27 June 2010

8 years and one day

It doesn't feel that long ago when we gathered with our families, and Shaun made fun of my Swedish crown (he kept asking if I wanted to go to Burger King), and we promised to love each other all our lives.

We got married when we did partially because Shaun didn't have any health insurance, and because his grandfather died of a heart attack at 37 (and Shaun was 32), I was afraid for him to not have insurance. My work would gladly add him, as long as we got married. Plus we loved each other and stuff (though it still bothers me that we can get married and our gay and lesbian friends cannot).

I keep thinking I want to say something profound here, but given our recent circumstances, it all seems trite and goofy. The last eight years have been crazy, sometimes crazy good, and sometimes crazy not so good. Thanks for showing up in the backyard that Wednesday in 2002, Shaunsie. It's been a helluva ride so far.

26 June 2010

Settling down

Shaun's been out of the hospital since Wednesday, and he is feeling pretty good overall (thankfully). We've been working hard to figure out what he can/should eat, and realizing that if you just take salt out of things and don't replace it with something yummy, most things taste like wet cardboard. At least, that's what I've been realizing.
We have heard from so many dear friends, through blog comments, facebook, e-mails, and phone calls. Honestly, when I feel overwhelmed (you mean he's hungry again? And he already ate all the leftover chicken?) or lonesome, I think of all of you, and I feel much better.

Our merry-go-round is still spinning, and still a bit wobbly, but at least it's slowed down enough for us to take a breath. Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers, and love. They help more than you know.

21 June 2010

Serious need for re-branding, people.

So it looks like Shauners should get to come home tomorrow, late morning or early afternoon. We'll meet with doctors and set up appointments to start his cardiac rehab regimen. In the meantime, the nurses dropped off a packet of information for us to peruse to better understand what we're dealing with.

You know what it's titled?

Heart Failure Packet.

Fun, right? What the hell? All kinds of other diseases get fancy names (see: chilbain, dropsy, scarlet fever, whooping cough), but this is the best they can come up with? Let's call it Jeanette, or Tha-Thump, Tha-Thump, or even Heart Sickness Packet. Heart Failure Packet just sounds so...so...much like a lost cause.

But wait, it gets better. The inside of the Heart Failure Packet includes fascinating pamphlets like "Living Well with Heart Failure," and "A Stronger Pump" with a cartoon of a heart flexing a....bicep. What? Oh, and the paperwork to create a living will.

I understand. Things are very serious. But, um, Meritcare, maybe include...I dunno, a few pretty stickers? Some semblance of hope? Perhaps a free t-shirt that says "I'm Successful at Heart Failure!"

We have to cut out salt. Do you know what has the most salt? Foods that taste good. Everything made by every fast-food company everywhere. My mother's homemade bean and ham soup. Frickin' milkshakes!

I'm looking forward to Shaun coming home, and I'm giving all our salt-laden food away. And if Meritcare needs advice on sprucing up their Jeanette Packet, I'm all over it.

Thanks for the love, guys. It means the world to us.

Saltily yours,
J, $, and V

20 June 2010

It's hangin'

Thanks for all the care, concern, comments, and calls, dear ones. Shaun got good rest today, and will have an angiogram tomorrow (which totally sounds like a singing telegram from a girl named Angie, by the way). If that's clear, he will get to go home tomorrow, with some new meds and follow up appointments. If it's not clear, he may be in another day or so, but even then there are treatments and plans already laid out.

Everyone at the hospital has been lovely, thorough, and optimistic. My last post was scary, I know, but I'm feeling much more hopeful, and much less afraid. We're lucky to have caught Shaun's condition at this point, and the medications are already making him feel better. We feel well cared for and well informed, and for that I'm thankful.

Our lives will need to change, regardless. It's clear we need to take better care of ourselves and each other. And I know this is terribly corny, but instead of the end of our old lives, which I bemoaned in my last post, I hope we'll look back on this week as a new chance, a new beginning.

Please know that if I don't return your calls or messages or e-mails, it's not that I haven't received them. I'll try to keep updating as we get new information, and I love knowing we're in your thoughts. When things calm down a tad (hopefully tomorrow or the next day), I'll work on getting back to each of you. Until then, thank you all so much.

Father's Day

Shaun is sick. He had pneumonia about ten days ago, and still wasn't feeling better yesterday. The doctor at yesterday's walk-in said "Well your heart is enlarged..." as if he should have known that. We didn't. Shaun was admitted to the hospital last night around 6:30.

Cardiomyopathy. Do not look at any links I don't put here, people. The internet is a terrifying place.

When I was 12, and my dad had the stroke, I remember the distinct feeling that nothing would ever be the same. I got pissed off at Connie Chung for prattling on about celebrity news. I feel that way now (except for the Connie Chung part). It's not an especially fair analogy, but still I am trying not to hyperventilate.

It's been a hard year for us. A terrible year. We decided to have a second baby this winter, which drove us straight to marriage counselling this spring, trying to remember why we loved each other, and whether or not we could figure things out. Just this month, we both started to feel again that maybe we could work through this, that we could actually still make a life together.

Now he's in the hospital, and it's father's day, and I'm trying not to freak out. I want to call someone, someone who will tell me this will be okay. I want to call the Mayo Clinic. I want to shake the doctor who read Shaun's x-ray last week, who didn't tell us/notice/mention that his heart was already enlarged. I want someone to fix this. I want my husband, and I want V to have her father, for a long, long time.

"I don't want anything for Father's Day," he said last week. "It just reminds me how I'm not a father of two like you wanted me to be." My sweet holy moses, man. You are above and beyond the father I wanted you to be, and you have been since September 7, 2005. I don't need a second baby. I need you, and me, and her, as healthy as we can be, together for as long as we can make it.

I want our old life back. I don't think it will ever be the same.

(Edited to add: Shaun's feeling pretty good right now, just a little short of breath. We haven't met with the cardiology team yet, and don't know much at all about what our future will hold. I don't want to scare anyone unnecessarily: I'm busy doing that to myself.)

09 June 2010


Part II of Jen and V's Summer Adventures: Flora.

V requested this photo: she says it looks like Ferb, a character from her favorite cartoon.


My dear friends who hate snakes: you're gonna wanna stop reading this before photo #4. Just so you know. And if any of you hate dragonflies or caterpillars, you might as well just stop reading altogether. V and I have been out and about quite a bit this summer. We've been to the lake, and we went camping. For your viewing pleasure, I'm breaking all this excitement down into categories including Flora, Fauna, and something else I haven't decided on yet. Mineral, maybe? Offer your suggestions.
I don't remember seeing these things in my childhood. My father in law says they're called army worms, and they aren't caterpillars, per se, as they never transform into moths or butterflies. A lot of folks seem to hate these, but I'm just glad they don't bite. And I think they come in some cool colors.
This dragonfly is not the same as the first one pictured, I don't think. Dragonflies are hard to photograph, it turns out. Don't say I never taught you nothin, now.
And perhaps the most excitement we had camping: this little garter snake slithered right through the middle of camp one afternoon. V was napping, and Crystal, Nancy, and I were sitting around talking when Crystal said "Hey, Nance! Look! No, don't look!" She and I both thought it was a great big earth worm before we realized it was more sinister than that. I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of the whole thing, and I wasn't brave enough to touch it, so this tail shot will have to do.
What say you? What summer adventures have you enjoyed so far?
PS: the first two photos are with the old-school Olympus camera, and the last two are from digital. Can you tell the difference? Explain, in 200 words or less.