Category Archives: cardiology

One Year

One year ago today, my heart stopped for 20 minutes. Isn’t that crazy?!? On average the heart stoppage time for having a pulmonary valve implant is 45 minutes. A heart can go 3-4 hours on “pause” for transplants.

I’m very thankful for my less than average stoppage time. I credit it to not having the typical brain fog that often follows open heart surgery. I’m also extremely grateful that the Creator of the universe allowed his creation to understand the human body so well as to be able to have the knowledge and skill to do heart surgery. And I’m grateful I was created at this period in time, where I could live a full, mostly healthy life.

Since One year ago:

HEALTH
My health has been great. After the initial healing time, I’ve had more energy and have been able to bounce back better from full, exhausting days or lots of time spent out in the heat.

HOME
Because of such a surprisingly easy and quick recovery, I was bored and started looking at houses. This resulted in us listing our town home to sell. Because of our location and price point, we received 7 offers in 4 days. We found a new home (that we LOVE!) that met our needs and even checked off some hard to find wants (my large kitchen!). Within 4 months of heart surgery, with the help of many family and friends, we moved.

ADDING ON
With cardiologist approval, we found out at the beginning of this year we are expecting our third child. We couldn’t be more thrilled to add to our family. And as I suppose is normal, this third pregnancy is flying by. I can’t believe we are already at 18 weeks.

FINANCES
We are very fortunate to not owe on any of the heart surgery medical bills. We have been sticking with Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and the only debt we have is on our new house. We’ve been working really hard on not buying items we really would love but just don’t have the funds for right now (like a new grill) and God has surprised us with some fun stories of perfect used items that “fell into our lap” with very minimal expense. (Like our “new to us” grill. Free from a neighbor two streets down. We just had to buy a couple of small replacement parts.)

OTHER ADVENTURES
*A week after moving in, we “crashed” the national night out block party a street over
*We participated in our new city’s Trash Bash, our little family picking up trash on 3 streets and allies near our home.
*I found an amazing facebook group dedicated to women with CHD. It’s the first time I’ve ever “met” anyone born with a similar heart condition
*We participated in the neighborhood spring fling party, winning 2 of the 5 raffle prizes (I finally have a porch swing!). The party also included the ribbon cutting for the new butterfly park so the boys each got to release a butterfly
*We completed a 16 week marriage enrichment class
*Our oldest son had eye surgery to correct his crossed eyes
*I’ve been able to read at least 1 new book each month since we moved. I love reading, but when our oldest was born, I put that hobby on the shelf.

It’s been a busy year. It’s been a fun year. It’s been a surreal year.

We are looking forward to another full, fun year, with many, many more heart healthy years to follow.

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Filed under baby steps, cardiology, family, friends, grilling, health, housing, marriage, moving, reading

I have stuff to say

With Jimmy Kimmel and his son’s diagnosis in the news, along with the fact that the end of this month marks one year since my most recent Open Heart surgery, I have stuff to say.

Plus, we just announced two days ago I’m pregnant with our third kid. (Due in October. Yay!!!)

This takes time and energy – I don’t have an overwhelming amount of either at this moment so I’m making this place holder blog.

If you want to read up on my original Pulmonary Atresia diagnosis and being born in 1980 with CHD, you can find my story (With pictures!) here, here, and here.

I hope to address some more specific issues that have been talked about the last couple days because of Kimmel’s story soon.

Thanks for stopping by.
***Update*** I never had time to go back and write a post, so here are some of my thoughts I did share on Facebook:

From my personal page on May 5th: The following is a comment I posted on a fb article. Some of my thoughts regarding Kimmel’s son, our broken system, and Congential Heart Defects. 

You get a repost because my brain is exhausted and full to the brim with recent insurance, care, CHD, and pre-existing conditions talk. **edit: and for it’s worth, I wrote this before yesterday’s AHCA stuff. I know little to nothing about it. This pregnant wife, mother of two, CHD patient has other things consuming the day. 😊** 

“Hi. An adult here, born with CHD. In fact, very similar to Billy Kimmel, I was born with pulmonary atresia. Complete blockage of the pulmonary valve. A death sentence if not immediately addressed. (I had my first surgery at 24 hrs old in 1980.)

It wasn’t an issue so much when I was a kid (parents insurance, etc) or when I was working full time (group insurance typically covers pre-existing conditions) – my issues are now. 

Zero ACA plans cover the specialized cardiologists in our area. Regular cardiologists can’t help me and ACA plans (which we can’t afford) don’t even cover the cardiologists that can help me.  

Insurance is NOT the same as Care.

It’s extremely complicated. The old system was broken and the new system is also broken.

At the same time, I don’t want single payer because waiting lists and lines kill people like me. They kill people like Billy that grow up and are no longer cute kids.
I’d rather take this Kimmel coverage and have people taking about CHD. The Number ONE birth defect. Did you know that? 

1% of kids are born with CHD, yet it receives very little coverage and very little research. Kids born with CHD like Billy and me need life long monitoring (at minimum).

There is no cure. Once a heart defect, always a heart defect. Yes there are repairs and some can lead fairly “normal” lives, but it’s never gone, cured, or fixed.

I wish we were talking about that.

Want more info on CHD? Check out the Adult Congenital Heart Association.  

https://www.achaheart.org
Not the American heart association. They tend to ignore us ;-)”

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Filed under cardiology, health, sick, Uncategorized

Happy to be Alive day!

Today is the anniversary of my open heart surgery. Not the one last year, but the one in 1983. 

I’m at a loss. Do I change the date of HtbA day? I don’t think I will just because I have so many memories of April 11 through out the years.

Two of my favorites being 9 years ago today, it was my first full day in Texas. [EDIT: apparently, it was not on April 11th that I spent my first day in TX. It was two days later. 4-11-2008 I was prepping to move. Thanks, 2008 blog post. lol!]

 And 8 years ago? The day I meet JJ. Life has had some fantastic turn of events in those last 9 years. Praise the Lord.

And as far as my most recent heart surgery, it’s already been just over 10 months! My heart feels good and life has returned to normal.

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See ya

There it is:

My cardiologist said my surgeon recommends waiting 6 months after surgery for any dental work. Made it! Phew!

It was pretty magical. The extraction only took about 10 minutes from when I sat down in the chair to when the tooth was out. 

It doesn’t hurt much, which is great. The biggest bummer is that I could only have liquids yesterday and now, only soft foods for the next week. No popcorn? Nuts, chips, and such. All my favorites. (I even just bought a pound of mixed nuts with a nut cracker as a Christmas tradition from my youth!)

Oh well. At least the tooth is out. And my oral surgeon said upper wisdom teeth are less likely to get dry socket because of the way the vascular system is positioned in the mouth. 

Hooray! That was an annoying 4 weeks. Glad it’s in the past.

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6 months!?!

I had surgery on May 31st. I guess because November 31st doesn’t exist, that makes today 6 months post op. How is that even possible?!?!

Just yesterday, I finally looked at the couple of pictures JJ took of me when I was in the ICU, still asleep. It was a little emotional. Kind of made me sick to my stomach to see all the tubes and buttons and wires and things. However, I’m glad he took them and I was finally able to see them. (I won’t be sharing them here. Sorry – too personal.)

I will share one story from the ICU. When I started waking up, they wanted to know if I was awake enough to have the breathing tube removed. Of course, it was impossible to talk (since I had a tube down  my throat), so I motioned with my hand for a pen. Also – not easy to do because I was tied to the bed. Some patients start ripping out wires and stuff because they aren’t thinking straight on all the medicine. At first JJ handed me a pen – which was so frustrating because he stuck it in my left hand. I could not simply just move and set it in my right hand, as I’m right handed. When they finally got it all figured out, I wrote them a note. To Paraphrase:

“On one hand, I would really like this tube out so I can speak. On the other hand, I do feel really sleepy still.” [Insert them asking me if they can untie me or if I was going to start pulling out the IVs] “My brother had an aneurysm. He did that. I will not.”

So there you go. Drugged up Debra still thinks fairly clear – however – the nurses, then the anesthesiologist, and later my surgeon thought it was hilarious. The anesthesiologist and the surgeon both asked to take a photo of my note. Apparently, in 30 years of work, no one had written one before. Which I found shocking. But then again, I was at a children’s hospital. Many of their patients can hardly read, let alone write.

Here, six months later, things continue to go really well. I feel great. I have much more energy.

Other than my hypothesis that my heart is smaller, therefore more efficient, therefore better circulation, therefore my wisdom tooth came in, everything is dandy. But seriously, my tooth (which I didn’t even know I had until my pre-op dental clearance appointment in the spring) came in and it came in quick. In the spring I was told “It may come in, in a year, in several, maybe never.”  When I went to the oral surgeon at the end of October, one little edge had cut through the gum. They said “Oh – At your age? It will probably be a very slow eruption. It could sit right there for years and make hardly any progress at all.” UHM!!! 4 weeks later the entire tooth has come in. It does make my face hurt a bit but – hey – it’s not heart surgery so I can’t complain too much. I’m having it pulled on December 8th. Can’t wait. I’m tired of trying to brush it way back there.

Beyond health stuff are enjoying the Advent season. We decorated and turned on the music the day after Thanksgiving. I have a few fun things planned for the boys, baking and such.

I’ll leave you with a picture of our Christmas tree and nativity.

christmas

 

 

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Filed under cardiology, christmas, health, holiday

12 Weeks Post Op

There’s that.

Recovery update: 

Still hurts to cough and sneeze, but not as much. Laughing and singing also still hurt, but it’s greatly improved. Yesterday, I became aware of the fact that bumps in the road, when I’m not driving, no longer hurt! Hooray!

House update:

Selling side. We closed yesterday, so we are now officially renters. We are allowed to be here until September 26th.

Buying side. We saw around 20 houses (I probably lost track of the exact count).  House #19 looked really promising, but the night we went to see it, a rain storm knocked out power. Even seeing it in without electricity, we thought it was a strong possibility.

We set up another viewing for the next day along with house #20, that popped up as a new listing. Honestly, house 20 looked just ok online, so we figured might as well take a quick look at it in person before we go back to 19. We recruited my husband’s brother to join us because we wanted his opinion on 19 (and as the carpooling worked out, he saw 20 as well).

To our surprise, 20 was so much better in person than in pictures. It had a great layout and was more move in ready than 19. House 20 was also located in our preferred side town. By the middle of the day, house 20 became our new favorite.

We wasted little time and put together an offer on 20 by the end of the day.

Because of this market, we knew it they would probably get multiple offers. We were told they would be deciding at 7pm on Monday.

We didn’t hear anything yesterday so went to bed thinking “I bet they chose someone else’s offer and we are the ‘break up’ call they are putting off until the morning.”  To our surprise and delight, they accepted our offer!

So here we go… we are in the option period and if all goes well, we hope to close at the end of September, just in time for when we need to be out of our “Rental”.

2016 – the year that God continued to surprise us over and over and over again.

*Bonus Info* it’s a 4 bed, 2.5 bath! Just like I mentioned in my previous post, it’s what we really preferred. A little higher than our goal price, but we stayed in our reasonable range, just shy of our maximum.  And for what it’s worth, our maximum was determined by us, based on how much a month we want to pay/can afford per month for a monthly mortgage, NOT based on how much the banks would let us borrow.

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Filed under cardiology, health, housing, moving

🔥🔥🔥

We spent almost the entire day out of our house. 

Somewhere around 9-10 showings today with a few more scheduled in the next few days. There is also an open house tomorrow. Hooray!

Please pray for wisdom in accepting the right offer, should any be made.

Please also pray for wisdom as we start looking at homes. 

It’s a sellers market. Easier to sell than buy. We are on both sides of this market.

On a completely different note: I got a complimentary ID card from the company that made my heart valve. It has my doctor’s name and surgery date as well as the serial number of the valve. I’m not sure why, but this cracks me up. I have a serial number inside me! (Hope there is never a recall!)

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Filed under cardiology, moving