Monday, October 29, 2012

Down for the Count

I'm not sending out emails but if you read the blog, you have the only scoop and update:  Hubby entered Research Hospital early, early this morning with congestive heart failure.  He's on the heart floor, they are monitoring him hourly, and we hope and pray that they can clear out his lungs and body and get him back on his feet post haste.  He's been failing since September 23. 

Keep the faith.  MGW

Monday, October 22, 2012

Finding Ways to Keep My Own Blood Pressure Soaring

Hubby had a rough night.  He came home around 9 p.m. from his "fiddling" around -- talking with family members long distance, riding his stationary bike, etc. and sounded pretty much like he was getting a cold.  Quickly, he was fast asleep. 

I had had a rough day myself-- my stomach had been upset and I felt "off" so instead of being the productive wife, I had fed Hubby some toast and called it quits for the day.  I laid around reading my Kindle, napping, and watching TV (that show about Alfred Hitchcock and Teppi Hedren -- The Girl -- was truly sickening). 

At 1:30 this morning Hubby woke me up.  "I need my new Vicks inhaler," he commanded.  We had bought this plastic machine in Williamsburg that uses hot water and a little cube of very potent Vicks and you hold it up to your mouth and nose and inhale the pungent fumes.  Hubby swears it works great.  It practically bowls me over, but whatever floats your boat. 

I got up, prepared the inhaler and then listened to Hubby sit up all night, hacking, spitting, and gasping for air.  At 8 he took the dogs out for walkies.  I rolled over preparing for at least a quiet hour of sleep, when the phone rang.  "I'm going to the emergency clinic.  Do you want to come along?"

I've learned the hard way not to send Hubby off for emergency procedures alone.  If he's really sick, he won't go to the hospital.  And he never goes for emergency care unless he's really sick.  So I quickly dressed and walked out to the car waiting for me in the driveway.

The Goppert Family Care Clinic has an emergency clinic attached so on signing Hubby in, I said we needed to go the emergency waiting room.  The new receptionist looked up Hubby's record and asked me what was wrong. 

"His blood pressure is elevated, his heart rate is high, his diabetes count is over 200, and he's full of congestion."

She immediately called in the seasoned receptionist who looked at Hubby, looked at Hubby's record and went to get the Triage nursing staff.  Emergency clinics are NOT for chronic illness.  Two lovely nurses came out and escorted Hubby to a patient's room and they called in a Faculty Doctor -- our own Dr. Patel was on call at the hospital and not available to us.  

We had wonderful service.  Nurses gathered, EKGs were taken, questions were asked and answered.  For an hour and a half the lives of four clinic personnel were interrupted while Hubby was assessed, diagnosed, and treated. 

Finally a verdict was reached.  We were definitely not in congestive heart failure -- always my worst fear.  Hubby probably had a cold but based on the problems we had just had during our sojourn to Chesapeake, we were to watch it carefully.  His EKG did show some changes from the previous one but not significant enough to warrant a hospitalization -- just a visit with the cardiologist which we had already scheduled for November 4th.  Finally,  if Hubby felt lousy enough then the emergency room should be the next stop.

"Nope," Hubby proclaimed.  "No emergency room."

Heart meds were increased to help with the high heart rate (which came down radically as Hubby received more and more soothing and pampering).  Scripts were sent off to the pharmacy.  Over the counter drugs that do not interact with heart conditions were recommended. Scopes and consultations followed tests and chest thumping. 

Eventually we were released from the doctor's office.  Just as Dr. Patel had held my hand and looked seriously in my eyes last week, they held both our hands and looked at us solemnly and with intent,  "Call us if you have any changes or worries.  Go to the emergency room if you feel any chest pains."

We were effusively thankful.  We had showed up with no appointment or advance warning and because we were concerned the entire clinic had jumped to and work us over -- probably only for a cold.  We had seen the most senior doctor and he had been warm and sympathetic.  Everyone had worried about us and shown their concern, never minimizing our problems -- which have probably turned out to be nothing more than a cold.

Now was my turn to take over.  After walking two dogs to wear off some energy (and eliminate some poop and pee) and taking Hubby home to bed to be surrounded by now worn out pups, I headed out to collect several new scrips and over the counter meds as well as lunch.

We left the house at 8:25 this morning.   I got home at 1:25 in the afternoon.  Everyone is now fed and dosed and sleeping off the effects of our activities.  Let's pray the meds all work and the "cold" stays just a minor blip in our lives. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Notes from a TV Watcher

The Hopper from DISH is GREAT!  I love the fact that it records all the Prime Time shows and though I delete over 50% of them without ever watching (all the sports, all the reality shows) I have picked up several shows that I never thought I'd watch.  AND -- skipping all those commercials is really cool, though they can only be skipped on Prime Time shows.  Anything from USA or the Food Network requires me to fast forward though the ads.

The caveat -- The Hopper / DVR is expensive.  We carry a lot of premium  channels (HBO, Showtime, Starz) and the cost is right at $129 a month.  So . . . we signed up to have Google install their high speed network once it comes to KCMO - our neighborhood is estimated for Fall 2013 -- and by dropping The Hopper and Earthlink (which means changing email addresses we've had for 10 years) we can save over $50 a month. Though we love both DISH and Earthlink, cost (and super sonic high speed Internet connection) is going to dictate our consumer choices. 

Though I always considered myself a political junkie (PBS's Frontline show on Obama and Romney was well worth the 90 minute investment), I found the first presidential debate put me to sleep.  In my defense, I was watching it from a motel room in Kentucky after driving over 700 miles on the way home from Maryland.  I can't say I thought that either side actually won the debate, even though everybody and their cat thought that Obama hadn't shown up and Romney was on fire.  They both put me to sleep -- right at about the middle point in the debate and I didn't wake up until the last summations.  I actually was rather amazed by the analysis of the debate -- I hadn't thought that Obama was that bad -- but then I hadn't seen the whole thing.

Then came the debate between the vice-president and his challenger, Paul Ryan.  From the moment it began I found myself getting more and more edgy, feeling uneasy and uncomfortable.  Watching them go at each other was a lot like living in my home when I was a teenager and my mother would get drunk and confrontational.  I've not admitted this until now, but I switched channels after the first fifteen minutes -- and watched some show on the Cooking channel.  I tuned back to hear the reviews -- to find that everyone thought it was a great debate and probably Biden bested Ryan.  Why?  He was more aggressive. 

So last night I tuned in, hoping to manage to last through a political debate in 2012.  I had read that the rules for the debate, agreed on by both parties, was that the candidates would not directly question each other but only respond directly to the audience.  The first question, about gas prices, was okay.  But then -- on the second question, Romney turned to Obama, invaded his space, and asked him point blank about oil permits.  My heart began to pound, my brain said, "Good grief!  They're going to hit each other!" and I gasped in disbelief as Obama tried to respond with vigor while Romney kept interrupting him.

When did a debate become a bickering, vicious attack on your opponent for you to be considered a winner?  Is that the new normal for debating in today's world?  Once again, I found myself turning off the antagonists, while I watched an old recording from 2007 of the Dog Whisperer.  I switched back after 90 minutes to see that most people thought the debate was pretty much an even draw between the two -- both on the attack, both showing aggression, both interrupting and facing each other down.

These debates seem to be indicative of our new media mentality -- attack first, present facts almost never.  For the first time since I have been a voter, I have not been able to watch the political debates.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying NBC's Go On and Animal Practice.  Both are funny and well written and acted.  Parenthood has added plot lines making the show even more addictive, and I can't wait to see what happens to each family.  I'm especially pleased that, though bad things happen to each family, in the end I usually come away feeling uplifted and pleased that I've spent time with these characters.

The old standbys on CBS are still good, especially Good Wife.  I've noticed I'm feeling a bit of ennui over NCIS while I think NCIS Los Angeles has recaptured my interest.  Blue Bloods is wonderful -- not just the plot lines but the family that gathers at the end of every show.  Person of Interest, The Mentalist, as well as CSI New York and Las Vegas, are still good watches.  The only new show I've adopted on CBS  is Elementary and the only two sitcoms worth my time are Mike and Molly and The Big Bang (however, Mike and Molly seems to be slipping in the humor department). 

Fox still grabs me with Bones - but it's only on every two or three weeks.  ABC has the standard sitcoms of The Middle and Modern Family -- and Castle for semi-drama -- but all those reality shows leave me cold. I enjoyed Revenge the first season but lately, the same old plots against Victoria or by Victoria seem a little de ja vu. 
For really great viewing, PBS is the place (screw you Romney for wanting to take away my favorite network - and yes, I do contribute to PBS -- the arts ARE important!).  The series that are shown on Mystery Theater, the English imports, the news shows, the specials on the arts -- all these fill up my DVR weekly.   Have you seen the special on Les Mis?  No matter how often they repeat it, I watch just to see the ending with all the wonderful singers who have starred in it.  

Maybe in my next blog, I'll write about the books I've been reading -- but the truth is, I've been thoroughly enjoying the fall TV season.  And come November, USA and the other independent networks will start up showing their shows -- making TV watching even more of a wonderland of entertainment.

PS -- we did take in a movie over the weekend -- at an actual theater.  We say Taken 2 which Hubby really liked and I thought was okay. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Checking Things Out

We had a wonderful vacation in the Mid-Atlantic states -- family, birthday celebrations, shopping, crab eating, sail boat watching, long drives by the sea, lazy afternoons watching the bay while playing games with family.  It was perfect -- except Hubby got really sick just as we were departing on our1190 mile drive across half the country.

Today we have just returned from a doctor's visit that Hubby put off until his return, and to some extent, my fears have been lessened, if not completely abated.  You know it did no good at all to keep pleading that we check in at an emergency room while we were gone. 

Initial diagnosis -- Hubby came down with a severe viral infection just as we were leaving town and age combined with chronic illness, made for a slow recovery.  Now he has antibiotics to help the final return to health,  his lungs sound good and he is not, as I feared throughout the whole trip, in congestive heart failure.

He does however suffer from a very rapid heartbeat -- and in doing an oxygen test to see if walking would create a breathing problem, they instead found that even initial walking sent his heart rate to 120 beats -- and by the time he had gone 50 paces, he was at 150 beats.  Back we go to the heart specialist and in meantime, the GP did a full panel of blood work to check that nothing else was wrong.  

Yesterday we had also done blood work for us both -- but his was just to check the clotting factor - and that is right where it should be.  I don't see our doctor until next week, but I presume I'm going to be told about high cholesterol for which I have NOT been taking the prescribed meds (they make me feel icky -- which is not a medical term but truly describes how I feel when I take them).

I have an update planned to tell about the wonderful time we had on Chesapeake Bay but it may take me several days to compose.  Meanwhile, we are back into the normal groove with all the suitcases but one unpacked, cooking underway, and laundry being sorted.  It's good to get away -- and then again, it's good to get back home.