Not Twenty Anymore…..

First, it’s official. I do have a heart!  (This is a joke between Lee and I, due mostly to my complete lack of a romantic heart.)  Again, though, I have a heart. I saw nuclear images of it!

A Heart

A Heart

Now, on to the blog…..I am not twenty anymore and if the current list of doctor appointments isn’t enough to remind me of that, a nuclear stress test was a well-played “gotcha” by those above wishing to remind me of said fact.  (We will leave out the new aches that seem to pop up daily now.)

“Stress Test” sounds simple enough.  No caffeine or chocolate for twenty-four hours and NPO after midnight the night before test…easy.  No other prep required.  No barium to drink, no cleansing process to deal with….piece of cake.  That should have been my first clue-the thought of “piece of cake.”  I’m that patient who can and does experience every side effect ever documented…..toss in what a lifetime of surgery does to your veins…and voila…..here comes my day.

My day began at check-in around 8:30.  I was soon taken to the back to start the IV that would be used to administer the drugs for the day. I was very forthcoming about my fear of IV’s and the scarring in my veins.  I strongly suggested ordering a local to help the process.  Thirty minutes later after an unsuccessful attempt to thread the IV and several tears down my face due to pain,  we stopped the process.  The person placing the IV did a great job-she was in on the first stick….it was me and my scarred veins that presented the issue.  Fast forward to the Cardiology RN being called in and finally the light-bulb going off that “we need a local if this is going to happen today”.  Call made to doctor for order, wait for it to come up to the office, and five minutes later-IV in.  (I cannot express in words the pain that is felt as an IV is thread past scar tissue.  Get a local.  Give a local.) Next she administered radioactive contrast and I began the one hour wait until first set of pictures (resting pictures).  At this point I was able to enjoy some water and wonderful crackers.

Finally!

Finally!

Resting pictures are then taken of your heart while laying on your back (very still) for about fifteen minutes.  Enjoy the little nap.  From there, in my case, it was on to the exercise room where I was given a lovely injection of Lexiscan.  (This was a chemically induced stress test.)  Before the injection, vitals were taken and I was told of the “possible” side effects.  Outside of the sudden cardiac event, I was able to enjoy every single one. (Sarcasm) Imagine running a mountain at full speed, realizing you need to stop for a break and somehow your legs don’t listen and you keep going…..that’s what Lexiscan does.  If that is anything close to what a heart attack feels like, I do not ever want one.  The shortness of breath, the pounding of your heart, the pain in your stomach, the leg cramps, the nausea (yes, I got a blue bag to hold), the room getting so incredibly hot….and then comes the headache.  Not a fan.  The bulk of the “stress” lasts about three minutes.  I felt pretty wiped out the rest of the day and it took a good while for the headache and stomach pain to fully leave.  Again, not a fan.

From there, you are monitored until your vitals return to normal and then you are given some caffeine to drink (and the Angels in Heaven rejoiced) and sent back to wait for about an hour.  At that time, another set of images is taken showing the “stressed heart.”

All said, from start to finish, it’s about a 3 1/2 hour process.

To quote my doctor today-“They let you leave the hospital, so there must not have been anything major seen.”  So, with that reassuring statement, the wait begins for the official report to be compiled by the cardiologist and sent over to my ordering MD.

There’s a strong family history of heart disease in my family tree, so there is a small part of me that does carry some concern, but I am thankful that this test is done and over and we will soon have a pretty good idea of the condition of my heart.  After so many surgeries for RRP, my heart health has been something of conversation before now.  What toll has my heart taken due to surgery?  What toll has a lifetime of strained breathing placed on my heart?  Now, we will have that snapshot.

I’m not a fan of Lexiscan and I hope to never meet her again.  She was not very nice to me!  I am a huge fan of Northwest and I am more than confident in the level of care we have with the Cardiology group there.  It’s nice knowing if something was to be wrong, I don’t have to travel to get a high level of care.

So, that’s my Nuclear Stress Test review and the announcement of the fact that I DO have a heart!!!  Now that heart may never be one that wants candles and flowers and all that romance stuff…but it’s there and it is beating!

(PS-how does one follow up a test to show the health of your heart?  Why with Freddy’s for dinner, of course.)

Middle-Aged….What! When did this happen?

middle age

“According to Collins Dictionary, this is “… usually considered to occur approximately between the ages of 40 and 60”.[1] The current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary gives a similar definition but with a shorter span: “The period of life between young adulthood and old age, now usually regarded as between about forty-five and sixty.” The US Census lists middle age as including both the age categories 35 to 44 and 45 to 54, while prominent psychologist Erik Erikson saw it ending a little later and defines middle adulthood as between 40 and 65. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, used to define middle age as 40–60, but as of Edition IV (1994) revised the definition upwards to 45–65.” From the most reliable source on the internet-ask.com

Geez….thanks for this little tidbit of information that honestly was better left not defined!  Basically, I am coming to terms with the FACT I have been “middle-aged” for thirteen years, or eight years or three years (depending on the source)…..my fifteen year old self is screaming, “YOU ARE OLD.”  Who am I kidding, my twenty five year old self is screaming it too!  

Let’s be honest….it’s not like the signs weren’t all there.  It’s the tag that feels like a dagger to that inner part of you that is still clinging to that thirty year old self….at least my brain is. (Notice I did NOT say body…that ship has sailed and lost its way back to port!)  Let’s talk about some of the signs you are at the half-way point.

1. Progressives-it slowly sneaks up on you.  One day you are looking at a menu and then the next day you are sitting at the table attempting to be the Incredible Stretch Woman as  you force your arms to extend ten feet so you can read the special of the day.  They should rename your 45th birthday the day of readers!   (And the day you purchase a Bible with larger font.)  

2. Collecting-while some circles might want to call what happens with our change in mindset towards “knick-knacks”  hoarding 101, I prefer to call it “sentimental saving.”  Remember going to your grandparents house and seeing all the “knick-knacks” and you could not begin to understand why anyone would want curio cabinets full of “stuff” that ranged from the finest of china to the latest trinket at the local Cracker Barrel?  Get ready…..it’s coming to your casa too.  Now, some of this is actually a very good thing-it shows your sentimental side, which shows maturity!  You have reached a point where you cherish that odd little “blinged owl” because you remember who bought it, when and where.  It has a story.  See, that’s what we missed in our blazing 20’s and 30’s….some stuff that we viewed as “junk” had a story.  You hit that magic middle button and you crave “stories” around you!  

nick nack

3.  Muffin Tops-no, I am not referring to the delicious muffin top you can grab at Panera in the morning. It seems that every muffin you have eaten from childhood-“middle age day” never really left…..you wake up one morning and voila….muffin top.  You can exercise, you can do 1000 crunches daily…but they are still there.  One collective group.  Embrace it.  Sure, work on the jello aspect of your muffin top, but you earned the right to carry a little dessert around town with you!  

4.  Face Prep-it now takes you longer to prep your face than it does to apply makeup.  Product A-Exfoliate.  Product B-Cleanse.  Product C-Serum.  Product D-Moisture.  Product E-Skin Corrector.  Product F-Eye Cream. Product G-Primer…..are we there yet?  Repeat at night, but add in another step-Makeup Removal.  What everyone tries to tell you in the blazing 20’s and 30’s is the importance of sunscreen, good skin care, etc…but really….your skin was rockin’!  Why bother with so many steps, so much money when you see a reflection looking back of firm, even, bright skin with that beautiful, youthful glow????  Here it is-you hit this magic middle button and boom….sun spots, wrinkles around your eyes, smile lines, skin that looks like it  might have been baked at a slow 250 in the oven….and…your cheeks suddenly have decided to migrate south!  FACELIFT please!  

05 986 003

5.  Spanx-all I am going to say about this is they are an amazing invention that I’ve grown to love, but in that same thought process they are a curse to women……You see that woman walking past you in her cute little outfit and she just seems to not have a jiggle in the world?  Spanx.  Yes.  I learned just this year, the world is walking around in Spanx and no one is telling anyone!  Buy them now.  Allow twenty minutes extra to get dressed as you work to pull them on…but just know…everyone has them on.  

6.  Grace-this is the sweet stuff of getting “middle aged.”  Maybe it’s because of your life experiences or a greater understanding of life and your Christian walk…but you will have so much grace that you are so willing to give to others.  Granted, it’s not really “our grace”, but His through us…but you get the point.  Compassion, empathy….it seems like it’s easier to give.  

7. Oh this one is good!  You don’t care what others think! – Act crazy, wave the warms in the air during worship, wear something a little out there, run to the store with no makeup…..you have earned this sweet reward of the middle button-you no longer care what others think of you. You have finally gotten that lightbulb moment of “be you”….people will say what they are going to say no matter what you do…so “be you!”  

8.  And then comes the sweetest of sweetest signs you have reached the middle button of life….grandchildren.  Play, dream, imagine, spoil…..all those things you maybe didn’t have time for in your 30’s due to work or juggling three or four or five toddlers/elementary schedules/etc….now….time is your friend and you can just sit and enjoy.  

grandchildren

Middle-Age.  The physical pitfalls are real…and things will sag, droop, drop, wrinkle….but in the journey you appreciate the quirks of your own grandparents so much more and well, maybe we will all realize this stage is really the sweet spot of the journey.  After-all, we do have a built in muffin top now….

PS-remember thinking how dusty  your grandparents house was sometimes?  Here’s the scoop-YOU CAN’T SEE THE DUST!  It’s a beautiful thing! 🙂