Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oink, oink. **Sniffle, sniffle.**

For crying out loud, seriously? SERIOUSLY??

A pandemic??

Nice. One more thing for all of us to worry about!

The swine flu is spreading like wildfire in Mexico, the U.S. and nine other countries. And these are not third-world countries, my friends. They're developed western nations, much like ours.

Is it just me, or does it seem like this thing just kind of came out of nowhere? A week ago, we were all just tooling along, minding our own business, and then all of a sudden in the past few days - WHAM! - it's all over the news that there's this new, weird, deadly flu virus circling the globe, and now within a matter of days we've ended up at a Phase 5 WHO Pandemic Alert level.

That's a little scary, am I right? Especially considering that TONS of people have just returned from Spring Break trips to Mexico and are now back in class with all the kids who were stuck at home over the holiday. Would all those families know yet if they'd been exposed? Beats me! I guess we'll find out soon enough.

This kind of thing totally freaks me out. Anyone who has gone through a history class knows how devastating other pandemics have been to the world population at various points in time, and this virus seems to be cutting a pretty wide path of devastation, and in the demographics that aren't usually considered high risk, including people my age, and my husband's age.

Which brings me to another point: My husband travels frequently for business. He's sitting on airplanes at least twice every other week, surrounded by people from all over. Even if we manage to dodge the swine flu bullet by being our usual home-body selves, what happens if Super Man picks it up while traveling on business? The thought of anything happening to the Super Kids or Super Man is horrifying to me.

I really, REALLY hope that the CDC gets a handle on this quickly and that we can somehow stop the spread. And I hope that the antivirals are highly effective at keeping this at bay before the virus mutates. I think it's time that we all said a little prayer, folks!

Oy vey.

Echo! (echo, echo, echo...)

This morning I had my first echocardiogram.

I'm 35 years old. I weigh about 135 and I'm 5'6. I'm not a smoker, I have maybe 1-2 drinks a week, and I don't use any drugs or take any medications on a daily basis. I workout, I eat pretty healthy. And I'm not one to put off getting things checked out when something strange is going on with my body, as you've probably figured out by now, if you've been reading my blog for any significant length of time!

So why did I need the echo?

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I've occasionally had a strange "fluttering" heartbeat. After I first noticed it, I would only feel it once in a long while, to the point where I thought nothing of it. Everyone's heart skips a beat once in awhile; no big deal.

This past year, I've been noticing that the flutters were happening more often. When it happened, it was more noticeable. Lately, it happens at least once a day, and some of them are uncomfortable. It was starting to freak me out (and understandably so).

While this has been going on, I've had a few other strange things happen. I never really thought they were connected, until recently.

Back in summer of '07, I completed the Danskin women's triathlon, my first one (and maybe last one) ever. I'm NOT a super fit athlete by any means, and I'll be the first to admit that the triathlon was very challenging for me, but I was able to complete it and felt super proud for having accomplished that. During the 12-mile bike ride portion of the tri, I got very light-headed very quickly, and nearly passed out. At the time, I chalked it up to dehydration as it was 95-degrees the day of the triathlon with full sun and a stiff hot wind. I ended up completing the tri without any further incident, and didn't think too much about it after that.

Then last summer, in August of '08, I did a women's fitness boot camp with some friends early one Saturday morning. It was a bit humid and muggy, but not hot. I had eaten a decent breakfast beforehand, and made sure I was drinking LOTS of water, having heard that this boot camp was an ass-kicker. I made it through the first 45 minutes without much trouble, and then - all of a sudden - I got super light-headed again and almost passed out. I even managed to freak out the organizer of the boot camp, who suggested I talk to my doctor about that. I was horribly embarrassed, but once again, I was fine within a few minutes and didn't think much of it.

Before I hurt my foot in that unfortunate tumble down my back stairs this past February, I had been working out at my gym one morning, doing a standard workout that included walking/running intervals on the treadmill for a half-hour and another half-hour on the elliptical, plus some ab exercises. At no point did I feel light-headed or physically off, but when I looked through the stats on my heart rate monitor, I nearly fell over when I saw that my peak heart rate for the workout was 220. TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY! Obviously NOT normal. At all.

Thankfully, that last incident happened roughly a week before my annual physical with my internist. At that appointment, I talked to my doctor about the strange "flutters" in my heartbeat, and about the near-fainting episodes, and finally the crazy-high peak heart rate I had while working out. She said it all sounded like something called "SVT" or "supraventricular tachycardia" to her.

I'm not a doctor but, in a nutshell, here's a little lay information about SVT. It's a temporary rapid heartbeat caused by a faulty electrical impulse in the heart muscle of the atria or AV node. The rapid heartbeat comes on suddenly, can last anywhere from a few seconds to one to two days, and usually goes away without treatment. Because this rapid heartbeat can be quite fast, it makes the heart's pumping of blood very ineffective, which results in a sudden drop in blood pressure, light-headedness, dizziness and sometimes a loss of consciousness. It's often treated with prescription medications called beta blockers, or it can be resolved using radio frequency ablation or cryoablation (destroying the faulty electrical pathway in the muscle where the misfire is occurring). It's generally not life-threatening, and is actually fairly common.

In my case, the episodes of heart "fluttering" last only a few seconds each, but as I said earlier, they've been happening every day lately, and sometimes multiple times a day. When it happens during normal daily activities, it doesn't make me pass out or get light-headed or anything, but it's just very... uncomfortable. When it happens when I'm working out or doing something involving physical exertion, that's when I almost pass out and I get very light-headed, and it happens in an instant - there is no "build-up." One second I'm fine, and the next I'm struggling to remain conscious.

Because of all of that, my internist wanted me to have an echocardiogram done. For those of you who have never had one or don't know what it is, it's basically an ultrasound of the heart. It's quick and painless, done on an outpatient basis, much like having a fetal ultrasound done during pregnancy - only not nearly as exciting. :)

I went in for the echo this morning. First the technician hooked up a few EKG nodes to measure the electrical activity of my heart, and then she used the ultrasound wand to take a "look" at my heart. The procedure literally took about 20 minutes, and the technician "looked" at my heart from a few different angles: head-on so to speak (right over my heart), through the ribs of my left side, from the perspective of my diaphragm, and then she also looked at my aorta, both in the area of my abdomen and at my neck.

I watched the whole thing on the screen, but of course none of it made any sense to me! She took a lot of measurements, and she turned the sound on a few times to record the sounds of my blood whooshing through each of the chambers. That was quite interesting because the sound is different in each chamber, because the flow is different. The sounds were like video game special effects; I think my little boy would've enjoyed hearing them! Again, I have no idea if the sounds were "normal," but the fact that I wasn't rushed in for emergency heart surgery midway through was probably a good sign. (Then again, what the hell do I know?)

It was all pretty benign from my end of things, but it was a little frustrating not being able to get answers right away. The technician is not allowed to say anything about what she's seeing during the procedure; I have to wait for the cardiologist to read it and get the results to my doctor, and then wait for my doctor to read them and get back to me. This could be tomorrow, or it could be Friday. (It better not be any later than that, or I'm camping out on my doctor's front lawn until she tells me what I'm dealing with!)

Once I have this whole heart mess straightened out, I think I'll be rescheduling the HSG I had to cancel back in February due to the notorious tumble down the back stairs. I can't take it anymore - I'm having such bad baby-cravings that it's making me an emotional mess, and that's not good for anyone. Trust me on that.

So, that's what I did today; how about you?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beautiful Day

Today was one of those rare PHENOMENAL spring days in southern Wisconsin in that the temperature actually got to about 80 degrees, the sky was an endless clear blue, there was a steady breeze throughout most of the day, and the air smelled of summer.

It was, in a word, sublime.

I spent the middle part of the day with a relatively new Super Girlfriend, hiking a short way down a wooded path to a secluded beach along the shore of Lake Michigan, where we ate a picnic lunch in the sun, chatted comfortably, and spent time looking for cool rocks in the sand.

The temperature was easily 10 (or more) degrees cooler down on the beach than it had been up at the street-level, but occasionally an oddly thermal-heated breeze would blow and it would feel like someone had blasted a warm hair dryer in our direction. It was a very bizarre sensation, but welcome given the otherwise cool nature of the breeze.

And the water... ZOINKS! It was FREEZING cold (as I learned after dipping a toe into the surf), but looked exactly like the Caribbean Sea, all blue-green and inviting. So deceiving!

It was an awesome place to go for a picnic lunch, but I have to admit that it's not a place I would've sought out myself. And I say that not because it wasn't a beautiful little spot or because I didn't enjoy it, but because I'm generally not that adventurous and I can almost guarantee that I'd never have stumbled upon a place such as this by accident given the way I go about my life. No, I'm the person who goes to the same parks and beaches where everyone else goes, even though they're crowded and crazy, just because they're easier to find and I run little danger of getting lost - or attacked - in the woods trying to get there. :) Fortunately my Super Friend is a much more intrepid and adventurous soul, and I KNOW this isn't the only cool and out-of-the-way place she knows about, so I've decided to stick with her and let her lead the way!

In any case, it was the perfect way to spend a few hours on such a gorgeous day!

Our evening was spent in an equally perfect way, hanging out with other wonderful Super Friends in one of their backyards, having pizzas and beer for dinner and listening to the children play. It's how we spent many a summer evening last year, and although those lovely evenings seemed a lifetime away after the looooooong Wisconsin winter, tonight's fun made us all excited for the many more summer evenings to be spent in that fashion in the months to come.

Summer is nearly here and this girl couldn't be any happier about it. :)

Peace out, kids.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Just a quick post to wish the world a very HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Do what you can today to help make the world a better place. All the little actions add up to make a big difference!

* Turn off a light when you leave a room.
* Unplug your unused appliances or electrical devices to save on electricity.
* Conserve water.
* Bring your reusable mug to Starbucks or your other fave coffee house for your daily java.
* If you see litter during your stroll through the park or down the street, pick it up and pitch it in a trash can.
* Plant a tree or a garden or even a single flower.

What can YOU do to make a difference for the planet today?

Make it a great one!

Peace & love,
SW

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boys

Little boys are a breed of their own, aren't they?

I ponder this every time I observe Super Boy playing, by himself or with friends, inside or outside, and in the way he makes pictures or Lego "creations", and in the stories he crafts in his mind and then shares with me. He just does things differently than little girls seem to.

Super Boy is sooo different than Super Girl was at this age. She was never a super girly-girl kind of little girl, never getting into Barbies or baby dolls or other girly stuff, so you'd almost think that they'd have been a bit more similar in their interests and behaviors, but you'd be wrong. Yes, Super Girl preferred to look at bugs and animals the same as Super Boy does, but where she was pretty much strictly an observer, Super Boy wants to HANDLE (also known as "squeeze") the bugs and keep them in his bug house. And then keep the bug house inside our house. (Can you hear the shivers of revulsion radiating down my body?)

What causes these differences? Are they hardwired into their brains or do we subconsciously encourage certain behaviors in boys versus girls? I know this is a debate that has gone on for decades, and I think most people agree that there is a certain amount of each that plays a part, but I just find it fascinating to observe.

I know friends and acquaintances of mine have often marveled at their sons' behaviors, too. It seems like moms of little boys are the ones saying the oddest things over and over again:

"Don't eat the dirt from the flower pot."

"Please stop trying to stick that worm in your nose."

"Stop sticking your fingers in the dogs ears!" (Or, worse, in other canine body parts...)

"Please keep your hands out of your pants in public."

"Quit shoving Legos in your nose!"

I swear, I just said that last one to Super Boy two nights ago. He was sitting next to me on the couch rebuilding a Lego creation for the hundredth time while I read a book, when all of a sudden I heard him blowing oddly through his nose. I peeked over at him to see what he was doing just in time to see one tiny, round Lego piece shoot out of his nostril. He looked up at me guiltily as my jaw dropped (I've warned the kid since he was a toddler NEVER to stick things in his nose - and he never has!)... and then admitted that he couldn't get the other one out!

WHAT?? WHAT!?!?

I plugged the side of his nose that was empty and told him to blow out hard through the other nostril. Thankfully, the Lego shot out then.

Trust me, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief! I've had several friends who've had to take their little boys in to the doctor or ER to have small objects removed from their nostrils, so I was fully preparing myself for that to be the case here.

With all offensive objects out of his nasal cavities, I sat staring at Super Boy in wonder, debating what to say. The guilty expression remained on his face, so I knew he knew what he had done was NOT good.

So I asked the one question that was just begging to be asked: "Honey, what were you thinking?"

The unsurprising response?

"I don't know, Mom!"

That pretty much sums it all up right there.

I love him more than life itself, but I sure hope that the days of him sticking small objects up his nose are coming to an end soon.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thinking Spring

Just rolling out another update to the look and feel of the AESW blog, chosen from among the many lovely FREE BACKGROUNDS offered by Aqua Poppy Designs! Thanks, you fabulous designer over at Aqua Poppy!!

By the way, I hope I'm not confusing too many of you by switching things up on a monthly/bimonthly basis this year. Occasionally, I picture some random reader typing in my web address and coming to the blog only to find that it looks TOTALLY different and being like "What the hell...? Where am I??"

If I am confusing anyone, feel free to write a comment telling me to KNOCK IT OFF. I just keep feeling a need for change and this seems like the best (and easiest) way to satisfy that need.

Plus, look at how pretty it is! The flowers, the spring colors... It actually makes me feel a tiny bit warmer and more hopeful and optimistic that winter WILL in fact end at some point.

You've got to understand that I live in the upper Midwest. It's still COLD here more often than not at this time of year, not to mention brown and ugly and wet and generally lacking the color green.

I'm getting desperate at this point. I'll take my green wherever I can find it.

Sadly, we're expecting more WHITE this weekend. A dusting of snow tomorrow and then 3-5 inches at some point in the next few days. I'm actually groaning in despair here; can you hear it?

Anyhoo, that's what's all behind my decision to change the background. Again. (Sorry!)

I'm thinking spring, thinking spring, thinking spring...

You may have also noticed some other changes on Average Everyday Super Woman. I've done a little "spring cleaning" here, so to speak. More on that to follow...

For now, I hope you're all warm, dry and somewhere lots warmer than here. :)

Sweet dreams!