Monday, February 28, 2011

4th Grade

Did you ever read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume? I did, and even though I don't remember much of it, I can tell you that being the mother of a fourth grader is actually a whole lot of something. Monthly book reports, weekly spelling tests, book orders, fundraisers, little random projects like the one that had us making some gloopy clay mixture at 10pm the night before it was needed to make a topographical map of Utah--fourth grade is BUSY!

Do you ever feel like keeping up with all the "parent paperwork," homework, and other school needs of your children is like a part time job? It still amazes me at times. Of course, you can't begrudge all the work that the school and teachers are doing, but, well, it still amazes me at times! (The bad and lazy side of me just wants my kids to go to school, learn the three R's, and come back home with no strings attached. And why does the PTA create so many darn extra things for us all to do!?)

Well, the big event of recent days was the fourth grade play. Fourth grade is the year to study state history, so the fourth graders put on a little musical about Utah. Will was a Spanish settler, and even though he had a really cool hat to wear that actually looked like a costume (previously used for a pirate costume--again, love digging up costumes for random plays and performances almost as much as digging up old pictures for "Star of the Week" posters), I guess he didn't want to draw attention to himself because he didn't wear it.

Will kept complaining that the songs were "bragging" about Utah too much, because it's not that great. What a crack up! (He's still got a healthy dose of California pride in him. I think it sets him apart in his mind.) The upside of the play was that his teacher unknowingly put him right smack dab next to someone he was more than happy to sit by.

Here he is getting ready to step up to the mic:

 Can't you just hear the dramatic inflection in his voice?
There was a little "rock-n-roll" number about the different types of rocks in Utah (yes, corny) and Will told me how he really got into the dance moves during practice to make everyone laugh, but then said he wouldn't do it for the performance even though I wanted him to. In the end, the ham in him won out. This isn't the best picture to show how much he was getting into it, but it still reminds me and makes me laugh:
 Will and his little friend:
I was feeling a little bit of state pride myself after that rousing performance, and this beautiful sky waiting for us outside after the play didn't hurt either. (Courtesy of my marvelous neighbor, Jen.)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Family Identities

Tonight we watched Ratatouille as a family while eating popcorn and licorice. Brandon and I rarely stick around for an entire "kid" movie, but for whatever reason it just felt nice to all sit down together and do nothing but watch that silly movie.

That was after a surprisingly well received dinner of "Hoppin' Joe" which everyone liked but Rachael.  (She didn't even try it.) It's a southern dish made with black eyed peas, collard greens, rice, other veggies and smoked turkey. Well, traditionally it has less veggies, plus bacon and cheese, but I got this recipe out of an older (1996) cookbook that I came across on Amazon a few months ago which just happens to be published by The American Diabetic Association. (Translation: it's healthy!)  

My cooking has really gone by the wayside in the last little while, but I woke up today feeling rather domestic, took Kate to the grocery store with me, enlisted her help in choosing a menu for tomorrow's dinner, and also got her and Will to help prepare the Hoppin' Joe for tonight and the marinade for tomorrow's Carribbean pork kabobs. This cookbook is unique in that it's full of recipes and menus for all four seasons, each section of the book focusing on ingredients that are in season at that time of year.  

Why am I blathering on about this? Because it's been settling on me little by little over the last while that we are creating a wonderfully unique family identity that we shouldn't feel compelled to mess with too much. All families do (have an identity of sorts), and while it's always good to get out of our comfort zones, try something new, and challenge ourselves to do things we normally wouldn't, there are probably some "ideals" and expectations we should just let go of in order to be true to who we really are and excel in ways that come naturally to us--a much more enjoyable way to spend life.  

For instance, Brandon and I have had about a million and one conversations behind closed doors about how our kids "should" be involved in some kind of sports. For the health of it, for the social skills, to learn teamwork and discipline, and all that other jazz. But the fact of the matter is, Brandon and I could care less about sports, neither of us were particularly athletic back in the day, and we never ever ever watch sports at home, so it's hard for us to get really excited about spending every free weekend moment and many afternoons and evenings driving to and from various practices and games. It just doesn't appeal to us. Now, if our kids were begging to join the soccer team we'd be the first in line to sign them up, but really, it looks like our preferences have probably rubbed off on them. And I'm starting to get okay with that.  

For the health of it, we like to hike, swim, ski, bike, skateboard (Will), dance (Elizabeth), golf (everyone but me) and other non-team "sports." That's fine! For social skills, well, you can get those a lot of ways at home, church, school, community. Teamwork and discipline? Again, plenty of opportunities at home, church, school and in the community to learn both. I can't help but think that earning excellent grades and practicing musical instruments counts for exercising self-discipline. (Speaking of which--maybe you think your child "should" learn a musical instrument. Believe me, when I was a piano teacher back in Iowa City, I had mothers who should have left well enough alone when it came to making their child learn to play the piano.)

Do you see where I'm going?  There are a lot of ways to teach our kids the principles we think are important, and it's probably best to do that through the things that inherently interest us rather than force ourselves to do things we think we "should." 

And the things that inherently interest us are the things we choose to do in our free time. I like to read, write, take pictures, cook and play piano. Brandon likes to read and learn about all sorts of crazy stuff like the history of language or Japanese culture. He also likes to backpack when possible, but mostly he works on his bonsai. In what should be the formal dining and living room of our rental home (why furnish and decorate if we most likely aren't going to buy?) are a piano, a cello, a harp, a puzzle table, and another small table with an easel on it for Kate's painting projects. It looks ridiculous as far as home decorating goes, but it's what we like to do around here. Recently there was a telescope set up in our bedroom for weeks, and our bedroom floor is constantly littered with our bedtime reading material.  

So our home may never be featured in Better Homes and Gardens, and our kids most likely will never win any MVP awards, but I'm liking what we're creating around here. I think we've got a pretty good thing going.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Day, All Is Well

My heart monitor is beeping at me because it's been unhooked since 1pm this afternoon, but I don't care.  I have a healthy heart. The little tube that went down my esophagus for an up close look at that most vital organ told me so. Well, told the doctor, while I was gorked out on versed after apparently asking him if he was going to turn on heavy metal after I fell asleep and what his favorite group was when he was in high school. I have only a very vague memory of this, as well as gagging on something in my mouth and trying to move it around. (This all happened after gargling liquid lidocaine that didn't taste nearly as nasty as they said it would.) But really, the worst part was just the waiting, the setting up, and then waiting some more.

Brandon was with me, and the nurse and I had a lot of fun joking about "a doctor's minute." Then I made Brandon tell urology jokes to keep me distracted until the doctor got there "in a minute." (This was after my iphone and gum were taken from me, my earlier distractions. I was reading the most fascinating true story of a woman whose fiance was sent to Vietnam, got injured, came home and was in a coma for three years, so she finally married someone else, then her ex-fiance died and she didn't feel she could mourn him because it would be disloyal to her husband, so here she was twenty years later going through all the stages of grief while writing a novel about the whole experience. Distracting, right?) After two whopping urology jokes I begged Brandon to please just chatter. Distract me! Reassure me! Something!

What did I get? A quote from The Lord of the Rings of course: "I don't want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one is even worse."(Pippin)

I got the feeling Brandon was tiring a little of my crazy questions, like what if I'm allergic to the versed? what if I go too deep or not deep enough? is it possible that I will experience everything, but just not remember after it's over? and other ridiculessness. But WHAT DO I KNOW?  So Brandon tried to reassure me by telling me he has used versed on probably over 500 patients and only had a "problem" twice and then proceeded to explain the problem to me . . . NOT HELPFUL! Then of course the doctor had to tell me that even though it is extremely rare, the risks of the procedure are bursting through my esophagus and breaking my teeth. By this time I'm just begging for the versed . . . JUST GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!

It really was no big deal, just as Brandon and the doctor had assured me, and the best part is--as mentioned--my heart is in good shape, the hole is a tiny one and not the cause of whatever the heck happened at that restaurant, and he did not recommend a repair.

Little by little we're getting down to the conclusion that I'm simply a basket case. What a relief!

It really is, because for the last two days I have been completely "panic free" and am becoming more convinced that for the last week I have in fact just been suffering from "after shocks" which I have successfully overcome through a few of the methods I have read/heard about from friends/family/internet lore. But based on how I felt today (great!), I think I may be out of the woods.

One more blood test to look at my adrenals and re-check my potassium, and then I'd like to talk to a professional who knows a little bit more about panic attacks, but I really am suspicious that the combination of a three day migraine, lack of sleep and my caffeinated beverage may have had to do with what happened. (I'm not pulling this out of thin air, these are semi-legitimate connections I have read about.) 

I suppose I should be more discreet about all this information sharing, especially since a panic attack sounds like something a self-respecting person like myself should try to hide, but I don't feel like that's healthy for anyone. Especially after all the people who have come out of the woodwork telling me they have had similar experiences, but more importantly because of all the people that may suffer from this stuff all the time and just think they are crazy or are too embarrassed/scared to see someone for help. I hate the thought of anyone suffering from anything in loneliness and/or fear when there are so many people in the same boat and so many helpful solutions.  

So at long last, I have a few scrappy hospital pictures to share. 

The original hospital bed where I had my first real vacation in a long time. (The hospital cleaning lady, who had a hysterectomy vacation last year, really got me laughing about how a mother only gets a break when she's admitted to a hospital.)

 My personal slave, taking a much deserved break:
That awesome view from my hospital room:
Today, waiting to get admitted:
 Right before I was stripped of my iphone:

Daily bits:
Kate-made no-bake cookies for the fam.
Will-created several dominos tracks with his neighbor buddy.
Elizabeth-WORE her bandana creation to school today.
Rachael-told me I was going to die last night. (Nice!)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pushing The Re-Start Button

That's what I tried to do today.  Because today is Sunday, and Sunday (rolling into Monday) is always my "do-over" day, my day to put a fresh new coat of paint on life. It has everything to do with Sunday being the Sabbath, which for us is a really different day of the week. Yes, partly because we go to church, but it's more than that. The whole day becomes kind of insulated at our house as we forego shopping, running errands, screens (with the exception of things Brandon and I deem "worthwhile"--not much), homework (as much as possible), housework (as much as possible)--you get the idea. Sunday is our family day to just decompress and enjoy each other's company, to be more prayerful and introspective, to take stock and prepare mentally/spiritually/emotionally for a new week. Sure, the kids aren't as drawn to this as we are and need training in decompression/introspection, but we think it's worth the effort and paying off.  I wish more people would observe the Sabbath like they used to. I am a firm believer that some of the things God has asked of us that seem superfluous/don't really make sense often have hidden benefits we might not suspect at first glance. Like keeping the Sabbath day holy (one of the "Top 10") by refraining from "work" and focusing on your spirit instead.  It's a good thing! (Bonus: you don't need to be Christian or even religious to enjoy the benefits of a decompression/introspection day.)

I continue to have crazy weird physical symptoms when I go out in public, but it seems to be getting better/easier every time, so I force myself to go out every day. In church I felt short of breath, tingly, and flushed the whole time--and not in a good way. It's just weird, weird, weird! I only used xanax twice because I'm not fond of taking stuff unless absolutely necessary, and taking a pill to leave my house is totally unacceptable in my mind! (I recognize this is not true for some people and they now have my full sympathies, but since this is a new and utterly foreign experience for me and I'm hoping to "nip it in the bud" soon, I'm not willing to accept a life of regular panic attacks and drugs.)

If we rule out all physical causes (and I'm getting that esophageal echo done tomorrow, not last Friday as planned, as well as some blood work to test a few last things), I'd like to talk to a professional about panic attacks. I've read a lot about them and am still confused, but it seems entirely possible that these symptoms I've been having since the initial attack could simply be because of the severity of what happened (kind of like post traumatic stress syndrome) and will go away once enough time has passed and I know for sure what the heck is going on, as opposed to feeling freaked out by the unknown! But if there is no conclusive physical diagnosis, I will be left wondering if the doctors are just missing something, or if in fact it was just a random panic attack brought on by NOTHING! (Interestingly, 90% of panic attacks end up in the ER with symptoms of heart attack. The symptoms are identical!)

From what I understand, panic attacks are different from anxiety attacks in that anxiety attacks are brought on by stress and worry, while panic attacks come out of nowhere. But according to a friend (and I can hardly believe how many people in my circle of friends and family have had experiences with panic and anxiety) an anxiety attack can escalate into a full blown panic attack if left untreated.

Ooooooooh, I'm so tired of thinking about it already, and I'm SO not interested in my blog turning into a daily mental health report . . . I've still got my sense of humor so I can't be that crazy, right?

Today (I started this post yesterday) is President's Day, but Brandon is at work so I'm taking the kids to a movie and to get a goldfish. (I know, somebody reading this went to the Carribbean this weekend and I'm going to PetSmart . . .) I'm guessing I'll be pushing down the panic again, but hopefully it will be better than yesterday, just as yesterday was better than the day before. The biggest problem is I'm always EXHAUSTED once I get home.

Daily highlights: holding hands and talking with Kate while lying in my bed yesterday after she kindly did the whites for me and cleaned up Rachael's pee pee mess, Will begging me for a pet rat and making me scratch and tickle his back the entire first hour of church (he's very particular, it has to be with one finger or a pen), Elizabeth using some old scarves and bandanas to create tons of "outfits" and asking me which one she should wear to school, Rachael saying I'm a nest and she's a little birdie and then snuggling into my lap, and Brandon being Superman as usual, making pancakes, eggs and bacon for breakfast yesterday, doing an emergency transplant of one of his bonsai trees in the afternoon, and then sending me to bed early with a kiss on the head.

Three-year-olds are awesome:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Update and My New Best Friend

Yesterday was both really good and really bad:

Good: woke up feeling great, so I thought I'd do my usual morning routine of cleaning up the mess after everyone left for school, as well as dress Rachael and get her breakfast. (Brandon did most of the work getting everyone off, but then he had to go to work himself. Would be nice if he could just drop everything and sit here dabbing my forehead with a cool cloth, but somebody's got to pay my medical bills!)

Bad: had a random attack (sudden 'whoosh' followed by feeling faint with racing heart and tingling) just as someone was knocking on the door to come pick up Rachael.

Good: racing heart wasn't so bad and I got myself calmed down pretty soon after Rachael left, and got up again to go to the bathroom a little while later.

Bad: worse attack than before, got so freaked out I called a neighbor friend to come over and just be with me.

Good: my friend had one of her friends pick up her daughter from pre-school and bring her over to my house, and she came in to talk for a few minutes. Turned out she had an artificial heart valve put in when she was 15 and had so many crazy heart stories that I immediately calmed down as I sat looking at this young, healthy mother of three. After hearing what she had been through, it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps I wasn't on the brink of death after all. (As Brandon likes to say, "it takes a lot to die.")

Also good: Brandon got an appointment for me to see another cardiologist tomorrow, and while they were talking about my possible ASD/PFO, this doctor said, "which is it?" Apparently they are very different, and it's hard to tell the difference without a "better look." They talked about them at the hospital like they were interchangeable, but I guess not.  It was interesting, because around the same time I got a random comment on my blog from "anonymous" (thank you!) saying this very thing happened to her friend--she was diagnosed with a PFO, but when they went in to do the closure they discovered it was actually an ASD and luckily did the appropriate repair. (I can't explain the difference to you because I'm not sure myself!)

Better: not only did I get an appointment with this other cardiologist tomorrow, but there was also an opening in the afternoon to get the esophageal echo cardiagram done so we can see exactly what is going on in there. This does NOT sound fun (they go through the esophagus to get a closer look at the heart), but they'll use something called Versed to put me out, which has short term memory erasing properties, so I'm counting on not remembering a thing! (Brandon uses it for vasectomies all the time and says it's great.) I'm actually looking forward to getting knocked out. From the moment I was hoisted into the ambulance I have been thinking, "Someone just knock me out and wake me up when this is over!!" I seriously like the idea of having my crazy brain turned off for awhile. And deliberate short term memory loss? Brilliant.

BEST: after all my endless talking about how I suspect the attacks I've had since coming home are potentially self-induced (that crazy brain stuff: I'm a worrier, and not knowing what's wrong is not helping), someone suggested an anti-anxiety med. (Duh!) I'm not a drug taker so it never occurred to me, but Brandon brought some home last night and you know what?

XANAX is my new best friend!!

Interestingly, after not having another "attack" since the conversation with Ms. Chronic Heart Problems and taking the xanax, I have been reading online about panic attacks and am now HIGHLY suspicious that they could explain everything. We still need to rule absolutely everything out, especially since we know there is definitely some shunting happening in the heart from the small hole (but remember, 20-25% of the population does, mostly without symptoms), but I like the sound of unexplained panic attacks treated with mild medication better than an invasive heart procedure, right??

Meanwhile, I'm keeping myself calm and distracted with the Food Network and googling both family and couple vacation options.  In my parallel reality, I am getting paid to eat, travel, and talk about it. That sounds WAY more fun than an esophageal echo . . .

And if you thought YOU were worried about me?  Here's an email from my mom this morning titled, Trader Joe's:

"Woohoo!  We're getting one.  They are building a small mall out by the new Marriott in Coralville that will include a Trader Joe's.  I am excited.
I'll call you later to find out about your health, life, family and other minor things like that.
Love, Mom"

I copied and pasted that straight from my inbox. (If that doesn't explain some things about me, I don't know what does  . . .) 

Highlights of the last 24 hours: being sandwiched between Will and Elizabeth on my sick bed (the living room couch) watching "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" on the Food Network while enjoying my xanax buzz, seeing the pictures of Will and his 4th grade crush at their school play today (the teacher put them right next to each other), hearing Kate complain about having to carpool with a bunch of boys while I'm "sick" even though I can tell she's not being completely truthful, Rachael insisting that she is a puppy/I am her mommy dog while she pants and tries to lick me, and listening to Elizabeth crack up while reading Junie B. Jones to herself. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Love Fest and An Update

I don't know why I didn't connect the dots sooner, but there have been a flurry of jokes coming in on Facebook, in emails, and even from the nurses at the hospital about my heart and Valentine's Day.  (Brandon making my heart race kind of jokes . . .)  Pretty funny, people!

Despite the ugly weekend, yesterday (Valentine's Day) we managed a little love fest at our house. I didn't do any of the things I had in mind (cute little goodie boxes waiting by the kids' beds in the morning, present and card for Brandon, fun little candlelight dinner for the whole family, blah blah, blah) but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. The kids had a blast finishing up their Valentine's on Sunday night, and when they came home from school on Monday it was like Halloween all over again as they emptied their bags of Valentine's and goodies all over the floor. That night it was SO NICE to have a neighbor bring over heart shaped pizza and homemade chocolate covered strawberries for our dinner! The emails, Facebook messages, and blog comments have seriously made me feel SO LOVED, and then the local church members are falling all over themselves to bring in dinners, babysit Rachael during the school day, drive my kids to and fro, and just sit and visit with me--it's been overwhelming in a really good way.  

And even though I hadn't washed my hair in three days and was sacked out on the couch in my pj's, we pulled out our love note covered hearts that we made last Sunday, Elizabeth stuffed them all into our little Valentine mailbox, then pulled them out one by one and "delivered" them as everybody listened to all the "I love you because's." There were some really good ones. Brandon's were the best in my opinion. Everyone got three from everybody else, and one of the ones he wrote for Rachael was, "I love you because you have a sweet, squishy rumpy."  She does.

So the medical update is as follows: went to a cardiologist today, he said there is no connection between the tachycardia (sudden rapid heart rate) and the PFO (hole in the heart which 20-25% of the population has with hardly any symptoms, and if there are it's usually migraines or stroke) but the red flag to him (that they just breezed over in the hospital) was my low potassium levels, so we took some more blood and he's going to have the potassium looked at again and if it's still low he thinks I should see an endocrinologist and have my adrenal glands looked at.  Hmmm.  I'm at the mercy of the opinion of the specialists!

At the same time, Brandon's partner talked to a cardiologist friend (the non-invasive kind) and he said the PFO closures are "over done" and he and his colleagues are seeing a lot of people after they have the procedure done for their complications.  Lovely.  So we aren't anxious to hurry and schedule a PFO closure, but are also not sure where to go from here.  I'm feeling weak and woozy, often light headed with other funny feelings, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were self-induced because I'm feeling so freaked out by everything and am becoming hyper-sensitive to every little feeling in my body.  I'm trying to move as little as possible so as to not upset some sort of balance or trigger another unwarranted attack.  I'm paranoid!  Panicked!  Going slightly mad!

But I've had so many good neighbor women coming to visit me, bring me little goodies, grocery shop for me, and my best friend from college has spent the last two days with me, and that alone has done wonders. We get talking about all kinds of stuff, start laughing, and I forget that I'm supposed to be worried that I might drop dead any second! (I told you I'm melodramatic . . .) She took me to my appointment today and as I was getting my blood drawn we were joking with the young tech about how once you have a baby, nothing hurts anymore. Then I just had to start in on how she has a 14-year-old and I have a 13-year-old, but you'd never know it because we look so young, right? RIGHT? That's the beauty of old friends. When you're with them you can remember and almost feel like you're 20 again. Even though that was almost TWO DECADES AGO!! When did I become a middle aged mom going from heart doctor to heart doctor?  SERIOUSLY! What is going on here??

And apparently I need to apologize for not posting any pictures.  Perdoname. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The WORST (and most expensive) Valentine's Date EVER

I've got a beautiful view of the Wasatch mountains and the shimmering lights of the city unfolding in front of them as the sun goes down.  I can see the backside of the mountain that sits behind our house where my family will be sleeping without me tonight: I'm in the hospital.

I've been tossing around a lot of different titles for this post, but finally settled on this simple one that really says it all. I concentrated on all kinds of things just now during the MRI--the last of a battery of tests. Lucky for me I like to make a cave when I sleep, sometimes wear ear plugs, and also turn on white noise. (That's basically an MRI in a nutshell, but the "white noise" is LOUD.) If I were inclined to claustrophobia that would have done me in. The MRI came after three blood tests, a 24 hour urine collection that is still ongoing (I have a nice little portable fridge in my bathroom for this very purpose), an EKG, an echo cardiogram with bubble test, a CT scan of my chest with contrast, and more monitors and tubes hooked up to my body than Kate wanted to see. (My massive IV almost made her gag.)

Ya, it's been pretty romantic. Let me back up a little.

About three days ago I got a funny shimmery v-shaped line in my left eye that grew larger and larger until it left my field of vision. I knew what would come next (a dull ache behind my eyes) because this has now happened four times in less than two years. When it first happened two summers ago I was visiting my family in Iowa and had a full work up done by a family friend who is an ophthalmologist, and he felt sure it was just a variant of a migraine. It happened once again in California, once this past fall, and then again three days ago. But this time was different, because the headache didn't go away after taking some Advil and going to bed. It kept coming and going over the next few days, usually worsening later in the day.

So there we were on our romantic Valentine's dinner date at a lovely new restaurant about a half hour from our home. We had just finished sharing a salad, and were in the middle of some "palate cleansing" blood orange sorbet when my heart started to race like mad!  I grabbed Brandon by the shoulder and told him I was going to pass out.  I was sure of it.  My hands started to tingle, my legs started to shake--I really didn't think I was going to make it.  Brandon told me to calm down and breathe, and I told him to call an ambulance. He said he could take me to the hospital himself rather than wait for an ambulance, but I told him I could NOT walk to the car. I already had my feet up at this point, trying to get as horizontal as possible.

The restaurant called 911, the paramedics came in a firetruck, and I was wheeled away in a stretcher, leaving behind my piping hot mushroom ravioli, and Brandon his rib eye. (I know, it's pathetic I'm even mentioning this, but the only good news in this story is that we didn't have to pay for that delicious food we never got to eat. The other good thing is that this didn't happen a few hours earlier when I was by myself with five young children at an indoor playground. Oh, the thought! I also kept thinking about how glad I was that I didn't live in Haiti or Nairobi.)

In the ambulance they gave me aspirin and nitroglycerin, and I noticed my jaw starting to tighten up. I still don't know what that means but I'm sure it can't be good--I don't want to know. They hooked me up to an IV, did an EKG, asked me a bunch of questions, and stripped me of my cute little outfit while hooking me up to a heart monitor.  (Not exactly what I had in mind after dinner. Wrong people, wrong setting, wrong intent.)

Off to the ER where my legs continued to shake uncontrollably, and my heart continued to race. I won't lie--it was more than a little bit scary. I am a praying person by nature.  I talk to God off and on all day long about all kinds of stuff, and let me tell you, we were talking about serious stuff last night.

Enter physician husband, Brandon.  I know I've mentioned on here before (like a few weeks ago when Will had his weird breathing thing) how grateful I am to be married to a physician when stuff like this happens, because I am certain I would otherwise be dead from panic and anxiety. Well, when your problem is a racing heart and you start to get panicked, what do you get?  More racing heart!  So I have never been more grateful for that man of mine than I was last night when he kept calm and cool, and continuously talked me through everything, explaining to me what it all meant. And while paramedics and nurses are wonderful, Brandon knew a heck of a lot more than they did, even though he was great about letting them do their job without intruding too much. He was also simultaneously taking calls for his own hospital since he was on call--the hospital we WOULD have been going to if we had been eating closer to home. It was all just a little too hairy. His partner ended up covering him once he got a hold of him, but for awhile there he was getting a flurry of calls at all the wrong times.

Even though he was doing a good job of looking like he was in total control, I found out later he was freaked out too when I heard him talking to my mom about how no matter what he sees on a day to day basis, it's just not easy to watch your wife drive away in an ambulance hooked up to an EKG. But I never knew that. I get teary just thinking about it.

Long story short, while Brandon wanted to believe some punk in the kitchen "spiked" my blood orange sorbet (that would explain the symptoms and be the easiest solution--the substance would just run it's course and leave the body), it ended up being something else Brandon was worried about: a PFO.  In lay terms, a hole in the heart.  It's very small, and apparently about 25% of you are all walking around with one too, but some people start to get symptoms like mine that can cause problems further down the line (like stroke), so they are recommending a procedure to "fill in" the hole.  It's done intravenously I believe, is fairly common, and will completely solve the problem. I'll go home tomorrow morning, and then we'll have to make an appointment with a cardiologist and probably wait several weeks until I can get it done. (What do I do in the meantime, have panic attacks every time I leave the house alone with Rachael in the car, worrying that this will happen again!?)  My doctor told me her ex-husband had it done and he's run two triathalons since. (And since I'm such a big triatholon runner, that's a good thing . . .) Interestingly, I did run a couple of miles on our treadmill that day, a form of exercise I don't normally do, so my doctor thinks that might have been what tipped me over the edge.

I'm finally feeling somewhat better (except for this darn headache!) after a long night and semi-restful day (minus the 37 tests), so Brandon knew I would be tired of the Food Network and brought me my beloved laptop. Man, is blogging ever therapeutic!

If the MRI or urine tests come back with different results, I guess I'll be changing my story, but for now--that's all I've got! 

Here's to good neighbors who came to our house in the middle of the night and stayed with our children today, modern medicine, technology (yes, I love technology . . .), doctors and nurses, and the power of prayer.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


 Struggling runt, make big flowers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snow Day

Technically, it wasn't, since the snow started falling after the kids left for school and the roads were fine before it ended, but it kind of FELT like a snow day because Will was home sick from school. (After the weekend of his horrible croupy cough and subsequent breathing problems.)  It started snowing in the late morning--big, fluffy flakes that make you notice, so I started taking pictures:

As it started coming down even more, blanketing everything, I just had to open up the porch door and get some pictures:

I couldn't stay in the house anymore, so Will, Rachael and I put on our coats and boots over our pajamas and went for a ride. We spent about an hour and a half driving around taking it all in, me snapping a million and one pictures, almost always from the middle of the road since hardly anyone else was out. (Will was on the look-out for cars while I took pictures.) I got stuck several times, the worst while I was taking these next few pictures. I was using every trick I could remember to get my big ole' mom van out of that person's driveway. (Let me tell you, I was starting to sweat as I thought about the homeowners, a police officer, or some tow truck guy coming for me out there in my pajamas with no make-up on at noon!) Thankfully, I got out by the skin of my teeth and got these great pictures in the process:

We drove up to the mouth of the canyon to peek in and see what we could see (not allowed in without snow tires), but it was too snowy to see much of anything:
So we headed back into town:

This one was actually taken several weeks before, but I had to include it somewhere.  Cute little birdy nest:
Home again, home again, jiggety jig . . .
More reasons to like winter: I get to wear my grandma coat whenever I leave the house, which is basically like wrapping up in a down quilt with a furry hood. Super comfy! One more: when I'm cooking in the kitchen or doing an Exercise TV workout, I love the feeling of opening up the window and getting a blast of cold air on my face. Lastly: no yard work. (I'm working it here people! February can be a long one. I can't even think March yet. . .)

What do you like about winter?

More importantly, I've got to come up with three articles this week for Deseret News the following week about loving yourself.  How do you show love for yourself?  (Help me out here. All five of you.)
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