The Latest Gadget

December 13, 2015

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You know that friend  who always has to have the lastest iPhone? I am not that person. I have a second-hand Moto X. It will get used until it stops being useful. But I drop phones a lot. In contrast to my curmudgeon phone situation, I was encouraged to find that I’m receiving the very latest in implantable defibrillator technology, soon. I am getting the iPhone 6s+ of ICDs. The plus isn’t a thing, is it? You know what I mean. It’s all new and stuff.

If you have no idea why I’m getting a compact version of the A. E. D. shocky things they have in public buildings put inside my body, read these:

What the Hell is This Crap: Discovering Your Heart Is a Wuss

S%@# My Students Say About Cardiomyopathy

Wow I Must Be LUCKY: Sort of Failing Heart Tests

There were a bunch of tests I had, to qualify for this newfangled device – and I passed them! And I didn’t even study! I wish that my own awesomeness had to do with this, but it has more to do with luck and something called T-waves. I learned that I don’t need a pacemaker at this time.

 

implant
I get the one on the right, the S-ICD. Note its tininess and lack of full-frontal scarring.

This one is off to the side, can use cell phone technology to monitor 24/7 if need be, and doesn’t actually go into the heart. This last perk eliminates the risk of infection or complications of having the “old” kind, that used a wire that as placed directly inside the heart. Boston Scientific makes it, and they are very proud to brag explain about it here on their website. There is even a slick video. This is pretty cool. The downside?

They have to stop your heart for a minute during the implant procedure, and let the ICD shock you “back to life”.

You know, just to make sure it works. I am not particularly “ok” with this. But there are worse things, right?

So I’m getting this lovely thing installed on January 5th. It’s an overnight or so in the hospital, bedrest for a couple days, and restrictions on movement and carrying stuff with my arm for a month. No horn playing. Boo. But, I will get to extend my Christmas break by going back in for one day to put ducks in a row, then being out the rest of the week.

“Yay…” for killing sick days. Sincere “YAY!” for getting in a permanent state of “safer” with this heart nonsense.

Also, YAY for Netflix. Cause there will be much Netflixing.

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The secret to a happy life is finding the good in everything. In this case, the good is my remote control.

So, that’s the update. Please tell me what I should binge watch that week, after I get my new gadget, in the comments. And wish me luck. While grateful to get this done, I’m not exactly un-nervous.

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And Forgive Us Our Trespasses

June 26, 2015

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Hubby and I used to have an on-going joke about the Lord’s Prayer. We would snicker and/or poke each other when the debts or trespasses thing went by in the middle. Because we’re very reverent people, clearly. Actually it was because we had two different churchy-upbringings, and we disagreed about whether the line is “forgive us our debts” or “forgive us our trespasses”. It is trespasses. Sounds way cooler. God would agree. 

We don’t do this much anymore, because we don’t go to church anymore. More about that at a later date.

Because I spent the last post judging other people for the petty and annoying crap they do, #judgementalbiotch, I will now list (some of) my postable transgressions. Rest assured there are many, many more. You are not learning about them.

  • The skin on the outside (and inside) of my nose gets dry and itchy. I totally pick. Deal with it.
  • When I am in a meeting or grad class and I am supposed to be working or taking notes on a laptop, at least half the time I’m not really working or taking notes. #Facebook
  • I speed. Like, always.
  • I am still (I think?) supposed to eat a very low sodium diet, and I totally cheat when I feel like it. #heartcrap
  • I make fun of what other people name their children. Sometimes. Just the dumb names, though. Yours are beautiful.
  • I make fun of children. Although they are still better than many adults.
  • That “red wine is good for you” thing is my new favorite medical tidbit, and “special occasions”, where I am allowed to consume various other alcohols happen so often that they can’t possibly be that special.
  • Screw singing the ABC’s; often I wash my hands for only like 5 seconds and dry them on my hair. (Wetting it down discourages the frizz.)
  • I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to be drinking so much coffee. But nobody wants to see how that story ends, so I conveniently forget to ask about that every time I see my doctor.
  • I swear a lot.
  • I know that I should keep cash in my wallet for the collection for this, and the collection for that, but I never manage to keep cash in my wallet.
  • I yell at my kids for their messy rooms, but mine generally has crap all over the floor.
  • The 5 second rule applies around friends and family, but around strangers, I pretend like I’d throw it away no matter what, for germs & stuff’s sake. But if nobody is around…eh.
  • For social reasons, I pretend to care about a lot of stuff that I actually don’t. But I believe that’s called “Being an Adult”, so again…eh.
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WOW I Must Be LUCKY!

April 24, 2015

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This list is called: Reasons It Totally Doesn’t SUCK that I’m Stuck Wearing the #$&%! Defibrillator Vest for Another Two Months:

  1. Interesting tan lines, come June.
  2. I get to explain to more people that no, the fat chick wearing a heart monitor actually didn’t have a heart attack. So pass the (unsalted) fries.
  3. I’m lucky to have caught this issue in the first place, back in February. I could have been walking around with my heart working at about 30% power for God knows how long. That’s how people die of this. (Rarely, in my age bracket, relax!)
  4. 36 square inches of metal and plastic panel on my back in the warmer weather will totally help with sweatin’ off the pounds, baby.
  5. Top shape for an Ejection Fraction, the measurement of how much blood pumps out of your heart, is 70. I got an E. F. of 35 on my ‘big test’ last week. That’s like getting a 50% on an exam. Still an F, but hey, it’s a higher F this time, right?
  6. I could position annoying students close to my walking path through the classroom, and conveniently hit them on the head with the box.
  7. An E. F. above 35 would have meant I do not need a defibrillator. An E. F. below 35 would have gotten a tiny one implanted in me. (Not fun, but ultimately less intrusive in your life and more reliable than “ole vesty”, at saving lives.) What number did I get? Exactly 35. There was basically one possible number that could have kept me in this holding pattern, and that’s what my heart scored. I’ll be in Atlantic City playing roulette now…
  8. what_is_image_2
    Cause…foxy.
  9. I was supposed to wait two months, get tested to see if we were doing the implant or not, but either way I’d be done with this $%&# thing in mid-April. I was counting down to that. Now, who knows? In two months, I may still need the implant, I may need to wait some more (unlikely), or I may be significantly better – hey, who doesn’t love a little plot twist?
  10. Bump the Velcro flap of box’s case against something, it opens, heavy metal box falls out, hits toe, BOOM, you’re a physical comedy genius.
  11. When the sensors malfunction and the siren goes off, scaring students and/or strangers, and they freak out – that just reminds me that people care. Especially that one nice lady in the store who I had to talk out of calling 911! How sweet was that?
  12. Why don’t I just keep it till October and the pads will make a nice “Hunchback of Notre Dame” costume?!
  13. 4667451_G
    Omigod srsly, so hot. (This is not a picture of me and I really hope you didn’t think it was.)

Yes, this list is a sarcastic pile of self-pity. While I realize improvement of any kind is a blessing and absolutely not something to complain about… Really? Exactly 35? Two more months. And some extra tests. Two. More. Months. Right up through the end of the school year.

Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason…

CYMERA_20150422_145217
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Let Her Sleep

April 17, 2015

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b2ffa1ef83a08ee357ca4f21c5ad6ec3 No, really.

Ask my kids who they want taking care of whatever (insignificant little) problem they have at 2 AM. It’s not Mommy. Cause Mommy is a total biotch if you wake her up.

Hi, I’m Meg, and I am a complete harpee without sleep. A year ago I was fine, and now I’m happily returning to the club of people who don’t count sleep as one of their demons. Happily, my broken record phrase has become: “I feel so much better now.” But for a while there, it was definitely a ‘thing’ with me.

Since talking to a half dozen doctors regularly about the heart thing, I got pieces put together, regarding sleep. Or rather, lackthereof. Namely, that I hadn’t been getting much good quality shut-eye, in the last couple of months. And it was affecting me big-time, back then.

With the CHF, I gradually felt worse and didn’t realize it, and I just plain lacked the energy to do my life. In what was, unbeknownst to me, a related situation, I also started having trouble sleeping. I couldn’t tell you when it started exactly, but I would wake up after a few hours, wide awake, heart going like I’d be up doing something for a while (Duh). I could fall asleep fine but not stay there, waking up ten times a night (double duh.) At 4 AM I felt as wide awake as if it were 8 AM. I tried taking one Benadryl. I tried taking 2. I tried a hormone supplement called melatonin to get a better night’s rest, as it got worse. (Seriously, why didn’t I ask a doctor about this?)

Lack of sleep has a way of magnifying negative feelings and experiences in some of us sleep addicts. More and more often, I was short with my kids, impatient with my students, and I am embarrassed to say that once when the line at Taco Bell moved too slowly, I told the clerk at the window about it as if it were solely hear fault. I would get to the point of hearing the crazy lady yelling at her children about socks on the floor and my inner sane person would know that those floor socks didn’t warrant this level of anger… But I held a grudge about the errant footwear, or anything else that has the misfortune to tick me off. Other fun side effects included looking older, at least to myself. I consulted my sister in-law and the nice ladies at Sephora about how to cover my giant, pathetic under-eye circles. I started taking Tylenol PM sometimes and felt like an extra from “The Walking Dead” in the mornings. I drank more coffee. All unrelated, I thought, to the heart thing. I didn’t even know about the heart thing, at that point. Ah, hindsight… But seriously, I was not cool at times.

For instance: Just last week had a pretty nice conversation with someone who had ticked me off, professionally, last spring. We were talking about the performance in which I was ticked as Hell at him for messing with my music teacher game. I apologized for the level of my tickage. He said, “Yeah, I could see why you were mad, but man, you were, like, REALLY mad!” Yes. I was. Poor guy. And also, I was tired. Not a good enough excuse. *covering face in shame*

I had a cool conversation with a doctor that alleviated some of that shame though.  Pulmonologists have a lot of heart training too, it seems. Systems are related to each other a lot. Among his questions this week: Had I had any have trouble sleeping that was not a life-long thing, before the heart problem was identified? (Yes.) Did I spend enough hours in bed but not feel rested (Yes.) Did I experience any psychological issues like mood changes/sadness/not feeling like me? (Um…crap.) Pulmonologist guy ordered a sleep study to check for “non-obstructive sleep apnea”. This is not the kind where you snore –  this is where you just slowly stop breathing several times a night, seemingly for no reason, and over 50% of patients with my type of cardiomyopathy have it. Gee, that’s not terrifying at ALL. The good news is that it tends to clear up as the heart has an easier time doing its thing, because of improvement or medication. This would be why I feel like a million bucks, comparatively. Because now, I actually sleep.

It would make perfect sense, Pulmonolgist guys said. I couldn’t sleep because my heart didn’t work. I felt like sad, angry, tired crap because my heart didn’t work, and I couldn’t sleep. I can’t tell you the relief this theory brought me – I had wondered if I was slowly becoming unhinged, or had early M-word hormone issues, or something.

He’s right. It would explain why I literally feel like I woke up from something, this spring. And boy, is it a beautiful morning.

The heart affects everything, I am learning.

So that sleep study is coming, too. Yay, more tests. But tests help you put the pieces together and see the big picture.

This was my “before”, by the way:

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$%@# my students say about cardiomyopathy

February 28, 2015

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So I’ve had the surprisingly enjoyable task of  explaining the whole “Where Was Mrs. D” thing to my students. I basically told them 5 things:

1.  I was really sick and I didn’t know it. Always tell your parents and go to the doctor when you feel like you can’t breathe right.

2. My heart doesn’t pump very well right now. (My phrase for this is “wussy heart syndrome”. They eat that up.)  It might get better and it might not, but either way there’s no reason to think I won’t be ok. I am tough.

3. I have to take medicines that  will hopefully help my heart get stronger. But, they make me very tired sometimes, and dizzy. If anyone ever faints, we do NOT touch them. We find the nearest adult to help. This is not likely to happen to me at all, so relax.

4. I have to wear a special undershirt that has little circle things in it to check how my heart beats, day and night. It’s connected by a wire to this box I’m wearing like a purse. If my heart stops pumping right (“wusses out”), the special shirt will zap me with electricity so my heart will work again. The black box might ‘ding’ sometimes when the shirt isn’t working right. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong.

5. This is not something that is likely to happen to you, or anybody else you love.

This has been a nice time to sit down and just talk to my 500+ kiddos. Their concern has been real and their questions and responses have been a little too real.

But hey, if you can’t laugh at cardiomyopathy, what can you laugh at, right?

So these are questions and responses I have gotten from my 5 – 11 year old students when I explain the above list to them. I started writing them down to share, because I love these little nutjobs.  My responses are italicized.

“Will your heart tell you when it’s fixed?” No, they will take pictures again, but that would be cool.

“Do they let you keep the pictures?” I doubt it but if it’s good I’ll frame it.

“My grandpop had a heart attack because he ate too much red food. Did you do that?” You mean did I eat too much red meat? No, I –  “No! Meat is brown.”

“Did it hurt when you died?” Um…No. I’m good.

“Will it hurt if it zaps you?” No. I would have probably fainted by then. “But it will zap us if we’re touching you?” Possibly, but you’re not going to touch me or anyone who has fainted, you just get an adult. “Will it reach out and like lightening, and zap us?” NO. You’re picturing Return of the Jedi.

“Can you use the box to save somebody else’s life? Like the school’s one? [Defibrillator]” Yes, I’m going to be the new super hero, Defibrillator Woman. Zap zap. Just kidding. But cool question.

“What are you gonna do if you can’t go swimming in the summer!?!?!?!” I will most likely be done wearing this, one way or another, by summer. Hopefully. Otherwise, I will cry.

“Um…it [the box] blinked red. Are you OK?” That just means it’s on. I’m good.

“What would happen if ALL the adults in the school fainted at the same time?” I’d say we would leave (extremely unlikely, quiet student) in charge.

“So, like, you can’t take it off? Are you not gonna shower?! For months?!!” Um… I take it off to shower. EW.

“What happens if you faint in the shower with the shirt thing off?” Well this is getting personal. It’s not likely that I’ll faint at all. But I guess then it would turn into taking a bath.

“What happens if you faint when you’re going to the bathroom?” Well that would be bad, but wouldn’t I have worse problems, at the time?

“What happens if you drop it [the monitor box] in the toilet?” Thanks, now I’m going to worry about that, too.

BUT the winner is:

“Did you know that the hospital is where they take babies out of your tush?” Yes. Yes I did.

 

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