Heart/wrecked

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Like a ship that runs aground because of low tide or unseen rocks or fog or navigational errors, our beautiful heart can be damaged when blood flow is restricted or when it flows unregulated.

Heart/wrecked.

I grew up hearing the term, “Stress kills.”

I was never quite sure what that meant, but then I did when it happened to me.

After a seemingly nonstop barrage of a personal stressful situation–like a ship hitting the rocks over and over again–it all finally took an undeniable toll on my physical health.

One of my favorite places to live is in the state of Denial, but I’ve been forced to temporarily move to a new town called Reality. Hopefully, I’ll just visit there for a bit until I can come home again.

After experiencing some intermittent and strangely terrifying heart pains, I went to the doc who took my blood pressure and was concerned about the results. It was super high. I had always had enviably LOW blood pressure since I exercise regularly, am vegan and never smoked, so this raised concerns.

Over the course of a couple weeks, my BP was checked daily and it stayed consistently high; dangerously high, which only made me more anxious and more stressed, and at one of the office visits, I started hyperventilating and had a panic attack. (Super embarrassing for the doc and absolutely mortifying for me.)

This led to an order for an Echocardiogram along with all the other heart-focused tests. The echo was done at a local hospital–a definite trigger. No one wants to go to a hospital at any time, but especially during Covid. It seemed like I was being admitted, with a wrist band and lots of little stickers, and I was devastated.

I almost bolted out of the front door at that point, but I persevered. I can share with you that it’s a scary time when you have to figure out why you don’t feel great. I’ve been a medical advocate for several loved ones, but it’s radically more difficult when you have to care for yourself. Poor me.

The technician was amazing, especially considering I tormented her with a million questions. I know enough about medical stuff to see that she was concentrating on a certain area of my heart. I really appreciated her patience with me and her detailed explanations during the hour-long ordeal.

The results showed a dilated aortic root valve and regurgitation of the mitral valve.

Risk Adjustment Coding Academy- Coding Focus

What this means is that the accumulation of stress and panic attacks and PTSD that I’ve endured during the last four years manifested medically and physically and caused structural damage to my heart.

Mitral valve regurgitation - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

“Severe physical or emotional stress increases blood pressure to the point where the tensile limit of the aortic tissue is overwhelmed, causing the rupture.”

“Over time, certain conditions, such as high blood pressure, can cause your heart to work harder, gradually enlarging your heart’s left ventricle.”

“Mitral valve regurgitation can cause complications such as atrial fibrillation, in which the atria of the heart don’t contract well. This leads to increased risk of stroke. Also, elevated blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary artery hypertension).”

Hypertension makes the blood push harder against the valve and causes it to dilate, enlarge, and that’s pretty much the same scenario for the mitral valve, which seems to be the cause of the intermittent chest pain.

I’ll need to be monitored regularly because if I can’t control the stress/blood pressure and the valves stretch to a dangerous size, the only solution is surgical intervention–or death.

Reducing stress and hypertension can possibly keep the valves from enlarging any further, but the damage is done–nothing will make them reduce in size back to normal, except surgery.

Let me tell you that it’s true. Stress kills.

Now I’m off to change course, take some magnesium, eat more beets, meditate, calm down and regulate my breathing so that I don’t have a stroke or an aneurysm.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Heart/wrecked.

Shipwrecked.

Call Me Dr. Rosebud

After all this time, after all my injuries, once again I accurately diagnosed a medical issue.

Last March I did a deep weighted squat and felt something pop in my right knee. My stubborn self chose to overlook the subsequent discomfort and stoically carry on.

We need a backstory here...This is the same knee that was injured when I carelessly pulled a full and very topheavy garden waste trash can to the street, blithely ignoring the fact that the wheels were tangled up in fruit tree netting.

I mean, for a split second the thought crossed my mind that I should probably untangle it before I rolled it down the hilly driveway but I did not.

So…as you can probably guess, my feet became entwined in the netting which then pulled the heavy can down on me, twisting my leg and knee beneath it.

I know, I know. I’m not bright, also extremely impatient.

Once I deduced that my knee/leg wasn’t broken, I iced it for a while and endured the pain on the lateral side of my knee. A few months later, I had some physical therapy which actually seemed to help and I was back to normal movement.

And that’s how I ended up doing a weighted squat. Again, I iced it and figured it would take a while to heal, whatever it was, but this time there was no specific pain location. I wore a brace and compression sleeve and that didn’t really help.

Finally, I was able to pinpoint the pain, did my research and thought it was a medial meniscus tear along with an inflamed bursa, right below the knee.

I waited a really long time before telling my doctor (too stubborn to admit defeat), but when the pain wouldn’t subside, I did. She ordered an x-ray and when the results were unremarkable, she ordered an MRI, the appropriate course of action.

That was my first ever MRI. For me, it was a pleasant experience, probably because only my legs were in the machine.

The results came back as I had predicted:

  1. There is a complex meniscal tear involving the posterior horn of the medial meniscus.
  2. Severe chondromalacia involving the lateral patellar facet (also known as Runner’s Knee)
  3. Mild joint effusion. (I believe it’s the pes anserine bursa.)

Now I have an appointment with the same orthopedic office where I’ve often visited for other dumb accidental broken bones and torn ligaments.

SIGH.

Just call me Doctor Rosebud BUT don’t be like me and wait months suffering before seeing a professional!

Magical Full Snow Moon

An unexpected marriage of art + photography.

Since I can’t draw any better than an average two-year-old, this is the closest I’ll ever get to creating art. It reminds me of The Joy of Painting’s Bob Ross and his “happy little trees”, only these appear rather gloomy and vague; evocative of nature’s dark night of the soul.

I don’t know how my phone managed to capture this image. I attempted to get a pic of the full moon between the branches of my eucalyptus tree and ended up with what appears to be a glimpse into the portal leading toward a shadowy otherworld.

This full moon is in Leo and since Leo is ruled by the sun, our INNER LIGHT will shine brightly.

I think I’ll print and frame, I love it that much!

House Finch Invasion

I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and looked out at an amazing sight. There were literally dozens of chirpy birds invading my garden, SO MANY I couldn’t even count them all.

They’re easy to identify as House Finches.

According to AllAboutBirds.org,  If House Finches discover your feeders, they might bring flocks of fifty or more birds with them. They did!

I no longer have feeders because of my arch nemeses, RATS, so what they’re feasting on here is actually an invasive species, a Brazilian Pepper tree that somehow sprouted into the neighbor’s yard and they didn’t get rid of it like we did.

The House Finch is a recent introduction from western into eastern North America (and Hawaii). Males boast cheerful red breasts and their distinctive long, twittering song.

The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next fifty years.

There’s no way I could capture as many as there are, but I’d say definitely more than fifty of these lovely red breasted birds are visiting Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

The red of a male House Finch comes from pigments contained in its food during molt (birds can’t make bright red or yellow colors directly). So the more pigment in the food, the redder the male.

This makes sense because they’re eating red berries from the pepper tree.

They stayed for about an hour, saturating my world with their most delightful song and chirpy calls to friends and family. Every tree in the garden is full of these guys as well the rosemary and lavender bushes.

I’ve never seen anything like this. For me, It’s as exciting as spotting a pod of whales or dolphin. I’m grateful they chose my garden to visit. Pure joy!

The Sun is Not My Friend

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Not again!

During my biannual visit with my dermatologist, she saw something she didn’t like, took a biopsy, and just called with the results…

This time it was squamous cell carcinoma, or as the report states: atypical squamous proliferation.

Previously, it was basel cell malignancy, and before that it was a basel/squamous combo, so I’m no stranger to this kind of diagnosis.

That means I’ll have to undergo another procedure to remove all the offending cells.

While the actual procedure isn’t painful, the healing IS, and since it’s on my back, it’s in a tough position for wound care and sleeping, which totally sucks.

Once again, all those summers of baby oil and cocoa butter for six hour tanning sessions on the beach have taken their toll.

Another PSA: Don’t be like me; wear hats and sunscreen and don’t forget the importance of a yearly skin check. Thank goodness for my eagle-eyed dermatologist!

Another Tragedy: Justice for Tyre Nichols

Not another one. Not another incredibly anguished murder of another young man by police. My heart goes out to his family.

It’s bad enough that we had THREE mass shootings in California last week in three separate locations – it’s unfathomable to think of all the random violence, but this young man did not deserve to suffer the way he did, calling out for his mom with his last breath. It’s heartbreaking and disgusting at the same time.

I’m posting the following from https://msnewsgroup.com/

So much has been talked about in regards to the death of Tyre Nichols. Rightfully so. But let’s talk about his life:

He was a son and a friend. He liked to skateboard. He worked at FedEx and he was a self described aspiring photographer.

He posted the following on his photography website:

Hey guys,
My name is Tyre D. Nichols. I am an aspiring photographer. Well I mostly do this stuff for fun but i enjoy it very much. Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways i cannot write down for people. I take different types of photograhy, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite.. landscape photography. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what i am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the “norm” and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what i see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work. So on that note enjoy my page and let me know what you think.
Your friend,
-Tyre D. Nichols

This picture below was posted by Tyre Nichols on a photography website he designed.

Here is a link… https://thiscaliforniakid2.wixsite.com/tnicholsph…/fashion

May be an image of nature, body of water and bridge

Sticks on Fire

On an early morning walk before the rain started (yes, we’re getting more sky water!), I spied this colorfully striking succulent.

Sticks on Fire, sometimes called Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli), is a shrubby succulent with bright red, pink, orange, or yellow stems.

The more sun it gets, the more ‘fiery’ it appears. The sap of this plant is sticky/milky and may cause irritation to skin as there are mild toxins.  

Many succulents in the euphorbia genus, such as the pencil cactus and crown of thorns, are also poisonous to both cats and dogs. Symptoms of poisoning from ingesting this succulent range from gastrointestinal upset to skin and eye irritation.

I made it home just in time! That’s not a speck on your screen, it’s an airplane heading to our local airport.

A Lake and A Fairy Boat

This is everything

A Lake And A Fairy Boat

A lake and a fairy boat
To sail in the moonlight clear, –
And merrily we would float
From the dragons that watch us here!

Thy gown should be snow-white silk
And strings of oriental pearls,
Like gossamers dipped in milk,
Should twine with thy raven curls!

Red rubies should deck thy hands,
And diamonds should be thy dower –
But fairies have broke their wands,
And wishing has lost its power!

By Thomas Hood

Curated from Snowwolfs Woodland Nook
Artist: Charlotte Bird

Crows, Crows, and MORE Crows!


Kids really do listen to everything we say, that’s absolutely true.

One time I looked up as a crow flew by and said, “Hello, cousin!”

Angel Girl asked me why I said that, and I told her that crows are very smart and that I feel they’re like family to me.

The next time we saw crows fly by, she pointed and said, “There goes one of your cousins, Grandma!”

Mom asked her why she said that, and Angel Girl told her all the crows in the whole world are Grandma’s cousins, which is a great thing to her because she loves her own cousins.

The best part of the story is that it makes perfect sense to her that animals are family. I like that a lot.

Besides a murder of crows, there are other collective nouns for crows: a horde, a hover, a mob, a parcel, a parliament, and a storytelling.

As for a storytelling of crows? This is a bit of an unknown but crows do tend to gather in large flocks and are known for their loud ‘caw’.  Perhaps someone observed this and decided that they weren’t so much plotting a murder but were telling stories to each other, https://www.birdspot.co.uk/

This photo from late yesterday afternoon must tell quite the story; I’ve never seen so many crows on the school field.

Seeing crows at sundown is a common occurrence around here, but not on this grand scale. Everyone driving by slowed down to gawk and neighbors came out to record it like I did.

On the roof, on the fence, on the fields — all my cousins!

Update: I sent the photo to my original Angel Boy and received a video text from his almost seven-year-old clone, AB 2.0 — “Hey Grandma, that’s a lot of cousins!”

My happiness grew exponentially.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bridge

After yet another too real lucid dream about my kitty Bandit, I’ve been thinking about all of my children, from Misty to Tawny to Sabrina, Yenta, and Stella Rondo (named for a character in a short story by Eudora Welty) to Victor, Blackie, darling Ban — cats and dogs, mostly Border Collies, but also my rescued wolf hybrid Beowulf (of course) and crazy Tovah, my neurotic black German Shepherd.

I can’t wait to meet my babies again; happy and healthy. It’s going to be HEAVENly.

Art by Susan Alison