Wednesday, November 19, 2014

An update on yours truly

As you may recall, I'm a post-partum cardiomyopathy survivor. This is a fancy way of saying, I'm a mom who went into congestive heart failure during pregnancy, almost died and is still living with heart failure. You can find my PPCM story here and you can read about my exciting pacemaker/defibrillator journey here.


I had my one year post-implant cardiology appointment yesterday. It was a 3.5 hour, emotionally draining appointment.

First, I met with the pacemaker reps, who checked my readings for the last 8 months. I didn't realize what an invasive feeling that would be. It's just heart rhythm charts, but it's your heart story from the last 8 months. It's weird. Then when only halfway through, the rep found something interesting...and called another rep in. (Always, a comforting thing).

Then I was asked what I did on July 19th, as I had some "noise" in the morning. This freaked me out, because I have trouble remembering what I did the day before. Then I realized I didn't even know what "noise" was. After learning, noise is an external force that sends warning type signals to defibrillators, I didn't feel any better. What the hell was I doing? Was I drunk and playing with metal detectors? And while I knew that wasn't the case (as classy ladies do not get drunk in the morning and I have no access to a metal detector), that's all I could think about when the rep figured it out.

"This is completely random, but did you happen to be swimming or at Lake of the Ozarks?"

And that's when I remembered. Brent, Audrey and I went up to Stockton Lake that day to go sailing with some family friends. That morning, while the boat was being cleaned – we were swimming in the marina. Apparently, while I had happy memories of this day, my defibrillator reported a different story – as it was picking up faulty electricity on somebody's boat. I was assured that while I was fine this time around, I could very well get shocked the next time. Awesome.

Then came my least favorite part, my device going through all its rhythm options. My device is fancy and offers 12 different heart rhythm/pacing options. (Well, really 11 now, because one them brought my to the ER because the wire is on a nerve causing me to spasm every 10 seconds. Just a tad awkward for day-to-day functioning). The rhythm test lasts about 5 minutes, and in that time your heart beat keeps on changing. It's strange and it leaves me exhausted several hours later. But I'm now rocking a completely new heart rhythm...so I guess that's exciting?

Next came my appointment with Dr. M. I'll be honest, I've been dreading this appointment because I haven't been feeling better lately. I've actually been more tired, lowish-energy, dizzy, lightheaded and out of breath than usual. With heart failure, these are not good symptoms to acquire. His solution was increasing the dosage of the only medicine I wasn't maxed out on. But he wanted to see what my echo would bring.

I spent the 30-minute echo preparing for the worst and trying not to cry.

And then Dr. M came back into my room, and told me something I never expected to hear.

"Your results are great. Actually outstanding. You're at 50-55%, and in healthy heart function."

I processed this for a few seconds, and then started sobbing some ugly tears. Of the PPCM survivors who do recover, the majority recover within the first year. That first year I only recovered 6%, followed by 11% the second year. The fact that I went up 15-20% my third year is just unbelievable.

As for my unfavorable side effects, I'm on too much medication now. The new plan is to divide my medications between day and night and see if that helps at all. Cutting back on medications too soon is a risky way to relapse, so that is a last case scenario.

There's no guarantee I'll get all my energy back or feel like old self ever again. And I'll probably be on medications the rest of my life. But I now have a normal life expectancy, and my pacemaker/defibrillator surgery now feels completely worth it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Because I don't have enough ornaments

My mom and I did one of my new favorite holiday traditions today: a visit to Hallmark Corporate to take advantage of her employee discount.

Between her 50% discount in the Hallmark Store and 75% discount in the Double Discount store, I typically go a little nuts. But all my spending from previous years has earned me a rather impressive gift wrap and ornament collection, so this year I decided to tone it out and spent less than half of what I usually do.

$45 later, and I'm rather proud of myself.

Pretty Pink Trike: I saw this ornament and thought it was fate, because Audrey is asking (well, writing) Santa for a pink tricycle this year.


Boba Fett: Two years ago, I got Brent the first ornament in the LEGO Star Wars series as a stocking stuffer. Now it's apparently a tradition.


Season's Treatings: I absolutely adore this series. It is so cute and looks adorable on my kitchen tree.


Sweet Treat Penguin: Because I can't not get a penguin ornament.


In addition to the ornaments, we hit up the Double Discount store, and I got these goodies.


I'm so excited about Santa's workshop! I've been wanting to do some sort of mini Christmas village, but everything I've seen is too traditional. This will be perfect.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Audrey's bedroom

I don't know when Audrey's room changed from a nursery to a bedroom.

Earlier this year we ditched the changing pad, opening up the dresser for actual accessories – and that felt like a huge milestone. Then two weeks ago, we put the toddler rail on Audrey's crib. I kept doubting this decision, but she was SO excited about her "big girl" bed, and spent the rest of the day reading books in her book.

I don't feel like a lot has changed with Audrey's room, but at the same time everything has. Audrey's room finally looks lived in, and I'm happy with the direction it's going.

When you walk in
2012:


2014:


The glider
2012:


2014:



The dresser
2012:

2014:


2012:

2014:


I love the toy area now. It is so colorful and fun. Audrey is starting to like playing in her room, so I wanted there to be a variety of toys with lots of storage options.



I also wanted a wall to display her art, which is a mixture of her Papa Ken's and local art fairs. The cupcake one at the top was one she picked out this summer.


I know at some point she'll be begging for a pink princess room (or some other concept I dread), but until then, I am enjoy her bedroom to the fullest.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Purge: Magazines

One task for my purge is addressing the disaster that is my kitchen Expedit shelf.



Aside from going through the entire thing, my goal is to open up one cube, so I can start putting dog treats in it, which in return will give me more cabinet space. Full circle...or triangle.

I started with the easiest/most time consuming task: magazines. Aside from the magazines on the top shelf, there's magazines in the basket to the left of the shelf as well. I had just a few.



So, I went through each magazine and tore out recipes I'd like to try.



From there, I found the recipe online and pinned it for my food board on Pinterest.

It feels so good to ditch all those magazines.

For all the little things

I've recently become obsessed with Savers. Once I got over the smell of thrift store (and realized the store was worth my allergies acting up), I discovered the joy of children's books for only $0.69 each (with buy four, get one free on top of it)...and coupons. Audrey is a major bookworm, and I embrace that every chance I get by adding to her book collection. So I quickly fell in love.

Yesterday, I decided to venture past the book region, and discovered a small printer's drawer for $2.99.



Spoiler alert: I bought it.

I had a full-size printer's drawer in my room as a child and loved it. I collected "little things," and showed off my prized possessions with pride above my desk.

And Audrey loves her little things as well. When I got home, I painted it pink with some craft paint.

Audrey was so excited about it, so started playing with it right away by putting her Hello Kitties to sleep in it.



And while it's not in Audrey's use...



You are my cupcake

Seriously. I can't believe it took me this long to do this...or that I had 5 half empty baking cup containers.


Friday, October 31, 2014

The Purge: My Dresser

I love organizing, but that love has never extended to my dresser. I think it's because I know a lost-cause when I see it. The issue is I have annoying attachments to things in there, and so items always stay – leading to drawers stuffed full of clothes that are impossible to open.


So I figured, why not start with the dresser now before the thought of organizing makes me stabby.

Drawer 1
My earring drawer was an easy place to start, because it always stays organized (thank you ice cube trays for giving me a place to put everything).


Drawers 2 & 3
These two drawers contain necklaces, rings, bracelets, "fancy" jewelry and jewelry boxes. 

I was amazing at how much I either didn't want or needed to relocate.


The items in these two drawers rarely get used, which made me question why I'm giving it two drawers. So I decided to consolidate, and give the extra drawer to my tank tops, which I use most days. (All my tank tops are waiting to be washed, so that drawer is enpty at the moment).


Drawer 4 and 5
These are my undergarments drawers. Let's just trust that I went through them.

Drawer 6
This is myAshley fail. I forgot to take a before of my workout clothes drawer. This is the drawer all my tank tops are usually in though, which freed up a lot of space – so I decided to move my sports bras here.


Drawer 7
I only wear socks on 3 occasions: 1. when I'm in bed and my feet are cold; 2. when wearing boots; 3. when it snows. Yet, here is my overflowing sock drawer.

My really gross sock drawer. I had no idea how many pilly and faded socks I owned (probably because I rarely wear them). I got rid of a bag full of socks.

Even more baffling, I had 6 pairs of hospital socks in my drawer. Apparently, I'm subconsciously keeping them as mementos from all my exciting ER visits. (And if you're counting, yes I know there's only 5 in the picture, but I found another about 30 minutes later in my PJ drawer...yeah, no idea).

I decided to keep my yellow ones, because they make me giggle. The summer after my heart diagnosis, I was hospitalized with pneumonia – I had Brent go home and pack me a bag and requested my yellow hospital socks, because the beige ones provided were ugly. Soon after, the hospital staff started freaking out when I was walking on my own. Come to find out that yellow socks is their code for fall risks. Oops.

Anyway, all 5 beige hospital socks are now with my grandma, who is rather excited about my donation. And I'm excited about my new, spacious sock drawer.



Drawers 8 & 9
This is Drawer 8, PJ pant drawer, which usually contains extra t-shirts that can't fit into Drawer 9. This leads to everything in the drawer being extra wrinkly.

And this is my overflowing t-shirt drawer.

I had t-shirts I wore when I was pregnant and t-shirts I wore when I was several sizes smaller in there – yep, time to say goodbye.


My new just PJs drawer:


My new t-shirt drawer:


I know I have a long ways to go in my purge, but just having this one thing done feels so amazing. I can't wait to do more.