Friday, January 29, 2010

The Poor Man's Plastic Surgery

Monday is the first day of February, and since I have gotten this blog fairly well established I am going to take a big step here and let you in on something. When I read Christina Lee’s post today, it was screaming at me to get my butt in gear as well, especially since I am supposed to living healthy by doctor’s orders anyway! Since I am starting in February, maybe I will have a higher success rate. I have never succeeded at a diet plan except for the week that I was on Nutrisystem a couple of summers ago. Notice that I said “week,” but I did lose 7 lbs. I only have about 25 lbs. to lose to be completely happy, but I really want to get toned this time, too.
Several people have asked me why I would still have to follow a heart-healthy diet, since I have a new heart. Well, I am sure that you have heard of coronary artery disease (CAD) via commercials for heart medicine, if not somewhere else; it is the leading cause of death worldwide! CAD is what causes heart attacks. Transplant patients are at risk for coronary artery vasculopathy (CAV). Which is the same as CAD, but due to the denervation of the heart during transplant her or she cannot feel the warning signs of CAV until it is too late: chest pains, shortness of breath, etc. During transplant, all of your nerves are not reconnected, only major arteries. Next to malignancy, this is the leading cause of death in transplant patients because since you cannot feel anything going on it leads to sudden death and progressive heart failure. The chance of this happening during the first year after transplant is around 15% - 20%, and 50% - 60% five years out. 

CAV is the reason I have to keep up a heart-healthy diet with a new heart; it’s a precaution since I won’t know if anything is going wrong in there. Also, in addition to CAV, because of the immunosuppressants (anti-rejection drugs) I have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Also, the prednisone (a steroid) causes major sweet cravings that can of course lead to diabetes. 
So...on Monday I will be getting back on as strict of a diet as I was on in the weeks following transplant in addition to beginning cardiac rehab and some pilates. In cardiac rehab, I will simply be walking on a treadmill while being closely monitored. I took a pilates class my last in college for a P.E. credit. I really liked it and what it did for my body. Plus, it’s not too strenuous on my sternum. 

I am going to start keeping a blog of my activities, weight loss, etc. Although I will probably post it on a new separate blog. We’ll see how the weekend goes, and I will post the link if and when I do. I know all of you are probably not that interested, but those of you that are we can keep up with each other and our progress that way. 

Ok...let's do this thing!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Post-It, Post-It (a la MJ)

Click to enlarge

Monday, January 25, 2010

Crossing the Caring Bridge

Here I am blogging as there are four, yes four baskets of laundry to be folded; I tend to procrastinate. However, I have gotten all of the Christmas put up and away, and now my spare bedroom door can stay open! My hubby mounted the shelves I got for Christmas! They need a few more touches then I will post before/after pics for that wall. Now I just need to finish my thank you notes.
I finally sent a link to my blog to friends and family that have been using Caring Bridge to keep up with my progress. I have around a hundred subscribers over there and will still continue to post small updates there as well. By the way, you can subscribe to updates on this blog just as you did over there through RSS and Google by going to my box down there that says followers. Please do; I would love that! Oh yeah and I love comments, too! The more the merrier - they make my day!
I am just loving the blogging community right now much better than Caring Bridge. It was great while I was in the hospital, but now I need more. Blogging gives me more: more flexibility, more freedom, more options, and more audience. In searching sites and blogs for heart transplant patients I was very disappointed to find, well, not too many at all or at least not any focused on young women. In creating this blog and writing about complete randomness I have found such a great support group of amazing women, those with lives like mine, those with lives the opposite of mine, and those whose lives I wish were mine. Haha. So for you new readers who are curious about my story over the past five months you can check out my journals and the ones posted by my mother-in-law, who wrote when I couldn’t. You can also go here to just to get an idea of the whirlwind. Plus, my blog post labeled “Finally Time” on January 9th will give a little more insight into what I generally want to do here and probably even repeat some of this.

All day long I see things, and I think, “Oh, I’ve got to remember to blog about this.” Then I forget all about it. I do want to take a minute to brag about how beautiful it was here on Friday. About the time I got everything out on the porch that I wanted to be able chill out and write with, Finn woke up. I figured, “Hey, he’s a boy; he’ll love the outside thing.” I pulled his exisaucer out onto the porch with me snapped a couple of pics with my phone, sat on the swing and enjoyed the pleasant 70 degree weather. Ahhh. However, I never got around to writing due to a couple of phone calls, oh well. But watching Finn yap at the ducks was hilarious. Maybe that’s what we need to keep them from coming on the porch and using it as their own personal litter box.

I have so many things I want to accomplish or at least begin work on while I have this gift of extended time away from work: 
  1. To begin writing a book. A couple of doctors and nurses have begged me to write a book on several occasions. Whoa, I don’t know that I can make that sort of commitment, but there is such a need for something like that to give comfort to those awaiting transplant and those adjusting to their new life after transplant. It may be easier just to go visit them like Jamie and Toni did for me. Love you forever, girls!!!
  2. To start some work on my National Board certification since I am always wanting to improve my classes, and an annual $5,000.00 check doesn’t hurt either. Plus, I have heard it is nearly suicide to do it during the school year, but you do not have a choice for the majority of it requires classroom observation, videos, and student samples. I know it is huge and will nearly break me, but I want it so bad. I want to be THAT teacher the kids remember because they remembered the material that I made fun and interesting and not just because I was funny or nice, which many will beg to differ.
  3. To freshen-up nearly every room in my house and create cozier spaces. My walls need help! They are nearly barren. I want to take pictures from Country Living and Coastal Living and poof them into my house, especially the painting part. ;)
  4. To get the office and all our books and paperwork organized and accessible. I did this earlier in the year, so this should only take a couple of days.
  5. To organize my massive collection of resources for class. Over the past couple of years I have amassed tons of activities and presentations for my kids, and I am always wanting to tweak it, then I spend my whole planning period creating new stuff for them rather than getting real work done. There were pretty much no resources for ninth grade  English when I first started and now I have so much that I need to organize, weed-out, and update to where all that I have to do is grade with more detail. Plus, I love when I can pass it on and give it to another teacher to use when they are running around like crazy looking for an activity.
  6. To read more. Since I started teaching, when I am at home the last thing I want to do is read one more thing. In the past few months I have been reading and completing more books than I have in the past few years, and I love it. I have joined a blog called Girls With Books. This is a large group of women who read and review books, so I will now be reading and reviewing adolescent and adult literature on that blog. I will post links here as I do. I am so excited about this little project.
  7. To become active and involved with the American Heart Association. I have signed up to help raise money for National Wear Red Day, Friday February 5, to raise awareness of women’s heart health. I posted a small goal of $500. If you would like to donate you can go to my donation page by clicking the Go Red button on the top right of my blog.
Thank you all for your love and support during this crazy, bizarre, and interesting time in our lives. Zac, Finn, and I will never be able to repay you for all that you have done, but we hope you can feel the deep gratitude we are sending your way every single morning as we get to wake up in our own home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Could I Have a Sarcasm Font Puh-Leez?

A friend of mine sent me the thoughts below, and it left me thinking, "Holy cow! I must have many kindred spirits." Since it was one of those "FW:FW:FW:" type deals, there must a whole lot of us out there. And by the way, I added #18.
  1. There is great need for "a sarcasm font."
  2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
  3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to take a nap when I was little.
  4. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  5. Was learning cursive really necessary?
  6. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  7. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  8. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least "sorta tired."
  9. Bad decisions make good stories.
  10. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
  11. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection..again.
  12. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  13. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this...ever.
  14. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away???
  15. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  16. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  17. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay Jewelers.
  18. Is it so hard to remove the FW:FW:FW: from the subject line? You make me feel like I am just another name in your address book, plus it just looks tacky!
What thought would you add to this that you have wanted to pronounce to the world?

Monday, January 18, 2010

These Guys Are Spoiled

Looking out of my window this morning, beyond the porch, the swing and the grill, it looks like a perfect spring day. I step out the door, and yes, it feels that way, too. The temperature is a perfect 60, and yes, perfect compared to the past few weeks of 19, 27, 32 degrees. Moses seems to be enjoying it just as much, perched on the discarded office chair that will take up new residence in the workshop where it will reunite with two of its fellow fallen comrades, and Zac can use it to sit in and do his random man-work, which right now consists of the chair-less task of finishing putting up a fence so that hoards of neighborhood dogs will stay off of our porch. I also want Gunner to be able to come stay with his big sis, too. =)

Sweet Gunner-Man

Due to my germ restrictions Moses had to be moved outside...darn. ;) So, his dad built him a refuge from whatever might decide to come after him and his food. This is now a permanent fixture on the porch, but I do not mind. It's better than seeing his big white hairballs rolling across the living room like tumble weeds everyday and seeing my new furniture slowly develop a fringe trim. Zac built this thing in about four hours and used random pieces of wood from around the shed and our former barrel/table from the porch.

Moses's New Digs: Did I mention that there is a heating pad and Columbia blanket in there?

Tomorrow I have a busy day at Ochsner with hepatology (liver) appointments, which shouldn't last long then maybe if I have the guts I will hit the French Market and Magazine Street for antique retail therapy. Now that I have my own place to decorate, my mom got me the PB shelves I have wanted for ten years. Zac hung them for me yesterday, and it shouldn't take long to get them how I want with old family photos and random artifacts. I will post before and after shots when I am done.
Question: Does anyone else have a step-pet that they inherited from their spouse?

Friday, January 15, 2010

? Avatar = Pocahontas ?

Is Avatar really so ingenious? 
My hubby found this on Reddit, but I will still give props for the immaculate special effects.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thank You Victoria's Secret

Finally, cute and flattering bikinis for us coke bottle girls! I am always ecstatic when I receive my VS Resort catalogue, but this year I wasn't so much looking forward to it because of my sun restrictions and numerous scars from this year's procedures. I love my transplant scar and wear it proudly as a badge of courage, but my four gallbladder scars are hideous. Anyway, all of that soon subsided when I thumbed through the catalogue to find a collection titled "Sexy Coverage: We gotcha covered! Supportive tops, bum-covering bottoms and more tankinis." "Curve-loving cuts!"

In addition to having, in the words of AC/DC, "American thighs" I also have a long torso, being that I am 5'11. So, these new low-cut hipster bikinis virtually disappear and work their way right down the great divide of my backside. Therefore, how excited am I about this new collection? Exuberant! I know what I am spending my reward card on!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

~After the freeze, the breeze is beautiful~

I love the freezing weather, especially when I don't have to get out in at 6:00 in the a.m. I have never gotten to enjoy the cold weather because I have always had to get up and drag my burrrcicled self to work, and with classrooms facing the outside pretty much since student teaching, I rarely ever got to un-bundle during the day. Yesterday, I did have to drag Finn and myself out into the chilly mini-metropolis of Mobile for my labs and his six month check-up. Leaving the neighborhood at 8:00 a.m., my car's thermometer read 27 degrees! His check-up went great, and he barely fussed with his shot. However, he is starting a little bit of stranger anxiety beginning with some of Beth's sweet coworkers and wrapping it up with Dr. Sands. He weighs 21 lbs. and measures 28 inches in length: I am rearing He-Man over here! When we arrived back home and it had begun to warm up, we took a walk down to the pond to check things out. Of course our new porch tenants, the ugly ducks, followed us down in a straight line. Why can't the mallards be the ones crashing next to the house?
The muscovy duck: a flock of which has taken over our back porch.

Finn was all wrapped up in his little brown hat and mittens. While we were checking out some large deer tracks, the mallards flew over to join us. Finn watched the ducks follow us all the way back up to the house, and expressed his dislike for coming inside as soon as I shut the door behind us, but it wasn't anything that jar of Gerber sweet potatoes couldn't fix. =) These little moments make staying home much sweeter: living in the quiet country doesn't hurt either - another aspect of life I am growing accustomed to now. I never realized how much of a city girl I was until I moved where I was thirty minutes from everything as opposed five minutes from everything. Plus, it prevents as much frivolous and impulse purchases, i.e. Target, Best Buy, Walgreens, etc.

I am actually looking forward to Tuesday's hepatology appointment in New Orleans, since I get to go by myself. I am not going to stay the night since my appointment isn't until 9:30. Maybe I'll get to hit up a couple of the antique shops for my new project: the wall in the dining area.

I was able to come down on my steroids again, and I can feel it. I am sleeping a little better, the head-to-toe swelling is slowly going down, and the munchies aren’t as ravenous, neither are the hot flashes. My next biopsy is on February 2nd, and hopefully I will get to go down again (and color my hair)! Hehe. I will be four months out then; six months is the big one; if I can keep it going like this many of my strong restrictions will be lifted or “loosened.

I really want to be able to reach more folks by showing up in search engines and in the blogging community. I will also be able to insert photographs/graphics and details with more freedom and creativity. There have been so many little things I have wanted to spill on and get feedback for that I not able to do on here. Upon searching for blogs for pre and post-transplant support I was very disappointed. Hopefully, I will eventually be able to create a community for those facing the possibility of a transplant, living with heart failure, and those dealing with their new lifestyle post-transplant. I also hope to put a thriving face to organ donation and encourage those dear families having to face that end of the spectrum. I cannot imagine the fear and unrest these families feel. Some of them may never heal enough to be able to face the recipient of their loved one’s organ, but I pray for peace to fill the souls of these noble angels.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Finally Time

I have always wanted to have time to write and record those things I want share or simply not forget. I find that most of those things the majority of people hope to forget, I find myself glad that I didn't. For those of you who I am just now reaching, welcome. To those of you that I know and love who have been so faithfully following my posts, welcome to Bethany 2.0. I have decided to move over to a blog from the Caring Bridge site so that I may expand my horizons and step things up a little, since I will have the time to now that I do not have papers to grade, tardy letters to write, and parents to call. I want to take full advantage of this time that I have over the next year and not waste it away, and to start off with I have really tried to think and organize what I want to accomplish while at the same time soaking in the one time in my adult life that I will probably get a break. Don't misunderstand me here; these are not resolutions they are a checklist that happens to fall in January. I would never want to jinx this list with label of resolutions. 

I hope that in addition to this blog just being my babbling that it will also reach those of you with a million questions about the transplant experience and give you peace. So many of you have tried to talk me into a book, but as of right now this will have to do until I can figure myself out. I have discovered so many new and interesting things while having to live through my laptop the past few months, and now I hope that others can benefit from the randomness: books, movies, shopping, news, products, services, etc. 

To my new readers:
The following is a timeline of the past year of my life. To fill in the details visit where I have been journaling through the process.
  • December 19, 2008 - got hitched
  • January 7, 2009 - gall bladder removed during my second trimester
  • June 5, 2009 - first root canal :/
  • July 14, 2009 - birth of my son Finn
  • September 11, 2009 - diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy (heart failure)
  • October 6, 2009 - received heart transplant
  • November 5, 2009 - released from the hospital to live in New Orleans
  • November 25, 2009 - released to come home to Alabama
  • January 6, 2010 - 3 months with my new heart - Things are looking good!