Sunday, July 31, 2016

* Bloom *

I feel as if I've been given a second chance at life.

I had my percutaneous closure about 2 1/2 weeks ago and I feel amazing. It took me awhile to heal from it and get over the sore throat from intubation and another TEE, but I feel incredible. My left arm is still tender but I've found a compression sleeve really helps with that. My oxygenation is at 98% on room air so my tanks are sitting sadly in the hallway waiting to be picked up. I will admit I'm nervous to let them go, but it's settling in that I don't need them anymore.

I'm able to walk up stairs and hike around the block without feeling winded. I bought a treadmill and was able to knock out 2 minutes of jogging before my legs, not my heart or lungs, decided they couldn't handle anymore. I didn't feel dizzy or faint or truly out of breath, just out of shape. :) I find joy in analyzing my "new" wiring and seeing what has changed.

Yesterday I represented my nursing organization at the California Nursing Students' Association Membership South Meeting. It was an invigorating experience to be with the students again and out in the world. I didn't realize how much I missed doing nursey stuff until I saw those friendly, familiar faces and had more hugs than I have had in a very long time. The nursing world is so full of support and energy! Afterwards, I had an early dinner with a sweet friend of mine - we dove into topics that were quite personal for both of us, and I hope it was as healing for her as it was for me. It's always amazing to realize that you're never alone in the world; someone usually has been through what you have. Thank you, my dear friend.

I start my new job tomorrow, and am just thrilled for the experiences that I've been blessed with. I'm dearly hoping that I will be able to lead and inspire just as I will be inspired by my new team. If you had asked me five years ago where I thought I'd be, it would be very different from where I am now.

I couldn't ask for anything else. Life is good. I am grateful.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016


A friend of mine messaged me a couple of weeks ago asking me to help generate some joy in the universe. She, and I, felt that there was a large amount of negativity in the atmosphere and that there needed to be some happy to go along with it. I know that the planets are, and have been, in retrograde, which affects everyone differently. I'm one of those that is affected positively by this retrograde... I am clearer and a lot more gets done.

One activity that we chose to take part in was to think of things that bring us joy and to write them down. While I didn't have a chance to do this during the full Flower Moon due to two very snuggly kitties, I still sat and meditated on what brings me joy. Even the littlest thing was stored away in a mental file for later use. When I woke up the next morning, I experienced my "perfect day." It was amazing, like something had shifted.

We all need those little things, like I wrote about several weeks ago. Sometimes the media and our own life experiences allow us to just wade through a mucky swamp of negativity which does absolutely nothing for us except bring us down even deeper. Do you recall a time when this happened to you? What brought you out of it? Do you remember how sticky it was and how more negativity was almost magnetically drawn to you at that time?

Here is a list of things that bring me joy, and this list is not all-inclusive. I've made it a goal to find something joyous every day, no matter how trite or insignificant it may seem.

  • This home. My home, that I'm paying mortgage on. I am delighted with my home. It speaks to who I am. Especially my bright turquoise half-bath.
  • The two furballs who were snuggling with me and continue to snuggle every chance they get. I am overcome with love and joy whenever they're near.
  • My parents. Their support and encouragement has seen me through good times and bad.
  • My baby sister. Although she is not on this earthly plane anymore, memories and photos bring me joy (as do her text messages.)
  • Being surrounded by antique family belongings... my Dad's Japanese screen and monkeypod coffee table as well as my great-aunt's globe bring me a sense of centeredness and connection.
  • Salted caramel coffee. No explanation required.
  • Receiving the news that I do not need open heart surgery at this time.
  • Sharing the news that I do not need open heart surgery at this time.
  • Seeing friends share engagement photos on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The friendships that I've made through social media. Random, but joyous!
  • My spiritual practices.
  • Love ... love from anyone and everyone who has extra to give all over the world.
  • My dear friends who make sure that I don't become a hermit.
  • The promise of tomorrow.
I would love to hear some things that bring YOU joy!

Flamingo leggings make me happy, too!

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Proud Mutant Nurse

I realize I haven't posted much on the ol' blog recently. There's been a lot going on. Let me fill you in. Actually, I'll write a bit while you go grab a cup of coffee or tea.

So I finally found out that I will not be needing open heart surgery at this time. I have this random bridging vessel between my weird superior vena cava and my other vessel that seems to be able to handle the additional pressure. They will simply plug off the weird vena cava below the bridging vessel. My stenotic pulmonary vein is also not as severe as originally thought, and stenting would only cause further issues down the road. If I would need it fixed in the future, full open heart would be the only option. They'll fix me up in July, keep me in the hospital overnight for monitoring, and then I'll be good to go.

Isn't that rad?!

I'm feeling much better mentally and emotionally, too, for those of you wondering how that status was doing. The antidepressants and sleep medications really have helped and I am feeling much more like myself. I've also cleaned up my diet and feel better about myself by not ingesting a lot of preservatives and boxed foods. I've been drinking a lot of water and green tea, and imagine it flushing away stress and toxins.

Also, this past weekend, this happened:

I attended my commencement for earning my Master of Science in Nursing Education this past Saturday. The top photo is of my cap, which has a photo of my sister, Becky, who passed in 2014. I told her that I would finish this degree for her. The bottom photo is of my folks and Roxy the Cylinder who comes with me wherever I go. The purple cords, for those wondering, are for Sigma Theta Tau, the International Nursing Honors Society. I don't think I've ever had a photo where my cords are on straight.

(Nope, I just checked my BSN graduation and they were crooked, there, too.)

I'm so grateful for my family and friends for their support as I worked my way through this program. I thought I wasn't going to be able to finish, due to my health issues, but my advisors at University of Phoenix and I worked together to find a solution, and I was able to do my MSN project "virtually" which means I imagined a presentation within a virtual setting and I didn't actually implement it in my hospital. Because I still can't drive, this was a huge relief to me and I finished the project with good results. Now I just have one more two-week course to get through, where we turn in our project work, and I'm through! I'll be able to sign MSN, RN, CHPN after my name as soon as my degree confers! :)

Also, it should be said that I've heard a lot of schmuck talked about Phoenix. My program was one hell of a tough program which required hours and days and weeks of diligent research and time in front of the computer. For almost two years straight, minus holiday breaks, I have been in front of this screen typing discussion questions, reviewing literature, writing endless papers, and assembling an educational curriculum on end-of-life care from scratch. It's not easy, and those people who say it's a crap education should try it themselves.

Thank you to you all for reading, and I'll be back soon, promise! :)

Monday, April 11, 2016

I asked for help today.

I asked for help today. As hard as it was to pick up the phone and dial up my former psychiatrist after so many years, I did so. I have carried on for over three months since my initial surgery going up and down and up and down… and then the downs became longer and the brain fog became thicker.

While the fog may be primarily due to all of the medications and anesthetics and sedatives, it’s taken on a more familiar tint of gray that I know well. There isn’t much for me to “talk about” however I know when the chemistry in my system becomes darker and uneven. All there is now is to figure out which medication won’t mess with my QT interval and cause more cardiac issues (even going on an antidepressant becomes an adventure, now, see?)

I know that this is one more step in the road, and that it will be okay. I am not in a severely deep, dark place – and for that I’m grateful. I felt that I was on that bumpy, slippery cobblestone road, though. I’m sure that hormonal variances have assisted in the deepening gloom, but I’m not going to “wait and see” anymore. This is a hard enough journey – and I miss my mind. I miss finding humor in just about anything, although I still do laugh at ridiculousness. There was an episode I just watched of Downton Abbey which made me giggle for awhile. It was then that I realized that I didn’t recognize my own chuckle anymore.

My goal is to stop this in its tracks before it goes any further. I am quite aware that I’m not the only patient in the world who experiences these darker moments, and I’m blessed to have recognized the signs. I can only hope that this chapter will assist more out there who realize that it’s perfectly fine to pick up the phone and get back to "normal." Or, if you’re also a Super Mutant, as normal as possible.

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Brain fog

“You do know there is a chance that you won’t be able to return to work as a nurse.”

That is what my physician told me at a follow-up visit a few days ago. I appreciate this. I appreciate his matter-of-factness and his ability to be up front with me. While I clarified with him that I may not be able to return in the capacity that I’m accustomed to, I still thank him for being one of the few who have the balls to tell it like it is. I see so many physicians say, “Oh, you’ll be right back to where you were.” I may not be, and that is something that I am in full realization of.

I was still getting my mind back from my December surgery, when I was given at least 8 mg of Versed and 2 mcg of Fentanyl for my TEE/cath a couple of weeks ago. I often wonder if I’ll ever get my sharpness back. With the added threat of “pumphead” that I wrote about a couple of months ago, this is my main concern. It’s frustrating not being able to come up with a word that I use every day. I’ve had to ask family and friends, “Hey what’s that word that means this and that?” I have lists all over the house of things that I am supposed to do, and then I promptly forget about the list. I’ve missed telephone conferences because I didn’t have them written down in my calendar… but I’ll forget to check the calendar.

I was also asked by my Doc if I’ve experienced concerning depression. I admitted that I’ve had my tough moments but I’ve always been able to find my way out. I know that I have resources for if, or when, I need them, and I’m not shy about asking for help. I also know that any potential anti-depressant use may cause further cardiac problems depending on the drug class. This foggy brain has a lot to do with all of this. While I’m frustrated with my physical limitations, I’m even more frustrated with the additional mental limitations.

That’s where I am right now.

I’ll be fine, I will.

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