Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cardiac Rehab is tough!

Cathy had her first cardiac rehab session today, and it went very well.

Nothing popped or started leaking, on her anyway.

I can't, however, assert that fact for certain for all of the older men who got the thrill of seeing a young "hottie" running on a treadmill in their midst...

Note to self: Keep an eye out for unexplained fancy gifts she gets that have a lingering smell of Geritol and old money...

Friday, January 4, 2008

50% is Well Above A Passing Grade In This House

Cathy had her first EKG yesterday and she now shows about a 50% "ejection fraction" capability for her heart.
A healthy, normal heart has an ejection fraction of about 60%.
Cathy's was about 30-35% before the surgery, and it is hoped that the 50% will rise when she starts her cardiac rehabilitation.
Her doctor was very satisfied with the results.

The less encouraging news is that she developed a bit of Pleurisy (inflammation around the lungs) which is painful, and limits her breathing, but is not expected to have a long-term impact.
It had us concerned initially because it mimicked her symptoms pre-surgery, but now that we know what it is, and that her ticker is working well, "we" can relax.
For the record, I had Pleurisy several years ago, and it felt like I was being stabbed in the back and chest with an ice-pick.
Good times.

It has delayed her rehab program a bit, but the main news about her heart is very encouraging.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Word Was Made Flesh, And Dwelt Among Us...

Today is the day we celebrate Jesus' incarnation.
It sounds like a medical procedure if you say it with emough of theological affect.
I prefer to think about the commemoration of this event in a way similar to CS Lewis who described it as Jesus parachuting behind enemy lines to start the process of our eventual liberation.

Some great movies have been made about D-Day, and they all do a fantastic of job showing how even well-trained paratroopers got bewildered, lost, scared, and confused when they hit the ground deep inside enemy territory in the early morning hours of 06 June, 1944.
I think that both the French citizens and the German soldiers would have been equally surprised at their appearance, but what a different view each would have taken towards a heavily-laden young American soldier with his face blacked out and weapons protruding from everywhere.
The Frenchman knew that his occupation was at neaing the end, hopefully.
The German knew that the defenses along the Atlantic Wall were stout, but that there was not much to stop the allied forces if they made it past the beaches.

Is this Christmas, or saving Private Ryan?

It's both.
Jesus came into the world with a momentary flash of light, and was then whisked away to Egypt because Herod and Rome had plenty behind their initial defenses to finish off anyone who dared to incite a rebellion or lead anyone along a new way.

Jesus spent thirty years being a regular guy, by outward appearances. He certainly had friends and family and community to help him grow along the way into the man who would, in a way not unlike William Wallace in Braveheart, lead his people (us) to their ultimate victory.

The "Word made flesh," in you is what I recognize this Christmas.

I have pictures above of our parish, St. Thomas More, and a school, Decatur Presbyterian, where our three youngest have attended.

For over a month, members of each of those communities, and others as well, have brought food, flowers, beer, laughs, prayers, and joy to our home. The support we have enjoyed has been overwhelming, and I have really been hesitant to say too much about it for fear of embarrassing, favoring, or slighting someones' efforts.
We have had our kids driven around to school, practices, play-dates, and just "away."
We have had groups pay for house-cleaners, and women come to our house and do laundry. We had friends help decorate our house for Christmas, and communities from a synangouge to cloistered carmelite nuns, and a lot in between, offer prayers for us.

Most of the people who read this blog are the people I am addressing.
You did the heavy-lifting and shelled out the cash and made the meals.
You made time in your busy schedules to pick up or drop off kids and food.
You called, sent an email or a card, or asked how everything was going.
You made Christ present in the flesh by your charity and acts of faith and love.

I was the beleaguered and exhausted French peasant who looked up and saw the strong liberator coming to my aid.
I was the one who felt lost and alone and scared, and looked up and saw you loving my children for me.
I was the one whose knowledge proved to be of small value against the uncertainty and chaos that surrounded us these past six weeks, and you were the gentle deliverer who was there to prop me up.
You showed me Christ "in the flesh" in your flesh, and your smiles, and your kind words, and your generosity.

Our entire family has benefitted greatly from all of this, but none more than me.
You helped me end (mostly) my days of straining gnats and swallowing camels.

God bless you.
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We're Cleared For Takeoff

Cathy saw the surgeon yesterday who told her that she was doing fine. She still has some ligament and soft-tissue pain from the process, but he said her heart is ready to get down to some serious blood-pumping!
She will start a cardio-rehab program soon, and will begin to lift things gradually.
She still has a 30 lb. limit for another couple of weeks, but then, it's a matter of working through the discomfort to get her body built back up.
She said something about calling Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds for "a little help" to bulk up....hmmmm.

I have learned some fascinating things about health care costs and insurance benefits and stuff that I will share soon.

I have really appreciated the many kind words about what I write here.
I really enjoy writing, and I'm glad that some of you enjoy my style, or lack thereof.

I will probably continue to post things here, although I don't plan on a lot of specific updates on Cathy.

Oh, I'll mention when she completes her first marathon and stuff like that, but I hope that "She's doing great!" will be a true, standard response to the question of how she's doing.

So, I'm giving everybody fair warning that I am about to hijack this blog and use it for my own ends, which will likely be an irritant to some, and likely of no interest at all to others.

I am just assuming, of course, that people have a lot of interest in my thoughts on different things.
I am also fairly certain that I am entertaining a delusion in this assumption, but I'll not let that stop me.

For example:

Next post I'll explain why I'm going to encourage the kids to eschew college and find a good trade to practice so that they can support Cathy and me in our old age.

And speaking of old age, one of us is now 41 years old. The other won't be 41 until sometime next year...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lest there be any doubt that I'm going to Hell...

She's Two

Lucy turned two years-old today.
Cathy got some information about starting cardiac rehab soon.
I'm practicing my own rehab, "My name is Chris, and I'm ...."

Cathy had her Cuamadin level checked today, and it is getting near where it needs to be.

My mom's birthday was yesterday, and guess what great son remembered to call her and wish her well?
I'm hoping it was at least one of my brothers, because it wasn't me.
Cathy's not to blame as she reminded me, but I let it get too late.
I'm calling her the second I'm done with this!

Cathy's birthday is in six days, and then Jesus' is shortly after that. Can I get a break from the birthdays?

We're having a joint birthday this Saturday at our house where we will throw all of the December birthday people (except Jesus) into the mix and have one big cake, and get back to our lives.

Here are some of the best things you don't know about yet, but for which you will thank me:

1. Colin Hay's music--he is the lead singer from the 80s group, Men at Work, and his new accoustic songs are the exact opposite of everything I wrote about Kristofferson yesterday. It's good to have balance. I recommend "Beautiful World, Waiting for My Real Life to Begin, My Brilliant Feet, and the accoustic version of Overkill, which was an electric hit for Men at Work in the 1980s.

2. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (TV show)--it's terribly irreverent, but very, very funny. You will not be proud of yourself for laughing at it, but laugh you will. It's basically Seinfeld for the new millenium without a lot of the euphamisms. It's on a cable channel, and since we don't have cable, I bought the first two seasons on dvd.

3. Frederick Buechner's writings--he is an ordained Presbyterian minister who has written fiction and non-fiction books about Christianity (an excerpt, "True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people-including the one whose soul is at stake-are looking the other way.") If I could meet any living author today, it would be Frederick Buechner.

But, enough of me telling you what to do.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Breakfast Food--Harvey Style!

I'm really not a "foodie."
You know what I mean. Someone who enjoys gourmet fare and complex taste combinations, and call tell the difference in a bottle of wine by some standard of measurement other than a receipt.

I have pretty simple tastes.
My favorite flavor is "a lot."

Recently, we got a delivery of "breakfast foods" (homemade muffins and coffee cake...and a twelve pack of Sam Adams Beer.)
It brought to mind the lyrics from the Kris Kristofferson classic, "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down,"

"Well I woke up Sunday mornin; with no way to hold my head that didn't hurt,
and the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad, so I had one more for dessert."

The fact that Kris Kristofferson is a forgotten name in the American Music Scene is a prima facia indictment of our musical artistic decay.

The bandwagon for Johnny Cash only really started when he was on his deathbed, and wasn't threatening the Industry with his values (the values other than Percocet and Methamphetamine addiction, I mean!) I was secretly hoping that Kristofferson would be caught in the Cash momentum. It's sad that most people think of him primarily as an actor.

If you ever begin to feel too good about your lot in life, get too giddy thinking happy thoughts, and ever become concerned that you are too joyful and optimistic, grab any Kris Kristofferson cd, pick a song at random, dim the lights, and get a drink.
Problem solved.

Five cents, please.

Cathy is still doing well, in case you're wondering.