living, per se

I find per se to be the most liberating phrase in the English language. O.K., I know it’s Latin, my fellow chicken-wingers. To be absolutely certain of the meaning, I looked it up. If I’m gonna be living my life per se, then I better know what it means….in and of itself, intrinsically.

You’re saying per se doesn’t do it for you? Allow me to explain.

Some of you remember the blog post about the adventure I had while being diagnosed with a heart ailment.
You can refresh your memory HERE.

not my actual chest

The Cliff Notes version:
Last Christmas my heart morphed into an uncontainable herd of sweaty, wild-eyed mustangs.

When the mustangs weren’t kicking up their heels, my chest cavity became a holding pen for an anvil. I had a breathless episode one day-next thing I know I’m attached to a finicky Holter Monitor. Blah, blah, blah, blahty-blah-blah. The cardiologist prescribed a beta blocker. Said ‘Take it the rest of your life’ and ‘see you in 3 years’.

I took the meds…I was a good patient. The meds relieved most of my symptoms…I think. Can’t really remember too much because I slept through most of it. A mild-mannered pony replaced the remuda of mustangs, but now my legs became two heavy boat anchors and every movement was a chore.

In the midst of this drama, the Texan and I were taking care of our sweet moms in hospice (they were next door neighbors) and they subsequently died within about 3 weeks of each another. One day while cleaning out some of Mom’s things from the nursing home, I ran across her blood pressure monitor. One of those nifty cuff things to help you monitor your blood pressure at home. I slapped it on my wrist and discovered I wasn’t alive. Really. Put it on the Texan….alive. Put it on me….ready for a body bag.

This set me to pondering, Is something else wrong? Did I need a second opinion? I mustered all of my energy, made a phone call to the Cooper Clinic and folded my boat anchor legs into an airplane seat and got myself to Dallas, Texas.

If you don’t know about the COOPER CLINIC, you should. You can read about it, but suffice it to say it is the leading preventative medicine clinic in the country. Dr. Kenneth Cooper founded it….he coined the term ‘aerobic’ exercise. Went there a couple of years back and passed with flying colors. Perhaps their internists and cardiologists could enlighten me?

Anyhoo (this is all getting really long), after going through their battery of tests, including their infamous ‘stress test’ (where they put you on a treadmill and try to make you literally DIE while monitoring all essential bodily functions) I had some answers.

My internist consulted with the cardiologist and here’s the MONEY quote: I have reviewed the echocardiogram which has essentially normal readings with only what appears to be fairly trivial and common regurgitation of both mitral and tricuspid valves. This is a common finding and does not necessarily represent pathology per se.

The doc explained many…ahem…older folks have some amount of trivial leakage around the heart valves and it is not a pathology, per se. Why were there wild mustangs making a home pasture in my chest occasionally? He wasn’t sure, but he was sure the arrythmia was not life-threatening or heart attack-inducing. Could it be…could it be…stress, perhaps?? Oh and by the by, quit taking the beta-blocker. It’s making your blood pressure too low.

Hells Bells!! Per se is now my favorite word. Per se, per se, per se-hey-hey! Had a burial at sea for my two boat anchors. I’m squeezing all the joy and life out of every per se day. Getting ready for my per se grandson! Playing more ball with my per se wiener dog!

I’m exercising and enjoying myself every damned per se day. No mustangs in this chest…only a faithful Quarter Horse by my side. Haven’t even experienced as much as a chest pony-kick since my second opinion. Hal-le-freakin’-lu-YAH!!

Does this mean I’m a fat worry-wart hypochondriac? Uh….yeah, probably. But, I think it mainly means I’m human and I can live with that.

Hoping you find the per se in YOUR day!
Exuberant love to all.

early-emergent polyester toxicity

I think I’ve found the origin of my heart problem.

The racing, thumping and quick starting and stopping.

Some doctors say I was probably born with mitral valve prolapse syndrome, but I’m not too sure.

While cleaning out some of my mother’s stuff, I ran across THIS damnable photo.

It’s enough to scare the bejesus out of ya!

I think it started my heart palpitations.

Not to mention the number it did on my visual acuity.

Don’t look if you are prone to seizures.

Or, if you have a sensitive stomach.

Or, if you’ve ever read ANYTHING by Tim Gunn!

That’s right….the Texan!!  He’s responsible.

His checked (skin-tight…woo-hoo) polyester pants.

I was only 19 and the sight of this must have overwhelmed my sensitive cardiovascular and neurological systems. 

It feels so good to place blame where blame is due.

Now, go wash your eyes out with saline.  Grab a National Geographic and stare at the pictures (the topless ones are probably the best).  Anything to erase this troubling image.  Don’t want YOU to end up like me.

Checkered love to all.

my heart, the watchdog

You’ve been panting with wild anticipation to hear of my experiences with the heart Holter Monitor, no?  To refresh your memory, I was supposed to wear this contraption for 48 hours.

The monitor was supposed to record the hoofbeats of the proud, wild mustangs inside my chest cavity.  It would allow the cardiologist to discern what planet the alien hailed from that was freeing itself from the jail of my breast.  I was pumped (har! cardiac humor)…this was gonna be some kinda FUN.

The helpful nurse at the cardiologist’s office hooked me up.  She gave the monitor a hard slap with the butt of her palm and said under her breath,

‘What’s wrong with this unit?  Maybe it’s on the fritz!’
She then smiled and wished me well and I skipped out exuding confidence.  As was my fear, the first night I awoke in my usual sweatbath and two of the electrodes slid off my chest.  The nurse had assured me,

 ‘If they come off at night, just stick them back on with some tape.  The monitor will resume working.’ 
I stuck them back on, but the readout on the monitor kept reading ‘data not analyzed’.  In the morning, my chest was a mess o’ medical tape as I futiley struggled to get a readout.  Called the dr’s office and a very annoyed nurse told me to come back in to let her look at the unit.
‘What’s the matter with this thing?  We may have to mark it as not usable.  OK.  You’re good to go.  Good luck!” 

I was ecstatic I had the privilege of paying the doctor a bucketload of cash to hook me up to his broken Holter monitor.
The NADIR (that means the worstest) of the heart monitor experience came about one hour later.  I hear a beep from the monitor (located in my pocket) while I am driving my car.  I take the box out of my pocket and it reads….I kid you not…..WATCHDOG ALERT! (with an exclamation).  I slammed on the brakes cuz I didn’t know if I had already died of a heart attack, or if I had committed a crime and was being hotly pursued by the local dogcatcher.  My call to the doctor’s office was a comedy of

‘We’ve never heard of WATCHDOG ALERT!?  Are you SURE it says WATCHDOG ALERT!?  did I forget to tell you guys I love to play heart monitor jokes??

Posing with the coat
sorry…my obligatory Roxy-Doxy photo


But….I digress.
I guess the cardiologist got enough information from the monitor to see a problem.  He started explaining Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome .  What it means.  What I should do.  I couldn’t believe I had an issue with my heart.  He marched me directly into the echocardiogram room where a very nice man looked at my heart with sonogram technology.  Valves busily opening and shutting.  Chambers filling and emptying of blood.  When he turned the sound on, there was lots of watery whooshing and swooshing.  He showed me the mitral valve opening and closing.  A small amount of blood was being allowed to ‘wash back’ into the chamber.  Not a terrible thing, but not the best either.  Lazy, flaccid valve.

I’ve been coming to terms with this (they say common) condition.  At first, I felt kinda bummed.  I’ve been reading about it…I’m understanding it more.  I’m taking my meds and trying to make changes in how I react to stress. 

Here’s where I am today:
Every beat of my heart, before I found out about my MVP, has been because of the grace of the Creator.  I’m content knowing every flawed beat from here on out is in His hands as well. 
Watchdog Alert love to all.