Today's thoughts

Category: Open Heart Surgery (Page 1 of 2)

Retirement is not without Hassles: Emmett’s New Home #2520

In the lazy world of retirement, this is the start of a “busy” week. I picked up my son and his wife from their Virginia weeding trip at the airport late on Sunday night, following an afternoon performance by a Venice Symphony trio, and had a nice visit with my sister yesterday. Hopefully, she’ll become a new reader of this blog, primarily interested in my Storyworth category of posts. She drove down from Leesburg Florida, her winter home, and my son treated us for lunch at Chili’s. We exchanged some family heirlooms, our grandfather’s photography photo for my grandmother’s painting of circus clown, Emmett Kelly. (See Post #2438) and (Post #1778). Emmett and his character “Weary Willie” have come home, at least on canvas, to Sarasota/Venice, FL where he performed.

Our new puppy, Fosse, seemed happy to meet her while my wife was substitute teaching. We all then got together in late afternoon for some additional conversation, promising to visit each other next year. I try to check-in on her every Monday, like a good brother, but she made the more personal effort this time.

Today I have active cardio rehab for the first time, outside of the initial paperwork sessions. I’ll come home for lunch and then head to the cardiologist. We hope to get to the bottom of what is causing Charlie Horses in my thigh, blood pressure swings, dizziness, and loss of balance. My GP has already ruled out the inner ear through an MRI, so I’m expecting an Ultrasound examination and a review of my medications. It’s all critical follow-up from open heart surgery sixteen weeks ago.

Afterwards, I may treat myself at the baseball card shop. I have some new Shohei Ohtani baseball cards to add to a collection of over 200 that they are selling for me. Plus, I want to check on the value of some Connor Bedard, Chicago Blackhawk, hockey cards that I would like to trade-in. I’ve promised myself to sell more than buy this year, but I still enjoy opening a fresh pack in treasure-hunt fashion. 

I’ve stayed true to my daily swimming pool workout since walking has become a painful chore. It entails about forty-five minutes of jogging in place, stretching, marching, and step-ups. It’s the best I can do to burn off some calories, since the water resistance seems to put less pressure on my sore thigh. Visits to the chiropractor are part of my schedule this week, along with “Date Night,” a Mazda Miata rally, Bank of America appointment, and an evening with the band Dukes of Brinkley.

Retirement is not without Hassles: Dog House #2518

It’s now been fifteen full weeks since I left the operating table. I’m not recovering as fast as expected, mainly because I’m having trouble walking. I was supposed to start cardio rehab a week ago but had some flu symptoms while my left leg continues to have cramps and painful Charlie Horses. I did manage to get in 48.9 miles of walking in April but in the last half of the month, I could barely make a half-mile without going gimpy. The only exercise I’ve been able to manage are some quick dog outings, and about 40 minutes in the pool each day doing some high stepping, stair climbing, stretching, walking, and peddling. I can feel the resistance from the water and get tired, but it’s hardly the running that I’m used to doing every day. 

Weight control has become an issue, with too many sweets and not enough calories burned. It all started on the cruise with overeating and excessive drinking, but at least I was able to wander the hallways and decks for a couple miles each day.  I haven’t been able to lose the weight I’ve gained. This week I did do the preliminary paperwork and assessment for rehab, starting officially next week with two-a-week workouts. 

I’m sitting in my office while writing this, monitoring the Pacers vs. Bucks playoff game. There are several of my Indy friends in attendance. It’s fun to watch the new Pacers, without much success since the Reggie Miller years. It’s also great to follow former Portland Trailblazer, Damian Lillard, even though he’s now the opposition. He’s injured and missed a couple of games recently, but always a threat. I hope this game doesn’t come down to “Dame Time,” because I’ll have mixed feelings, having lived in both Indy and more recently Portland. I’m not much of an Orlando Magic fan, although now a full-time Florida resident. I’ve always been taught to follow and support the home team!

I’ve had a busy social week, much to the chagrin of my wife. Apparently, I’m not spending enough time with her or helping enough around the house. We were together for a full month on the cruise and Spain extension, but rarely alone. The new puppy has added additional responsibilities for both of us, and she is working as a substitute teacher. I agree that I have been negligent but needed to catch up with the boys this week. She feels left out after a dinner and two lunches with two close male neighbors this week. I also disrupted her plans for next Saturday, with a Miata run to Ft. Wayne that she claims I never told her about. She reemphasized that “weekends are for us not your boyfriends.”

It makes me seem a bit “gay,” but I do love her, and no man has ever turned my head. I just needed a few beers and some male companionship. It will likely be months before I go out again, since most of them leave for the summer. The one neighbor (frat brother) that I had dinner with last Saturday at Salty Dog, ended up in the hospital the next day and had his appendix removed. He’s now reluctant to have more beers with me! At our age, you can’t always plan ahead. 

Next week is filled with rehabilitation. Monday, I go to the chiropractor, as he continues to work with my leg and spine issues. Tuesday, I’m with the cardiologist, trying to get to the bottom of my dizziness, balance, and medication concerns and later in cardio rehab. Thursday is more rehab, and hopefully additional time in the pool. My wife has tap and aqua-fit, as well as some teaching days, throughout the week. We hope to get together as a couple for upcoming Wellen Park and Cool Today Park events, as I attempt to heal her disappointment with me. May the Fourth be with you, Cinco de Maya, and Easter keep you active and engaged. I’m just hoping to get out of the Dog House. Pacers win!

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: The Gimp #2512

I need to do some walking since it’s really the only exercise I can do, but I continue to struggle with a Charley horse in my upper left thigh. When it strikes, I have to drag my leg like “The Gimp.” It’s quite painful and frustrating, as I continue to recover from open heart surgery. My chiropractor worked on me twice this week, but it has yet to heal, and the cause is only speculation since I have done nothing to injure it. Also, the results came back negative on my MRI, so I’ve yet to find a solution for my balance and lightheadedness issues. It seems to be one thing after another on the road to recovery. One solution has been to walk in the shallow end of the pool where I can steady myself on the edge. However, it’s not burning the calories necessary to lose some of this cruise weight. 

I’m in the doghouse, after agreeing to a beer with a neighbor and trying to move our Friday “Date Night.” Just when I thought there was a solution the night before, my granddaughter announced that she had forgotten to tell us about her Spring Dance Recital at the high school. Where I thought I was picking up my youngest granddaughter at the bus stop, those plans have suddenly changed, as well. We never seem to be in the know until the last minute, and my wife is a planner. There always seems to be something that screws up her plans like me and my family. She and Tally are at the Dog Park this morning, while one of us will need to stay home to watch the dogs during tonight’s recital. It’s complicated, as most family matters are!

The Gimp’s in the doghouse, and the dogs rule the hen house! In the meantime, I’m limping down the yellow brick road as the Cowardly Lion, with no one to pin a medal on me. The Wizard of Oz has already proven that I have a heart (though just repaired) and a brain that after recent tests seems to be functioning properly. Just give me the courage to face another day without running or even walking to keep me sane. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Don’t Run…Walk #2511

It’s the start of week 14 of surgery rehab, after a few setbacks in unlucky 13. I just got back from the chiropractor and have an MRI scheduled for this afternoon. In both cases, they’re looking for reasons why I’m experiencing balance, circulation, and dizziness issues. I had a good afternoon of exercise yesterday in the pool but have some muscle issues in my left leg that makes it painful to walk. Walking is really the only exercise I’m cleared to do, so doing it in the pool allows me to steady myself on the side and move my legs without pain. I’ll do the same thing this afternoon, since trying to walk this morning was once again difficult. 

While we were on the cruise, I had the same leg problems, so getting home and using the pool is a good alternative until the strain goes away. It’s miserable trying to stretch out my muscles while walking, and I need to walk to burn the calories! I’m still restricted from using my arms and lifting. I placed a call to the cardio rehab facility, hoping to reschedule my initial session next week now that I’m feeling better. Last week, I had bouts of nausea and vertigo, not knowing if I had picked up a bug from the trip or perhaps had a more serious disorder. I did manage to pull myself together this past weekend for our anniversary dinner and neighborhood martini party. Maybe I’ll get more answers from the MRI tests?

I was doing well on the walking discipline while we were aboard the ship, but land has not been so friendly. It feels as if there’s a cramp in my calf muscle coupled with a soreness in my thigh. I’m scheduled to go back to the chiropractor in two days, as I resume my weekly visits that kept me healthy while running. I’ve been absent nearly two months between the heart surgery and cruise. Daily running has now become walking. Don’t Run…Walk. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Land Legs #2506

Continued from Post #2505

Recovery from surgery has reached eleven weeks. Soon it will be time to get my body back in shape. We skipped the afternoon concert but attended the “Port Talk” presentation about excursion options for the upcoming “White City of Morocco,” Morocco stop. I also sat though a talk regarding, The Natural History of the Western Mediterranean before our dinner at The Chef’s Table. Marc Paul performed a second mind-reading act to close out Tuesday.

Wednesday, Day #18, started with the Morocco tour before embarkment in the early afternoon. The main draws are the Hassan II Mosque and Rick’s Café, “of all the gin joints,” made famous in the 1942 Hollywood production – but in name only because the film was studio produced not in Casablanca. “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”  Afternoon activities were cut short by a trip to the ship’s doctor after I began to have some balance issues on the walk back. Dehydration may have been the cause, coupled with the stress of losing my bank card. I froze the account as a precaution, but it elevated my blood pressure. As a result, I stayed away from alcohol and rich foods. The confusion of two separate on-hour time changes in one day, coupled with early tours the next day led to an early bedtime. 

We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar, marked by the famous rock, in the middle of the night and arrived in Malaga, Spain, our next port, in the early morning hours. “Does anybody really know what time it is?” Another boring bus ride with a heavily accented tour guide distracted from the beauty of being high above the Mediterranean Ocean, overlooking the Bullfight Arena. I elected not to sit on a park bench next to Pablo Picasso, who was born there. We couldn’t afford one of his paintings so we got magnets instead. The wives stayed in the city for more shopping, while the men returned to our rooms for a nap. After a solo lunch in the World Café, I went to two late-afternoon presentations on the Universe (in the Explorers’ Dome Planetarium) and Pirate History, including arguably the greatest, a woman named Ching Shih. As the Jupiter left Malaga Harbor for Barcelona, dinner in The Restaurant and Showman Tim Able on the piano concluded Day #19. 

Day #20 was our last day at sea. I continue to be plagued with muscle cramps, and woke up disappointed that Indiana State did not win the NIT. A somewhat hobbled one mile walk enabled me to listen to a few more chapters of “Good Bad Girl.” 

I’m also reading “The Edge,” the second part of David Baldacci’s “6:20 Man.” Laundry was the top priority. Lectures included “The Habsburg Empire” and a wildlife recap of our voyage, including “boobies,” vultures, dolphins, butterflies, turtles and whales, none of which I witnessed myself. They don’t hang out in the bars and restaurants aboard where I spent a majority of my time. Some passengers even saw the illusive green flash at sunset. Lunch for us was at The Restaurant. I then took in an afternoon siesta, before the Port Talk presentation, Explorers’ Dome 3-D film, and dinner with the bridge partners. I can’t play with them but can certainly share a meal. The finale of the evening was a toast to the crew and musical performance by the Viking singers. 

The last day aboard ship was filled with two very different guided tours by shuttle and foot, along with packing for Mallorca, so naturally we couldn’t miss a meal. Our morning excursion was identified as “Iconic Barcelona,” highlighted by Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia. It was the second of the two landmarks that I looked forward to seeing in person, after Christ the Redeemer. It took 22 days to finally get here, including our day-long flight plus 21-days at sea. The wait was well worth it, despite not having tickets to see the interior, while the Rio statue was a bit of a letdown because of the overcast weather. We also walked through Old Town, and dined twice, first on the boat, and again on tapas in the Spanish Village. Flamenco dancing capped off a very entertaining evening in Barcelona. We returned to the ship, finished our packing, got a couple hours of sleep, and caught a bus to the airport for the Vueling flight to Mallorca. 

The next thing we knew we were napping on pool chairs, with towels for blankets, waiting for our room at the Son Antem Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) to be readied. It was late afternoon before we finally officially checked in after a cab trip to the Hiper Centro for groceries. My wife cooked our first homemade dinner in over three weeks, and we shared a bottle of wine before a long overdue full night’s sleep. While we dozed, the Iowa women lost the National Championship game to South Carolina, ending Caitlin Clark’s stellar collegiate career without a ring. 

Our location on the island is very remote, surrounded by two 18-hole golf courses. I was beginning to get my land legs. However, we quickly realized there would be little to do without renting a car. I made the arrangements with the help of a MVC interpreter through SIXT. Unfortunately, I got my days mixed up and made the long walk to the resort center to make the correction. I was told that these arrangements would need to be made the next morning when their offices opened, so we cooked burgers on the outdoor grill and hit the hay early, long before the Purdue Boilermakers lost their Championship bid in the middle of our night – six hours difference.

Continued ….

Retirement is not without Hassles: Four Continents in Four Weeks #2498

Just 8-days away from Bon Voyage and seven weeks distant from open heart surgery. I’m done with doctor visits for a while – they’ll have a hard time finding me on the ship. The daily 2-mile walks continue, as I experiment with books on tape for companionship. My first is Preston & Child’s “Dead Mountain,” a freebee with my library card. I used to listen to books in the car when I was traveling alone, usually on business. Back in my running days, not so long ago, I listened exclusively to music and some talk radio. It all helps to fill that lonely hour on the streets. 

I’m headed to the ballpark this afternoon, probably my last Spring Training game. The Pirates are in town. Next Saturday, we fly out of Tampa to Buenos 
Aires with a stop in Atlanta. We’ll have a couple of days to explore the city before the ship goes to Rio. It’s the start of an adventure that will take us to four continents in four weeks. Every day will be something new to write about, but I may not post until we get back. 

A change in routine is crucial. I’m spending too much time on the keyboard and my lower back is suffering. When I walk it irritates a nerve near my spine and makes the experience somewhat painful, certainly uncomfortable. Stretching helps but then I get comfortable in my office chair, only getting up for food and short dog walks. I need to get in the habit of an afternoon or evening walk to prevent this stiffening. I should be on my feet more often on the boat and there will be several excursions along the way. The toughest stretch will be five long days crossing the Atlantic. We’ve been through this before, in fact seven days at sea, from Alaska to Hawaii. 

The soreness in my chest continues. I can’t even lift a propane tank. However, the scars are healing nicely. Some upper body exercise would be welcome, but I will need at least another month before hitting the weight room. I’ll start my cardio-rehab once we get back home in mid-April. I will totally miss the solar eclipse, but apparently will see the Buenos Aires St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the largest in the world. It starts at noon on Avenida de Mayo and is organized by the Irish-Argentine Association. “El Dia de San Patricio” caters to the 500,000 Irish people that live in Argentina. Spanish with an Irish lill will be a unique twist on the language that I already won’t understand. Plaza de Mayo is not too far from the Atlantic. Recife will then be the crossing point across the shortest Atlantic span of travel to Africa after a stop in Rio. Europe will be the fourth continent stop on this journey. 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Impatient Patient #2494

Six weeks have passed, approaching seven, and I remain the impatient patient. I’m not yet feeling better than I did pre-surgery, and beginning to doubt whether I ever will. I never did have any symptoms like shortness of breath or dizziness, but running was becoming tedious and slow. Right now, walking feels the same way, as I am up to a fairly consistent two-mile distance. Due to drizzle, only a mile today. My lower back is sore, and legs feel stiff to the point where it is a chore rather than a pleasure to go the distance. This is why I don’t really feel that things have changed after all this work on my heart. 

It will be months before my breastbone fully heals, so there is little upper body work I can perform. I have to maintain my arms at the side, cautiously lay on my side, and avoid raising my hands overhead. I miss the sit-ups and pushups that I would do daily. My muscles are going to mush and there’s little I can do but write about it on this blog. At least, I’m maintaining some finger dexterity with the keyboard. I did think about changing some florescent light bulbs but realized there would be ladder climbing and reaching upwards involved, so I’ll wait for help. We also bought an electric fireplace that is too heavy for me to install. Same with a cable box that came loose from behind one of my big-screen TV’s. I couldn’t even help move some bags of mulch or carry-in groceries. 

I did not have fluid on or around my lungs as the surgeon feared, had an excellent follow-up with the cardiologist, and will meet with my primary physician next week. We went out to dinner last night at Shaner’s Pizzaria in Sarasota, featuring a menu with the owner’s numerous baseball cards on the cover. I did not get a chance to meet Shane Rawley while he was busy tending bar. He pitched a total of 198 innings over twelve years in the majors for the Mariners, Yankees, Phillies, and Twins. I have one of his 1989 Twins cards in my collection. 

It’s Sunday and I could run over to the ballpark or watch I.U. miss some more threes. Purdue has clinched the BIG and thankfully there are probably less than a handful of Hoosier games to suffer through before the season is over. I’ll be on a plane or boat for the NCAA Tourney and don’t honestly feel like I’ll be missing much. May not even get to watch a single game, for once in my life. Today, I don’t feel like much more than a quiet day at home being an impatient patient. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: So Not Busy #2490

It’s been six full weeks since I checked in for open heart surgery and just as long since I last ran. I did have a dream last night where I was running and suddenly stopped, remembering that I wasn’t supposed to do it. In reality, I haven’t really had the urge, although I am on occasion envious when I see someone doing it. Today, for the first time, I walked a full two miles without stopping for a break. My lower back did not ache as badly as it has on previous attempts, so hopefully my inner core is strengthening. However, I did walk up some stairs at the ballpark yesterday and found myself badly out of breath.

Three days from now, I go in for a procedure that will withdraw some of the fluids from around my lungs, by sticking a needle in my side. Being inside a hospital again will not be a pleasant experience. Nine days was more than enough – thank you. I still have a cough, probably the result of pneumonia that I incurred following two days of intensive surgery. Talking on the phone seems to incite it, otherwise all seems normal. The area around my scars is still sensitive to the touch, a burning sensation, so an occasional pain pill or muscle relaxant is necessary. Tylenol does not quite do the trick. My shoulders get sore and I tend to slouch.  A follow-up visit to the cardiologist is in four days and that should conclude all post-operative testing. 

I’ve gone out to dinner three times, played cards one night, made some grandfather errands, went to the movie theater, stopped by the card shop, completed my twice-daily walks, and went with some neighbors to yesterday’s Braves baseball opener against the Red Sox. Other than that, it’s been TV, writing, and a little bit of reading. In nineteen days, we leave on our month-long cross-Atlantic adventure. In the meantime, we signed up for Music Bingo and my wife has a number of neighborhood activities to attend. She’s teaching school today and Thursday. 

I cancelled my Regal Unlimited membership, Paramount Plus and Netflix subscriptions. I think we’re getting the most use out of Apple TV. We are currently watching the Mindhunter series on Netflix since the agreement doesn’t end for a few weeks. I still have Prime, Peacock, Hulu, and HBO to keep us entertained. I should cut back some more. Time to take the dog outside – try to keep busier than I am!

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: One Day at a Time 2 #2484

It’s now been five full weeks since they glued me back together. It’s truly a one-day-at-a-time process, although I used that title in a much earlier post, but it was about running – not recovering. One step, one day, they all add up to progress, but often too slow for me. We broke up the monotony of limited activity by going to a movie yesterday, Argyll, at the Venice Spotlight Theatres Luxury Stadium 11. I was a big step up from Regal with reclining seats and food service. It cost $12.50 for the two of us Seniors with the Tuesday special, so I plan to drop the Unlimited Pass, since we don’t seem to be going as much. Plus, it saves all those drives into Port Charlotte. 

As we were leaving the theater, my wife ducked out the exit door while I went to the rest room. When I went to join her, I exited through the wrong door and ended up behind the theater rather than the front parking lot as planned. The mall surrounding the theater went on and on, seemingly endlessly, so I ended up with an unexpected 15-minute walk. After another fifteen minutes searching for Grits in the grocery store, there was no need for the evening stroll. We had dinner and watched another episode of Death and Other Details followed by the start of True Detective: Night Country, the fourth season of this show on MAX

My wife hasn’t substituted at the school this week because of the President’s Day holiday. Teachers don’t get paid for the holiday if they are absent the day before or after, so there was no need for her services – they all naturally showed up. We were supposed to have company this week, her sister, but that all changed due to the flu bug, and we had to alter our plans. We’re still looking forward to driving down to Punta Gorda on Saturday to have dinner with my friends at The Perfect Caper, my wife’s favorite restaurant. Other than that, I have grandfather duty tomorrow morning with Nora, so I’ll have to get up early and also drop my wife off at school, should they need her. For now, it’s time for my morning walk! I’m still sore, have achy shoulders, and in general still a bit uncomfortable from the surgery ordeal but life is slowly returning to normal – day by day. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Broken Things #2481

My wife does not like to keep things that are broken, but I always think they can be fixed. Maybe this is why I tend to be a pack rat, reluctant to throw things away? I have several tubes of Super Glue in my desk drawer, ready to repair anything. Years ago, it used to be gray tape that was the fix-it-all, but glues have now taken center stage. In fact, right now, I’m held together with glue. It was a lot better option than staples or stitches because the potential of scarring is reduced. After my recent open-heart surgery, there is a foot-long incision that runs from just below my Adam’s Apple to about 3″ above my Belly Button. It’s slowly healing but still sensitive to touch.

As time goes on this scar will become less pronounced, at least I hope so. However, there will always be the reminder of these days of recovery – sometimes painful. Today, I walked a little more than a mile, but still find it difficult to balance. I tend to weave, much like I’m on a floating dock or maybe had a few too many. It’s been over a month since I’ve had a drink – but that will change soon. I’ve also been driving again – making progress. 

Yesterday, I definitely overdid it! By bedtime, I was totally out of it – quiet, despondent, and irritable. I had gotten up at 6a to escort my granddaughter to the bus stop. However, she was sick the night before, so she stayed home for school and plans to get together as a family for dinner last night also changed. Just when I thought I might have a restful day, the school called my wife in to substitute, and I drove her to work. Tally rode with us, so I stopped at the dog park on the way back home for her to see her friends. A neighbor then came over and we discussed more details about our book project, “Hungry in Hungary.” After he left, I updated the rough draft and made some phone calls. 

I made myself some lunch and headed out to the rehab center to drop off some paperwork from my surgeon. After discussing options, we decided that it won’t start until after I get back from our cruise in mid-April. In the meantime, all I can do is walk. No running, lifting, or raising my arms above the top of my head. I certainly don’t need to make the long drive to the trainer for simply a supervised walk on the treadmill. I can do that on my own on the neighborhood streets. The same may be true for any weight training in the future that I can get accomplished at the nearby fitness center. Cardio rehab may very well be on my own. Next!

It was then time to pick up my grandson, Gavyn, at the bus stop and drive him home, as I once again put on my Uber cap. Once that grandfatherly duty was completed, I picked my wife up at school and we headed home for my afternoon walk and dinner. She was justifiably disappointed that I failed to get my honey-do list done. All these modifications in my schedule, book writing, and multiple errands proved to be exhausting. I was already beginning to nod-off as we watched TV, so bedtime came early. I’m definitely still tired and broken, joining the other broken stuff that we own. These include my glasses, the Valentine’s gift I bought, a sentimental Austin snow globe that mysteriously fell apart, the towel rack in our guest bedroom, the cable-TV box, and a cabinet door. I guess I’m in good company, waiting to be repaired. 

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