanying my Mom to the ER and doctors' office and handling all that drama. I was really good at handling the drama when I wasn't the patient. Now we are the patients -- Mike also had a medical scare this fall -- and it's a whole other game. We started talking about moving to a home without stairs and then stopped and pulled ourselves together. We are so not there yet! We just need time to get 2017 in the rear view mirror and are already planning a short getaway sometime for early 2018.

So the jury is still out on whether the surgery was a good thing, but this jury doesn't need to vote. It's over and time to move on and I see good things ahead.

** By the way, did you happen to catch The Good Doctor on ABC last night (11/27)?  The little boy with the heart problem has my heart condition and had the same surgery I had.  Although the writers got a few details wrong, I thought they did a decent job. 

I received many, many get well cards, emails, comments on the blog and on Facebook. My husband saved all the cards and I recently reread them. I think I was too sick when I first received them to focus on them. They are beautiful and it was so kind of so many to send them. Thank you all so very much for taking the time to encourage me in whatever format. My family, friends, and the stamping community are truly a blessing in my life.

Nov 9, 2017

Mission Accomplished - A Walk and a Card

I used a terrific set from Stamplorations called Yuletide Deer. It is designed by the very talented Deepti Malik.  Deepti kindly sent me the set to help me get through surgery. Is that sweet or what? 

Very few supplies -- navy and white cardstocks, detail gold embossing powder, Versamark, Nuvo gold drops. Simple.


After I wrote last night's post, I really didn't think I had it in me to get up and start moving again. But I did. I was showered and dressed by 8 am. Walked down two flights of stairs, grabbed some $$ and my phone, and headed outside. It's a cool and gray day and everything was wet outside. No stopping on a bench. So, I walked half a block to a pastry shop!

Our neighborhood is new so I have been surprised at how inaccessible the shops and restaurants are. Only Target has accessible doorways -- the kind where you can press a button to open the door. I had thought that the law required all new businesses to have these types of doors, but apparently not.

So when I got to the pastry shop I tried my best to open the heavy glass and metal door. No luck.  My arms are weak from the surgery (the breast bone is cut in half and we are cautioned not to lift or pull anything heavy in the weeks after surgery) and the blood clot -- using them is painful, so I've avoided that. It took three shouts for the woman at the counter to see me and come and open the door.  I explained that I was recovering from surgery, but she didn't look convinced.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed a nice cup of tea and a croissant. After 15 minutes, I walked back home. And then I made my way up to the 4th floor (stopping at each level) and made this card. I didn't sit as getting up and down is difficult due to the arm issues, but that kept me on my feet, which is great. When the card was done I took a quick photo with my phone. Terrible lighting but good enough.

And then I sat down and a shed a few tears of happiness. Thanks so much for your encouragement and support. It means a lot!!

MOOD WHEN DONE = fantastic

Nov 8, 2017

The Crash

I was 14 and in the bathroom, brushing my teeth. The bathroom was a few feet from the living room. We lived in a tiny Cape Cod style house, built after WWII to house veterans and their families.

My mom was constantly painting or wallpapering the rooms. She made coordinating curtains and slipcovers and bedspreads. She would make things like placemats and dust ruffles and covers for the toaster so that everything matched. One day I came home and she had covered my shoes with the same fabric she used to make my bedspread. My mom took matchy/matchy to new levels.

She went through color themes like some moms changed hair styles. At one point every room was beige (maybe she was depressed?). Then everything was orange and green. Once she finished the last room, she'd start a new color theme and begin ripping out wallpaper. I guess house decorating was her hobby. On this particular day, the house was decked out in pale blue and cranberry.

The bus was coming in about 10 minutes and I needed to hustle. Suddenly, there was a loud boom, and the house shook. I wondered if there'd been an earthquake. My parents yelled to see if we were ok. We were and we all ran to the living room where we could see the front of a car that had crashed through the wall, ruining the white and blue and cranberry wallpaper.

This was problematic for several reasons. First, none of us was ever allowed to be in the living room. My mom wanted one room that was ready "in case the priest came by" (the priests used to go door to door unannounced once a year for a church census). And, most importantly, the car ruined my mom's pride and joy -- her pale blue wool wall-to-wall living room carpet. She had saved for years for that carpet and had decorated the living room around it. It was a great source of pride to finally cover up the hardwood floors. (Back then hardwood floors were considered low rent.)

This was a disaster.

This week has felt like another version of that day.

My recovery from heart surgery has been slow, but steady. I left the hospital weak, covered with an awful skin infection, and very nervous about the potential for a return of the atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm) that had kept me at Mayo longer than planned. It wasn't easy for Mike to take care of me, particularly in those first days after discharge. As he put it, "I can't do what you did for your mom." But he did, and we flew back home four days after discharge.

Since then, I've made a point to move around as much as possible -- despite some pain and shakiness, I took a shower, got dressed, and walked outside every day. I did a little cooking. I took myself out to lunch in the neighborhood on a particularly beautiful day. I went up and down stairs, and finally late last week I was able to sleep in our bed. I even learned to use Uber so I could get to doctor appointments on my own!

But this past Sunday night, a pain in my neck and shoulder that I thought was caused by tension skyrocketed. Every time I breathed in it felt like a knife. I was in an ambulance and shortly diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, fluid on the lungs and heart, anemia, and a partially collapsed lung. Eventually they also identified a blood clot in my leg.

The ER doc told me I was lucky that the clot was small. It travelled through my heart, but did not damage the heart. I was lucky to be alive. YIKES. I still haven't finished my Christmas cards so death is not in the picture. Plus, I owe a ton of thank you cards to dear friends and family and I think I'd rather die before buying thank you cards.

I'm sure you understand.

After the car hit our house my mom had the pale blue wall-to-wall carpeting removed. She got back out the braided rug that had been in the living room; the one she cleaned by putting it over the clothes line and beating it with a broom; the one that made her feel tacky and poor. But, eventually she decided that the hardwood floors were gorgeous and easier to keep clean. The braided rug looked "colonial" and therefore was wonderful. She and the living room recovered from the crash. She put up new wallpaper and sat in the redecorated living room (alone!) and called it her happy place.

I feel like those clots crashed into me in the same way that car crashed into our living room. My careful recovery feels ruined. I'm sitting on the sofa most of the day, too afraid to move, tired, and depressed. I've got my own ugly braided rug around my neck.

So, tonight I decided that 3 days of this pity party are enough. I can't sit here waiting to get better. The less I do, the weaker I get. So tomorrow I'm getting dressed and going outside -- even if it is just to sit on the bench in front of our house. The stairs are hard again because the temporary lung issues cause shortness of breath. But I can just climb them more slowly.

And I'll go upstairs to my 4th floor craft room, even if all I do is sit there and take in the scene. I miss my stamps. I miss being around them, and the dies and the paints and inks and papers. I miss my box of adhesives and the sequins that end up everywhere except on my cards. I miss the view from the 4th floor, even if it is just an apartment house. I even miss the ugly wall-to-wall carpeting in that room.

It's my happy place and I can't wait to get back and sit there (alone!) enjoying a bit of my old life.

I'll let you know how it goes!