One-Liner Wednesday: Thanks

Sending thanks to all those who have been keeping my mother Elinor in their thoughts and prayers; she is due home from NYC tomorrow with her new heart valve and a bonus pacemaker.
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This sequel to last week’s One-Liner Wednesday is brought to you by Joanne, with additional thanks to Linda. Join us for One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/10/19/one-liner-wednesday-presidential-poop/

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heart update

I just got word from my sisters in NYC that Nana’s aortic valve replacement is complete and successful. They also had to install a pacemaker, which is common in these kinds of situations.

Hers was the second procedure of the day for her surgical team. The first ran long, so her procedure was delayed, making the day  – and the waiting – longer than anticipated.

It’s so amazing that doctors can replace a damaged aortic valve with a functioning bovine one without having to go through the chest at all. Instead, they use a technique similar to heart catheterization. It is called TAVR and you can read a bit more about it on the Columbia Structural Heart & Valve Center website.

We are so grateful to everyone at the Center and Nana’s whole medical care team for making this possible. We are also grateful to everyone who has been supporting us, in person or at a distance, with prayers, cards, well-wishes, calls, emails, etc. Thank you all so very much!

 

waiting

As many of you know, my mom, known as Nana here at Top of JC’s Mind, is having an aortic valve replacement procedure today. I am in the unaccustomed position of waiting at home instead of in the hospital.

My two sisters and my dad are waiting at Columbia (New York-Presbyterian), so she has plenty of support and on-site vigilance. I am holding down the fort here, getting ready to spread news to all the local folks and more far-flung family and friends after the procedure is complete.

And waiting…

Some people expressed surprise that I was not going down to New York City, too. As the local daughter, I have been the go-to person for all the prior medical goings-on with Nana and Paco, as well as with my mother-in-law, now deceased, my spouse, and my daughters.  And I haven’t regretted a moment of it.

Still, I admit that it is less stressful to be here in my den at my computer desk typing away than being in a waiting room a couple of hundred miles from here.

It’s cutting down on the recycled waiting-anxiety.

The most difficult solo waiting room experience I ever had was the day that my dad was in for hernia surgery and my mom had a heart attack and was simultaneously having a heart catheterization and stent placement.

Being with someone doesn’t necessarily make it easier, though. I think both B and I struggle with waiting in hospitals right now because six months ago we shared a heartbreaking wait in the CICU while the staff tried unsuccessfully to revive his mom, known here as Grandma.

I am finding that being here at home, though, with the company of daughter T, is making it easier to wait and to keep realistic. The procedure the doctors are using, called TAVR, is not much different than a heart catheterization. Sitting here at home, I don’t know when the procedure will begin or how long it is anticipated to take. I do know from past experience that you always need to allow a lot of extra time beyond what they tell you, as they usually quote the actual procedure time, not the hours of preparation and recovery that need to be factored in before word gets out to the waiting family members.

It is a lot easier to sit here and think that, with a 10 AM report time, I won’t likely hear that she is done with the procedure until the middle of the afternoon.

I know that many of you have Nana in your thoughts and prayers. You are on my list of contacts when there is news.

Thank you for your support.

Peace,
Joanne

 

Progress

Yesterday, Nana had her evaluation at Columbia’s Structural Heart & Valve Center.

We had arrived in NYC the day before, expecting a three to four hour evaluation beginning at 9:00 AM. What happened was a marathon of testing and consultation that stretched from our arrival at 7:15 AM to 6:00 PM when we finally finished.

All the effort to go to New York City was definitely worth it. The advanced testing they were able to do determined that only the aortic valve needs to be replaced at this time, which can be done using a heart catheter technique, called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). They were able to schedule the procedure for mid-October.

We were so impressed with all the medical professional and support staff. They were caring and compassionate, as well as being knowledgeable and experienced. Because we came from a distance, they did not only the diagnostic testing they needed to do but also the pre-admission testing so that there will only have to be two trips down to New York.

Tomorrow, I leave for a long-planned reunion residency of the Boiler House Poets at MASS MoCA. I feel much better going knowing that we have a positive plan in place for my mom. As I did for the original residency last November, I hope to blog every day from North Adams, so stay tuned.

 


	

re-jiggering part 3 – or 547?

One of the running themes of this blog – and my life – has been my constant need to adjust my plans. The last post that I titled re-jiggering was actually my second by that name, so this is part 3 in terms of blog titles, but some much larger number in terms of reality.

As my more frequent visitors know, we have been dealing with health issues with my mom, known here as Nana. On August 31st, she finally had the long-awaited diagnostic heart catheterization, which confirmed that she has two heart valves that are severely compromised. They need to be replaced using a technique called TAVR, which involves working through the blood vessels to get to the heart rather than cutting through the chest as in open heart surgery. Our local hospital is not equipped to replace multiple valves in this way, so we are in the process of referral to Columbia in New York City.

One of my sisters lives in NYC and the other has already offered to go the City to help Nana and Paco, so the current plan is that I will stay here to hold down the fort at their apartment in a nearby senior living community.

Timeline to be determined, but we are hoping it will be a matter of weeks. I hope that readers will send out a prayer, healing thoughts, and/or positive energy for Nana.

In the post I linked above, the other re-jiggering that was going on had to do with my writing. True to form, I wound up re-jiggering that, too.

I had expected to spend time working on my poetry collection, but, instead, diverted to a secret poetry mission. Excitement! Mystery! Or, at the very least, poetic license. All will be revealed sometime in the last third of September. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I have revised my plans for the Boiler House Poets reunion residency at MASS MoCA, which begins September 30. I had hoped to have a working manuscript of my collection assembled by then, but it isn’t going to happen. My new plan is to use the residency to get feedback and do revisions on some of the poems that have not yet been workshopped, write some poems that I have been planning, and be on the lookout for new inspirations, including the new works that will be on display at MoCA. In those periods when I am too exhausted/tired/frazzled to be creative, I can do further work on ordering the collection and drafting a forward and notes. My local poets feel that some of the ekphrastic poems, which is the fancy term for poems that are about a work of art, could benefit from a note about the the art piece on which they are based.

Meanwhile, in Tibet…

Sorry, a bit of Boiler House inside baseball there…

Meanwhile, I will transcribe some poems that are still only scrawled in various journals, notepads, and pamphlets into my google docs and buy a new Chromebook, as my current one is getting a bit unreliable and I need it working well for the residency. I also hope to get a few half completed blog posts out to the world. (I am not even bothering to project a timeframe to get back to my reading/commenting routine. Circumstances have pushed that even further into the realm of nebulous “someday”.)

And, of course, fulfilling my secret poetry mission…

 

 

 

SoCS: three dates

My mother – known as Nana here at Top of JC’s Mind – needs a diagnostic heart catheterization as follow-up to this fainting episode and likely prelude to heart valve replacement surgery.

The date of the heart cath was supposed to be June 28.

The week before, she had to have blood work done and the cardiologist didn’t like some of the numbers, so he cancelled it.

After weeks of doctor visits and tests, she was cleared to proceed.

The next date was August 17.

Unfortunately, the day she had to have the pre-procedure blood draw, she developed shortness of breath and wound up in the hospital overnight with a new diagnosis of congestive heart failure. She was discharged from the hospital and sent home to rest, waiting for the planned procedure on the 17th.

Except that the doctor’s office, looking at the pre-hospital rather than post-hospital blood work, cancelled it again.

I was very, very, very, very, very upset. After consulting with her primary care, the cardiologist promised to fit her in next week.

And then proceeded to give us the date of August 31st.

Which is not next week.

I’m still pretty upset, especially because the delay is what I feel got her into the diagnostic category of heart failure.

But, deep breath, and all that…

Fortunately, she is doing quite well now, although she has to take it very easy.

We are waiting for August 31st.

Third time’s the charm.

At least it better be.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “date.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/08/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-2016/

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SoCS: heartbreaking news

I am writing this on Friday as we await news on a former pastor, Father James.

He is in a coma in ICU and expected to die soon.

The news is heartbreaking.

I am not heartbroken for him, as he will be released from suffering and dwelling in God who is Eternal Love.

I am heartbroken for his family and friends and all his former parishioners who will miss his care, concern, sense of humor, and gentleness. Although he was retired, he said Mass at local parishes. Just in the last few weeks, I attended a couple of Masses at which he presided.

He was the pastor of a church I attended for over twenty years. He was the pastor for both of my daughters’ baptisms and first communions, as well as my elder daughter’s confirmation. I served on liturgy committee for him for many years, as well as participating in music ministry with my daughters.

After he retired, our parish, which I had known as a welcoming home, ran into major difficulties and eventually disintegrated. That is still heartbreaking.

It is also heartbreaking that the church building that we had renovated under his leadership is no longer a Catholic church. After being damaged in a second major flood, it was closed and, years later, sold to a nearby Christian college. They have recently re-opened it as their chapel, but it is no longer the place we built together. Even the stained glass windows had been removed.

We will lay him to rest from his boyhood church, though, which is fitting. That church is also the mother church in our area, meaning it is the oldest congregation.

One of his favorite Bible verses was from Micah 6:8:   “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

And he showed us how to do that.

Another passage is also coming to mind for me, from Matthew 25:21:  “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

I am also thinking of a setting of the final commendation, which is a prayer at the end of Catholic funerals, that we used to sing in Resurrection Choir when Father James would be presiding at parish funerals. The setting was done by Ernest Sands and used this refrain:  “May the choirs of angels come to greet you. May they speed you to paradise. May the Lord enfold you in His mercy. May you find eternal life.”

Amen.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “break/brake.” Join us! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2016/05/20/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-2116/ .

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April 8

I am going to preface this post with the statement that Nana is doing well, so as not to cause anyone undue stress.

On Friday, April 8th, my plan was to do a couple of things at Grandma’s cottage, which we were working on cleaning out, have lunch with a friend, and then head to Syracuse to bring daughter T home for the weekend, which would be her first time home since Grandma died on March 22nd.

A few minutes after I arrived at the senior community, my cell phone rang. It was my mom (Nana) calling from the emergency room. She had collapsed in the waiting room of a medical building across the street from the hospital. The rapid response team had done a couple of rounds of CPR on her and she was in the emergency room for monitoring and tests.

I used the speakerphone to tell B what was happening. He made arrangements to go to Syracuse to get T. I left messages for my friend not to expect me for lunch. Meanwhile, I drove to the hospital.

I was lucky to find a parking space in the visitors’ lot and rushed up the hill toward the emergency entrance, a cold wind blowing directly into my face, making it difficult to catch my breath. After an unusually mild winter, we had a couple of cold snowy weeks once spring had officially arrived.

Once I was able to get through the line and behind the locked doors of the ER, the wait was on. An EKG was done. The heart monitor was tracing green lines across a screen above Nana’s head. Blood was drawn for tests. They took Nana down for a chest X-ray. There was a line started in her arm, although she wasn’t hooked up to any intravenous fluids. She wasn’t allowed to eat or drink. We were talking to pass the time. The ER became increasingly busy and noisy.

Nana was having some pain in her back and chest. The nurse told us it was from the CPR. A small price to pay from having been brought back from death…

Several hours later, the physician assigned to her case came in. Nana was not dehydrated. Her electrolytes were fine. She hadn’t had a heart attack.

In fact, her heart had not stopped at all.

She had fainted, mostly likely from a combination of cold, wind, walking too quickly uphill in the morning when her medications tend to drop her blood pressure.

We were grateful that she was okay, although I admit that I have been struggling with the fact that a highly trained medical team missed her pulse and performed CPR when they should have been reaching for the smelling salts.

This was especially difficult as she has had to deal with a bruised chest and ribs over these following weeks. It was all unnecessary.

For me, it was also an extra measure of fear that pushed me within a hair’s breadth of melting down. I have been working hard at keeping myself functional during this stressful time. For a few hours, I felt as though I might not be able to cope with an added crisis.

Thank God that Nana and the rest of the family were spared what could have been so much worse.

 

 

 

InterSpiritual: Delving Into Sacred Wells to Stir the Heart Awake

My friend Jamie shares another post about interspirituality. We met in person at a local interspirituality conference and it is definitely a way of being that draws my heart.

Sophia's Children

Underwater cave in a tropical coral reef (Photo from 4freephotos) Underwater cave in a tropical coral reef. Public domain photo courtesy 4freephotos.

Here’s another lovely musing from fellow mystic-writer (etc.) Mirabai Starr.

I recently shared a perspective from her on the Feminine Mystic.

This one is how she describes her own experience of walking the InterSpiritual Way.

Different from interspiritual or multi-faith, Interspirituality is the path of exploring the commonalities and underlying wisdom that can be found at the mystic-heart of many traditions … religious, spiritual, indigenous-ancestral.

Here’s how Mirabai Starr responding to one question in an interview with Tami Simon of Sounds True. You’ll find the link to the full interview just below.

“Brother Wayne Teasdale coined the term Interspirituality, and it refers to the interconnectedness of all the spiritual ways of the world.

The Interspiritual movement is much more about sharing prayer, sharing spiritual practice, sharing those heart-opening and spirit transforming experiences of the Divine that…

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One-Liner Wednesday: change

“Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.”
— The 14th Dalai Lama

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/09/16/one-liner-wednesday-because-seriously-no-one-wants-to-be-around-me/

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