Sunday, June 28, 2009

Good news: Funky heartbeat issue is "normal!"

Yes, it's true!

After wearing a "loop recorder" for a month (and having a few unfortunate mishaps wherein I inadvertently and unknowingly kept deleting the events I was recording...), and ultimately transmitting a handful of recorded events to my cardiologist, it has been determined that my funky heartbeat thing is what are called "PVCs."

For those of us non-cardiologists, that translates to "premature ventricular contractions," or what my cardiologist's nurse practitioner referred to as "early heartbeats." According to Wikipedia, this essentially means that instead of the heartbeat originating in the sinoatrial node of the heart, it's initiating in the ventricles, which are the lower chambers of the heart muscle (the upper chambers are atria).

That premature heartbeat triggers that feeling of a heart palpitation or fluttering, which is exactly what I was feeling. Fortunately, my PVCs are very brief and they generally aren't continuous (although I sometimes will have 2 or 3 in a row), so for me they are considered simply a "normal variant."

My cardiologist will sometimes treat PVCs with medication, but usually only if the PVCs are disrupting a patient's life or making them severely anxious. My anxiety from my funky heartbeat was pretty much purely over not knowing what it was or what was causing it. Now that I know that it's not a serious, imminently lethal heart problem, I'm feeling much more okay with it, and the instances of it don't really disrupt my life or anything like that. However, if I ever do get pregnant again, the PVCs may also become more frequent, so if that does start making me anxious or affecting me physically in terms of making me lightheaded, etc., then I will most likely get on medication to control it for that period of time.

Bottom line, as far as the PVC thing is concerned, as long as it's not having a major impact on my daily life, I don't have to see the cardiologist again and I don't require any treatment for it.

That said, there's still the other cardiac issue of my near-fainting episodes during the '07 triathlon and the '08 fitness boot camp, in addition to my heart rate clocking in at 220 during one of my normal workouts back in February. The cardiologist is not seeing anything that would explain that from my echo or my EKG, so he wants me to get back in to see him right away if I have any other instances of near-fainting or my heart rate monitor picking up crazy-high heart rates, and then he'll have me basically go through a stress test to see if the high heart rate can be induced while I'm being monitored so they can see what's going on. I'm hopeful that this won't come to pass (after all, the fact is that the near-fainting episodes happened during two EXTREME physical activities for me, activities I'm not likely to participate in again!), but if it does, at least I know that they will look into it again quickly.

At 35, I've got to say that these weird heart issues I'd recently begun experiencing really had me pretty freaked out, especially considering that I'm not in bad shape for my age. I'm glad I got them checked out and that I have some answers as to what's going on, and some reassurances that these are generally not serious issues. I'll sleep easier knowing that my heart is not a ticking timebomb!

For any of you readers who have unusual heart issues, go get them checked and get yourself some peace of mind. I want you all to be healthy and well, so even if you aren't inclined to do it for yourself, do it for me!! :)

Peace out,

Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrities die, too.

What a week it's been for Hollywood: First, Ed McMahon dies. Then, in the same day, both Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson bid the world farewell.

It's craziness, I tell you. What is happening to the world when three beloved members of the Hollywood elite pass in the same week?

Where Ed McMahon was concerned, I will admit that he was most famous to me for the Publisher's Clearinghouse commercials. See, I wasn't a big watcher of "The Tonight Show" when Carson was the frontman and McMahon was the sidekick, so I sort of missed his glory days. But I know how famous and popular that dynamic duo once was, and after years of watching Ed McMahon make people's dreams come true through the PC, he was like a long-lost member of the family. Of course, I'd have been willing to call him Grampa if he'd ever delivered a million dollar prize to OUR door, but I digress. The loss of that man was a great blow to "old Hollywood."

Then there was Farrah. The beautiful, ethereal, feathery-voiced and, yes, slightly ditzy Ms. Farrah. I think every one of my boyfriends from junior and senior high had at least one of her posters up on his wall, and she was one of those women who girls like me could simply NEVER live up to. No matter what. No amount of eye make-up or hair feathering was going to make ME look like HER - no way, no how. Still, I was in total agreement that she was gorgeous.

I loved her in "The Burning Bed," and I thought she did a fantastic job in some cheesy TV movie called "The Substitute Wife" in which she played a prostitute in the Old West who a dying farm wife (played by Lea Thompson) chose to be her replacement with her husband and children. Despite her somewhat ditzy personality in live interviews, the woman could act - there's no denying that.

As Farrah's battle with anal cancer became public and her health slowly declined, I found myself inexplicably drawn to her story, fascinated by her strength and courage. I know some people criticized her for being so public with her battle, claiming she was seeking attention, but I admired her for choosing to take her fight against cancer public. There's no denying that when celebrities take their health struggles public, it makes some of us little people sit up and take notice and pay a little more attention to what's happening in our own bodies, and it's no doubt saved a few lives. Given her generous, loving spirit, I'm sure it was a great consolation to her in the end to know that her choice to battle cancer publicly may have saved a few lives, even if not her own. I hope that her passing was peaceful, and that her loved ones can find their peace in this loss, as well. Especially her son, Redmond. That boy has some serious issues to work through. I only hope that he truly seeks to resolve them rather than bury himself further in his drug addictions to seek solace.

And, last but certainly not least, MJ. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop. Oh, Michael... Such a tortured soul of a man, and yet one with immeasurable God-given talent. I remember "discovering" Michael Jackson when I was in probably third or fourth grade, when "Thriller" came out. In fact, "Thriller" was either my first or second album purchase ever (the other was Crystal Gayle!), and I LOVED that album. I played it over and over again, even when the song "Thriller" came on and scared the bejeezus out of me time and time again. And the video... don't even get me started. I loved it in the movie "13 Going On 30" when Jennifer Garner's character does the Thriller dance at the company party. That was simply awesome.

Watching MJ self-destruct over the last two decades was painful to watch as he went from being an enormously talented young man with the world at his feet and the respect and adoration of millions upon millions to a strange, physically self-mutilated recluse and late-night joke, who may or may not have been a child molester and seemed to have some serious psychological issues. It seemed as though his social oddities and early affinity for plastic surgery at first just made people confused and uncomfortable, but they were willing to overlook that - for awhile. When the accusations of child sexual abuse entered the picture and his surgical adventures left him look less-than-human, I think it all added up to have a tremendously negative impact on his career, which seemed to in turn send him on an even deeper downward spiral.

After the announcement of his unexpected death yesterday, I know I spent time reflecting upon how I came to know - and love - MJ, and how far I'd drifted away from being a fan over the years. Hearing the radio stations today playing old Jackson 5/Jacksons and MJ songs in honor of his life really reminded me of what an amazing talent he possessed, and what a fundamentally pure-souled person he was. The world definitely lost one of music's most talented people ever yesterday.

I hope this is the end of the Hollywood celeb death cycle for awhile. They say these things happen in threes, and that was certainly the case this week. Very, very sad.

RIP Ed, Farrah and Michael. Rest in peace.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I felt the need for speed.

Have you ever gone go-karting? If not, I highly recommend going out and finding yourself a go-kart track where you can give it a whirl.

It's fun. It's really, REALLY fun.

Expensive, too, at least in this neck of the woods this year. Is it due to rising gas prices? Not sure. But it was $2 more per ticket than last year, which sort of sucks.

In any case, this is an integral part of our annual Super Family family vacation up in the northwoods of Wisconsin, and it's just soooo much fun.

Wait, did I say that already?

The cutest part of this not-to-be-missed annual family ritual is watching Super Boy and my Super Nephew eagerly run up to the "You Must Be This Tall To Ride Alone" sign to see if they've yet hit the mark. You can see the hope-mingled-with-anxiety in their eyes as they spot the sign and race towards it, their adorably muscular little 6- and almost 6-year-old bodies pushing the outer limits of their abilities to see which of them will get there first. Invariably, it is my slightly younger Super Nephew who is a virtual powerhouse of an almost 6-year-old who stands a good inch-and-a-half taller than the already 6-year-old Super Boy.

But Super Boy doesn't care. All he cares about is whether he can ride a go-kart alone yet.

The boys butt their little butts back to the wall and try to stand as tall as they possibly can without cheating and tip-toeing to see how they measure up. In years past, they fell way short of the line, much to their mutual disappointment. This year, they were both just a few inches shy of the line, to their extreme mutual disappointment.

But wait, we tell them. Look how close you are - you two will probably be able to ride alone next year!

Their eyes light up again as this information sinks in, filling them with hope once again. They can hardly wait for next year's vacation, and this one has scarcely even begun.

Given that the boys could not ride alone, the jockeying began to see which of them would get to ride tandem with Super Uncle T. The boys LOVE riding with Super Uncle T, because Super Uncle T goes FAST. My Super Nephew won the first round, because Super Boy rode with Super Man. When my Super Nephew had to ride the next round with his mom, my Super Sister, he told her that she drives like a baby and that he wanted to ride with Super Uncle T because he goes REALLY fast. (Heaven help us.)

Super Boy rode with Super Man, Super Grampa, me and Super Uncle T., and I think I'm the only one who failed the speed trials being unofficially run in Super Boy's mind. Oh well - it's my job to keep him safe, right?

There's nothing like go-karting. The loud rumble of the engine at your back, the wind flying through your hair, miniscule bits of the track being kicked up into your face as you jockey for position with your family members on the track, the herky-jerky steering as you round the tight corners at top speed. It's exhilarating, and for those of us chickens who prefer to stick with vehicles of the four-wheel variety and to moderate-to-fast speed versus balls-out FAST, it's a very safe way to fulfill that occasional need for speed.

I think between me, Super Man and my Super Mom, we took a solid 100 pictures at the go-kart track this week. I can't wait to print them and put them in this year's vacation photo album. They always make me smile. It's a long year waiting for the next annual vacation to roll around again, and it's the pictures of moments like this that make that long wait just a little more bearable.

Speaking of pictures, I can already picture the little boys a year from now, eagerly running up to the sign to find that they've just hit the mark and then delightedly racing to the cars for their maiden solo voyages. Scares the hell out of me a little, to be honest with you, but I know they will be so amazingly proud to finally drive their own go-karts, and they'll have so much fun doing it. I know that with Super Boy's fledgling competitive spirit, it will give him enormous joy to finally race against the rest of us instead of tagging along for the ride, and I'm pretty sure that my Super Nephew will feel the same.

I love family vacation, and I love go-karting. I highly recommend them both.

Happy Summer!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

a wedding, a honeymoon, a house, a dog, a baby and nine years later...

Good afternoon, lovely readers. Did you know that today is my and Super Man's 9th wedding anniversary?

Well, it is. :)

Nine years.... Boy, it hardly seems like that much time could've passed since the day we vowed to love one another for the rest of our lives, through thick and thin, ups and downs, sickness and health, good times and bad. And yet, that much time has passed.

On this day nine years ago, I was a blushing bride of 26. I was equal parts excited beyond all possibility to be marrying the wonderful, sexy, smart, funny, humble, intelligent man of my dreams and mate of my soul and terrified of all the unknowns lying in wait for us.

Was I REALLY AND TRULY READY to be getting married and would I be a good Super Wife? Could I handle the pressures of being a Super Stepmom to a four-year-old child I had not created or even known existed until two years prior? Would our marriage - being a second marriage for Super Man - survive the rough early years of marriage and beat the odds on second marriages?

I couldn't know at that precise time what the answers to any of those questions would be. I had to have faith, to take a gigantic, enormous, huge leap of faith.

And so I did.

All these years later...

our engagement 07.04.99

our little soon-to-be family of three... 1999

man and wife 06.10.00

our trip to Paris and Italy 05.01

our "new" house 06.01

summer fun 08.01

our new dog 09.01

ahhh... pregnant 01.03

really REALLY pregnant 05.03

welcome to the world, little Super Boy 05.23.03

the Super Family 04.04 (i think)

a bit o' Halloween fun 10.05

summer vacation 2008

our "new" - and improved - house 12.08

the Super Family at Christmas 12.08

the Super Family at Super Boy's 6th birthday 05.23.09

Super Man & Super Woman 05.23.09 we are.

Nine years of wedded bliss. Or something like that, anway.

Nine years of perfection? No; nothing in life is perfect.

Nine years of happiness, overall? Absolutely.

Nine years full of rich, wonderful-if-sometimes-sticky life? You betchya.

Nine years full of love, despite the occasional bumps in the road? Indeed.

I feel so fortunate. I married my soul mate and best friend. And I can truly say that I love this man more deeply and honestly today than I ever have. Because he has stood by me through thick and thin, ups and downs, sickness and health, good times and bad. He is as ready and willing as I am to do what needs to be done to keep our marriage strong and happy and fulfilling, and to create a home for our children that is always warm, loving, safe and secure.

I love you, Super Man. With all my heart, forever and ever, no matter what.

~ Your CW Super Woman

Friday, June 5, 2009

Revisiting the classics.

While strolling through the aisles at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore yesterday, a familiar old title caught my eye.

Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume.

Oh. My. God. Talk about transporting me right back smack dab to 1988.

I stopped dead in my tracks and perused the much-loved and familiar titles of one of my all-time favorite YA authors.


Just As Long As We're Together


Then Again, Maybe I Won't

To me, these books will forever be classics. They defined my adolescence, for crying out loud! They were some of the only - if not THE only - books that really got down to the nitty-gritty about the issues that girls - and boys - have to deal with as their bodies and minds start to change from children into young adults.

I don't know how other girls in my generation felt at that age, but my mom was not one to sit with me and have big heart-to-hearts about the changes I was going through and the things I was feeling, so I either had to turn to my older Super Sister (can you say "mortifying?") or turn to books. (Well, and my friends - but they were equally as ill-prepared to answer those questions as I was!) So THANK GOD for Judy Blume!

Anyhoo, back to the bookstore. As I stood there browsing the familiar titles, I wavered between kicking myself for ever selling my original paperback editions in a rummage sale long ago followed immediately by an intense longing to buy up every one of my old favorites. And then, after I did a little of the former, I did a little of the latter.

I bought two of my old favorites, and I started re-reading Just As Long As We're Together yesterday afternoon, for the first time in nearly 20 years. How odd a feeling it is to reread that book as an adult, with all sorts of wisdom (hey, even I use that word loosely!) under my belt that I simply didn't possess back then.

Reading about Stephanie's crush on Jeremy Dragon made me feel 12 years old again, with a crush on a cute boy and accompanied by a whole host of hormone-driven longings and confused emotions. The sheer innocence and drama of it put a smile on my face, because I can still remember what that felt like as though I was just in Stephanie's shoes yesterday. Maybe I'm also feeling more connected to and reflective about that time in my life because it's the stage of life that Super Girl is in as I speak. Seeing her deal with all the issues that come part and parcel with adolescence reminds me constantly of what my life was like back then, only it's SO much easier to revisit it now in memory because of the experience and perspective I've gained since I lived it.

Judy Blume's books covered all the big adolescent topics: changing bodies and poor body image and self-esteem, young love, lust, the difficulties of female relationships, changing family dynamics, depression. The books could've been leather-bound and grouped together as an "Encyclopedia for Teenaged Girls," as far as I'm concerned.

As I'm reading Just As Long As We're Together, I'm of course acutely aware that the setting (the mid-'80s) is rather different from the world that today's adolescents are growing up in, and that makes me a little bit sad because I think that Super Girl probably won't get into these books in the same way that my friends and I did, if she'd read them at all.

I hope she will though. Regardless of the point in time that the books take place, the messages are the same - all of your peers are going through the same changes, feelings and issues, whether they'll admit it or not, and you just have to make the best of them and keep moving forward. I know it always made me feel better reading the Judy Blume books to get a sense that SOMEONE understood what it was like to be in my shoes.

Anyway, I'm going to make it my mission to get my hands on and re-read all of my old Judy Blume favorites this summer. I can think of no better or more apropos time to undertake that little challenge, since summertime always makes me think back on when I was in junior and senior high school and since Super Girl is in the midst of that time in her own life.

Just so you know, I'm positive - I mean, absolutely TOTALLY positive - that I'll be writing more posts about the Judy Blume classics over the next few months, and I really and truly hope that you, my lovely readers, will join in my adolescent reminiscing through comments on those posts. Just think of how much fun that'll be!!

For starters, I hope you'll comment on this post to share what YOUR favorite Judy Blume book (or books) was. I'll reveal my favorite later on... ;)

Here's to summer, to adolescence, and to Judy Blume!!

Peace out,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Now that wasn't so bad, was it?

I went in this afternoon for the much anticipated and once delayed HSG (hysterosalpingogram) appointment that was unfortunately postponed from its originally scheduled date in early February.

Make no mistake, I was nervous as hell.

And I wasn't just nervous about having a foreign object jammed through my cervix (yet again - remember the endometrial biopsy I had last August?) and then having normally benign but, for me, potentially deadly dye injected through it into the recesses of my uterus, although that was quite enough to make me hyperventilate just a little bit.

No, I was also nervous about the curse that ruined my last scheduled HSG attempt rearing its ugly head again and thwarting my current attempt to just get this thing DONE. You know - because when I first scheduled the appointment for February, I had the NERVE to attempt to vacuum my back entryway 3 hours before the appointment and ended up falling down the stairs leading to the back landing and severely spraining my foot, and having to make a detour to the ER at a different hospital instead of going to the Radiology Department at my usual hospital to get the HSG done.

But you know what? I decided to LAUGH in the face of that curse: I managed to preoccupy myself this morning by - wait for it - CLEANING AND VACUUMING this morning to forget some of my nerves in advance of the appointment. Yes, I carried my vacuum down those same back landing stairs - WITHOUT falling and hurting myself, I might add. And then I pushed my luck even further by carrying my vacuum up the 15 stairs to my 2nd floor, vacuuming up there, and then daring to carry it back DOWN those 15 stairs, and I managed to do THAT without wiping out and breaking anything, too.

Can you say "awesome?"

It was so nice to get my house cleaned and, in the process, distract myself from the nerves I had over the impending appointment. And it was also nice to know that I really WASN'T cursed, that the Universe WASN'T trying to tell me that I shouldn't be pursuing this fertility test, and to realize that I'm not ALWAYS a clutz of the highest magnitude. ;)

So, back to the test itself.

It was partially what I expected it would be in that I had a good understanding of the basic mechanics of it, although I thought it would take quite a bit longer than it actually did. However, I expected it to hurt like hell (sort of like the endometrial biopsy, but worse), and I was also nervous about the iodine in the dye potentially giving me an anaphylactic reaction, despite the fact that they premedicated me again with a combo of prednisone and Benadryl.

Imagine my very pleasant surprise when it really wasn't painful! And when I didn't die from the dye! It was like a dream come true, I tell you.

Yes, it was uncomfortable - having anything jammed through your cervix isn't very pleasant, but it was literally just uncomfortable, sort of like normal menstrual cramps.

Once the tube-thingy was through my cervix, the radiologist inserted and inflated a little balloon to hold my cervix open before injecting the dye. He had warned that I might feel some pressure when they inflated the balloon, but I didn't (amen). He also warned that I might feel a strange sensation when they injected the dye, but again, I didn't (amen).

Then they moved the little x-ray-type machine thingy over my abdomen to watch what happened to the dye once it was injected.

It was flat out WEIRD to watch the screen as the dye spread like wildfire through my uterus and started its journey through my fallopian tubes. He said it took a little pressure to get the fluid through my tubes, but it did go all the way through and out the ends, which is what they want to see, so there weren't any full blockages. And this is good news!

The only questionable thing is that the doctor saw what he believes to be a benign fibroid in my uterus. He'll of course be sending all the info to my OB/GYN, and he said I'd have to follow-up with her on the fibroid as far as whether or not she wants to remove it. He did say, however, that the presence of the fibroid wouldn't be preventing me from conceiving, but I would imagine that its presence could have an impact on the amount of room for the baby to grow if I were to get pregnant again. I'd be cool with removing it, but I guess we'll see what my OB wants to do.

It was all over in a matter of about 10-15 minutes, and though I expected to be in some pain afterward, I really haven't had anything worse than minor menstrual-type cramping and spotting. Thank heavens! I'm exhausted, but I'm sure the whole thing took a lot out of me mentally and physically, so that's no big surprise. It'll be an early bedtime for Super Woman though, I will say that!

In any case, there is nothing obvious going on as far as why I'm not conceiving, and hopefully now that I've had my tubes "flushed," I'll have some good news sooner rather than later.

Send me some baby dust, readers!! Whatever you can spare, that is. ;)

Peace & love,