Hubby’s Ironman Heart

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So the other night, I dreamt I slept with Ironman. Who says, dreams don’t come true?

In the morning, Hubby drives over to the hospital for his surgery. I sit in the passenger seat, fully aware that I will be his chauffeur for the next two weeks, which won’t be easy, because Hubs absolutely prefers to be in the driving seat. When we arrive at NorthShore in Manhasset, a couple of friends greet us. They came to be a support. Shortly afterward, Hubby’s family meets us in the waiting room, and between the company and all the texts and messages conveying well wishes—I certainly feel surrounded.

Off they whisk Santhosh for bloodwork and as we wait. Jack, whose wife has her fair share of frequent flyer miles in the hospital, says, “A lot of the time is just waiting.” Waiting for your turn. Waiting for the surgery to finish. Waiting for recovery. And then waiting for the green light to go home. It’s nice to not wait alone.

When the waiting room volunteer calls Santhosh’s name, all six of us stand up, and he puts his hand out to stop us. “Woah! Maybe one or two of you can come back there, but not everyone.” Jack insists I go first. And when I see him, Hubs is already gowned up and laying on a hospital bed, just waiting for his turn in the O.R.

“I asked the guy what time you were going in,” I tell Hubs. “He said the first guy showed up over an hour late, so even though you’re second, it’ll be a little bit.” I playfully tug on his chest hair. “This will probably set the whole schedule back a few hours, if you ask me.” Hubs laughs, so I add, “Wait. Hold still,” as I fish out my lipliner. “Should I draw a big X over your heart so they won’t miss?” and we laugh some more.

Papers signed and prayers said, the surgeon shows up to answer any last second questions. They’re putting in a sub-cutaneous defibrilator or ICD to give his heart a fighting chance if the fibrosis from the HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) causes an arrhythmia.

“You might never need it,” Dr. B., the surgeon says, “But if you do, you’ll have it.” And with all we’ve learned about hubby’s condition in the last six months, this seems like the best next step to moving forward. The doc also explains, “This device will sit under your skin, under the left arm, and the wires will run across and up your chest and sit above the ribcage, not touching or entering the heart muscle as in devices of the past.”

I ask, “How big is it?” and he makes a two by two square box with his fingers and then a centimeter space between two fingers to show the thickness, but assures us, “As the years go on, technology will get better and the ICD will get smaller and the battery life longer.”

Hubby’s brother brings a ’91 Bulls Championship cap to show his baby brother because he knows him well – pretty much anything to do with the Bulls cheers Santhosh up. Jack tells a few stories, and Hubby’s mom insists we take a few pictures.

A kiss. A look. And they roll Hubby down to the OR while the rest of us head to get coffee. Hubby’s mom stays with me, telling me stories which makes the time go by rather quickly. When two hours pass, we walk back to the waiting room, and sit down, but I recognize my need to be alone and tell Amma, “I’m right outside,” exit the room, and pace up and down the hallway.

Worry suddenly floods my mind: He should be done by now. What’s taking so long? Has something gone wrong? Why hasn’t anyone come out to talk to us? As the tears begin to spill, I pour out my fears to the one who knows my every thought, and as I pray, the tears just keep coming like a dam break I cannot contain. Pacing and crying. Crying and pacing, finally, I catch sight of the surgeon approaching the waiting room.

Deep breath. “You’re just the person I’ve been looking for,” I tell him, and he smiles. Then he assures me hubby did great.

“And the device works great. We tested it, and it worked on the first try.”

I saw hubby’s expression as the surgeon explained earlier that they would create a situation where he would need the ICD in order to test it. Santhosh’s face said it all. He knew that meant to make his heart have an irregular rythm in order to see if the ICD would correct it.

Maybe Dr. B. saw the worry on my face, because he followed with, “Don’t worry, he was completely out when we tested it, and he’s still pretty groggy with the anesthesia. Someone will come and get you when they roll up him to recovery.”

He walks in and talks to Santhosh’s mom, conveying the good news, and I walk back outside to call my Dad. Dad barely picks up his phone and I am a hot mess, trying to hide it, but he knows I’m crying right away. “What’s wrong? Is he okay? Is everything okay?” Dad asks.

“Yes. Everything’s great. Everything went fine.”

“Then why are you crying?”

And all I can say is, “I don’t know.” But as I hang up with my dad, I know. I’m simply overwhelmed. Maybe I’ve been holding it in. It is so real now. Hubby really has some crazy device inside him now. And from now on, he can no longer go through airport metal detectors. That’s just one of the changes we will deal with from now on.

But I don’t cry with just anyone. Something about talking to my dad, and later when he calls me back and asks, “How’s my crybaby doing?” I thank him for being there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on, even if it was over the phone. And I make sure to laugh and tell him, “I’m good now.”

Several hours later, Santhosh is finally alert enough to talk, a huge ace bandage wrapped around most of his chest. Just as predicted, they shaved his whole chest, and he recounts the prep team’s poking fun at my man of many hairs. One guy said the classic, “Time to take the sweater off,” while another joked, “Get a few razors. Heck bring the whole bag.” But he can’t laugh, because laughing hurts. Any movement hurts right now.
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Nine o’clock rolls around by the time a room opens up, and the girls are able to visit him. And Sarah, our youngest, asks some poignent questions while eyeing her dad in the hospital gown under the covers. “So… are you wearing underwear under there?” is her first. Twenty minutes later: “Is it weird to sleep naked?” And finally, “Are you sure you don’t want to put on some shorts, Daddy?”

Questions answered, good night kisses given, we leave hubby to rest and drive home to sleep.

The next day, I drive back to the hospital and wait for hubby to get discharged.

When hubby first received his surgery day, Sarah and I went straight to the toy store on a secret mission. We came back and after dinner gave Hubby the goods. When he unwrapped the package, he smiled ear to ear as he ran his fingers over Ironman’s heart. “I think I’ll grow out my goatee like Tony Stark to make it official,” he said, and we all gave him the thumbs up.

As we drove home the day after his surgery, I asked him, “How does your body not react to the device? I mean, it’s a foreign device inside you?”

“It’s made of Titanium,” Hubs says, a metal that the body does not generally fight off for medical reasons I haven’t looked up yet.

Then Hubby Google’s Ironman, and says, “I guess you were spot on.”

“About what?” I’m driving so I don’t know what he’s reading.

“Ironman’s suit.” Hubby smiles. “Guess what it’s made of.” And together we say it.

“Titanium.”

When we arrive home, I leave to pick up some pain meds, which he needs asap as the earlier dose is quickly wearing off. And we’re taking every moment in stride. I joke with how he should enjoy this royal treatment. “It’s not every day I get to help you put your socks on.”

He says, “This is what it will be like when we grow old together.” And all I can think is, I hope that we can grow old together now that you have an ICD, but I know full well, every day is a gift. There are no guarantees.

But I thank God for today. For my Sunshine making it through surgery. For being surrounded by friends and family. And for a chance to keep moving forward with Cycling for Change. Because Hope changes everything. I’m aware of the power of hope more than ever these days. It’s time to share it.

Learning to Live with Cardiomyopathy – Take One

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So we venture into New York City together yesterday. The trip on the Long Island Railroad we usually take for dates is to meet with a cardiomyopathy specialist, Dr. Mark Sherrid. When we reach Penn Station, we follow signs for the subway, and after filing through the turnstile, I hear a train so I race down the steps and yell back to hubby to hurry. “It’s our train!”

 

But he’s still at the top of the steps. The first train rides off, but a second arrives moments later. Hubby steps on and I follow. Then he looks back, reads a sign, and announces that we’re on the wrong train. “This one’s going to Brooklyn!”

 

So I jump off, but the doors close. And hubby’s still on. Well, all of him but his hand. Pulling out my Superhero cape, I quickly reach into that tight opening and attempt to pry the doors open, all the while thinking I’m about to say goodbye. We’ll be separated and have to find a way to meet back up.
But the doors open and hubby jumps off. Only to realize that that was the correct train, and we panicked for nothing. But man did we have a good laugh. Laughed so hard at the drama and the whole scenario, especially my ridiculous attempt to rescue him.

 

When we arrive at the doctor’s office after a much needed coffee run, a very bright NP spends a long time with us, going over hubby’s history and how his diagnosis was discovered, and then we move to an examining room. This is the first time I watch hubby get an EKG on his heart. Poor guy has to get a couple new patches on his chest shaved. And as I watch him lay there with his eyes closed while the machine pitches out his rhythm, I fall in love again.

 

And when the EKG nurse leaves, hubby steps off the table and holds up a random sign laying on the desk, and says, “Time for a selfie?” I shake my head no, tickled that he still finds a way to make me laugh even here. In this moment when we both knew this is serious.

 

When the doc comes in, he chats for a bit, and then begins to examine hubby, and when hubby sits up, the doc says, “Archery. You should consider taking up archery. Think you’d be good at it.”

We all laugh. “I’ve always liked Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Sure. I could try it,” Hubby says.

 

But all I can think is I know why the cardiologist said it. Archery doesn’t require running fast. It won’t make Hubby’s heart beat too fast. Or work too hard.

 

When hubby asks him a question about athletic heart, the doc begins to listen to hubby’s heart with a stethoscope. “Shhhhh,” the doc answers, and I see Hubby’s face.
His raised eyebrows say, “Did I just get shushed?”

 

And I smile back. Yep. My baby just got shushed.

 

After a few more questions about hubby’s history, we move to the doctor’s office and take a look at the Echo and MRI images, and I feel like I’m in a med school lab. I have never understood what is what on the screen until the cardiologist points to the chambers and then zeroes in on the septum. “See here.” Then he takes a virtual ruler and measures the thickness. “It’s close to 18 mm.”

 

And the number is only a couple of a millimeters worse than what we originally thought. But when you’re talking the area inside of your heart, every millimeter of extra muscle is that much less space for blood to flow through. The larger number feels like a punch in the gut for me. I want him to change it. But then he measures the same area on the MRI images and the numbers are similar, and everything hits me harder than the first time. Maybe because now it isn’t just a number on a paper, but right there in front of my eyes is hubby’s heart. Beating. Pumping. Hurting. Broken.

 

Dr. Sherrid then begins to talk about what Hubby’s next steps are. How he should exercise in moderation. But no more competitive sports. No more biking up hill. No more push-ups or pull ups. In fact, no more lifting any weights over fifty pounds. Sarah-Bear, our youngest, is close to forty pounds. Grateful for the last fourteen years when hubby carried each of our girls. Some days all four at once.

 

Aware that those days are over, I try to focus on what hubby can do. He can still bike. On flat paths. He can still kayak. On quiet waters. He can still do a lot. I am so thankful for all this. I nod as the doctor talks about how important it is for hubby to realize that he will now work out to stay fit, not to make his heart better. He can’t make his heart better. But he can hopefully help his heart not to get worse.

 

One glance is all it takes. A tear. Then two slip down hubby’s cheek. And I can’t keep looking at him, because now I’m tearing up too. Fighting to gain my composure, I ask the doctor, “How often should he follow-up?” and Dr. Sherrid, his eyes downcast, says, “Once a year.”

 

And as we rise from our chairs, the doc says, “Just remember. No one leaves this life unscathed. We all have to go through something. Keep your perspective.”

 

Dr. Sherrid was warm. Funny. Wise. And spoke with the authority that his years of experience gave him. And we both walk out of there knowing he’s right. We are one of the lucky ones. We found out about hubby’s condition while his heart still beats. We know what it means to count our blessings. We hold on tightly to the one who blesses. Who gives and takes away.

 

And as we walk back to Columbus Circle, I thank God again for being so real during a time when I need to know for sure. And as we ride back on the train I tell hubby, “Man, God sure does love you.” And then I correct myself. “Actually, it’s all about me. It always has been since I’m God’s favorite. The mess of a mess that I am, God just knew I’d be such a worse mess without you.”

 

Hubby laughs.

 

“So a little longer?” I ask.
He nods.

 

Thank you God for a little longer. Thank you.

 

TOP Ten Things to FEAR While Biking Across the Country

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At the beginning of the summer, the thirty second videos started rolling in. Then celebrities began jumping on board and tagging other celebrities. And then by mid summer, I think more than half my FB posts were images of ice water dumped on beautiful dry heads. And then screams. And water exploding from my screen, it’s a wonder my laptop didn’t short-circuit. 😉 The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Summer will stay with us forever. And all for such a great cause! We have lost some very dear friends to ALS and like many diseases, would love to see the cure found in our lifetimes.

So, if you’re like me, you’re wondering what the next BIG thing will be on Facebook. The NEXT Challenge if you will? Well, we over here at C4C2015 have been searching high and low to come up with something everyone can do that would be a fresh symbol of the fight against human trafficking. But nothing beats the X across the back of your hand. That’s pretty loud and clear. And we thought about asking the public to put a cupcake on their head and bike one hundred feet without losing that tiny bit of yummy goodness. BUT not everyone has a bike. And you have to bake a cupcake just to watch it sail off your head to the world of dirt and grime. Welll, that is just a bit much to ask of anyone, in my opinion.

Instead. We’re gonna make it easy for you. No bucket. No ice. And no cupcakes. Just a few minutes of your time and that cash laying around the house that you would have blown at Starbucks anyway. Would you think about these INSANE CHALLENGES the C4C2015 team will face next summer and give a small donation to the team? Even $10 makes a difference. 

TOP TEN THINGS TO FEAR WHILE BIKING ACROSS THE COUNTRY:

1. Flat Tires. It will most likely happen, with all the miles that these bike tires have to cover every day. So the test will be on dismounting timely so the frame doesn’t get damaged and the bikers don’t get hurt. And then finding the puncture and patching it up and getting back on the road quickly.

Or Chains Falling Off. On an uphill. Or even worse, a mountain. Where the edge of the road is a cliff with a crazy drop off. That will be more than frustrating. SO the guys need to gear shift in a timely fashion and help each other out in those moments.

2. Potholes, gravel, and litter on the road. Would love to believe that all the roads the team will bike over are newly paved and in stellar condition, but that would be naive. So they guys need to look down. Once in awhile and make sure they’re not about to run over broken glass or broken roads that ressemble black diamond level moguls on a ski hill. It’ll be interesting to hear the team’s POST-ride report of Top Ten Strangest Finds on the Side of the Road while Biking Across the Country. Something tells me Chicago will have the coolest find. But I guess I’m a bit biased. :)

3. Deer. And Goats. And Bears, Oh My. Seriously hope they see some cool wildlife while treking across the country. And catch some footage on a GoPro camera without crashing. BUT I also hope they don’t have too many Close Encounters of the dangerous kind. Because I’m pretty sure bears can move faster than bikers. Especially on an uphill.

FOLLOW LINK TO c4c2015.com for the rest of the LIST! :)

 

 

Save The Date (Fall 2014)

Hi!! Just wanted to give Everyone some SAVE the DATES!

Next Thursday, Aug. 28th, in NYCSubcontinental Drift – NYC is hosting an open night! Come out! I’ll be reading and selling books.

SCD

 

 

 

 

 

September 25-28, I’ll be at Kriti Festival in Chicago. Hope to see you there!

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And November 7-9, looking forward to being part of Indo-American Arts CouncilLiterary Festival celebrating South Asian Fiction in NYC. Time and Details to follow.

IAAC

Spring Fling GoodReads Giveaway!! Signed Copies of Both Books!

FOUR MORE DAYS!!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Seeing Through Stones by Rajdeep Paulus

Seeing Through Stones

by Rajdeep Paulus

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

Facebook Confessions 101

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These lists that circulate Facebook, requesting audience participation, connecting friend to friend, kind of like Tag meets Truth or Dare,  are…AWESOME. For the most part. Every once in a while, they annoy me. Like when someone comes up with those, LIST all the friends in your box, and come to find out you’re the one running around the loony bin. Um. Nekid. Yeah, even spelling the word makes me squirm.

 

But the confessions by the number dealio I kinda like. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy reading all the, “And I never told anyone, but …” peeling back of layers of surface. I feel like I know all of you better. Okay, most of you. Okay, not really. But it’s still been fun.

 

And, because I’m a writer who nearly always wears her heart on her sleeve, I find it natural to LIKE nearly every post I read with the number sharing facts UNTIL… a comment wasn’t the only thing that got you pinned as the next victim. Someone did a switcheroo and typed, “If you LIKE this, I’ll give you a number.” And I did. Like several. In my ignorance, I didn’t read the fine print. But somehow, and if anyone get’s the award for the most frequently glitched user, it would be me, I didn’t get tagged.

 

So, instead of pouting all alone on this side of the screen, I thought I’d post one anyway, in an act of rebellious participation. How’s that for the coined oxymoron of the week? :) Continue reading

It’s Rather Simple Really: A Nomi Network Post

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Happy Monday Morning, everyone. I know many of you have been losing sleep over the cut on my knee from the other day, just dying to know what happened? Well the wait is over! Read the deets over at Nomi Network and be prepared to take another walk around the block of my u-turn directional life. I don’t know about you, but when life keeps U-turning me to the same message, something tells me I need to wake up and pay attention. Just sayin…

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And in other news…

More about Nomi Network!

A MegaGiveaway that is still Brewing!

Swimming Through Clouds still the best deal in town for only $2.99 at Amazon!

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Someone, anyone, wanna come over and rake some leaves with me? Leaf Pile pics are calling my name. It’s that time of year when I need to decide just how criminal I’m gonna get in the name of tradition. :)

Some answers are only found “Between These Lines”

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Life would be too simple if every story were crystal clear. Some might argue simple equals easy, but I think we can safely assume that all things easy fell out of the window somewhere between Adam’s ribectomy and the moment Baskin Robbins offered 31 flavors. And once the first latte menu came on the scene, we were done. It’s Complicated became the phrase of the hour, no longer used only to describe a surgical procedure or your relationship status.

Want to introduce you to a Playlist Fiction author and fellow java addict Jennifer Murgia! Author of several Young Adult novels, her latest is called Between These Lines. Which immediately made me ask, “What? What lies between those lines? Must. Read. Now!” Finished her book in two nights. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Have really enjoyed chatting with her, and like the best things in life are meant to be shared, here she is.  :) Answering a few questions about Between These Lines, writing, and her love for teens.  Continue reading

Crush Me … Part Nine

crushmecoverWanted to tell you about a new find of mine. A place to host my YA Serial that makes it easy for readers to catch up on missed chapters and pick up from where they left off, even if that happens to page one! :) 

Dive Into CRUSH ME

So, if you’ve been following Meena, and her world, pop on over to continue with her on her journey! Happy Friday Fiction All! 

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Anyone reading other free stories or posting their fiction on another site other than Wattpad? Would love to know! And just curious, are you enjoying getting to know Meena? Can you relate to her pain? Or do you know someone turning to the same escapes?

Sushi, Stomp, & Something Sweet

Love walking around the City! Shake Shack,
we’ll come back for you next tme…fo sho! 

So we started out our NYC Operation Birthday Date by driving into the city, and during our hour plus commute from Locust Valley to Manhattan, we debrief and deflate, one of the gifts of marrying your best friend. I still remember my high school English teacher Mr. Quick referring to this human gift as a “sounding board,” surely a reference to some famous poem or literature. [Will look it up when my energy supply rises back to normal levels.]

Earlier in the day, I simply asked hubby to please cooperate with tonight’s plans. It was my “Follow the Leader” after all. And after a fashion crisis (yes, guys have those too,) changing from casual to less casual shirt, and then from his runners back to his dress shoes, we are on the road, in our Honda Accord with no a.c. Hubs tried to fix it, but there must be another leak since the freon only lasted a day or two. Nothing like natural cooling with the windows rolled down and the wind blowing through your hair and the scents of New York floating into your air space.  You know—that familiar combination—smog of taxi cabs, cigarette smoke of pedestrians, and ethnic food of all sorts.  Continue reading