Blog Archive

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Water, Water, Everywhere!

My apologies for not having posted anything in a while. I had a bad sinus infection while recovering from my heart procedure, then threw a baby shower, then got my plants growing at school for my "big" experiment, then my parents came up for the week before Christmas to install windows (Dave took the week off for that, too), then the craziness of the holiday. And now Eddie and I are up in Gualala for the week while Dave works. We will head to Livermore for New Year's Eve before finally resuming my normal life of daycare, work, etc.

The internet here at my in laws' house is nearly dial-up-slow so using the computer after Eddie is asleep is not appealing.

It started raining today but before it got intense, Eddie and I played in the puddles on the runway. He got soaked...mostly because he fell down a lot and because he's so short that even non-puddles cover his boots. I had his jeans rolled way up high so they wouldn't wick water up his legs, but I should have just dressed him in shorts. But those have been packed away in a vacuum bag in his closet for months...just waiting for the next kiddo to come along and wear them (probably Dyani's babe).

I didn't realize it'd be raining so heavily or for so many days when we decided to come up for the week. Eddie's daycare is closed this week and I wanted to "do" something instead of just hang around in Davis. Plus seeing my in laws is always fun.

Since Gualala is barely a dot on the map, there aren't a lot of indoor, rainy day things to do up here with a kid of Eddie's size (and energy level). His attention span and interest aren't developed enough for coloring, decorating cookies, building forts with tables and chairs, playing with playdough, and all the other obvious ideas. So we spent as much time outside as our rain gear would allow, then played with Grammy's pots/pans, made towers to knock over with her canned goods, threw balls for the dogs, ate lots of snacks (Peggy has yummy stuff we don't usually have at home like fishie crackers and cheddar popcorn), and visited Dave and his dad at the water company office. Eddie had fun seeing them and Taters (Dave took him to work that day) and running around like a banshee in the conference room. Swivel chairs, panels of light switches, rotary phones, and a metal desk with drawers that make a tremendous BANG sound when slammed shut over and over and over...

The rain really started coming down around noon. After Eddie's nice, long two hour nap the sky opened up and the wind started blowing it sideways. We stopped by the market to buy a few things for Peggy and all the shopping carts were really wet. I decided not to use one because Eddie's butt would have been soaked. So I carted my 23 pound wriggle worm around on my hip...and somehow managed to buy a large tub of yogurt, a half gallon of ice cream, a can of olives, and a pound of bananas (I brought my own bags so I just loaded them up as I shopped). The lines were super long since everyone was stocking up because of the storm and Eddie was NOT cooperating in line. Luckily the Christmas lights strung above the registers kept him entertained so we made it without incident. But next time, he'll just have to sit in a wet cart. (The next day, Peggy's masseuse was at the house and said to me as I walked by, "Julie, you're holding some tension in your upper back, between your shoulder blades." Ya think?)

About five minutes after Dave put Eddie to bed that night we poured ourselves a glass of wine. The phone started ringing off the hook with automated water alarms. And then actual customers started calling the house, too, complaining about not having water. So Dave suited up into a rain slick and muck boots so he and John could go out to find and fix the problem (it sounded like a whole neighborhood was out of water). John left the house in a jean jacket and leather lace-up work boots...he grumbled that he'd be miserable out in the storm anyway so changing his clothes to rainproof stuff wasn't necessary.

Someone finally called and said there was a downed tree near the pumping station. Every five minutes or so the phone rings and Peggy runs down the hall to her room with her Steno pad to jot down notes from whoever is calling her. The more information she can relay to John when he calls on his cell, the better (assuming, of course, that he can get reception...up in the woods here it is very hit-or-miss). Dave left his work truck at the house so at least we had his radio to relay information.

It turns out they found the problem immediately: a mudslide completely wiped out a pumping station north of Anchor Bay. Dave said parts of the building, its electrical panels, and the pump inside were about 60 feet from where they were supposed to be. There was a tree down the middle of the roof, too. The tank at that station had drained down to only about three feet. They turned the appropriate valves on/off to reroute water from another location so folks did have water that same night. But they were put on a boil order (for drinking and cooking), just to be safe, until they could get the water tested.

The company manager, Jana, had to call every single person in that neighborhood to tell them about the boil order. This is the way it works for a small town utility company: real 24 hour customer service because everyone has your home phone number and rapid response, no matter the conditions. And people complain when they request a minor rate hike to cover mandated system upgrades and repairs!

The power went out around 2:30am and the storm kept at it. All night long the phones rang with alarms. There are a handful of folks in the company who receive these alarm calls. Once someone acknowledges the call by picking it up, it doesn't keep ringing at the other houses. At 6am, Jana was knocking on the front door yelling, "Anyone awake???" Our room has a window onto the porch so Dave rolled over and talked to her through the window. She said we weren't getting all the calls...there was no power at the main station. So Dave pulled on some clothes, got his dad, I made them a quick breakfast in the dark (thank goodness for gas stoves!), and off they went. Knowing people would be waking up soon without water, they were sure to hurry so they could get the generators up and running. Next time when you complain about a power, water, or gas outage consider that folks probably ARE working as fast as they can.

Our power came on just as the guys were leaving, apparently three oak trees fell onto the line just down the street from my in laws' house. We had coffee already ground and Coleman lanterns in the kitchen, just in case it went out again. Lucky for us our day continued on as normal (making 7 quarts of spiced caramel apples and playing on the heavy equipment in the shop)...Dave and John, however, had to spend a lot of time outside surveying the damage and then coordinating with the county, other utilities, and contractors to get the building rebuilt. My day was definitely better than his. =)

That storm dumped 4.55" of water in only 36 hours...that is a crazy amount of water, no wonder there was a mudslide!

Crappy Internet + Holiday Madness + Storms = No Blog for Julie

Not having "fast" or somewhat reliable internet drives me nutty. Whenever I come to Gualala I'm frustrated by it for the first day, and then just don't worry about it anymore and enjoy my disconnected status.

I have two separate posts saved as drafts on my phone using an app called BlogAway but they won't post for some reason--I added a picture to each post and I think that's the problem. I can't figure out how to delete a photo from the post in that app and since the internet is soooooooooo slooooooooow here most of the time I can't ask the Almighty Google for advice.

Eddie won't let me use the computer without his "help" (which translates to him stealing the wireless mouse, turning the computer on/off, and doing the butterfly stroke on the keyboard). And last night we were so tired we didn't feel like trying to find the wireless password so I could use my laptop in bed.

We were without power for several hours during the crazy storm and a landslide wiped out a pumping station for the water company and we lost a LOT of sleep because the phones were ringing off the hook with pump alarm calls. Ah, life on the lost coast when you run a utility company...

More later, promise!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember That Feeling

If you are perfectly healthy and pain-free right at this moment, I suggest doing the following, just to remind yourself how nice it feels:

-Breath in deeply


-Stretch your muscles, do a little happy dance to engage your whole body

-Think about your digestive tract: how good your stomach feels happily digesting your last meal without cramping, nausea, excess gas, or other foul side effects

We always take for granted how good we actually feel on a daily fact, how we don't feel much at all because we are healthy and all our systems are in good working order.

I shouldn't complain too much because life could be much I will calmly state that I am stuck in bed with a nasty sinus infection and cough. I forgot how nice it is to be unaware of my sinuses until about Saturday night. And how nice it is to breathe through my nose and chew without noticing my achy sinuses every time I bite down on food.

I have relied on multi-symptom cold medication at night so I can sleep, but go without it during the day. I know that I won't be able to avoid over-exerting myself with cleaning, working, errands etc. if I feel well, so I let myself feel sick so I'm reminded to take it easy and sleep as much as possible (sleep is the BEST medicine!). I can't decide if that makes me a freak or a reasonable person.

Oh well, it is what it is (as my mother-in-law would say).

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Heart Procedure

On Friday morning Dave and I dropped Eddie off at Cassie's. We left our van there for her to use since she'd be keeping Eddie all weekend. This was the first time Eddie had ever spent the night away from us (and of course, he did just fact, I'm not sure he missed us at all!). Then we made a quick visit to the planning department to pull a permit for replacing our windows. On my way inside, I ran into my friend, Tara, who had an ablation procedure done by the same cardiologist four years ago. We chit-chatted while Dave got the permit. Then we zoomed into Sacramento so I could check in at the hospital.

Once I got my wrist ID band on and signed myself in, we sat in the Cath Lab waiting room and watched Food Network. I was starving, but I love cooking shows so I watched anyway (we don't have cable at home). A few minutes into Paula Dean's show, Dr. Stark's nurse came in to tell me that they were behind so my procedure wouldn't be until nearly 4pm. Greeeeeeeeeat. So she let us leave for a couple of hours. The obvious thing to do would have been to get a coffee at a cafe to pass the time. But since I couldn't consume anything (other than small sips of water), my mom and I decided to drive around the McKinley Park area of Sacramento to look at all the pretty, old houses in the area. Dave went home to get some sleep since he was recovering from a head cold and needed the rest.

At 2pm my mom and I checked me into the Cath Lab Holding Area, where they took my weight, height, blood, etc. I changed into a hospital gown and got settled into the bed. Since it was a "holding area" the beds were all in one room with curtain separators--so no TVs or anything entertaining. I was dying inside because I could hear, see, and smell all the other patients and their families eating lunch. Good thing I brought my book to distract myself! (I also blogged from my phone and sent a bunch of silly pictures of my IV site and the ugly no-skid socks I had to wear to my dad, brother, and Dave). Seriously, what did people do while waiting for surgery before the advent of smartphones with mobile internet?

This paragraph might be TMI for some folks, so consider not reading if you're crochety, old, or whatever. While in the holding area I was prepped for the procedure. My nurse had a razor to shave my groin area (two of the catheters would go into my femoral veins in my groin). She looked and said, "wow, you did a good job!" Haha, I told her I'd recently had a bikini wax. My mom was there and was flabbergasted: "Julie, why did you have a wax?! Was it for this procedure? Or were you planning on going swimming in the winter?" I told her that I often get a bikini wax, it shouldn't be that surprising. My mom was still so was hilarious. The nurse laughed and said something like, "Oh, you young people, always staying nice and trim. This is just how your generation operates!" God, my mom is SO OLD.

After what seemed like forever, the surgery nurse came into talk to me and have me sign some papers. Dr. Stark came into see me and said, "Ah, Julie. Last but not least." I said, "Yes...I hope not least!" He said it would be a super quick procedure (1 hour) if he could find the faulty neural pathway. If he couldn't find it, however, then it could take up to 6 hours (!) to poke around inside my heart looking for it.

Then I was wheeled into the cath lab.

The cath lab was very much like you'd expect...if you expect only what you see on medical TV drama shows. It was super cold so once I was on the table, they mounded hot blankets on my upper body. First they slapped adhesive electrical "patches" on my back. The only thing that weirded me out was that they tied my hands to the sides of the table so I couldn't move them. They said that a lot of patients (mostly guys) try to cover their groin during the procedure. Haha.

I remember chatting with the nurses and techs about the ages and temperaments of our children. Then the nurse said she was going to start the medication. She said I'd see spots (I didn't) and start to feel strange. I immediately felt like I was floating up above the table. The swabbed my groin with freezing cold liquid to sterilize my skin--she said the doctor will hopefully only have to use catheters there, but there was a chance he'd have to use another vein as well, near my right clavicle (turns out he did have to enter through my shoulder). A few minutes later she said she'd give me the next dose. From then on I don't remember a thing. The next thing I knew I was being wheeled back into the holding area where I saw my mom sitting in a chair waiting for me.

I had to lay down flat for a while until some of the meds wore off. Then I got to have some juice since I was famished. The nurse elevated the bed so I was sitting and brought me a tray of food. I quickly posted on my blog and Facebook so people would know I had survived the procedure, then dug into my fried fish dinner. About 5 minutes later I started to feel really faint, really quickly. My mom ran to get the nurse and as they were approaching my bed the heart monitor alarms started beeping because my blood pressure had dropped significantly. They gave me some atropine and made me drink a soda for the sodium (weird, right?).

The holding area closes at 8:30pm so they transferred me to a proper hospital room upstairs to recover. My new nurse, Leslie, said I'd have to stay until about 11pm--and that I'd have to show her that I could walk around first. I really didn't want to spend the night because I didn't want to have to pay for it (my insurance covers 90% but it still adds up fast!).

Unfortunately, I had another fainting/low blood pressure spell in the hospital room so I didn't get to go home that night after all. I nearly fainted and wanted to puke when Leslie tried to get me up to use the bathroom. She gave me some anti-nausea medication via the IV and I felt SO MUCH better after about 5 seconds. My mom laughed and said, "Yep, she's back to her talkative self so that medication must have worked!" Since I couldn't get up to pee, I had to use a bedpan...that was um, interesting.

My mom left around 11pm so she could go home to bed. I didn't get much sleep that night because the right groin puncture site was swollen and with the nurses coming in every few hours to get my stats it is hard to sleep. Luckily, by the middle of the night I was able to walk to the bathroom alone so no more bedpans for me!

I didn't have my cell phone because it had to be charged at home--since I didn't expect to be spending the night I hadn't packed it. The phone in room only accepted in-coming calls so I had to wait until about 9am when my mom called to tell her I was ready to be discharged. Of course she wanted to take a shower and Dave wasn't even up yet so I had to wait until noon to go home.

We were all hungry when we left so we stopped at Beach Hut Deli in Davis for a Pig Kahuna pulled pork sandwich. Lucky for me, my mom has a handicap parking placard so she was able to park right in front of the deli. I was light headed just walking in, but got to sit down quickly.

Once home I napped and then we watched Killers while I knitted a dishcloth for my mom.

I was told to stay off my feet except for showering and using the bathroom for 1-2 days. Ug. Staying static for more than 8 hours makes my lower back hurt so I have spent all my daytime hours on my heating pad.

On Sunday we had a yummy breakfast at Cafe Bernardo's downtown, then did some shopping at Walmart and Target. Both stores have wheelchairs...isn't that crazy? I felt so retarded being pushed around the stores, mostly because I didn't look ill. We bought favors for Dyani's upcoming baby shower and a few Christmas gifts. Dave ran into Michael's to get my a set of circular knitting needles. Once we got home we watched Letters to Juliet while I started knitting some monster pants for Eddie.Cassie texted me when Eddie woke up from his nap...Dave wouldn't let me go out again ("You have to just take it easy!") so he and my mom fetched Wadamus and the minivan. It seemed like it took forever for them to get back. I wanted to see Eddie!

Eddie just stared at me when Dave brought him inside. He snuggled into my lap--and remarkably he stayed STILL so I could breath him in and kiss him soft hair. I had a big blanket folded up on my lap so he wouldn't hurt my puncture sites. I'm not allowed to lift him yet, but I tried to keep him out of the nursing position so he wouldn't try to nurse. (I had to wait 3 days to nurse him so the meds would be out of my system.) After about 10 minutes he was off my lap and playing as usual.He had LOTS and LOTS of fun at Cassie's house over the weekend--they went to cut down her Christmas tree, rode on a sleigh (a tractor dressed to look like a sleigh), went out to pizza, bought Santa jammies, etc. We're seriously SO lucky to have such a great sitter!

And now I have a nasty head nose is raw from blowing it so many times and I can't sleep laying down because my sinuses don't behave in that position. I wish I could sleep breathing through my mouth, but I wake up every time my mouth gets dry. least my heart is healthy now!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Made It!

Well, I don't remember a dang thing about the wasn't "twilight" sedation at all. The nurse said it'd be deep sedition...and it sure was.

And if you don't mind, I'll get back to my fish dinner now. Yummy!

I Hate Fasting for No Reason

So here I wait in the hospital bed, all hooked up to IVs and absolutely starving.

My procedure was set for 9am, then a few weeks ago moved to 12. Then today it was shifted to 4 and since arriving to 6. And of course last night when I had my pre-op phone interview no one knew it would be so delayed so I was told not to eat anything past midnight. So now, about 19 hours since my last meal (steak, broccoli, creamy mashed potatoes, and a caesar salad from Cafe Bernardos) I am absolutely staaaaaaaarving.

And everywhere I look people are eating. My mom even had the nerve to ask the nurse where she can get something to eat, right in front of me! Then they had a nice 5 minute conversation about all the delicious eateries around the hospital.

Kill me know, all I want is a slice of buttery toast. Okay, maybe a whole loaf.

The good news is that my nurse put my IV in my upper arm instead of my elbow so it doesn't hurt at all.

I guess I will read more of my book, Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pampera, Goddess of Diapers

Hail Pampera, goddess of diapers and ointments. We worship thy mighty powers to keep our floors and humble clothing dry and free of stinky messes. Let your powers extend not beyond your cherub's thirty sixth month, or Zeus help us all!This is a completely unedited picture (a 5" x 7" negative), complete with dust during scanning. My dad will probably print a better picture later and--with a little convincing--edit it in Photoshop to make it look nicer digitally. That thing on my head is a wreath I found in the living room. Eddie had fun yanking the foam beads off of it during the shoot.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dyani's Livermore Baby Shower

This past weekend Eddie and I were in Livermore for Dyani's baby shower (one of two...this first one was hosted by my mom for Kateri's contemporaries, aka the "old people shower"). I was there to hang out with Dyani since she didn't know everyone and it would have been super awkward otherwise. I almost sat down at the end of the table with my mom, but Dyani hissed into my ear "don't leave me here in the middle with all these people I don't know!"

The big wedding shower we threw for her back in February was huge--sooooooooo many people (I think like 35-50 were invited) and it was a little crazy. So this time we decided to throw her two separate showers to make it more enjoyable for everyone involved, namely Dyani. I'll be throwing her a shower at her house in Brisbane in two weeks and that'll be for her coworkers and close friends.Friday evening Eddie and I picked my dad up and then met my mom for dinner at Emil Villa's (where else?). Eddie ate a cup of clam chowder and make a huge mess. Once he was done and getting antsy at the booth, my dad offered to take him on a walk outside. I pulled off his outer shirt since it was soaked in soup and put on his coat. In an effort to keep myself clean, I wadded up the shirt in a napkin and we realized later that we forgot to bring it home. I was/am devestated--he was wearing the "Someone in Alabama Loves Me" shirt my grandma had bought for Edward nearly 25 years ago. I texted Edward about it, apologizing for losing his shirt and he said, "At least it died in battle."

Before heading home that night, we went through the light display at Deacon Dave's. As usual it was amazing, and the mannequins were hilarious: there was one baking cookies and she looked SO bored. Another funny one was "Mommy kissing Santa Claus" but it looked more like Santa was copping a feel.The next morning I went to Dyani's parents' house to hang out until the shower. I brought a bunch of stuff for her to borrow (my sack of baby clothes up to 6 months, a small stroller, a baby tub, Bobby pillow, etc. as well as a Costco box of diapers and wipes as a gift from Edward). Then I dropped Eddie off at the Nyholm's house so Peter could baby sit him. Kelsey and her darling girl, Camia, were there and Eddie was so enamored that he didn't even notice that I left. I had 45 minutes before the shower started so I went to Ross and tried on shoes.

My mom and a few ladies were already at the shower when I arrived. It was held at the August Tea Room and we got to have a high tea meal--all the food was delicious!While eating we played some games (I won one!) and then she opened her presents. It made me teary-eyed to watch her hold up the newborn sized clothes and think about how she'll have her own tiny baby so soon. I can't wait to meet you, Baby Gaudilliere!It was particularly special because Dyani's grandmother, Jean, got to attend. So there were four generations, all in one room!
I had just enough time to drive over to the Nyholms to pick up Eddie. He was a happy camper, playing with Legos, and I was told he even took a nice 2 hour nap. Good job, Peter!

That night I made salmon coquettes for dinner. Right after Eddie went to bed my dad and I set up his make-shift photography studio in the family room so we could take pictures the next morning before Eddie's nap (which is when I planned to leave).

Sunday morning I made breakfast, cleaned up, and then put on a Greek toga of sorts (can't remember what it is really called). My dad took a few pictures of a naked cherub Eddie and his goddess mama. My goddess name, we decided, is Pampera (with the accent over the "e" in "Pampers" the diapers). We also took a couple of pictures of us in our normal clothes and some outside while looking at the baby goats our neighbors' grandkids are raising for 4-H. Right after I popped Eddie into his car seat and headed for Davis. He was passed out with an apple in his hand by the time I hit Vasco.

It was a great weekend, but we sure missed Davie. At least Dave got to have his house to himself for once!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fixing my Heart

Remember when I landed in the ER and then the hospital because my heart rate spiked to nearly 300BPM when I was pregnant? Well, the fix-it procedure is finally scheduled for this coming Friday. It was supposed to be done in early November but the doctor had to reschedule it.

So far I'm not nervous--just annoyed that I will have to take it easy for a while afterward. I had my "week ahead" phone consultation with the cardiologist's office last week. The lady went through current medications (none), concerns (none), and the timeline of events (when to check in, how long I have to stay at the hospital post-procedure to recover from the anesthesia, what time I can go home, etc.). Everything sounded fine until she said, "Now you know you won't be able to pick anything up that weighs more than 10 pounds for at least two weeks after, right?" My response, "Um...NO. I was told I would be back to full function/normal life at about 4 days."

Apparently the doctor told me wrong. It isn't my heart that's at risk, it is the holes they poke in me (into my veins). I guess when your muscles flex that tension pulls on your veins and the more weight, the more pulling. And they don't want those holes to reopen (...neither do I!).

I'd like to point out that a gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds or so....ten pounds is practically nothing. Jeez.

I pointed out the miscommunication and she basically said, "I don't know what to tell you." I then pointed out that I have a 23 pound toddler at home, a husband who generally isn't home, and the latter wasn't planning on taking any time off to care for either of us (since time off = less income).

After some more conversation, I agreed to make sure that someone was home for the first week to manhandle Eddie for me. And I asked her (very nicely) if I could use my own judgment after that to decide if I could/should risk picking him. She hesitated to respond, but then slowly said, "I guess that would be okay."

So I'm allowed to hold Eddie when I'm sitting, but not pick him up or hold him while standing. That's a pretty tall order for any mom.

Luckily my brother is planning on being at our house that week and Dave is going to try to take off the following week anyway in order to install our new windows (and recoup is lost income by qualifying us for an Energy Star rebate). And my labmate, Yumi, said she'd come over to cook dinner for me and Eddie so I can sit on the floor and play with him. So I should be covered either way.

Eddie will spend all day Friday, Friday night, and Saturday at daycare so I'll have time to recover. I seriously have no idea what to expect--I've never broken a bone, had surgery, or anything. The doctor is only poking holes in my skin and veins so it doesn't seem like the recovery will be all that painful. I guess I'm expecting to rent a few movies, bake some cookies, and address my holiday cards but who knows? I'm trying to get the house in order for Christmas now since I will be out of commission for up to two weeks. The Christmas tree is up, we disassembled the crib since it was taking up way too much room in the dining room (our windows are in there, too), deep cleaning the bathrooms, etc. The weekend after my procedure is Dyani's second baby shower (I'm the hostess) and I am still coming to terms with not being able to cook every single thing myself and haul it over to SF, and then comes Christmas...

I should point out that this is not "surgery" (assuming everything goes okay, that is). From an insurance standpoint it is a "procedure" because they don't open me up. The doctor will poke holes in veins at my groin and shoulder and run catethers through the veins into the heart. Then he'll illicit the rapid heartbeat (called a tachycardia) with electrical impulses, figure out which neural pathway(s) are out of whack, and then electrically scar them so they don't work anymore. Hmmm...that actually sounds a lot more scary that I thought...

Anyway, wish me luck on Friday!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No Good Pictures

I've just spent the last hour looking through this past year's pictures on the computer. I'm looking for a good Christmas card picture. There are some good candidates, but I can't use any of them because in each one, Eddie is grabbing my boob.

This one was taken at Monet's garden in Giverny, France in April:
And this one was taken at the park next to our house in early August (this is just a screen shot from the proofsheet my dad emailed to me so it doesn't look so good here...the photo is on real film...remember that stuff?):
He's a breast feeding baby through and through...