Saturday, October 9, 2010

My ER Visit

Several weeks ago, my boss sent me a nasty email. I responded as I usually do to a nasty email - I could feel my blood pressure and heart rate increasing as my face got red and I thought "why do I work here, anyway?" I went home and ranted and raved to my poor husband. And then I realized I had a headache. And I thought this is stupid; I have given myself a headache. I need to learn to take things more in stride. But that damn headache lasted 5 days, and no pain reliever would make a dent in it.

Then my annual severe cough - slight fever thing, where I can't breathe - came along. This thing lasts for weeks and I hate it. When I talk, I cough, and when I cough, I can't stop, and then I can't breathe. That came Thursday night.

On Sunday night, I went to bed and realized I had a severe headache. I managed to come downstairs and get some aspirin but there was no change. And then, to my horror, I felt nauseous. I am quite proud of my record of not throwing up for 22 years and intend to keep adding to that record. I have a huge terror of throwing up. I realized the light was causing part of my pain, as was any noise.

My husband came up to bed and seeing my clutching my head in pain, suggested we go to the emergency room. I said no, it's a headache. I'm embarrassed to go to the ER with a headache. I went to the bathroom and turned the light on and realized the vision in my left eye was completely blurred. That part freaked me out. So I said ok, let's go. He asked if he should call an ambulance and I said no way; you have to lie down in an ambulance and I was already nauseous and I get motion sick.

So I threw on some sweats and off we went to the ER, at 1:30 AM. I expected a full lobby but it was empty. I was put in a room and sent down for a cat scan. About an hour later, an ER dr came in and said most likely nothing was wrong, but the radiologist saw something of concern on the cat scan and suggested an MRI. So they were calling in a tech to do an MRI. Another hour went by, as I imagined the brain tumor or aneurysm bursting in my brain. The tech arrived at 4 AM and I was wheeled down for an MRI. I could hear the MRI tech talking and she mentioned she was talking to the radiologist, so I assumed the MRI would be read right away.

Many hours passed, but at least I was getting anti-nausea drugs and morphine in my IV so I was kind of out there. To make a long story short, we waited several hours for the MRI results. Finally the dr came in and said the MRI was fine and she noticed my eye was red - did my eye hurt? I said actually, yes it did. She brought in another dr and they tried to take the pressure in my eye. They said their results showed very high pressure but they wanted an eye dr to check it. They told me to see an eye dr now in the building and to return to the ER.

So off we went to see the eye dr. He took my pressure. I never knew much about glaucoma and eye pressure, but he seemed very concerned. 15 is the norm and my left eye was 70. My father had lost the vision in his eye when his was at 50, I later found out. So the eye dr did a laser surgery and the pressure moved down slightly. He said he had never known the laser surgery to fail. He called a glaucoma specialist, whose office was down the street, and sent me there. He said she was waiting for me.

So off we went to the ER, who said there was something on the cat scan and MRI that was of concern and a neurologist suggested admitting me for further work-up. We said no, the eye was a critical problem.

We got to the glaucoma specialist's office and my pressure had gone up. She gave me drops. The pressure did not go down. She told me I would not be happy with her, but she had to stick a needle in my eye. It's a good thing I was still doped up from morphine - I cannot handle anyone coming near my eye under normal circumstances. She stuck the needle in my eye, did another laser surgery, gave me pills and more drops and told me I had come very close to losing my vision.

We got home at 5:00. Never ate anything all day but had no appetite.

Had to go back to the glaucoma specialist the next day and the pressure had come down. Someone called it a medical crisis. The next day I had to get the laser surgery in my other eye.

Since my dad lost his vision after a botched cataract surgery that resulted in the removal of his eye (and macular degeneration in the other eye), I have always wondered how anyone can live with no vision. I am very thankful that it was caught and that drs were willing to drop what they were doing to spend the time treating me.

Still have the damn headache but am feeling lucky after this ordeal.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Daughter Graduates

Our graduate, Heather Grace - "looking into the future" as my husband describes the pose....

It seems like just yesterday when the hubby, the daughter (Heather) and I went to orientation at Ohio University. We listened to many speeches about what to expect, and advice was given to parents to stop hovering and let their kids go.

And here we were, 4 years later, driving down for graduation.

There is something so exciting about graduations - any kind. This is the biggest one I have ever attended. All the graduates were on the lower level with some overflow in a balcony. I started counting how many were in a row and how many rows there were, and I figured there were about 6,000 kids graduating. I thought geez, add in the speeches and watching each kid walk across the stage, and well, I thought we'd be there all day except there was another graduation scheduled for 4.5 hours after the one we attended.

It started out with people marching out holding flags with names - "College of Business" (which Heather was in), "College of Engineering" etc. And the orchestra played Pomp and Circumstance - I don't know how that became the official graduation tune, but it works. The speeches were great. Something in my head always equates "speech" with "boring." The professional speaking, an alumnus of OU, was very high energy and motivational. The student speaking was quite charming and funny. He was wondering why everyone always says "wait until you get in the real world" and wondered if the world he had been living in for the past 4 years was just a figment of his imagination. Then came the conferring of the degrees. I have never seen such speed and efficiency in my life. There was no walking across the stage. They had kids coming up 3 steps to each side of the stage, at the same time, with the announcer obviously being a speed reader. If you blinked, you missed your kid.

Then it was back to the dilapidated house where we paid way too much in rent money. We had some pieces of furniture to move out. It was about 88 degrees and very humid. The tree lawns nearby were littered with tons of furniture. I walked outside and noticed a guy in a pick-up truck, loading all the furniture into his truck. I thought now that is smart. And that is the business to be in at a college town - pick it up free in June and sell it in August. The guy saw me and asked if I needed help moving. I said YES and he helped move the furniture down the stairs and into our car.

Then it was out to lunch with Heather's good friend and her family.

Then the 3+ hour ride home. As we left beautiful Athens Ohio, my husband said "well I guess we'll never be coming back here again" and honestly, I won't miss that ride.

So now "real life" begins for Heather.

Or it will once she finds a job.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Words from Mother Theresa

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor...Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting."

Friday, May 7, 2010

An Evening with Regina Brett

A few months ago, our local paper, The Plain Dealer, featured excerpts from a book written by one of its columnists (one of my personal favorites) - Regina Brett. Based on those excerpts, I ordered the book from the library. I am not a big buyer of books. I read them once and I return them. That works for me.

So I got my email from the library that the book had arrived, and I went to get it. Even though I was in the middle of some great trashy magazines (hey, I write technical stuff all day; I'm entitled), I started on this book immediately.

Then my friend Sharon invited me to The Gathering Place to hear Regina speak. What a perfect setting. The Gathering Place in Cleveland is a place for those who have been touched by cancer. In its own words, "the mission of The Gathering Place is to support, educate and empower individuals and families touched by cancer through programs and services provided free of charge. We are proud to recognize our decade of celebrating life."

Sharon recently went for a tour and tried Reiki and plans to go back to try other programs.

We went together last night to hear Regina speak. And what a wonderful evening it was. Regina is a breast cancer survivor, so it was fitting that she would speak at this support center.

A woman in her 50s who looks like she's about 16, Regina has packed a lot into her life. And she chronicles everything in "God Never Blinks - 50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours." The fact that she refers to the events in her life as "little detours" kind of says it all.

Regina describes herself as "one of those broken souls." Raised in a Catholic home with 10 other siblings, she became an unwed mother at age 21 and raised her daughter on her own. She found the love of her life and married him at age 40. At 41, she became ill with breast cancer.

This book describes her journey.

She is a survivor. She could have easily felt sorry for herself, but she didn't. She continued to move forward through every challenge. She talks about the "chemo shower" her friends gave her, giving her hats, scarves and earrings. Every event that could have been a cause for a pity party became a celebration of sorts.

One of my favorite stories in her book was when she decided to create a gift for her husband's 40th birthday by asking 40 of his friends to write a letter to him. "Most of them ended up saying what is most difficult to say in person, what is often never said in person." She presented the collection to him on his birthday. And he said "most people don't ever get to know how people feel about them. This is the kind of stuff they say at your funeral."

Everything about this book and about Regina is a celebration; learning difficult life lessons; understanding that there will always be ups and downs; and knowing things will always get better.

I bought the book for Sharon. And I recommend it to present as a gift to anyone who is going through rough times.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Delicious Dessert - Berry Tart

Berry Tart

1 C crushed ginger snap cookies (about 20 cookies)
3/4 C crushed vanilla wafers (about 25 wafers)
1/4 C finely chopped walnuts
1/3 C butter, melted
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 3/4 C white grape juice
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla
2.5 C fresh blueberries (I used less)
1.5 C sliced fresh strawberries (I used more)

Combine the cookie crumbs, walnuts and butter. Press onto bottom and 1.5 inch up sides of a greased 9 inch springform pan.

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over grape juice; let stand for 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until partially set (about 45 minutes).

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over crust.

Place berries in a large bowl. Gently stir in gelatin mixture (I didn't use all of it). Spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove sides of pan

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thoughts on Welcome to Holland

When we were going through the very difficult child-raising years, I came across something that forced me to view life in a new way. It was called Welcome to Holland.

The gist of this wonderfully simple piece is that we don't plan to have a child with disabilities, but when it happens, we need to look at that child in a new way. Some of the words have resonated with me for 10+ years:

... you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met....

I did learn a new language. Most of my free time was spent reading books and getting information online. I met wonderful, kind, giving people who I would not have met were it not for these circumstances. I learned what is important and what is not.

Our son, at age 20, is doing much better than we ever hoped or expected.

And those words continue to stick with me. And I realized they apply to much more than a child with issues. They apply to any major difficulties anyone experiences. To me, those words are a key to survival when life gets really tough.

And so when my best friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer asked me to go with her to a class teaching how to apply make-up for cancer patients, I thought this will be fun. As I tend to do, I connected what she is going through with the Welcome to Holland piece. As a healthy middle-aged woman, she didn't expect to be going for days of testing, chemotherapy, or spending a few days in a hospital with a low blood count.

But she will learn the language, and she will meet special people.

And I will be there too.

And we will have fun, like we always have.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bonnie Becomes a BON

I am honored to be selected as a feature blogger of Words of Wisdom (WOW). Please check it out:

WOW, in its own words, is a support site for blogs of substance. Mmmm. I never thought of my blog as a blog of substance and I've actually given up trying to define what it is about. Sometimes it's better not to over-analyze these things. When I feel like writing, I write. And it might be a while between posts. If I have nothing to say, there's no post.

I love the concept of this site and I look forward to finding interesting new blogs to follow. It was created at the perfect time for me, since it seems that several of the blogs I've been faithfully following have abruptly decided to end. And I'm the type of person (nosy) who needs to know what happened! So if I start to follow your life and suddenly you say "I'm done" - well, I won't be happy about it!

I will admit that I found the acronym BON (Blogger of Note) to be very amusing. You see, as a Bonnie, when Sandy emailed me with the subject line "BON" I thought she was being especially friendly to me!

I have been blogging for 1.5 years now. I am a Compliance Officer at my job (in employee benefits) and I do a lot of technical writing, and let me tell you, it doesn't get any more boring than that. I have always enjoyed writing, and found it to be quite refreshing to write whatever comes to me and have people actually read it! My husband's cousin got me into it - she is much more creative than I am, but we both agreed that once you start blogging, you seem to view everything in your life in a new way and think to yourself "oh now THAT would make a good blog post!"

I tend to find the humor in things. Even in things that aren't funny. I am known for laughing at the most inopportune times, and when that happens, I usually can't stop.

As a Cancer, I love my home. I would be quite content to never leave it. I am mom to an almost 22 year old daughter and a 20 year old son. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary this September. And I am a loving mama to a 15 year old dog and 3 cats. I can't imagine my life without these animals hanging around.

My friends are very important to me and I would describe myself as a loyal person.

Finding my favorite posts was kind of a fun adventure. I did not realize I had written so much! But here they are:

This blog was meaningful to me because (1) friendships are so important to me; and (2) it touched on what we went through when my son was younger. It was not a fun time.

This is kind of how I see life. Most things are amusing to me. And while my water aerobics days are over ( just too painful to get into a bathing suit), it was fun while it lasted.

And finally

A tribute to my wonderful dog, Pepper. I admit that the first thing I do every morning is make sure she's still breathing. It's getting harder for her to get around. She is one of the great loves of my life.

In closing, I want to wish a happy birthday to my oldest cat, Bing Krauss, who turns 11 on 3/26/10.

In final closing, here are the kids (there will be no pix of moi, because the last good picture taken of me was taken 30 years ago):