Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ten Years Ago...

Diva hit double digits today.  

If anyone asks me where I was ten years ago, I can recall it in agonizing detail.  Diva was in no hurry to be born and dilly-dallied around for a couple of days.  I can also recall the first meal I had post-childbirth -- I sent Kilowatt out in subzero temperatures for a Dairy Queen Tropical Blizzard.  He didn't dare refuse!

I was a bit late ordering Diva's gifts this year - ordering online Monday afternoon for a Tuesday birthday doesn't work, even if you are willing to pay dearly for expedited shipping.  Especially when one item is on backorder.  I wrapped up catalog pictures of the items this morning -- Diva was not amused.  She said I was 'mean.'  

The only thing saving me from winning the Mommie Dearest award is that we are having a party for her this weekend, and at least one gift should arrive by then.  Plus we're leaving in ten days for a cruise -- how bad a Mom can I be if I'm taking her with me?  

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Oh Deer!

The weather in NH continues to be something to talk about - we have had some form of precipitation every day since Tuesday.  I'm getting used to looking out my window and watching it snow.  No, we are not buried, because we're just getting these annoying little storms that make the roads slick and leave us with between one and three inches of new snow -- daily.

Diva is taking skiing lessons for the third year.  We have a great little mountain about 40 minutes North of our house, and the school takes the kids there every Friday after school.  Weather permitting, that is.  We've had three of five weeks rained or snowed out.  

Last Friday the weather cooperated beautifully.  It snowed all day, giving a couple of inches of new powder.  The temperatures were in the low 30's and there was no wind -  perfect skiing weather.  I actually strapped on a pair of skis myself and took a few runs with Diva and her friends.  I'm pleased to report that I have no broken bones or torn tissue.  

We've been hearing a lot in the news lately about the deer situation.  Because the snow is so deep and much of it is now crusted over, they are being chased by dogs and other animals who don't break through the snow, while the deer break through and flounder around.  People are being asked to keep their dogs inside or on leash.  We've had to put wire around all our shrubs to keep the deer from eating them down to nubs.  It is a sad situation, made worse by the fact that our area is so densely populated that few hunters hunt here anymore.  

On the way home from skiing, about a mile from my house, two deer ran out in front of my SUV.  I drive like an old lady, so I slammed on the brakes and missed them easily.  Then BAM, a third deer runs into me!   Looking out my driver's side window I see this wild eyed version of Bambi staring in at me as he bounds off, apparently a bit battered and bruised, but not broken. 

At first I was hopeful that my SUV was not damaged, but when I tried to open my door to get out and look, and it wouldn't open, I realized that was a vain hope.  The deer was uninsured, so my insurance gets to pick up the $1800 of damage he caused.  

Diva asked me after this happened, "Mom, if I had rode with Dad instead of you, would you still have hit the deer?"  Seems her mind was thinking I would have been somewhere else at that time if she had picked Dad to ride with instead of me.  I quickly explained to her that no, it wouldn't have mattered.  It is amazing how a child can assume they are to blame for something like this.  I hope most parents wouldn't blame their kids when something like this happens.      

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Red Dress

Red wasn't my favorite color.  As a natural redhead it clashes with my hair.   It draws attention, not all of it welcome.  In fact, if you looked in my closet three years ago, you wouldn't find much red.  

Today I still don't have a lot of red in my closet, but what is there, I wear with pride and gratitude.   In case you haven't heard, February is heart health month.  And the Red Dress campaign is directed at women's heart health.

There are a lot of great causes out there, and I try to support as many of them as I can.  But this one has a personal connection for me.   In my late 30's, I started experiencing some strange symptoms.  My normally low blood pressure would shoot up.  My heart would race and skip like a classroom full of preschoolers.  While this sometimes happened at work, more often it happened around 2AM, waking me from a sound sleep.   

Symptoms like this are alarming, so I went to my doctor, where because of my age and other risk factors (normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol, normal weight, no irregular heartbeat that she could hear) the symptoms were attributed to anxiety.  I found a therapist who specializes in anxiety and learned all kinds of relaxation techniques, and learned everything I could about stress reduction.  Things seemed to be improving for awhile, then they would get worse, then improve, then get worse....  

Soon I found myself tiring easily, and unable to climb even a flight of stairs without being out of breath.   I again went to the doctor, and we decided I wasn't getting enough exercise so I started a mild exercise program that didn't seem to help much.  During the winter months I caught every flu bug that passed through town, but I had a kid in school, that hotbed of germ activity.

Finally during my annual physical the year I turned 40, my heartbeat was so audibly irregular and  I was immediately hooked to an EKG machine and the EKG was immediately taken to the cardiologist next door.   He said the skipping pattern was benign, but I should come in to have it checked out anyway.  

A few weeks later I went to the Cardiologist for a Stress-Echo.  As it turned out, I was born with an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), basically a hole between the Atria in my heart.  Until 2001, the only fix for this would have been open heart surgery.  Thankfully science has provided and the FDA approved a non-invasive option that I was eligible for.  I had the device inserted in September 2005.  

The reason I'm sharing this is to urge every woman to trust their instincts when it comes to their own health.  I was pretty sure what I had went beyond anxiety, but it took three years for the symptoms to show up during an appointment with my Primary Care Physician.    They had shown up in a couple of urgent care appointments for various flu bugs, but not significantly enough for it to warrant more than "tell your PCP about this."  In retrospect, I should have pushed harder for alternative explanations to anxiety.  I was very lucky as many with this condition find out about it after a cardiac arrest.  

Irregular heartbeats are actually very common, but I had other symptoms that aren't that common:  the spike in blood pressure, the fact that this would wake me from a sound sleep, the shortness of breath, and chronic fatigue.  I frequently suffered from respiratory illnesses.  

Even if you feel fine - know your risk factors, know the symptoms of heart disease, and see your doctor regularly.  Exercise, eat healthy and manage stress.  And when you figure out the best way to do those last three -- let me know!  I try, but it's not easy.  

Friday, February 1, 2008

A meme

I was tagged earlier this week by Hula Girl for a meme. Being new to blogging, I was of course eager to participate (hurray, someone actually read one of my posts!) Of course, the pressure was on to come up with something creative, intelligent, and fun.

I had planned to do an equine theme since horses are one of my great loves. I considered heading over to the barn at UpReach to take a few photos. Time ran out, so I'm using a mixture of words and images. First I have to figure out how to link to the images to give credit where credit is due - so here goes, with fingers crossed.

1. Visual-spacial:

Kilowatt makes these sculptures from old motor parts.  He made this one for me shortly after we started dating, and it is therefore one of my most treasured possessions.   

2.  Verbal-linguistic:  I love quotes.  While I often can't seem to find the words to express how I feel, I can almost always find a quote that expresses my feelings.  Like this one:   "There is something about riding down the street on a prancing horse that makes you feel like something, even when you ain't a thing." --- Will Rogers

3.  Musical-Rhythmical:  Ahhhh.... music is such a great way to unwind after a stressful day.  And to stay awake during a road trip.  And to dance.  Occasionally I enjoy heading out for a bit of line dancing, and one of my favorites is an upbeat dance called "The Billy."  It goes very well with a song performed by Kimber Clayton that goes like this:  
"I was raised up right and I know my Mama loved me but I begged her to let me go.  Said the grass is greener on the other side, somewhere there's a bluer sky.  And I won't stop running 'til I'm satisfied - if wishes were horses I would ride, ride, ride."   

4.  Bodily-Kinesthetic:  Anyone who has ever seen the Lipizanner Stallions knows that horses can, indeed, dance.  And they do it on four legs!  I found this great photo by anotheremily over at Flickr 

5.  Interpersonal:  Together, we can do anything.  Just like these mares getting ready to run over the camera man....

6.  Intrapersonal
What horse am I most like?  Kilowatt suggests I am more like a mule.  Close enough.  I am stubborn.  I'm not sure how big my ears are since I keep them covered up by hair.  And I do tend to make a braying sound when I laugh!

7.  Naturalist
There is no artifice in a horse.  If they are mad at you, you know it.  Usually when the teeth sink into whatever flesh you get too close.   I'd like to be more like that - except I don't really want to start biting people.

8.  Logical-Mathematical
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  Need I say more?