Friday, September 28, 2012

Heart Update: Staying Alive

I woke up Monday morning feeling exceptionally bad.
I mean, I have felt bad for about 2 years, but I was feeling REALLY bad in particular that morning.

I headed on to class.

By 2pm I was feeling so bad I didn't think I would be able to make the drive home.
During my break in class I shot my cardiologist an email.

At 5pm I was told by one of my professors that I didn't look too well, when I explained that I didn't feel too well he told me to go home.

The 2 hr drive from campus to home was miserable. 
I felt scared, depressed, and defeated.

I cried the whole drive. 

Once at home I was notified by my cardiologist that he thought it would be a good idea if I went ahead to the nearest ER.
I was hesitant.  Over the past 2 yrs I can't tell you how many times I have been told to "head to the ER," only to find nothing but a BIG bill.

I decided to wait it out.

Surely, this was all in my head.  right?

Tuesday was spent on the couch... all day long.... in agony.
My heart kept skipping beats, my chest, left arm, back and side of my neck were tight.
I had no strength to move.

I KNEW something wasn't right.

By Tuesday evening I had had ENOUGH.  
I needed to go to the ER.

My cardiologist called the Hospital, sent over all my paper work, and sent a list of things that he wanted them to look for.    

After a few tests, I was admitted.

Surgery was a big possibility.

My little brother and his wife happened to be in town for a play and hurried over to the ER when they heard the news.  Mom and Dad were 3 hrs away. 

That night Roger slept in the chair beside my bed.  With the possibility of heart surgery hanging over me, on top of the fact that I felt as if I were to about breathe my last, I insisted that he stay.

Tuesday night was very rough.  My pulse and blood pressure kept dropping dangerously low.
My mind would not stop running through the "what ifs."
I told Roger that if anything happened I wanted them to try their best to bring me back..... for the kids.

To make a long story short, by Thursday the doctors had FINALLY figured out what they thought was going on.

So, here is the short version.

My pacemaker was set too low, the bottom wire leading to my heart's bottom chamber was malfunctioning, and the 2 new medicines that I had been placed on were making my blood pressure too low.  

Because the pacemaker was set too low (on a low pulse), I was having a LOT of Premature Ventricular Contractions in my bottom chamber.  Because the bottom wire of my pacemaker was malfunctioning it was picking up the massive amount of PVCs that I was having and telling my pacemaker that I was having regular heart beats.  Because of THAT, my pacemaker was not sending a pace to my top chamber.  My top chamber has lost function of it's natural pacer and uses my human made pacemaker over 90% of the time.  Because it was being told by the bottom wire that I WAS having a heart beat, it wasn't beating.   Thus the reason why my heart kept stopping/skipping.  

By Wednesday evening I was feeling MUCH better.  
My pulse was set up to 75!
When a good friend came to see me that evening she said, quote, "Jess, you are so perky!!"   

I couldn't stop smiling! 

The doctor allowed me out of the room to walk around the halls.  I ran up the stairwells.  

They kept me over night on wednesday for observation.  
By Thursday morning my PVCs had virtually disappeared.  
My heart rhythm was stable, even though my blood pressure was pretty low.

My meds were changed up and I was discharged at noon.

Thursday evening was spent cuddled up on the couch with the kids, watching the sun set out the window, while we enjoyed one of our favorite Disney movies. 

Thankful!   Thankful! Thankful! 

(this ones for you dad)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Little Cottage Office

Another week of classes, volunteer work, and momma jobs has come and gone.

What. A. Week.

This weekend has been spent preparing for the week ahead.... and resting.... a bit.

Last night we headed out to Tyler's house for a potluck and bonfire with friends.
Yes, it was so nice to sit outside, roasting marshmallows, talking to friends, under a STUNNING half moon.  What a beautiful night! 

It was also nice to finally use Tyler's table.  It seems like everytime we all get together to eat, we end up just standing around in the kitchen.  This time we actually sat down for the meal.... in the dinning room.... and even held hands to pray before we partook in all the good fall food.  
I'm pretty sure it was because this time the girls out numbered the guys by one.
Us ladies took it upon ourselves to prepare the table.

Saturday morning was spent sorting and cleaning.
Some church folks brought over some furniture for us that they were no longer using.
Office Desk and Chair. Sofa Chair. Fold out Chair


It got me all excited about making a little "cottage office loft" for myself.
You know, I'm in seminary, I NEED a good place to study.

About 8 yrs ago some friends decided to throw away 2 little book shelves.  We found them sitting on their front porch and asked if we could have them.  They said yes.  I have FOREVER said that I am going to devote a weekend to painting them, but of course, never have.  Those little ugly beat up book shelves have been mocking me every time I place a book on them.

So, I rummaged through the basement and found some old paint.

I spent the rest of the weekend sorting, painting and dreaming.

The Finished product.

Roger can sit right here while I type my papers.

I bought the one on the left when I was pregnant with Paul and the one of the right when I was pregnant with Anna.  They now have a nice little place on my window sill..... in my little cottage office! 

now, I best get off of here and actually USE my office for what it is intended to be used for..... Studying For Seminary. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

When the going gets tough...

...I jump in the station wagon and head out on the Kentucky backroads.

Past the gas station that has no pump.

Past the Junk Yard with the church.
Nothing Fancy Holiness Church

Straight on to the small wooded path.

When things get tough, my soul yearns to be with nature.

heaven on earth

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jessica and Summer's Adventure to Heart Land

Today was the day.  The day that I had been dreading.

Test day.

I am NOT a good test taker.  I get that dreaded test anxiety.

Especially when it comes to my heart.
I just KNOW I am going to fail SOMETHING.

To make things a bit more enjoyable I asked my good friend (and Sunday School Teacher) Summer if she would be willing to go with me to the cardiologist.  Bless her heart, she put in extra hours at work the past two days so that she could take off ALL DAY on Thursday to be with me.  If it weren't for her moral support I honestly don't think I would have made it through the day.  Typing this out, telling you all about how kind it was of her to work so hard so that she could spend all day at the hospital with me, is making me cry. 

 Seriously, I am crying right now as I type this.  

It is so nice to have such wonderful people in our lives.

God is so good isn't he!?!?!?

Since I have a certain type of congenital heart defect that requires me to see a pediatric cardiologist, my tests have to take place at the Children's Hospital.
Which, honestly, is fine with me!  I love being around cute, bright, happy colors.

they use these, instead of wheelchairs, to transport the kids. I asked, they said I was too big.

Before heading to the hospital we grabbed a quick lunch at our FAVORITE place, 
lynns paradise cafe.  Yes, it was YUMMY!  And yes, I got the same thing I get there every single time.

We scored the table with the electric train running through it!   JACKPOT

The first of MANY tests included breathing in and out of crazy things, crazy ways, while being put into, and pulled out of, a bizarre sci-fi chamber.   

in the sci-fi chamber. nose clips on, holding my cheeks down.  breathing through a small hole in the wall.

I couldn't look at Summer during these tests because they made me feel so incredibly ridiculous.  At one point, after making eye contact with her, I started laughing so hard we had to start the test over again. I closed my eyes as much as possible and left the hysterical laughing until after the tests. 

During the running portion of the test, Summer cheered me on.  "Come on Jessica!  You are almost to the next level.  Go! Go!  You can do it.  Hold on just a little bit more."

We then walked across the street, to the clinic, to continue the tests.
I had to have my pacemaker checked out, my EKG looked at (again), and an Ultra Sound done on my heart.  

It was a long, emotional, day.   
I am so thankful that Summer came along to keep me company (and carry all my stuff and remind me to tell my doctor certain things and help me find the elevator).

In a nut shell, this is what is going on with my heart.
Your heart has two chambers, a top and a bottom. Your natural pacemaker is responsible for keeping those two chambers pumping.   My natural pacemaker is gone, it doesn't work much any longer, I am paced 97% of the time by the manmade pacemaker that has been implanted in me.  That pacemaker has two, what they call, Leads.  Those are connected directly to my heart and lead up to my pacemaker battery.  When I had my pacemaker implanted 12yrs ago, the bottom lead didn't work properly, so they turned it off, leaving only my top chamber lead on.  I didn't much need the bottom lead on because the top chamber was sending information (electrical signals) to the bottom chamber, causing it to pump.  However, the doctor is thinking that all of the symptoms that I have been having lately are due to the electrical signally between the bottom and top chambers.  It seems as if the bottom chamber might not be beating like it is suppose to, leaving me with low blood pressure, less oxygen, and an overall feeling of crumminess.  
Today they turned on the bottom chamber lead, even though it is still broken, and have hooked me up to a halter monitor for 24hrs, with strict orders to DO NOTHING.  Or to quote my nurse, "BE A COUCH POTATO."    Roger has been left to fin for himself.  I feel bad for the guy.

If this turns out to be the issue there is a possibility that I will need to have surgery to replace my bottom lead.  There is also a chance that I might need to have my pacemaker switched out with a pacemaker/defibrillator combo.  I was also given some new heart medicine to add to my already existing heart medicine.  

Yes, this is a bit scary, but I can't express to you how nice it is to have a doctor (and his team) working so hard to figure out what is going on with me.

It is times like these that I am especially thankful for friends, family, and a wonderful church community.  We are so blessed! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye Wittiness

I fear that the wittiness of this blog is taking a hiatus. 

my mind keeps turning to seminary,  the volunteer work that I have taken up, and my family responsibilities. 

Mornings have turned into my sacred study time.  I call it sacred because so far I really enjoy that time that I get to read and study.  I'm sure I will eventually get burnt out, near the end of the semester, but thus far I am really enjoying the whole learning process. 

Early afternoons are filled with the mom job stuff.  You know, picking up the kids, straightening up the house, making dinner, helping with homework and getting little ones to bed on time.

Starting today, my Thursday mornings will be spent volunteering in Paul's 1st grade classroom.
Today I was introduced to the class and observed what I will be helping the teacher with!
Have I mentioned how much I adore Paul's teacher?!?  
She's wonderful!

This morning, after volunteering, I headed to a local coffee shop to put in 2hrs of study time before the kids got home from school. 

Pretty soon our Teen MOPS program is going to start back up. 
I will also be getting to help coordinate that!
I just love getting to know other young moms in the community!!
(and getting to hold those sweet little babies)

Believe it or not, it has taken me FOREVER just to type this out.
I did a few sentences here and there while helping Paul with his homework and nursing a sick Anna.
(not nursing as in with my boob, but like, you know, nursing her back to health. just wanted to make that clear)

Where was I?

What in the heck is this blog post about?

Oh yeah, about how the wittiness of this blog is taking a hiatus.  

Next week I have a BIG appointment with my cardiologist.  It is that time of year... stress Test time.
I have asked my dear friend Summer to tag along with me.
I just hate these appointments and I do NOT want to go alone.

So, tune in next Thursday evening for a, probably hilariously entertaining, update on mine and Summer's adventure to Kosair Children's Hospital. 

I get slap happy when I'm nervous.
I get really nervous about these big cardiology appointments.
Summer has no clue what she has gotten herself into.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Life, right now, is so SWEET!

I wake up with the biggest smile on my face and jump into bed feeling giddy.

Anna is in LOVE with her preschool.  She is thriving on the M-Th, 8-1:30pm social interaction.

Paul LOVES first grade.
His teacher is WONDERFUL.  I couldn't be more pleased with her teaching style.

Roger is thoroughly enjoying simply being a minister.
For so long he has had to multitask with the role of student and minister.

 I, as most of you already know, am LOVING seminary.
That first day of class, in which we went over the syllabus and got acquainted with one another, filled me with eagerness.

We are all right where we need to be!