Who I Read
August 12, 2002
I wrote this big, long, unseemingly whiney entry last week. It was all about the things that are troubling me lately, the things I can't effect, and the way I wish things were. I wrote it in e-mail form at work (as I am doing right now - I've *got* to remember to take my laptop home and re-load Homesite) and sent it to my Snerkology e-mail account. When I got home, I opened it, read it, and deleted it.
I know you all don't come here to be entertained, necessarily (or maybe you do - people have different opinions of what's "entertaining"), but that was just pushing the limits a tad much.
Thing is, the things that were worrying me before are still worrying me now, and it's all left me a bit enervated and bereft of the desire to write much.
For lack of the brain power to remember beyond it to a possible point prior that may or may not have been the start of this (got that?), I'll say that it all started last Saturday night (not the one we just had, but the one before that. Uh... August 3rd) as Calvin and I were working out. I was on the elliptical, and he'd just finished his second set on the medieval tort... ah, the universal weight machine. He stopped, breathing hard, and got an odd look on his face.
"What's the matter?" I asked.
"My heart's pounding. I *hate* that." he replied.
I razzed him about being out of shape, if two widdle ol' sets effected him that badly. He didn't seem too concerned, as he said it'd happened to him, occasionally, throughout his life. It usually went away in five minutes or so. He walked to the kitchen, grabbed some water, and walked back again.
He looked kinda gray. I stopped paddling (it sounds so undignified, doesn't it, to say that one "paddles" on an elliptical machine). "Are you okay?" I asked him. He shook his head, still breathing hard.
"Feel this," he said, grabbing my hand and placing it over his heart. It was thudding, hard and fast. I thought of a baby bird, or a baby's heart monitor - the sonogram? I don't know, I'm not savvy on the pregnancy thing. Anyway, it was pounding more than double what (in my WEALTH of experience) I judged to be normal. He looked disconcerted. I got CONCERNED.
"Walk around a bit, try to relax and breathe," I advised him, and got him a refill on his water. Ten minutes after stopping his workout, it was still beating just as hard. Fifteen minutes, no change. He started getting a little dizzy, and said that his fingertips were tingling and his jaw was sore from clenching his teeth.
I, of course, asked him if he had any pains in his chest or arms, which he said he didn't. He hopped in the shower, hoping to cool off. By then, twenty minutes had gone by, and his heart was still pounding furiously. Now, so was mine. I asked him if he wanted me to call an ambulance, but he refused. After getting out of the shower, he laid down on the bed to try to relax. I kept my hand over his heart. I'll admit I cried a little (Calvin says I "freaked out", which is *not* true. I'm a *good* person to have around in an emergency), because I was so worried.
Strangely enough, as I sat beside him with my hand on his chest, I felt the change as his heartbeat went back to normal. I remember thinking it was like coming down to second gear from fourth - an abrupt change, not a gradual slowing down. It was weird. Our eyes met at that same moment, and I said, "It changed." He nodded.
We went to bed early that night.
Sunday came and went with nothing in the way of abnormal heart palpitations. We spent some time in the hot tub (during a summer shower, watching an extremely vivid dual rainbow materialize in the sky), watched TV, and napped.
Monday morning we woke up to the alarm as usual. Calvin showered, and when he came back into the bedroom to get dressed he was acting oddly. He shook out the bed covers, looked under the bed, looked behind the nightstand.
"What are you looking for?" I asked.
"My wedding ring is gone. It must've come off in my sleep."
I got up and helped him look, but the damn thing didn't turn up. He went out to his work truck, out in the back yard, and into the garage - tracing his steps from the past twenty-four hours. I looked through the laundry, went through the bed again, and peered under the night stand. Nothing.
It's still gone. We have no idea where he might have lost it. We'll probably have another go at the garage (and clean it in the process), but if it doesn't turn up we'll have to file a claim with our homeowner's insurance, fork out the $500 deductible, and get him a new one. Which sucks because, as Calvin said, "It won't be the one that was *there*, that Rev. Murphy blessed."
"Well," I said, "we'll just have to drive up to Sedona and get him to bless the new one."
It still makes me want to cry if I think about it too hard.
Anyway, as soon as I got into work on Monday (the damned doctor's office isn't open on the weekends) I made an appointment for Calvin to see the doctor about his heart, and got him in on Wednesday afternoon. I insisted on coming with him, to get the full and entire story from the doctor, because I knew that if I left it up to Calvin, he'd downplay anything the doctor had to say.
We explained the situation to the nurse, and she took his blood pressure and temperature. Temp was 100.8, and blood pressure was 130/100. I could see the look on her face as she was taking his blood pressure. She even repeated it just to make sure she got the right reading. She took his chart (they actually have these electronic easels now, wireless and highly cool) to the doctor, and returned with a portable EKG machine. Calvin was requested to take off his shirt (woo-hoo! boom chicka boom chicka wow wow, to quote Weetabix), and she taped the sensors onto his chest, arms and legs. Barely thirty seconds later she had a long paper tape of his heart readings. We asked her if they looked good or bad, but she said, "I don't know, that's what they pay the doctors the big bucks for!" and whisked it away.
The doctor came in a short time afterwards, and asked Calvin about his eating, drinking, and exercise habits. She asked for more details of his symptoms, and advised me to ignore him if he insists that I don't call an ambulance next time ("There won't be a next time!" sayeth I). She took his blood pressure again (138/112 this time), listened to his heart and lungs, and prescribed a teeny white pill whose name begins with an "a" that I can't remember right now. She scheduled a full physical for him a month from now.
Diagnosis - high blood pressure. Treatment - Medication, a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per day, and a severe decrease of sodium in the diet. As well as an increase in cardio exercise. Patient's attitude - whiney.
It has presented a significant challenge for me. There is sodium in *everything*. From the time we got home from the doctor's appointment, I have been examining labels for sodium content. Boxed noodles - 420 mg. Meat marinade - 850 mg. Ranch dressing - 230 mg (not as bad as vinaigrette, which is in the 800's). Instant potatoes - 450 mg. Canned corn - 460 mg. Pasta sauce - 520 mg. Refried beans - 480 mg. The recommended daily allowance for sodium in one's diet is 2600 mg. I spent half again as much time as usual grocery shopping this weekend just looking for low sodium foods. Plus spending a good hour on the internet Saturday night printing out low-sodium recipes.
There are some good findings, though. Ice cream - 30 mg. Iced tea - 0 mg. Worcestershire - 45 mg. Egg noodles - 110 mg. Butter - 30 mg. (tons better than margarine) Most meats are low in sodium, if not soaked in marinade. And Calvin has never been big on salting his food - just a wee sprinkle, so small I doubt it adjusts the flavor of his food at all. I'll just say it's a damned good thing there's no sodium in pepper.
I've told him that whatever he has to go through, I have to go through. The whole family will adjust their eating to Calvin's dietary requirements, which actually doesn't present too much of a challenge. It just involves getting rid of processed foods pretty much entirely, and cooking more from scratch. A bit more time consuming, perhaps, but healthier for us all overall. I've noticed Calvin making a concerted effort to drink more water and eat more fruits (vegetables are another challenge for another day). He and I are working on a routine to schedule more exercise into our lives. Marie has been watching him like a hawk - last night she hollered to me from the kitchen because he was putting bacon bits on his melted cheese and crackers.
It's our hope that he shows enough improvement at his physical that he'll be able to maintain his blood pressure through diet and exercise, and get off the medication. It's decreasing his energy levels to a large degree and making it hard for him to concentrate. He seems mopey and wiped, and that's just not my Calvin.
So! Other than that, other things have been going on, too. I took Marie school clothes shopping, and her mom took her for school supplies and shoes. We had her high school orientation last Saturday, and were subject to a whirlwind tour guided by a halfhearted senior. X(f) attended with her boyfriend, and I'm fairly sure we all managed to conduct the morning without a word exchanged between the four of us. Marie bounced around, hyper, with all of her equally-hyper girlfriends, and paid more attention to the boys in attendance than the presenters as we moved from auditorium, to gym, to cafeteria. I made a mental note of the details I figured Marie would need (formal schedule to be picked up in the cafeteria on the first day, lunch money in check form filled out to the high school and delivered to the lunch attendant, no cell phones in class, Parent's Open House a week from Monday's start, freshman dance on Friday night).
We were done by 10:45, and so went to Abuelo's for lunch (our new favorite Mexican restaurant). Marie went out with X(f) for the afternoon to get their shopping done, then to the mall to hang out with friends.
I retired for the afternoon with a massively blazing headache. I blame it on the heat - high schools in Arizona have classrooms whose doors open out to outside corridors, instead of inside hallways. The day turned out to be a 112 degree scorcher.
Nothing I took effected it, no position I sat or laid in helped. Calvin got the truck washed as I was napping. When he returned I decided that since nothing at all helped, I might as well get up and do something. We went out and bought a few new CD's, and a TV arm for Marie's TV (she wishes to rearrange her room, and wants the TV suspended from the wall). Back home again, Calvin and I both napped on and off. I ordered a pizza for dinner because I was completely not up to cooking, and we spent some time on the phone chatting with Michael.
My half-conceived fear that the headache would linger for days, as it sometimes does, was laid to rest as I awoke on Sunday morning feeling nearly normal.
I'm finding myself taking definitive measures to maintain a certain calm in life and keep stress at bay. Work is obsessively crazy at the moment - so much so, with all the new things I'm learning and all the new responsibilities I'm taking on, that I've decided to put school on hold for a bit until I feel like I've got a handle on things. I've also stocked up on a selection of soothing, non-antagonistic and quieting CD's that live in my desk drawer. Seal, Yanni, Ben Folds, Dave Matthews, a collection of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, a CD from Bath and Body works (which I won at the baby shower we hosted at our house - more on that in a minute) called "Soothing Sounds - gentle music to awaken your soul", two discs of classical piano, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales", and Robert Plant's "Now and Zen".
I even left work at 10:00 in the morning one day last week, to spend an hour at the library browsing and checking out books. I returned refreshed and in a much better frame of mind to tackle the three thousand details I find myself faced with daily, lately (including an upcoming trip to Oregon that I'm just not looking forward to, for the simple fact that the airport shuttle will be picking me up at 5:30 in the morning, and I won't get home until after 7:00 at night). I found the next Jan Karon book and highed myself back to Mitford for some tried-and-true escapism. I would have gotten more, but they didn't have numbers three and four in the series, and if there's one thing I *don't* do, it's read a series out of sequence. Read the last page I may do, but reading a series out of sequence goes too far. I'm trying to be disciplined and stay the hell away from Amazon, but it's so tempting to just order the whole damned series and shut myself in the bedroom for a couple of days when they arrive.
I think a lot of folks at AcronymCo are feeling that same knife-edged teetering on the brink of sanity. I hosted a dual baby shower at our house last Thursday, and it was met with such relief and enthusiasm on the part of the ladies who attended, it bordered on desperation. I don't consider myself a baby shower kind of a person, but I do like these two ladies immensely, as well as everyone who attended. So Calvin (the marvelous sport that he is) did the majority of the cleaning while I made a potato salad and a pasta salad, the night before. I came home the day of the shower at lunch time, with a couple of co-workers, to decorate. Then we all high-tailed it out of work the minute our 2:00 "Mandatory Meeting" was over.
There was a ton of food, and this great punch:
2 (46 fluid ounce) bottles cranberry-raspberry juice
1 (32 fluid ounce) bottle pina colada mix
2 liters raspberry ginger ale soda
1. In a large plastic container, combine cranberry-raspberry juice with the pina colada mix. Freeze overnight.
2. Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to serving. To serve place frozen slush in punch bowl and slowly add raspberry ginger ale.
3. Float orange and lemon rings, and/or add strawberries and raspberries.
The obligatory games were played (guessing the food inside the label-less baby food jars; memorizing a list of baby items for one minute, then spending the next minute writing down as many as you could think of; and a list of baby items scrambled, with three minutes to unscramble as many as you could). I won the word scramble. My prize was a gift bag containing lotion, shower gel, and a scent sachet, as well as the aforementioned "relaxation CD". We had the same incredible cake that was fed to me at my wedding shower, and then the two moms-to-be were planted on chairs in the middle of our living room ("It's so red! I wouldn't have been brave enough to do it. It looks great!"), surrounded by balloons, and showered with gifts. They pegged the loot-o-meter, that's for sure.
Onesies get me. I swear to God, I want to buy them and dress my dolls in them or something. Frustrated mother impulse, I guess, but there are few things that tug on my biological clock like baby blue onesies with puppies on them. Marie and a grinning Calvin stood in the background, as one gift after another prompted a chorus of "Ooh!" and "Aww!" and "It's so *widdle*."
Poor Calvin, the only guy in an overflowing group of hormonally inclined women. He ran for the bedroom a couple of times, but mostly stuck it out like a man. I caught "Oh. Mah. Gah." expressions on Marie's face a time or two, too.
So. That about sums up the events of our life. Michael's needing help with a co-sign on the car he's trying to buy, and otherwise seems to be taking his continued limbo status in stride. His aunt and uncle and their family visited him in San Diego last week, and reports to us that he's healthy, if somewhat less cheerfully hearty than we're used to seeing in Michael. Apparently he's got the homesick blues, so we're crossing our fingers that he'll be able to bag a visit home in the near future.
Marie's back home from her first day of school, and juggling multiple phone calls from multiple factions wishing her to report in on the day's happenings. So I got a brief, hurried, "It was okay" update, and with that I'll have to content myself until I can get home in the next hour or so.
Fleetwood Mac is doing its best to unwind me from my last stressful meeting (you can't tell, but this entry has occupied the entire day and has been added to in between my scurryings from fire to fire). The unwinding will only be complete when I can get myself home and get a glass of wine in my hands. And perhaps a soak in the hot tub. And the roast that has been crocking away all day.
My home and my family soothe my soul, for which I am eternally grateful.