Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Heart Lessons

By now, I really ought to know more about heart anatomy. I've sat there too many times now as the cardiologist explained what just happened during my husband's latest procedure. My typical response is a slight tilt of the head, some "Yes" and "Of course" answers, accompanied by much head nodding. The goal is that I nod my head at all the right moments, and that I remember what in the world the doctor is talking about so I can repeat it later to my husband who knows exactly what the doctor is talking about.

The latest procedure in July was going to be different. First, it wasn't an emergency. I could actually do my hair, wear nice clothes and not look like a weepy hot mess while I sat there nodding. Second, I could upload some pictures onto my iPad and whip them out when the doctor started getting all technical. Then I could nod and interject phrases such as "Ah, yes, the good ol' Anterior inter-ventricular artery" and "My oh my, if it isn't that cocky Superior vena cava, such an attitude with that one!" 

I didn't need to nod, I barely needed to have a good hair day. Ernst was so alert after his angioplasty, he went over the videos of his surgery with the doctor mere minutes after coming into the recovery room. They threw around the fancy medical terms and they rehashed what happened, as my iPad photos sat useless. 

So what happened? The team at Kaiser Roseville put another stent in an area that started giving Ernst trouble in June. What kind of trouble? Well, after my husband attempted gargle singing at a gathering, choked on the water he inhaled and practically coughed up a lung, he started feeling poorly the next day. And according to the good doctor, yes indeed, it's possible to dislodge an old plaque in your heart by a coughing fit brought on by gargle singing. Good to know.

What the doctor didn't do is try to fix the part of the heart they thought was giving him the latest symptoms of angina. That section is completely clogged up with scar tissue from his past surgeries. But his heart has built collateral arteries to keep things sufficiently oxygenated. All his other stents are clean and clear. They said to keep up the plant-based diet. Good to know.

The mascot for Team Collateral Arteries.
Go Collaterals, go!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Our Silver Linings Blanket

Back in July of 1992, when we celebrated our first anniversary, money was a bit tight. So we went camping and made a pact to not buy each other gifts. We took a picture of me holding up one finger to represent one year of marriage.

Davis, where it all started.
The custom held, and we continued to make anniversaries a no gift affair. But that picture thing stuck. We took pictures every year, each year adding another finger for another year. When I ran out of fingers, we started finding numbers in random places. On year twelve, our friend in Italy made us a cake with a big number 12 on it. The places varied - the early years were usually camping, the middle years often in Europe, lately just sticking around home.

This July, for our 25th, we decided to shake it up a bit. We decided to go back to where it all started, to Davis California. The day included a visit to the Davis Arboretum with a stop at Whole Foods for picnic supplies, a very expensive picnic we could not have afforded our first year. We took some pictures in the same spots we took our wedding photos, we think. A garden changes a lot in twenty-five years.

Then came the fun part. We combined the German tradition of throwing your own silver anniversary party and the Moldovan tradition of inviting people to your wedding by driving around and personally offering shots of liquor to all your friends. We grabbed some bottles of our homemade Hungover Hound cider - plum and orange and lemon, plus several shot glasses and we hit the road. I was the designated tiny little sips of cider driver.

We started at Mykl and Rita's place on our way to Davis, then saw Linda and her new dog Sarah, then Madelene, followed by John and Candace. Then it was off to see Mike and Brigitte who shared with us some South African liquor. A visit to Judy was next, then time with Martin and Anna before ending up with Dan and Anne in South Davis. Our plan was to stay at each house for just 15 minutes. Oh, what fools we are even after all these years. Four or so hours later, we headed home, happy with the knowledge that it's the people you meet who make your life the richest.

A few days later I finally started cutting out the fabric for the Ernst and Jessica Quilt. I wanted to have it started before Ernst went in for his fourth heart surgery (more on that in a future post). The thought was, in my incredibly stressed out mind, that if I started a quilt that celebrated our life together, surely that life together would continue long enough for me to finish the project. Of course, now that the results are in and are positive, I know that good health and long marriages are not based on whether a hobby is completed. But at the time, cutting out those squares was the only thing I felt I had control over. We eagerly await the finished project.

While I've always just hauled our old clothes off to Goodwill, when we were getting our life organized last summer I started putting away a few well-used and treasured clothes for a quilt. It made it easier to retire some ratty old favorites, knowing they would end up in our quilt. Here are some of the highlights.

When Ernst bought these pjs for a trip, they were packaged to look normal.
Instead, they were an amazing hodgepodge of plaid.

No worries, the crazier the better.

That's the trim color and the wall color of our house.
The house that needed every single surface painted.
Painting starts with pain for a reason.

Nothing says refined elegance like moose pajamas.

Or dogs, we must have dogs.

Lots of trips in twenty-five years, but just one to Hawaii.

Make that soy milk and plant-based treats, please.

Flannel, there must be flannel. 

Some dress shirts too. We're not hillbillies after all.

Davis, There's no place like Davis.

Ernst possibly caused his burst plaque issue by inhaling water into his lungs after "gargle singing" at a gathering.
If the shirt fits, quilt it.