Sunday, June 16, 2019

one more and then on to other topics

I'm trying to keep up with everyone's blogs but I'm rather preoccupied as I'm sure everyone can imagine, still spending hours researching, sent off another barrage of questions via the patient portal. I've had a comment from one twin granddaughter on FB and a face time call from the other and been chastened by my daughter for not telling her/them about the results of my doctor's visit before I published it on my blog. That's not the way for her to find out, she tells me. Oops. My only excuse is that writing about it helps me assimilate what's going on. But, yes, I should have called her first.

Here's some other things I learned...atrial flutter is a right atrial disease, afib is a left atrial disease. In typical cases of flutter, the atrial (the upper chambers of the heart) are contracting at a rate of 150-300 bpm (beats per minute). The atrial rate of bpm is not the same as the pulse rate (ah, so this is why). The pulse rate originates in the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart) which beat at some ratio of the atrial bpm.

So, the ablation is scheduled for the 25th with a TEE scheduled on the 24th. The TEE or Trans-Esophageal Echo is an echocardiogram from the inside where they can get pictures of my heart without having to look through the rib cage and lungs like a regular ultrasound echocardiogram from the outside, which is what I thought I was going to have after I told him btw, the cardiologist 2 years ago told me I had a leaky valve. I'll have an IV and they will sedate me but not put me under then numb my throat and ask me to swallow a tube with a camera on the end! Not sure I can do that especially with my throat issues. And how do you swallow a tube!? 

This whole thing just gets better and better and by that I mean worse and worse.

I had resigned myself to the outpatient ablation which turned into an inpatient procedure and drug administration and now this! This is way more than I'm prepared for. One of the questions I previously asked through the patient portal was if the sotalol manages flutter as well as afib why not just try the sotalol first to which they replied that it doesn't manage the flutter as effectively as it does the afib and flutter can induce afib so eliminating the flutter first makes it easier to control the afib. Basically. That and that as I age the condition will worsen and possibly become constant. Treating it now is more desirable than treating it once it becomes worse. Well, I have a whole week to decide whether or not I'm going to go through with it or get a second opinion (or rather third if you count the RNP as the first) or decide on trying just the medication first.

I'm in total overload. No more thinking about it til Monday. I have a mold to finish filling, I have a dog to walk, and a yard to water. Eleven inches of rain week before last and the ground is already so dry it's cracking.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

not one but two

The past week's worth of days have been so busy what with working on the mold (of which all forward progress came to a screeching halt last Sunday morning and has yet to resume) and the visit from Kathy and the appointment with the electrophysiologist and a surprise visit from grandgirl Autumn just a bit ago that here it is late afternoon or early evening depending on where you live and how you measure such things and still so many chores to take care of, a big one of which is to start putting up some of the three bags of tomatoes I have in the refrigerator but it's too late in the day to start something like that. I should have finished that mold on Tuesday after Kathy headed home but I didn't, instead being lazy all day. Wednesday was all about the doctor's appointment and today was all about absorbing that.

So, yes, I finally had my appointment with the electrophysiologist, the cardiac specialist that specializes in heart rhythms. My appointment was at 11:15, I finally got in sometime shortly after noon. The cardiac RNP had sent my file over previously so basically all they did was take my blood pressure and do another EKG, since I was having an episode while I was there, before the doctor came in. So it turns out I have two different heart rhythm abnormalities, atrial flutter and atrial fibrillation. You can have one without the other but if you start with flutter you generally develop afib and the older you are, the more likely you are to develop it. He wants to do a catheter ablation  now for the flutter and then try and treat the afib with drugs before considering the ablation for afib as that is a more invasive and difficult procedure so since the drugs I've been on aren't doing the job he wants to try a different one, sotalol, that requires keeping me in the hospital for a few days while he monitors its effect on the afib and for any of the side effects that apparently can be bad. So they are contacting my insurance company and checking doctor and hospital schedules and will call me with the appointment.

Of course as soon as I got home I'm trying to explain to Marc what he said and I'm all over the internet reading about this med and the procedure and flutter vs afib and I'm even more confused. So I called the doctor's office with a long list of questions this morning.

Atrial flutter is rapid, but even, heartbeat defined as having 150 and up beats per minute. The highest mine has been is 125, that I'm aware of, and that was before any medication. Atrial fibrillation is irregular heartbeat with or without it speeding up. So how do they know I have flutter when the rapid beating part could be caused by afib especially since my heart rate has never been that high? When both conditions are present they interfere with each other so the typical bpm no longer applies but atrial flutter also has a very distinct 'sawtooth' pattern that shows up on the EKG and it's all over my tests.

Do I have to be having an episode to have the ablation? No. I actually asked the doctor this and when I asked how then does he know where to zap my heart he sort of chuckled and said it was his secret power, and then he answered my question. The process involves a way through tests conducted during the procedure in the heart to pinpoint the rogue spot that is sending out the signals.

If both conditions are caused by faulty electrical impulses why is ablation for afib considered more invasive? With flutter, there are only one or a few spots in the muscle tissue of the heart in the upper chambers and they can be pinpointed and eliminated. 

Ablation for afib involves all 4 of the pulmonary veins (the veins that bring oxygen rich blood from your lungs to your heart) and as they can't pinpoint the exact spots, it involves a process called pulmonary vein isolation which causes scar tissue around the veins near where they connect to your heart because that's where the chaotic signals originate for afib.

So then I got a call to pick a date, the three soonest dates were June 21, 24, 28. I picked Monday the 24th so I'll have an echocardiogram on the 24th and then go back the next day for the ablation and a couple more days while he tries the different medication so I'll be at or in the hospital most of that week. Oh joy. I barely accepted the possibility of the ablation as outpatient procedure and now I'm going to be in the hospital, the place I avoid at all costs and haven't been in a hospital as a 'patient' since 1979 when my son was born.

I am not looking forward to this.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

when friends meet for the first time

I have known Kathy Barnard's work, we have known each other's work, for decades, I have admired hers, been a bit envious, loved her aesthetic and style and skill, looked closely to see if some of it would rub off on me but we never met since she worked out of Kansas City MO and I worked out of Houston.

We started communicating a little bit a few years ago via FB (her page) and earlier in the year we discussed getting together when she would be in San Antonio for the Stained Glass Association's annual conference in June. How far are you from San Antonio, she asked.

So it turns out, we are friends who just hadn't met face to face yet. I had offered her to stay with us but also gave her the contact info for a nearby motel because you never know how these things will go but when she drove up Sunday afternoon I walked out to greet her at her car and she opened the door and there was my friend who I hadn't seen in years. It was like that, lots of hugs. We talked etched glass and work and life stories and stayed up late and just hung out. Kathy spent two nights and got on the road back home Tuesday morning with us promising to get together again in the future.

Kathy's shop is much like ours, or was when we were doing architectural etched glass except that we were working out of a jumped up garage and she works out of her huge studio building and she also does stained glass and small items, glassware and tableware and ornaments and panels. She had brought four small panels for the display area of the conference that were so sweet. 

She asked to buy one of my small pieces before she left but I wouldn't let her instead telling her to send me something of hers in exchange. So she's going to make me a piece with one of the little mice with wings.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

at a snail's pace

I'm finally getting back to work but oh so slowly. Monday I cleared off the table and got set up to start filling a mold. 

Tuesday I did the volume measure and decided on all the colors and their combinations I wanted to use and got all the jars of frit and powder out.   Wednesday was all about the rain and no progress was made. Thursday late afternoon I finally sat down and started filling the mold and not long after I started it started raining again (another 2 1/2”) with lightning and thunder and a freaked out little dog at my feet pawing me constantly to be up in my lap. So this was as far as I got before giving up.

Friday afternoon I sat down to work on it some more and got this far before quitting to take the dog for her walk.

And Saturday was spent mostly cleaning house for an impending visit from Kathy Barnard, a woman who lives in Kansas City MO and does beautiful stained and etched glass work. I love her aesthetic and have admired her work for decades and we are finally going to meet. She was in San Antonio for the Stained Glass Association convention, drove to Padre Island for some beach time and a wedding and is on her way here before heading back to San Antonio and home. But I did get some time in on the mold.

Today I put in another hour or so before I finished the cleaning the house and made a peach cobbler.

Now I'm going to sit and relax til Kathy gets here and finish this after her visit.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

shades of Harvey

I had to reschedule my appointment on Wednesday with the electrophysiologist til next week as I woke up to heavy rain about 3 AM, with the resultant panicked dog, which continued with intermittent bouts of moderate rain til a little after 10 AM when it finally stopped. 

7:45 AM

8:45 AM

The house was completely surrounded by water 2” - 8” deep, the low lying areas around the house finally meeting up with the ditch in front and the field in back, the flower beds seeming to be little islands but I'm pretty sure they were under water too. 

9:50 AM

The toilet in the little bathroom on the slab was gurgling when I got up and so we decided not to try and flush the toilets and we tried not to use the water too much because it drained very very slowly into the septic tanks that were buried in the ground and that ground was completely underwater. Water was just starting to creep into the garage when it stopped raining and I think some seeped in from the back door as it was wet under the mat. 

An hour and a half later the ditches were still overflowed and didn't look like they were draining so the dog and I waded out to the street and down to the corner to see that it was draining into the cornfield which was already flooded. 

11:30 AM

By 1:00 PM I still couldn't get to dry ground that was not under water unless I waded through ankle deep or higher water as we were still surrounded but the dog and I ventured out, walked to the other end of the street. At the far end it was all mostly underwater and it all would drain to my end and my end drains into the cornfield across the road which was, as above, already flooded. 

It was going down albeit very very very slowly. This has never happened before, just from rain, not in the whole 12 years we have owned this property Harvey aside though Harvey was a completely different situation. This was 7 hours of rain. The Lower Colorado River Authority says we got a little over 8”. My friend Debby about 8 miles to the east of us reported 9” and my friend Bobby 12 miles east of us in Boling reported 10”. By 3 PM the water had receded a goodly amount but we still had standing water on all four sides of the house, by 5 PM the front and the two sides of the house and the little backyard no longer had any standing water while there was still quite a bit in back and the field behind us was still flooded.

I didn't empty the rain gauge yesterday and I should have because this morning about 6:00 AM another storm came through and it rained like hell for another hour or so leaving a little bit of standing water on the west side and in back.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

the summer garden

It's summer. The humidity is as high as the temperature and it doesn't cool off in the evening. I think our low tonight is supposed to be somewhere around 75˚. The tomatoes may bloom but they won't set fruit in this heat. No matter as long as the ones we have continue to grow. I worked for an hour yesterday morning from 7 to 8 with the long handled nippers out by the gate to the shop, the area that I recently had cleared, cutting the stumps of the trash trees and noxious vines which were already starting to sprout again and squirting brush killer on them and by the time I was through sweat was dripping off me.

The yard has segued from late spring to early summer to summer, the only remnant of spring is the brown mature seed pods of the love-in-a-mist and the last late larkspur blooms which are also going to seed. The day lilies and nile lilies and altheas and elephant garlic and purple coneflowers and black eyed susans have all been blooming, the plumerias are all sending up bloom stalks and one of the yellow angel trumpets is blooming and so are the zinnias that fellow blogger Shelagh Duncan sent me seeds for.

elephant garlic


argentinian vervain

black eyed susan

rock rose



angel trumpet


Progress has been made towards getting my butt back to work. Yesterday I finally altered a garage sale dress, a long gauzy thing with an embroidered bodice that if I had even medium sized boobs I would have filled but as it is I took it up on the sides some, so I could put away my sewing machine and got set up to measure a mold for volume and then fill it, today's main activity, starting with the thing most near completion.

Tomorrow I have my first appointment with the 'special' specialist, the cardiac electrophysiologist. He's already got my chart sent over by the cardiac RNP though things have been pretty calm the last several days. So, of course they are predicting heavy rain and flooding for the time I'll be on the highway heading to my appointment. I can only hope their track record for prediction continues and they are wrong about that.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

another week in review

Another week of accomplishing nothing but living. Picked my sister up from the airport Tuesday, brought her back here to fetch her car and her kittens which basically took up the whole day because I lazily didn't do anything before it was time to leave to get her but I did see as I passed the Peach Creek Market on the highway that they finally had some Fredericksburg peaches and so Wednesday I headed there for a big bag which we've been eating all week. I also got the hanger glued onto the piece my friend purchased and got that boxed up and mailed out to her. 

Thursday and Friday were estate sale days, the one on Thursday we got there late since it opened at 8 AM and was not local and I'm not an early riser especially for something like that though my sister said it looked like a lot was gone by the time we got there around 11 AM from the pictures that had been posted but I find it hard to believe (though I hadn't looked at the pictures myself) because the prices they had on the stuff that remained were outrageous. Like $8 for a collapsible vegetable steamer which is about what a brand new one costs and $10 for an old (and not as in 'antique' old) plastic 4 cup measuring cup with a pouring spout. My sister bought a good quality glass one for a lot less than that at a previous sale. They did have a nice set of aluminum clad bottom stainless steel cookware for $6 a piece but omg, those pots were so heavy empty that you would need to be a bodybuilder just to cook with them. The sale on Friday was basically a bust as well as the house across the highway from the pom pom factory had been empty for a couple of years someone said and it was empty and smelled like mildew, just a few pieces of furniture with everything to be had on tables outside the garage. Mostly what they had was boxes and boxes of pom poms and plastic mugs in all colors and some odds and ends. But it did have a pine spindle double bed frame with wood side rails that I picked up for $20 so I can replace the futon couch frame in the back bedroom with an actual bed frame though what I'll do with the futon frame I have no idea since I'll still be using the mattress that goes with it until I buy a new one, just needs a good cleaning.

Also Friday was the day the last grandchild graduated from high school. The plan was to leave here and head into the city by 4:30 with a stop at the liquor warehouse on the way in to stock up and pick up our son and then meet the daughter and son-in-law and the other in-laws in front about 6:30 with the ceremony starting at 7 PM. We didn't actually get off til 4:40 and drove into blinding rain before we even got out of Wharton County, 

hit slow traffic after the rain stopped, hit stopped traffic because of rain and construction, tried to get around that and hit more slow to stopped traffic (and this is just one of many reasons I'm glad I no longer live in the city and avoid going there as much as possible) and finally pulled up to our son's apartment around 6:30, managed to hook up with the daughter at the NRG Arena and we all got seated in the nosebleed section near the far end, and by nosebleed section I mean the absolute highest row. The place was packed for this graduating class of 500+ students 

and so we sat through 2 hours of speeches and hooting and hollering as each student's name was called out. But she did it, our Robin graduated from high school.

And what did I do yesterday? Hmmm, nothing, sat on the couch and read most the day but I did make a peach dewberry pie and it was/is good.

And I picked the first of the tomatoes (they looked riper in the shade hidden at the bottom of the plants).

Now it's Sunday, it's already well after noon, too hot and humid to be outside for long even though I have a few tasks to take care of out there. I declared several days ago that I was going to get back in the studio and start some new work on Monday though I've said that more than once in the last several months, so I guess we'll see, but right now, after I post this catch-up, I'm headed to the couch with my book. This is a new thing for me, being able to waste a day or several in a row sitting around doing nothing in particular. I've always been a doer, always doing something, never been able to sit easily or for long. But here at 69 years on this planet and especially since we retired from doing the etched glass I find myself doing nothing more often but I've made at least one promise to the gallery that I must make good on so perhaps I'll get my butt in gear.