Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reasons to Celebrate

It has been a crazy few weeks.  A week ago today, on a Thursday afternoon, I met with my cardiologist to go over the results of the cardio testing he had done the week before.  The testing had been done because of recent bouts with extremely low blood pressure, an irregular EKG, and chest pain.  The PET stress test showed some low blood flow that could indicate narrowed arteries.  The physician assistant had attended me during the testing, and he was the initial person to go over the results. He suggested that the next step should be a heart catheterization.  Stunned, but trying to keep my wits about me and evaluate my options in a rational state of mind, I listened to all he had to say about the test.  I then told him I would not elect to have the procedure.  I didn't think it seemed necessary given my personal and family history.  He didn't disagree with me, but said I had to talk to the doctor who would be in momentarily.  He then excused himself to talk with my doctor.

Soon, my dear cardiologist, a man for whom I have great respect, admiration, and affection strode into the room, came directly to my side, put his arm around my shoulder and looked me in the eye while he said these words, "Sally, we're doing the heart catheterization." I guess my mind had been changed!  He next asked me when I was going on that vacation where I was doing that blogging thing with my friends.  (I'd told him about my trip the week before when we'd met before the testing.)  "I'm leaving tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m." I said.  "Ok, you can go.  When are you coming back?"  "Monday," I said.  "I want you in here next week for the heart cath,"  he said.

And so, on Tuesday morning, after a wonderful trip to Vashon Island to meet with my blogging friends, I arrived bright and early at the hospital for the procedure to check on those arteries in my heart.  

I must admit that I was anxious at times throughout my entire trip to Washington.  I had a horrendous rush to get from one gate to the next when I landed in Denver to fly to Seattle.  This came after being restricted from any exercise for three weeks.  "Oh great," I thought, "I'm going to have a massive heart attack at DIA."  I didn't.  I made it.  I made it through the flight, and landed safely in Seattle.  Once I was with my blogging buddies, I felt like I was surrounded by companionship, support, and understanding.  

I walked into this comfortable, inviting main living room at Lavender Hill Farm, and felt like I was back at a much loved home.


I was tired, so tired, once I arrived at our destination.   Linda (Bag Lady in Waiting) and DJan (DJanity and Eye on the Edge) had safely navigated the task of picking me up at the airport, finding the ferry, and found a place for us to eat.  Thankfully, I didn't have to do all of that.  I just sat back and went along for the ride.    Once the three of us were inside the farm house, I sat down in that chair that Jann (Benchmark 60) is sitting in on the right sided of the fireplace, snuggled up in a blanket and fell asleep.  


Soon, Deb( Catbird Scout) and Sandi (Flying Into the Light) arrived, and it was time to hang out in the kitchen while we helped (a little) Sandi make dinner.  Who can be anxious and worried around these two?

As the weekend progressed, I made up my mind that I was going to put that dreaded procedure that was awaiting me when I returned home on the back burner.  I was not going to let my fear and anxiety rob me of enjoying this trip.

Deb found a few places for us to explore, and so after breakfast on Saturday morning, we took off to see what we could see.  The path of our first trek, a walk in the woods, was covered with leaves.  


I'm a Colorado girl, so I'm not used to seeing ferns growing up along side the pathways,

or orange mushrooms, 

or trees covered in moss

or leaves the size of dessert plates, 

or sights like this.

At sea level, I could have walked forever it seemed.  My heart was calm, no fluttering was going on, no rushing, and no chest pain was felt.  "Maybe, I need to move to a lower elevation," I thought.  I was surrounded by such beauty, and support, Jann helped down the slippery slopes, and such friendship, that I honestly felt the healthiest, and happiest that I'd felt in many, many months.  It was true, this day, this trip, was good for my heart in every way.

From our walk in the woods, we went to the shore.  

We saw an eagle in flight.  I collected rocks and sea shells with Deb and Sandi.  I don't think DJan picked up any rock or shells.  I think she is not one to weigh herself down with such things.  If she filled her pockets with rocks and sea shells, how could she hike those high mountains and jump out of airplanes?  

On our walk on the shore, we found a large dead jelly fish.


Jann and Linda kept watch from the stairs leading to the shore.


I felt like a young girl again as I explored the surrounding with my girlfriends.  My heart felt light.  My spirit of adventure and excitement seemed to be returning after a long absence.  

Last year, I came home from Vashon Island with a reminder of the weekend: a gift from Deb.  She had found this heart shaped rock at the shore where we walked a year ago.  This heart shaped rock, a reminder of Deb, sits in a place of honor on my desk where I write.  It reminds me of the hearts that are knitted together because we are bloggers who bonded in a sisterhood of understanding and support.


This year, before we left, we were all given another treasure by Deb.  This is what I found on my breakfast plate on Sunday morning: a beautiful new heart.

With these all these memories stored carefully in my heart of flesh, I somehow went into that surgical procedure on Tuesday morning with no anxiety or fear.  I was perfectly calm, and that was before they gave me the drugs!  Actually, during a cardiac catheterization, one is awake.  I was given versed, but I remember most of the procedure and found it not to be that troublesome.  At times, I would feel something and the nurse would say, "They are looking around in your heart dear, you will feel that."  

Now for the good news:  my arteries are "as smooth as a baby's bottom."  That is a direct quote from the doctor.  He said I will live to be 100 with the arteries I have.  When I told him my mother is 97, he said, "You got her genes."  

I still have the occasional rapid beats, and the arrhythmia that can sometimes throw me off balance, but for now, those problems are also under control without medication.  

I spent the last two days recovering from my trip and my procedure.  I've done a lot of reading, and taken naps, and been pampered by my hubby.  I am doing very well.  Thanks for all of your good wishes, dear blogging friends.

I know I have much to celebrate: good friends, a heart that is free from blockages or plaque, good genes, a supportive and loving husband, loving children and grandchildren, and much improved medical reports in all areas that have been troublesome in the past year.  I now must get in even better shape if I'm going to be around for another 30+ years.  


34 comments:

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Sally I really enjoyed reading your post and am delighted you are fit and rearing to go for the next 30+ years. I loved the thoughtful presents that Deb gave you.

thisisme said...

Oh Sally, so happy that yiur arteries are in fine fettle my friend. Reasons to celebrate indeed! What a wonderful trip you had with your bloggy friends. I so wish i could do that. You take care x

Jeanie said...

Oh, Sally, I can't tell you the elation in my heart as I read this post -- especially the last couple of paragraphs, knowing that your heart is indeed healthy, and not just full of love and life (which is often healthy enough for some -- still, we like to check out OK with the doc!).

Your holiday with bloggers sounds just wonderful -- good times and friendship, beauty, peace, exploration -- all the words we want to incorporate into our lives.

I think you have had quite the 2013. I hope these last two months will be extremely uneventful and just plain fun!

Terri Tiffany said...

Awesome news!!! I am so glad you are well and had a lovely time. Enjoyed reading your post.

troutbirder said...

Well done, Sally. If the AFib ever gets out of hand I controlled quite well for about five years with medication. Then when that wore off eventually I had an "ablation" procedure at the Mayo Clinic which was 100% successful. Now I hike all day long without being exhausted....:)

Olga said...

That is such good news, Sally. Your heart is incredibly strong, we knew that all along. Enjoy life.

Jean said...

So glad to read the catheterization went well and you got an A+. Your trip to visit your blogging friends sounds like a wonderful, relaxing experience.

DJan said...

This is just a wonderful, peaceful and perfect post to tell about our fabulous weekend. I'm so glad you are really fine, but I already knew that! :-)

Jeanie said...

This is such good news. It sounds like you have gotten the best medicine possible for both body and soul.

dkzody said...

So glad it turned out well for you, which I'm not too surprised. You do seem to be in good health but you must keep moving to stay that way. It's really important to take good care of oneself so as to be around for the next big thing. Life is fabulous; live it to the fullest with a heart full of love.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

What a beautiful post and news, Sally. I am so happy to hear this news.
How lovely that you were able to go to Vashon again, and may that time be the stepping off point to a healthier year ahead!
Think of you so often!

Linda Myers said...

Contentment is a wonderful thing, isn't it? Thanks for the post!

Marty said...

What a wonderful weekend - I'm filled with envy. And I'll bet it was a factor in the success of your procedure. Best wishes for another 30 years!

Kay said...

I am so relieved that all is well with your heart, Sally. Art will be undergoing a procedure also when we return to Hawaii very soon. He also has an irregular heart beat that the doctors are concerned about. I hope it will turn out as well as yours did. How WONDERFUL to have been able to spend such an idyllic time with these beautiful, loving blogger friends. I really appreciated your sharing this time with us.

Barb said...

Yippee on your great report! I've been thinking of you. Your trip lifted your heart - I'm glad you went and could feel the caring of good friends. Rest and feel stronger soon, Sally!

Terra said...

Arteries smooth as a baby's bottom, now that is good news. Your vacation with blogging pals sounds good for heart and soul, and the place you stayed and the area look gorgeous.

LC said...

What a wonderful trip and wonderful cath results. Thank you for sharing the uplifting experiences.

Betsy Adams said...

Great news, Sally… That trip was obviously GOOD for you… Having a calmness about us will add many many years to our lives… Glad you are at that point now! NOW---keep that calmness with you all of the time!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

Linda P. said...

Woo hoo!

Arkansas Patti said...

We all knew you had a great heart, it is wonderful to know it is strong and healthy also.
That peaceful time with your friends was wonderful medicine for erasing any anxiety over the pending procedure.

rosaria williams said...

So glad to hear the good news about your vascular system and your heart! You and your blogging buddies have created quite a community and it's definitely good for you. (I am, however, just a tad envious...._

Linda Reeder said...

What great news! And I love hearing the different reports of your Vashon weekend.
My MRI two weeks ago has registered an alert. I await contact from a neurosurgeon.

Rose said...

What wonderful news, Sally! I'm so glad the procedure is over--I understand all too well the anxiety you must have felt beforehand--and that you received such an encouraging report. The weekend with your blogging friends sounds like such a delightful experience and the perfect rejuvenation for you. Looking forward to reading your blog for the next 30 years!

Perpetua said...

Sally this is such a lovely post, with the photos and description of your wonderful bloggy weekend, topped off with the wonderful news that your arteries are in perfect shape. How many of us sixty-somethings can say that? I can't believe you won't repeat your blog-fest get-together next year, so I hope you will be feeling even fitter by then.

Friko said...

It’s wonderful that blogging can bring such good and kind friends. I am sure you will all meet again for many m years in the future.

I am also glad that your cath. proved that you have these baby bottoms in you; attagirl and way to go.

Take care of yourself; a bit of exercise is always good. (Says she, who spends a lot of her time sitting reading or at her computer)

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

It's wonderful to go into a procedure like that feeling calm and peaceful, and wonderful to get good news as you did. And I want at least 25 more years so I, too, need to exercise more than I do.

John Paul McKinney said...

Sally, I really enjoyed hearing all about your week-end, but even more about your great success with the doctors! Congratulations. I couldn't help but think about the great impact that important relationships have on our mental and physical health. Again a great post. The beautiful pictures reminded me of our sabbatical year in Seattle. Thank you. JP

Deb Shucka said...

Such a wonderful post, Sally. I'm so glad your heart is well, but not surprised. I'm so glad that I get to be your friend and to see you in person at least once a year. Love the pictures. I took several almost exactly the same. Thank you for this wonderful reminder of our second magical weekend. Stay well.

Sandi said...

Whew! I am so so glad that your arteries are A-OK!!

You wrote a fabulous post, complete with fabulous photos, recounting our amazing weekend on Vashon Is. I am glad to see your photos, as none of mine turned out! I was bummed, as the camera is fairly new, and I didn't realize they were so fuzzy. I'm obviously doing something wrong, and will have to find someone to help me figure it out!

Oh, Sally, it was so good to see you last weekend, and catch up.

Love and big hugs to you and your beautiful arteries!!

Cait O'Connor said...

This was a lovely read and a happy ending too. My husband has these checks sometimes so I know what you went through. Glad you had such good results.
It was so nice to find your lovely comment on my blog - it is great to meet you and I am so pleased you liked the poem. I have added you to my blog list and look forward to reading more of your writings.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Sally what a beautiful account of your adventurous recent days! You were in the perfect company to get you to that peaceful state as you headed to the heart doc!
And the outcome of all is so nicely presented to us here! Thanks for sharing this:)
Bless you.

Mage said...

How wonderful to have such good news (and genes). And friends,..good friends are the best medicine of all.

Penny O'Neill said...

What a wonderful adventure/get-together you and your blogging friends have had, and what a relief the news is for you. Onward . . .

Jackie said...

I think you have the best blogging friends ever. So glad that you all got together again.
Happy to hear that your heart cath went well and that your results were wonderful.
Sending you great big hugs!
J.