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.

Kale and Chard: A Burning Sensation

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same stupid thing over and over again with the same results — not learning the lesson — and I must confess that applies to me here!

I grow a lot of chard and spinach and lettuce and kale. They all seem to thrive at Casa de Enchanted Seashells. I cook some, freeze some, annoy everyone by putting it in every baked good from brownies to cookies, and I love to eat it raw.

That’s where this started. For a while, I’ve been picking chard and kale while I’m outside gardening, just to enjoy being Mother Earth in action.

For a similarly long time, I’ve noticed that after I eat raw kale and chard and sometimes spinach, my throat starts to burn, not like I ate something spicy, but like I mixed bleach and ammonia and inhaled it (yes, I’ve done that, too, accidentally of course).

After several experiences of this painful throat, I finally did what I should have done the first time, I GOOGLED the symptoms.

Lo and behold, it’s a THING.

Maria Hepler, RDN, CLT: Calcium, which is an essential nutrient for strong bones, can be found in many green leafy vegetables, such as collard greens, spinach, mustard greens, kale, and Swiss chard.

However, oxalic acid, an organic acid found in spinach, chard, and beet greens, and moderately in kale, among other plants, binds with the calcium they supply and reduces its absorption, so in their raw form these should not be considered a good source of calcium.

What are the symptoms that one has eaten too much oxalic acid?  These include burning in the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, weakness, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Spinach contains phytic acid and oxalic acid. It may be better to steam the spinach and not to eat it raw.

For sensitive individuals, even small quantities of oxalic acid  eaten regularly can lead to kidney stones or bladder crystals, along with the problem of calcium depletion. 

Does this mean we shouldn’t add kale or other greens that contain oxalic acid to our smoothies? Not necessarily. Cooking or steaming these vegetables can significantly reduce the amount of oxalic acid present, which will help with calcium absorption (make sure to drain your greens thoroughly as the oxalates go in the water).

If this is a concern, it’s best to precook leafy greens and store them in the freezer (in individual portions) for quick access.

I never used to notice this reaction to acidity in raw greens but now that I know, I will definitely stick to picking lettuce for my garden treats.

Soul Gift

A while back I found a hawk feather and gave it to a friend who is as enchanted by our local hawks as I am and feels a real kinship with these raptors that fly over our lagoon.

Yesterday I was getting ready to go to the store to try and find the perfect musical birthday card for my cheeky titian-haired almost two-year-old when my friend drove by and stopped.

“I’ve been carrying this around with me for a while. I just got back in town from hiking Glacier and I’m so glad I saw you!”

I was presented with a beautiful envelope and inside there were two lovely feathers; one was definitely from a juvenile hawk and I’m not sure what the other one is, but it’s spectacular.

“I’m returning your kindness.”

The way they were taped to the card was lyrical and effortless. I kept them exactly as they were presented and found a little frame to keep them safe. Now I can see them every day and remember there are still empathetic and thoughtful people in this world.

PS I’m not sure I like the blue frame but I’m not sure that I don’t, either. It was the only empty frame I had and I’ll sit with it for a few days and make a final decision. I kinda sorta think the blue represents SKY. What do you think? Would another color better complement the feathers?

Cinderella

My son is funny. Snarkywittyfunny.

He comes out with the most apt observations in such a deadpan, low-key way that you never see it coming.

I had been cleaning up after dinner and decided to get down on all fours to wipe up a smashed blackberry off the tile floor in the kitchen.

Fam had been walking past me, in and out of the garden, enjoying the still warm and sunny early evening while I was happily toiling away.

My erstwhile son came in from the deck and as he passed me on the floor, paused and delivered this perfectly timed line,

“How’s it going, Cinders?”

I had been so engrossed in my task that this unexpectedly struck my funny bone so hard and I gufffawed.

“Cinders! Oh good one, J!”

Trust my boy to assess the situation and release such an accurate quip.

There was no malice, no disrespect intended, no offense taken — he knows that I can take a joke and this was one that unerringly hit its mark.

I am a volunteer Cinderella; it’s a labor of love, I don’t mind at all.

Gardenia #WordlessWednesday

This was my mom’s favorite and sometimes I’ll get a plant so I can remember her by their fragrance, even though I’m sooo allergic.

I used to think gardenia and camellia were the same flower, but I learned that the gardenia is known for its intense perfume; less so the camellia. I never knew that!

Here’s to you, the original Charlotte, the first gardenia bloom on this hot summer’s day…

From Babies to an Insurrection

A little ugly reality slipped into my Grandma rose-colored glasses fantasy world today.

The committee in DC commenced that will FINALLY unpack the events of January 6 and hold all of the terrorists accountable.

The House select committee formed to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol convened its first hearing on Tuesday, hosting a panel of four police officers who defended the building against a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump. (NBC news)

Are you watching?

From Capitol police Officer Dunn: “If a hitman is hired, and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to the jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, but the person who hired him does. There was an attack carried out on January 6 and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that.”

We all know to whom he’s referring, right?

The officers’ testimony and first-hand emotional accounts of January 6 are even more horrific than what we witnessed live.

It was an attempted coup. It was an insurrection. There is every reason to believe that orange POS committed treason.

And from Representative Liz Cheney: “The fact that so many members of our leadership … that they’ve gone from recognizing what happened on the 6th to protesting in front of the Justice Dept. on behalf of those who were part of the insurrection is something I can’t explain. I think it’s a disgrace.”

What makes me really sick is the knowledge that some of my neighbors and community supported that violence and perhaps were even present in DC that day.

This is what McConnell said on January 6. Where is that coward today?

“They were provoked by the president (Donald J. Trump) and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government,” -Mitch McConnell (statement following the 1/6 insurrection)

They are truly devoid of a soul, disgusting, and morally bankrupt.

And while I’m on a rant and because she’s from my area…Ashli Babbitt was a traitor and a terrorist, and anyone who sides with her is also a traitor and a terrorist.

Rant over. Carry on.

Side by Side | Cormac McCarthy vs Sophie Kinsella

This time I was unlucky enough to be in the middle although in sniffing distance of first class. I cherished the almost princess moment with my wistful view of the curtains that separated THEM in their rarified air from US, the hoi polloi.

To my left was an older-than-me male; slightly obnoxious. He moved around a lot, didn’t settle down, and then THIS: he attempted to man-usurp the shared armrest.

OH NO HE DINT.

I might be all of five feet tall and my feet might BARELY reach the floor, but NOBODY has the right to hog the shared armrest. Bad form, lack of etiquette, and not on my watch, buddy.

I strategically waited until he reached down to get something from his under-the-seat bag and I FIRMLY planted MY arm on the arm rest. HAH! I thought to myself, that’ll teach him. I let him have it back after I felt my point had been made and received.

He finally decided to nap and covered himself with his jacket which invaded MY territory, so I shoved it back over to his side- that’s when I got “Sorry.” After about fifteen minutes or twenty minutes, I must confess that I took a certain amount of pleasure in waking him up so I could use the restroom. Just a CERTAIN amount of joy, not a lot. Not too much. (Tee hee.)

Harrumph. Don’t ever mess with a short curly haired girl, old man.

To my right was a young guy who had an edition of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian wedged in the little pocket attached to the seat in front. It stared at him, unblinking, willing him to pick it up and read, but for two hours he resisted the allure of McCarthy and the urge to absorb those tortuous words. First he tweeted A LOT and then he fell asleep, woke up, and cracked open the novel. I wonder if he had any idea what he was getting himself into, and felt like telling him this might NOT the best time to read McCarthy as he’s the antithesis of a light, not-too-demanding author, but I kept my own counsel this time. His mistake, though. Cormac is the stuff of nightmares.

On the other hand, I was firmly immersed in one of my fave authors, Sophie Kinsella. This time it was her 2017 book, My Not So Perfect Life. It was like drinking the perfect cocktail on a balmy summer evening. Kinsella rarely disappoints and I was immediately drawn into the characters, their situations, and relationships. Like all great reads (in my opinion) it ended with the main character finding her happily-ever-after true love.

I read nonstop until we landed.

Home. There’s no place like it.

Growing a Heart | Love is Where You Find It

Just a heart shaped tomato, nothing more profound than that. Love is all around.

I kinda sorta didn’t want to eat it, but I did right after I snapped this pic, and it was DELICIOUS.

A Green Lake Day

Our morning outing at Green Lake in Seattle, the weather is once again warm and sunny, Seattle hasn’t had any rain in more than a month! I’ve ridden a bicycle around the park with the fam before, but never in the summer.

This is a cool historical fact about Green Lake’s formation:
Geologists say the Vashon Glacial Ice Sheet, which also formed Puget Sound and other area lakes, formed Green Lake 50,000 years ago. Dredgings of Green Lake have produced volcanic ash from an eruption of Glacier Peak that occurred about 6,700 years ago.

Such a brave boy to jump from the diving board!

Puget Sound Photos

Driving down the hill:

The view from Sunset Hill park overlooking the marina. How amazing to be in walking distance of this beauty.

Such a beautiful, warm picture perfect day!

“Chanel Time, Grandma!”

We have our routine, Charlotte and I.

I bring out the creams, powder, and a special bottle of Chanel perfume.

Charlotte climbs on the bed and we commence our spa day. Self-care can’t begin too early!

“Let’s start with the powder” I say,

“Just a tiny pinch, right Grandma?”

“That’s right, Char.”

“Come closer.” She takes the powder and pats it on my neck with tiny hands as soft as velvety down.

“Do you too, Char!”

“Just a pinch more for Charlotte”, as she mirrors the same exact patting motion on her own neck.

“Now cream for cheeks, right?”

“Here you go, but not too much.”

“Not TOO much, Grandma.”

She rubs it all over my cheeks and forehead.

Time grinds to a complete stop as there is nothing in the world more precious than being pampered by a little girl not yet two, who takes my face in both of her baby hands and ever-so-delicately and deliberately slathers my face in enough cream for a week’s worth of moisturizing.

“There you go, Grammy.”

“Me turn.” And Char again replicates the second part of this very important grooming process.

“NOW time for CHANEL!”

Excitedly, she opens the bottle, smells the heavenly fragrance, and dips in the stick.

“Pull up sleeves, Grandma.”

I pull up my sleeves and she swipes a few drops on my wrist, motioning me to rub my wrists together to evenly disperse the perfume, as I taught her.

After she does the same for herself and her stuffed flamingo, we’re ready to start our day.

“Come on Grammy, let’s go to the park!”

You got it, Char. Wherever you want to go, my girl.