Dec 02

It All Starts Somewhere

Last Saturday, we celebrated a late Thanksgiving since our son couldn’t get home any earlier.  Sunday afternoon, we did our usual “hike” (aka meander) which was taking our dog on a local trail.  Sometimes, my mom goes, sometimes not.  When she’s with us, we plan for an easier trail.

Using an app that we have, our son chose the improbably named Horsepen Run Stream Valley Trail.

We walked for a very short distance, rounded a curve and there it was – the very first LFL we had ever seen.  Apparently, last time we had come in a different entrance.   On this screenshot, last time we’d come towards the LFL from the right instead of the bottom.

You can see from our tracking app where we stopped and looked around 🙂

first-lfl

Here’s what the first looks like now.

lfl-herndon

The guestbook was cleverly hidden but we signed it and told the owners that they had inspired us to make our own.

Nov 30

St. Andrew is Back!

standrews-day

 

In Scotland, and many countries with Scottish connections, St Andrew’s Day is marked with a celebration of Scottish culture with traditional Scottish food, music and dance. Schools across Scotland hold special St Andrew’s Day events and activities including art shows, Scottish country dancing, lunchtime Ceilidhs, dance festivals, storytelling, reciting and writing poems, writing tall tales, cooking traditional Scottish meals, and bagpipe-playing.

 

The day is also seen as the start of a season of Scottish winter festivals encompassing St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

In Edinburgh, there is a week of celebrations, concentrating on musical entertainment and traditional ceilidh dancing. A ceilidh is a social event with couples dancing in circles or sets (groups of eight people).

In Glasgow city centre, a large shindig, or party, with traditional music and a ceilidh are held. In Dumfries, songs are performed in the Burn’s night tradition.

 

In Barbados Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated as the national day of Independence in Barbados. As the patron saint of Barbados, Saint Andrew is celebrated in a number of Barbadian symbols including the cross formation of the Barbadian Coat of Arms, and the country’s national honours system which styles persons as Knights or Dames of St. Andrew.

 

st-andrews-day-google

Nov 18

Giving Thanks, Day 18

Adapted from https://cushieblog.com/2010/11/22/40-days-of-thankfulness-days-thirty-one-to-thirty-five/

 

Today is the seventh anniversary of my one and only zipline experience.
I had been thinking about doing this since my kidney cancer surgery 3 years earlier.  I figured I had “extra years” and I wanted to do something kinda scary, yet fun. So, somehow, I decided on ziplining.

All the following is I wrote then:

Day Four, November 18, 2009: Belize City, Honduras

Today’s Schedule!

Up and at ‘em early this morning.

This is finally the zipline day I’ve been thinking about since my kidney cancer surgery 3 years ago. Since then, I figure I have “extra years” and I wanted to do something kinda scary, yet fun. So, somehow, I decided on ziplining. Tom wouldn’t go with me but Michael would so I set this up almost as soon as we booked this cruise.

Our tour left first so after breakfast, Michael and I got on the tender for Belize. Tom’s tender was about 45 minutes later. Even though the tender went zipping along, it was about 20 minutes to shore.

We got on our bus with about 30 other brave and not-so-brave folks and our guide, Eddie, told us a bit about Belize City, Belize in general and what to expect on our tour.

Belize City used to be the capital of British Honduras (as Belize was formerly named) but it’s 2 feet below sea level and prone to hurricanes so the capital was moved to the other city – Belmopan in 1970. It was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31.

Because of the altitude, graves are all above ground.

The main languages are English (the official language), Spanish and Kriol. Eddie said the kids learned English in school but, as soon as they were out, it was back to the Kriol. They wear uniforms to school.

Bordering on Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, Belize is the second smallest country in Central America (after El Salvador), with an area of approximately 9,000 square miles that includes numerous small islands off the coast known as cayes.

More than half of the mainland is covered with dense forests, and at its longest point Belize is 174 miles long while its greatest width is 68 miles. Long a strong advocate of environmental protection, the government has set aside approximately 20% of its land as nature reserves.

There are also several important Mayan sites situated on the mainland such as Altun Ha and Xunantunich that make for excellent day trips and are included on shore excursions by most cruise ships. As a matter of fact, Belize has the highest concentration of Mayan sites of all the countries in Central America.

Eddie tried to tell us that our tour would be scary – but FUN, it would be hard – but FUN. He himself had done the zipline only once, because he had to for this job. He said that the caves might have things brushing up against us but they would be leaves and twigs. The caves might have “log-gators” in them, too.

We travelled along the 37-mile drive along the Western Highway – the scenery changed from city to suburbs, to a settlement called Hattieville where hurricane survivors met to life after the country was destroyed, to the beginnings of the rain forest.

We turned down a road to a jaguar preserve – yes, they have them here! then, finally, to our destination, Caves Branch National Park.

Eddie handed out water (which we had to leave on the bus). A bathroom break, then off to the zipline area.

Each person had a harness around their legs with attached pulleys and carabiners. Women had them on their chests as well. In addition, we had leather construction gloves and hard hats.

We climbed to the top of the first platform and were given brief instructions and off we went. Because of the heavy gloves, I couldn’t get any pictures. I had thought that they would take some of us on the hardest line to sell to us later but they didn’t. They also didn’t have cave pictures or T-Shirts. What a missed opportunity!

This was so cool, so much fun. I thought I might be afraid at first but I wasn’t. I just followed instructions and went.

Sometimes they told us to break. We did that with the right hand, which was always on the upper cable.

After the second line, I must have braked too soon because I stopped before I got to the platform. Michael was headed toward me. The guide on the end of the platform wanted me to do some hand over hand maneuver but I couldn’t figure out what he was saying so he came and got me by wrapping his legs around me and pulling me to the platform.

After that, no more problems with braking!

The next platform was very high – over 70 feet in the air – and the climb up was difficult. It was very hot and the rocks were very uneven. I don’t know that I would have gotten to the next platform if Michael hadn’t cheered me on all the way.

We zipped down the next six lines up to 250-feet between platforms and 85-feet high in the trees, at canopy level. It seemed like it was all over too soon.

But, I did it! No fear, just fun.

Here we are, after getting our gear off. The people behind Michael are just starting out on their zipline adventure. I thought maybe we could go again…?

Next stop was lunch in the trees. It was a buffet similar to those in Barbados – a jerk chicken (Eddie had said it would taste like chicken – might be egret, road kill, log-gator or even…chicken!), peas and rice, a pasta salad, cake, fruit salad, the usual fare.

Next up, cave tubing! This is the event I got my new waterproof camera for. Thanks again, Alice!

 

If you’re interested in reading the cave tubing part, it’s here: http://www.cushingsonline.com/cruise/cruise2009.htm

Nov 11

Remembering our Veterans

veterans-day

I’m not sure how Veterans Day turned into a day to sell stuff, but then, most every holiday has turned into a day for stores to run “sales”.  Possibly, the original intent was to give our veterans a break but it has sure morphed away from that.

Veterans Day is supposed to be a day to thank those who have served.

From the Constitution:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations;…

 

But I digress.  Sunday, November 13 will also be Remembrance Day in the UK – including Scotland where my grandfather was a soldier in the Black Watch.

remembrance

 

Thanks so much Tom and Frank for your service to the US and to Europe.

Nov 09

Giving Thanks, Day 5

Yes, I know I skipped a couple days…I’ve been in a lot of (physical) pain and it’s been hard to come up with things to be thankful for, other than meds.

Today, however, I am so thankful for knowing my dear friend Alice.  Today would have been her birthday.

 

Adapted from https://power-surge.co/2016/11/09/another-birthday/

 

bd-alice

Another birthday is here and I’ve definitely passed you age-wise. 🙁  I had always taken such delight being able to say that I was the younger one.  Not any more 🙁

Each year, the non-birthday-girl would be planning and plotting online, as well as real-life, surprises.  We had hand-made wrapping paper and all sorts of exotic and non-exotic gifts.  Right now, I’m wearing a cozy robe from a zillion years ago.

Way back in 1998, when I was learning web design, I posted a whole mini-site for that birthday.  Unfortunately, html code no longer allows for the music to play, but I had carefully thought out tunes for each day.  The page titles aren’t showing, either.

  • The main page title was “Happy Millennium Birthday, Alice!” and played a simple Happy Birthday  
  • The theme to Perry Mason aka “Peri MasonPause” on the “Flora”  page
  • the “Born” page had the theme to Alice’s Restaurant with no special title
  • the “Robert Redford” page had The Way We Were.  The title was “To Alice, from Bob (with lust)”
  • the “musician and his music” page was Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and the title was “Happy Bachday, Alice!”
  • the “flowers” page was The Rose with no special title

See that site here: http://www.oconnormusic.org/aliceBD/birthday.htm

The last page of that site was particularly important.  I’d emailed all of Alice’s past guest speakers and other PS members and compiled this list of great wishes: http://www.oconnormusic.org/aliceBD/guests.htm

We’d be up at 12:01 am, posting wishes, decorating message boards and doing the final touches for websites.

turbanIn 2003, I’d apparently posted a picture of Flora Dora (again!) and Alice responded:

MaryO, what can I say other than that it was a wonderful and beautiful surprise to see my guest announcement area turned into a beautiful, sparkling birthday greeting — and Flora Dora, Power Surge’s mascot and RR — but especially your beautiful wishes.

I responded:

After all these years, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with new ideas for how to do an online surprise. There have been a variety of different things for different birthdays, but I have to keep you guessing   I hope that you don’t mind that I’m holding the announcement area hostage for a little longer.

I’m sure that many of the newer people don’t know who Flora Dora is, but she’s an essential part of Power Surge so she have to be included somehow – kinda like inviting your maiden aunt to Thanksgiving 🙂 Of course, RR is welcome – anytime! I’m so glad that I could make an online surprise for you again this year – maybe I should start planning for NEXT year already.

I hope we share many more birthdays together as the close friends we’ve become over the years.

On a more serious side, you’re very welcome for the “beautiful wishes”.  Sometimes, words fail me and I don’t do things justice, but you and Power Surge have changed my life in so many ways that go beyond “simple” menopause issues. When I first came to Power Surge on AOL, I was a confirmed lurker, reading only, never posting.

The first chat I tried to hide out until you asked me a question, encouraging me to talk. This was all so scary for me, communicating with others – online or off. I can say with confidence, that I’m no longer a lurker on the boards and in the chats like I was, and that was all your doing. Thanks so much for that!

Now I just have to work on my real life lurkership! The knowlege I got here in Power Surge, even when I was lurking, helped me so much with my menopause, my symptoms, my everyday life. Like most everyone else, I learned about the way to help my meno symptoms and I’m so thankful of that, that I could be feeling better.

When my husband was very sick, close to death, my first December in PS, I wouldn’t post, but I would come home from the hospital and read everything that other people were posting. It seemed so great to me, and it was such a comfort to me to know that everyone was out there. I recognized people’s names and enjoyed “listening” to the banter and chatter, and that gave me something other than the hospital and my own worries to think about. No matter what the time of day was, I could always read and see that things were ok with the world, and know that we were going to survive this. What a wonderful community Power Surge is!

Things have come along way since then. My husband made it, thanks to a skilled surgeon and a LOT of prayer. And I gradually changed, too. I’m obviously not afraid to post anymore, or go to chats, and I really have you to thank for that. Over the years there have been many changes, the boards have moved, been started again from scratch, updated, all kinds of things, as have the chats, but one thing remains clear and unchanged – and that Power Surge isn’t just another “website”. It is a true community for women in midlife, something we can gain daily strength from. (sorry about the preposition!)

And it’s all because of you, Dearest Alice Stamm. Thank you so much, and I hope it was a wonderful birthday – you deserve the very best!

Hugs and thanks from the bottom of my heart! Mary

From the message boards in 2004:

online-friend

From 2005:

We have decided to let you accept the responsibilities of a 6 year old again.
If you want to sail sticks across a fresh mud puddle and make ripples with rocks, that’s great.
If you want to think M&Ms are better than money, because you can eat them, they are calorie-free (today only!).
If you want to lie under a big Oak tree next summer and run a lemonade stand with your friends (and fellow Surgettes) on a hot summers day, we’ll give you a voucher.
That summer-time voucher is also good for walking on the beach and thinking of the sand between your toes and the prettiest seashell you can find. Or you can spend the afternoon climbing trees and riding your bike.
We are returning you to a time when life was simple. When all you knew were colors, addition tables and simple nursery rhymes. But that didn’t bother you, because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and you didn’t care. When all you knew was to be happy because you didn’t know all the things that should make you worried and upset.
You’re going to go to school and have snack time, recess, gym and field trips.
You’ll be so happy, nothing will make you upset.
We’re going to let you think that the world is fair. That everyone in it is honest and good…that anything is possible.
For today, you’re going to be oblivious to the complexity of life and be overly excited by little things once again, returned to the days when reading was fun.
No worries about time, bills, websites that crash, guest chats where the guest can’t get in, excess email, time….No more worry about computer crashes, mountains of paperwork, depressing news, aches, pains, doctor visits or illness.
We’re going to help you believe in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, health, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow.
You’re going to be 6 again, for today (and probably some of us will want to join you!). From all of us…

QUOTE (Dearest @ Nov 10 2005, 09:23 AM)

Thank you all for your warm and wonderful birthday wishes.

A very special thank you to my friend, MaryO, for the beautiful greeting, for including Power Surge’s mascot, Flora Dora at the top of the screen — and especially for allowing me to be six again even if only for a day 🙂

And I said:

You know, you can always apply for an extension of the day being 6. Click here to apply.

Glad you had a great birthday and much-needed vacation. If you want to extend either of those, please let me know and I’ll see if I can locate an extension for either of those.

Happy Post-Birthday!

In 2006, Alice said:

Thank you ALL for your wonderful birthday wishes and beautiful sentiments about how much Power Surge means to and has done for you. That makes all the years of work that’s gone into this “community” worthwhile (with, perhaps, the exception of dealing with HACKERSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!) 🙂

I don’t know some of you very well. Others I know well and have established lovely friendships with. You know who you are. Thank you, too, for your beautiful flowers, birthday cards, online greetings, etc.

And thank you, my dear friend, MaryO, for starting this topic and for being the sister I never had 🙂 I’m so glad I impulsively decided to give myself a birthday present last month and called saying, “C’mon, let’s go to see Streisand!!” That was the highlight of my/our year. To be sitting so close to her, and SO close to and watching people mingle like: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Lauren Bacall, James Brolin, Katie Couric, Stephen Sondheim, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting, Hugh Jackman, Steven Spielberg, Regis and Joy Philbin, Sara Jessica Parker — and many, many others.

It was like the first time we met a few years ago and stopped into a restaurant only to find a few minutes later that Gena Rowlands, Ben Gazzara, Peter Bogdonovich, Carol Kane and others, whose names elude me at the moment, came in and sat at the table next to us. Knowing me, I had to go over and talk to them, especially Gena Rowlands, who’s still beautiful and elegant and was so gracious.

The past few years, starting with my emergency surgery and all the ensuing complications, my mom’s fall down the stairs and subsequent need for constant care, my dad passing away only four months later and my own ongoing and confusing health issues — too much stress.

The past few months have been better — we’ve both been through a LOT this year especially!

Special thanks to those of you who’ve generously given donations (some of you even more than once) to the site to help defray some of the expenses of running it.

I’m grateful to be alive and very proud of Power Surge and all the women (and men) it’s helped over the years plus all the wonderful women who participate in it 🙂

Alice

And I responded:

To be sitting so close to her…
You mean me…or Barbra? LOL

It was so amazing how that trip worked out. It was the most spontaneous thing I had ever done.

My son was home from grad school for “fall break” formerly known as Columbus Day weekend. He was flying back on Wednesday, through JFK.

After Alice got the tickets for Barbra on Monday (amazing in itself), I was able to get on Michael’s flight to JFK – only one trip to the airport! The flight number was the same as Alice’s street address. Do I hear Twilight Zone music?

What a great birthday gift you got for yourself – thank you so much for sharing it with me 🙂

Happy post-birthday!

From 2007

The top header on the boards:

logo4

Followed by

birthday2007

And Alice said…

Firstly, {{{{{MaryO}}}}, my old and dear friend, thank you for starting this topic and for the beautifully creative graphic and sentiments you made for my birthday. I don’t have to tell you what your friendship has meant to me all these years (you already know). Hugs!

Thank you all for your good wishes. Someone wrote to me, “I hope you had a peaceful birthday.” That’s exactly what it was . . . peaceful.

Thank you also for your kind words about Power Surge. It’s been a labor of love for 14 years . . . about to start its 15th year Feb. 3rd, 2008. I have a pretty good idea how many women’s lives have been impacted by this “community.” In all these years, including the start-up years on America Online, I’ve probably posted in the area of 100,000 messages on the numerous PS message boards. I can’t post as much as I used to any longer for many reasons, but I’m always working in the background to maintain this site that’s become a tremendous source of information and haven of support for all the visitors who come to it every day.

What started out as a blank page in an HTML editor has grown to exactly what I’d planned. I’m very proud of every facet of Power Surge including this message board.

Finally, thank you to all those who have made donations to Power Surge. I have thanked each and every one of you individually. Your donations have been helpful in defraying some of the ever-increasing costs involved with running Power Surge.

Again, thank you.

Best,
Dearest

Then, 2008

dearest-alice-2008

alice-2008

And that’s enough for this year.  I have to save some out 🙂

~~~

So, it’s 17 years since I made that first silly website.  I’m still scrambling to get something to post by 12:01 am for your birthday.

I still can’t believe that you won’t be reading this later, calling me when UPS / amazon / FEDex arrives with gifts so we can open them “together”.

We’ve said it once, we’ve said it dozens of times.  Even when we’re apart we’re

foreverfriends

hbalice

alice-miss-you

 

 

Nov 06

Giving Thanks, Day 4

sleepy

 

I was so thankful for Daylight Savings time this morning.  I had gotten to bed very late last night early this morning and had to be leaving the house at 7:30 am to ring handbells at church.

 

Hooray for that extra hour!

clocks-back-11-6

Nov 05

Don’t Forget!

clocks-back-11-6

Nov 05

Giving Thanks, Day 3

Today I am hugely thankful that the last major issue we had here was in 2013 when Tom had his heart attack.  That event caused me to start a whole new blog to post about our experiences.

 

screenshot-2016-11-05-06-30-59

 

Adapted from https://maryomedical.com/2013/02/08/the-beginning/

 

January 27, 2013 was our 40th anniversary.  DH called me and said he was leaving a conference in Washington, DC and we’d go out to brunch when he got home.

The next thing I had heard was that he was in the ER with a suspected heart attack.  I rushed to the ER and found him in his cubicle.  He’d had 3 nitroglycerine pills by then and figured he could go home.

Wrong!  They had him stay overnight at the hospital.  January 28th, they decided to send him by ambulance to Fairfax Hospital for a cardiac catheterization and possible stent.

At the end of that, the surgeon came into my waiting room and said that he needed triple bypass NOW.  Three of the arteries were 100% blocked.  They got me calmed down to see him in the OR.

He was trying to get odds of not doing this surgery and just leaving then.  Finally, I said that he would do this surgery, we weren’t going to fool with this.

I really lost it when they asked me if we had any children and I said 1 son in NYC.  They called him at work in New York and had him get there as soon as possible.  I’m sure he could hear the fear in my voice.

They wheeled DH off for surgery and I waited again.  Luckily, 2 church friends came and sat with me and our pastor arrived about 8:00PM.  Our son arrived about 8:30PM after taking the Acela and a taxi directly to the hospital.

The surgery was over about 9:00PM but when we saw Tom, he was still under anesthesia.  They kept him that way until the next morning since he was too confused when they woke him up.

Long story short (too late!) – he got out of the hospital on the 31st and I played nurse 24/7.   He couldn’t drive/go anywhere for 6 weeks, and then there were 12 weeks of cardiac rehab.

One of the things that came out or cardiac rehab was becoming friendly with 2 other couples (although one of them has since split up).  We go out to dinner every couple months…and none of the surgeons would be happy about our choices.

 

heart-line

 

A slightly different take on the events, written 3 weeks later on the same blog.

Icy Days and Mondays…*

* With apologies to Karen Carpenter!

I know I’m not supposed to “relive” events.  I have done that too often with my Cushing’s and cancer adventures and I’m told that reliving causes nearly as much stress as the original event.

So, I plan to write down my memories here and try to let them go…

It all started on Sunday, January 27, 2013 – our 40th wedding anniversary.  I picked up my mom and went to church so I could sing in the choir.  DH went to a meeting of some sort on Benghazi.

After church, I stopped off in the church office for a goodie bag that the Staff Parish Committee had left.

Dropped my mom off at her house and went home.  I put the goodie bag on the dining room table and logged onto the computer to do some work.

I got a couple text messages from DH:

Text message

I figured I’d take a nap until DH came home for that late brunch.

The next thing I hear was my phone ringing, a call from DH.  He was in the ER at Fair Oaks with a heart attack.  OMG!

I immediately leaped up and rushed out the door.  I called one of my pastors and got to the ER in record time.   When I arrived, he was in a bed, all hooked up to monitors, fluids and such.  He was awake and feeling pretty well thanks to the nitroglycerine they had given him immediately after arrival.

When we had a chance to talk, it turned out that he had been in his conference and realized his chest was getting tight.  He found the hotel’s store and bought aspirin – 3 for $11.00 which he thought was extravagant.  He bought them and took them anyway – and probably saved his life.

On the way home, he was feeling pretty good so he stopped at the mall to buy an anniversary gift.  The salesgirl in Zales didn’t know that ruby was the stone for the 40th anniversary and was kind of ribbing DH for waiting until the last minute to buy a gift.  He walked out of there, felt more tightness and headed to the ER…where he called me.

DH was feeling pretty well thanks to the nitroglycerin and aspirin plus whatever else they had in the IV and wanted to go home.  The staff said no way – he had to stay overnight so he could be monitored.

The “automatic clock” on the wall said it was Monday.  Other rooms said Sunday.  Hmmm

A trainee EMT came in to ask some questions as part of his learning process.  Every time DH mentioned the word “Benghazi”, his blood pressure spiked about 40 points or so.  That term became verboten ever after.

My pastor stopped by and we had some nice chats and prayers.

Time passed, tests were done, doctors and nurses stopped by.  Finally, DH was moved to his room upstairs.

About 9 or so I went home and found our dog huddled by the front door – I had left so quickly I hadn’t left her any lights on.  I imagine she was quite worried.

I can’t even remember what I had to eat for dinner but I really wanted something chocolate.  On a whim, I looked in that goodie bag and there was a double-sized brownie.  I think I ate that in record time and it really hit the spot.

Ice

 

Monday morning (for real!), I checked the weather and found that school was starting late because of icy conditions.  I put on boots and took the dog out.  It seemed to be raining – if it’s raining, it must be warm, right?  So I didn’t really pay attention (and I had other things on my mind!) and completely missed seeing the black ice.

Next thing I knew, I had fallen on one knee, my cell phone in my pocket bruised my other thigh and my left arm hurt where I’d reached out to catch myself.  Luckily, I hadn’t let go of the dog’s leash.

I ended up sitting in a puddle of icy water for a long time, figuring out how to get up.  I finally sort of crawled up the trash can that was sitting in the driveway.

The dog had an abbreviated walk, I changed my wet, cold clothes and headed to the hospital.  I was showing DH my knee and one of the staff bandaged it up for me.  I told him I hadn’t fallen at the hospital and wouldn’t sue but I guess he wanted to be sure.

(Today, Monday February 18, my knee still has a huge lump under the skin and hurts when I touch it, although I’m no longer limping,  The bruise/pain from cell phone finally went away)

The hospital staff decided DH should go to another hospital which is world renowned for its work with heart cases to have a heart catheterization and possible stent.  DH was ready to walk out to my car to drive him to Fairfax Hospital.  He wasn’t thrilled when he was strapped to a gurney and out to an ambulance instead.

I headed over in my car.  They’d changed the entrances to the hospital since the last time I was there and I couldn’t find the “Grey Entrance”.  Finally, after wandering around for a long time, I found it.

I saw DH in the prep room where they got him ready for the heart catheterization – then they rolled him away after explaining all the things that could go wrong.

I went out to the waiting room, got some coffee and a sandwich and hunkered down with my iPad.

Eventually, my beeper went off and I was called back to the room where DH had been prepped.  The surgeon was there this time.  She said that 3 arteries were nearly 100% blocked and they needed to do emergency triple bypass.  They also needed me to convince DH of this since he was figuring he could tough it out.

I started crying but she said I had to get myself together and convince him NOW.  I had to put on scrubs and off I went to the OR.  I got there, DH was on the table trying to figure out the odds if he didn’t do this surgery.  All the medical staff said that he had  a very low chance of survival without the operation.  He still wasn’t sure.  He wasn’t afraid to die.  Tough Guy, Yadda Yadda.

One of the nurses asked me if we had any kids.  I said only one, in NYC.  She said I should call him and get him here ASAP.  She even dialed the number.  I talked to DS at work and he agreed to come right away.  He was pretty scared, too.  He later revealed that he had been crying on the train ride.

I went back to the OR, told DH that DS was coming and that he was going to do the surgery like it or not.  I signed the paperwork and sent him to a very scary surgery.

It was about 4:30 by then and I needed to take the dog out again.  They said I could go home – surgery wouldn’t be over until about 8:00PM or so. Got home, took the dog, made sure that there were lights on, and headed back to the hospital.  Another pastor from my church called.  He said he’d be by the waiting room later.

Two friends from the church office texted me to say they were coming over to sit with me in the waiting room.  They got there about 6:30 and we decided food might be a good thing.  We headed out, following a variety of directions and signs and walked for a l-o-n-g time.

My knee was killing me.  We got to the cafeteria and found out that it was closed.  the 24-hour one was elsewhere.  We finally found that, got some food and my cellphone rang.  The surgeon would be coming out soon to talk to me.

We hustled back to the waiting room and the surgeon came out about 8:00 with good news.  Successful surgery!  DH wasn’t awake yet but we could see him about 9:00PM.

The pastor arrived about 8:30, then DS got there about 8:45.  Finally, they said we could see DH although he still was asleep.  My friends left, pastor and DS went in to see him in ICU, sleeping so peacefully with so many lines attached.  The pastor prayed, then left.  DS and I decided to stay to see DH awake.

About an hour later, the ICU tech said they were going to keep him asleep overnight so we went home.

Monday

Tuesday, January 29 – DS called the hospital fairly early and found that DH was still a bit agitated so they were keeping him under a bit. I took the dog out and we got ready to head back.

I got a call that he was waking up but agitated.  He kept fighting with the nurses on the day of the week.  He kept saying it was Monday, even though it was Tuesday.  Surprise, surprise.  The calendar on the wall hadn’t been changed.  It still read Monday.  No wonder that’s what he thought!

We stayed all day, though nurses, techs, doctor visits and such.  He was in ICU so was monitored very well.  DH was quite confused and repeated himself a lot.  He wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

Monday

 

Wednesday, January 30.  DH had been moved from ICU into a regular room and we had to follow visiting hours, even though we were family.  We could visit at 11 and had to leave at 1, then back for 6-8.  Actually, this worked out well since I was able to take my first nap since this whole ordeal began.

DH had called DS early in the morning and  said he “needed” his cell phone to make some work calls.  Luckily, DS talked him out of that, saying that he could say some wrong things, given his temporary memory issues.  Thank goodness!  I didn’t want him spending his days talking on the phone.

We got there about 10:45am and they still wouldn’t let us in due to “flu season”.  I’m not sure how we could give him the flu in those 15 minutes before official visiting hours.

I glanced at the whiteboard on the wall where the nurses’ names, doctor’s name and such were written.  Unfortunately, no one had changed this whiteboard since Monday, so that’s what it still said.  <sigh>

We visited – DH got to eat a bit and had started having lines removed.  He thought he might put his shorts on so went into the bathroom to do that.  Unfortunately, he managed to pull the IV out of his hand and bled quite a bit.  The nurse sent him back to bed and said no more of that!

A representative from the group Mended Hearts stopped by with information and a heart-shaped pillow.  They have meetings the first Saturday of the month, so we might go to some of those.

The first pastor dropped by again and we made plans for Friday to pick up DH’s car which was still at the ER.  No one else I know could get it – it’s a standard shift car.

Not much else – visiting, napping, improvements every day.

Not Monday

Finally, it’s not Monday!  Nowhere, nohow.  Just Thursday, January 31 after 4 days of Monday.  Hooray!

DS had a headache so I went to the hospital alone.  He was going to come for the nighttime visiting hours.  As it happened, DH came home this day after lots of testing, last minute X-Ray, discharge notes, complaints about the night nurse…

We got home about 5:00PM.  Yea!

Now the real work began – visiting nurses, medications, doctor visits, rehab.

Since it’s no longer Monday, this post is over 🙂

 

heart-line

Whew!  There was a lot more after the surgery – visiting nurses, cardiac rehab, so on and on.

I am hugely thankful for my pastors, friends, family, people who brought us dinners, all the doctors, nurses, surgeons, visiting nurses, rehab personal, Mended Hearts, ambulance folks, aspirin, nitroglycerin, insurance, Fair Oaks Hospital, Fairfax Hospital, everyone involved in any way with this escapade.

 

 

Nov 04

Giving Thanks, Day 2

ocms-logo

 

Today, since it’s a “teaching day”, I’m thankful for my piano studio, my students, and my piano 🙂

 

When I was growing up, my dad was a minister, meaning we lived in whatever parsonage the church chose to let us live in.  The one we had in Pawcatuck, CT had an upright piano that someone had put out in the sunroom.  Not the best place for a piano, but I digress.

Since we had the piano already, someone – probably my mom – decided that I would take lessons.  We had the organist from the Baptist church just across the river in Westerly, RI

Apparently, Clara Pashley was fondly remembered at the church (now Central Baptist Church) since she was mentioned in an article from 2010.

 

screenshot-2016-11-04-10-04-33
25-centsMiss Pashley walked to our house each week and taught me (and my mom who was always listening in) piano for the grand sum of 25 cents.

I started with Ada Richter’s classic Teaching Little Fingers to Play, which has now been morphed into the John Thompson library.

From there, it was the Michael Aaron series, and some sheet music.

There was no music store in our town, so I have no idea where any of this music came from – but I still have it all.

My parents did very well for their quarter a week investment, especially since my mom paid good attention and was able to beef up lessons she’d had as a child.  Later on, she played well enough that she was church organist for a local Roman Catholic Church.

But I digress…

In those days, kids couldn’t do a whole lot of activities, so in 6th grade, I decided I wanted to be a Girl Scout.  Bye, bye Clara.

Girl Scouts didn’t last long but I did play piano in a talent show.  I remember, I carefully cut Burgmüller’s Ballade out of my Michael Aaron book and made a nice construction paper cover.  (I still have this, too)

balladeburgmuller

 

I doubt that I played this well but here’s what it was supposed to sound like:

 


A few years intervened and moved to Springfield, MA.  The parsonage piano there was in terrible shape and in the dark, never-used basement.  But I decided to make it mine and cleared up the area around it and started “practicing”.

My Junior or Senior year of High School I decided I wanted to major in music in college.  I decided to learn, on my own, a piano arrangement of Aragonnaise by Jules Massenet.  I have no idea why or where that sheet music came from but I started working furiously on this piece.

aragonnaise

Hopefully, at some point, it should have sounded like this:

 

 

I started pedaling (no pun intended!) my music to the Universities of Connecticut and Massachusetts and ended up at UMass Amherst since we were state residents.

Early morning gym classes (usually swimming), then wet hair traipsing across campus to music theory in winter 5 days a week.  AARRGGH!

But I stuck it out.

My wonderful piano teacher, Howard Lebow, was killed in a car accident my sophomore year and I was devastated.  There will be more about him in a post on January 26, 2017 over on https://oconnormusicstudio.com

I took yet another break from piano lessons – but I kept playing.

After DH graduated, we moved to Milwaukee, WI for his graduate school.  Besides working 2 jobs, I found time to commandeer the practice rooms at the University of Wisconsin.  I also found a teacher at the Schaum School of Music.  She was amazed that I had no piano at home to practice on.

When we later moved to Alexandria, VA my DH gave me a choice of new car or piano. So, I found a used piano.  The owner had acquired it in a divorce and wanted it gone.  Yesterday.  She even paid to move it out of her apartment.

The new-to-me piano took up half our living room.  When my parents came to visit, their feet we under my piano as I slept.

I found yet another new piano teacher and she is still my best friend to this day.

That piano moved to several locations before I bought a brand new Yamaha grand piano.  The movers accidently brought in the wrong one and I made them return it.  The people who lived in an apartment were probably unhappy when they had to return my piano and take their own new baby grand back.

I started teaching as a traveling piano teacher in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I continued that in Wilmington, DE.

When we got to Fairfax, VA I decided no more traveling.  Students would come to me.  And so they have since 1973.

What is supposed to be our living room is filled with music books, electric keyboards, the grand piano, 2 organs, 2 violins, 2 clarinets and other musical “stuff”.

Piano playing has gotten me through the worst times of my life.  Teaching has been a lifeline for me, as well.

I am so thankful for the students who have stayed with me over the years.

 

Nov 03

Giving Thanks, Day 1

29-anniversary

 

Today is the 29th anniversary of my pituitary surgery at NIH.

As one can imagine, it hasn’t been all happiness and light.  Most of my journey has been documented here and on the message boards – and elsewhere around the web.

My Cushing’s has been in remission for most of these 29 years.  Due to scarring from my pituitary surgery, I developed adrenal insufficiency.

I took growth hormone for a while.

When I got kidney cancer, I had to stop the GH, even though no doctor would admit to any connection between the two.  Even though I’m now 10 years NED (no evidence of disease) from cancer, I still can’t go back on the GH.

During that surgery, doctors removed my left kidney, my adrenal gland, and some lymph nodes.  Thankfully, the cancer was contained – but my adrenal insufficiency is even more severe than it was.

In the last year, I’ve developed ongoing knee issues.  Because of my cortisol use to keep the AI at bay, my endocrinologist doesn’t want me to get a cortisone injection in my knee.

My mom has moved in with us, bring some challenges…

But, this is a post about Giving Thanks.  The series will be continued on this blog unless I give thanks about something else Cushing’s related 🙂

I am so thankful that in 1987 the NIH existed and that my endo knew enough to send me there.

I am thankful for Dr. Ed Oldfield, my pituitary neurosurgeon at NIH.

I’m thankful for Dr. Harvey Cushing and all the work he did.  Otherwise, I might be the fat lady in Ringling Brothers now.

To be continued in the following days here at http://www.maryo.co/

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