Sunday, May 26, 2024

feeling in limbo

Now that the ablation is scheduled the afib has settled down and my heart has a happy sinus rhythm. Of course it does. But then it will slip in for short periods and out again.

This last 10 days have been tumultuous to say the least. By Thursday morning I was ready for some normalcy so I went to SHARE. Jade had come in Wednesday evening and since both her parents were at work she came with me. It wore her out doing half of what I do. Then I went to yoga at Hesed House Thursday night and filled the regulars in on why I wasn’t there last week. I’m to the point where I make jokes about it because otherwise, well, it’s just too depressing and does me no good to obsess about it. Jade left Friday morning heading back to Austin. And last evening my grandson came by with great granddaughter Paisleigh, 

my first visit with him since he’s been back from Arkansas. He and Audra and Paisleigh are moving back but slowly while he works here, currently staying with his folks, and figures out a place to live but he’s still paying the bills on the house in Arkansas and the lease isn’t up til the end of the year. So Audra and Paisleigh are still living in Arkansas while she works there and he works here. Paisleigh has been here for the last week, Mikey went and got her last weekend, and Robin has been doing childcare duty while everyone is at work. Audra came for the holiday weekend and is taking Paisleigh back with her.

I wondered in the night during my awake time what the neurosurgeon would think of my upcoming procedure for afib and the effect, if any, on the aneurysm so this morning I went on the patient portal from his office to leave a message/question and checked the test results listed that he had reviewed and the most important one, the CT with contrast that showed the aneurysm, wasn’t listed. Did the hospital not send that report, has he not seen it, did he determine my condition didn’t need immediate attention because he did not see the test that showed the aneurysm? So I sent a long message with pictures of the type of test and the results showing the little bomb in my brain. He did review the CT scan, the chest x-ray, and the MRI. I doubt, being a holiday weekend, that it will be seen before Tuesday and I have no idea if he has left the country already or not. I also want to ask about doing a headstand, and a couple of other yoga asanas, which I do, holding it for 20 breaths, giving my organs a little break from gravity and sending the blood to my head, if that puts pressure on the aneurysm but that can wait. I did my home yoga routine this morning for the first time in about 10 days and thought to not do a headstand but I did one anyway only holding it for 10 breaths. I’m still here.

Summer is here, temps in the mid 90s and humid as fuck and no rain for the foreseeable future and I still have stuff out in the yard to do like excavate my potatoes (if I have some), repot some stuff, plant some stuff and ordinarily I would be out there for a couple of hours sweating but with these procedures coming up I am not. The last thing I need is to get heat stressed before all this happens. So I go out when I get up, kill stink bugs off my tomatoes with the insecticidal soap I made and then come in. In the evening I go out and water all the plants in pots. Yesterday I spent the day moving the sprinkler around. The new cotton out in the field, maybe not even 12” high yet looks terrible, sere.

Oh, and I went and got my glasses Friday. I wore them most the day but took them off to read and look at the computer monitor. I see better for that without the glasses which are transition bifocals. I doubt if I’ll wear them much in the house, just mostly driving and being out. I have 60 days to decide if I don’t like the transition lenses and I can get new lenses with the hard line at no extra cost. Rimless except for across the top.

The picture below is my previous pair, the ones I lost in the flood. I think I might like those frames better. This picture was taken in 2016 when Minnie was only a little over a year old. The last eight years have been hard on my face.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

shell shocked

It just keeps getting better and better. I called the neurosurgeons office Monday to set up an appointment but I can’t get in until June 17th because he is going to be out of the country doing ‘mission’ work. Fine. In the meantime I talked to my retired neurosurgeon glass blowing friend Dick
and while he has been retired for 25 years and isn't up on all the newest treatments and approaches he did tell me a thing or two. first that the neurosurgeon won't do the angiogram, radiologist will and also if there is a repair the radiologist will do it. Then I asked which kind of aneurysm is worse, fusiform which has a bulge in the artery or the kind with a bubble on the side. Of course fusiform, which is what I have, is worse. With the bubble they can just seal it off. He doesn't know if they can put a stent in mine to fix it. Anyway a neurosurgeon friend of his just retired so Dick is going to call him and see what he thinks of the doctor I've been referred to and Dick will either have him call me or have me call his friend. So that's where I am on that.

But...went to the electrophysiologist yesterday about the continuous afib and the aneurysm. Doctor wants to take me off the blood thinner that prevents me from developing a blood clot in my heart from the irregular and/or rapid heartbeat that is afib because...aneurysm. We want the to blood to clot if it leaks in my brain. To do that he needs to perform a procedure that closes off the little bulge in the heart where the blood pools and forms clots. Don't like it but OK. And, because the medication is no longer controlling the afib and I'm in afib more often than not lately he says afib is progressive and if the med isn't working, it won't start working again so the fix is the ablation of the left atria for the afib. This means putting me under completely instead of the twilight sleep of the other procedure and the flutter ablation I already had. It's about a two hour procedure where he zaps the heart tissue all the way around both pulmonary arteries where they enter the heart and because this procedure is not completely 100% effective he will still close off the bulge and I will still be on afib med but it should control what's left of the afib but off the blood thinner. Whew! Following all that? There is one thing that could happen and that's if a thin wall from the heart to ? (don't remember what) gets perforated, it is very hard to stop the bleeding and could be fatal. Yay! But they know about that and are very careful and it only happens in 1 in about every 2,000 - 3,000 people. Odds don't sound that great to me but what else am I gonna do? Anyway electrophysiologist's office is arranging with the insurance and scheduling the procedure soon. Maybe in the next 10 days and then he will do the other procedure on a different day but soon.

Just got a call from the electrophysiologist’s office. I have a date for the ablation…June 3rd. A week from next Monday.

Forgive me for not coming around or answering comments as I intended to do. I’m just a little overwhelmed but know this, your comments and love and caring fill my heart. Thank you.   


Sunday, May 19, 2024

the rest of the story

The afib stopped Friday late morning about 11:30, back to a sweet sinus rhythm, and I felt great all day until about 5:30, quarter to six when I was sitting on the couch and this feeling washed over me leaving me feeling light headed, or probably more accurate, a little disassociated with a weakness in my arms and legs and a feeling of things just not being right, this was not normal and I was not in afib. I told my husband I was feeling really weird. Do you need to go to the hospital he asked. Maybe I replied. So we got in the car and he took me to Memorial Hermann SW hospital in Houston which is where my electrophysiologist has his
  practice in the Heart Rhythm Center there on the campus. It took about 45 minutes to get there and on the way I texted both my kids and Sarah who had just left work and was about 10 minutes away said she’d meet us there. 

Sarah was there and waiting when Marc dropped me off at the ER and went to park the car. We walked in and I told the woman at the intake that I might be having a heart attack or heart related problem. First thing they did an EKG and took my blood pressure and told me to wait til they called me. Then they took blood and urine. Back to waiting. Then they did a CAT scan of my head and neck. Back to waiting. Then they did a chest x-ray. Back to waiting. By now the disassociation and weakness had passed. Then they called me again and took me back to an actual room where they took my blood pressure again and set an IV. Is that really necessary I asked. Yes, in case we need to blah blah blah. But then she went on to say that they don’t put the IV in at intake because drug addicts who have collapsed veins will come in and complain about something, get the IV and then leave and use the IV to get high. 

Sarah was with me during all these previous tests and once in the room she went and fetched Marc from the waiting room. They took me back for another CAT scan with contrast (injected dye in the IV) and then we waited again for the results of all the tests. The PA came in with all the results, heart fine and strong, lungs great, no sign of heart attack or stroke, arteries clear, also no explanation for the pain in my back Tuesday or the disassociation and weakness that sent me to the ER. So all that was fine but…the CAT scan with contrast showed “Mildly tortuous basilar artery without significant artherosclerosis or narrowing. Focal ectasia or fusiform aneurysm involving the basilar tip measuring 5 mm.” So, I have an aneurysm. Yay me!

By now it’s about 3 AM, the doctor wakes up the neurosurgeon to see what he wants to do so they admit me for an MRI on Saturday and I can either stay in the hospital til Monday when he can do a cerebral angiogram or go home and arrange the procedure as an out-patient. Sarah and Marc went home and I got up to a room about 3:30 when they put a heart monitor on me, blood pressure cuff and the finger thing for blood oxygen level, took more blood, attached a drip to the IV. I might have dozed off and on for a couple of hours and then around 7 AM they did an echocardiogram which was kind of cool. I could see my heart beating and inside it at the valves opening and closing. The tech took a bunch of pictures and measurements of the inside of my heart. 

Finally the neurologist’s assistant came in and interviewed me and explained the procedure for the MRI and what they would be looking for. If the MRI was “clean” as in no blood or seepage in my brain, they would do a cerebral angiogram where they would insert a camera into the artery in my groin and snake it up into my brain to get a good look at the aneurysm and then decide if surgery was necessary or just to keep an eye on it. Whatever that means. How do you keep an eye on something in my brain that you can’t see.

Then they did the MRI which was an experience all on its own. First I laid down on the table they would insert in the machine, then put ear plugs in my ears and a bolster under my knees for comfort, covered me with a warm blanket and rolled me to the machine where they put dense but soft foam up against both sides of my head to prevent me from moving it which further dampened my hearing, put a plastic sort of cage over my face, told me not to move my head, and rolled me far enough in so that my head and neck could be viewed. I knew there would be loud thumping and there was that but also all sorts of other percussion sounds. Ten minutes later it was over.

About an hour later the neurologist came in, MRI was clean and I could stay til Monday for the angiogram but if the surgeon had an emergency it might not get done that day or, because both the neurologist and the neurosurgeon were confident that the aneurysm was stable for now, I could go home and schedule it with his office within the next two weeks.

By now I’ve had almost no sleep since Thursday night, I’m uncomfortable, I have a headache, and I’m tired of being poked and prodded so I opted to go home. Sarah came and picked me up and I got home about 6:30, went to bed at 7:30, woke at 9:30 to scarf down two pieces of pizza and take my meds and went back to bed and slept til 7:30 this morning.

And no, the aneurysm was not the cause of any of the weird symptoms or feelings. They couldn’t tell me anything definitive about them but speculated that the pain in my back was probably related to the intense afib episode I was having and perhaps the weird feeling was also related to having been in afib for 65 hours straight even though it had stopped by then.

So yeah, I’ve got a small aneurysm in my brain which is scary as fuck.

Thank you all of you for telling me to get thee to the ER and ramping up my fear even though, as it turns out, I wasn’t having a heart attack. It might never have been discovered otherwise. And I might have lived a very long life with it and never knowing…or not. It’s the ‘or not’ part that now hangs over me. 

I’m trying not to think about it because when I do, well, I just don’t want to go there. When aneurysms blow they are almost always fatal.

Fun times, right?

Friday, May 17, 2024

a pain woke me up

Tuesday night about 1:30, I was asleep, dreaming I had a pain and as it moved up to my back in my dream, the pain woke me up. It was fairly high up between my shoulder blades right about where my heart is. My afib was going nuts, heartbeat really fast and irregular. The pain wasn’t terrible, I’ve had back spasms worse than this was, but it was enough to wake me up. Whoa, what the fuck is this. Am I having a heart attack? I sat up on the edge of the bed wondering if I should put some clothes on (I sleep naked) in case I had to call the EMTs. I got up and went to the bathroom, went back to bed and propped myself up a little, googled heart attack in women on my phone and of all the symptoms the pain in my back was the only one. I could feel the afib in my chest but it didn’t feel like it was being squeezed, wasn’t hard to breathe, no pain in my jaw or in my arm, not nauseous. It subsided a little while I played solitaire trying to calm the afib down some. Pain flared back up so I sat on the edge of the bed again trying to decided what, if anything, to do, and this time sat up completely in bed against the wall trying to distract myself with other games until the pain subsided and I laid down and went back to sleep. If you’re wondering where Marc was during this, we sleep in separate bedrooms because his snoring keeps me awake and with the dog and sometimes the cat, that double bed is just too small.

Miraculously, I woke up Wednesday morning, afib still active. After breakfast I worked outside for two hours digging up newly sprouted pecan and oak trees or cutting them at ground level and spraying a little poison on the exposed cut so they wouldn’t come back which they will do it you just cut them down. Came in about 1 PM hot, soaked, and sweaty and the afib was still a little active. Usually some physical activity will calm it down. It finally settled down into a nice sinus rhythm about 5:30. And then sometime during the night Wednesday night it started back up and I’ve been in afib since though not as intense as Tuesday night.

I did go ahead and go to SHARE Thursday morning and talked to one of the volunteers who had had a heart attack last year, asking about her experience. I told her what I had experienced and she encouraged me to call my doctor and if it happened again and didn’t stop after a few minutes to go to the ER. So when I got home I timed my pulse, at least 100 bpm, a little faster I think with skips or extra beats. I called my doctor’s office and talked to the nurse, ran it all by her. I had my regular biannual appointment scheduled for the 29th but she rescheduled me for next Wednesday the 22nd and told me that if it happens again or I get lightheaded and feel like I’m going to pass out before Wednesday and doesn’t stop after a few minutes to go to the ER and have them contact the office and to just take it easy until my appointment. By Thursday evening I didn’t feel very well, breaking out in sweats which are also a symptom of heart attack but also of afib and I do that a lot even sitting in the air conditioned house. I’d been in afib since Tuesday night with one short break and was starting to stress out, pretty freaked out about the whole thing. I went to bed and propped myself up playing games on my phone, really kind of afraid to go to sleep, until my heart settled down some, still a little fast but not too irregular

Friday morning…still alive! And feeling better, heart rate down to 86 bpm. If I make it through til next Wednesday without going to the ER I imagine the doctor is going to want to do a complete cardiac workup. I’ve only had that done once and that was 7 years ago right after I first started having episodes of afib during our trip to Hawaii but got a clean bill of health then.

So that’s what’s happening with me and now I need to take my mind off it because I’m starting to feel a little stressed out about it. A heart attack is not on my to do list.

Monday, May 13, 2024

little vampires, mice, and winnowing down the to do list

When the wind blew over the pink angel trumpet awhile back that broke off three small branches, I got the big vase out I use for rooting yellow angel trumpet cuttings and put them in water even though I have never been successful rooting pink angel trumpet broken branches in water but you know, hope springs eternal. Slowly the leaves all fell off one by one, no roots appeared and I just sort of ignored them thinking I would make a fresh cut on the ends and try dipping them in rooting powder and sticking them in dirt but just never got around to it. Yesterday I happened to look at the vase and the water was black, no exaggeration, with teeming mosquito larvae. They looked to be ready to emerge during the night and suck our bodies dry while we slept leaving our desiccated husks for someone to find days later. Horrified, I picked it up and dumped it outside.

But it got me to thinking, how long would it take for our bodies to be discovered if Marc and I both died overnight and by who. We don’t talk to our kids every day, in fact there is no one we talk to every day that might get alarmed at not being able to reach us. Unlike my sister. But even then it was only because she missed her regular Sunday call from her granddaughter that raised the alarm that caused me to go check and find her. What if Pam had stroked out in the middle of the week? We saw or talked to each other most days though not all, might go a couple of days with no contact. How long would she have lain there before I got concerned enough to let myself into the house? One day, two, three? Living alone, she was worried about not being found while her cats feed on her body. Gruesome, I know.

Anyway, we’re not likely to both die at the same time but if we did, I expect it would be Robin who would find us. Maybe not the first day or two though. So, yeah, I’m going to make sure Robin has a key to my house. 


Saturday, I pulled out the bottom drawer in the kitchen with the storage containers to find everything fouled with mouse pee and poop again! Dammit! Several days after the first time I did set up two mouse traps, one against the baseboard under the drawer and the other between the stove and the refrigerator. I put the traps in small paper bags so that when they work all I have to do is pick up the bag and throw it away. Thursday Minnie triggered the trap against the baseboard by nosing the bag and I didn’t reset it that day. So I cleaned out the drawer again and this time I baited the trap and put it in the empty drawer. Then I checked the trap between the stove and refrigerator and it had caught a mouse. I don’t know if it was the drawer mouse or not but is there ever just one mouse? So I’ll leave the trap in the drawer for a few more days and see what happens.

Saturday was such a relief; cooler, low humidity, overcast and windy; after the previous hot and humid weather that I worked outside all day watering, turning the dirt in another flower bed and throwing out more zinnia seeds, picking up a pile of sticks accumulated in the little backyard and emptying the now mounded up garden cart onto the burn pile, doing some heavy pruning on the wisteria over at Pam’s house, stuff like that. I had all kinds of plans for Sunday starting with mowing the little backyard which I haven’t done yet this year, digging up all the pecan and oak sprouts from all the pecans and acorns we had last fall, maybe even torching the burn pile even though rain was predicted but I woke up with a big pain in my left hip (not sciatica) and my left calf feeling like I had done a heavy leg workout at the gym. I dosed myself with ibuprofen. Stuck my head out the door and ugh, hot and humid and the ibuprofen only dulled the pain a little so nope, not working outside today.

Instead I tackled all the minor little things that had been piling up and trying to clear the small table in the workroom. I hung or rearranged 11 things that I either already had or brought over from my sister’s house like this cross-stitch of cats that she did

and this big metal gecko I got at an estate sale (finally securely mounted on the wall I hope, second attempt, first time it fell off when the garage door slammed)

and this 6" tile I made for Pam years ago when she had every family member make one at one of those paint it yourself ceramic shops,

glued the legs and wings and antenna to the body of this folk art piece that my son gave me years ago (all those pieces are intentionally removable for easier shipping I guess and plug into holes in the body but they kept falling off when moved),

threw away or put away some small things I couldn’t decide what to do with, and a few other things. So it was a very productive day. Didn’t get the table completely cleared but now I really need to go out and mow the little backyard.

I woke up this morning, all pain gone, and managed to get the little backyard mowed and now a heavy storm is bearing down on us, lightning, thunder, wind, rain that is supposed to get heavy.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

hornworms, glasses, and kittens

Mornings I wake up, feed the cat, take my meds, let the dog out. Wednesday morning I went out with the dog to look for that little bastard of a tomato hornworm. This time I found it but it wasn’t much over an inch long and there was too much damage for just one so I kept looking and found two more. They’re hard to find when small because they’re the same color as the tomato plant and hide under the leaves and stems (not in focus but you get the idea).

When I went out Friday morning to remove all the damaged foliage so I can determine if there are more I found another one bigger and fatter than the ones two days ago, that’s how fast they grow. It’s a green smear now. This morning’s examination found two more of the fuckers.

Also Wednesday I moved both of the bell pepper plants, one into the empty corner of the little raised bed and the other in the pot in which I had planted a tomato that was in constant wilt no matter how often I watered it so I figured it had something wrong with it and pulled it out. Put the little pepper plant and watered it until water ran out of the holes in the bottom. Checked on it yesterday afternoon and it was wilted. WTF. Stuck my finger in and the dirt was dry as a bone. Watered until water came running out the bottom, dug in the pot some…dry as a bone. So then I did some intense deep watering and this morning it looked OK but now there are ants in the pot when before with the tomato, no ants. Can’t win for losing with that pot.

The other thing that happened this week was Thursday when I went for my pre-op for cataract surgery. I was joking with the assistant that as soon as I had had my February appointment when I complained about my left eye bothering me for months, feeling like there was some goo or something that I couldn’t rub out, the feeling went away and hadn’t bothered me for the past two months. When asked if I didn’t want to have the surgery I shrugged and said it depended on what the doctor thought. So when Priscilla came in I told her the same thing and she said let’s look. Can you read this line, can you read that line, which is sharper, this or this, etc. Then she pulled out a weird glasses frame in which you could insert different lenses, which she did, put them on me and told me to go outside and see what I could see. So, what am I looking for, focus, clarity, I asked. She just shooed me outside. So I stood outside looking around and everything seemed to be in focus and clear, close and distance. When I came in and reported she said this doesn’t happen often but you were reading two lines better today than in February so let’s get you some glasses. No cataract surgery? Not yet, come back next February. She doesn’t like to do unnecessary surgery which I appreciate.

So I went next door, picked out some frames and ordered glasses. This will be the third time in my life that I’ve been talked into getting glasses. First time was in my late 40s maybe. Wore them off and on for a while and then stopped as my vision wasn’t really that bad and I preferred drug store cheaters for up close work and reading as opposed to wearing glasses all the time. The second time I got glasses was in 2015 when I had to go in and take an eye test to get my driver’s license renewed and I failed the eye test. Two years later I lost them when the town flooded after Harvey and I was wading in thigh deep water and tripped on some unseen something and fell. My glasses had been hooked in the neck of my t-shirt, because I still never got in the habit of wearing them all the time, and when I stood up they were gone. So I went back to drug store cheaters and hoped I didn’t get stopped while driving. Three plus years ago I realized I didn’t need glasses to read in the evenings or do close work, set the cheaters aside and went and got my eyes examined telling the optometrist that I thought my eyesight had improved which he confirmed but attributed it to developing cataracts. That was January 2021 and I haven’t used glasses or cheaters since then. My eyesight is not crisp except in certain ranges but it’s not bad enough to impact my life negatively either so I imagine after I get these I will revert to wearing them when I drive or when what I’m reading or working on is a little too far away. Same as it ever was.

Yesterday afternoon after watering the garden in the back I went over to feed the wildlings a little later than usual and saw that Robin had already fed them. Then she came out with this.

Her boyfriend got a job at Tractor Supply for the summer before he returns to college in the fall and this little 5 week old kitten was abandoned in the parking lot so of course he brought it home. They already have three indoor cats, Pam's Boys and Robin’s Noodle, and the four wildling outdoor cats…Momcat, Handsome Boy, Lovey, and Twin. I told Robin they were quickly becoming the cat people of the neighborhood. Robin is adamant that the new kitten is going with the BF when he returns to school.

After nearly a week of horrible heat and humidity today is cooler and less humid. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

hot, humid, and other miscellania

Yesterday a crew showed up on our street to install fiber optic cable underground for the internet. They had been working all over this little neighborhood and finally got to our street. Apparently we’re getting Rise Broadband, a company that brings internet access to rural areas (we get our access through the cable TV company). The ends of the cables were still sticking up out of the ground about a foot with the ends taped up. A guy was out there today doing whatever he was doing to the cable ends sticking up and now they are not, completely buried with this cover on the spot by the telephone/power pole. About every other pole has a larger rectangular cover.

It’s been overcast and hazy the last several days, the haze being caused by a Saharan dust plume hitting the Texas Gulf Coast. This happens every year but more commonly in the summer between late June and mid-August. It hasn’t done much to mitigate the heat because it is fucking hot here the first week of May. At 5 PM it’s 87˚, 73% humidity, and real feel in the shade is 91˚. Oh joy. Standing outside, just standing there in shorts and a sleeveless top and less than ten minutes later I’m sweating. Do anything like pull a few weeds or take the dog on a very short walk and it’s dripping off me and my hair is soaked. Fortunately Joe and Mary showed up around 6 yesterday and took care of the shop yard and the yard around Pam’s house. And those poor workmen putting in the cable wearing hard hats, long sleeves, long pants, safety shoes, and construction high visibility vests working out in it doing manual labor all day. Do they get required rest and water breaks? Fuck no because our asshole republican governor for whom cruelty is the point, made it illegal for cities and communities to require it for outdoor workers.

I picked enough green beans this morning to have for dinner tonight, 

my squash after giving me two fruits are now producing only male flowers, one of three cucumbers is growing and blooming but not seeing any little cucumbers, the other two are barely bigger than when I planted them, I have no idea why. The tomatoes are blooming like mad and setting some fruit but not enough and I have a tomato horn worm on one that I have not been able to find but every morning more leaves are eaten, the potato plants are turning yellow but never bloomed, the two bell pepper plants are being smothered by the beans so I need to dig them up and move them but omg it is so hot and humid out there. 

Yesterday I had my pre-op appointment for my cataract surgery scheduled for the 22nd. Showed up and they told me she wasn’t there, that they had tried to call me twice but it went straight to voicemail. Did you leave a message I asked, yes she said. Liar. Checked my phone. No missed calls in red in the 'recent' folder from their number, no voicemails either. Checked my voicemail history and there were two from February so I know they have the right number for me. So it’s rescheduled for Thursday afternoon. Last week I got a reminder phone call from the dentist office about my cleaning appointment today. Do you need another call she asked, no I’ll remember I told her. And I did remember…yesterday. Totally forgot today. They called, are you on your way? (I was already late). Yes, I’m on my way! Good thing the office is only 5 or 6 minutes from here.

When I was out this morning picking beans and looking for that damn worm this clump of daylilies was just outstanding.

And now I have to start getting dinner done.