More Stray Thoughts…

This is the first weekday in about a week and a half where I haven’t had to go somewhere during the morning. I thought that would provide for a busy day getting things done at home, but instead I’m tired and a little fuzzy-brained and fighting off a headache (due, I think, to the air pressure system). So It seems like it would be a good day for a ramble. πŸ™‚

I had my post-op visit with the cardiologist yesterday. I had been discouraged because I’ve still felt a number of heartbeat irregularities, mostly minor, but some longer, one as long as 12 hours. The most recent long bout was five hours last Friday. They had told me to expect some irregularities, that the surgery itself could cause some. But in my mind there shouldn’t have been that much, and certainly not 5 1/2 weeks out from surgery. But the doctor was cheerful and said everything was “just the way we like to see it.” I see him again in 2 months. I’m still not feeling particularly cheerful about it myself, but I am a little more hopeful, especially as the last couple of bouts were considerably milder than usual. I’ve been told that occasionally people have to have an ablation for atrial fibrillation more than once, and if we have to do that, we’ll deal with it, but I sure hope the one I had will take care of it.

Part of the longer healing process is due to the fact that what they’re trying to accomplish with the ablation (as I understand it) is creating little teeny spots of scar tissue along the nerve that’s causing the irregular beats, either by heat or freezing – not so much as to impair heart function, but enough to disrupt that particular nerve’s signals. So not only does all of that need to heal and settle down after surgery, but then it takes time for the scar tissue to develop – longer than I had thought, evidently. I had thought everything would be “done” by this visit, which led to my discouragement at still having issues.

So we’ll see where we are in a couple of months. I also got some much-needed clarification about what to do if I do have a longer bout of afib at home – how long to just rest at home and when to see a doctor.

Well, enough of that.

Other thoughts that have been accumulating recently:

  • My own little corner of the Internet has been on the quiet side recently. Some blog friends have taken a hiatus for the summer, or for a longer spell, for various reasons, and some are only posting sporadically.
  • Is anyone thinking of doing Write31Days in October? The idea is to choose a topic, any topic, that you’ll blog about every day of October. I’ve done it a few times before with 31 Days of Missionary Stories, 31 Days of Inspirational Biographies, and 31 Days with Elisabeth Elliot. I enjoyed doing them, and they were well-received. But so far I don’t have anything in mind to write about this year, and I don’t know if I have the “umph” to do it. We’re coming off of a busy time between the surgery, the eclipse, the family stay-cation, and “birthday season” (several family birthdays July-September). I was just thinking today that it was nice to look forward to nothing major on the schedule in October. But I am praying about it. Let me know if you’re planning to participate.
  • Recently I’ve seen a few comments on social media judging people for not commenting on particular issues. Seriously, people. Not everyone wants to participate in every online debate or wants to strew their thoughts on every topic, particularly divisive ones, all over the Internet. Plus, some issues are too big for the 140 characters of a tweet. I’d rather have a serious, in-depth, informed, and thoughtful discussion on a issue than trade snarky sound bytes. So don’t take media silence as indifference or lack of caring. I’m not saying it’s wrong to discuss divisive issues on social media, but, honestly, a lot of those discussion that I see are more about scoring points for one’s own side and portraying the other side as stupid or dangerous or uncaring than they are about shedding any light.
  • I never saw or heard of leaving two spaces between typed sentences until fairly recently, and I’ve wondered where that came from. I never had a typing or keyboarding class, so I have wondered if it’s taught there, or if it is a regional thing. I just looked it up, and this article delves into the history and tells why it is considered wrong. This one says it’s especially a no-no in writing proposals.
  • Do you ever go back and edit old posts? I’ve discovered some of mine have some photos missing or broken links. I used to use sources like Photobucket to upload and share photos so I didn’t use too much of my free storage space provided by my blog. Though Photobucket is still in business, I think some of the others must have gone out of business over time, because I’ve discovered some old posts with a place for a photo, but no photo there, and nothing happens when I click on the icon that is there. Plus there are some broken links here are there, where the post or site I linked to is no longer online. It would be a lot of work to go back through 11 years worth of posts to fix that kind of thing, yet I hate to leave posts like that, especially the ones with missing photos. So I’ll probably correct them as I come across them and have time. I know for some of you, whenever I do anything with an old post, it shows up in your feed as a new one. I apologize for that. I don’t know how to avoid it. If I start fixing old posts on a larger scale, I’ll try to let you know.
  • Do you find yourself living back in the “dark ages” in some respect? For me, it’s the price of clothing. I can accept that the price of gas and food changes, even though sometimes I am horrified by it. But I still find myself not wanting to pay more for clothes than I did back in college – almost 40 years ago. A lot of times I can still find clothes at those prices, or close to it, but it’s getting increasingly harder to do so. I recently upped the price range I consider acceptable, but there are some clothes catalogs I immediately toss because they are so ridiculously high.
  • ‘Tis the season…for corn mazes. Have you ever done one? They do not sound like fun to me. πŸ™‚

Well, that’s probably more than enough rambling for one day.

Like many of you, we’re still praying for those still dealing with the effects of the hurricanes on the east coast and the wildfires in the west and for the help they need, financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

Advertisements

Eclipse 2017

When my husband first told me he wanted to view the eclipse on Aug. 21, which would involve traveling an hour or so away, I wasn’t all that excited. He has always had an interest in astronomy and has even bought and sold a few telescopes on Ebay. I always figured I could see much more detailed photos of the stars and planets online. Plus the eclipse day was my birthday – a milestone birthday.

But – this event meant a lot to my husband. And it was a “once in a lifetime” event. So plans were made.

The closer we got to event day, the more concerned I became about traffic, bathroom facilities, crowdedness, etc. Jim originally wanted to go to Sweetwater, but the news made it sound like that was a prime area that would be overrun.

We decided to try to get to Maryville a little before lunchtime. We took a picnic lunch (Mittu made some great wraps, orange slices, carrot sticks, and cookies and we contributed chipsΒ  and drinks) since we didn’t know where we would end up and what eating places would be nearby. Our goal was to go to the park by the library there. We ended up in a grassy area next to a government building (I forget what it was) by the library. We saw a few cars and people there and pulled in — and someone came out from the building telling us we couldn’t park there. BUT, she didn’t say we couldn’t park on the property, just that spot, and she very nicely directed us under the (shaded!) awning of the drive-through lanes they weren’t using. That was just a few steps away from a large grassy spot. A few people were set up there and on the library grounds, but it wasn’t crowded. Jim and the boys set up the canopy, a table, lawn chairs, and…a telescope and screen. πŸ™‚

IMG_0332

IMG_0335

Jason accompanied Mittu and me to the library to see if we could use the restroom there. I didn’t really think they would let us – but they did! Jim had brought a portable camping potty just in case, but we were glad to have access to an inside, nicely kept up bathroom.

I was very pleasantly surprised that, at least in our experience, all the businesses and employees we encountered were very welcoming and accommodating, deciding to roll with the situation rather than trying to keep non-customers away.

We had a couple of hours to wait after eating, and the grassy areas filled in, but were never uncomfortably crowded. Several people stopped by to look at Jim’s microscope set-up and even asked to take pictures of it. I took pictures at intervals until “totality” – here are just a few:

IMG_0336

IMG_0339

IMG_0341(1)

IMG_0348(1)

Mittu made Timothy an expanded set of eclipse glasses, using one of the ones we bought and gluing it to a paper plate.

IMG_0343

At one point clouds covered the sun for several minutes, and people cheered when they moved away.

Of course, the 15-20 minutes before the total eclipse were the most dramatic. As it started getting darker bit by bit (someone said as if by a dimmer), we noticed it was a different kind of darkness – no sunset colors. And around the horizon looked light, with the darkness above. As it got “nighttime dark,” the cicadas started chirping and other stars were visible. People cheered and oohed and aahed. I tried to get a photo of the dark circle of the moon with the white ring of the sun around it, but in the photo it just looked white.

And then, as the process started to reverse, people started packing up to go. Jim’s traffic app helped direct us back ways that were a little less crowded, and we got home hot and tired and got pizza for dinner.

I had wondered about the “once in a lifetime” part of it since the next one is due in 2024 and the last eclipse was in 1979 – which was still in my lifetime! But I looked that one up, and apparently it was only visible in the US in the Northwest – I’m not sure about other countries. So maybe “once in a lifetime” doesn’t mean only one total eclipse occurs every 70 or so years, but it only occurs in a particular location in that time frame.

In a few other interesting eclipse articles:

The International Space Station photo-bombed the eclipse.

The umbra, or shadow of the moon, as seen from the International Space Station.

Eclipse photos from Greenville, SC.

Eclipse photos from Eastern TN.

Jason filmed Jim’s screen and then put a time-lapse video together. They had to move the screen and telescope a few times to accommodate the sun’s progression, and the time it went blank was during the cloud cover.

So in the long run I was glad I had gone. It was neat to actually be a part of the experience, both with my family and even with total strangers. The day could not have gone better, and all the issues I was concerned about turned out to be wonderfully taken care of.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Β Psalm 19:1.

Stray thoughts

A few weeks ago in the store, a family of three was across from me in the aisle, and the wife asked where the Shake N Bake was. The man quoted from the old commercial, “It’s Shake N Bake, and I helped!” The wife and 10-or-so-year-old son looked at him like he was crazy, and then he saw me smiling and said, “She remembers!” I’m glad I could help vouch for his sanity with his family. πŸ™‚

Am I the only person in the world who is nauseated by the scent of lilacs? I was delighted to learn that one of our bushes outside was a lilac bush a few years ago, and cut off some for a vase inside – but had to throw them out. Someone recently gave us a flower arrangement with a few lilacs in it, and first I had to put it in another room but eventually had to pull them out of the arrangement and throw them away. I was so disappointed.

I was telling my husband there needs to be a word or phrase, something like “friendly fire,” for problems you pick up at the hospital that aren’t directly related to your original issue. Like bruises from ivs and blood draws – I always look a little beaten up after a hospital stay. I also have anΒ  allergic reactions to some adhesives, but this time was the worst ever with the dressings plus some patches on my back. With this surgery they have a more extensive kind of heart monitor, and I had three big (four-inch across) patches on my back for that plus the outline of a pad of some kind I must have been lying on that all left itchy welts (I called them my crop circles). We’ve been using lots of Benadryl cream! Then, I had been on my back for so long, and my bottom took the brunt of that pressure, so that my sciatic nerve got irritated or inflamed or something, making it extremely painful to sit down for the first few days. Thankfully all of that is much better now.

So it hasn’t been the cozy, restful recovery I was anticipating. πŸ™‚ I’ve been doing more sleeping than reading, which is probably for the best. Years ago when I had my first surgery, Jim came across an article about an experiment in which they put healthy, fit football players under anesthesia to measure the effects of the anesthesia itself without an underlying illness, and it showed that it took about six weeks just to get back to normal from having that in their system.

Monday night I had a scare with an episode of afib that lasted about 7 hours. I had been told that the ablation itself could cause some arrhythmia, just from all the poking around they did in there, and it takes about a month for all of that to heal and settle down. I had been feeling some ripples and spasms and am on a couple of anti-arrhythmia meds, but when this went on and on, I was discouraged that the surgery hadn’t worked (I was told sometimes they have to do it twice). I wanted to go to the ER, but my husband felt we needed to talk to my doctor directly – with having just had surgery, there might be something they’re supposed to do or not do. Everything resolved by morning, and when I finally heard back from my doctor’s nurse, she reassured me that this was normal and didn’t mean the surgery wasn’t successful. So I was still a little dismayed that it happened but not as much as I had been.

But otherwise I do feel I’m gaining back strength and getting a little more back to normal every day.

July 27 was my eleven-year blog anniversary. Usually I mention that in a special post and sometimes even have a giveaway, but this year it completely slipped my mind until WordPress sent me a notice. I guess I was a little distracted with the upcoming surgery. πŸ™‚ It’s interesting how the blog world has changed over the last decade. I miss some old blog friends who are no longer online. But I am extremely thankful for you who are reading! I’ve made some lifelong friends online! I’m still amazed that people read here, but I am grateful, and your care and comments mean the world to me. Thank you.

Save

Home From the Hospital!

I mentioned last week that I was going in for an atrial ablation to try to fix my atrial fibrillation. That was yesterday morning. Everything went well, and God helped me have peace beforehand.

I did have one setback in the hospital. They don’t stitch the little incisions they make when they thread their instruments from the groin area to the heart. You have to lie flat on your back for 6 hours so that they can heal. But when they had me stand up for the first time, one of the incisions started pouring blood – so I had to lay back down while they put pressure on it for several minutes and stay flat again for several more hours. So – that was no fun. But when they had me get up the second time, everything was fine.

Jim’s off the rest of the week, and he is a wonderful caregiver. Jason and Mittu brought over three meals, so we’re set for dinners for a few days. I am looking forward to reading and relaxing and maybe watching some TV along the way while I recuperate. πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for your prayers and your notes!

Upcoming Procedure

Some of you who have read here for a long while may remember that I’ve had bouts with irregular rapid heartbeats for a number of years. At first I was diagnosed with SVTs, supraventricular tachycardia, with sudden jumps to 200 beats a minute that wouldn’t go back to normal without an ER visit. The last few years the symptoms have changed to smaller versions of palpitations with my heart feeling like it’s vibrating or quivering, usually for just a few seconds at a time, but sometimes longer. When I first shared this with my doctor, he said that it’s not unusual for “middle-aged” women to experience palpitations. But when they seemed to be increasing, I spoke to him again, and he sent me to a cardiologist. They had me wear a monitor for a couple of days and I was again diagnosed with SVTs.

From the beginning they mentioned a surgery called an ablation in with they go in through the blood vessels in the groin to the heart and “zap” the nerves causing the problem. I learned later that what they actually do is burn very, very small areas to create scar tissue to disrupt the nerve signals. I didn’t want to do anything invasive at first and tried to control it with medication, but it was getting so bothersome I finally decided to have it a couple of years ago. Some of you may remember my profound disappointment when, after putting off this surgery for years and looking forward to finally fixing the problem, they were not able to complete the procedure. With an SVT ablation they do an EP study of the heart first (for which I was awake – no fun), and that showed not SVTs but atrial problems, which required a different kind of procedure, which they evidently couldn’t do while they were in there. I distinctly remember being told that the other procedure was more risky and they only did it if the patient was at a higher risk by having diabetes and blood pressure problems, but I was later told that was a misunderstanding.

I was told that the atrial tachycardia carried a higher risk of blood clots, so I was put on a full dose of aspirin. I didn’t seriously consider an ablation for this because of my understanding that it would be riskier.

Then in June I had a bout of atrial fibrillation that lasted 13 hours and ended up spending the night in the ER. At the follow-up visit with my cardiologist, when he brought up the possibility of an ablation, I brought up what he had told me about it being riskier. He said that somehow we had miscommunicated on that and it’s actually better to do it without the risks of diabetes and high blood pressure. He said that one good thing about the ER visit was that it documented the afib: when the previous attempted ablation left me in afib, they weren’t sure it wasn’t triggered by something they did while they were in my heart. So the EKG readings they did while I was in the ER confirmed that this is what I have. He wants to do a cryoablation which uses cold rather than heat.

I wrestled a couple of days with whether to go through with this kind of ablation. They always have to tell you the worst possible scenarios (damaging the heart unintentionally, blood clots, even death. Yikes!) But that long afib event in the ER with its own possibility of causing blood clots scared me. I figured if there was a risk without having surgery and a risk with surgery, the better course would be to have the surgery and fix the problem.

So that is scheduled for next week. I’m purposefully not naming the date here because I don’t want it generally known when I won’t be home – even though it probably wouldn’t be a problem, you never know who is reading what’s online. πŸ™‚ If you’re someone I have communicated with previously and you’d like to know, feel free to email me.

I was telling a friend on Sunday that there’s a song I hear on the radio sometimes that says something like, “If your heart keeps right, if your heart keeps right, there is joy and gladness in the darkest night.” My mind has been converting that to, “If your heart beats right…” πŸ™‚ I am praying that this procedure will indeed help my heart “beat right.”

I you feel led to pray, I have some specific prayer requests:

  1. That this date will stick if it is God’s will. It was rescheduled by the doctor’s office once already, and that involves my husband having to rearrange his time off and rearranging care for his mom – besides prolonging everything.
  2. That this procedure will fix the problem this time.
  3. They said some people have to have the procedure done twice. Please pray that it will get taken care of with just the one.
  4. I have to go off the medications that we’re trying to keep this in control with five days ahead of the procedure, so please pray that I won’t have any serious afib (or blood clots!) during that time. One wrinkle here is that when I was in the ER, one of the medications they used was something that stays in your system for a couple of weeks, and my cardiologist said they couldn’t do the surgery while that was in my system. So not only do I really not want to go through another ER experience, I don’t want that to cause a push back for the surgery.
  5. That I won’t have any blood clots or negative side effects.
  6. That everything will go well with my husband’s mom at home. Though we have a hospital just minutes from us, the one we have to go to is 30 minutes away. At the closer hospital it’s easier for Jim to just run home for a few minutes and check on things or turn her or whatever. All of her needs should be covered and she’ll have someone with her at all times, but just pray that all goes well with her.
  7. That God will give me a calm and peaceful heart, mind, and spirit about it all.

So far I am approaching it much more calmly than I did the last procedure, though I do have moments of “nerves” about it all. It’s like when you have to give a speech, and you’re as prepared as you can be and have given it all over to the Lord, but you still have that butterflies in the stomach feeling. I just keep giving it back to the Lord and reminding myself that He is in control and reminding myself of several people who have told me their dad/uncle/grandfather/friend/etc. has had this with no problems.Last time I was greatly helped by reading Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of RestΒ  by Ed Welch in the time leading up to the procedure – I may look back over my notes or over passages from that this time.

I’ll have to be in the hospital overnight and avoid lifting or anything “strenuous” for several days. Jim is taking off the day of the procedure and a few days following. I’m getting some housework done ahead of time, both to keep myself and my thoughts occupied and also so hopefully nothing will be needed besides the everyday meals and dishwashing.

That’s probably much more than you wanted to know. πŸ™‚

I appreciate your concern and interest and especially your prayers. I’ll let you know when it’s over and how it went.

More stray thoughts

The last time I did a post like this, someone suggested I should make it a regular feature, especially considering my blog name. πŸ™‚ I don’t know if it will be a regular feature, but it will probably be an occasional one. So here are some of the things running through my brain lately, from the trivial to the more serious:

  • Have you seen those pans for brownies or bar cookies that look like a maze and are designed so that all the pieces come out like edge pieces? The edge pieces are my least favorite – mine tend to get much harder than the middle. But I guess some people like crunchy brownies – or are better bakers than I am and don’t get the outside edges too hard.

 

 

  • I’m working on a poll about blogging that I hope to have up in the next week or two.

 

  • Have you seen that there is a trend now to stop capitalizing pronouns referring to God? This post explains some of the reasons for it. I admit the middle part of it is too technical for me, but I do understand some reasons for it: those pronouns are not capitalized in the original manuscripts and even some of the oldest translations, like the KJV, don’t capitalize pronouns referring to God. Still, it has been a tradition for years, one that many people (myself included) see as respectful of God. And I think it does help clarify a sentence to have He vs. he (especially if you’re referring to another he and him in the same sentence). It’s not a hill to die on, but I hate to see it changed.

 

  • One day last week I was trying to get something done on the computer while doing laundry, and I was getting aggravated at having to get up every 30-40 minutes to change loads. Then I got ashamed of myself. We have about the easiest way to do laundry of anyone in the world. A day or two later I saw photos on Facebook from a group in our church on a short-term medical mission trip to another country. They’re in an area of dire poverty where whole families live in the city dump. I’m sure the people love to have access just to clean water. A washing machine and dryer would seem like pure luxury to them. So while it would probably help to rearrange my tasks so that I am not doing something require a steady train of thought on laundry day, I hope I remember to count my blessings.

 

  • I think I have mentioned that I have a medical procedure coming up called an ablation which is supposed to take care of the atrial fibrillation I’ve been experiencing. It was originally supposed to be next week, but Monday I got a call from the doctor’s office that they needed to move it back into August. I was so disappointed. I’ve been counting down the days to getting the procedure itself over with, not to mention being relieved of the afib. I don’t know if doctor’s offices realize what it means to a patient when this happens – not just the disappointment and living more days with a condition that needs surgery, but rearranging of days off for Jim and care for my mother-in-law. I know it can’t be helped sometimes, and I’m reminding myself that ultimately God is in control and there may be a good reason I shouldn’t be in surgery on the original day.

 

  • This is the latest card I’ve made, this one for Jim’s mom’s birthday earlier in the month.

I hadn’t originally intended to use both the rickrack and the lace trims. I put the rickrack on first, and it was thin enough that the plaid could be seen through it, and I just didn’t like how it came out. But I didn’t want to take it up and risk tearing the paper underneath. So I was going to put the lace one over it, but it wasn’t quite big enough to cover it completely. In fiddling with it I got the idea to layer them a bit, and I really liked how that turned out. The yellow and white scalloped circles were done with two different hole punches.

  • Speaking of Jim’s mom, some of you have said that you like to hear how she’s doing from time to time. There have not been any major changes, but we continue to see a gradual decline. Her hands have been contracted for some time, and though her caregiver keeps her fingernails cut short, now we have to keep a small sock rolled up under her fingers so that her fingernails don’t dig into her palms. One finger is contracted to the side and looks like it would be painful, but the only time it seems to bother her is when it is washed. She was having physical therapy for this a few years ago, but it was all pain and no gain, so it was discontinued. In addition, the times when we can tell from her eyes that she recognizes us and is following what we’re saying is less and less. It’s heartbreaking to watch in many ways. Jim has described it as watching someone die one brain cell at a time. But she seems calm and content, and we’re trying to keep her as comfortable as possible until God takes her home.

That’s about it for now. Yesterday I enjoyed lunch with Melanie downtown, but I’ll say more about that on tomorrow’s Friday’s Fave Five.

Father’s Day Cards

I thought I’d show you the cards I made for this last Father’s Day.

This was for my step-father, adapted from an idea seen on Pinterest.

IMG_0238

I love that it’s simple but still makes for a nice design. The buttons were made on the Cricut machine. I toyed with using real buttons and thread, but I was afraid they might fall off in transit.

This was for my son. My grandson likes super-heroes, so I thought it was fitting for a super-dad. πŸ™‚

IMG_0239

This was from one of the Cricut Design Space’s “Make It and Take It” cards, but I tweaked it a bit from what they had – they didn’t have the “Super” at the top, and their whole card was the size of the blue frame.

For my husband, I wanted something to do with grilling, so I searched the Cricut Design Space’s files for “grill.” Both this grill and the little man showed up, so I used both of them. The design kind of evolved as I worked. I cut little snippets with scissors in the “grass” so it would look like grass blades. I started to stick the figures in the grass, but we grill on our patio, so I used the textured-looking grey paper for the patio. I was going to put “Well done” at the top (a play on the idea of well-done food and well-done fathering), then decided I would put that in a cloud. I had everything centered in the middle but thought the cloud looked odd centered right over the figures as if it was about to rain on them. So I moved it to the side and added another for balance, cutting them both out freehand (I had typed the “Well Done” and printed it on cardstock, along with the inside sentiments of the cards). Then the bottom corners looked like they needed something, so I looked up flowerpots. This flower design actually had a couple of other layers on the flowers and leaves, but they were so tiny they didn’t come out well. I decided the flowers looked ok as is.

IMG_0240

That was it for this time. I think everyone liked their cards. πŸ™‚

(Sharing with Made By You Monday)