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.  


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