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.

Winter Surf at Tourmaline Beach

On a more positive topic than local murders, here’s a quiet day at Tourmaline Beach, located between Pacific Beach and La Jolla. I haven’t been here in decades. It was a balmy seventy degrees and sunny, barely an hour before the foggy marine layer rolled in.

Sadly, no seashells or whales or dolphin, but I’m always looking for the magic. Also…no gems at all including zero tourmaline. What a disappointment!

The waves were a little blown out and not very big, in case that’s something you care about.

And nope, I didn’t surf, although I wish I had that Chanel board. I don’t go in the water. The last time I tried to surf, I got hit with the board, so it’s not the sport for me.

Murder in Carlsbad | Update November 2021

It seemed as if it’s been a really long time since anything transpired with the trial of two accused murderers in my little beach town.

On Friday, November 19, Malissa James pleaded guilty to the murder and torture of Carlsbad resident Marj Gawitt in a home invasion robberty. Marj was stabbed more than 140 times.

Sentencing for James is scheduled for February 4, 2022. The guilty plea means she’ll get life in prison without parole and avoid the death penalty.

According to information I found on the jail website, the next time co-defendant Ian Bushee will be in court is January 28, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

Testimony at a preliminary hearing in the case revealed that other residents of the neighborhood had reported prowlers in the area. One man testified he heard a back screen door opening at his home and walked toward it to see the sliding glass door open.

He said he called out, “Hello?” then yelled, “Hey!” as the door kept opening. Whoever was there had fled, he said. He called 911 and officers arrived to take a report, but did not find a prowler.

About 45 minutes later, the man was on the phone with someone when he heard screaming from a nearby home. He called 911 again, and a few minutes later heard a car speeding away.

Several hours later Bushee and James were arrested at a transient encampment at Agua Hedionda lagoon. (Some of the info was curated from the Union Tribune)

Previous posts….

Holiday Flower Photo Shoot

Happy early Hanukkah! It starts tonight at sundown which is closer to 4pm now after that ridiculous time change.

Things are super dry here in SoCal and there isn’t much color in the garden but I have a spectacular Christmas cactus that decided to bloom on Thanksgiving. Also called Zygocactus, it’s really a Schlumbergera hybrid.

I’ve had this one for quite a while…

I found a pure white African violet at a local nursery and that’s the new addition to the fam. I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing and fun Sunday!

Beach Walk + Gratitude

Last Tuesday I had my annual ultrasound to check on the status of a tiny cyst that’s been attached to my gall bladder for years. The abdominal ultrasound also checks everything else plus pancreas. I’m especially freaked out about that organ because of my mom’s cancer.

It was a fasting test which is no big deal because I don’t eat breakfast anyway, never have, but coffee isn’t allowed either, and THAT was a bit of a hardship. I brewed some before I left and stored in an insulated cup so I could gulp it down as soon as I got back to my car after the test.

The woman that actually did the test was literally one of the most enlightened, awakened angels I’ve ever encountered with a spirit that calmed me down as soon as she introduced herself.

She was four months pregnant and we talked about that and the grandkids and how I was lucky enough to be present for both of their really long ultrasound appointments and we talked about the ups and downs and lessons of life’s journey. It was more of a therapy session with a healer than having my abs squirted with WARM jell so she could see all of my inner working parts.

She let me know the size and location of the cyst hadn’t changed and everything else looked good. I know they’re not really supposed to TELL, they’re supposed to wait until the formal results from the doc, so I really really appreciate that she didn’t make me suffer for a few hours.

We hugged. I told her she was going to be an amazing mom and she teared up a bit.

What a brief and significant connection with a random human! Her spirit infused me with a positive and happy glow.

As I drove home, sipping my still hot French roast, I got a call that my new glasses were ready to be picked up.

I drove to my downtown village area near the beach and tried on my new frames to have them adjusted and fine tuned. This time instead of Versace or Prada, I got Salt, a brand that was new to me, but really adorbs.

Salt Optics was started by a couple of surfers and a guy from Oliver Peoples. They are ultra COOL.

“SALT is committed to using only the most premium handmade cellulose acetate in the world. Our acetate is created from cotton seeds and wood pulp, which allows it to be hypoallergenic and sustainable. We partner with Takiron Rowland, a Japanese acetate factory that has been producing handmade acetate for the better part of 100 years.”

OK, good to know. I love them because they fit my small face yet they’re bold and make a statement.

Cute, huh?

It was about 11 a.m. and I decided to walk to the beach, something I never do this late in the day, mostly because it was already hot and dry with the Santa Ana weather. I thought it would be overrun with loud and obnoxious tourists, but it was still relatively quiet.

I felt like I needed some vitamin sea because I was so grateful for a good test result. Every year I stress about it, wondering what’s going on inside of me and if the cyst migrated to a duct or grew which could mean a whole other diagnosis and necessary treatment.

But it didn’t, all was good, and I might even be lucky enough to see a whale or a dolphin, so I started walking.

The Pacific Ocean was a lake, no waves to speak of, no whales or dolphin, but it was lovely to breathe in the salty air which reminded me of my new Salt frames lol, and after a couple miles, I turned around to head back to my car.

I was parked near the consignment shop where I’ve found treasures in the past, but I left empty handed; nothing caught my eye.

There’s so much to be grateful for every single day, not just on Thanksgiving.

Lake Pacific:

Thanksgiving Memories

I can’t believe this was Thanksgiving 2019.

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Now this curly haired surfer is in kindergarten and bossy big brother to an even bossier titian-haired little sister.

Tick tock.

Time inexorably marches on and on and on.

In the blink of an eye, he’ll be in college and his sister will be going to prom.

I’m on my way to an early morning beach walk before it gets too hot.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

“Why are the cookies green, Grandma?”

UH OH. AB 2.0 is growing up. No longer does he simply shove as many cookies in his mouth as he can, or muffins, or cupcakes.

Now he’s more discerning and I hear these words and the skeptical tone in his voice, because he KNOWS why they’re green and he wants confirmation.

“Why are these cookies green, Grandma?”

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“Green? Do they look green to you?” I say, stalling for time to think of the right thing to say. I really wanted him to eat those cookies.

“I know why they’re green. Why do you put kale in EVERYTHING, Grandma?”

“Do you love kale more than me, Grandma?” (That’s a joke.)

The last time this happened Dad saved the day by interjecting, “They’re spooky cookies for Halloween, T! Aren’t they so scary and cool and yummy?”

Good one, Dad, I thought to myself. Our eyes wouldn’t meet or we’d both start laughing.

He ate them, but was definitely not trusting the veracity of the response.

OK it was a lie. There was LOADS of kale in my lentil oat raisin cookies, and I didn’t do a good enough job to disguise that fact. I’ll do better next time.

I don’t condone lying, but in this case, T doesn’t eat enough veggies and this has always been my secret weapon to make sure he eats greens so I’m satisfied that he gets a balanced diet. He’s a clone of his dad, very tall and very thin with a metabolism that I’d DIE for.

It’s the same thing we do with smoothies (I did it when Dad was little, too). I fill it chock full of veggies, but with the addition of blueberries or strawberries, it really masks the green. Don’t tell him, OK?

Thank goodness his little sister hasn’t yet learned to question the provenance of the muffins we just baked and didn’t see me slip a cup of chopped kale in the batter. She’ll eat pretty much anything. So far.

Here’s the recipe for Kale, I mean SPOOKY cookies…

No ReGRET, just my Egret AGAIN

Well, hello there!

As I pulled into the driveway and opened the garage door, look who was waiting for me!

I couldn’t park fast enough to jump out and greet this magnificent creature. I’m positive this is the same egret I had been lucky enough to have an encounter with on Sunday.

How did she know where I live?

In my fantasy world, I like to pretend that she was flying high above me as I walked home the day before and decided to pay me a personal visit because I helped her cross the street and stay safe from speeding cars.

I’m sure that’s NOT reality, but I like my version better.

This isn’t my house, but I followed her down to the corner. Come back soon, my friend! I have lots of yummy lizards running around the garden. Enjoy!

A Day in the Life: A Naked Lady and a Wandering White Egret

Or how I became the spirit human to a wandering white egret. Do you have a spirit animal? I’m sure we all do, but today I became a bird’s spirit human. At least that’s the story I told myself.

(I’ll not bury the lede and confess that I’m NOT the naked lady, just in case you were curious.)

I don’t know if it’s because of the lingering full moon energy coupled with another Santa Ana heatwave, but this was a strange and interesting Sunday.

I’ve been able to increase my mileage according to the doc’s plan, as long as my foot doesn’t hurt. It can be bit sore, but if I start limping, that’s my cue to give him a call. So far, so good.

On today’s walk, I got a late start and didn’t want to walk to the beach because that’s about 7 or 8 miles round trip, much more than the five miles he approved.

I walked up and around the lagoon. On the way back, I saw one police car and then two and when I saw the third one, my interest was piqued and I decided to follow it. They seemed to all be parked on a street that leads to a lagoon beach.

I stopped and asked a neighbor what was going on and he said he heard there was a naked woman wandering around the area. I then walked up to a police officer and asked him to corroborate what I heard, and he did. I exhorted (strongly encouraged) him to be kind to her since the police dog was there too, and it probably was some sort of mental health issue, not a “let’s unleash the hounds of hell” issue.

By the way, when did cops start dressing like urban warfare combat fighters? The ones I saw today were dressed in FULL ON body armor, in FULL ON FIGHT MODE to what was probably either a domestic or a mental health situation. They were incredibly intimidating looking for a little beach town, way too hard core.

I decided to move on and continue walking out of respect for whomever it was and whatever was going on. Sometimes I hang around to document possible police misconduct, but there were other people gathering, so I felt it was okay to leave.

After walking for another block or so, this is what I saw.

Yup, a beautiful white egret simply standing as still as a statue. S/he took a couple of steps…do you have any idea how SLOWLY egrets walk? It’s like doing a mindful walking meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh, something I’m not at all good at, ‘cos I’m not patient. At all.

But this time, I slowed down to enjoy the moment. S/he walked across the street SO S L O W L Y, turned his/her head and seemed to beckon me to follow, so I did. I stayed a couple feet back and every so often, s/he would turn to look at me and continue.

When it seemed as if (I’ll just call it a female, cos that’s the vibe I got) she wanted to cross a street that’s a bit busier, I went out in the street to warn traffic and to escort her safely. A mom and her two kids joined me and we all followed this queenly white egret up the street. Cars stopped to watch and it was so joyous and so delightful to participate in the Queen Egret Parade. The mom and kids went back home but I continued on our journey together to shepherd this magnificent bird.

I felt as if she was a bit timid, a bit unsure about where she was, and needed me. When we came to a clearing with a field and tall trees, I decided it was time for her to fly. I raised both of my arms outstretched like wings and silently communicated to her that it wasn’t safe on these streets and she needed to fly.

And she did. I watched her circle the area and land in a tall eucalyptus tree. Another egret flew by and my hope is that they all ended up back at the lagoon, safe and sound.

Honestly, I feel like in that moment, I became the spirit human to this pure white egret wanderer.

I don’t have any new information about the naked woman, and I’ll update if I hear anything.

It’s only 11 a.m. and I’ve already had a magical day. It’s time to put a clothes in the washing machine and check the video to see if my coyote or bobcat came to visit. For me, that would be the icing on the cake.

Check out how S L O W L Y she walks.

Sky Color

Here in SoCal, these sort of tropical looking clouds enhance a magnificent sunset. After the time change a couple weeks ago, the sun now sets way too early at 5pm! I’ll never get used to it.

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

No eclipse viewing for me, the sky was overcast last night!

Let’s all be aware of the signs of pancreatic cancer.

My mom had CA of the pancreas, even though she had very low risk factors. Back when she got it, the only way to know for sure was to open her up for exploratory surgery. After that, it was a brief three months until she died.

I miss her every day. I’m sad she died when the original Angel Boy was only six and never got to see him get his doctorate from Yale, get married, and have his own Angels. She loved him so much and was such a big part of his life that he started calling both of us “Mom” and we’d answer in unison, “Which one do you want?”

We took care of her here at home with hospice support. Although she was able to tolerate high doses of morphine, the pain was overwhelming.

About ten years before an official diagnosis, she was consistently nauseous after eating and started taking papaya enzymes.

With her vast medical knowledge as the head RN at a local hospital, she probably had a really good idea what was wrong with her but did all she could to find any other reason for her symptoms. She had her gall bladder and spleen removed but nothing helped. As it still is, pancreatic cancer is a death sentence.

It’s the same horrible disease that killed Alex Trebek, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Patrick Swayze.

The most significant symptom I’d suggest to be aware of is nausea after eating. Start keeping a journal and get to the right doctor as soon as possible.

We need more research to stop this terrible disease.

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