Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'm not a doctor, but I'm getting pretty good at using Web MD

So. The cardiologist's office called yesterday with the results from my Holter monitor.

"Your results were within normal limits."

Normal? You call losing my breath while sitting down doing nothing normal?

I was pretty upset after I hung up the phone. I felt like I'd wasted two days of my time and no-telling-how-much money, and every test I took seems to have come back as "normal."

I have a follow up appointment in about two weeks, so maybe I'll get more answers then. I sure as heck am going to ask more questions!

Looks like I need to fire up Web MD.

Friday, March 26, 2010

An update, of sorts

I don't have much new information on my heart, just yet. Jason dropped the monitor at the cardiologist's office last night, and it'll be a couple of days before I hear those results.

They did call today, and tell me that my thyroid is normal. I guess that's good news, except, don't we all kinda wish that our thyroid is to blame for things like weight gain and sluggishness, instead of our poor diets and lack of exercise?

Yeah, me too.

So thus far, all we know for sure is my thyroid is A-Ok. Hopefully the other results will be in sometime next week. My next face-to-face appointment is in two and a half weeks, and I'm really, REALLY hoping they won't wait that long to get back with me.

Thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to: scare your kid

Just come home from the cardiologist's office with a bunch of wires hooked to you.

Yeah, that's what I did today.

I'm sorry I haven't gotten my Kroger Shakedowns from the past two weeks posted, but I've been dealing with a bit of a health issue over here.

I've had issues with my heart for years. In fact, before I was born, the doctor detected an irregular hearbeat. We've always chalked it up to my size (I was over nine pounds when I was born) and a stressful pregnancy (my mom was going to the city hospital because they were broke, and it was August in Memphis. 'Nuff said.)

When I was in college, right before I graduated, I ended up in the ER because of my heart rhythm. To be fair, I was 100 lbs. overweight, not taking care of myself AT ALL, eating a steady diet of junk, planning a wedding, and trying to finish school. Know what set off the episode? I opened my Visa bill from ordering my invitations.

Of course, that EKG came back perfectly normal.

Since I have lost weight, I haven't worried so much about my heart. I was still having the odd palpitation, but it really wasn't that serious - until last year.

For some reason, I was having episodes where I'd lay down at night to sleep, and my heart was pounding so hard I thought it would beat out of my chest. During the day, not only would my heart flutter, it would skip so many beats that it felt like it was turning flips trying to catch back up.

I almost fainted a couple of times walking around Walmart. And just sitting at my desk or in the car would bring a severe shortness of breath.

Since I didn't have insurance, I didn't feel like there was much I could do. I prayed. A lot. And it would get better. And then it would come back.

And then last year, I was able to buy insurance. The heart issues continued, but I'd visited an OBGYN who thought my uterus was tipped over and too big, and ordered an ultrasound. I figured I'd let myself get through one health crisis at a time, you know.

Well, my uterus is some sort of gymnast, because by golly, it's back where it needs to be. But my heart kept giving me problems.

So last week, after losing my breath while sitting at my desk, I asked a co-worker what cardiologist she used and made an appointment. I figured if my insurance didn't require a referral, it didn't make much sense to go to a general practitioner first, and waste that time and money just to end up at the specialist anyway.

So, Tuesday, I went. They performed an EKG, which showed my resting heart rate at over 100 bpm. Normal is under 80! I explained to the doctor that it felt like that at night when I was trying to sleep. He drew blood to check my thyroid, and scheduled me for a Holter Monitor and an echo cardiogram (basically an ultrasound of my heart - who knew?)

They were out of monitors yesterday, so I went back today. It was actually pretty cool to see my heart beating on that screen! The tech didn't say anything about what she saw, so I'm hoping it was normal.

Then, they put me into a monitor.

I've got five electrodes hooked to different parts of my body, and a small device the size of a cell phone on a lanyard around my neck. And I have to wear this contraption for 24 hours, meaning I not only have to sleep in it, but I also cannot shower tomorrow morning.

This ought to be fun.

I've been very open with Anna Marie about all of this, answering her questions about what happened at the doctor's office. But tonight, as I was putting her to bed, I could tell she was concerned about my condition.

So, we had a long talk. I told her that it was OK to admit she was concerned about me, and a little freaked out by all the wires stuck to me. I assured her that God was in control, and that no matter what happened, He would take care of all of us.

And then she asked me how much this visit was costing.

I explained about co-pays, and how I'd get a bill for part of the rest. From what I can gather, she was afraid that we wouldn't have the money to send her to camp this summer! I assured her that we had money set aside for camp, and that she didn't need to worry about that either.

I don't like sensing that she's upset. I want her to feel free to tell me how she feels, without worrying about whether those feelings are OK or not. I think she's just a little freaked out because she's never known me to go to doctors - I haven't had insurance since she was a baby.

Hopefully, this little experience will be good for the both of us. I will find out what's up with the old ticker, and Anna Marie will learn that she can talk to me about how she's feeling.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to get as much rest at this medical equipment will allow!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book review: Mom's Bible

As a mom, I have found out that there are a lot of resources geared toward us: devotion books for moms, prayer journals for moms, and of course, Bibles for moms.

Mom's Bible: God's Wisdom for Mothers is one of the more useful of these resources I've found. It includes notes by Bobbie Wolgemuth, who has been writing Christian literature with the likes of Joni Eareckson Tada and Dr. John MacArthur. Sprinkled throughout the verses are tidbits with titles such as "Insights" and "Walking in . . ." It helps to have someone relate what I'm reading to my role as a mother, and how to develop the necessary Godly characteristics.

I also like the version they used for this edition. The New Century Version is very clear and easy to understand, and makes the reading flow very smoothly.

You can pick up your copy here or here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Irish eyes are smilin'

Yes, I know, today is NOT Saint Patrick's Day. I'm a day ahead. It's not my fault, though - my book club met today, and we had a three-pronged attack from the Emerald Isle. The three hostesses presented a lesson on the history of the holiday, a study of Irish authors, and an Irish sing-a-long by (a badly out-of-tune) piano.

And although I've never been to Ireland, it made me want to visit - or, at least, watch two of my favorite Irish-themed movies. I think Amanda introduced me to both of them, so I have her to thank.

Have you ever seen Waking Ned Divine? I think it's what you movie-types would refer to as a "black comedy." It's not the most well-known movie, but it's one I can watch over and over.

The other movie it made me want to see again is The Quiet Man. Maureen O'Hara, John Wayne, Ireland - need I say more? I'd love to show you this clip, but unfortunately you'll have to travel all the way to YouTube to see it - they've disabled embedding.

Anyone else have any favorite Irish-themed movies for this time of year?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kroger Shakedown!

shakedown graphic.indd

It's weeks like this when I LOVE my list. And this week, it wasn't even printed out!

Jason sings on the praise team at church, and he had to be there by 8:30 Sunday morning. Meaning we had to leave the house around 8:00 a.m. My list wasn't up yet, so I took my netbook, dropped him off, and by the time I got to some free wifi (thanks ATT Hotspot in the Starbucks parking lot!) there it was. I made my selections, printed out an "xps" document (kinda like a PDF, I think) and was ready to go.

(For the record, our church has wifi too. It also has a pretty extensive security key to keep folks from driving up in the parking lot and doing what I did at Starbucks, and I didn't know then that Jason had already programmed it into my netbook.)

Since I didn't have a physical printer handy, I took my netbook into the store, sat it in the "kiddie seat" of the cart, and shopped off the screen. Easy-peasy, but something I probably won't be making a habit of. The computer is so small, and blocked from the back by a sign on the back rest, but still - I never took my hand off the cart, and as soon as I was finished shopping I put the computer into my purse.

We'd had a dinner with a slew of my family at a restaurant, and didn't have much time, so having the list was a lifesaver!

Here's how the shakedown went down this week:

2 packages of styrofoam cups (not on my list, but we needed them for our small group meeting that night)
2 cans of Progresso lower-sodium chicken gumbo (paper coupon plus Shortcuts)
2 cans of Progresso lower-sodium vegetable soup (paper coupon only)
3 boxes of Fiber One bars (paper coupons plus Cellfire plus Shortcuts)
2 boxes of Nature Valley granola bars (paper coupons, plus Cellfire)
2 bottles of Dawn foam dish detergent
1 package Betty Crocker cookie mix (paper coupon plus Cellfire)
2 bags of Kroger 2% milk shredded cheese
1 king sized Reese's Cup (which was free, because Jason found a $1 off coupon when you purchase a 20 oz Coke and the candy was on sale for $1. I've taught him well!)
1 20 oz. Coke Zero
3.58 lbs of Fuji apples
2.54 lbs of bananas
4 bags of Green Giant frozen veggies
1 California Pizza Kitchen pizza (since I had to work covering a banquet Tuesday night, for the folks at home)
2 boxes of Toaster Strudels (paper coupon plus Cellfire)
1 Hormel pork loin (which we had in the crockpot yesterday!)
4 Lunchables

Total before coupons/savings: $101.11
Total after coupons/savings: $46.90
Total saved: $54.21 (55%)

I am really digging these electronic coupons added to my card, and I REALLY hope they keep offering them!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do do do, lookin' out my back door . . .

Boy, do I feel dumb.

My house, in case I haven't told you before, backs up to the businesses on the south side of Main Street. There is, quite literally, a used car lot in my backyard.

Well, there is a drainage ditch which separates the two plots of property, but still, CAR LOT. BACKYARD.

There is a car detail business near there too, and on a sunny day the sound of a power washer just permeates the neighborhood for hours. Really adds to the charm of the place, no?

But back to the car lot. You know, the one in my BACKYARD?

That car lot hasn't been there long. In the five years we've been in this house, there has been a pet store, a home improvement business, and a different used car lot back there. Or maybe two car lots. I've lost count at this point.

The current car lot (which uses as its business name some generic "your credit is good here" sign which I'm pretty sure is copyrighted) has been there about six weeks.

About a week ago, Anna Marie complained that she couldn't sleep because a car horn kept going off. I figured one of the neighborhood cats or possums had triggered a car alarm, and that was par for the course.

But then - we came home Sunday night, and something like an 18-wheeler horn kept going off. I looked around for one (there aren't supposed to be any parked on the residential streets in town) but saw none. And then when I looked out my back door, I noticed lights on in the RV at the lot. And people moving around. And that horn kept going off, but I didn't call it in because I feel like I'm the only one who ever complains about such things in town.

(I know I'm not the only one who complains. I'm just sayin'.)

It stopped. And I thought maybe some teenagers had broken in there, but then this morning as we were leaving for school, I looked back there to find KIDS. With BACKPACKS. Also, I assume, leaving for school.

Someone is living over there, y'all. In an RV in a commercial zone. With kids. So I'm torn, because it's totally against the law to do that here, but there are KIDS. I don't want to put people out, not in this economy. I resolved to just let it slide, since maybe it was a temporary arrangement.

As long as there were no more horns involved.

So tonight, it started back up as I was trying to get Anna Marie down for bed. You know, in the room at the back of the house, just a few hundred feet from the car lot in my BACKYARD. And when I got finished tucking her in, I called the Sheriff's Department, and as the phone was ringing, I looked out my back door.

They were gone. GONE. I had not a clue what to tell that poor dispatcher, except that I was sorry I'd taken up his time. It wasn't the 911 line, just the regular number, but still.


*Irony alert - part of my job is to go get the 911 dispatch logs and put the calls in the paper. Guess what I have to go do in the morning? I can't WAIT to see what they write about this call.

So, I feel really, really dumb. They were there, and now they aren't. And I've wasted a call to the dispatch office, which I now have the indignity to relive tomorrow morning when I read the log books.

It's like David Copperfield got all Las Vegas on that RV, and poof - thin air.

At least I called anonymously from my cell phone, so they won't know I was the crazy RV horn lady who called.

Edited to add: As I was finishing this up, guess what? THEY'RE BACK. And honkin' that horn like a boss! Boo-yeah, validation! Heck yeah, I called back. God a different dispatcher too. Guess I'd better go look out my back door one more time.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Who knew half a dozen sentences could be so hard?

Know how, when you're waiting a minute or two on something (like, say, a pregnancy test or some microwaved popcorn), and it would normally go by really quickly, but it doesn't, because you're counting the seconds?

Yeah, helping a second grader write eight sentences about her favorite type of whale is just like that.

I write for a living. For me, pounding out eight sentences on a subject is no big deal. But between her utter lack of typing skills, and her penchant for being distracted, writing eight sentences on Killer Whales took an hour.

And we nearly came to blows when the photo of a whale (a requirement for the report) which I'd found wasn't deemed suitable by Her Redheadedness.

I had her leave the couch where we were sitting to work on the report, and sit on the floor on her hippo chair. Because I needed a minute to COOL DOWN, as it were.

But the report (which is due Thursday) is done. I still have to buy a folder to put it in, but that's no big deal - shopping I can handle.

Writing eight sentences with an eight-year-old? Not so much.

What? I have how many years until she graduates?

Somebody make me another pot of coffee. This is going to be a long decade.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Kroger shakedown!

Special-Ops edition. Because I did my shopping in CAMO, and late at night!

We had a service entitled "Special Ops" at church on Sunday (where the pastor talked about our church's mission statement) and the choir all wore camo. Including me. Camo man pants to be exact, because I couldn't find any way-cheap camo LADY pants. The pastor and his wife rappelled out of the catwalk. The choir marched in to an old Carman song.

We sang some Stryper. It was all good.

I then walked around for about four hours, because we had our annual business meeting that night and never went home between services. So I had to wait until after 8 p.m., and I was WAY exhausted.

So my bleary-eyed, camo-clad crew and I made a mad dash through Kroger, and this is what happened:

2 cans of black beans
1 box of Krusteaz blueberry pancake mix
4 boxes of Nutri-grain bars
3 bottles of Wishbone dressing
3 cans of Red Gold tomatoes
1 bottle of Suave shampoo
1 bottle of Suave conditioner
2 bottles of Suave kids shampoo
1 stick of Suave deodorant
1 package of Glide floss
3 Cadbury eggs (OF COURSE)
1 gallon of chocolate milk (free, because I bought the four boxes of Nutri-grain bars)
5 lbs. of grapefruit
6 lbs. of clementines
1 bag of "overripe" bananas
2 boxes of Green Giant veggies (paper coupons plus Shortcuts)
1 Red Baron pizza

Total before coupons/sales: $79.31
Total after: $48.18
Total savings: $31.13 (41%)

Not as good as last week's, but the total is slightly deceiving - when clearance stuff, like those bananas, rings up, it doesn't calculate how much it WOULD have cost if it had been full price. They were 10 cents cheaper per pound because of their state of ripeness - which didn't really matter, because we ate them before they went bad anyway.

It looks like a really random assortment of groceries, but remember - stockpiling. That way I only buy what's on sale, and I have a rotation of groceries to go through.

I had also gone to Target that morning before church, and gotten two boxes of Kashi cereal and a box of Kashi bars for $5, thanks to a coupon I found on one of the boxes!

How sad is it that I'm really excited about March being Frozen Foods Month, and getting to stock my freezer on the cheap?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The road to bigger pants

Is paved with good intentions.

I have a confession - it's been, ahem, several days since I've made it to the gym.

Now, don't get me wrong. I haven't been sitting on my "blessed assurance" and eating bonbons. One day last week, I was running behind and did a session on my Gazelle. One day, I spent an hour cleaning two rooms in my house. Saturday, we took the dogs on a LOOOONG walk, culminating in a trip to the groomers, and I also spent three hours preparing entries for a newspaper contest. Sunday, we had a service called "Special Ops," which entailed the choir dressing up in camo and marching in. (And practicing that marching in several times - more on that later) And then, we spent four hours walking around town so we would still be in the area for that evening's business meeting.

Monday, I was so exhausted from Sunday (and still sore from all that marching/walking) that I slept in. Yesterday, Jason went to work at 2 a.m. so I couldn't leave the house. And then, we come to today.

Apparently, my little short legs don't like to march much. Apparently, my knees like it even less. Because, since Sunday, I have had a "comes and goes" pain in them, and this morning, wouldn't you know it, it came. I can't walk around my house without pain, so I was a little leery of putting the knee through its paces at the gym.

I know I could take some ibuprofen and go on, but I'm more concerned about treating the actual cause, and not just the symptoms.

So, this morning, no gym. Again. Some housework, but no cardio.

Good intentions. I have them. And hopefully they won't bring me a bigger pair of pants.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Dear God,

If you have a calendar up in Heaven, you know it's March 1.

Down here on earth, where the weather isn't a comfortable 72 degrees year round*, that means that winter needs to be over.

We, The Humans, are done with winter. Really. We don't need it anymore. You can have it back. We promise we took good care of it.

So, now that it's March, the weather can start to warm up and clear up and generally get nice and "pretty."

Keep up the good work!


*We have a very toney suburb of Memphis, where the city keeps pretty strict tabs on what can/can't be done in the way of outdoor colors (down to blue trash cans instead of green because "they" think it looks better) and an old joke says that, in that town, it's a comfortable 72 degrees year-round.

(Guess you had to be {raised} there.)