Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I was expecting a good outcome after the x-rays of my ankle last week, but that didn't happen. After three months my ankle is still showing only minimal bone growth.  The doc feels my age has much to do with it.  Seventy year old bones don't heal as fast as fifteen year old bones.  At this point I'm just hoping that it heals eventually and I'd like for "eventually" to come soon.  The doc wants to see me again at the end of February for more x-rays.  In the meantime I have to continue wearing the ankle brace.  I was fitted with a knee brace that's supposed to give me some support when walking downhill which I do a lot of here. Once the weather clears up a bit, I want to try walking the road to see how far I can get.   

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Augmentin, Tessalon

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Just another little bump in the mountain road.  The winter crud (killer sore throat, nasal and chest congestion, and almost constant coughing) kept me from physical therapy this week.  After more x-rays this coming Monday, I'll know if there's been any significant bone growth in the ankle.  The doc will probably want to x-ray my left knee also since it's painful when walking down hill.  By now I expected to be well on my way to navigating that one mile run up the mountain road, but right now I'd be a happy camper if I could walk it. 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Friday, November 30, 2012


After just two weeks of physical therapy with about 4 more weeks to go, my ankle is showing much improvement in the range of motion.  I still have to wear the ankle brace, but I can walk like a normal person without gimping or limping.  I'm very limited to what shoes I can wear so I was happy yesterday to be able to point my left foot enough to get both it and the brace inside my wide topped cowgirl boots.  Hey, I'm kickin'!

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Friday, November 16, 2012

DAYS 246-255 Recovery

The good news is that instead of wearing the big black boot, I'm now wearing a brace to support my broken ankle.  Although the brace is much much smaller I still can't wear most of my shoes and getting my foot into boots is out of the question.  I'm starting physical therapy this week working toward increasing my range of motion and stimulating bone growth.  The not-so-good news is that after two months there is only very minimal bone growth, but hey, it's heading in the right direction.  

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C, Bromelain

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Yesterday, while planning my day, I forgot to allow time for the stupidity factor.  Normally I don't get excited about medical appointments, but I was very eager to see the orthopedic surgeon to determine if the broken bone in my ankle is on its way to healing --- or not.  I'm so ready to kick this big black boot that lost its super hero powers weeks ago.  It's plodded through red soil garden beds, stepped in duck doo-doo, had diesel fuel spilled on it, let's just say it's not as pristine as it was 2 months ago.

I arrived right on time for my appointment yesterday (here's where the stupidity comes in) only to be told that I came to the wrong location.  I drove all the way to Asheville when the doctor was at a satellite office in the town next to where I live.  My previous appointments were scheduled for this more distant location because that's where the emergency room people sent me.  When I learned there was an office closer to mine, I requested my appointment be changed to the closer location.  Yesterday, by the time I could have driven back to the other town, the doctor would no longer be there.  Now because of my stupidity (forgetfulness?) I have to wait another week to determine the outcome.  

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My last visit to the orthopedic surgeon showed no bone growth in my broken ankle so we've done some research and concluded that the blood thinner warfarin/Coumadin I have to take increases the risk of bone fracture. I avoided taking this medicine for two years, but after developing clots in my lungs after the open heart surgery, the surgeon and hematologist said I had no choice.  This puts me in a dilemma and I feel I'm playing Russian roulette.

A study done six years ago at Washington University School of Medicine, a very respected research institution ranked #3 in the nation, found that elderly (that word makes me cringe) patients taking warfarin have an increased risk for bone fractures.  Another study showed that taking warfarin for longer than one year led to a 25% increase in bone fracture. It's not clear if this affects women as well as men. 

Warfarin was initially introduced in 1948 as a poison for rats and mice and is still used for this purpose today.  In the early 1950s it was found to be effective and relatively safe for preventing abnormal formation and migration of blood clots.  It was approved for use as a medication in 1954 and is the most widely prescribed oral anticoagulant drug in North America.

This drug interferes with vitamin K's role in blood clotting.  Vitamin K interacts with a protein vital for bone formation and affects bone strength as well.  Fractures occur when the bones become so weakened that minor trauma causes breakage.

I had bone density tests done last year and five years prior.  The first showed I had great bones which I attribute to all the milk I drank as a teen.  I hated milk, but when others were drinking Cokes I stuck to my milk because I thought it would help me get boobs.  Well, it didn't do much in the boob department, but certainly my bones benefited.  The results of the test done a year ago showed I was still in the normal range, but closer to the low end of normal.

I'm required to take warfarin, not only as an anticoagulant to prevent blood clots and strokes, but mainly because I have two genetic blood disorders that cause my blood to hyper coagulate. This can cause clots which can lead to strokes.  So far I've met with the psychiatrist, the hematologist and next week will see the orthopedic surgeon and the cardiologist in an effort to come up with some alternatives. Some newer drugs are available, but since they aren't approved specifically for my condition no one wants to prescribe them as "off label" because of the fear of lawsuits. No doctor is going to give me "permission" to stop taking warfarin, once again because of the lawsuit thing.  So I took myself off this drug two weeks ago, thus I feel I'm playing Russian roulette.  Right now I'm going the natural route with vitamins, supplements and diet. 

There is no definitive answer because with the blood thinner my heart will be protected, but at the risk of broken bones and without the blood thinner I'll have strong bones, but at risk of blood clots that can cause strokes. 

Meds:   Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Glucosoamine, Calcium, Garlic, Aspirin, Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamin C

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Days 204 - 219 Recovery

I almost feel human after getting two full nights sleep in a row.  The throbbing pain from my broken ankle went up into my leg.  Because it's been more pronounced at night, getting beyond three hours sleep has been hard to come by the past four weeks.  Two rounds of antibiotics finally wiped out the skin infection and most of the swelling is gone, so I feel I've gotten over the hump. The only pain I feel now is centered in the ankle area caused by the break and the surrounding torn ligaments. 

I received discouraging news yesterday, though, when the orthopedic doc said x-rays showed that so far the bone shows no evidence of fusing.  Age is a factor in bone growth.  Fifteen year olds can have bone fusion in just a couple of weeks. Since I'm a very long way from fifteen, I'll need lots more time and patience.   He wants me to return after another four weeks for more x-rays.  In the meantime I need to keep my ankle iced several times during the day until the swelling is completely gone.  I also need to do some ankle flexing exercises a couple times a day to help restore full range of motion.  Looks like there won't be any tutus and tights in my future.  This will probably kill my dream of becoming a ballerina. 

I won't be kicking my big black superhero boot anytime soon.  The doc wants me to continue wearing it all the time except in bed.  I'm becoming more proficient in walking in it and only use crutches when going up and down stairs.  Right now slopes are out of the question as they scare me too much. Since most of our property is slopped, I can't get up to the barn or down to the duck's pen.  I'm confined to the flat area where the cabin, the flower beds, and the greenhouse are located.  This will have to do for now.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem,  Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Calcium, Glucosamine

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Thinking I was turning into a pain weenie and because the pain and swelling was increasing day by day, I went back to the orthopedic doc last Friday.  The real source of my pain is not so much from the broken bone, but from a skin infection that goes from my toes to my knee, the area covered by the orthopedic boot.  It is very much like the continuous searing pain one endures with shingles.  On a 1-10 pain chart I'd have to give it an 8.  It could easily claim the 9  or 10 spot, however I reserve 10 for the birth of a child or the death of one's child.  I save number 9 out of respect for the intensity of pain that a man feels when getting kicked in the balls.  Of course not having this equipment, I have no first hand experience, but what I witnessed when being the kicker appeared intense, although short-lived.   Now that I think about it, maybe ball kickees shouldn't get the 9 spot after all since the pain is so ephemeral.  Sorry guys, this means I have to trump your 9 and give you the 8.     

I'm supposed to keep my damaged leg elevated at night and from time to time during the day.  The doctor tripled the dose of the pain med but it sill doesn’t do much to numb anything during those times when I lower my foot from an elevated position.  I'm taking an anti nausea med along with the pain med. So far it's doing a good job of curtailing this side effect, however the two meds are causing me to spend more hours sleeping than awake each day.  I'm looking forward to the antibiotic kicking this infection, so my body can focus solely on healing my  broken ankle bone. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Promethazine, Percocet, Kelex, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Calcium, Glucosamine

Monday, September 17, 2012


It hasn't been a full 4 days since my ankle injury and already cabin fever has set in.  Being such an outdoors person, it's killing me that I can't get outside to take advantage of this prime time in autumn to work in the gardens, tend my animals, maintain our property, paint some buildings, and party in and around Asheville. I don't have to sit here all day staring at the same four walls because I do have plenty of indoor projects to do, but I was saving those for the winter season when working outdoors isn't an option.  Things don't always go as planned, and sometimes I feel they NEVER go as planned, so I'll put a smile on my face and carry on.  If I can bring on the inspiration, I can use this valuable time to focus on writing and who knows, maybe finish the two books I was working on at the time of our son's death.
Fortunately the bone in my ankle was only broken and not displaced, so surgery wasn't required.  I'm wearing a big black Transformer super hero looking boot, but I'm not feeling very super nor very heroish since  I'm still in quite a bit of pain. The pain meds are either ineffective or they cause nausea leading to vomiting.  I can't afford to lose any of the eight pounds I've gained since heart surgery.  I've been hobbling around on crutches the past three days.  Crutches get me around and maybe once I master them I'll be able to do more, but for right now stairs and maneuvering around our mountain side is a big no-no.  The biggest drawback to crutches is not having a free hand so I can't carry much of anything from place to place.  Using them aids me in maintaining my upper body strength and is a practice in balance.  After bashing my arm and head into the countertop yesterday, I'd say I have to do a lot more work on perfecting the balance thing. 

Once my ankle heals, the docs tell me it will be a full two months, I'm going to be more wary of those slippery slopes. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012


That one mile road up the mountain just got longer and farther away.  I fractured a bone in my ankle today while walking along a slope on our property.   We just returned from the emergency room.  Those slippery slopes can be hazardous to one's mobility.  l have to see an orthopedic surgeon at Southeastern Sports Medicine first thing tomorrow morning.  How pathetic since I wasn't doing anything but walking.  I wasn't even wearing my stilettos! Fortunately I still have one good leg since the broken ankle is on the same leg as my bummed knee.  I took the ER nurse's crash course, Crutches 101.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I haven't abandoned my goal of a one-mile run up the mountain road to claim my "Rocky Moment," but working toward it has been delayed somewhat due to pain and soreness in my left knee.  I've been fortunate that I've never had joint or knee problems before.  I'm right handed, but I must be left kneed as it's my left knee that does most of the work when I'm climbing and supporting myself on our rock wall.  I've been working hard to remove the out-of-control weeds from under and between the rocks and then planting English Ivy. The project is about 3/4 complete, but it too is being delayed while I give my knee a rest.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA,

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

DAYS 167-169 Recovery

It's been six months since my open heart surgery and I'm feeling wonderful this week, better than I have in almost 1 1/2 years.  My blood pressure is still high, but everything else is going great.  Even my energy is coming back and so far no side effects from the new meds.  

Yesterday I met with the trainer and yoga instructor at Pardee Hospital's Wellness Center, which is adjacent to their Cardio/Pulmonary Rehab Center.  She worked with me on the exercise machines, in addition to teaching me some floor and bench exercises with the free weights.  She was amazed that I could do 140 lbs on the leg press machine.  I'm sure scaling the rock wall along our driveway while pulling the weeds that grow between and behind the rocks, then planting English ivy there is helping to strengthen and build muscle in these skinny legs of mine.  I must have strong legs in order to ride horses again. 

Here's a photo of the some of the wonderful staff at Pardee's Cardio Rehab Center.  They did a fantastic job of taking care of me from mid April until the begging of this month.  I saw them three days a week and they were an important part of my recovery.  I miss them. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Resveratrol  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

DAYS 160 - 166 Recovery

These are the reasons I never ever wanted to take Amiodarone, however, I've been taking it for 13 days and so far have experienced none of the following:                                     
Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome when using Amiodarone:
Abnormal taste or smell; constipation; decreased sexual interest; dizziness; dry eves; flushing of the face; general body discomfort; headache; loss of appetite; nausea; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting.
Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur when using Amiodarone:
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); blue-gray discoloring of the skin (especially of the hands or feet); burning, numbness, or tingling; chest, jaw, or arm pain; confusion; cough; coughing up blood; decreased coordination; decreased urination; eye discomfort; fainting; fast or slow heartbeat; fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; involuntary muscle movements; joint pain; muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness (especially with fever or unusual tiredness); nervousness; new or worsening irregular heartbeat; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; severe or persistent dizziness; shortness of breath; skin reaction similar to serious sunburn; sluggishness; sudden, severe nausea or vomiting; swelling of the hands, ankles, legs, or feet; symptoms of liver problems (eg, dark urine, loss of appetite, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellowing of the eyes or skin); symptoms of thyroid problems (eg, feeling of being unusually hot or cold, increased sweating, mental or mood changes, numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, menstrual changes, swelling of your neck); trouble walking; uncontrolled shaking or tremor; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; unusual weight changes; vision changes (eg, seeing halos, blurred vision, loss of vision); wheezing.
This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur.

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Resveratrol  

Sunday, August 12, 2012

DAY 159 - Recovery

Fourth day on Cardizem and so far no side effects and IT'S WORKING!!!  My heart rate has been below 100 all day (quite an achievement with my always racing heart) and the best news of all, the beat is in rhythm - no fibrillation!  Now the next thing to conquer is the high blood pressure. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Resveratrol  

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DAYS 148-158 Recovery

First the good news.  Last Friday after working my butt off since mid April, I became a graduate of the Pardee Cardiac Rehabilitation Wellness Program.  Just as on my first day of the program, I had to walk laps around the gym.  How easy it was this time with my body working with me instead of against me.  Just to prove I could do it, I ran the last lap.  There were high-fives all around, afterward one of the nurses and I boogied to "Hit the Road Jack" blasting on the sound system.  I felt jubilant.  The average improvement for program participants is 20%.  My improvement was 69.3%.   Although there were participants with ages in the 50's and 60's, and one young woman in her early 30's, most were oldsters like myself with some well into their 80's.  Yes, it sort of blows your image of the typical gym with buff young bodies populating the place.  I saw no six-packs, but some were sporting beer bellies likely due to too many six-packs.  Many have much more to overcome than just heart problems, such as diabetes, obesity, inactive lifestyles, worn out and painful joints, arthritis, and lung problems from a lifetime of smoking.  I felt fortunate that my challenges were simpler.  I can't say enough good about the Pardee rehab program.  The medical staff couldn't have been better.  Knowledgeable, caring, funny, and enthusiastic, they made each session feel like a party.  While operated by the hospital, being in a separate location in town, I felt like I was going to a cool gym rather than a medical facility, thus eliminating the medical-patient victim attitude. 

Well, now for the not so good news.  The very next day, last Saturday, my heart rate, which is usually on the higher than normal side anyway (called tachycardia), averaging about 105 to 110 when at rest, soared to the upper 140's and low 150's and remained that way all this week.  In addition to my heart beating so rapidly, literally pounding, it's very irregular.  I thought all this was behind me since I had surgery over five months ago.  I took some leftover beta blocker that causes me to have such shortness of breath I can barely walk across a room without gasping.  It did bring the numbers down a bit, but only for a few hours after each dose.  Obviously that wasn't the answer.  I did vagal maneuvers such as holding my breath and bearing down like childbirth, face planting into a pan of ice water, forced coughing and gagging and putting pressure on my eyelids.  Of course I didn't do all these at the same time and of course I couldn't do them without laughing.  Some worked, but only briefly.  I saw my local cardiologist on Monday.  He confirmed that my heart was back in artrial fibrillation and my heart rate was out of control.  He tried carotid sinus massage, another vagal maneuver that requires being hooked up to an EKG machine while pressing with his fingers deeply into my neck.  This didn't work.  He put me on a different drug that takes about three weeks to become effective.  My husband's brother, a cardiologist in Nashville, felt I needed to get my heart rate and blood pressure down ASAP.  I went to Spartanburg SC on Thursday to see the cardiologist I worked with pre-op and he put me on an additional drug that works faster while also keeping me on the slower acting one.  It must be working because today my heart rate has stayed below 140, but it's still irregular.  Although I hate taking medications, I was relieved that he had a game plan that didn't include rushing me to the hospital as happened several times last year.  If this med doesn't do the trick then I'll have to go for cardio conversion shock treatments.  This was done unsuccessfully last October.  At that time my heart stayed in rhythm for only 15 hours and I was left with some nasty burns on my back and chest from the electric paddles.  The Cox Maze III ablation I had in February is considered the "gold standard" treatment for A-fib (atrial fibrillation).  It is done only if there is another serious problem with the heart, in my case a dis-functioning mitral valve, because it requires open heart surgery.  Claiming a success rate of at least 96%, leave it to me to fall into that other 4%.  It may be necessary to have another ablation done, but it will be through a catheter in the groin or through incisions in the sidewalls of the chest.

I had big plans for this week in the work toward my "Rocky moment," but the docs curtailed that.  They don't want me to do any strenuous exercise until my heart stabilizes.  I did take my little duck and my goat for a walk up the road to the top of our property this afternoon.  Once again Olive, the goat, is learning to walk on a leash and she did much better this time.  When we stopped so she could graze on crab grass and weeds along the road, I enjoyed inhaling the sweet scent of the honeysuckle growing wild around us.

Meds:   Coumadin, Amiodarone, Cardizem, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Resveratrol  

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

DAYS 126-147 Recovery

A week ago I would have summed up my condition in one word - exhausted!  Exhausted everyday and in every way, but this week, thanks to the encouragement of a dear friend who has become my cheerleader, I can truly say that everyday in every way, I'm getting better and better.  I still go to cardio-rehab through one of the local hospitals three days per week. I started the program in April and will graduate Friday.  While there I push my body to the max toward rebuilding strength and endurance.  The guys give me a hard time telling me that I'm making them look bad.  At home I do pretty much the same thing.  Last week I was wheeling a pickaxe to break through our rock laced soil in order to dig an 18-inch deep trench to plant shrubs.  My strength and muscles are slowly returning, but my endurance has a way to go.  I do something, then rest, do something, then rest.  This means I'm slow but given enough time I do get stuff done.  All this work to improve my body comes at the expense of my mind.  My minimal mental energy doesn't accomplish much more than writing the grocery list, thumbing through magazines, and playing word games with my husband.  Even "doing" Facebook seems overwhelming to me.  After completing the rehab program this week, I'll still be working out at a gym a couple of days a week through the Silver Sneaker program supported by my health insurance company, but my physical focus will be running, walking at first, one mile up that mountain road in an effort to reach my "Rocky moment."  My mental focus will be to catch up on long overdue answers to emails, messages, letters, and this blog.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine, DHEA, Resveratrol 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

DAYS 109-125 Recovery

Like parts wearing out on an aging automobile, an aging body's needs escalate as the years pile on.    During the past couple of weeks I've been making the rounds of the offices of a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy and colonoscopy, a periodontist for a dental implant, and a neurological surgeon to determine the source of neck and head pains.  These areas have needed attention for quite some time but had to wait until my heart was in better condition.  I'm hoping for the day that I'll have all my body parts in good working order and can put an end to medical appointments crowding my calendar.  Is that too much to hope for? 

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12, L-Arginine 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

DAYS 101-108 Recovery

I didn't expect to suffer some hearing loss as a result of heart surgery, but surprise, surprise.  I'm blaming the heart surgery, perhaps it was the medications or the anesthesia or whatever.  Or maybe it was just time for another part on my seventy-year old body to start wearing out.  I first noticed a difference in my hearing back in March.  The evening before I was due to be released from the hospital all sounds and voices, especially those coming from outside my hospital room, suddenly became extremely loud as if they were being amplified.  The next day when my husband came to pick me up, I was wondering why he was speaking so softly.  Being the adapter that I am, and to a fault, I caught myself trying to read his lips.  I then realized my ears weren't working to full capacity.  Being optimistic, I figured my hearing would eventually return to normal.  It's been 3 1/2 months, but it doesn't seem to be improving.  I no longer hear vehicles coming up our road, the washing machine thrashing away in the mudroom when I'm in the other part of the cabin, and other sounds that those around me notice.  When out in the pasture playing shepherd with the goats, they will often spook to a sound I am totally unaware of.   It's a strange feeling because I don't know what I'm not hearing.  I'd say it's only a mild hearing loss so maybe it's not totally a bad thing.   

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DAYS 92-100 Recovery

While wearing the heart monitor 24/7 for 30 days was irritating and sometimes a nuisance, I can think of far more worse things that some folks need to wear and for far longer, for example a poop bag or artificial limbs. 

It feels good to no longer have electrodes stuck to my chest with gooey stuff, no more dangling and tangled wires hanging from my body, no more carrying around the sensor and the designated cell phone that transmitted constantly and needed to be recharged several times during the day.  It also feels good to be off the heart drugs and not have to fight side effects caused by the medications. 

The most frustrating part of the whole heart monitor ordeal was that I was monitored for less than half of the 30 days that I wore it.  The cardio-surgeon specified a 30-day monitoring, but when the cardiologist's technician set up the enrollment he mistakenly ordered it for only 14 days.  

The heart monitoring gods in Chicago left me a message this week saying that since I had already sent back their equipment, they'll send me another set so I can finish my 30 days.  First of all, I have not returned their original equipment since I was waiting for the cardiologist to determine if he had gotten enough info, and secondly, there's no way I'm wearing and dealing with that gear for an additional two weeks.  My heart is being monitored three days a week while I'm at cardio-rehab, so if it does go back into atrial fibrillation, surely they'll detect it there.

Not wanting to be overcharged for this monitoring since I received only 14 of the 30 days of service, I contacted Life Watch and was told the cost was the same. Believing they were scamming me I checked with a couple of other sources and was told the same thing.  This makes no sense at all.  I'll never understand medical billing.  Though I probably wouldn't be too wrong in thinking they charge whatever they can get away with.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne, Garlic, B-12 

Monday, June 4, 2012

DAY 91 - Recovery

With yoga this morning and working out at cardio rehab this afternoon, I feel I'm on a roll.  It's beyond bedtime and I'm still loaded with energy.   The best news is that my blood pressure dropped down to an acceptable level this evening.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

DAYS 89-90 Recovery

Huge increase in energy and stamina this past week.  If I continue at this rate I'll be able to get back to my "normal" in the near future.  I received a couple of good suggestions for natural means to lower blood pressure.  I'm returning to yoga classes starting tomorrow. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne    

Friday, June 1, 2012

DAY 88 - Recovery

Blood pressure scary high today.  It's been creeping up there since I've been off the beta blocker and diuretic.  Rehab nurses also concerned about my heart rate.  They'll send a report to my cardiologist.  Natural methods to lower blood pressure and heart rate didn't work before but I'm going to give it another try.  Anyone have any suggestions or advice?  I do not want to go back on meds.  I can't handle the side effects. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin, Lutein, Hawthorne    

Thursday, May 31, 2012

DAY 87 - Recovery

Eating, one of the necessities of life, is so much more fun when the food actually tastes good.  I suppose that's where the problem comes in for so many, it tastes too darned good.  For most of these past few months eating has been a chore.  Most things were most unappetizing because they didn't taste like they were supposed to, they just didn't taste right.  For the past couple of weeks I've been able to enjoy eating again.  My appetite has returned and surely now I'll be able to pack on some pounds and enjoy doing so.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin   

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

DAY 86 - Recovery

Wow, what a day!  For the first time in almost 5 months I awoke with energy, real energy!  I didn't have to drag myself from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen with the fear that I'd do a face plant in my breakfast.  I had no desire to succumb to a couple more hours of sleep like I usually have to do.  Bright and early I walked and tended the animals then headed to the morning session at cardio rehab where for the first time they allowed me to do the standing elliptical "killer" machine.  The max time permitted was 5 minutes instead of 15 like I do on the treadmill and others.  From there I grabbed some lunch, did some quick shopping then drove to the other side of town for my grief support group.  Went back home to regroup and then headed back to town to indulge in cheap Wings on Wednesdays at my favorite Irish pub.  As usual I asked for double celery, but I deviated from my usual jerk wings to try Thai chili ones and a great choice it was.  I topped that off with a little chunk of chocolate walnut fudge from the nearby candy store.  It was all yummy, although I probably wouldn't receive my cardiologist's approval unless I could convince him that I just go there for the celery.  Life is starting to feel good again.  I hope today wasn't some kind of fluke as I'd like to do a rerun of it tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DAYS 76-85 Recovery

Going into open heart surgery I knew I'd end up with a wicked scar down the center of my chest.  That I was prepared for.  What I wasn't prepared for was coming out of the hospital with the body I expected to have when I reached 90.  Now there's nothing wrong with a 90-year old body on a 90-year old, but I was expecting to have at least a couple of decades before my body reached that level of depreciation.  With lack of activity during many of the 18 days I was hospitalized because I was on bed rest due to having blood clots in one of my lungs, my muscles atrophied into mush. That combined with the sudden loss of 16 pounds left me sporting the skin and bones look.  It would be bad enough if my skin was taut, but the texture has changed and it sags, which is quite a sorry sight.  What else could it do since it no longer has any fat or muscle to support it. 

At first I wasn't convinced I would ever have the energy and strength to do the physical work required to rebuild my body.  Now that I've been in cardio rehab for five weeks, pushing myself to work hard, I'm beginning to see results, but only in my legs where the muscles are once again becoming firm.  The rest of my body, especially my arms have a long way to go. 

Edith Wilma Connor, who didn't start working out until in her 60's, and now at age 77 is the world's oldest bodybuilder, has given me new inspiration.  I have no desire to reach the level of fitness she has achieved.  My goal is to be able to carry a 50-lb sack of goat feed uphill to the barn.  Like I said before, I don't want to end up being one of those 70-yr old ladies who lifts nothing heavier than a tea cup. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

DAYS 66-75 Recovery

I've been doing well.  Not having nausea since Mother's day, I've actually gained a little weight this week.  It's been almost three months since my surgery.  I'm still low on energy and have no stamina but I manage to get some things done little by little. 

We've been cut off from the world most of this week because our land line phone and internet services have been down.  I don't think about how isolated we are until suddenly we have no connection with the world beyond the western NC mountains.  Our cell phones don't get great reception and there are a few dead zones between the mountain peaks, but at least it gives us a back up to our land line phone.  When I first moved here two years ago, losing internet service was a frequent occurrence each and every time we'd have a storm or heavy rain. Over all our internet service has improved and despite what our son Doug claims it isn't as slow as it used to be.  The service provider calls it "medium" speed.  Hopefully someday we'll have high speed, but right now I'd settle for reliability.  

Meds:   Coumadin,  Multaq, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil, Multivitamin 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DAYS 63-65 Recovery

Having to report for jury duty Monday afternoon, I attended cardio rehab in the AM.  Nausea hit me hard and unexpectedly toward the end of an education session causing me to charge from the classroom in search of a restroom.  It hit me again in the parking lot as I was trying to leave.  It doesn't seem fair for my body to react this way without enjoying some hardy partying the night before.  Not feeling well enough to drive very far, I called my husband to meet me at one of the highway exits.   Darryl drove me to the courthouse in the next county.  I was sure I'd be immediately excused from jury duty when they saw that I was carrying a barf pan, but as it turned out I had no need to bring on the drama.  A big sign was posted on the courthouse door advising all jurors that the case had been settled out of court and there was no need for jurors this week.  Had I felt better I would have joined in with the other jurors and done a happy dance right there on the courthouse steps.

I was relieved to find that the pain I was feeling each time I took a breath was due to a strained muscle along my ribs and not fluid buildup.  Apparently when I injured my shoulder during the workout on Friday, I also damaged this area.  Both are feeling so much better today.  Once again I can take deep breaths without any pain.

Depression was overwhelming yesterday, so much so that I was planning my demise.  I cried all day from the time I awoke and into the night crying myself to sleep.   I wore sunglasses when we went to vote since I didn't want anyone to notice my crying for no reason.  Of course, after the election results came in, I had plenty of reason to cry.  I'm so glad that Darryl is so understanding and supportive otherwise I don't know if I could make it through days like yesterday. 

This morning the depression was nonexistent.  Pretty amazing since this is my first day without an antidepressant.  I awoke feeling relaxed and happy.  Ok, so I didn't look so good with my eyes practically swollen shut from all that crying yesterday.  Speaking of eyes, I still have a partially red one.  The blood vessel that broke in my eye almost four weeks ago seems that it doesn't want to clear up.  The seat belt hit me in the same eye a few days later, but all that bruising, swelling, and deep redness on the other side of the eye has totally cleared.

The cardio rehab people, who focus on the whole person and not just the heart, recently referred me to an organization that does grief counseling as part of their hospice program.  They thought it would benefit me since the grieving process for our 24 yr old son (had he lived he would be 26 now) was interrupted about 3 months after his death when our house burned with our beloved 10-yr old cat inside.  I wasn't home during the fire, ironically I was at my son's grave site.  With the fire being extensive, the insurance company "totaled" our home.  Dealing with all our material loss and that which was salvaged consumed the remainder of the year.  Three weeks after the fire I was hospitalized for heart problems.  They said I'd had a heart attack.  All of this interfered with going through the grieving process for our son.  I still carry so much sadness, and maybe I always will, but hopefully with the counseling, education, and being part of a support group that this organization provides will help me through this.  I met with them for the first time today.  There will be six more sessions.  Others there were recent widows, along with a widower, and someone who lost her fiance.  She shared a beautiful love story of their romance during college, and how they ended up going separate ways only to be reunited a couple of years ago during their silver years.  Others shared stories of decades of married love with many nursing their spouses through an array of illnesses, all eventually becoming fatal.  Emotions ranged from sorrow, to anger, to loneliness, to depression, and lack of motivation to participate in life.  It seems those who were not with their spouses during the moment of death held an even deeper and more sorrowful pain.  I feel fortunate that our son was still alive, although barely, when we arrived at the hospital.  We were told it would be only a matter of minutes.  During those precious final moments I was able to hold and stroke his arm and feel his warmth for the last time before they pronounced him dead.  I hold much comfort in that.  

Meds:   Coumadin,  Multaq, Vayacog, L-Carnitine, Vitamin D, I-Caps, Flax seed oil 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

DAYS 59-62 Recovery

I spoke too soon when I posted for Day 58.  Later that night I became more nauseated than I've ever been and lost not only my dinner but all my evening meds.  All the meds I'm taking have a side effect of nausea, but I think the main culprit is the diuretic.  I stopped taking it the next day and so far no problems with nausea, although my blood pressure continues to climb.

The 30-day heart monitor was installed last Thursday.  I have to wear it 24/7 until June 2.   They do allow me to disconnect the 4 electrodes attached to my chest when I take a bath or shower.  Thanks to more modern technology the sensor is only about 2x3 inches, not nearly as large and heavy as previous ones.  I can wear it on a lanyard around my neck or in a pocket.  With four wires attached, it is a bit conspicuous.  I must also carry a dedicated cell phone that constantly transmits information to the heart gods wherever they might be, I think it's Chicago.   If my heart behaves during this time, I'll be able to discontinue the heart medicine.

I wish I could say that I'm really feeling great, but alas these past four days have been a challenge.  I've had a killer headache in the area of my right temple that today moved to the base of my neck.  No matter how badly I feel I still drag myself to cardio rehab.  I pushed a little too hard doing the arm portion of one of the machines and I'm paying for it with a very sore shoulder that is doing its best to keep me awake at night. 

I'm being weaned off the anti-depressant buproprion.  My last dose will be Tuesday.  Being a stimulant it can cause weight loss in some people.  Unfortunately I must be one of those people and I sure don't need any more weight loss. 

I started having difficulty taking deep breaths yesterday afternoon and it continues today with a pain each time I inhale.  This scares me because that's one of the reasons I ended up back in the ICU because fluid had built up around my right lung not giving it enough room to expand.   The last thing I wanted to do today was walk the quarter mile track, but I did it anyway and made it to a mile.  Walking is supposed to help reduce fluid.  I have cardio rehab tomorrow morning so I'll share this info with the doc and nurses there to see if it needs attention. 

I'm scheduled for jury duty this week beginning tomorrow afternoon.  If I had any idea back when I received the notice that I'd be feeling this terrible, I would have applied for a medical exemption.  They may excuse me anyway since I must keep the cell phone for the monitor on at all times.  That could be a bit distracting in a courtroom.  

I look forward to the day when I can say how great and wonderful I feel.   I do hope that day comes soon.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Vayacog,  L-Carnitine, Vitamin D,  I-Caps, Flax seed oil 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

DAYS 56-58 Recovery

No nausea these past two days so I'm really stuffing myself while I can.  I met with the dietician at the rehab center on Monday.  She's working up a plan to help me to gain weight and rebuild muscle.  I had a good workout session both Monday and today despite my feeling of total exhaustion.  We went to Asheville last night.  Being out for 6 hrs about did me in.  I suppose it was because I didn't have much physical energy to start with.  My mental energy has been nil.  I can't even muster up enough energy to answer emails and letters and "do" Facebook.   Even reading is a challenge.  I've been taking Vayacog, a prescription medical food,  for two weeks.  It's supposed to improve cognitive abilities, but it seems to be making mine worse. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog,  aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DAY 55 - Recovery

Had a fight with nausea today and I wasn't the winner.  It's going to be really tough to gain weight if I can't keep food down.

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog,  aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

DAYS 53 & 54 - Recovery

These two days made up for my recent non-productive day.  Had a great workout on three machines at cardio rehab then had a late lunch at an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant in an effort to gain back some of the 26 lbs I lost since this time last year.  With Darryl's help I moved all the gardening stuff from the feed room in the barn to the garden storage shed next to the greenhouse.  This was lots of walking up and down the incline to and from the barn.  To challenge myself even more, I walked down the road to the mailbox today.  Our cabin is 100 ft higher in elevation than the row of mailboxes at the end of our road, so walking back up is no small feat.  I was slow, but I did it.  I couldn't do that before the heart surgery when my heart was malfunctioning.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog,  aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil

Thursday, April 26, 2012

DAY 52 - Recovery

Nausea stole my day.  I resorted to taking medicine for it that makes me drowsy so I spent a lot of time sleeping.  Not a productive day, however, I did not have a sore throat.

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog, Promethazine, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DAYS 50 & 51 - Recovery

Fighting a sore throat these two days.  For me a sore throat is a precursor to bronchitis so I've been using my heat treatment to fend it off.  I felt better early this afternoon so I went to cardio rehab and worked out for an hour then ran a few errands and picked up some groceries.  Probably not a smart thing since I'm feeling worse this evening.  I'll be staying home tomorrow. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, echinacea, vitamin C

Monday, April 23, 2012

DAY 49 - Recovery

I was allowed to drive my car today for the first time since the surgery.  It spared Darryl from having to take me to cardio rehab which was good because he's not feeling well.  He's been my willing chauffeur all these weeks and has patiently waited for me at more medical appointments than he cares to count.  Thank you to my wonderful and caring husband.  I don't know what we would have done had he not been retired and had this time available.  

I had a good workout in rehab.  I did a half-mile on the Rex machine and burned up the treadmill.

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil

Sunday, April 22, 2012

DAYS 47 & 48 - Recovery

It's been two months since my surgery.  When I think back to how frail and weak I was during those early weeks I realize I've come a long way in a short time.  I was bothered by nausea yesterday, but had more physical energy than previously.  Lots of energy today and not so much shortness of breath now that I'm taking a very low dose of the beta blocker.  Began taking the diuretic I took prior to the surgery that my body tolerated well.  I hope it works in lowering my blood pressure because I don't remember having any side effects with it. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Metroprolol, Triam/HCTZ, Vayacog, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil

Friday, April 20, 2012

DAYS 45 & 46 - Recovery

Instead of walking a mile on a flat plane, yesterday I did my walking on the incline of our property.   I walked down to the lower pasture and then all the way up to the top pasture and then down, down again to the woods where the pasture begins and back up.  I wasn't alone as both goats and my little duck joined me.  Since ducks aren't made for walking and being a small breed, his legs are very short so he waddled along.  My pace was slower than normal, but I did get my exercise and I had no shortness of breath.

Today was exciting because I had my first day of cardio rehab.  This is a three month program where I will attend three days per week for an hour each day.  It's like going to a very well equipped gym, except I have to wear a heart monitor and am supervised by a registered nurse who instructs, directs, takes my blood pressure frequently and monitors my heart rhythm.  I am so looking forward to rebuilding muscle and gaining fitness.

I had another discouraging setback this afternoon.  I was overcome with shortness of breath while walking a short distance from our car into a grocery store.  This was the first time I experienced this since Saturday.  The shortness of breath is the most debilitating factor of all the varied symptoms I've had.  Darryl pointed out that I stopped taking the beta-blocker on Saturday and had no shortness of breath Sunday and all this week till now.  Because of my high blood pressure I went back on the beta-blocker  Wednesday night.  You don't have to be a super sleuth to determine that the beta-blocker could be the culprit.  I need to find another way to control my blood pressure.  This time I'll slowly wean myself from this medication instead of going cold turkey to avoid the rebound effect.  To add to the problem, the antidepressant I'm taking can increase blood pressure.  Oh, how I wish I could just get off all these drugs.  They may have saved my life, but they're now killing the quality of it. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Bupropion, Multaq, Metroprolol, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DAYS 43 & 44 - Recovery

My life seems to be two steps forward and one step backward.  Yesterday was going great until the seat belt hit me in the eye, the same eye that's recovering from a broken blood vessel.  I thought it looked bad then, but now that it's bruised, swollen, and even bloodier it looks totally horrid.  I've taken to wearing sunglasses both indoors and out, day and night. Maybe I should consider wearing safety goggles. When taking a heavy-duty blood thinner, the consequences of minor accidents are compounded.  At least it's only one side of my face that will scare away mice and men, the other side looks fine.  

I did an amazing job on the stress test at the cardiologist's office yesterday morning.  I could not have done that 3 days prior, so now I'm free to drive and begin cardio rehab.  Today, for the first time, I walked up the stairs to be barn loft without any problem.  That's also something I couldn't do several days ago.

I haven't taken the beta blocker, Metroprolol, since Saturday.  I so want to get off some of these meds, but it looks like I still need this one since my blood pressure has been rising steadily ever since.  Today at 163/103 it's become outright scary so I've started taking it again. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, Metroprolol, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium)

Monday, April 16, 2012

DAY 42 - Recovery

Although I was a bit lacking in energy, it's been another good day.  That's two in row!  Darryl has turned kitchen duty back to me, once again I'm chief cook and bottle washer. It's so much easier to face food when I'm not feeling nauseated.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

DAY 41 - Recovery

What a difference a night makes!  I can finally say that I feel good, in fact, I felt better today than I have all year.  Last week I was about to give up, thinking I would never feel well again.  This morning I awoke with no chest pain, pressure or tightness, no coughing, no feverish sick feeling, no nausea.  Apparently bed rest and my sun/heat treatment (even minus Acapulco) conquered the bronchitis.  For the first time since the heart surgery food actually tasted good, even wine and chocolate.  I ate more today than I did all last week.  For the first time since September I was able to walk up the inclines on our property without huffing, puffing, gasping and holding onto trees due to shortness of breath.  I feel so much younger and optimistic about being able to enjoy life again. Of course I still look like a mini-monster with my one red eye. Where is a pirate patch when you really need one? Feeling this great physically is a big boost to me mentally.  Is it too much to ask for the same for tomorrow?

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg,  multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

DAYS 39 & 40 - Recovery

I was rejoicing because this was the first week in 2 1/2 months that no medical appointments were on my calendar.  Then I spoiled it by having to see the eye doctor yesterday.  My intense coughing from bronchitis broke a blood vessel in my eye.  I look mighty scary with one red eye.  Other than looking terrible, this is no problem and will go away by itself in a couple of weeks, but since I have macular degeneration I needed the retina specialist to make sure it wasn't bleeding behind my eye.  While in town we stopped at the mini-mall and walked a mile.  Later I spent time in the greenhouse absorbing the sun's heat to heal my body. 

Adding to my 112 lbs is not going to happen until I get over the nausea, regain my appetite and taste for food, rid my body of phlegm which I think triggers the nausea, and stop throwing up.  My clothes fit me when I was 10 and 20 lbs heavier, but now I'm lost in them.

I accomplished nothing today, which is discouraging since there's so much that I want to do, but maybe by having a full day of bed rest I'll be able to say goodbye to the bronchitis soon.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium), Mucinex, echinacea, vitamin C, Metoclopram 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

DAYS 37 & 38 - Recovery

I guess I was naive to think that recovery from a major surgery would mean getting a little better each day.  For these past two days I've been down with what feels like bronchitis.  I've already had it three other times since Feb 23 and have had two rounds of antibiotics.  It makes me feel sick and weak all over along with the coughing, phlegm, throwing up, and the pain and tightness in my chest.  Darryl's been working with me to do deep breathing exercises which were painful at first, but I really think it's helping.  Years ago when I was working in Mexico City and came down with this ailment, the doctor suggested I go to Acapulco and lie in the sun on the beach for a few days.  Well, since my bikini days are over and Acapulco is too far away, I came up with an alternative solution.  I sat in the greenhouse.  It was so wonderfully warm in there.  I felt the sun's heat penetrating and healing my body.  While I was in there I forced my weak body to assemble two shelf units. I still feel sick but better than this morning. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium), Mucinex, echinacea, vitamin C

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DAY 36 - Recovery

Except for washing a few windows and reorganizing drawers in the mud room, I didn't accomplish much today.  My whole body felt so tired, so exhausted.  Apparently I overdid it yesterday. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Monday, April 9, 2012

DAY 35 - Recovery

The depression is finally lifting.  I feel so much better both mentally and physically today.  Just as I chipped away at the greenhouse floor project and finally completed it, today I started painting primer on a section of the garden storage building.  I also "Walked Like An Egyptian" doing a mile on the grade school track.

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

DAYS 32-34 Recovery

Depression looms large these days and is lasting longer than I ever remember.  I've stopped taking Namenda, the Alzheimer's drug that was prescribed to prevent Post-Operative Cognitive Decline that is caused in many patients by the physical and mental stress of such a major surgery.  I think Namenda may be the reason I'm sleeping so much and continue to be drowsy the remainder of the day.  After it's out of my system I'm hoping I'll also have more mental and physical energy.  I've become a slacker with my walking and haven't done more than a half-mile these past days, however I did finish bricking the greenhouse floor.   

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

DAY 31 - Recovery

I'm glad I walked a mile on the grade school track first thing thing this morning because depression hit me pretty hard later in the day.  In addition the day became even more sad when I found that one of my dearest friends lost her mother.  Becoming an orphan isn't easy no matter how old you are.  This afternoon my little fluffy white Jersey Wooly bunny, Weston, died in my lap as I was grooming him.  At seven years old I knew he wouldn't be with me much longer and the last few days he became less active.  It's hard to lose a precious pet.  He was so sweet.  He loved kale and clover and could rapidly make a carrot disappear.  My little menagerie is dwindling.  I'm down to 2 goats, 2 cats, 1 duck and 1 turtle.  Animals were vital to my survival of childhood so they'll always be meaningful to me.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Metroprolol, Zantac, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, Omega-3 fish oil, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DAY 30 - Recovery

It's been six weeks since my surgery.  When I think back to how difficult it was and how much energy it took to just hold my body up during those first days at home one month ago, I've come a long way.  I was slow this morning, but I logged a mile on the track and later reclaimed my Susie Homemaker role by cleaning the bathroom.  I would have wrapped up setting the bricks for the greenhouse floor, but I ran out of bricks.  Running a mile up a mountain road won't happen anytime soon, but give me another four or maybe six months and I'll be claiming that Rocky moment.  I couldn't do it without all the wonderful support and encouragement I'm receiving from Darryl, and so many of my friends and relatives.  I thank you all from the bottom of my rebuilt heart. 

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Namenda, Metroprolol, Zantac, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DAY 29 - Recovery

Another day, another doctor.  Saw the local cardiologist today to get an EKG of my heart.  I'm thrilled to say that It's beating in perfect rhythm. Logged another mile, this time with five laps around the elementary school track.  I look forward to the day that I will be running the mile instead of walking.

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Namenda, Metroprolol, Zantac, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Monday, April 2, 2012

DAY 28 - Recovery

The cardiothoracic surgeon released me from his care today.  Dr. Steven Leyland is a skilled surgeon, yet a very humble man.  He noticed something about my mitral valve on an echocardiogram that three other cardiologist overlooked.   He had more testing done and brought in a specialist to verify the problem.  If this had been missed, I would have had a less invasive ablation procedure done to my heart, but it would not have solved my problem.  Near the end of my first week in the hospital when others thought I should be released, he sensed that something was not right.  He suspected I might have a rare genetic disorder that could cause my blood to hyper coagulate.  A CAT scan showed I developed blood clots in my lungs. He brought in a hematologist and a lung specialist.  By detecting this and taking action, he saved my life.  My local cardiologist and another in Spartanburg, SC will be overseeing the remainder of my recovery.

Shortness of breath limited my walking today.  I made a couple of treks to the upper pasture and walked less than half a mile on the track at the elementary school in town.

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Namenda, Metroprolol, Zantac, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, 2 bananas (potassium) 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

DAY 27 - Recovery

The view from my hospital room in the heart care unit was roof tops - flat ones and at different levels.  It looked perfect for a high-rise chase scene, but the only movement I saw was clouds floating by.  Inside my room was not as serene. 

Several days after open heart surgery the dressings on my chest  were removed.  The nurse remarked that it looked very good.  She said I was lucky to have a surgeon with small hands because it was the smallest incision she'd ever seen.  When I  got a good view of my chest for the first time, I almost went into shock.  If that was what good looked like, I didn't want to ever think about bad.  Had someone glued a 4 1/2-inch dirty reddish-brown rope to the center of my chest?  My whole chest was ugly.  Black and blue bruises spotted my skin.  A half-dozen sensors were stuck in random places that connected to a heart monitor.  Two drainage tubes protruded from my stomach area and wires from the temporary pacemaker were poking out.  I thought the cut would have been lower like totally between my boobs so it could be passed off as cleavage.   I had no idea the incision would start less than 3-inches from my throat.

Just as the scar doesn't look anything like I expected, the pain was also a surprise.  There was none.  How could my skin have been sliced open, my breastbone sawed and pulled apart and my heart have been cut into and I don't feel anything?  Paper cuts hurt worse than this.  Each patient was given a pretty heart shaped pillow to hold against their body to ease the pain when they'd cough or sneeze.  I used mine to prop up the portable heart monitor case that seemed a little too heavy to be considered portable. 

Even though there was no pain from the heart surgery, I still paid my dues in the pain department.  Once the blood clots formed in my lungs the pain in my right lung was constant and stabbing.  Who knew that blood clots could be so painful?   

The temporary pacemaker and the drainage tubes were pulled out and eventually the bruises faded.  Some random marks remain as does one of the drainage port incisions that, due to a fold of skin over the scar, looks exactly like a second belly button.  It's  right in line and about two inches above my real belly button.  Yeah, real cute.  Like I've always wanted another navel.   The dirty rope stuff on my incision was an adhesive that held the skin together, rather than stitches.  It started falling off after five weeks and now I'm left with a deep red line.  Thankfully it's flat but there is a small pocket of swelling where it starts at the top.  I've always thought that scars on guys were sexy, on old ladies, I'd say they look more Frankensteinish. 

Today was a step backward.  I experience total exhaustion and nausea most of the day.  I pushed myself to set a few more bricks in the greenhouse and did some potting in the plant yard.  Like yesterday I walked the incline from the cabin to the barn.  I also had a shepherd's moment when I walked the goats to the upper pasture where they grazed while I sat on the ground and took in the view and the clouds. It was very peaceful and relaxing.  

Meds:   Coumadin, Furosemide, Bupropion, Multaq, aspirin 81mg, Namenda, Metroprolol, Zantac, multivitamin, vitamin D, I-Caps, 2 bananas (potassium)