Friday, February 18, 2011

Not So Good

Doctor's appointments all this week show we've still got a number of hurdles to jump. The cardiologist is unhappy that Hubby's heart rate is still too high -- he's over 100 and needs to be considerably under that. Hubby has been told to stop the bike riding (stationery) and take up slow walking -- nothing too strenuous until we get things under control. A new medication has been added into the mix of -- I'm losing track -- 12?

The clinic is upset because Hubby's clotting factor, which in the hospital had raised to 4.9 (dangerously high) has now dropped to 1.4 (very dangerously low) and the meds are again being readjusted upward -- much to Hubby's major dislike (this is the med that make him feel sick).

More doctor's appointments all next week. Meanwhile, of course, Hubby is tired all the time. We're taking a lot of naps. Tomorrow night I'm dragging him out to dinner at Crown Center -- a long stroll in the shopping plaza for some exercise and a simple steak and salad dinner (no sodium) at one of the most expensive restaurants in the city. We deserve a treat and a respite from feeling sick.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Healing on a Plate

Dear friends called us Sunday and said, "No excuses, no saying no, we're bringing dinner."

Pot roast, roasted potatoes, carrots, onions. Perfectly seasoned. Oozing juices. Warm and filling. An entire meal, served with love.

Such kindness. So very much appreciated.

Truly healing on a plate for both Hubby and me. Enough for three full dinners which we didn't have to cook, only dish up and devour with gusto.

This is truly what friendship is all about. We can't thank them enough.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Fine Institution

We have just spent the last week in our neighborhood inner-city hospital. Honestly, Research Medical Center often takes a bad "rap" with my Johnson County and North Kansas City friends. They like Shawnee Mission Hospital or Kansas City North. St. Joseph's left the inner city to build a complex on State Line and Memorah moved way out into Leawood. The folks in Waldo and Brookside all visit the Plazaaa hospital of St. Lukes. I only know one friend who actually does go to Research beside Hubby and me. But I'm here to attest that no finer service can be provided anywhere in the country for the normal problems of an aging heart with complications or for problems treated by nuclear medicine.

We weren't in need of advanced medical care this time around -- we just needed help getting over the complications of the atrial fibrillation diagnosis of January. The meds were off. Hubby was experiencing congestive heart failure and we were scared. He couldn't breath. His blood clotting levels had suddenly zoomed into the scary numbers -- a bloody nose would be difficult to stop. His heart beat was again out of sync and he could feel it racing. His blood pressure was way up. His sugar levels were off. If he laid down he felt like he was dying. Both of us were terror struck.

Our very early morning entry into Research's ER was a dream. Hubby was immediately seen, placed in an exam room with staff buzzing around him and quickly doctor's taking vitals. People were brisk and efficient and concerned not just about Hubby but about me, as well. With three hours we were admitted to the heart care unit.

On the 4th floor, everyone from housekeeping to the dietary staff dropped by to see if we were satisfied. We immediately got a "nothing by mouth" order but the LPN scurried around and got me a tray of breakfast food. When I got upset because it looked like no one was taking Hubby's vitals, the charge nurse came by to explain how everything was now digital and Hubby was indeed hooked in to the hospital's main computer system and they knew every beat of his weary heart. The head of housekeeping came along to see if we were "satisfied" with the room. I pointed out that some small "debris" was still on the floor and that second chair in the room would be more than welcome. The floor was washed within 30 minutes and a very comfy chair was delivered within 10.

The chest x-ray had taken place in the ER. The eco-cardiogram staff came with a bed before we had a chance to put away Hubby's clothes to whisk him down for testing.

RNs, LPNs, and the charge nurse were always on call and in and out of the room all day and all night. We never rang for help but it didn't arrive within five minutes -- usually less. And when we rang it was usually because of beeping IV machines which drove me nuts but weren't serious problems.
The cardiologist came to visit that evening, the next morning, and today just before we left for home. Our clinic doctors came three times a day. The cardiologist staff came to show us videos and when they found Hubby out having tests, they rescheduled and CAME when they said they would. The dietary staff came to explain how low sodium and very low sugar diets work. The head chef came by to see how we liked the meals -- and when we said that the fruit they had in the visitor's cafeteria was out of this world, he explained that patients could order it and it would arrive for every meal. From then on, gorgeous oranges and apples and raspberries and blueberries came with every meal. Popsicles were available 24 / 7 on the floor for Hubby, as well as sherbet and applesauce.

We were pampered the entire stay. We were treated with respect and dignity. We laughed in the face of serious illness -- and that will almost always improve the healing process. The nurses treated Hubby so wonderfully well. The doctors were responsive and answered questions until we felt we had the "scoop" on our progress -- and they gave out phone numbers so we could call if more questions came up.

Research Hospital in Kansas City is a five star establishment. It may be located in the heart of the inner city but the quality of care provided there is truly world-class and can compete shoulder to shoulder with those hospitals that fled the the heart of the city to provide care for the suburbanites. They certainly earned our loyalty, in 2006 and now again in 2011.

Hubby's home. We have Research staff's caring attention to thank for that.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Hubby was admitted to Research Hospital this morning at 4 a.m. More complications; more meds; more tests; just a lot more of everything scary.

Update will be sparse for a few days.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Becoming the Man of the House

I've always admitted that my husband has clear dominant tendencies. That hasn't changed. He's the boss, he's the man in charge, he controls the remote when he's home. On the other hand, he never had clear role distinctions which, because I always found him interesting and funny and smart, made the fact that he had to be in charge acceptable. Somebody has to be -- I think 50/50 is probably a myth.

Now that he's aging and been sick, things are changing. Oh, make no mistake, he still thinks he's in charge and he still controls the remote when he's home, which is almost always now-a-days. I've pretty much given up watching TV -- one can only take so much of Walker, Texas Ranger and Judge Judy (how can a smart man watch such crap?). But the role thing -- now that's pretty much gone up the tubes.

Hubby was the strong man -- big chest, huge biceps, strong thighs. In his past he has boxed and lifted weights. He was always extremely physical and hands-on. He could move refrigerators on by himself.

Now I carry the groceries. All of them. I just had to drag into the house a 30 pound bag of dog food (we buy this god-awful expensive stuff for Gussie who has lost weight on it and has had an 80% improvement in his dental hygiene since we started using it and the big bags cost a little less than the smaller bags -- hence 30 pounds). Just getting the bag out of the car nearly did me in -- and getting it through the garage up and up the stairs into the house! Wow! I was sweating by the time I finally made it to the kitchen.

For the past month I've had to do all the grocery carrying -- and he LETS me! We pull into the driveway and I say, "Okay, you get the dogs into the house and I'll bring the groceries" and he nods, gets Luie leashed up and Gussie out of the car, and off they go into the house and he lays down in the bed. Lately he doesn't even bother to go into the store with me. He sits in the car, lets me make the purchases, and load everything into the car when I wander out. And when he gets done with this trip, he's napping while I'm unloading the car.

The blood clotting factor has finally reached 2.4 -- we knew it was getting close when he bled all over the bed after one of his injections. And then he got a bloody nose that wouldn't quit. So we've finally gotten to stop the morning and evening shots. Still, the pills are numerous and making him sick to his stomach nearly all day long. So to insure that he has something in his belly before we start the daily regime, I'm fixing breakfast nearly EVERY DOGGONE morning. Tea. Toast. Scrambled eggs with cream and cheese and onions and green pepper. Sausage patties or bacon. Sliced bananas. Apple juice. I'm NOT the cook in this family -- he has always been the chef. Okay, I'm frank to admit that on the mornings I leave for school at 5:45 we stop and get him a breakfast croissant at Dunkin Donuts, but otherwise I'm making sure he has breakfast by 9 a.m. every morning -- and that included the all those snow days and weekends.

It's hard wrapping my brain around this latest turn of events. I never aspired to be the "man of the house." Still, whatever it takes to keep him truckin' along. At least the dog walking chores are still his (however, with all this snow which is still higher than the dogs' butts, I get the "clean the poop out from under the grand piano chore"). We have another doctor's appointment on Tuesday. I made sure it was AFTER school because I intend to have a real heart-to-heart with our young physician. We've got some things that need improving.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

My Life on Febuary 1, 2011

This is where I'm spending my time for the next 16 weeks (not blogging, not creating exciting lesson plans) while attempting to finish up six of the nine hours I still need for SPED certification:

Nikita is the only one enjoying the current blizzard going on outside my window right this very moment (he is a young polar bear just moved to the KC Zoo):

This is my favorite movie of the year which Hubby and I actually took the time to see over the weekend (and I only felt extremely guilty that I wasn't home writing one paper or another for the first 30 minutes of the film and then I was totally engrossed):

This is the new technological love of my life -- a gift from my favorite sister-in-law for Christmas (if you don't have one, honestly, you SHOULD):

P.S. The Kindle is the 9.7 inch one -- and so easy to use!

This is the novel I slogged through on the Kindle (among several others) before I started the final to last semester at Pitt State:

P.S. I didn't much like the plot -- it was depressing mostly -- but I read the whole thing which is a grand testimont to Franzen's writing ability because I couldn't put the book down. He does capture 40 something white middle class people very nicely. And if your considering the book, it does have a happy ending.
P.P.S. I also read the newspaper on the Kindle daily. And it has several really nice games.
This is why Hubby is feeling sick and tired nearly all the time:

And this is the medication that we think is causing him the worst of the problems. The good news is that if we ever get the clotting factor right, then this disappears for ever:

Finally, this is the biggest problem right now at my high school (though repeated snow days will make me very unhappy come June when we're still in school making up days):

It's very frightening to see how enraptured our teenagers are with the gang culture -- and how little they value life, theirs or others. And it's very frightening how often this culture is now invading our hallways and clasrooms. We knew it was in the community, but until this year, we had not had to confront it so directly on a daily basis.