My Novels

Monday, February 28, 2005

Bad as my trouble seems with DH, it could be oh-so-much worse. They nabbed the BTK killer over the weekend, and he has broken the "mold" for serial killer profilers. Happily married father of two adult children, city employee, president of the church council (weird!), he wasn't the typical "loner" that everyone describes when they learn a neighbor on the block is a killer.

But his wife, can you imagine? The article I'm posting states she's "in a state of shock." Mercy, that is an understatement I would think. The poor woman!

(Two posts in the same day, guess I'm in a writing mood.)

Police: Speculation May Hamper BTK Probe

Feb 28, 4:36 PM (ET)


WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - The police chief warned Monday that public speculation could complicate the BTK serial killings investigation and vowed that suspect Dennis Rader will "not be tried in the media, but rather in a court of law."

Rader, the churchgoing family man and Cub Scout leader arrested Friday, was being held in connection with 10 deaths between 1974 and 1991. An initial court appearance was set for Tuesday. A source close to the investigation said he had confessed to six killings.

"The guy is telling us about the murders," the source said on condition of anonymity.

Rader, 59, was being held in lieu of $10 million bail. Police had long linked the BTK killer to eight murders but added two more on Saturday after Rader's arrest and said their investigation was continuing. The nickname comes from killer's own writings to authorities and stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill."

The source also said investigators were looking at three other killings. But Police Chief Norman Williams repeated the figure of 10 killings.

Williams said the media had spread "speculation, inaccurate and irresponsible information" and said it was complicating "an already complex investigation."

"The BTK investigation has and will continue to be guided by the United States Constitution, which means we will adhere to due process," he said. "This case will not be tried in the media, but rather in a court of law."

Williams said he would ask prosecutors if they can take legal action against members of the media. But he did not go into specifics on what information was inaccurate, and he refused to take any questions.

Rader was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday via video so prosecutors could recite yet-to-be-filed criminal charges against him and the judge could review bail. It was unclear whether Rader had a lawyer.

Prosecutors had said initially they could not pursue the death penalty against Rader because the 10 murders linked to BTK happened when Kansas did not have the death penalty. The state restored capital punishment in 1994.

The source said police also were looking into whether Rader was responsible for the deaths of two Wichita State University students as well as a woman who lived down the street from another known victim of BTK.

It was unclear when the three slayings occurred, but the source said one of them took place while Kansas' death penalty was in effect. When asked for comment, District Attorney Nola Foulston said, "Your information is patently false," but she refused to say whether Rader had made any confessions or whether investigators are looking into Rader's possible involvement in more unsolved killings.

The BTK killer re-emerged over the last year, taunting police with letters and packages sent to media outlets. Authorities have declined to say what led them to zero in on Rader, a married father of two and an active member of a Lutheran church.

He was anything but a recluse. His job as a city code enforcement supervisor required daily contact with the public, and he even appeared on television in 2001 in his tan city uniform for a story on vicious dogs running loose in Park City.

Before becoming a municipal employee, Rader worked for a home-security company, where he held several positions that allowed him access to customers' homes, including a role as installation manager. He worked for ADT Security Systems from 1974 to 1989 - the same time as a majority of the BTK killings.

Mike Tavares, who worked with Rader at ADT, described him as a "by-the-books" employee who would often draw diagrams of houses and personally make sure technicians installed systems correctly.

While Rader was known as a blunt person and rubbed some people the wrong way, he never struck co-workers as anything other than businesslike.

"I've spoken to some co-workers who were around then, and everybody is very numb," said Tavares, who left the company in 2001.

At Christ Lutheran Church, where Rader was president of the church council, pastor Michael Clark said Rader's wife, Paula, was in a state of shock.

"Her demeanor and voice indicated she was suffering," Clark said.

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius told The Associated Press that DNA evidence was key to cracking the case. It was unclear whether BTK's letters helped lead to the arrest. Police have said they obtained semen from the crime scenes even though the killer did not sexually assault his victims.

Wichita television station KAKE, citing sources it did not name, reported that DNA from Rader's daughter, Kerri, was instrumental in his capture, though KAKE anchor Larry Hatteberg said it did not appear the daughter turned in her father.

Parts of the profile released earlier by police seemed to match up. Investigators said they believed the killer was familiar with a professor at Wichita State University. Rader graduated from the university in 1979.

I suppose we all have times in our lives that are dramatic, overwhelming, changing the way we see someone.

I remember the first time I ever saw my paternal grandfather in the hospital, after his first minor stroke. It was the first time I'd ever realized that he was just a mere mortal, a human being with health issues, frailty, that he could, indeed, die. Life was never quite the same again, because he was more a father to me than my own father. He was the strong male figure in my life, and to know that he might perish (even though I was in my 20s, married and fairly secure), it was an emotionally painful experience.

Later, I experienced almost the same pain when my paternal grandmother had to go into the nursing home. I remember bringing her a few things she wanted around 8:00 that first night; the lights in the hallway were dim and shadowy, making me feel nervous, uneasy. When I looked into my grandmother's room, she was asleep...and a low lamplight beside her bed outlined her almost skeletal frame beneath the covers. It was a terrible shock, for I'd not realized how emaciated she'd become during the past months, even moreso while in the hospital with a broken hip. I wanted to weep, right then and there, and I remember biting my lip to keep from wailing, trying to banish her frail image. For I knew in that moment that she would not be long for the world, that I would lose the most important person in my life. She was more a mother to me than my own mother, she was my strength, my compass for moral behavior...and I found it difficult to imagine life without her in it.

Within a couple years I did lose her, and my grandfather had already been dead several years by then. Those profound moments of realization about both their frailty helped me begin to prepare emotionally for their eventual loss, though it was also difficult when those events happened. Death is never easy to accept, but sometimes one is more prepared. Such was not the case with my father's untimely death, and the shock of that took years and years of adjustment.

At any rate, this entry is about those profound moments when one realizes that life has changed, and it can never be quite the way it always had been previous to an event. I'm referring to DH's heart attack, of course, though it has been a gradual realization for me, instead of an instant, split-second understanding.

DH was doing well -- until this weekend. In the past couple of days he's complained about a pain in the calf of his leg, almost a cramp and stiffness. At first I didn't think it was important, nor did he. But then I recalled I'd read something about muscular side-effects while taking Lipitor. I looked it up again, and we both agree he is probably having one of the serious side-effects -- muscular inflammation, i.e. stiffness, pain, etc. in muscles. According to the drug information, the doctor should be notified and he should stop taking the drug. And never take any of that class of drugs. Though he's been incredibly conscientious about eating right, and I have prepared ONLY meals that strictly follow a low-fat, low-sodium diet...the Lipitor must be helping lower his cholesterol too. Neither of us knows if diet and exercise alone will control the cholesterol (with help maybe from Omega-3 Fish Oil, recommended by his cardiologist). But tomorrow he IS going to phone the cardiologist and see what she recommends about Lipitor, which I am fairly certain she will stop -- and order tests.

After DH came home from the hospital, and a short time of "recuperation/rest" he resumed his normal activities. He's always been active, and especially around this place--the horses to care for, outside tasks, etc. After his first cardiologist checkup, he was told to return to work as well. So life soon returned to normal for us. But today's discovery about the muscular problem has made me aware that life is NOT going to ever be the same.

In the first place, DH is on several medications that can either be life-saving, or have murderous side-effects. I sometimes think the "cure" is worse than the "disease" having been on the bad end of medication side-effects in the past myself.

What I have come to realize is that our relationship/marriage is about to change forever. While DH has always been the healthy, strong one, and I've been the sickly, weak one...our roles are slowly reversing. The initial shock and fear during and immediately after his heart attack and hospital stay is giving way to grudging acceptance that life has indeed changed. Oddly enough, I am starting to feel stronger though, realizing that I CAN cope, no matter what. I always thought I could NOT cope with such a situation, but I have already faced and conquered a devastating trauma -- when he had the heart attack and stent procedure. From surviving that, I learned that I can cope, though it is not easy. Slowly I'm beginning to feel the kind of steely strength that helped me cope and survive as a child of an alcoholic, as the eldest who always held everything together and was strong for my younger siblings.

I am, quite truthfully, a survivor. And I know I'll prevail, whatever the difficult situation.

Otherwise here, the roofers still haven't completed the metal roof. But they have only a small section to finish, and then it should be done. It truly is the crowning touch and has made the house look huge, larger than it did with a gray-shingle roof. I will be so glad when this last thing is done, and we will have silence instead of the constant noise of roofers overhead.

DH got a bargain in a small wooden deck/steps from someone, and moved those on his flatbed trailer Saturday. We will soon put it at the rear of the house, attached to where the back steps are now. That will give us a small deck at the rear, instead of just those steep steps.

There will always be small and large projects going on around here, whether new additions or just basic maintenance. Even if we aren't able to do these tasks, we'll hire others. That is just a given when you own a house and property.

I am reading an excellent novel, "An Act of Love" by Nancy Thayer. I love her writing, and had never read this novel. I can hardly put it down, which is something I rarely say about a novel unless it is true.

With that, I'll end this entry. I've written it on the QuickPad and will post it tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I spent an indulgent day: Went to a nearby thrift shop, looked through the stacks and racks of discarded stuff. I found two typewriters, but didn't buy either. One was a Royal electric with case; the other an electronic typewriter with daisy wheel print. Both were $9.98 each. I may return to buy those at a later time.

I also found four books, and just finished reading the book of poems. It inspired me to write this poem:

Book of Poetry

I sat down with a book
Of lonesome, ecstatic poems
And was lost in a realm
Of sad, twisted, euphoric dreams.

Poets sang in strange voices
Reader I am heard echoes
Of pain and sorrow, distant
History of humans and life
Woven together in a tapestry
Of horror and glory, anquish
Spanning centuries, alive
In written words whispering
Through time of timelessness.

I MISS being creative, and writing this poem reminded me of the joy I always find in poetry. I am hoping to start writing more often now, if at all possible. Were I living alone, I think my life would consist of nothing but writing as much as possible. Not a bad life by any means.

Today is sunny, warm, too beautiful for late February. I bought wisteria and liliac plants at a department store, and hope to put those out late this afternoon. Saturday I planted four magnolia trees, and hope they survive.

The roofers have not returned, but maybe soon they will. Ah, to have the house finished and time to do what I wish...

DH is back at work, his second day. He seemed fine yesterday afternoon, and hopefully will not let stress erode the progress he's made in eating right and taking care of himself since the heart attack. I'm not a watchdog though, and in the end, we are all responsible for how we live.

Here's two poems I found spoke to me:

The Wise Child

I couldn't wait. My childhood angered me.
It was a sickness time would cure in time,
But clocks were doctors slow to make me well.
I sulked and raged. My parents told me "play"--
I stood in the garden shouting my own name.
The noise enlarged me. I can hear it still.

At last I've come where then I longed to go.
And what's the change?--I find that I can choose
To wish for where I started. Childhood puts
Its prettiest manners on. I see the dew
Filming the lawn I stamped.
The wise child knows
Not here, not there, the perfect somewhere awaits.
--Edward Luci-Smith


Old Age Blues

What are those children so happy about?
You would think they knew,
But none of them does,
How the world no longer is what it was.

The blood has drained from most of its heart.
Only this part--
Those children there--
What can they be so blithe about?

Tell them, please, to be still and wait.
It is getting late,
And the dark comes down.
The world will never be what it was.
--Mark Van Doren

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Today is a "picture entry"...mostly stuff that has been purchased or redone lately. I also have a new hobby--collecting old typewriters, hence the two photos below of those I own now.

DH went back to work today, and I've been catching up on neglected chores. I will have more time to write a longer entry soon, I hope. Tomorrow I'm expecting the roofers to start putting on the new metal green roof...and if lucky, maybe it will be completed by Saturday. Photos surely to be posted then!

More later. For now, here's a picture essay:

1922 Corona portable typewriter Posted by Hello

1971 manual portable Brother typewriter for my collection Posted by Hello

Old bench makeover in hallway Posted by Hello

Old wardrobe makeover, with stereo speakers  Posted by Hello

New furniture in living room Posted by Hello

Slinky looking in back door Posted by Hello

My cat, Pretty, sitting on a warm spot! Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Finally we got DH's first cardiologist checkup over yesterday afternoon, and we are SO happy. She said that he is doing well, and in fact, told him he could get back to his normal activities. That was such a HUGE relief, both of us just felt like a big burden was lifted off our shoulders.

Mostly she explained a lot of details about his heart attack: it was in a small vein, but there was a big artery that was starting to block. Giving him the clot-buster shots alleviated some of that big artery blockage, but if he'd not gotten to the ER when he did, the clot in the large artery would have blocked it and he might have died. Goodness, we were lucky to get there in time, and have such excellent care in the ER!! She also said that DH's surgeon in Birmingham put stents in the large artery and small vein, so there should be no trouble in those areas. Especially with medication, which she will adjust as time goes on after bloodwork. If his diet helps lower cholesterol, he may be able to get off lipitor in a year. For now, she wants him to stay on several medications to help his heart work better/less hard. He will go back in three months for more tests, and she'll keep checking for improvements or any problems with stress tests, EKGs and blood tests. She did say that DH's heart shows no enlargement, so that is very good.

We went out to eat and celebrate at a local restaurant, and I helped DH choose some healthy food. We're trying to determine what fast food and/or restaurants have fat-free choices so he can eat right at lunch when he returns to work next week.

More good news: we got the insurance statements from DH's hospital bills...and we only had to pay the $100.00 deductible! That trip to the ER and overnight stay cost $28,000.00!!!! Thank goodness for Blue Cross! Knowing that takes a huge burden off our shoulders too, since we were not sure insurance would cover all the bills.

The roofers have been here the past three days, and they have almost finished all the sofit trim and will start putting up custom-made gutters tomorrow. The green metal for the roof won't come in until next Tuesday, but I am very pleased with their work so far. I'll be sure to take a photo when it's all done. This is the 'crowning touch' and we can't wait to have it ALL finished!!!

Yesterday we went shopping for a new living room suit; when visitors came, we just didn't have enough seating in this living room. DH said if I'd pick out one, he'd pay for it out of his sell/trade that's what I did. We bought a new sofa, loveseat and recliner. Today it was delivered, but we also got my nephew to help with arranging it and moving out the old sofa/chairs. I love it, and now if we have company, at least there'll be enough seats! We put the old set in the sunroom, which looks nice too.

Life is good right now--but again, I'm always a bit apprehensive about being too happy, since I fear something bad is just around the corner. I certainly hope not. Next week after DH returns to work, maybe I can get back to a normal routine and get some writing done.

For now, I'm enjoying my time with DH -- and trying to live with the noise of a crew of roofers crawling all over the housetop! :-)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

More on diet today...southern style. Yes, my grandmother and mother cooked with pure lard. Yuck. Yes, I did mostly eat fried food as a child, but stopped that when I was a teen because, among other vices, I became obsessed with being slim then. An obsession I maintain to this day.

Not wanting to cook also had a good deal to do with how I avoided learning the southern style of food preparation. Of course, DH also grew up eating lard-cooked foods. No doubt that is what the heart surgeon was referring to when he stated that DH's condition, "Didn't happen overnight; it took a lifetime to get to this point."

Since I hated to cook, I found out that shoving something in the oven (wrapped in aluminum foil or on a rack) was easier and that is basically how I cooked meats. IF I did fry, I used vegetable oil. And that is how I've cooked since we were first married. But DH still loved that greasy food, and got his "fix" at the fast food places instead. Not that I never ate out, I did...and I also bought deserts too high in fat, I'm sure.

Regardless, I found this following article to be interesting and informative regarding the South:

Southern Diet Frustrates Health Officials

Feb 14, 10:35 AM (ET)


DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - Amid a national obesity epidemic and the South's infamous distinction as the "Stroke Belt," health officials have been trying to get diners to flinch, at least a little, at the region's trademark fried and fatty foods.

But nutritionists have found it's hard to teach an old region new tricks. How can Southerners give up delicious staples fried chicken, fried seafood, fried green tomatoes and cornbread slathered in butter?

Even at the Atlanta headquarters of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leader of the nation's anti-obesity campaign, the cafeteria serves up such artery-clogging regional favorites as biscuits and gravy.

CDC nutritionist Annie Carr said the agency is working to get its house in order by pushing the cafeteria to serve popular foods in healthy ways. The broader goals of the anti-obesity campaign are to educate people to cook with less fat and sugar and to promote the idea of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

And for the South, that doesn't mean vegetables and greens flavored with bacon and meat drippings.

"I don't think anything is wrong with the kind of vegetables we eat in the South - it's the way they are prepared," said former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, the interim president of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, who grew up eating traditional Southern staples on a farm in Alabama. "We need more fruits and vegetables in our diet."

When Becky Cleaveland is out with her girlfriends, they all pick at salads except for the petite Atlanta woman. She tackles "The Hamdog."

The dish, a specialty of Mulligan's, a suburban bar, is a hot dog wrapped by a beef patty that's deep fried, covered with chili, cheese and onions and served on a hoagie bun. Oh yeah, it's also topped with a fried egg and two fistfuls of fries.

"The owner says I'm the only girl who can eat a whole one without flinching," Cleaveland said proudly.

Health officials' concerns with healthy eating in the South date back to 1962, when the CDC noted a large concentration of counties with high stroke death rates in the coastal states of North and South Carolina and Georgia. More than three decades later, the high stroke rates in that region seem to have shifted west to counties along the Mississippi River Delta.

Health officials have spent thousands of dollars on grants to promote healthy eating, including sending nutritionists into community centers and churches. The food experts introduce healthier cooking practices, such as alternatives to frying and methods that reduce the fat in gravy and sauces. But those efforts have found resistance from some cooks who say the healthier recipes alter the taste of their dishes.

"Flavor is a big issue - when you modify Southern cooking, then you lose a lot of the flavor," said Laurita Burley, a clinical nutrition instructor at the Morehouse School of Medicine. "The reputation of the Southern cook is at risk when you begin to modify it."

Much of the South's traditional foods date back to the days of slavery. Frying was preferable in the region's hot climate, since it didn't take as long as baking and didn't heat up a house as much. Plus, Burley said, workers didn't have all day to prepare meals; they had to get back into the fields to work. Lard was also plentiful. Today, frying still is popular, especially in poor areas of the South, because it is also inexpensive.

While it's quick, easy and adds flavor, frying loads ordinarily healthy foods with calories and fat.

"One of the common things in the South is that you fry everything," said Dr. Nicholas Lang, chief of staff of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock. "It's a major grease-transport mechanism - there's no idea how much calories you get when you get that."

Other research has found that frying, grilling and smoking certain foods can cause chemical reactions within the food that can increase the risk of cancer.

"The best advice is to fry less and to eat their meat medium rather than well-done - and do like their momma said and add vegetables," said Lang, also a professor of surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Back at Mulligan's in Decatur, owner Chandler Goff is quick to point out that the bar also offers healthy alternatives, such as salads and sandwiches that aren't deep-fried.

But he acknowledged that the "Hamdog" and the "Luther Burger," a bacon-cheeseburger served on a Krispy Kreme doughnut bun, are what draw attention.

As for Cleaveland, she says she doesn't think about cholesterol. "I probably should, but I do not. I'm only 25, maybe later." For now, she's able to maintain her 5-foot-7, 115-pound physique without regular exercise.

Regardless of age, Lang doesn't recommend the Hamdog, even as a one-time snack.

"If you choke that down, you might as well find a heart surgeon because you are going to need one."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Life is moving along almost normally here, with the exception of a vastly different diet eliminating most fat and sodium -- which is NOT easy. DH seems to be steadily improving, but he is also somewhat depressed in that he has finally realized that life will not ever be quite the same again. We're both anxious to find out what his first cardiologist checkup will show next Wednesday, and perhaps whether therapy will be in order to determine the level of activity he can safely return to.

Let me also state that I am NOT on a mission to ban fast food such as burgers, fries, etc. from the public. Quite the contrary, I firmly believe in CHOICE; if you want to eat such food, you should be able to. If, however, you go to a fast food place you should also have the option of OTHER healthy stuff too. And I am sure that things are moving in that direction.

Don't think trans-fat is a problem for you? Here's a link you might find sobering:

Ban Trans-fats

An excerpt from the website:

"By our most conservative estimate, replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the U.S. diet with natural unhydrogenated vegetable oils would prevent approximately 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year, and epidemiologic evidence suggests this number is closer to 100,000 premature deaths annually."

Nothing in our food supply is more dangerous than trans fatty acids ("trans fats") that are produced by the partial hydrogenation of oils. Yet partially hydrogenated oils are used in thousands of products, including cakes, cookies, other baked goods, many diet and "health" foods, and in most restaurants.

If the 100,000 figure is correct, then an average of 274 people are dying each day from consuming trans fats. On top of that, there are a far greater number of non-fatal but terrifying and damaging heart attacks caused by trans fats, not to mention other health problems.

This group has just won a major lawsuit against MacDonalds:

McDonald's to Pay $8.5M in Trans Fat Suit

Feb 11, 9:28 PM (ET)

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (AP) - McDonald's Corp. (MCD) will pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the fast-food giant of failing to inform consumers of delays in a plan to reduce fat in the cooking oil used for its popular french fries and other foods., a nonprofit advocacy group, sued McDonald's in California state court in 2003, alleging the company did not effectively disclose to the public that it had not switched to a healthier cooking oil.

In September 2002, McDonald's announced it would lower trans fat in its cooking oils and said the switch would be completed in five months. In February 2003, McDonald's announced a delay. The lawsuit accused the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company of failing to adequately inform consumers of that delay.

The agreement announced Wednesday requires McDonald's to pay $7 million to the American Heart Association to use the proceeds to educate the public about trans fats in foods. Heart-clogging trans fat is made when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil - a process called hydrogenation.

Wednesday's settlement also requires McDonald's to spend $1.5 million publicizing that it has not followed through on its 2002 pledge.

Additionally, the company will pay $7,500 to and $7,500 to Katherine Fettke, who had filed a separate complaint against McDonald's and has also agreed to settle.

McDonald's has reduced the amount of trans fat in its Chicken McNuggets, Crispy Chicken and McChicken sandwiches, said spokesman Walt Riker.

He said the company is working to reduce trans fat in its other fried foods.

"We're continuing to test. We want to make sure we get it right for our customers," he said.

I realize that there are various kinds of heart trouble and heart attacks. I myself have always had an abnormally fast heart rhythm, and it was discovered back when I was 23 and having major kidney problems. I've been on Inderal since age 28, and still have occasional heart rhythm trouble, feeling my heart beat so fast it makes me breathless. I think eventually I'll probably need a pacemaker. I know this does come from a genetic link in my family. But DH had NO history of heart problems in either side of his family; therefore, one must conclude it was high stress, poor diet with lots of fat, lack of appropriate aerobic exercise AND the years and years he smoked long ago. He gave up smoking at age 35, but had smoked since he was around age 15. There is no doubt those factors all played a part in his heart attack and condition -- narrowing of the veins/arteries, as well as the clogs in his heart that caused the heart attack.

We have also made progress on speeding up the final project for this house. We got an estimate Monday on having a green metal roof with sofit trim and gutters installed by a crew, and they started on it yesterday. If there's not much rain next week, maybe that will be finished in a couple weeks. We wanted to get this done, since it is the LAST project on the house itself. Should we have to sell it and move, we'd get maybe double what we invested in this place. I hope we don't have to do that, but then again, it takes serious work to keep up five acres of pasture, horses and several outbuildings. If DH is unable to do this, then we can sell the place and move back to town -- either in our house there, or buy another home and keep renting our other house in town.

We also got our taxes done, and will get back over $2,000.00 which is good news. The rental house didn't cause us to pay in anything, so that means we can keep that income.

At any rate, life goes on here. Only time will tell how this all turns out, I suppose. I'm looking for a visit from my sister and brother-in-law later this afternoon, and that should be relaxing.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I will "cut to the chase" or, in other words give you the lesson learned in this traumatic event in my life: You eat lots of fast food with high fat content, have a stressful job, but NO genetic history of heart disease in your family? Ever smoked, but quit, and you're male past the age of 45? Chances are very, very high that, you WILL have either a stroke or heart attack brought on by high cholesterol, lack of focused aerobic activity -- and if it happens at the wrong time (i.e. you are alone, asleep, otherwise unable to get help) you will probably die.

Fortunately, DH's heart attack happened at a time when I was with him, and could drive him to the ER. We SHOULD have called an ambulance, but frankly, neither of us were sure he was actually having a heart attack. He had just finished some hard physical labor, and felt a pain between his shoulders, as well as heaviness in his chest. We thought he'd strained a muscle in his back, or that he had indigestion. However, when I made him lie down flat on his back (to help relieve pain if it was muscular) the pain got worse. I then wanted to call an ambulance, but he insisted we go by car.

It was only a ten minute drive to the nearest ER, but I made it in less, I'm sure. And I don't drive well at night, not at all. At any rate, when we got to the ER, I pulled in and he got out. I parked the car, and by the time I got inside the building, DH was already being treated. I did not leave him for the next three hours, since a cardiologist (whom he'd seen a couple of times already for high blood pressure, but who had NOT given him a stress test) was reading the EKG and said he was not having a heart attack at the moment of arrival, but it started as she stood there. So she ordered two "clot-buster" shots, and though DH had had morphine, he was still having pain. When the first clot-buster hit, it brought him some relief; by the time the second clot-buster reached his heart, he got complete relief.

Within the next thirty minutes he was stable, and moved to ICU. When I was SURE he was stable, I drove back home, put away the food/dishes off the table (we'd just sat down to our evening meal) and then called family.

From then until the ordeal was over, several days later, I felt I was in the "twilight zone." I had a disconnect from reality, as if all of the events were happening to someone else. Except when I felt overwhelming anxiety and had panic attacks. The panic attacks were horrible, my heart feeling heavy, tingling in the arms/hands/feet, and almost fainting. I had some Buspar that my family physician had prescribed long ago, and it got me through the week.

DH was taken by ambulance Monday morning to a metropolitan city hospital 50+ miles away. I was in no condition to drive, so my sister and her husband picked me up and stayed that day. My other sister and brother-in-law arrived while we were waiting for DH's dye cath procedure to be finished. After that, the doctor said they'd either do stents or bypass surgery. I have never been so relieved in my life as I was when they said he only needed stents, not a bypass. But he had FIVE stents inserted, and may at some future time need another two.

My sister and I spent a sleepless night there in his hospital room, but he progressed so well we went home around 1:00 the next day. We had to drive out of that hellish interstate system with three lanes of traffic, a nightmare. I honestly don't know how people drive in that kind of traffic every day to work. I would have been dead long ago from stress if I had to do that on a daily basis.

We made it home and I was SO glad to finally, finally get some rest. I returned the next day with my other sister and brother-in-law to pick up DH, and we were both happy to come home, be it ever so humble.

DH will be off work at least two weeks, and has a checkup with the cardiologist then. If he is still doing as well as he has been so far, he'll return to work. He is on five different medications, and seems to be adjusting to them well. Perhaps he may be taken off one or more, if his diet helps.

He is on a low-fat, low-sodium diet -- and ironically, that is how I usually eat anyway, since I've always been very, very weight-health conscious. He never liked following such a diet, and in fact, always chided me about not eating enough. Most of the meals here at home were low-fat, if not low sodium. I never ate out except maybe once a month, but DH ate at fast food places every day of the week. Lots of fat, high salt/sodium content, etc. NOT GOOD.

I suppose what threw us off is that there is NO genetic history in his family, on either side, of heart attacks, or heart disease. So much for genetics! Sometimes it can simply give you a false sense of security -- and permission to eat lousy/unhealthy and not heed the medical warnings about the consequences of a poor diet.

I told DH that from now on, HERE at home he will get the RIGHT kind of diet. What he does when he returns to work is up to him. I can't watch him, check what he eats, though I will try to learn if ANY fast food place has a heart-healthy choice. Other than that, he's on his own. If he wants to die soon, he can ignore the doctor's orders; if he wants to live into his 70s, he'll have to change his diet. And he will also have an opportunity to do therapy -- monitored sustained exercise to see how his heart is doing. He DID get exercise with all the work we've been doing, plus his horses and outside activity. However, that is NOT the same as sustained aerobic exercise, such as biking, swimming, running, which exerts the heart and forces blood to pump. As this journal proves, I've been serious about aerobic exercise all my life, and even moreso in the past five years with daily biking, etc.

I don't know how it will go. Thus far, DH has been good about eating right and not overdoing. I suppose we'll know as time passes. Fortunately the retirement program is now set up so that I will have full benefits if he should die. I just hope he's around long enough to enjoy a retirement -- though according to the new program, it will be at least three years before he can take it.

This is a life-changing experience, but I am feeling much stronger with each day. I've had so much illness myself that it is truly a new experience for DH to be ill instead of myself. I don't mind taking care of him, as long as he is willing and agreeable, which he has been.

Only time will tell...but I'm guardedly optimistic for now.

Oh yeah, and about "fast food," when I was in the hospital we had to eat, of course. We go down to the cafeteria/vendors, and what do we find? Why, there's several "fast food" stalls, everyone chowing down like cows on their cuds. It nearly made me sick to my stomach. At least spare us fast food in a hospital where heart problems are being taken care of which were partly CAUSED by the VERY thing they are offering! Also, there were NO decaff drinks in the machines, and I was literally bouncing off the walls after having to consume several simply to wet my parched mouth.

Here's a recent article on that very topic, and I say hurrah to this hospital!

Hospitals Grapple With Serving Fast Food

January 3, 2005

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Andrew Hudnall stared at his lunch and agonized about whether his doctor might be unhappy with him. The 57-year-old heart patient had just bought a chicken sandwich from McDonald's -- in the food court of the Cleveland Clinic, renowned for its research into heart disease. Even so, he said he agrees with efforts by the clinic's leading doctors to get some fast-food franchises out of the building.

Pizza Hut has already left. Nine others remain, including McDonald's and Subway. At a time when two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting their hearts and arteries at grave risk, health officials and physicians are urging people to be watch their weight and eat healthier.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

In my last entry I was so happy -- but DID fear that something bad would ruin the happiness.

It sure did. DH had a heart attack Sunday night.

I've spent a hectic, stressful two days...but at least DH seems to be out of trouble. He had to have FIVE stints put in his heart, to open up clogged arteries. May have to have a couple more in the future, depending on whether he eats right, exercises (aerobic) and takes his medication.

I'm a walking zombie, since I've only slept 4 hours in the past two nights. I'm home now, and hope to get a good night's sleep before I completely collapse. DH should be released tomorrow by noon, if all goes well.

I am cursed, it seems. Or have bad karma. Whatever. Just very depressed now, trying to cope.

More when I can think clearly, have had some rest/sleep.