Tag Archives: CHD

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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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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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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Insurance

Wow. Insurance.
We still extremely dislike Obamacare… Cadillac coverage premiums for plans that are only catastrophic. By Cadillac coverage premiums, I mean that our monthly premiums are more than our mortgage. (Worth it this year since we had a “catastrophic” issue I suppose.) However, that’s not what this post is about.
 
Get this… I think everything has gone through without a hitch for my Heart Surgery.
The small exception being Hospital A required a down payment before surgery. But then we met our deductible before we actually had surgery, so we have a credit. We need the credit back in order to pay Hospital B. We owe Hospital B because they are the ones that ran all of the pre-op tests, which was before (what caused us to) met the deductible. But that’s just a timing thing. Not a big deal. Money from Hospital A will pay the bill from Hospital B with a little extra to spare.
PRAISE THE LORD!!!
 
Also — This part is CRAZY to me. Heart surgery is going to cost out of pocket LESS than each of our two kids being born. (Because when you have a child, mommy has an individual deductible, and baby also has an individual deductible.) 

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Positive Thinking, it’s not what you Think

I’ve been thinking about this post for about 2-3 weeks now and with tomorrow being 4 weeks since my surgery, I thought I should probably write it.

Where do I begin?

I guess I will briefly mention that heart surgery is my fourth major surgery since 2002. The first three (gall bladder removal and 2 c-sections) were not the best experiences (UNDERSTATEMENT!) and I’ve been dreading heart surgery ever since. Not the actual surgery – but the recovery.

I tend to over think, over analyze, over plan, worry, get anxious, and spend all together too much time anticipating negative things.

Because of this, Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Why? Because generally speaking it’s all about Joy.

Paul is writing from chains and he can’t “shut up” about being thankful and full of joy. He is excited about all of the things God is doing in spite of (or rather because of) Paul’s difficult circumstances.

The book as a whole is the antithesis of my negative normal.

Looking at specifics, Philippians has many powerful verses that remind me God is good and he commands me to rejoice. He commands me to not be anxious. He commands me that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” I should think on such things (Phil 4: 8).

When I was in college, I wrote the following, in large print, on paper:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7

And then I stuck it on the ceiling over my bed. It was a very helpful reminder and many nights I stared up at it, repeating the words in my head, letting the peace of God calm my anxious heart.

I’m not bragging here. I’m telling you I have a REALLY hard time being positive and joyful. And I’m constantly challenged by God’s best for me, as spelled out in Philippians. He doesn’t give any exemptions or qualifiers. He just says “rejoice”!

What I don’t mean

At the same time, this joy, not being anxious, often also seen as “positive attitude” or “positive thinking” is NOT in the same as when people say things like “I’m sending you positive thoughts (or vibes or whatever)”.  There is not positive energy that exists in the universe as some type of currency we can pass around to each other.

This “rejoice” God commands is also NOT some type of guarantee that things will go well, here on earth. It’s not a magic formula. Think positive and you will have a wonderful life. Paul, writer of Philippians, is an example of that as he was probably killed for the faith. (See more here)

So what does all this mean in relation to heart surgery?

I am extremely grateful for the timing of how everything went. I’m thankful for the support network surrounding me. I’m thankful for the circumstances and the results.

I don’t specifically think I automatically am having a good recovery because I’m more joyful. At the same time I also don’t discount that perhaps God commands us to rejoice because he knows he built our bodies to respond better (scientifically speaking) when we are positive.

God loves us more than anyone can even wrap their mind around. He loves me more than my parents love me. He loves me more than my boys, or than JJ, love me. His commandments are an out flowing of that love. Because he is the definition of love and everything that is good, because he is all powerful and all knowing, because he wants the absolute best for me – he commands me in ways that are sometimes very confusing and backwards looking to me. Yet, I trust that he is who he says he is.

He wants the best for me. And in Philippians, he commands me to rejoice in all things and in all circumstances.

In summary – Positive thinking is not what you think. It’s not because I want things to go well. It’s not because things are going well. It’s because He loves me and he commands me to rejoice. And – in opposition to my negative normal – it is Christ in me, from which the Joy overflows.

To His Glory, forever. Amen.

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Almost pain free

I’ve entered a more frustrating part of healing.

I’ve now gone over 24 hours without any pain meds. Thank you Lord!

However, this also makes it more difficult to remember to stick to my restrictions. 

I’m only 35. I’d rather not do something dumb, mess up my healing chest bone and then regret it for the rest of my life.

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Two weeks

Today marks two weeks since heart surgery. I am so glad to be on this side of it!

I still have a long way to go though. Specifically, I have 4 more weeks of limits in place to allow my sternum a chance to heal well.

For example, this morning I was able to take a shower almost entirely by myself. However, I cannot turn the water on and I cannot properly dry myself off. These two things are part of the limits in place.

I cannot turn the water on because I am not supposed to reach, stretch, turn, or pull with much force. Other activities that fall into this are opening my medicine bottles (create too much in my chest). I can’t drive (turning to see my blind spot, pulling the stearing wheel at short notice, etc) or even sit in the front seat (if on even a small accident, airbags would be terrible).

I cannot dry myself because in addition to the reasons I just mentioned, wet towels are extremely heavy. I can’t lift more than 5 pounds (it was 2 for the first while). I may be able to get a small towel to lessen the weight, but then the temptation to reach and stretch increases.

It’s going to be a tough 4 weeks because as I feel better, I become complacent. 

I’m so thankful my mom is here, doing the “heavy lifting”.

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