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Spring is Here!

It seems spring finally has sprung. Although I heard it’s supposed to cool down later on this week – BUMMER.

I went for a walk the other night to clear my head a bit and was happy to see evidence of springtime wherever I went.

Flower1

Flower2

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Flower4

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Pretty…

It was nice to see the flowers. I saw my first Robin too but it was too fast for me to take a photo.

Then I come home and find a certain someone konked out…

Kendall Sleeping

Good Lord, Kendall!!

She has no shame whatsoever…

I hope you liked the Stuffed Peppers recipe. I am still in a bit of a cooking rut. I did make the Pioneer Woman’s Salisbury Steak Meatballs yesterday. They came out great but needed a couple of eggs as a few of them fell apart. Really good recipe though and all the ingredients are ingredients that you have on hand.

I make beef broth from powder bouillon packets that have zero sodium.

Just thought you’d like to know.

I finished the top of my wall-hanging. I love it. Not sure I centered the tree properly though – it looks a little “Bonsai-ish” in this picture… I bought some red crystals to decorate it and a big snowflake to use as the star. I will quilt it first though – I don’t want to chance a crystal falling off and getting stuck in the sewing machine mechanism…

X-mas Wallhanging

Not sure how I’m going to quilt it yet. Was thinking of doing what the Author did and that was echo the shape of the tree outwards and then “stitch-in-the-ditch” the stars. This is a pattern from the book Christmas Sparkle by Mary Jane Carey of Holly Hill Quilt Designs. Great book!

I see some metallic sparkly threads in my future!!

Jim is still doing very well although I did jinx him with the last post. He fell down the stairs at his parent’s house while trying to carry two bags… He really did a good job on his leg and of course the bruising from the Coumadin is pretty… Nice shades of purples. Matches the comforter and blanket…

Jim Leg

Hey, see the green / white thing with a hint of a pink poking out? It’s in the bottom left-hand corner of the pic. That’s a Dresden Plate quilt I made years ago from reproduction depression era fabrics.

One of my favorite quilts.

A couple of weekends ago, Jim’s cousin Charlie and his lovely wife Donna came to visit us from western New York. We had a great time catching up with them. As a surprise we hired a guide from Antique Limo to come to the house to pick us up and give us a tour of Boston.

We wanted to do something in Boston while they were here.

Our guide, Mark, was great. He dresses up like a mobster and he drives a GORGEOUS 1939 white Cadillac and gives a very informative tour of Boston.

The car is spectacular… If we had a penny for each time someone took a picture of us while we drove around Boston. Mark would roll down his window and tell them he needed to confiscate their cameras because we were all in the Witness Protection Program.

He would also periodically roll down his window and ask – how you doin’?

When we got back home I put some chicken that was marinating into the oven.  It was a Chicken Marbella recipe that was on the Simply Recipes website along with Chocolate Pot de Cremes by the Pioneer Woman.

Delicious!!

While they were visiting, Donna mentioned she wanted to see my sewing studio. While showing her around, I found a box tucked away in the closet and realized it was for a quilt that I had committed to making years ago with some friends of mine.

Like back in 2008.

The quilt is known as the Dear Jane quilt and it is made up of 225 blocks. Some friends and I had decided to meet on a monthly basis to make a few blocks. A bit like a Block of the Month quilt.

I was so excited to find those little blocks. Emphasis on LITTLE. The blocks are 5-inch squares.

DJ Lesson 1 Blocks

I was making a PURPLE Dear Jane. Cool!

I emailed the girls and asked if they would be willing to meet at my house once a month again… We met this past Saturday and it was great to see everyone. We sat around the dining room table and discussed the logistics of getting the band back together. We are going to meet on either the 2nd or 3rd Saturday of each month.

Most of us managed to do three blocks since 2008. Some have more and some have less. We’ve decided to start with Lesson #1 again. I might send Lesson #2 for the girls who are ahead. The next two blocks are an applique technique.

Explains why I stopped…

Here is a picture of the entire Dear Jane quilt.

DJ Quilt

We guestimate that it will take approximately 5 to 6 years to complete. Most quilts I have no idea how long it took me to make them. People ask but you really can’t answer because sometimes you work on a quilt or project constantly but then sometimes life gets in the way and you have to put it away for awhile. I have the Dear Jane software that has information sheets for each block along with a place to make a notation of “time started” and “time finished”. It would definitely be cool to know how long this quilt took to make.

Or depressing…

There is some history with this quilt which I will be glad to provide (if you want) at another time. It’s late and I’m getting a little tired.

Hope everyone is doing well. Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

 

Plugging Along…

Hi there – how is everyone doing today? We are doing well here although I may have overdone things a bit.

Apparently, working full time, being caregiver to Jim and taking care of a house made planning his surprise birthday party and redoing the bathroom under strict deadline my breaking point.  A couple of days after Jim’s party, I was in the shower and noticed that I had some numbness on my left side. Ugh!! Before fearing the worst, I recalled that because the bathroom was so tiny, I did have to sometimes scrape wallpaper and paint using my left-hand. My left shoulder was very “crunchy” for lack of a better word so I am wondering if I pinched a nerve or something.

Orders for rest and relaxation have been given by my doctor.

Then she said “really rest.”

They know me… If no improvement or it gets worse, we’ll do an MRI. Fun stuff.

I did relax for a little bit, and I’ve had some nice pops from my left shoulder and now all of the numbness is gone.

I’ll be fine.

Jim is doing extremely well. (I’m almost afraid to admit that for fear of jinxing him.)

I’m very superstitious.

January 2nd was the last time Jim passed out. After that incident they considerably reduced the amount of diuretics that he takes. The diuretics were wiping out the potassium in his body and when it gets too low, he passes out…

Before that, (way before that) he was coughing to the point that he would black out. I don’t really think that Jim was even aware that he was blacking out, but it was very scary for the rest of us.

I made a point of going to LVAD clinic one day to mention it, and they had determined that it was caused by one of his medications (of course) and they stopped it altogether.

By the way – now whenever I show up at LVAD clinic, they assume something is wrong :-)…

So, no more coughing and no more lightheadedness or dizzy spells…

After the unconventional experiment, they removed his PICC line – see below (ignore the bruise). The PICC line is a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter which is used for intravenous access for a prolonged period of time. Jim had two PICC lines actually and had them for almost a year and a half.

JA - Arm

No more infusions. He was doing four a day – now none…

I was doing dressing changes at least twice a day – sometimes more due to an incision that just wouldn’t heal. Now it has healed, and we are down to one dressing change every other day.

LVAD clinic visits have gone from every Monday to now once a month.

No lightheadedness, no dizziness, no blacking out or fainting, no more infusions, one dressing change every other day and LVAD clinic once a month.

Savor the moment!! Now hopefully things will stay like this for a while.

Having all this free time is seriously messing me up though… I don’t know what to do with myself. I just sit in a near catatonic state on the sofa until it’s time for bed. It’s a very strange feeling.

I don’t even think I’ve done much sewing.

Also, for some strange reason, I am in a cooking rut.

Ever get like that?

I’m just tired of cooking the same ‘ole things, or I just have no idea what to cook. No clue. I wander around the grocery store or peruse recipes on my favorite recipe blogs and cookbooks looking for some inspiration, but nothing… I cannot get motivated for some reason.

I did make some stuffed peppers recently that came out pretty good. I had a bunch of bell peppers leftover that I was planning on putting on a salad but decided against it at the last minute. I decided instead to use them to make stuffed peppers but was lamenting because we had had enough “saucy” things at that point. Jim then asked if we could stuff them with chili.

Good idea!!

Here is the recipe if you’re interested. Apologies in advance for the bad photography. This is my first attempt at being a food blogger.

 

Chili Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Ingredients:

Bell Peppers – any color – I love color so used an assortment

Two packages (approx. 2-2 1/2 lbs. total) of ground whatever floats your boat – chicken, beef, turkey, etc.

One can of beans – I used Black Beans but again use whatever you prefer

One can diced tomatoes

One can sweet corn

Two cans of diced green chilies

1 to 3* Chipotle peppers (remove the seeds) in Adobo sauce plus a tablespoon of the Adobo sauce (*depending on how hot you like it! :-)) NOTE: There are typically three to four peppers per can so one can is enough and just leave any leftover peppers in the fridge for another recipe (add to mayo for a special sauce).

One packet of Williams Original Chili Seasoning (for all our heart failure / LVAD friends – this has zero sodium)

One large onion

Shredded cheese – whatever kind you like (we used 2% Mexican Four Cheese)

Cumin (not pictured because I forgot…)

Chili Powder (not pictured because I forgot…)

For the garnish:

Sliced olives

Sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Put a teaspoon of oil in a sauce pan or Dutch oven and sauté the onion until tender.

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Then add your meat of choice. We used very lean ground turkey.

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Cook until completely browned.

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While the meat is cooking, take a pepper and

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carefully cut around and remove the stem.

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Cut each pepper in half length-wise to make cute little boats. Rinse and clean.

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Set aside for later. I just love all the colors!!

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Now back to the chili.

To the meat and onion mixture, add the Williams Original Chili Seasoning, corn, tomatoes, beans, both cans of green chilies, the amount of Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce that you’re comfortable with (I added two) plus the tablespoon of the Adobe sauce from the can, two tablespoons of Chili Powder and one tablespoon of Cumin.

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Pretty colors!!

Stir until combined. Let simmer for 30 minutes. This makes a great weeknight meal because it takes practically no time to prepare.

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You can eat this as is or put on top of baked potatoes, hot dogs or hamburgers but since we had so many peppers leftover, I filled each little boat and put in a casserole pan filled with about an inch of low-sodium chicken broth (you can also use water). I use Trader Joe’s chicken broth as it’s the best tasting with the least amount of sodium I can find.

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Then I put them in a 350° oven for about a ½ hour or until the peppers soften to your liking. Cheese can have a large amount of sodium so I only put cheese on a few peppers for myself.

Pop them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the cheese melts.

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Also, for anyone interested in purchasing the Williams Original Chili Seasoning or anything else that is no – to low sodium, I find great items on www.healthyheartmarket.com. Check them out sometime.

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They even have zero sodium pickles.

The Chili Stuffed Peppers are done!! Top with any garnish you want – sour cream, sliced olives or green onions and enjoy!!

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So that’s it for now. Take care – lots of Love!!

Cheryl

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Jim!!

One day I realized that a certain special someone in my life was turning 50.  I realize that this is a large enough milestone to warrant a party (pronounced “Pahtay!!”) but that also this certain special someone almost didn’t make it to 50 and has had a bit of a tough time these past couple of years.

I had this thought a few months ago and decided to call Jim’s good friend, Patrick who lives in Colorado.  I mentioned my idea of having a surprise party for Jim to him, and he too agreed that we should most definitely throw a “Pahtay”, and that he and his beautiful fiancée, Tanya would “be there, be square!”  I then called Jim’s father and mentioned my idea, and he thought it was a great idea as well…

Jim hasn’t seen Pat in a few years so I thought it would be a great surprise / pick me up for Jim.

Pat and I talked about the wording for the invitations, and I put together a little invite.  I had also decided that Jim would find out about the party when Pat came through the door the day before his party.  Due to current circumstances, having people hide behind furniture and jump out screaming SURPRISE probably not a good idea.  We don’t need any LVAD alarms going off!!

Then I get the call from Jim telling me about the “unconventional experiment” that Tufts wanted to do and that if any sign of an infection shows up they are probably going to have to do surgery.

CRAP!!!

I asked Jim when they wanted to admit him and he indicated in a couple of days…

I called my Mom and said I think I’ll hold off sending out these invitations and just wait and see what direction this “experiment” goes…  Thankfully, that had ended well (see previous post) and I sent out the invites.

So I don’t have enough going on in my life with working full time, caregiver for my big, handsome Hubby, keeping a house and planning his surprise 50th B-day party; one week before the party, I decide it is now time to fix up the first floor bathroom.

My family and friends all thought I was Certifiable…  Jim (so funny!) just couldn’t understand the sense of urgency all of a sudden.  I think it subconsciously was a way to distract me.

I am famous for slipping and letting things out beforehand.  It’s also hard to be excited about something and not be able to tell someone!!

The other issue was that I usually make a big deal about his birthday.  I invite immediate family over and make a special Beef Wellington dinner and bake a chocolate cake and just really talk about it non-stop beforehand.  This time I wasn’t saying a word and wondered if Jim was picking up on that.  So I decide to ask him every so often what he wanted to do for his birthday and he just kept saying “let’s see how I’m feeling.”

I’m thinking you better be feeling pretty good, Hon because we’ve got like 30 people or so coming to the house!!!

Meanwhile, back to the bathroom…

Paper-backed, vinyl wallpaper, thank you very much.

This wallpaper (while pretty in its own right) had no business being in a bathroom.  Just took away and overpowered the tile.  It had been put up by a previous renter, and I had always thought it belonged in a dining room – definitely not a bathroom but let me know what you think…

Bathroom1

It took almost the entire week to remove it and get the walls prepped for painting.  Jim still doesn’t understand where this urgent mission came from, but came with me to Lowe’s to get some type of a wallpaper remover.  Unfortunately, they are all extremely toxic, and I didn’t want anything like that in the house so one of the women there said to fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and extremely hot water.  Score the wallpaper, spray the wall and then wait 10-15 minutes and then you will be able to scrape it off.

Bathroom3

You really do need to let that solution sit on the wallpaper for a good 10-15 minutes before you try to remove it – works better that way.  Also, don’t do what I did which was spray the wall and then start watching the Olympics and forget to go back to scrape…  Then it would be too dry, and I would need to spray all over again…

Finally, with the help of my Dad and Jim, the bathroom is finished.  I had been working late a few nights that week and would go home to scrape wallpaper and wash the walls but the night that I was supposed to spackle,

I LOVES to spackle!!

I was just beyond tired, and decided to take the night off and just watch the Olympics.  Jim ended up spackling for me that night which was great because that meant that we were still on schedule for his Party!!

My Dad was a huge help – he installed a new faucet, a new light fixture and he shaved down the bathroom door because it would scrape on the floor and just annoy the crap out of us!!

Thank you, DAD!!!!

All done!!  Here is the finished product!! (and yes, we have already been informed that we are running low on toilet paper – thank you very much!!)

Newbathroom1

Newbathroom2Much better!!

So everyone has RSVP’d, food has been ordered, the decorations are all set and the cake (OMG – wait til you see the cake!!!) has been ordered.  We are pretty much good to go.  At the time my only concern was knowing the amount of people coming versus the amount of chairs that I own.  I have six dining room chairs in a consignment shop (Dorothy’s Lane) in Melrose, and wondered if it would be a bad idea to call and ask if I could borrow them back for a weekend…

Then we start getting the weather reports.

Storm

 Storm2

First, we are told that Boston is getting a dusting…  Then they are talking 3-6 inches.  Then I get a text from my brother – they have now upgraded the storm to a full-blown blizzard.  We are right on that cusp where we could get anything from 3 inches to 16 inches depending on which way the bands went…

Super…

I called my Mom and told her, and we both just started laughing.  Of course, we would be having a blizzard.  Jim’s friends Pat and Tanya flew in on the Thursday prior (during a snowstorm) so I mistakenly thought it would be clear sailing after that…  They are now up in Maine visiting family and would be driving down during this storm on Saturday.

We just decided that Mother Nature is going to do whatever it is she wants to do, and we cannot control that and people can decide at the time what to do.  It was just too close to call.  We could get three inches or 12 inches.  It was basically a wait and see…

Saturday morning I am usually out the door to do errands first thing.  This Saturday I am up but not out the door.  As the day goes on, I do start to get concerned about the storm and talk with Jim about cancelling dinner arrangements – he still doesn’t know that Pat and Tanya are coming over.

He decides to see about making hotel reservations so we can still have a nice night.

Whoa, hold that Tiger.

I finally end up asking him to just roll with it for a while so he started to figure out that something was going on…  Saturday afternoon I get a text from Pat.  He and Tanya are on their way down.  I cancelled the dinner reservations and decided as a back-up plan to make a meatloaf dinner.  I just didn’t want anyone on the road during the height of the storm.  They had been predicting the worst of it around dinnertime.

Pat knocks on the door, and I asked Jim to answer it for me.  If I was thinking, I would have opened the door so at least I could have seen Jim’s face when he saw Pat standing there…

Jim opens the door and sees Pat standing on the porch…

Processing…

Processing…

Still processing…

Tanya and I were laughing so hard.

To say Jim was happy to see them is an understatement.  It was awesome that they were able to make it out from Colorado for Jim’s 50th.

Jim and Pat

See that smile – that’s all I wanted to see…  (Jim’s on the left)

Sunday, February 16th was Jim’s birthday and surprise party.  The snowstorm Saturday night fizzled and Boston got maybe 3-4 inches tops!!  Jim’s family from New York was able to make it in and family and friends from all over came – I think we had about 25 people.  The food was great!!  I think I possibly ordered a little too much, but I’m Italian, and we believe in providing a variety of food to make sure everyone is happy!!

Happy Happy!!

It was catered by the Chateau in Burlington, MA.  Good tip from my brother…  They did an awesome job.  Delivered on time and everything tasted delicious!

Here is Jim’s cake that I was telling you about earlier:

JimCake

Just awesome!!

This was done by Terri at Cakes by Terri and she did a FANTASTIC job!!!  She was a joy to work with and her prices are beyond reasonable too.  I called her and found out that she’s actually right around the corner from where I work.  I explained what Jim has been going through, and how I have started calling him my fighter / warrior but that he also loves Samurai Warriors.  She told me that she wanted to do something fun for him and this is what she came up with.  Jim (actually everyone) loved his cake.  Not only was it whimsical (it was really nice to see him smile / laugh), but it also tasted great – extremely moist.  All our guests raved about how good it tasted.

And I just love the sandals!!  Cracked me up!!

Here is a photo of the slider in the kitchen all decorated for the party (and also our neighbor’s house)…

Window decorations

I had put Kendall in our bedroom for the day so I wouldn’t have to worry about her getting stepped on or accidentally let outside.  So I didn’t realize until the next day that those decorations around the window scared the heck out of her.  Sunday night after the party she came upstairs with us when we went to bed and Jim said she was in bed / out of bed / in bed / out of bed all night long which is strange…  The next morning I went to feed her and realized she hadn’t eaten any of her dinner.

That’s weird!!

I realized that she was afraid of the window decorations.  They must look like one giant freaking spider or octopus or something to her.  Plus, when the heat came on, the decorations would start moving…   She just wouldn’t go into the kitchen until I had taken them down, thrown them away and then I had to pick her up and show her that it was gone…

My poor baby!!!

Unfortunately, her litter box is in that little bathroom off the kitchen that we had spoken about earlier…  Ugh!!

I had Monday off for President’s Day, and we spent some time with Patrick and Tanya before they had to head back to Colorado.

I had taken Tuesday off to have some down time so was able to get into my sewing room for a little bit.  It was nice to finally relax for a while.  I would like to do that again actually :)…

That’s all we have to report for now.  Thanks so much for reading – appreciate it!!

Please be sure to “like” and “follow” the blog!!

Love you guys!!

Cheryl

Hi All – Happy New Year’s everyone!!  OK let’s just say I started this post a long time ago… 

Last we spoke Jim had just gotten out of the hospital after having been sent home on the wrong medication regimen and getting seriously ill and dehydrated.  That mystery was solved by the Tufts Infectious Disease team (they are part of the Cardiac Transplantation team). 

I would say not even five days after Jim’s discharge, I get a call at work from his visiting nurse.  She said (and these are her exact words) – “Jim went BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP down the stairs.” 

O. M. G!!! 

He managed to get up off the floor and open the door to let her in, and then collapsed in the living room – up against the entertainment center.  She told me that she wanted to call an ambulance, but that Jim felt he didn’t need medical assistance.  She said that he was denying the fact that he had hit his head, but she could clearly see a bruise / scrape developing over his left eye. 

I asked her to please call an ambulance and have them take him right into Tufts, and that I would meet him there…

When I got there Jim was in the Emergency Room, and he was being examined by one of the doctors.  I asked him what happened with the LVAD Controller, and he said that it had gone “BUMPITY BUMP BUMP BUMP” down the stairs so they had the LVAD Coordinator come in and give the LVAD Controller a once over.  Thank goodness all was fine but I laughed to myself because I wondered if he knew that the visiting nurse said the same exact thing about him. 

I think Jim was more embarrassed about this incident than anything else.  He said he was just in a rush to get down the stairs to let the visiting nurse in, and he missed one of the steps.  The team at Tufts thought it might have been something else. 

Whenever you or I stand up quickly from a seated position gravity will take over and all our blood will drain but then recirculate.  It happens pretty quickly – sometimes you might get a little lightheaded.  Now imagine a man-made motor in your heart going at a constant rate.  When gravity takes over and blood leaves the heart and that motor is still going there is a suction event that happens.  There is a word for it, but because I’m an airhead I don’t remember it at this point in time.  I’ll ask the team next time I see them…  Anyways, they think that might be why he had fallen down the stairs. 

Thankfully, everything was fine.  Tufts did a cat scan to ensure that there were no bleeds from the fall, and they kept Jim for a few days for observation.  He had some serious bruises though – pretty amazing ones…

This is where he didn’t hit his head… 

 JA - Forehead

 

Here is his arm – probably trying to save himself…

JA - Arm 

Here is a picture of his back…  YEEIKES!! – You can see the line from where he landed on the edge of the step…  OUCH!!

JA Back2 

The Coumadin makes for some impressive bruising, huh?  While it literally would hurt me to look at the bruises, Jim assured me that they didn’t hurt at all.  He indicated if anything, the bruise on his arm hurt the most but said it was more tightness than actual pain…  When he was discharged, the nurses said next time he wants to visit, he just needs to stop by – no need to stage accidents or throw himself down the stairs… 

After that things were pretty uneventful for a couple of weeks.  We made it through Thanksgiving and were coming up to the Holidays, and I just started wishing for an uneventful Holiday.  We got the tree up and decorated. 

2013 Tree 

Beautiful!!

We usually do this the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It takes a couple of days to get it up and running.  One day the tree and the lights go up.  The second day is spent decorating and cleaning up.  This tree is rather old (Translation:  it does not come pre-lit!!) but that’s fine because I haven’t found a pre-lit tree that has purple and white lights on it. 

If you do find one, could you let me know?  Thanks – appreciate it.

Until then, we use this tree.  We do get lots of compliments on it.  I was nervous about putting the tree up this year because Kendall was so awful with it last year.  She would gnaw on the wires, chew on the branches and send ornaments sailing through the air.  This year she didn’t seem “as” interested in it.  She still chewed on some branches (only to throw up fake needles) but not nearly as much as she had done last year.  She does like the skirt.  Must be comfortable.  I couldn’t locate it last year because I had used it as padding when packing up boxes but was so excited to find it for this year.  She would curl up under the tree and nap.  Just like Spooky used to do.  The funny thing is as a quilter, I made just about everyone and their Uncle a quilted Christmas Tree skirt but us – we have one from Sears Roebuck… 

Yes, they were still Sears Roebuck at the time!!

One of these days I’ll make us a proper, quilted Christmas tree skirt, but I really like this one – it’s a purple Santa Coat. 

See the flat screen TV in the photo to the left there?  See how it’s on an entertainment center?  Kendall is such a nut case…  Out of the blue she decides to leap over it in a single bound.  Probably didn’t realize that it’s straight down the other side – there was no shelf-i-poo of any kind to land on… 

In order to get her out from behind it, I had to move the entertainment center (heavy, thank you very much), and she walks out a complete puff-ball. 

I don’t think she will do that again…

Nov. 19th – I find out that for some reason at work I was switched to a “clocker”.  Someone who has to hit a time clock when they enter or leave the building…  I cannot input time into a timesheet anymore.  I called to let someone know of the issue and they inform me that yes, as of 11/19 – I am a clocker and so will everyone else in the building.  I assured them that if that were really the case, some type of an announcement would have gone out.  I escalate my problem and someone assures me that they are looking into this – apparently, I am not the only person who got switched.  More to come on this… 

November 30th – one of Jim’s antibiotics is stopped.  Jim questioned this with the infusion services company because we are at LVAD clinic every week and no one from the Infectious Disease team indicated that they were stopping the antibiotic.  The infusion company indicates that they will follow-up with Tufts and get back to us as soon as possible. 

December 4th – Jim was complaining that he was freezing.  He takes Coumadin and that’s one of the side effects – he’s always freezing.  We could have the heat set to 72, and he would still be freezing.  He said he was going to go to bed for a little bit and see if he can get warmed up.  I hear him get to the top of the stairs and then get what’s known as a case of the rigors.  Rigor is when you are shaking uncontrollably.  We get him into bed.  He’s on top of a heated mattress pad and under a sheet, a blanket, a quilt, and an electric blanket that is on high. 

We are careful to move his LVAD controller off to the side – high temps are not good for that thing. 

I took him temp at this point but it was normal.  He is shaking so hard that when I sat on the bed next to him for a little bit, I actually got physically nauseous!  He finally warms up and falls asleep for a couple of hours. 

When he woke up we took his temp again – 102.6. 

Yeeikes!!

We question if it’s due to the fact that he was bundled up with so many heated elements… 

However…  There are two things that you are always on the look-out for when you have an LVAD.  One, signs of an infection and two, signs of clotting… 

We really should call the team.  I gave Jim some Tylenol, and he gave them a call, and as we figured they wanted to see him right away.  I was a little surprised at the level of urgency though when we got there but figured it was just serious enough. 

Then they start talking about his 105 fever!!  Jim and I were like, huh??  Whenever Jim comes into the hospital, an email blast goes out to the entire team.  They also put a bulletin notice on the billboard on Rte. 93S. 

Just kidding.

Someone wrote that he was coming in with a 105 fever…  Oops…

The Tylenol took care of his fever and it never came back but it was at this point that the Infectious Disease team became aware that one his antibiotics were stopped on November 30th and to say that they were upset would be an understatement…  Suffice to say it wasn’t supposed to be stopped and they were worried that that was the reason he spiked a fever.  They didn’t think it was from being under 15 heat sources. 

His antibiotics were restarted immediately. 

It’s now coming up to the Holiday’s, and I’m happy to report that my payroll issue had been fixed…  They didn’t offer an explanation of what had happened and I didn’t ask – I was just thankful that my poor boss (who was also trying to plan her wedding!!) didn’t have to manually email my hours to the Payroll people each week.  What a nightmare. 

I didn’t get a paycheck when we had first found this out so in a panic, I had put my cleaning people on hold.

It’s now the Holiday’s…  I get my wish, and we have a beautiful and uneventful Holiday.  I had some time off from work and enjoyed the Christmas and New Year’s break with family.  Christmas Eve Jim and I took his Dad into Boston for dinner.  We found a restaurant that had a New Year’s Eve special dinner menu.  I decided that since I had a whole new batch of vacation days for 2014, I would take the two days after New Year’s off as well and make it an entire week off. 

I had made a quilt for my brother for Christmas, and he loved it when he opened it Christmas Day.  I forgot to take pictures of him opening it because I’m a dingbat like that, but here’s a picture of the quilt… 

This was a Block of the Month quilt done through Cambridge Quilts.  I jokingly said to Jim with the amount of work that went into this quilt, it should have been King-sized!!  See all those squares and triangles!! 

Frankie's quilt1 

See them!!

January 2nd – Jim is complaining that he’s extremely lightheaded and dizzy. 

These are signs that his potassium is too low and is typically when he can pass out.  I am on guard…  Sure enough he passes out early in the morning and ends up in the Emergency Room at Tufts with a potassium reading of 2.1.  It’s supposed to be between 4-5. 

Nothing like having two EMTs, two firemen and a policeman in your house to make you wish you NEVER put your cleaners on hold!!!

Whoa, where did that come from?

We always try to keep a sense of humor about things.  Poor Jim is lying in the emergency room at Tufts Medical Center.  It’s snowing like crazy outside.  Jim is trying to sleep, but I poked him and said – “Hey!!!  At least the deductible for 2014 has been met!!” 

He turned his head towards me, opened his eyes and just sort of glared at me. 

Well I thought it was funny…  I guess he wasn’t feeling it…

He wasn’t there very long.  They got his potassium back up to where it should be and discharged him a few days later. 

All this time Jim has been on inactive status on the Transplant list.  I thought it was because he really hasn’t been stable in a long time and you need to be healthy enough for the surgery.  It turns out it’s because of the infections he has.  Originally, after the LVAD surgery, it was the infection keeping him at Status 1A so we were very confused.  Also, every single test that they do for an infection comes back negative (thank goodness – not complaining).  If they are coming back negative though, why is he taking four antibiotics a day?

Taking all those meds isn’t a good thing either!!

Jim starts to ask questions and there is a Meeting of the Minds at Tufts.  They decide to do an unconventional experiment. 

Wednesday, January 8th – Jim calls me and tells me about an idea they proposed to him.  They want to bring him into Tufts for seven full days and stop all antibiotics and see if anything rears its ugly head.

They feel he’s in limbo right now and want to move him forward to active status.  If he has no infection, he can go home without antibiotics and go on the transplant list.  If he does have one, they need to find the source of the infection and deal with it. 

Jim and I were almost positive that he would end up popping a high fever and end up probably needing surgery of some kind to get rid of an infection. 

Thankfully, four days later I get a call to say they felt he can go home. His stay (we started calling it a Med Spa stay) couldn’t have gone any better….  After four full days (so much for seven full days) his fever was normal and his white blood cell count actually dropped while he was in there.  He really made the best of it too.  They didn’t have him hooked up to anything so he did as much walking as he could and found a set of stairs to use as a workout as well.

His PICC line is gone and for now he is taking oral antibiotics and the team is going to have a discussion tomorrow (January 21st) about getting him back to active status.  The question is whether or not he’ll be Status 1a or Status 1b.  To be determined.

In order to keep my sanity I have been trying to get as much sewing in as possible. 

Well, you knew it wasn’t going to be housecleaning!!

I’m actually working on a beautiful Christmas wall-hanging. 

Why not? 

No pressure at all, and I’ll be way ahead of the game for next year!!

Here are some pictures of the star blocks that I’m working on… 

Christmas wallhanging

I have all but four done and I’m hoping to get them done soon… 

Stars

Thursday, January 23rd – We get the call from Tufts.  Jim has been approved to go back to active status on the heart transplant list and he is listed as Status 1a. 

I think that’s all I have to report to date – that was a lot!! 

I hope that everyone is doing well!! 

Take care and lots of love!!

Cheryl

What Happened…

So the last time I updated you guys Jim was yanked into the hospital due to a low INR.  The INR is the number that indicates if his blood is too thick and might clot or if it’s too thin which might cause a bleed-out.  Well, at least that’s how I understand it… 

Sometimes the doctors are comfortable treating it by changing up the amount of Coumadin he takes at home.  Sometimes they want him in the hospital for “therapy”.  This is something we have lived with since the LVAD was implanted over a year ago.  Pretty routine.

Then something usually happens to remind us how quickly things can change.  I went to visit him and was shocked when I walked into his room.  He was sleeping but his face was extremely red and he looked sweaty.  I asked the nurse what was going on, and she indicated that he had a fever of almost 103.  He woke up when he heard me come back into the room and wanted to get into the chair.  He then fell asleep in the chair.  I looked at his monitor and watched his heart rate drop from 83 to 60 in seconds flat.  I thought that was weird but maybe he did fall asleep.  He then suddenly sat up and said he didn’t feel good and wanted to go back to bed.  The nurse was there at this point and the two of us were in the process of helping him back into bed.  He was tangled in all his IV tubings and while the nurse and I were trying to untangle him all the bells and whistles started going off on his monitor.   

Jim went into ventricular tachycardia.  Wikipedia says “Ventricular tachycardia (V-tach or VT) is a type of rapid heart beat, that starts in the bottom chambers of the heart, called the ventricles.[1] The ventricles are the main pumping chambers of the heart. This is a potentially life-threatening arrhythmia because it may lead to ventricular fibrillation, asystole, and sudden death.”   

The nurse started yelling and I mean YELLING.

I NEED THE TEAM IN HERE!  I NEED THE TEAM IN HERE NOW – NOW NOW NOW!!  I MEAN IT – GET THE CRASH CART!!!

Thanks to the LVAD, Jim never lost consciousness.  I just kept talking to him and trying to keep him calm.  Between the nurse yelling, the alarms on his monitor going off and the room suddenly filling with people, it got very intense, very quickly.  Two nurses escorted me into the hallway while everyone tended to Jim.  They got me a chair and next thing I know the Chaplain was with me.  She brought me Kleenex, hard candies and some water.  Very thoughtful but beyond scary…  They did keep coming out and telling me that Jim was fine, but he was still in V tach.  They decided to put him to sleep / intubate him and they ended up using his defib to shock him out of V tach.  When he was asleep, they let me back into the room.  Dr. Estes was there large and in charge, and he told me that Jim was being very stubborn.  He was V taching just below the thresholds that they set for his defib to fire.  They would lower the threshold and Jim would v tach just under the threshold!

They were talking like I knew what the heck they were talking about. 

Dr. Estes gave me an example.  They set the threshold for 120 and Jim starts to v tach at 116. 

That’s my man!! 

They finally got Jim “quiet”.  Heart rate back to normal and they kept him sedated in a medical coma and intubated for the night and moved him into ICU. 

At some point, I called his Dad to tell him what was going on and as it turned out he was in the garage about to walk over to the hospital.  He was expecting to see his son in his regular room – surprise… 

Jim’s father left.  I stayed until Jim was settled in ICU.  I just wanted to see him before I went home.  That night I couldn’t even close my eyes.  I didn’t want to take anything to help me sleep in case I needed to drive back to the hospital. 

I posted to my friends in LVAD friends.  A Facebook support group that Jim and I belong to – they have been a huge help. 

Thankfully, there were no phone calls from the hospital that night.  I was nervous about going in to see Jim the next day. 

I don’t know why – it went so well the last time I visited… 

He was still in ICU but the breathing tube was removed.  He did look better – his fever had broken sometime during the night so he wasn’t so red or sweaty looking.  He was awake but looked wiped.  I asked if he remembered what happened and he shook his head no.  Probably for the best I thought…

Turns out a combination of very high potassium (7.7) along with the high fever was enough to put him into V tach. 

They kept Jim in ICU for a couple of days, and I knew when Jim was feeling better when he was arguing with one of his doctors about going to a regular room… 

He got moved to a regular room (when they felt it was safe) and finally came home on Tuesday and proceeds to go downhill.  He had awful stomach issues – vomiting and diarrhea.  We end up calling the doctor on Sunday who said if he keeps feeling miserable to come right into the ER.  Jim had LVAD clinic on Monday so Monday morning he walked into Clinic feeling so miserable that he just told them to admit him.  The nursing staff fast-tracked him, and they put him into ICU again.  His numbers were completely out of whack.  His INR which should be between 2-3 was over 10!  Turns out when he was sent home from the hospital the first time they gave him a regimen of meds that he shouldn’t have been taking. 

He got home last night.  When they were discharging him though, they tried to put him back on the meds he’s not supposed to be taking anymore – I swear to God!!  I nicely gave them the facts of life, and I’m happy to report that today is the best day he’s had in weeks.

Both Jim and I want to thank all of you for all the well-wishes and prayers.  You have no idea how much you guys are appreciated.  We love you guys!!

Lots of Love!!

Fall is Here!!

Hi All,

Well that was a rather long lapse in updates, wasn’t it?

I don’t know why – I love updating you guys, but I guess things have been uneventful, and despite the realities, I was doing my best to enjoy the summer.

Are you enjoying the fall?  This is my absolute favorite time of year!  The colors, the weather and the food – love them all!!  I love cooking and going to Farmer’s Markets this time of year too!

There have been some awesome quilt shows every single weekend (no wonder there haven’t been updates), and they will continue right up to November and then the craft fairs start – whoo hoo!!  Just in time for the Holidays.

I think I told you this already, but I finished the wedding quilt.  I decided to send it out to a friend (Laurena’s Longarm Quilting) to get quilted because I’d like it done in this century…

Plus, she will do a much better job.

I also finished a Block-of-the-Month that I had been working on at Cambridge Quilts.  Laurena is quilting that one as well.

So as you can see, I was on a roll with getting some quilting done.

Then some Yellow Jackets decided to invade my sewing room!!

I told Jim I feel like a hypocrite because when they’re outside, they are God’s Little Creatures.  However, when they are in the house – it’s all-out WAR!

We knew we had a hive in the roof over the back porch (which happens to be underneath my sewing room), but I figured the next cold day

(like in February)

I would go out there and spray…  We also assumed it was small because we didn’t see any evidence of it until the end of August.  Kendall was staring INTENTLY out the glass doors off the kitchen one day, and I had one of those  “what they heck are you looking at” moments and following her gaze saw the Yellow Jackets buzzing around an opening in the roof over the back porch – UGH!!

I had been getting an ad hoc Yellow Jacket, usually dead, on the rug in my sewing room.  I just assumed they had followed one of us into the house.

I would pick it up and flush it down the toilet.

Then wonder if it was really dead the next time I was doing tinkle…

One night when I was going to bed, I saw Kendall laying on the kitty condo that’s in my sewing room.

She needed her own space for us to co-exist in there.  As you can see, she likes using the thread on my sewing machine to floss her toofies.

photo-Kendall sewing

So I walked in to say goodnight to her, and I noticed that there were Yellow Jackets flying around, one on the rug, one on the baseboard and there was a rather large one on the window right above her head and she’s just lying there looking at me like “They’re my friends, Mom!!”

Super…

I grabbed Kendall, bolted out of the room, shut the door and filled the gap between the door and the floor with a towel.  Time to call an exterminator…  Jim called A-1 Exterminators, and they came out the next day.

The hive ended up being much larger than we thought.  Jim Face Time’d me so I could see the mass exodus when the exterminator, Michael, started doing his thing.  I am happy to report that so far there is no more activity inside or outside the house.

So there has pretty much been a quilt show every weekend this fall and it has been great getting out and seeing people I haven’t seen in ages.  It’s very inspiring to see what other people are working on.  I want to blog about them, but I’m still not sure what the etiquette is yet for blogging about other people and posting pictures of their quilts…  Need to look into that a bit more.  Stay tuned…

I also rejoined my Quilting Guild – Rising Star Quilters and it was great to get to a meeting and reconnect with everyone.

Too many desserts though, my friends.  Way too many desserts available at these meetings…

Anyways, one of my good friends Bethany met me at the meeting last month, and she handed me a gift bag and told me to open it when I looked at her perplexed.  She said you will understand when you see what it is.  It was a wall-hanging that I had fallen in love with at a local quilt show and must have bought about $20 worth of raffle tickets for it.  Bethany said she laughed when she found out that she won it and as soon as she picked it up, she put it aside for me.

Thank you, Bethie!!  I do love it and it is hanging up!!

Halloween LadiesV4

Isn’t it adorable!  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!!

I have the best friends in the world!!  One time one of my friends Kathy had bought Bethany, Mary and myself some raffle tickets.  I ended up having a raffle number called and when I went up to pick a prize I saw a bag of silk fabrics that I knew Mary would love.  So Kathy bought the tickets, I won the prize and Mary gets the prize!!

I started an embroidery project.  It’s very cute…  It’s a snowman for every month of the year and I bought these really cute red and green plaids to use as a border around each block to make a little quilt.

I finished January.  It’s not perfect but it’s keeping my hands busy and hopefully less likely to go grab a snack from the kitchen…

Jan Snowman

I have February ready to go in the hoop.  Believe it or not, I used to teach embroidery (silk ribbon embroidery – SWOON!!) but that was years ago and now I’m lucky if I remember how to thread the needle.

Did the eye of sewing needles get smaller?

Oh it’s me?

My eyes?

Oh – OK.

So what’s going on with Jim?  Let’s see – not much new.  We are still waiting for the call.

He really wasn’t feeling well for a long period of time.  I was very worried…  He was extremely lightheaded whenever he stood up (the heat during the summer months didn’t help), and he was coughing to the point of blacking out a few times.

I really didn’t like having to go to work and leaving him by himself.

We mentioned this to his team at Tufts and they tweaked his meds and took him off one of the meds that is known to cause these symptoms, and now thankfully he’s feeling much better.  I’m not so concerned about leaving the house to go to work, and I have even gone out after dinner to do a few errands, which was unheard of a few weeks ago.  Sometimes I swear the meds are worse than the disease…

Yesterday the visiting nurse came and among other things, he did bloodwork.  Around 3:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon I get a call at work from Jim saying that Tufts called.  His INR was too low and they wanted to admit him for “therapy”.  He said to them you guys usually just tell me to take more Coumadin and they said nope – we want you in here for therapy…  To say he was a tad angry is an understatement, but he’s still in the hospital and will probably be there for the weekend.

Well, it’s very late and I’m tired so I’m going to end this.  I promise to write more frequent!!  Hope everyone is doing well.

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

Happy Vadiversary Jim!!

July 11, 2013 – Today is Jim’s one-year Vadiversary.  Can you believe he received his LVAD a year ago today?  I can’t believe it’s been a year already.

In my last post I was complaining because Jim hadn’t asked any questions at his Clinic appointment so at his last LVAD clinic visit I asked him to at least see what his status is on the List.

He was told that he is one of two people to be transplanted.

EEEEK!

While they were quick to remind us that the List is like an accordion and is constantly growing / shrinking, it was scary to hear that.

When he was originally placed on the heart transplant list (a little over a year ago), they said it would be at least a year, and he was one of 20 people.  So they were right on.

Here we are a year later and he’s one of two.

Hearing this stressed us out a tad.  When it comes to dwelling on the surgery itself, we generally don’t allow negativity of any kind in our house.  But sometimes it has a way of just showing up.  I ate my face off for about two weeks after hearing that but have since regrouped.

How was your 4th of July Holiday?

We both took a week off and really tried to relax.  Spent most days in my bathing suit and even though I sometimes took two showers a day, never once did I pick up a hairdryer or curling iron!!  Poor Jim cannot use the pool and it was too hot outside for him.  We had a couple of issues when we tried to go out a couple of times.  Once we decided to go for a walk around one of the local malls, but it was too hot inside the mall, and we had to leave abruptly.  Another time we tried to go to Trader Joes, but Jim almost passed out in the parking lot.  I had to help him back to the car quickly cuz I really didn’t want him passing out in the parking lot.  Passing out is bad enough, but when you’re in the middle of a steaming hot parking lot – ugh!  His potassium was probably too low or he may have been a bit dehydrated.  We got him into some A/C, got him some water and food and he felt much better.  Stubborn.  I told him I should have dropped him off at the door rather than have him walk through the parking lot but I understand – he says he wants the exercise.  I think we both may have underestimated the role heat plays in this game though.  It was extremely hot last week.

For summer reading, I read Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Next will be reading Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Short list this year…

Did some sewing but nothing crazy.  Most of the wedding quilt is put together.

And spread out on the dining room table…

Thanks for your advice, Monique!!  Appreciate it, and you were right…  My idea would have been “a huge pain in the butt”.  LOL!!

There may be some extra seams here and there where I had to fill in between blocks, but I think it still looks nice…  It won’t win any awards, that’s for sure…  I didn’t plan it very well.  When I copied the pictures to fabric I copied pictures of all sizes and orientations.  I should have squared them all up to the same size.

I think I’m one of those people that should always ALWAYS follow a pattern.

Surprisingly, I didn’t do a lot of cooking…  I usually like to use time off to try different recipes I’ve found.  I made a Poblano Pepper and Corn lasagna, and we pretty much lived off of that for the week.  It was delicious, but felt it was missing something.

Besides the salt of course…  I think I would have liked more sauce.

We also lived on fruit…

Fruit.

Fruit and yogurt.

Fruit, yogurt and honey…

Oh – and Tomatoes on Toast…  Simple but this is the best!!

Now I’m bitter because I’m not a billionaire and am back at work and want to be home by the pool with another good book and an iced coffee.

Jim really has been feeling pretty good.  Just the typical fatigue / can’t sleep at night.  He has been having issues with something like a restless leg syndrome, and he mentioned this at his recent LVAD clinic appointment.  Just as he’s about to fall asleep (and sometimes when he’s sleeping), his lower body twitches.

Sometimes rather violently. 

He describes it in Martial Arts terms…  “It feels like an energy building up in my lower body that suddenly releases out through my feet.”

Did you know that he was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame??

His team believes it has to do with his infection medication, which he does happen to take early evening.  So Jim being the brilliant person he is, decided to take it in the morning instead of after dinner and we have seen an improvement.  It does still happen, but to a much lesser degree.  Sometimes I notice it happens while he’s sleeping but it doesn’t seem to wake him.

In my earlier post I mentioned that they were watching his kidney functions.  We are still taking a wait and see attitude on this one.  They indicated that while they are watching his numbers we are nowhere near the point where we need to make changes…

I think that’s it for now.  Anyone have a crystal ball?

Lots of Love!!

Cheryl

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