Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Quilting while Waiting

I took two little doll quilts to the hospital waiting room to keep my hands busy without being on an electronic device .

A little project to pull out or put away as the mood (or opportunity) strikes.

It's a good thing to have a hobby that requires no electricity or battery,  is productive, quiet, and portable.  I highly recommend hand sewing. (I've tried knitting and crocheting, and hated my results.)

Quilting time is praying time when you're a praying person. Which I am.

Waiting for a cardiac surgeon to come out and tell you how things went with your husband is a long wait.  Prayer is essential. Quilting is optional. But when you can do two things at once, it's great.

Unfortunately, I hated the binding job I did on those two quilts, so I won't show them till I've redone them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Got L: Now for M, N, O, P

I'm pretty sure that M would stand for "Mmmm, I don't think so. Writing 4 posts in one day?" N is for Not Happening.  O is for Only Four People Read This Blog Anyway, I Think.

Or M could be for My Weekend was More than Full with a Women's Retreat. N could be for  the Nervous Energy I used in  Saturday's skit. O could be  Oh Good, Roommate, We Agree We Need Sleep More than a Campfire and S'mores.

Or, to stick with the theme of hubby's surgery for the A to Z Challenge,  I could do a very quick recap of the things I was originally going to make into full posts.

M would have been for Marriage. Suddenly after 29 years I was thinking that we were just getting started in this love journey. The years had gone by too fast. I wanted to grow old with him, not just to middle age. I wanted the joy of being grandparents with him. I wanted to celebrate his retirement and then we'd do some traveling. I wanted to capture all the details of his face, remember the color of his eyes, feel the strength in his hands, keep hearing his voice in more conversations. I didn't want the marriage to end on the operating table.

N was for the Nurses. Hat's off to them!! Two things I must include would be:
1.  Ashley was our favorite.  We had her for three days. On day 1, she was chipper and
sweet, professional but down-to-earth. Day 2, chipper and sweet. Professional and down-
to earth.  My husband asked her on Day 2, "Are you always like this? I thought maybe
on the first day it was because I was the new kid on the block, but you're always so cheerful."
She giggled and said it was her personality, and she loved her job. Day 3 we were convinced. God bless her!
2.  Male nurses are a far different breed from female nurses. One small example: the way
they make a bed and give the patient an extra blanket. The females would take the fresh sheets and get the "hospital corners" just so. Fluff the pillow. Help hubby into bed from start to finish. Gently lay a blanket over him and tuck it in at the feet. The one male nurse , on the other hand?  Polar opposite. Yanked the clean sheets, shoved the corners under, did a quick swipe for more-or-less straight results, offered  Paul help into bed,  but presumed he was okay on his own (he needed more help as the chest does a lot of work when you're trying to lie down). Then he didn't offer a blanket; I had to ask.The male nurse then said, "Oh, sure" then snapped one open and practically tossed it willy-nilly onto the bed. Like he was a frat brother or something.  It wasn't bad, just different.  Made me smile at the difference in the sexes when it comes to nurturing.

O would have been for Operation, had I posted in full. But I'll talk about the results later.

The serious talks we had from November (when we consulted with the surgeon) till January 5th (the date of surgery) completely refocused us. What had been minor was now unimportant. What had been major was a little less important. And what we had dared not face before was now inevitable. We drew closer.  We discussed what we had avoided.

POA --Power of Attorney. The legal stuff we had been too afraid to face in our younger days was now not so hard. Our three grown kids were each responsible to be appointed POA if we needed. All three are good with finances, two are professionals in financial fields and understand the lingo.  It's wonderful when your choices are "good, better, and best" in a weighty matter.

We are so thankful that all of our kids and daughters-in-law get along well and there's deep trust that they will stick together and not fight over who gets what we're we dead and gone. None of them wanted our "stuff" when we asked about specifics. Maybe that'll change but they all, right now, are minimalists. They aren't attached to material things. To me, that is so gratifying. They have such confidence that God will provide for their every need. They are not big spenders but are savers. They are generous. They love to be together. They are hospitable. They value people. What  a blessing!! I can't overstate that enough.

We chose a POA from among them, and they agreed it was a good choice.   We chose a guardian from among them for our youngest son. He's 14 and we asked for his input. He was insightful and mature about it. Decisive, too.  So that choice was also easier than I imagined.

So writing our wills was relatively painless. POA, executor, guardian--all those terms that I had emotionally shunned when all our kids were minors--weren't scary anymore.

Talking about end-of-life  medical stuff was MUCH harder.  We gathered for a family pow-wow with our four kids one Sunday afternoon to discuss all the legal issues.  The most painful part was medical directive. What IF Dad died in surgery? Did he  want the DNR order (Do Not Resuscitate) ? Heroic measures? Resuscitation but nothing heroic--just food, water,  oxygen, morphine,  but no more interventions? That part was hard to talk about, but necessary, and certainly having Paul choose what HE wanted, and telling all of us at the same time so that there was no question about it later, gave me a peace. He opted for the middle ground --revive/food/water, but let him go if there was no quality of life.

Well, this post was just about 4 days long. But at least this is the last sentence. I didn't mean for it to be as long as a last will and testament!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Loeys-Dietz Syndrome

Letter K  of the A-Z blog challenge has been excused from my alphabetic posts for good reason: my daughter came home from Florida last night and I was busy all day prepping, worked in the evening, and stayed up  from her 10:30 PM arrival till after midnight consoling her. Blogging was not important.

But that brings us to the Letter L...

In case you're wondering, the genetic disorder is called Loeys-Dietz Syndrome. It was named for the two main physicians who researched for nearly 20 years before isolating the gene responsible.

My husband's side of the family (and all the offspring) have had the "privilege" of being seen directly by one of those researchers-- Dr. Harry Dietz , of Johns Hopkins University.  I say "privilege" because--well, being a test subject in studies of a connective disorder that has proven fatal in the family isn't exactly enviable.

My kids remember having echocardiograms, "wing span" tests, eye exams, poking and prodding in their palates, bending every which way while trying to remain modest with a hospital gown on, and
hearing they might have to put raw spaghetti up their noses. They had their skin pulled on, their feet measured, their ears bent (literally), their kneecaps rattled, and on and on. My daughter says it felt so invasive, that it was the beginning of her hating to visit any doctor.

That being said, to have the head of genetics at this world-renowned hospital looking at you--not just your file or your films--is indeed a huge blessing. He is a genuinely caring person who never made any of us feel rushed or stupid or annoying. When I asked, "What do we do if we ever get to an ER and need to relay information about this rare condition to them in a hurry?", Dr. Dietz handed me his card with his cell phone number on it.  "You have them call me any time, day or night, I'll take care of it."

It really doesn't get much better than that.

The family has actually been treated like VIPs in the genetics department at Hopkins.  Don't be jealous, but to say we're a big deal there isn't far from the truth. In fact,  they were calling the syndrome by our last name before Dr. Dietz and Dr Loeys (of Belgium) renamed it for themselves.

Essentially, because of Loeys-Dietz Syndrome,  my hubby had to have the cardiac surgery which I'm blogging about in this A-Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just breathe

I found myself holding my breath quite literally between November and January. It was completely subconscious, but became almost a habit.  Deep in thought pondering the "what ifs", I had to remind myself to exhale. And inhale all the way.  Is this normal or common?

"Take every thought captive ," scripture says. I'd have to swap a thought like "I'm too young to be a widow" with "Jesus, you will never leave me or forsake me ."

Another thought would be how big this house would feel with just me and my son in it. Big and quiet and full of memories.  Lonely, scary, overwhelmingly big.

Breathe....he's not dead! Be thankful for how capable he is, and tell him. "Encourage one another while it is called Today," I'd remember. And I got much better at expressing my gratitude to Paul for how handy he is and quick to fix things around the house.

Another recurring thought made me panicked: I couldn't be a single mom! No way!  But God would swoop into my mind and say, "My grace is sufficient for you."  

After awhile, it seemed as if this exchange of negative thoughts with God's eternal promises was coming more easily. It occurred to me that my thinking on scripture should be like breathing.  Take it in deeply, let it out. Of course sin will always interfere this side of heaven, but I can make conscious decisions throughout the day to think on Him, the Breath of Heaven.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Indelible Words

The morning of surgery,Paul had a vicious headache and of course, had had nothing by mouth since midnight, which didn't help matters. But the headache, he admitted, kept his mind off what was coming.

When we first got to Hopkins and registered at o'dark thirty, we had some time to talk, just the two of us. His head hurt badly, so I stayed mostly quiet, but I did ask him, "When they take you back to meet with the doctor and anesthesiologist,  who do you want back there? Your brothers and me? Just me? Me and the boys?"

"Just you and the kids,"  he said without hesitating.  For a split second, I felt bad for his brothers who hadn't seen him since the day before. I thought it might be good for them to see him  again before he "went under the knife" since they probably wouldn't see him alert the rest of the day.

But he was forthright. Decisive. I respected that because I know the need for privacy and protection of my priorities when I'm the patient. You need an advocate, a representative, a trusted caregiver. "Immediate family" after you have children puts them before your family of origin.

Out in the waiting room, we were beyond blessed to have all of Paul's brothers, a sister-in-law,  later two nephews show up to support us.  I was at complete peace.

Our youngest son  Joel (then a month shy of  turning 14) had chosen to go to school that day. He wanted to "not have to think about it as much," he said. Wise call.  Our daughter was in Florida.  She was in constant communication by text. We felt her presence and prayers.

My older sons and a daughter-in-law went back with me. We kept our voices low because of Paul's headache. The boys each prayed over their dad, which --I gotta say--choked me up. Such godly young men of strong character. Truly a reward after years and years of parenting in the trenches.

At one point the kids were talking among themselves, and Paul took the time to motion me close. He looked straight at me, holding my hand.

"Two things I want you and Joel to remember if ...things don't go...the way you hope:

(He held up a finger.)

  God is good .

 (Then he held up a second.)

 And don't be bitter."

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Hold Me

I wanted to be held tightly and often. To feel safe in his embrace. To smell him. To hear his heartbeat.

It was not uncommon for me to stop him in his tracks on his way to the fridge and say, "Hold me. Please?"

I reached for his hand in the car whether we were going two miles or twenty.  Our son, if he was in the backseat, would groan. "Again, Mom? Really?"  But I think he secretly enjoys the affection between his parents.

For most of the interim between scheduling the surgery and actually going through it, I had tremendous peace and seldom cried.  I had such peace,  peace that only God gives. And crying is cathartic, and certainly not the antithesis to peace. It's just that I didn't feel the need to cry very often.

Three times was all I remember crying before surgery.  The first time was when we sought our pastor's counsel and he asked me how I, as Paul's wife, was holding up.  Instead of saying, "Fine," I reached for Kleenex as salty tears ran down my cheeks. "It's hard," I said. "I don't want to lose my husband."

The second time was at our Thanksgiving table. Our tradition is to have each person express five things they're thankful for. Well, I had barely said "Paul" before the lump in my throat gave way to hot tears.

The third time was the day before surgery.  Our daughter, who had come home from Florida for a two-week Christmas break, had returned that morning. I deeply wanted all my birdies under my wing for the big event, but she had to go back, and she had said everything she wanted to say to her daddy.
I was feeling emotional.

Paul and I were standing in the living room and I threw my arms around his waist.  With a small, shaky voice I said, "Hold me, honey. I'm scared."

"Not a bit! I'm ready. I'm not looking forward to the pain afterward, but I'm not at all scared--"

"I said I'm scared!"

We both laughed. A simple misunderstanding broke the tension but not the hug.

"Oh, I thought you were asking me if I was scared."  He stroked my hair and held me a little tighter.

"I love you so much!" I said.

"I love you, too."

Friday, April 08, 2016

Glued His Chest Back Together

Yep, my post for "G" in regard to the theme of my hubby's heart surgery is GLUE.

Pardon my first world ignorance, but I had no idea that surgery and glue could be used in the same sentence. I mean, when a doctor practices his craft, I'm not picturing Elmer's  in his hands.

Neither of us thought to ask how Paul would be sewn up on the OUTSIDE when it was all over. I assumed stitches, and was okay with that. But as we found out after the fact, the aorta was sewn up with stitches, the sternum was put back together with wire, and the skin on his chest was glued shut.

I joked, "Honey, if you come unglued, I'll come unglued, too!"

Turns out the glue is a medical grade Super-glue type stuff. That's as technical as I can be without googling and linking and all that.

I've never seen a better looking scar, either. Clean and straight.  And nothing to be removed or to have fall out!

What will they think of next?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Fatherly Feelings

When I asked him what he was most afraid of when facing heart surgery, my husband said, "It's not death. If I die, I'll be in heaven. And if I live, I live."

He paused and gathered words to express deep emotion.  "My biggest concern is for you and the kids. Mostly the kids, because I know what it's like to live without a dad at their age."

His dad died in 1992 at the age of 68. A sudden, massive heart attack.   Paul was only 26--younger than our oldest son is now.   Gone was Paul's earthly hero. No more conversations. No more watching the Orioles together. No more showing off his kids--and oh, how Dad loved his grandchildren. No parent left to lean on in hard times. No one to call when the plumbing acted up. No dinners to have together or restaurant tabs to fight over.  No Christmases, Easters, or Thanksgivings with his dad at the table.

Paul didn't want his own children to experience adulthood without their father. That was more troubling to him, I believe, than leaving me a widow. We had the conversation a few years ago about remarriage if one of us should die.  We've given each other our blessing to do that. We only had that conversation once. Once is enough.

One of the things that was most attractive to me about Paul when I met him, and first started getting to know him, was how fatherly he was. He wasn't looking for a girlfriend. He was looking for someone to create a family with.   In fact, when he proposed to me, he asked, "Will you be my wife and the mother of my children?"   (Unbeknownst to him, those were the exact words my father used to propose to my mother in 1961 !)  In his heart, Paul was already desiring children. He is such a natural with babies, energetic with toddlers, creative with kids, wise with teens, and happily helpful to our adult children.

 He didn't want death to deprive them of what he has missed terribly for almost 30 years. His prayer was to live to be there for his kids and to enjoy the fun of being a grandfather someday.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Ear for Guitar Music in the Hodgepodge and A to Z Two-fer

My A to Z Challenge entry is combined with the Wednesday Hodgepodge today. I've been talking about my husband's heart surgery as  a theme of sorts. For the letter E,  let me just say that he has an ear for music, and I love his guitar playing. Before his surgery, I often got secretly choked up whenever he would start strumming a familiar tune. I know beyond any doubt that I would miss his music terribly and don't know that I could ever sell his guitars. His hands have been all over them, each guitar having a unique and beautiful sound. 

1. What does retirement mean to you? Are you planning for it, not thinking about it, looking forward to it, or dreading it?

Retirement means not having to work for someone. It means hanging up the hat that comes with a mandatory schedule and pleasing a boss in order to keep the paycheck coming. It means having more choices about how you spend your time, what you give yourself to that isn't necessarily tied to earning money. We are planning for it. My hubby has heard that the people who adjust best to retirement don't retire from something, but they retire to something. Something meaningful, a new adventure. He thinks about retiring every day, but is still at least five years from it. I'm not sure I'd know what to do if he was around all the time every day messing up my rhythm--haha!   

He wants to retire to building and selling guitars. A lot of personal satisfaction and a little cash.
But no boss.

2. It's International Guitar you play? Does anyone in your family play? What's a song you especially like to hear played on the guitar or a favorite song featuring the guitar?

Speaking of hubby and rhythm, what  a perfect segue to the answer to this question. He plays guitar very well.  I don't play at all. He has a small collection of guitars, and one of our spare bedrooms is now called the Guitar Room. It's also an office, but our daughter decorated it just for him one weekend when we went away for our anniversary! Guitar theme all the way. 

There's  a piece he plays that's my favorite called Bouree in E Minor, by Bach.  If I die before he does, I want him to play it at my funeral. He plays it more slowly than it's written, which I prefer. ( Shhhhh....Don't tell Bach I said that.)

3. What's your comfort food?  

I have a few: mashed potatoes, cereal, rice pudding, donuts.

4. What's one activity or area of your life where you absolutely never procrastinate?

Absolutely never procrastinate? Those three words and "I" might absolutely never be found in the same sentence. I'm going to say it's cleaning the lint trap in the dryer after every load. I'm kind of OCD about that. I've heard horror stories about dryer lint catching fire and the thought scares me to death.

5. Who does the grocery shopping in your house? Does your local store bag the groceries for you or is it a do-it-yourself kind of place? Do you like someone packing your groceries?

We both grocery shop. I hate it, he likes it (or doesn't mind). Our local stores will  bag the groceries unless you say otherwise. I prefer to bag groceries myself because so many baggers just don't know the importance of 1) separating glass jars from each other  2) not putting cleaning supplies with vegetables   3) a good weight to keep bags (or my arms) from breaking . I have a system . I organize things on the conveyor belt in the way I want to bag and unload them.  Don't mess with my system!

Have I just said way more about grocery bagging than anyone cares to read?

6. What's the coolest thing you've seen in nature?

Day after day, it's the sunset. No two alike. God's infinite color palette and His way with a celestial paintbrush positively take my breath away sometimes. This one was somewhere between South Carolina and Florida when my girl and I were driving  to St. Pete in late November. 

7. Share a favorite quote about home.

"Home is a place I've never been."  --said by a man named Dave from our old church, whose house burned three days after Christmas one year  (when an unattended, open pillar candle fell over on the dining room table).

He and his family made it out alive, unharmed,  they were able to rebuild, but in the year that they were homeless, Dave realized afresh that this world is not his home.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Have I announced on here that my sister is expecting her second baby?  Little one is due four days after my birthday in August!

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Don't You Dare Ask THAT Question

Choosing the best surgeon for your operation is always at the top of the list when you have time to choose. That is, except in an emergency, you have time to research your options. You have tons of questions, especially if it's a life-or-death procedure like this.

Living in northern Maryland,  we are only an hour away from the best hospital in the world--Johns Hopkins. We count ourselves extremely blessed. Given the names of the top three recommended by Dr. K, one stood out: Dr. Cameron.  After all, he had performed the surgeries of Paul's two older brothers and a nephew.

Since those happened 26, 20 and 7 years ago, and the men are still alive and kickin', we had no reservations about him.

Three weeks later, in early November,  we were sitting in his office. And by sitting, I mean playing with our phones for a solid hour and a half waiting for him because Dr. Cameron is a very busy man, who clearly takes all the time his patients need for a consultation. I never have trouble waiting for a doctor if I know him or her to give me the same length of attention.

While still alone and waiting, Paul and I went over our questions together to make sure we'd thought of everything.  How exactly is the surgery done? How long does it take? Recovery time? Medications? Can he save the valve? What about time off work? Exercise?

I told him I was going to ask about sex, and he gave me that look. The look of boyish embarrassment, trying not to smile,  chin down, eyebrows up, eyes riveted on mine as if to say "don't you dare."

"What?! Don't give me that look! He said bring all your questions! That's one of mine!"

Paul shook his head in that "what in the world am I going to do with you?" way of his that I find super charming. (My sister-in-law calls him a recovering Catholic.)

Dr. Cameron came in at last.  Mid-60s, I guessed, balding, confident handshake,  gentle voice,  twinkling eyes, a humble demeanor, an ever-present smile, and a well-starched shirt. I liked him. Yes, I do like a man in a well-starched shirt!

He began explaining the procedure with a drawing. Remove about 3 cm of the enlarged, stretched out, weak, aortic root (which is on the south side of the heart) and replace it with a synthetic one. Could he save the valve? That was Paul's burning question. "Possibly. We won't know till we're in there, but we'll sure try. If there's any doubt, we'll go ahead and replace it. These days we use ..."

I thought he said "Kell valve".

 "It's natural tissue they've found that's closest to the human heart valve, " he continued. "Lasts about 10 years and you don't have to go on blood thinners."

"Natural?" I asked. "Where does it come from?"

"From cows,"  he stated, smiling, but not condescending at all. (But he must've thought I was  dim.)

"Oh,  COW valves, "  I repeated, in my lightbulb moment. "I thought you were saying Kell valves--like something synthetic named for their inventor. "Need more cow valves!" I blurted out.

They chuckled in spite of themselves.

Dr. C said that the label of  "ticking time bomb" was not quite accurate.  (It was a description used by a pediatric cardiologist who'd been the first doctor to read the echo. To her credit, she is used to doing surgeries at obviously much smaller aortic diameters.) He did agree that the medical team unanimously agreed that surgery was necessary, though.  Between now and next summer, he counseled. The timing was up to us--and the availability of this doctor who travels internationally to medical conferences when he's not in the OR.

What a relief. We had time to gather more information, more counsel, get some necessary things in order, think through our options.

Our appointment wrapped up with my hubby saying, "As I recall, Doctor, you play guitar?"

"Yes, that's right. Good memory!"  That started a "whole 'nother' conversation, as they say. Put my strumming man completely at ease talking about guitars, music, old rock bands, collections.

Dr. Cameron sat forward on his chair, about to get up. "Do either of you have any other questions about the surgery or anything else?"

"I have one more."

Paul shot me the look again.

"What about sex?" I asked.

With a wink Dr. Cameron replied, "I'd prefer you wait till you get home."

Monday, April 04, 2016

Casting out Fear

When my husband was told by the doctor (I'll call her Dr. K)  who read the echo report that he was "a ticking time bomb" with an enlarged aorta, and advised surgery very soon,  we sought additional counsel immediately.

As Christians, we started with prayer, asking God to make it clear to us when, where, and how to proceed with everything that accompanies such a weighty diagnosis.

In the past couple years, I have been so keenly aware of how much God loves me that it has changed me. If you'd known me four years ago, you would've characterized me as an anxious, fearful person. Uptight. Nervous. Unable to really relax. Sometimes had bouts with insomnia for inexplicable reasons.

While I've been a child of God for 39 years, and known that He loved me, I didn't feel loved for most of  my adult life.  My perception was faulty--and I had done an awful lot of navel-gazing and rehearsing my sins and trying to measure up.  I was convinced that somehow my performance affected His love toward me. It was a lie I gave into.

What does that have to do with my husband's heart surgery? Everything.

Because if I didn't truly believe that I could trust that God loved me no matter what, I couldn't believe that I could trust Him.  You can't really believe that someone has your best interest at heart if you aren't sure if they love you. And if you're not sure of that, it causes tremendous fear. You start thinking that you have to have all the answers, and you've got to plan for every possible outcome, and you just never rest inside. You have no peace when you believe everything depends on you.

Outwardly I wouldn't have admitted that was my mindset, and I actually didn't realize I was functioning on that belief until three years ago. But it affected my whole life. It certainly colored my prayer life.

I only say that to say I didn't understand another verse:"Perfect love casts out fear."  My take on that is that believing His love for me is perfect because He's perfect and he delights in me the way happy parents delight in their children. We love our children because we love them because we love them.
Same with my Heavenly Father. He loves me because He loves me because He loves me.

Utterly convinced that His perfect love is deep inside me and above and beneath and all around me, I could not be afraid. His perfect love is like that for my husband and children as well. I was not afraid. Concerned, yes. Afraid, no.

Perfect love casts out fear.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Bad News

I've decided to use the April  A to Z Blogging Challenge to finally write about the experience that changed our lives for the better. It happened in January, but I'll offer backstory for the sake of my non-regular readers. 

Whenever I had time or energy in the midst of the event to sit and write about it, I'd end up staring at a blank computer screen,  the feelings too strong for words.  Too much effort, I told myself. 

I didn't want to write fluff for the sake of keeping up the blog, either. Hence, the virtual silence. 

But I'm ready now to tell the story, piecemeal.  It might or might not be chronological. Flashbacks have a way of creeping into my daily thoughts, as they do yours, I'm sure. I'll let the letters of the challenge guide me.


The evening was like any other in our house after dinner. I was settled into my recliner with the computer, and my husband was stretched out on the sofa watching TV and playing solitaire on his tablet. 

"I have to have heart surgery," he said, interrupting his game. 

I jerked.

His tone was almost nonchalant, but I have learned that my man delivers some of his heaviest news with a monotone.  He used that tone in October of 1985 to tell me his brother had died  One year later, 20 days before our wedding, he called and told me his mom had died just hours after we had visited her in the hospital. 

"Heart surgery?" I asked.  "Is that what you said?"

"Yeah. I saw a cardiologist today about my echo results. She said I should really strongly consider heart surgery. Her actual words were, 'you're a ticking time bomb.'"

"But I thought your number was only up from 4.8 to 4.9 and they don't do anything till 5.0, " I replied.  

 "They used to, but they've been seeing dissections in the lower numbers," he informed me.

The "numbers" refer to the diameter of the aortic root.  Normal is 2.0-2.2. 

The cause of his brother's death at age 33, and mother's death at 58, as we found out from autopsies, were identical: ruptured aorta.  We needed answers. What causes that?  Were they coincidental or was there a link? Sudden death is devastating enough, but add a mysterious cause and it adds to the grief. Would there be another in the family? If there was any way we could get warning,  we wanted to know.

Genetic testing ensued for all members of his family. The syndrome, they found, was widespread. All the surviving brothers and my husband showed classic signs. Including the fatal flaw: an enlarged aorta. His two brothers and a nephew (the son of the deceased brother) ended up needing cardiac surgery when their numbers hit 5.0.  

That was 26, 20, and, 7 years ago.  They all survived and are still alive and well. 

Now, despite all the "preparation" we had, I wasn't prepared to face heart surgery when my husband was the patient. My precious, beloved, 54 year old husband. 

The bad news hit me in the heart, too.



Friday, April 01, 2016

A is for Again

I wasn't going to do this.


In fact, I just decided a half hour ago--which would be 10:30 PM EST--to jump in and join the A to Z Blogging Challenge.


I'm nothing if not impulsive.

My blog has all but shriveled up like a plant without water. Or sunlight. Or soil. I've got roots, though, in this blog, as I've been here since 2006.  The blog's not dead, but it could  once again use a drink or two or 26.

A drink a day for 26 days in April. No drinking on Sunday.  (I heard that somewhere.)  I'm looking forward to writing again.  To feeling the sunshine on the page. To weeding (just kidding) by editing.
(That might be akin to my real-life weeding, which happens semi-annually at best.) But I will weed again.

My theme is: Again.

You can expect to read things that I have been mulling over or experiencing, or laughing about, and writing about those things again. After a quiet few months, it's time to revive this blog. Again.
I might even post pictures of things I'm making and doing.

And once again, I hope you leave a comment. Talk to the gardener before you walk away, please.

Please start by reminding me how to put the letter "A" badge on the top of this post! Links aren't working, so I'm guessing it's operator error.   Again.