Saturday, June 27, 2009

At last - something different!

We had a good day yesterday - already today we've had all the shots required (4) and been out to the lab for a coumidin check and we're home. It is sunny and gorgeous out - just perfect temperature so there looks to be some walking outdoors today and maybe some sitting in the grove to enjoy the summer air.

And now - finally something different - there is a wonderful give-away going on over at Hugs from Helen - woweee - you should see her patterns.

Her give-away is for the pattern to this wonderful holiday quilt - wouldn't you just love to make this. Stop over and make a comment and a link and you might be the lucky winner - and maybe I will be - let's hope we both are. :-)

Happy stitching - I'll be crocheting a lace edge on pillowcases today when I have a few minutes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

june 26 - two weeks since surgery

Don has been home 7 days - and it is two weeks since surgery - and at this time 2 weeks ago we were wondering what was going on - since surgery was running longer than they had expected. Little did we know it would go on for 3 1/2 more hours - 7 1/2 hours total. I'm glad that is all past now.

He is doing so much more now - he is walking for up to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day now. His schedule that he got from the surgeon says that this week he can begin light housekeeping chores - so he is getting his own drink of water, helped fold laundry yesterday (that makes him happy, he loves to do laundry) - I've not done laundry for over 20 years - but I did remember how, and he picks up stuff and puts it away around the house. At first it felt like I was being mean to have him do things, but it is good for his healing to be more active - and he's happier when he's active.

They are still trying to get the coumidin (blood thinner) levels right so we go to the lab every morning. Then today after the lab we saw the surgeon's assistant and he sent us to another lab for a bit more blood work - we will go back there tomorrow if the coumidin levels aren't where they want them. Don won't be on coumidin much longer, probably just for two more weeks, so this won't be a forever thing.

Our daughters are helping with the heavier housework and yard chores and running errands when we need them - which really helps. I've not had any time for stitching - but soon, I hope, soon.

Thanks to all who have emailed and phoned to inquire about Don - it is nice to have so many friends, and thanks for the good thoughts and prayers.

Soon I hope to have a post about something besides the surgery - but I'm happy that the report is so good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Two Days At Home

As the time is passing since Don's open heart surgery he is improving faster every day.

Saturday night I had a few minutes and went out in the yard to enjoy the thought of the first day of summer. It was a magical night - some soft night light - a little breeze and the fairies were busy rustling about in the trees. I could almost feel their wings whispering at my ears - what a delightful night - and then to bed - we both rested quite well, our first night back home.

Yesterday the girls and their families were here for a little Father's Day celebration. It was wonderful - would have been better if our son and daughter in law could have been here from West Virginia - but it was a great Fathers' Day - and Rusty did call for a nice long talk. What a gift we've been given - a "new" heart - all repaired and raring to go. Both grandsons were sweet and gave Grampy soft hugs, then they played so nicely together with Ben's new train, and in the sand box that Uncle Rusty filled for them while he was here from West Virginia. I'll never look at Fathers' Day the same way as I used to, that's for sure.

I had a list of things that needed done around the house and everyone pitched right in and they were done in no time - what wonderful kids and in-laws we have!!!

We have a lot of scheduling to handle - times for meals - times for medications - times for shots - monitoring the food intake - but it is ok with me - whatever it takes. He had his first trip outside the house today since he got home Saturday afternoon - a trip to have lab work done at the cardiologist's office. He was exhausted by the time we got there, got the test, I went upstairs to talk with the surgeon's nurse about the results and we drove home. But a little resting and he was feeling great again, which is typical of this type of surgery - you tire more easily but recuperate faster each time.

He didn't take a nap this afternoon and found himself quite tired by 6 and took his nap then - and just got up to watch a little baseball - but found that the Seattle Mariners aren't playing tonight - bummer.

Today I had to learn to give a new shot - not the "pen" type, but actual syringe. They gave me some instruction, but no actual practice, at the pharmacy and I had to come home and give the shot. I didn't think I could do it - but I did - though I was shaking when it was over. He has to have a shot like this every 8 hours and I hope it feels easier as time goes by. Or as Ben would say - to pass the time go by.

Our weather turned sunny this afternoon and Don got to sit out on the porch for a little while in the fresh wonderful summer air. On my way home from the pharmacy (Jay came and sat with Don while I was out of the house) I saw a mother deer and her twin fawns - still quite tiny and with their spots. I hope they come down close to the house so Don can see them. The crows were quite busy this afternoon, entertaining us - and some squirrels kept running up the feeder poles looking for suet cakes - guess I need to find some time to make some for them - hmmm wonder where I could find a little extra time.

Thank you to all that have sent cards and donations to the quilt raffle. I hope to get personal thank you notes out in the next couple of days. Everyone's help and good thoughts and prayers and cards and flowers have meant so much to both of us. It helps during the hard times to think that there are friends and family out there thinking of us and holding us together as we go along this path.

I hope soon to get back to some regular blogging - with photos and fun stuff. Right now it takes every bit of time just to handle Don's recuperation - and I'm more than happy to be doing it - we have been so fortunate.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

He's Home!!!

We got home at about 3 p.m.

That's all for tonight - that and happiness!!!!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 7 - there is hope

Hi - this is JoAnn - I finally have a few minutes to update the blog. There are computers in the waiting rooms, and Don is going for a routine xray, then respitory therapy and then probably a nap.

First - let me thank Franni for the updates - she's really been a help during this all - she lets me blab on and on and never tires.

And then let me say - if you are a fan of Splenda - you won't want to read any farther - I am not trying to change anyone's mine about it - just telling our experience - so please - no flames - I've had about all I can take and I just want to say what is in my heart.

There have been some hard times - Don was having some awful diarrhea, vomitting, weakness, chills, disorientation and sleeplessnes, and it could be traced to nothing except that it started with the first "protein shake" that they gave him - laced with sucralose (splenda). He could barely get out of bed because his muscles became so weak, he never made it to the restroom without a horrid mess in the bed - he even had troubles while walking and had to have the aids clean him up. All very embarrassing for a very private man - and at the same time scary for all of us. Last night I researched the brands he had been given, of pudding and protein drinks and found them laced (as in laced with poison) with sucralose (splenda). Just google sucralose and read the horror stories - so we are not the first. And if you go to the splenda site you find a small paragraph from splenda saying that they know there are some huge problems with splenda - but not enough people have written in to complain. Ohhhhh don't get me started!!!!!

I got up at 4:30 so I could get to the hospital by 6 a.m. when the doctors make their rounds. I told the doctor of my concern and about the diarrhea - and he said this was the first he'd heard of this - the nurses had not even mentioned the diarrhea. And on the whole they've been good nurses - I just wonder what they thought - he is an old man and this just happens??????? He is only 64 - so not that old. I told the doctor to have NO splenda items on his tray - and if there was something that looked like it was sweetened (in a bowl) and we couldn't read it, Don was not eating it.

Since Don was having so much trouble with eating - because of the nausea and vomiting from the sucralose - the doctor had said that whatever Don wanted to eat, he could. He doesn't have heart disease - his cholesterol is great and no hardening of the arteries, he just had to have the valve repaired - so diet basically isn't an issue. So last night he had a cheese burger (no bun) with salad and strawberries - just plain food. The doctor agreed that if Don is to get well he has to eat protein or his bone and incision will not heal. This morning he had a piece of sausage and half a biscuit - again -plain food.

He is doing so much better - we took a walk and he walked 2 loops around the floor with no problems. And now that his is off splenda his mind is working clearly again. When physical therapy came yesterday we could not wake him up - and when he finally woke up after about 20 minutes of really trying - he was completely confused. The PT said, "oh that is the problem, he is in the early stages of alzheimers". I was shocked - he is NOT - he was just having a reaction to the splenda. They attach three chlorine molecules to white sugar (which we never use at home anyway)tomake splenda and so your brain is being bombarded with chlorine - and we all know how bad chlorine is for humans.

And the super great news is that his heart is working perfectly - not one problem. At least that is working. They were talking yesterday of sending Don to a nursing home to recuperate and get stronger. You shouldn't have to go to a nursing home to get over being in the hospital. Today Don is feeling so much better that they say maybe stay in the hospital today and then go home tomorrow. I would really like that, and so would he, he is tired of being in the hospital - and I've certainly had more than enough. I'm thankful for what they did for his heart - make no mistake - but I'm appalled that they feed patients something that is known to mess with your nerves and brain -not to mention all the other known side effects.

So that's my story - hope your days are all sunny and bright and your stitches small and perfect. I've been working on the new Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt while sitting with Don.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 5 and 6 post surgery

Sorry everyone, JoAnn and I keep missing each other so I have no updates for you.
If I hear anything I will post it for you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 3 and 4 post surgery

Hi Everyone
Sorry for not posting I was a bit under the weather.

Day 3 wasnt such a great one. Probably had to do with having a crappy nurse for the day. She pushed too much and was just generally a witch with a capital B.

Day 4 was better. Nurse Witch was off and Donald got some food that he actually liked. I think eating food you like makes you feel better , even if it is low sodium hospital food.

I didnt realize it but he had a temporary pacemaker. They took that out yesterday and said that usually 2 days after getting it out patients go home. So lets hope that Donald is home Thursday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Day 2 post surgery

I spoke to JoAnn tonite and she seemed in better spirits.
Donald is doing better today.
They took him out of ICU today and put him in a room thats the next step to a regular room, I think Jo said telemetry?
He took several walks today and sat up in a chair for over an hour.
He hates the food that they gave him so thats a really good sign!

If any one is on the yahoo groups that JoAnn is on I hope they wouldnt mind posting a link to the blog for her so her other friends can know how things are going.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Day 1 Post Surgery

I heard from JoAnn just before.
She says that Donald was able to sit up in a chair for about an hour and that everyone keeps saying how good his numbers are!!!
WOOT!! Keep up the good thoughts and prayers for them, they are working!!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Donalds Surgery

Hi all. This is Fran , JoAnns friend.
She asked me to update everyone.

Donald went into surgery at 9:05 this morning and the doctors finally got him into ICU at about 4;30pm pacific time.
The drs. were surprised at how much damage there was and really dont know how he lived with all of it like that. They had to do alot of rebuilding while they were in there and there was alot of bleeding and thats why it took more than the 6 hours that the family was told it would take.

Reception at the hospital was really poor so if JoAnn calls me again I will do another update.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And yet another change

The surgeon's office called again on Thursday - to change the time. Now we have to be at the hospital at 7 a.m. - and the surgery is at 10:30.

Then I had two phone calls from the surgeon - one to check on Don's heart monitor - and another to let us know that the heart monitor showed no bad reports - that is great news. I'd never had personal phone calls from the surgeon - really makes me feel good about his attention to detail.

So - about the time this posts on Friday we will be at the hospital - preparing for the surgery.

Thanks again for all the kind thoughts and prayers. Frannie will be here later today to update you. Surgery should be four to five hours.

Count down to surgery

The days are passing slowly - seems that tomorrow is still a long ways off. We had a call from the surgeon's office yesterday - another surgeon has an emergency surgery so he got our 7:00 a.m. slot - the surgery will still be tomorrow - but not until 12:30, so we have to be at the hospital at 10 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. That will make the getting up a little easier - but I still wish it was early to get it over with.

Our son is here from West Virginia and we are keeping him busy. His lovely wife couldn't make the trip because of timing - and we miss her so much.

Yesterday we had two trips to Lowes, one to the Re-Store (used building supplies) - and got a lot done in the house. New bathroom lights over the mirrors, a new pendant light in the kitchen over the sink, a new toilet seat, new milk glass covers over the bathroom ceiling lights, a dimmer switch in the dining room, a whirligig (man sawing wood) put up on the top of the wooden swing set and a repair to the swing set where some neighborhood hooligan teenagers broke a small supporting board by hanging on it late one night. Then at 6 we all went to our oldest daughter's house for a "pool party" but the night before, the racoons had bitten holes in the pool - so we just had a barbecue and lots of fun - but no "pooling" this time.

Today we have an awards assembly for our grandson Jahn - he is getting a state award for best reader in his whole school - he is in first grade and reads at a 6th grade level - and before that the carpet repair man is supposed to finally be here (after NINE phone calls) to fix the gap that has appeared in our new carpet - then after that Ben will here all day and our son will continue with the new light fixtures - new school house hanging lights over the kitchen bar and a new chandalier in the dining room. When our house was built 9 years ago they put the cheapest possible lighting in - and it is fun to see the big difference the new lights make. I will get pictures and post about that later - right now it is time for Ben to be here and I've got laundry to do and a dishwasher to run - gonna be another busy day.

My friend Franni will be here on Friday night or Saturday morning to update everyone on Don's surgery. She has agreed to be my guest blogger - and I'm so thankful - as I will probably be too busy to even get home and look at the computer - let alone post.

A big thank you to everyone who has sent good thoughts and prayers and wishes to us - it is holding us up during this stressful time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Lovely Award

Today I got a surprise - an award from Haffina Creations. It is always a delight to receive an award, and so nice to have friends that follow my blog. Stop over and see the wonderful things on her blog - you will want all of them, I'm sure.

I am supposed to award this to 15 other blogs - and I shall - I just need a couple days - and those days need to have 56 hours each. Things have been a little bit hectic here lately and we are gearing up for Don's open heart surgery on Friday - reading all the literature (it will make your chest hurt just to read it) - slowing things down a bit so we both get plenty of rest - making sure the house and cupboards are in order and menus are planned - so when I have a minute I'll pick 15 of the loveliest blogs you will ever want to read - and list them for this wonderful award. Thanks again Haffina Creations - I am honored.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

It's time for some fun around here

It has been so serious here lately - I feel like I need some fun - so let's play with the thrift shop stuff. There are some fun things I haven't shown you yet - and I know you really want to see them.

This group of hankies was sitting in a little basket on the counter in a thrift shop that I rarely go to because they generally don't have very good stuff. I saw the basket and almost walked by - until I saw the price - 29 cents each.

Well, I just couldn't gather them up fast enough - pink ones - blue ones - yellow - embroidered - lacy - sheer - oh the fun. And only 29 cents each.

Lots of lace - lots of scallops - lots of pretty, pretty, pretty . . . and 29 cents each.

And all starched and ironed - and folded in little triangles . . .and only 29 cents each.

I left a few - didn't want to seem piggy - but I didn't leave any of the cute ones, or any of the pretty ones, or any of the embroidered ones, or any with the crocheted edgings - ooops - oink oink oink - got a little piggy there. But I was a happy piggy - I am collecting vintage linens and especially hankies, and one day I shall make a crazy quilt of them - and these new ones will certainly be stars!!!! And only 29 cents each!!! Did I already mention that?

I knew you wanted to see these - so what have you gotten lately at the thrift store? I really want to see what you got. And did you pay only 29 cents each?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Some good news - some not so good news about open heart surgery

First I guess we start with the good news - that is always best I guess. I am just overwhelmed right now. So many have written emails asking how things are going - and we appreciate that - so here are the updates.

Well, you remember that horrid co-pay for Don's open heart surgery - and our feelings of helplessness - we've had a bit of a reprieve. A very dear friend talked to us about the out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance. She said to check again with the insurance company and see what our total would be. Out of pocket expenses are what you are expected to pay, up to a certain amount, and then insurance takes over and pays 100% after that. So instead of 25,000.00 we were originally told, we are responsible for only 2,000.00 - still a hefty sum - but with the quilt raffle, quite doable. It was such a relief when we found this out - like we could breath again. The big question is - why didn't the financial people at the hospital know about this - surely they've dealt with other people in similar situations. Well, it is past now - and we are so relieved. But the quilt raffle is still on - and if we go over our total needed we will donate it to someone else in a tight financial situation because of illness or surgery. So you still have time to get in and get your chances to win the quilt - and the other lovely prizes donated by good friends and good blogger-friends. There are some new prizes being offered also - and I'll update those soon.

So - now for the rest of the news. Most of you have read that there is no bypass surgery needed at the same time as the open heart surgery to repair the mitral valve - which is very good news - the less time they have to spend in there - the better. Then yesterday we saw the surgeon and he set up the surgery for June 19 - a Friday. Then things got a bit crazy.

There was some edema in Don's feet and ankles yesterday . . .

Edema was worse by evening . . .

Edema still the same this morning. . .

Called surgeon on emergency number this morning - he said to get to the cardiologist to have this checked - and to reschedule the surgery sooner . . .

Visit to cardiologist - nothing is urgent or dangerous so they will be watching and gave Don a presciption to control the edema . . .

Surgery rescheduled for June 12 - next Friday. . .

So that's it - and I think that is about all I can deal with right now - we are delighted with the insurance results - a little frightened about having to move the surgery up so soon - but we will get through this - with the help of family and friends.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Test Results

At last we are home - and the result is NO BYPASS surgery is needed (see yesterday's post for details). We didn't think it would be needed, nor did all the doctors - but they had to check to make sure. And thank you for the many many emails and comments - we appreciate each and every one of them.

So here is how the day went - up early - have to be at the cardiologist office at 8:30

- elevator is broken at cardiologist office

- up three flights of steps

- I leave Don there to make a quick trip to pick up a few things at the store

- back to the cardiologist office - elevator still broken but they promise to fix it

- up three flights of steps

- craziness in the cath lab - they can't do proceedures today because there is no way to get patients downstairs if there is an emergency

- trying to reschedule the cath lab - and reschedule the pre-op with the surgeon - then back to keeping the pre-op with the surgeon and schedule the cath lab at the hospital next door

- go home for 2 1/2 hours - Don goes to work - he still hasn't eaten, since he has to fast before the preceedure

- pick up Don - get to the hospital cath lab at 1

- get registered and into the cardiac waiting room

-Don is off to be prepped - I wait

- they take me to the cath lab to say good bye (not my favorite choice of words, even if it was just a proceedure)

- and I wait

- and I wait

- and I wait

- finally his number turns pink on the patient monitor and I can go back to recovery to sit with him

- he is groggy and silly - but fine - and NO BYPASS needed

- it is almost 4 now - and no sitting up until 5:30

-sitting up, slightly - a dry sandwich (bread and two thin slices of dry roast beef - that is it) and a tiny cup of watermelon

- finally, walking down the hallway at 6 - no bleeding - which is good

-yaaaaaaay 6 o'clock - going home

- what a day - we are both exhausted - I'm even too tired to post a funny photo - so if you want one - please go to your photo files and find one that makes you smile - thanks.

He is on rest for the next day - and very light duty - no walking - no stairs - no lifting at all. I think a day of rest will be good for him tomorrow - I have to go to work - don't want to - but you know how it is with jobs - you go or they don't give you any money.

Thanks again, for all your concerns, good wishes, good thoughts and prayers. Next is the pre-op on Wednesday - I'll keep you posted.

Surgery update

I know it's been a long time - but it has been hard to make myself blog. Thank you to all who have emailed and wondered if everything was ok. It is nice to know we have so many good friends out there in blogland.

We have had a big change in
Don's surgery plans. He had his two month echocardogram to check for any more stress on his heart - and when the cardiologist looked at the results he called me immediatley (not half an hour after the ECG) and said there is no way we can wait until September - the surgery HAS to be in June. That really threw us for a loop - we needed some time to let that settle in. We had the weekend to think on it - and by Monday we were in better shape, emotionally.

Now there are tests and more tests and appointments and more appointments. Today Don will have heart catheterization to check and see if there is need for a bypass surgery. He shows no symptoms and his lifestyle is such that there appears to be no need for bypass surgery, but they will check anyway - no sense in going in twice - we agree. Then Tuesday he rests and Wednesday is the appointment with the surgeon to set the date. We both will be happy when the actual date is known.

So now it is just wait a while - see what the surgeon has in mind for a schedule and wait some more. Our son is coming out from West Virginia for the surgery - he will be such a comfort and help during that time. Our daughters and their families are local and they have been pitching in with errands and chores and whatever has been needed. Our daughter-in-law was plannng on coming out from West Virginia when the surgery was scheduled for September, but with the change in surgery dates she can't get the time off with such short notice - we will miss her - but at least we have cell phones and the internet for keeping in touch.

This photo has nothing to do with anything - just some sheep made from cauliflower and olives - for those of you with way too much time on your hands, let's make some. Plus the picture just makes me smile - and smiles are good right now!!!