Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Wintry Morning

All night long we heard the reports of the winter storm that would arrive "sometime."  Nobody was sure exactly when the rain, which came down steadily most of yesterday, would turn to sleet and then into snow.  Everybody was sure it would happen.

During the night the thunder and rain stopped while the predictions of sleet and then snow continued to show blue and pink bands on the weather maps coming closer and closer. 

At 4 a.m. there was still no snow.  The prayed for school closings around the city were now an impossible dream.  Around 5:30 a.m. the snow, mixed with some sleet finally began, accompanied by high winds.  It was miserable outside and folks were now destined to drive to work during the rush hour accompanied by very dangerous road conditions.

Not me, though.  Not the retired me, who lay surrounded in her nice warm bed with her hubby and her two doggies, all of us dozing through the continued traffic and weather warnings. 

School started all over the city at the regular time.  The poor teachers were out there inching through blowing snow and sleet at 6 a.m., undoubtedly cursing their lot.  Business folk started up about an hour later, as conditions continued to worsen.  So did the traffic jams. 

At 8 a.m. I went outside and warmed the car.  Hubby and I put on our warmest outer clothing -- for me a heavy fleece sweatshirt, jeans, the ugly black walking shoes purchased at a cost over $200 that would not let the snow seep in to my toes, the warmest dog-walking coat, a fleece scarf wrapped around my head, a fleece hat over the scarf, another fleece scarf tied securing around my neck, and fleece gloves covering my hands.  Hubby had on wool sweater, hat, heavy coat, and face mask to protect the frozen larynx.   Even the boys wore their fleece dog coats.

Once the car was nice and toasty and had melted most of the ice off its windows, we drove a couple of blocks to the local park where Luie and Gus bounded about, frolicking in the new, pristine snowfall.  Hubby stayed in the car while I trudged, head down, into the gusting wind, making sure the poop and pee for the day were eliminated. 

In 20 minutes we were back into the old Lincoln that Hubby had kept invitingly warm and headed back home.  As we cruised down Troost, our stomping ground, being careful that the Lincoln did not slip and slide, a youngster on his cell phone, tried to rush past us on the right and ran smack into a parked car.  He was going at quite a clip and really banged the heck out of both cars.  We waited around to give our "witness" information, see the kid carted off in an ambulance, and then drove the two blocks to our little house where we settled in for a quiet day of relaxation, warm food, good books to read, and a nap when the inclination came upon us.

I still wonder at the joy I get from being retired.  On mornings such as this, when only the park walk with the boys is my required duty, I offer up thanks to the universe that I have been allowed to relish the serenity that comes with retirement.  We may not be rich, we may not be traveling to the Spanish coast to bask naked in the European sun, we may not be able to buy a $60,000 truck like my neighbors just did -- but I have the wondrous luxury of never worrying about trekking out in bad weather, meeting artificial deadlines, or pleasing superiors I don't much respect.   I have the great comfort and extravagance of staying home on a wintry morning and doing absolutely nothing. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Proof -- in the Pudding, of course

Hubby actually likes the new C-pap machine.  I'm not sure if that's going to jinx it but right now he is very happy with it.

After two naps wearing it yesterday afternoon, he put it on and it lasted most of the night.  It does make him very, very dry mouthed after a couple hours of usage.  The home health care provider swore that in about three weeks the dry mouth / stuffy nose thing would begin to wear off.   We solved some of the immediate problem by laying in a supply of icy cold orange juice and two packages of sugar free popsickles.  When he wakes up he wanders out to the kitchen and gets himself a swig of juice and a fruity pop.

Now right there is a first.  Lately Hubby has not been getting himself anything.  He plaintively cries out from his bed what he needs and expects it to be delivered to him post haste.  Admittedly I've been grumbling that he needs to start again "doing" for himself, but he's rather taken to enjoying thinking he's got a downstairs maid just like in Downton Abby.  Last night he took care of his own needs without disturbing me or the dogs.

He slept so well using the C-pap that when I woke up at 1 a.m. I had to stand and stare at him for a couple of minutes before I was sure he hadn't died in the middle of the night.  I was so used to his tossing and gasping and grunting and snorting and talking in his sleep, that I couldn't fathom that this mound of silent husband was actually just sound asleep. 

Today, to prove just how much better he was beginning to feel now that he had actually gotten some sleep and had a heart that was beating at a steady 65 (not 150+), he took us out to breakfast at Big Biscuit.  He didn't walk with the boys and me in the park this morning -- it was simply too deadly cold for his frozen larynx to cope, but as soon as we got home and the coats off the boys, he was ready for a morning's outing.

After Big Biscuit, we hit Sam's and for the first time in eight months he went inside, pushed the cart, walked around, and even pulled a case of dog food off the shelves.  He was ready to come home once we had put in two cases of water and some milk and eggs, but he had actually been inside a store.  This is quite a change for us.

In a lovely added note, when we got home and the car was unloaded, I found an email from Amazon that the last CDs I had purchased at Christmas had now been loaded into my Cloud account, ready for access whenever I wanted.  When I signed-in to Cloud I found 556 individual songs and some 50 albums waiting for me.  I usually give Hubby CDs at Christmas so on our way home from Houston we can listen to music other than Christmas. This year we loaded up on Alfie Boe and Il Volo.  Now, as I'm composing this, Alfie Boe is singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" to me and my heart is filled with joy.  Once, years ago, when I asked Hubby if he associated songs with people, he said, "Of course." So I had to ask -- and my song was "You'll Never Walk Alone" -- and I thought, well, how unromantic.  But life has taught me that the song is very loving and caring and now it probably is MY song (though I usually try to claim "The Impossible Dream"). 

The house is full of food, the furnace is cranked up high to combat the cold, the dogs have been walked, our bellies are full of warm breakfast food, and Alfie Boe is serenading me.  Hubby IS in recovery mode with a strong heartbeat, the potential for restful sleep, and we have been able to afford, so far, all the medical treatment he has needed.  Though the dogs had to be walked in the cold, we are now able to cocoon ourselves into out fleeces and jammies and ride out the sub-zero temps. This retirement thing is damned good! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Getting the C-pap Machine

Hubby's sleep apnea C-pap machine was delivered this morning -- all $2500 worth.  I can get an old used car for less -- and Hubby would probably sleep as happily in that as he will with this.  But he is trying.

Thankfully, insurance pays for 80% of the machine but we forked up a substantial up-front fee and then $50 a month for the next 12 months -- I'm not exactly sure what for but those were the requirements.  I tried to get a straight answer out of the young guy delivering the machine, but finally he admitted he just wasn't that into the insurance requirements and I could call later and find out more. 

Hubby had spent the morning trying to clear a spot in the bedroom for the machine.  He has huge piles of "crap" all around his side of the bed -- there are tools, dog treats, pills, books, magazines, more books, more magazines, packages of batteries (which he also has in the big desk in the computer room), bottles of cologne, containers of pens and pencils, all kinds of cutting equipment (nail scissors, regular scissors, knifes), and more tools.  He has filled an entire bedside 4-drawer cabinet, a TV tray, and now he needs a second TV tray for the C-pap equipment.  He also has a huge oxygen machine / tank he keeps "just in case he feels congested."

Our bedroom is very small.  It has a queen-sized bed and all Hubby's "crap" and now, to make room for the C-pap machine and second table he has completed boxed in the entrance to my closet. So besides paying for the machine for the next 12 months, it also appears I'm going to be walking around in the same clothes I've got on right this minute.  I can still get to my dresser so I'll have clean underwear, but no longer can I get to my outer clothes or my shoes.

This whole experience is going to be a riot.   

Hubby will not have a mask that covers his face; instead the machine fits snugly into his nostrils; he actually took a nap with it after the tech left and seemed to find the machine fairly comfortable. 
This is the RedMed Swift FX C-pap machine that was delivered -- the cord is for the humidifier; it makes some noise but it's not impossible to sleep when it's on. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The title of this entry is deceptive -- we actually are chilling here in the heartland, not relaxing in comfort.  It is cold.  Like wind-chilling, bone-chilling, teeth-chilling cold.  The heavy dog walking coat, the fleece sweat shirt, the wool scarf, the pull-down-over-your-ears cap, and the fleece mittens have been called into play.  Still, out there in the park with the wind-chill at less than six degrees, I'm cold.

 We went to the movies on Saturday; Hubby's first real outing since the installation of the pace-maker.  He did fine but needed a nap on arriving home.  We saw Silver Linings Playbook and, though both of us enjoyed it, neither of us thought it was a better movie than Argo or Lincoln.  Honestly, I can't imagine a better movie than Lincoln  -- a movie that is both inspiration and realistic about the tribulations of politics.

 Monday we spend watching the inaugural activities and enjoying the political commentary, especially the live coverage by ABC on computer.  The balls were well-covered by CNN and C-Span.  I loved how perfectly dressed the Obama daughters were but I was less than thrilled by Michelle's outfits.  Seems to me the new hairstyle (with bangs) is an attempt to look a lot like Kerry Washington.  Neither the belted coat and matching dress with the stiletto heeled boots or the red ball gown caused me to gasp with delight, but then I didn't like the white gown from four years ago either.  At least this one was one she could actually dance in without having to move around a huge train dragging after her. No matter that I find her clothing choices less than stellar, I find the woman herself to be completely inspirational -- and the family unit she has created an example for the world to follow.

Kerry Washington

I lifted up a canister from the kitchen counter last night and a very ugly cockroach ran down the cabinet and escaped before I could react fast enough to kill it.  Today I'm scrubbing and rearranging in the kitchen.  Cockroaches are just about the most disgusting insects ever.  I know that having dog food sitting around probably draws them, but it's been a long time since I've seen one in the house.  Once we've got the scrubbing done, Hubby will bomb the house while we go out for a couple of hours. 

 Tomorrow Hubby is meeting with the C-Pap people and will try to be fitted with a device he can tolerate.  It will be interesting to see what they bring out to him.  Neither of us realized that these machines are built in with hefty monthly fees -- it's just like an on-going prescription.  We're piling up some incredible medical bills around here and this is still only January, but a look at the calendar for February shows us pretty clear of medical appointments.  It will be good to take a break from doctoring for a while.

Stay warm if you live in the mid-west.  February is just around the corner -- and then March which is almost considered a spring month!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Actor

A couple of days ago I saw Gus, the dog who has previously been known as the "perfect pup" because he hates to misbehave and usually acts quite the gentleman, go from the bedroom into the living room.  Assuming he needed to go out to potty, I put down my book and followed him.

There was Gussie, as far under the grand piano as he could get, pooping.  It took me a second to realize exactly what he was up to.  He looked at me shocked -- and then I started to yell.  "What the Sam-hill do you think you're doing under there?" 

Luie fled the living room, tail tucked as far under a butt as a docked tail will go.  It's usually Luie who nonchalantly leaves me a "gift" under the piano.  Luie thinks if the urge hits, that urge should be satisfied immediately.  It's Gus who will go to the front door and warn you he needs to go outside.

Gus quickly righted himself -- after leaving quite a hefty deposit -- and scurried out of the living by hugging the sides of the inside wall.  I followed him yelling, "You naughty boy!  You are BAD!  BAD! BAD! BAD! I say BAD BOY!"

We have a small house and it took him only seconds to reach the hallway into the bedroom, whereupon he immediately began to hack and gurgle -- and then throw up.  And as he's doing it, he's looking over his shoulder at me, slyly.  He can't get much up, but he's made a little white spot of foam on the carpet. 

I come to a full stop, retrace my steps back into the living and get Luie's retractable leash.  Gus rushes into the bedroom and hides under the vanity -- which is open except for four slim legs, so he's easy to reach.  I yank him out and put the leash on and start dragging him to the front door -- and Gus immediately goes entirely lame in him back legs.  Neither leg will more.  I"m pulling, tugging, and Gus is being dragged to the door, his front legs moving but the back legs barely lifting from the floor.

Outside, he gets worse.  We stand in the front yard and he refused to move, head hanging down, back legs rigid, front paws curled under.  Now Gus is the dog that knows to walk off leash (Luie, being blind is always leashed).  Consequently his collar is a bit looser than Luie's. As soon as I tug on the leash, the entire collar slips off Gus's little head (with his help, of course, he's bowed it so it will come off) and Gus stands there, looking at me triumphantly, until he realizes the ruse is just about up.  I stuff that collar over his ears and back on his neck and yank him over to the big tree in our front yard, all the while muttering under my breath, about BAD, BAD boys.

Gus eventually lifts his leg and leaves a trace of pee on the tree and we march together back in the house.

Luie is standing listening, with a satisfied smile on his face (if a dog can said to smile) because finally Gus has been caught as the transgressor.  Gus, once the leash has been removed, is now fully capable of moving all four legs and he gallops into the bedroom and settles in comfort on his favorite blue pillow next to the heating vent.

Gus has had the sense in the last several days to behave himself even better than usual.  He comes immediately in the park -- but currently I don't have to call him because he's faithfully following Luie and me around, instead of doing his normal wander back and forth.  He's cuddling next to me in bed, giving me the big, sad eyed stare of love.

I have to admit, that I have had quite a laugh at how well "sweet" little Gus pulled his "act" of "not - my - fault - because - I'm - a sickly - little - boy - who - needs - all the forgiveness - I - can - pull - out - of - you!" act once he had been totally caught doing what he knows is not expected or allowed.  I never realized I had a thespian in our midst.  It really was an Oscar winning performance.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Musing in the Kitchen

Standing in the kitchen late this morning I was considering just exactly what I had in the larder to put in the meat loaf I was making for dinner.  I was also running through the ingredients I had for inventing a new type of macaroni and cheese.  Hubby adores mac and cheese and we haven't had any since October when he had his last bout of congestive heart failure. 

Both meatloaf and the macaroni needed to be prepared with no-salt ingredients, not so hard for a hamburger dish but more complicated when cheese and pasta are the main ingredients.

Still my frig held lots of onions and eggs.  My spice cabinet had lovely herbs from Penzy's including all their salt-free combinations.  My larder in the garage was stocked with broths, soups, condiments, and dry foods.  My freezer held extra packages of ground beef and some lovely roasts, chicken breasts, and some great frozen veggie combos. 

It was fairly easy, if a bit time consuming, to come up with a meal that Hubby would appreciate.  I added dried jalapenos from the Houston Penzy Christmas shopping trip (thanks, Wendy!)  to the meal loaf and it turned out as spicy as Hubby could have wished.  Maybe, even a little too spicy for me.  

The mac and cheese came together quickly though for me it tasted more like tuna casserole without the tuna -- but it was cheesy enough to delight Hubby. 

At Trader Joe's I had come across a huge package of French string beans to which I added frozen pearl onions and a small can of mushrooms, as well as some white pepper and Penzy's spice combo, Southwest Forward.  Honestly, the Penzy salt-free combos are really so rich in flavor that you don't feel a huge regret that salt has been eliminated. 

All the while I'm chopping, stirring, melting, beating, and blending, I'm giving thanks for the luxury I have in my compact one-man kitchen.  My stove is small and has only four burners but they work perfectly.  I can heat hot tea up in five minutes.  My oven is self-cleaning!  Even better its temperature is true to the thermometer.  The stove I had before this one had a broken oven door so it never sealed properly and baking in it was a problem.  Also the oven temp was at least 50 degrees off, though we never knew if it was too hot or too cold. 

I have two very old refrigerators.  The one in the garage I've had since 1984 -- and it came 10 years old, at least.  I had it in my classroom at the school that was torn down in 1990.  It's been doing duty in the garage ever since -- and both the ice box portion and the freezer work just fine.  The frig inside my kitchen is small to accommodate the tiny kitchen and I've had it since the 1970's -- and again both portions of it work perfectly. 

I have a powerful garbage disposal and since the late 2000's I've had an apartment sized dishwasher.  Yes, you have to run it more often but it's a super convenient and really cleans up the pots and pans and only takes up one panel of cabinetry (which is limited in such a small kitchen). I've gotten so, if things aren't meant to be machine washed they just don't belong in my kitchen. 

As I'm chopping onions and beating eggs, I think of the articles in the paper this last month about "food hungry" families in our city.  Here we are, retired, on a fixed income, in a small ranch house with 50 year old appliances but we had a full larder, hot and cold food whenever we want and how often are we thankful for our blessings?  Not nearly enough. 

Mostly, I find cooking rather a drudge.  Wednesday, Hubby treated me to both breakfast out -- pancakes at IHOP -- and a delivered pizza from the best pizza joint in the city, Waldo's pizza (we had the vegetarian with hamburger on thin crust hoping that wasn't too bad for the salt-free diet).  Then Thursday we met with the cardiologist for the two-week check up after the installation of the pacemaker, and I fed Hubby cold tuna fish for his main meal. 

By the way, the cardiologist report was stellar.  And the tuna fish was pretty good.  But today I tried to make up for the last two days of non-cooking by creating a good, hearty, and healthy meal for us.  Hubby has lost eight pounds since the fall.  He is feeling stronger, his heart rate (thanks to machinery) is steady, and his blood pressure has been normal for two full weeks. 

Our lives, though filled with the normal bumps and bruises of lower middle-class, aging seniors, is so rich and bountiful that sometimes I forget to stop, give thanks, and appreciate just what luxuries surround me. Luxurious like a full belly and food in the house for tomorrow.  Doctors' who can repair broken hearts.  A house to keep the elements out and the the inhabitants both warm in winter and cool in summer.  I need to remember the simple blessings more often and give thanks for them. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Waiting Around

Recovery from surgery is a slow business.  One day Hubby is feeling pretty good so he tries to do a little something (or other) and the next day he's down for the count.  Tomorrow we meet with his cardiac surgeon to see how we are progressing.

Also, tomorrow the boys will go to the groomer for they are looking a lot like wooly bears.  With Schnauzers if you keep them groomed every four to six weeks they look pretty sleek and their beards and eye brows give then a regal air (even the ladies).  If, however, as we did over December, you miss a grooming appointment, they begin to look a bit shaggy, then slightly golden instead of silver and gray, and their hair becomes all curly, unruly, and not very cute.  I think even they will be glad to lose some shaggy coat come tomorrow morning. 

This is what a gray Schnauzer will look like ungroomed -- her name is Holly and she was rescued just before being put to sleep because no one at the shelter realized they had a pure bred Schnauzer -- with an uncropped tail; Schnauzers are usually picked up from shelters by Schnauzer rescue groups -- as was Holly, eventually
Water aerobics is going well.  My friend Debby joined me last week and liked it well enough to think she might join the Rehab / Exercise center at Research.  On Sunday I wandered over for the 3:30 class and the water was down right cold.  Even the hot tub was just tepid.  Tuesday night, however, the water temp was up a couple of degrees and things were more comfortable.

This morning Hubby felt good enough to bounce (okay, drag) out of bed with me at dog-walking time (we delayed in bed until 8:30).  We drove over to the park where Luie, Gus, and I had a long and very chilly walk around the pine trees and over the frosty ground.  A lot of peeing and pooping ensued, all good for the constitution of two small Schnauzers.  Then, after listening to me moan hungrily over every IHOP commercial on the SciFi channel (Lou, I passed on your recommendation to Hubby and he has been watching ever since, though Face-Off last night I found rather dull), Hubby drove us over to IHOP for an unending stack of yummy pancakes, as well as some delicious scrambled eggs. 

Why I was so hungry last evening I'm not sure, unless water aerobics created some kind of huge cavern in my belly.  Maybe it was simply the exercise and the cold weather combined.  Regardless, I shouldn't have felt so starved since at noon I had met "The Ladies Who Lunch" (now that we are retired) at one of the area's finest sea food restaurants.  I had consumed lobster bisque, cheddar biscuits steaming from the oven, the best lobster mac and cheese ever, and a pretty average lobster roll, as well as downed two glasses of diet soda -- all at one sitting. 

Today we are two weeks from Hubby's surgery and we hope that tomorrow some of his restrictions will be lifted (like no driving, no bathing, no lifting of his arms).  Slowly life is resuming its more normal routine.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Quick Update

The pulmonolgist, Dr. Chacey, of the KC Pulmonolgoy Practice, has NOT released us as I thought and instead was very, very specific with Hubby.

"Buddy (aside -- I loved that this young whipper-snapper was calling my fierce Hubby Buddy), you have some of the worst sleep apnea we've ever encountered.  You wake up 35 to 65 times an hour."

Hubby snorted. 

"Yes, you do!  And this is causing your A-Fib to be considerably worse than it needs to be.  You WILL (aside-- notice he's giving my husband orders) wear a C-pap and you WILL feel better when you do.  We will get home health care out to fit you and you WILL wear this at least two hours to start, then work up to three hours, then go to five.  If you wear it five hours a night your heart condition will be considerably better.  If you don't, you WILL get much worse.  You simply cannot go on as you are and you MUST start taking care of this very, very serious problem."

And Hubby, looking thoroughly disgusted, bowed his head and agreed. 

Dr. Chacey went on some more but Hubby had gotten the message loud and clear.  At Christmas he had told us in Houston that the one wish he had for the New Year was for his heart to heal.  We all knew that wasn't going to happen, but it could get better.  The pacemaker was the start of Hubby giving in to events he hated but would keep him from feeling lousy so much of the time.  Now comes the sleep apnea mask. 

It's amazing how much Hubby wants to get better.  I was never sure he'd agree to the surgery.  Now this.  He's come a long way, baby -- let's see if, once that mask gets delivered, he will actually use it. 

This is probably what the one he will get looks like:

 Keep your fingers crossed for us. 


Some days you simply have nothing cogent to say.  It's a good day but there is nothing really special about it, just a day where things are running smoothly and our outlooks are upbeat.  It's a bullet list kind of day, where you have nothing to rant about and no special agenda to fulfill.

  • There is steak soup filling the crockpot to overflowing so further cooking is unnecessary. It's a good soup, full of real steak, potatoes, veggies, and a rich broth.  It should feed us for a couple of days. 
  •  The sun is shining and the weather is nearly as warm as a cold Houston day --  in the 60's -- we're supposed to set a record.
  • The doggies have had a long and successful walk in the park. Gussie is lame again -- he has these strange bouts where his back legs give him a bit of pain and he hobbles around whimpering.  He's being fed aspirin on a regular basis.  We've had x-rays but the diagnosis is always very indefinite and at some point we decided to treat the pain instead of the cause, which was a whole heap cheaper on the wallet. 
  • Hubby's incision is healing nicely even though he's still feeling a lot fragile. He has at least another week to go before he can be out and about. 
  • My friend Debby and I went to water aerobics last night and had a fine workout.  Then we enjoyed the hot tub for 6 minutes which is all the sitting around either of us could tolerate.   The pool temperature was 86 and the hot tub was 102 degrees.
  • I'm reading the newest P.D. James novel, Death Comes to Pemberly, and though I'm enjoying it, it's not earth shatteringly wonderful. 
  • For Christmas sister-in-law Wendy gave me a $100 gift card to Amazon and I've pre-ordered two novels:  a Jonathan Kellerman Alex Delaware mystery and Jacqueline Winspear's newest in the Maisie Dobbs series.  Both don't come out for at least a month, darn it, but I'm excited about their arrivals. 
  • I currently seem to be spending a lot of time on Face Book -- I've found it rather addictive to know what people are doing "real" time.  It's also interesting to evaluate posts -- some people seem to put their whole lives out there for folks to read about while others only "share" information that others have written / reposted.  I'm not sure where I fit -- I'm probably more a lurker than a poster.  
  • At 1:45 this afternoon we have a follow up visit with the pulmonary specialist, though we actually have nothing to report since Hubby refused to wear any of the sleep apnea masks.  I imagine we'll be dismissed from his routine appointments after this follow-up visit. 

It's a really quiet life at the moment and that's a good thing.  

Monday, January 07, 2013

One More Health Related Post

Here's an interesting statistic from Friday, January 4th.

The Cardiac Ward at Research Hospital has 56 rooms and 56 beds. 

On Friday morning all 56 beds were filled and patients were waiting in both emergency and admitting for rooms to be freed up.  Several in emergency had been waiting more than 12 hours to get up to the 4th floor.

When Hubby left the hospital at 11 a.m. the nurse who brought him to the car said that his room would be repopulated within half an hour.

January, cold weather, flu season, aging population with heart conditions. 

Make sure you've had your flu shot, folks. 

Sunday, January 06, 2013


 Hubby is having a very hard time adjusting to his "new" life, especially the pain that comes from his incision, the exhaustion from his anesthesia, and, what I suppose, is his fear that his heart will race with any activity in which he engages. 

Last night was very hard for him.  He asked me to retrieve the alcohol and cotton and remove the tape holding his super glue in place over the incision for the pacemaker.  When I categorically declined he was aghast.  I did look at the "bandage" the cardiologist had installed just before we left the hospital and the skin around the super glue and overlying surgical tape was quite red and inflamed.  I did get the body foam and wipes and I swabbed the area around the incision but I wasn't about to mess with that super glue. Before the surgical tape was installed, I could clearly see the incision but now it is covered over. 

"It really hurts," he growled.  And then he yanked down his shirt, rolled back onto the bed, and the reality is, he pouted.  Just like a six year old.  Also, he proceeded to moan, just under his breath, for the next five hours. 

It was highly disconcerting.  At 3 a.m. I finally said, "If you are in this much pain there must be something wrong.  We need to go to the emergency room where they can redress your wound and find out exactly what is causing you so much agony."

"NO!" he snarled back at me in his ugliest voice.  

So we both lay awake, me worrying that if he really did hurt this much something must terribly amiss and he, moaning and flailing his left arm about, even though he knew he was not supposed to raise it above his head. 

At 6 a.m. I demanded to see his incision.  He refused to show it to me.  But I got up and stood over him until finally he relented and pulled up his shirt -- but refused to sit up so I really couldn't see it very well.  I did know that nothing was leaking, there was no blood or seepage coming from the wound.  Half an hour later he sat up and let me take a good look, and though the skin around the bandage was still slightly red, it looked much better than the night before.  Thank the Lord. 

He ate his oranges for breakfast and drank his tea.  I walked the dogs after asking him if he'd like to get out and drive to the park with us, but he thought laying about under the quilt would make him more comfy.   At noon he had a very good Sunday dinner of pot roast, potatoes, and carrots.  Then he got involved in the football games on TV. 

Just now he admitted that his incision was feeling much better and the pain was considerably less.  His voice had even resume his normal range of volume and was much less aggressive.  

He's gonna have a hard time living this episode of "weenie-dom" down, let me tell you.  The iron man has developed, not just cracks, but huge fissures.  I'm gonna milk it for all it's worth, having been the weenie in this relationship for the last 40 years.  

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Hubby was released from Research Hospital yesterday around noon.  It was so good to get him home.

He's never had surgery before except when they inserted the coil in his head and then a year later went back to see that the coil was in place and holding properly.  To do that they merely inserted a probe into his groin -- so the truth is, he's never actually had a true, real live incision. 

Hubby claims he feels no pain and he IS able to tolerate a lot when he understands that the pain is a body ache.  He lives with horrible knees and whenever they X-ray them they tell him they don't understand how he's able to walk on them.  I honestly don't think I could function with that pain.  However, he's never had an external cut like an incision.  And I can tell you now, he's a big old cry baby when he feels somebody else has done the pain to him.  

He has the most beautiful incision in his shoulder.  Yes, they cut through fat and muscle to make a place for the pacemaker.  But it's small -- maybe three inches, probably less.  He has no stitches, just a covering of superglue over the cut. 

I, on the other hand, have been invaded four times, but the worst was the last surgery for gallbladder, just before everyone began to do laser surgery to remove them.  I was slit from my breast bone to my hipbone in a huge slicing arc across the front of my stomach so the scar curves around my belly.  Hubby's sister had breast reduction surgery during the 1980's and I remember her telling us there was something over 500 stitches by the time they had finished. 

So Hubby's little incision is so minor it doesn't even register on the scale of our big deal operations.  He never really had any sympathy for me when I'd come home from the hospital, all stitched up.  I remember him thinking that a delivery of a cold 7-Up from the frig was his helping me get better. 

But you should hear him moan and groan.  He's even taking pain pills voluntarily.  "Ouchy, ouchy," he cried in the middle of the night when the bedtime dose of meds had worn off.  "Stay away," he warns little Luie who loves to cuddle.  "You might hurt me. I really sore."

"I feel awful," he told me at noon.  "I'm just so tired."

"You've had surgery, silly -- with a full anesthetic -- that's what makes you feel so tired," I responded.  "You need to climb out of that bed and go sit up for awhile."

So he did.  But after an hour he gladly crawled back under his warm quilt, waiting for his personal nurse to serve him dinner. 

Geez!  Still I'm so glad he's home.  But I'm never going to let him forget he's being a weenie about his incision.  I found him standing in front of the mirror, examining the cut, which is beautifully visible through the super glue. 

I pulled up my shirt and pointed to my gallbladder scar which, even after 13 years is still a huge, ungainly welt across my entire midsection.  "See!  That's a scar!" I gloated.  "You've got a hangnail, you big baby." 

Here's a web photo of a pacemaker scar -- Hubby's is neater, and smaller.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Waiting, More damned waiting.

 The pacemaker was implanted yesterday.  The surgery was much longer than I had anticipated but went beautifully.  Hubby said that besides the "two old women who shave my private parts" there were 14 people working in synchronized harmony throughout the five hours the implant took. 

Yesterday he was pretty dopey. Because of fear of bleeding, they would not allow him to get out of bed or move around.

This morning he was plenty sore and even took heavy duty pain meds.  I've never heard him moan and complain as he did when they first asked him to sit up in bed. 

The x-ray (or something or other they did this morning) showed that the pacemaker was perfectly positioned.  He aced the test to see if it was turned on and tuned in.  The incision is actually a thing of rare beauty -- small, perfect, not even much inflammation. 

But.  And it's a big BUT.

Hubby's cretintine levels are way low.  His blood pressure continued to rise all day. It was really high by this evening.  

The cardiologist decided not to release him until we can get control of his bodily functions.  We're in a holding pattern.  Again.

I so wanted this to be the solution we had been working toward the last three years.  It may still be -- but.  BUT.

I just want to cry.  

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Looking Backward and Summing It Up

 2012.  A watershed year for our family. 

We quietly turned the corner from the down-hill slide of middle age to old age.  Our health problems are proof of that. 

We also went from vital full-time or part time workers to stay-abed, wallow in exhaustion folk with chronic illness.  I retired from full-time teaching (and maintaining SPED certification through college courses) while Hubby became too disabled to work at the odd jobs he had so enjoyed for the last 20 years or so.  Needless to say, I'm far happier with retirement than Hubby is. 

We gave up private insurance to become those people the Republicans hate so much:  Medicare recipients sucking on the government tit. 

Financially we went from people who saved like crazy so we COULD retire to happily spending our meager funds to supplement our retirement income. We even finally hired a financial consultant to manage our dwindling funds. 

Instead of a husband and wife who each had one primary physician, we began a family having specialists in all kinds of fields:  pulmonology, cardiology, orthopedics, opticians, dieticians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists.  We gave up separate GPs to share one between us because it made scheduling doctor's appointments so much easier. 

We became people who could travel 12 months of the year if we chose, instead of scheduling limited vacation time around employment contracts and college class schedules. 

Wendy and me at the Chesapeake Bay beach house in September
We gave up extended TV watching to become people who went to the gym three nights a week.  Now that one was quite a change. 

Instead of being a triple threat group of couples when we went to the local concerts, we because a double coupling plus one when we lost a dearly beloved friend in the spring.  I miss him every single week, even though I actually only saw him every month or so.  His death seemed to herald a downturn in health for all of us.

Nancy and Tom at our 25th wedding concert
Music began to vanish from our lives.  Once Hubby could sing like an angel but his frozen larynx made carrying sustained notes impossible, as did his racing heart.   He could no longer sit through full length concerts and we left the few events we did manage to attend at intermission every single time.  Makes the purchase of two tickets hardly worth the money.  

Hubby directing church choir
 We tried to update the 1953 bungalow by reinforcing the foundation, adding new siding / guttering, and landscaping by pulling out the ugly bushes around the property.

Guys on the right of the property are carrying in the guttering which is also laying on the front lawn. 

Now we are looking forward to 2013, counting our blessing and holding tight to our family and friends.  On the second day of the new year -- tomorrow -- Hubby enters Research Hospital hoping to erase some negative health issues and making things better for himself and those around him.  This could also mean a new life for us if we approach it in the right way.  Watershed years aren't negative ones -- they just indicate turning points.