Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

Have you ever had a heart catheterization? October 26, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Health,Random Thoughts,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 9:45 am
Tags: , , , ,

My husband and I got concerned about “unknown cardiac risks” after a friend had a nuclear stress test and ended up needing a quadruple by-pass. Add that to my own family history (mother and both her parents died of heart issues, brother has congestive heart failure, and aunt had “twisted/gnarly” arteries) and my new Cardiologist, Dr. R, was glad to see me being proactive about my heart health. My schedule is more fluid than M’s, so I went first by having fasting blood work, wearing a Holter heart monitor for 24-hours, getting an echocardiogram, and finally having a nuclear stress test using a drug called Lexiscan that would work my heart instead of having me run on a treadmill, since I’m not able to run.

After last Tuesday’s nuclear stress test showed an abnormality in my front artery, he “highly encouraged” me to have a heart catheterization done, to make sure there wasn’t anything more serious going on to cause concern. I was told that, if plaque or a narrowing was found, they could easily insert a stent, which would help my arteries function better. M and I discussed the procedure and told my doctor on Friday that we agreed with his suggestion.

Three days later (three days ago), early Monday afternoon, I got a call from the Cardiovascular office to set up my cardiac cath (I’m going to use this term since it’s shorter… you understand that it’s a cardiac catheterization). The scheduler said that Dr. R wanted the procedure done within the week and offered Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday… eek! We opted for Wednesday and she began to give me details… this was getting REAL and it was all I could do to stay calm and not panic. She asked me to come into their office asap to get paperwork and pick up an order for some time-sensitive blood work.

I got to the doctor’s office (which was the same place where I’d done my nuclear stress test) within 15 minutes and actually got to meet Dr. N, the doctor who would be performing my cardiac cath. He was personable and kind but also very focused and willing to take the time to answer my inane questions (what *is* this procedure, what will determine whether you use the groin or the arm for “entry”, and how long will I be in the hospital… poor guy!). He did a quick check with my wrist and decided they would first try to use my radial artery for my cardiac cath. I’m not sure why that decision seemed *better* to me, but I felt a little less panicked about the procedure after our conversation.

Tuesday flew by in a bit of a blur… packing a small overnight bag, reading information about the procedure, and asking my family/friends for prayers. The doctor warned us that I would need to stay in the hospital for 24-hours if he needed to do a stent so we tried to be ready for any situation. I was so blessed to have people reach out to share their experiences, offer support, and pray for my safety. I was anxious, but felt as prepared as possible for the unknown.

Wednesday started incredibly early. My procedure was being done at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which is approximately 45 minutes from our home. In order to arrive by the 6:45AM check-in time, we left at 5:30AM and were walking into the hospital by 6:30AM. After going over paperwork and consent forms, they called me back to my room by 7:30AM to get gowned, prepped, and ready for the doctor. M came back to join me at 8:30AM and we sat together for the next three hours, waiting as patiently as possible.

My nurse, J, was really wonderful. She was informative, calming, proactive, and personable… I honestly couldn’t have picked a better person as my nurse for the day. She watched over me like a mom, performed her tasks like a pro, and was a wonderful advocate in keeping me “next-in-line” during the morning’s events. I get a “wonky” stomach from some medications and was getting more and more anxious as time ticked on, so meds arrived to help me remain calm and focused. When they finally wheeled me into the sterile surgical room, I was as ready as possible.

Coming into the surgical room was a bit surreal. Nurses helped me as I stood up, turned, and sat down on the table in the center of the room. There were huge pieces of equipment, a number of TV screens, and gowned people scurrying around getting things ready and asking me to repeat my name and birthdate. Dr. N came in, held my hand, and calmly chatted about the upcoming procedure. We discussed (again) why, how, and what he would be doing. He affirmed his original decision to use my radial artery (at my wrist) instead of entering through the groin and then left to finish his own preparations. Now I started to get scared…

Things moved quickly from here. My wrist was propped up and taped down to allow Dr. N to most stable and secure access to my right radial artery. My wrist and both sides of my groin were swathed in a very cold antiseptic solution. My nerves were beginning to get the better of me, so retreated to repeating The Lord’s Prayer and my father’s blessing as I felt my body tense and begin to shiver. When Dr. N returned to the room, the surgical orderly announced that “the cocktail isn’t on board yet” (they hadn’t yet given me any sedatives other than the Valium I’d received earlier) so he waited as the nurse administered the medicine into my IV. After a moment or two, he used a shot of Lidocaine (which hurt like a bee sting) to numb my wrist and then began the procedure.

To explain what happened next, I’ll use the information provided by the doctor’s office as reference… a catheter (small hollow plastic tube) was inserted into my right radial artery. Using special x-ray unit (fluoroscopy), the catheter was directed tp the heart and moved through the blood vessels and heat chambers. I felt a varying bit of pressure in my chest during the procedure, almost like flutters just under my rib cage. Pressures within the heart chambers were measured and (I think) dye was used to check each of my coronary arteries for blockages. Once Dr. N was satisfied with all that he’d seen, the catheter was removed.

I was absolutely awake throughout the procedure but the “twilight sedation” was enough to allow me to try and relax. I like to try and recite a wine tasting in my head, using ones I’ve done from either James River Cellars or Boordy Vineyard, since they make me concentrate on something totally unrelated to the current situation. I was able to respond to the Dr. N’s questions and was surprised when I heard someone use the words “coming out”, regarding the catheter. They removed the tape that stabilized my wrist and he put a compression bandage on the spot where the catheter had been removed. The temperature of my fingers concerned him and he asked me to make a fist to check blood flow. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, which complicated the return of immediate adequate blood flow to my fingers, so he adjusted the air pressure in the bandage (normal use is 10cc’s of air and he used 5cc’s with me) and was comfortable with that decision. Before he left, he told me that he was happy to see that I have “the arteries of a fourteen year old” and no stent was needed… hallelujah and praise be to God!

The nurses quickly removed all the surgical paraphernalia and helped me shuffle over to the bed that would roll me back to my room. They covered me with heavy, warm blankets (it’s amazing how cold one can get in such a short amount of time!) and were wheeling me into my room just minutes after M had come back from getting lunch… I had only been gone for 45 minutes.

The afternoon was spent recovering… from the anesthesia, from the trauma, and from the stress. I got to sit up and have a cup of coffee… I got to eat some food… and I eventually got the chance to use my phone to start responding to the wonderful messages and comments made on Facebook, through IM or through texts. The doctor came in to explain his findings to us and give us the good news.  The nurse slowly decreased the air in my compression bandage and eventually was able to apply a simple bandage (seen in the photo) after a few hours.  It was after 3PM before we finally headed home, but we left the hospital tired and grateful.wrist

Today, I’m following doctor’s orders. I will not shower or remove the bandage on my wrist until after 1:30 this afternoon and have been given a 5lb lift-limit until Saturday morning. Writing and resting are the only things on my to-do list, so thank you for letting me share this experience. What a gift to know that my grateful heart is also a healthy heart!

Advertisements
 

Breaking up with a Church… October 6, 2017

Filed under: Communication,Grief,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:59 am
Tags: , , , ,

When death happens in a family, I have always felt that church was where you go to find comfort… the place that reaches out and wraps its corporate arms around you to give you a bit of peace in the chaos that has just rocked your world… the place where you know you’ll find the words to ease the pain, share the grief, and unburden your soul. But what happens when the church isn’t there for you?BreakingUpWithAChurch

My mother died unexpectedly, 10 days before Christmas, this past year. Celebrating Christmas was difficult, especially since she always spent that particular holiday with me and my family, so I sent my choir director a text to keep him updated on my attendance. The idea of going to services was too painful for me to fathom. I simply wanted to spend time with my husband and children, so we didn’t go to Christmas Eve services. New Year’s came and went so I could concentrate on planning a service that would honor my mother’s memory. I grew up in her church, so I felt comfortable creating a service that would have pleased her in the choices I made. I had chosen Psalm 121 which had, unbeknownst to me, been included in services for both her father and that of her father-in-law, so I honestly felt her hand guiding me in the selections for her service.

January flew by in a blur… mum’s funeral service, executor responsibilities of bills and cleaning out her home, drives to/from Pennsylvania, along with growing concerns about my father’s health. I went to one church service, but couldn’t handle more. Clearly I was hurting, but there was no rest for the weary…

Seven weeks after my mother died, my father died as well… from complications of Parkinson’s exacerbated by a car accident in November. While I wasn’t as intimately involved in his service, my stepmother asked me to honor his memory by singing one of his favorite hymns. I asked my choir director for a copy of the music, since I couldn’t find it in the various hymnals at our house, and practiced it in my kitchen as often as I could. It was a heartwrenchingly difficult thing to do and as much as I didn’t *want* to do it, I desperately wanted to do something tangible to honor him. I may not have wanted to sing, but I’m so grateful that she asked me. They are Episcopalian as well, so the service was familiar and comforting even if I hadn’t been inside that parish since my father and stepmother were married almost 40 years ago.

A month after my father died, I saw my priest at the local store when I was working. I apologized for not being at church lately and mentioned that it was still so hard for me to get through services after losing both my parents. He said that he understood and said “you know where we are if you need us”. Maybe it was the place where we were speaking (I was hosting a wine tasting at a local liquor store), but there were no words of comfort spoken… no short blessing or prayer… no attempt made to reach out to me *as my priest* to meet with me in the future.

I’m not entirely sure why this phrase hit me so hard, but it’s the one that resurfaces each time I think about returning. Thinking about it now, I believe that by using those words, he was placing the next action squarely on me. I wasn’t, and still am not, in a place to make that sort of move… to ask for help… to seek consolation… to get back to church…

And so I don’t. I don’t attend church at the moment. I don’t sing in choir. While I pray daily and sing constantly in my car (those long road trips can be cathartic), I have withdrawn from the corporate church.

While it hurts my heart to have made the decision to “break up with my church”, I don’t feel the same comfort from this particular parish any longer. The two or three individuals who initially reached out to me have gone on with their lives, which didn’t include me from the beginning. I’m sure that some will say it was up to me to return and “rejoin the living”, but sometimes that’s just too hard. Priests are given the tools, and the personnel, with which to reach out to parishioners in the midst of whatever personal struggle they face. I truly believe that, by not having any contact with the people of this particular parish, we have been cast aside and left to our own devices.

While my faith is not entirely dependent upon corporate worship and prayer, I can’t help but wonder if the pain I still feel might have been lessened if I had felt welcome to share my grief at church… if someone had reached out after my mom died, and again after my father died… if my church had cared about me. I really tried to make this church our home, but it has become glaringly obvious that it’s not… grief has brought that into sharp focus.

 

It’s only been days… April 27, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Grief,Life Balance,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:50 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s only been a matter of days in which my world tilted on its’ axis… a mere 134 days.  I still have my step-mom (thank God)… I still have my other half/my sister and my wonderful collection of brothers… but my parents are gone.  It feels both like forever and yesterday.  I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I ever knew, but I’m more vulnerable than I expected.  The dichotomy of grieving while continuing to live is not lost on me… but it can be exhausting.  

The numbers of days is daunting when listed out:

  •  48 days between Mimi’s death and Daddy’s death (12/15/16 & 2/1/17)
  • 23 days between Mimi’s death and her funeral (12/15/16 & 1/7/17)
  • 25 days between Mimi’s funeral and Daddy’s death (1/7/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 15 days between Mimi’s funeral and the last time we saw Daddy (1/7/17 & 1/22/17)
  • 10 days between when we saw Daddy and when he died (1/22/17 & 2/1/17)
  • 10 days between Daddy’s death and his funeral (2/1/17 & 2/11/17)
  • 134 days since Mimi died (to 4/28/17)

I just got back from a cousins weekend at the beach.  It was perfect and raw and wonderful and heart-wrenching.  There were bittersweet moments when I could envision how much my mom would have been so happy.  There were moments that I know would have driven her crazy because getting onto the beach would have truly been a physical ordeal.  I also know that I felt the presence of the three Mimi’s (sisters Jody, Jean, and Gwenn) in so many ways throughout the weekend that it was worth everything to be present.  

I’m reading a lot lately about grief and how others travel this journey.  The kind messages, comments, and shared information mean so much… to know that others are willing to take a moment to simply say “I’m sorry” can be humbling and touching.  Thank you for caring… and for reaching out to me in whatever way works.

I’ve learned to surround myself with good people and am more grateful for every positive experience than ever before.  Seeing the impact that each of my parents had on their individual worlds has given me insight into the kind of impact that I want to make in my own world.  I intend to be more deliberate about those things on which I spend my time.  I want to do things that either bring me joy or allow me to give joy to others.  

If the life and death of each of my parents teaches me anything, it’s that I need to choose how and where I spend my life.  My God, my husband, my children, and my family… these are my beatitudes… these are my blessings… these are where I will spend my days.

 May you find ways to fill your own days with joy….

 

Grief is like an ocean wave… January 31, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:19 am

There’s a story floating around that I have found very comforting… the metaphor of grief to an ocean wave.  Rather than try to explain it, and miss some of the beautiful nuances, I’ll simply post the poem here:


My prayer at the moment  is to learn to survive the waves and the shipwrecks with as much kindness to others as I can possibly muster.  Bless you ALL for sharing your strength with me… and for caring enough to read what I write.  It all helps.

 

Pick your “person” carefully… January 30, 2017

Filed under: Communication,Friends — beatitudesofmylife @ 6:48 pm
Tags:

My mom had two best friends who lived close to her. She did nearly everything with them… from singing in choir to celebrating birthdays to just dropping by for a glass of wine on a random evening. She shared her life with these two women… her hopes, her fears, her dreams, and her plans. These two were her “people”… the reference comes from Gray’s Anatomy where Meredith says that Christina is “her person”… as in, these were the two people she could call in any sort of emergency, or I could call regarding anything involving my mom. I was always felt so blessed that she had people like them in her life… that is, until she died.

One of her people (we’ll call her “G”) was the woman who found my mother after she died. G sat with her body while she called 911… she stayed in the house until the paramedics arrived… G was the person who called to tell me that my mom was dead… and she didn’t leave her until the coroner sealed mom’s house after the funeral home came and took her away. G did everything she could think of to honor her friendship with my mom while grieving for the loss of her dear friend. She brought photos and items to add to the remembrance table at the funeral and she checked on me and my family to make sure that we were ok.  She seemed to truly mourn the passing of my mom and her dear friend.

Her other person (we’ll call her Y) has been strangely absent from the picture. I didn’t call Y after I found out about my mom because I thought it would be better if G did that notification. Honestly, I was so broken, especially by the immediate tasks at hand, that I couldn’t have formed a coherent sentence to speak to Y. No matter the reason, I never heard from Y. She never called, never wrote, never even posted a FB message. While she did attend the funeral, she never spoke to either my sister or me or go through the receiving line to see us. I still have never heard from Y. Maybe *I* should have been the one to call her, but I still feel betrayed and incredibly upset by her actions. I’m so hurt that she has blocked me out of her life. She knew my mom in a way that I never will… because she was my mom’s friend. I called Y’s home number a week after the funeral to apologize for not telling her about mum’s death, but she never returned my call. I called her today to wish her a Happy Birthday tomorrow, because that’s what my mom would want me to do, but I have sincere doubts that she’ll call me back… and I have no idea why.

And now, here’s my dilemma: 

You see, shortly after my mom died, both G and Y started asking about an envelope of money… a total of $45… that they were sure had been in my mom’s possession when she died. It was the ‘party money’ for their Just4Fun group and they wanted to make sure that it was returned to them for their next get-together. They asked my brother-in-law… they asked my husband… and they even went so far as to ask mom’s cleaning women, T, (the woman who, imho, has been the most incredible blessing to our family by stepping up and simply *doing* anything and everything when I couldn’t think past the next day… this woman has been our fairy god-mother/god-sister )… but neither one ever asked my sister or me. After a few days they called T and suggested that they privately take and sell an item that they had seen left in the house so they could recoup that $45… and both my sister and I were dumbfounded. A day or two later, they called T again but wanted to tell her that they think they may have been mistaken, that only $10 was “owed” to the Just4Fun group, and they felt they could “forgive” that amount. “Forgive”?

I try very hard to take the high road in most situations. I follow The Golden Rule and use that to guide my actions as often as I can. I do my best to be kind to everyone. How am I supposed to react to this situation? How am I supposed to feel each time I see these people? How am I supposed to simply “let it go”?

As of now, I’ll be praying about this… I’ll be trying to take the high road… and I’ll be kind. I won’t be anyone’s doormat… but I *will* be kind.

 

My Daddy January 26, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 5:23 pm

It’s been a long time. So much water under the bridge. So much history that needs to be forgiven instead of dragged back through the mud. So few days left to allow for peace.

My parents divorced when I was little. My 10 year-old self didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on. I acted out and blamed all the adults for this huge change in my life. But there are so many things that happened between my parents that bled into our lives as their children. Our individual memories are flawed… we see what we want to see… we remember what we want to remember… we forget what we choose to forget. We were children and our parents were human beings who were hurt. They both did awful things to one another. They both caused unnecessary pain to each other. They both felt they were in the right. It doesn’t matter any more… and it hasn’t truly mattered for quite some time. It does not help anyone to review the past unless we are using that past to improve our future.  
I spent too many years blaming my father for my mother’s lot in life. I blamed him for so many little things that I didn’t take the time to see him as an adult. It took me far too long, but once I started seeing the man through the eyes of an adult, I could finally appreciate how he’s conducted his life since he re-married. I can honestly accept that he and my mom were so dissimilar and probably shouldn’t have gotten married (although I’m glad they did, because they created us… me, my brother, and my sister). I can absolutely understand that my dad and step-mom are truly soulmates and area much better as a couple than they were before they got together.  
More than anything, I can also see just how much they love each other. It’s a tangible thing… it’s seeing my dad calm down at her touch… it’s seeing him smile or his eyes light up when she leans in to whisper to him… it’s both heartbreaking and breathtaking beautiful to see how fully they love one another. The past be damned… I can appreciate that kind of love, because it’s the kind of love that I have with M. My father has had his faults, but he’s shown me the one-of-a-kind love affair that is worth a fight. He’s shown me that anything is worth sacrificing, if it means one more day with that person who makes you whole.
I want him to keep fighting so that, one day, I can tell him that I *get* it. I want to be able to tell him that I love him, and have him understand that I truly mean it. He’s my daddy and he always will be…. I’m just not ready to lose him…

 

Grief… after the first month… January 15, 2017

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

 

It’s been a month… a month since my mom died… a month since I lost my anchor, my forever-cheerleader, my personal historian, the person who knew me in ways that I never had to question.  It’s been a month and yet I still struggle each day with random tears and waves of sadness that come out of nowhere.  It’s been a month that sometimes feels like ages and sometimes feels like minutes… it’s been one helluva month.

mumjune2015

When your parent dies, no one tells you how you’re supposed to move on with your life.  No one tells you that a can of black-eyed peas can rock you back on your heels and make you cry like a baby.  No one tells you that you’re going to reach for the phone more times than you ever expected, only to remember that there’s no one on the other end of that line.  No one tells you that doing the “busy-ness” of death might  actually help hold back those waves of grief until you’ve had a little time to acclimate to this new stage of your life…  your life without your mother.

People tell you so many things when your mom dies.  “I know just how you feel”…. “It will get better with time”… “This pain you’re feeling will eventually turn into a dull ache”… “You’ll get through it”… “I’m so sorry, sweetie”… so many loving, kind, well-meaning phrases that don’t necessarily take the pain away, but make the pain a little easier to bear because it’s being shared.

I know that I’m not alone in my grief because so many others have been where I am at this moment.  It doesn’t make things “better”, but it does make things a little more bearable.  It also helps that I have a crew of people who have my back.  My husband, sister, cousins, friends, neighbors, co-workers… I can feel their support, love, prayers, and know that, because of them, I can push through to do whatever is needed.  I can make the phone calls, organize the paperwork, weed through all the items, and make the decisions that come with the death of someone you love.  I can continue to take those steps.

Two steps forward, one step back… or is it one step forward, two steps back… either way, grief seems to be a daily tango of sorts… and it truly is a daily tango.  I can feel strong and ready to face any obstacle that may come my way, but let one kind, loving person do the “sympathetic head tilt” and I’m a quivering mess of tears.

Adulting is rough and I never seem to be prepared for that wave of grief that crashes over me when I least expect it.  My cousin told me that, when our grandfather died, his youngest daughter (her mom/my Aunt Jody) had complained that she had just wanted life to stop for awhile… to allow her to concentrate on her grief and not deal with the day-to-day.  The more I reflect on that thought, the more I understand and can commiserate.  I have a “Happy Yellow Lab” personality and while people, for the most part, have been understanding, it can still feel daunting at times to put on that happy smile and focus on the positive.

So while I learn to adjust to this new world in which my mom is no longer here, prayers for strength really are the best thing anyone can offer.  I’m doing ok, but that changes day-to-day and sometimes minute-to-minute.   It’s been a month…

Here’s to making it through the first month… and giving thanks to everyone for their prayers for the ones to come.

I miss you, Mum.

 

 
tawnyajean.wordpress.com/

☕42 Momma of 5 🍍Cali 🍕Eat My Emotions 🦄Unicorn 🤓Nerd Introvert 👻shakomomma 💎Health Coach

The Road to hell

is paved with the pieces of you.

todaywithmvkayy

fit, fun, fabulous

Blog Voyage

So, two girls walk onto a plane...

Social Vignerons

The World of Wine's Got Talent

MomUncorked

an empty nest lifestyle blog

Grate Bites

My WordPress Blog

Bumbling In Burkina

Follow my endeavors to sweat professionally for 2 years. And teach math.

Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life.... no matter what...

From the Bottom of a Wine Bottle

Missives and musings along the way to the bottom...

The Mountain Kitchen

Cooking and Mountain Life

Wine Ramblings

French expat drinks wine, writes about it

Offtheyard's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

catherinethemessenger

Write what you [are called to] know.

Homemade Delish

With creativity and imagination you can style anything to your taste

Tasting And A Critic

Real reviews of real wines.

marriedinthemourning.wordpress.com/

Finding joy in my Catholic-working-mom life.

My Favourite Pastime

Food, Travel and Eating Out

A Call To Hands

Start Reaching.

LauraLovingLife

Lover of cooking ~ Wanting to share my adventures in the kitchen!

Foods for the Soul

sinfully healthy recipes

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

The Spirit Within

personal musings on life and its challenges

My 2 Cents

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Peanut Butter Fingers

Living a Life Fueled by Healthy Food and Fitness

the winegetter

Ramblings on wine from a German in Ann Arbor

Whine And Cheers For Wine

The Wine Experience and everything that comes along with it.

frugalfeeding | Low Budget Family Recipes, UK Food Blog

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Gleeful Gourmand

Being grateful for everything in my life.... no matter what...

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food...cooking...eating....tools - What works, and what doesn't!

%d bloggers like this: