Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Journey into Darkness

by Jo Robertson









Did I get your attention with that dramatic title? And the equally dramatic pictures above and below -- a three-way bypass heart and Jomama in the hospital sans makeup?
Good. Because today’s post isn’t light or romantic, and is only a bit funny.

December 22, 1999. This is me holding one of my four grandbabies born that year. Each one had problems that required extra hospitalization, and my mother had died in July, so I'd experienced stress I wasn't even consciously aware of.

Here's how it went down: I was at the dentist, tilted back in the chair nearly upside-down when I felt the unmistakable pressure in my chest that I knew from previous experience was angina.

I got out of there fast and drove home.

Ridiculous, right? Yes!

I should’ve gone straight to the hospital, but I didn't, knowing my mother-in-law, who’d just arrived from out of state, was mired in holiday preparations. I popped five aspirin, lay down on the bed, and promised myself I’d call 911 if the pressure didn’t subside.

See, this is the thing about heart attacks. You always think it isn’t THE ONE even while your logical brain screams, “Dial 911, you TSTL heroine in a badly written romance novel!”

The pressure remained steady, so I calmly told my mother-in- law that I wasn’t feeling well and was going to go to the emergency room.

Yes, I drove myself to the hospital while experiencing chest discomfort. To be fair, the hospital is less than five minutes from my house.

The cool thing about hospital emergency rooms – and maybe the only cool thing about them – is that if you even breathe the words “cardiac patient,” (I’d had a previous angioplasty), they scoop you up and buckle you down like Frankenstein’s monster.

They run tests, start IV’s, give you the good drugs if you wince even a wee bit. The tests were sketchy, (WOMEN OFTEN PRESENT ATYPICAL SYMPTOMS), but the cardiologist wanted to keep me overnight.

Just to be sure.

IT WAS CHRISTMAS!! Protesting heartily, I allowed myself to be admitted. By now I was feeling quite good from my five-aspirin cocktail high. The brain tricks you into believing no pain equals no danger.

Silly brain.

When my family descended en force and brought the holiday to me, I knew I wasn’t getting out of there unless I executed a prison break. They were far more worried than I, of course.

The angiogram showed five blocked arteries, each seriously narrowed.

Not good.

It was now December 24 and every sensible cardiac surgeon was celebrating with her own family. Dr. Fitzpatrick would not let me go home. I’d never celebrated Christmas without my family. We were all devastated. And the worse part was I felt fine!

No fair!

But all my wonderful new babies, sons and daughters in law, and other grandchildren serenaded me with Christmas carols. Nurses and patients
alike stopped by to join in.
But here’s the "journey into darkness" part.

See, what they do in open-heart surgery, called a CABG, is incise your chest from the sternum to the middle of the stomach. They break the chest bone, pry apart the ribs, stop the heart and hook it up to a machine, cut your leg from crotch to knee and knee to ankle to pull out the veins like linked sausages. They use these veins as by-pass “arteries” to replace your blocked ones.

Snip, snip. Stitch, stitch. Luckily, you're way under the anesthesia for all this.

When they’re finished they jump start your heart, metal-clamp the breast bone and suture the flesh, and viola!
Then the fun starts. If anyone had told me all the above details beforehand, I’d have run like hell. After surgery you wake up looking like you’ve been in a street fight.
And lost the battle.

Everything swells horribly (see how fat my leg is above) – your face, eyes, and leg. The pain is enormous, and to add insult to injury, the nurse makes you sit up within an hour post-op and cough . . . and cough . . . and cough. It’s sheer torture. The Spanish Inquisition should’ve taken notes.

The preparation for the surgery was psychologically freaky. They remove everything from you, clothes, glasses, wedding ring, books. You feel stripped bare, naked in the same way you must’ve felt when you came into this world -- alone and abandoned.

I couldn’t read. I couldn’t sleep. The hours were excrutiatingly long until the nurse prepped me, made me scrub my body vigorously three times. I shivered uncontrollably. You know, that kind of shaking when you’re going into shock? You feel cold, but the room isn’t?

And of course you worry that something will go terribly wrong, and you're achingly aware of your family waiting the long hours in the waiting room for the results. Mine arrived at 6:00 a.m., babies and all, but didn't get word of the results until noon.

Trust me, you don’t want to go through open-heart surgery. It’s hell all the way around.

So – putting on teacher lecture mode now – exercise, damn it, even if it’s only two minutes on your stationary bike or a five-minute walk the long way to get your mail.

If you smoke, damn it, stop smoking. It raises your risk immeasurably and no one likes kissing an ash tray.

If you don’t eat veggies and fruit, give them a try – one new one a week, or a month; every little bit helps. If you eat lots and lots of red meat, switch to chicken and fish, even if it’s only one meal a week.

We care for our Banditas and Buddies, whose hearts are so big they deserve to be super healthy. Don’t make us come after you with a stick – or worse, Aunty Cindy’s whip.

So, what’s your worse injury or surgery? Are you one of the lucky ones who’ve gotten to this stage in life without a broken bone or a tonsillectomy? It’s nearly the end of Go Red for Women month, so let it all out.
Everything's mum in the Lair.


We're giving away an AHA Go Red pin for one commenter today!
Romance Writers of America and the American Heart Association have partnered to raise awareness of heart disease in women. Visit Go Red for Women to learn how to fight heart disease.
Sign up for the Go Red Better U Program and receive two free romance e-books. From Feb 1 through May 31, 2011, receive one free romance e-book when you sign up for the American Heart Association's Better U Program and one after you complete week six of the program. And look for the Eat Smart for Your Heart limited edition magazine (that features this offer) on newstands and in a grocery store near you.Go Red for Women is trademarked by the American Heart Association, Inc. Romance novel downloads provided by Belle Books.
Healthy Heart Tip for Today: You can make many of your favorite recipes healthier by using lower-fat or no-fat ingredients. These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.

76 comments:

flchen1 said...

Wow, Jo! Quite a post--thanks for sharing!

flchen1 said...

Jo, thanks again for sharing your own experience and for the reminders to do what we can to keep ourselves healthy and strong!

Thankfully, I've been blessed so far to stay out of any serious trouble myself--I'm quite terrible with blood and all that, so I imagine I'd be in pieces in a crisis ;p Crossing my fingers that my kids will manage not to require any serious ER visits, too!

June M. said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Hopefully, it will save someeone's life. Hope you are doing better now and that you do not have anymore problems with your heart.

I had my first blood clot at age of 20. I did not have any more for years and then had 2 episodes of multiple clots in less than 6 months. I will now be on blood thinnners for life, but it is much better than the alternative!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Fedora! And congrats on capturing the rooster today.

I felt a little uncomfortable sharing my story (such a downer!), but if it causes one woman to rethink that pressure/pain in her chest, thinking it's heartburn or stomach problems, then it's worth it!

I bet you'd be far more steady than you think; women are so resilient!

jo robertson said...

Thanks for the good wishes, June M. It's been 11 years now and I exercise faithfully, so hopefully I won't have to have the CABG again!

OMG, age twenty??!! That's so incredibly young. Glad you're doing well now. Yes, blood thinners are terrible. Everytime I cut my finger (which I do a lot, I'm so inept in the kitchen LOL), it's a big deal to stop the bleeding. I keep the bandaid company in business!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Jo-Mama,
That is ONE SCARY STORY! But we are ALL SO HAPPY that your CABG was wonderfully successful, because we got to have you as a Bandita!!!

I've gone under the knife a few times myself and it is never a fun experience. :-P Thank goodness it hasn't been more serious. My BFF who is a type 1 diabetic had CABG at age 42! ACK!!! That was 13 years ago and she's had no further heart problems... THANK GOODNESS!

And I have no problem at all picturing you driving yourself to the ER while having a heart attack. That is SO TYPICAL YOU! ;-)

AC

Sheree said...

For a job I had a while back, part of orientation was watching a video of open heart surgery, which the HR person left me to watch by myself.

The only time I ever had to be in the hospital was for my appendix. I went into the emergency room, telling them that I have appendicitis. Did they believe me? No. So, by the time they finally opened me up, my appendix had ruptured and the operation was a bigger deal as was the recuperation. I finally made them release me from the hospital (early) because they wouldn't let me wash my hair (plus all they would let me have was Jell-O and herbal tea). Then, after I got my prescription filled, a woman tried to run me over with her car. A few days later, my then 3-month-old niece made her displeasure at being made to nap felt by kicking me in the stitches. Thank goodness I only had that one appendix and it'll never grow back.

Tawny said...

Ahh, Jo. Even though I know your story has a happy ending, I still welled up at the pain you all went through.

Hugs, and thank you for the wonderful reminders!!! Our first priority should always be to our own health. We're the only ones who can do anything about it, and the people we love deserve that we do our best.

Helen said...

Well done Fedora have fun with him

Jo
What an amazing post and so true I have Aunts who have had by pass surgery and My Mum had 2 heart attacks and unfortunatley I suffer from AF which is a racing heart at times and have been hospitalised a couple of times for this but I was at the cardioligist on Saturday for a check up and all is good at the moment but I do know that I need to loose weight and get fit.

I have also had my thyroid gland taken out and it took 3 lots of surgery to finally get it all over a period of about 10 years and I gotta say after the first operation I felt as if my head was going to drop of backwards everytime I tried to sit up but I got over that after a while.

I do eat fairly healthy lots of fruit and veggies and we eat lots more chicken and fish than red meat now if my back and left hip would let me walk for a bit I would walk because I have always enjoyed a long walk.

So glad you are doing well Jo and love your photos the family are just the best we need to be around for those beautiful grandchildren my 6th one is due in 4 weeks.

Have Fun
Helen

Donna MacMeans said...

Jo - Thank God for that Happy Ending!!!! Big long distance hugs.

I've only been hospitalized three times in my life and two of those were to deliver babies. The third time wasn't for anything dramatic, so I'll spare the details here. But - LOL - like you, I knew I should call 911 but instead waited for my husband to come home. He found me passed out upstairs. We do get stupid when it comes to our own well-being.

Thanks for sharing your story. Your family got a wonderful Christmas gift that year in your recovery, as did we.

Deb said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Jo. Wow. I'm so glad you didn't ignore the pains and went to the hospital. God Bless you!

Louisa Cornell said...

Wow, Jo! What an incredible post. Yes, I can totally believe you drove yourself to the ER. We women are incredibly STUBBORN at times. We tend to get more done that way!

SO happy to know your heart is still going strong and thank you for sharing such a personal odyssey with us. And that lovely family is definitely a reason to take care of yourself. And of course your family here in the Lair couldn't get along without you!

I've only had one surgery in my life, thank goodness! About 13 years ago I was managing a toll bridge and filling in for a worker who called out. Two hours before the shift ended I started having horrible chest pains. And my TSTL self stayed in that little box taking money for two more hours, finished my shift, dropped my deposit bag and drove to the ER. You're right. Say chest pains and people get very excited. However it turned out to be my gall bladder. They gave me some medication and told me to see my regular doctor, etc. Of course I didn't. Once the pain was gone I was fine.

Three years ago I had a second attack, knew what it was, but had a Nazi of a physician who sent me for an MRI and then sent me immediately to a surgeon. The surgeon took one look at the MRI and said "I can do this tomorrow. Be here at 6 AM!"

Of course I don't remember the actual surgery, but it was laproscopic and I went home that afternoon.

The prep was the worst. They hook you up to IV fluids and leave you in pre op for HOURS and then they are surprised when you say you have to use the facilities. I mean fluids = water = full bladder! It is hard to muster any dignity wearing a hospital gown and waddling to the restroom accompanied by an orderly and an IV pole!

jo robertson said...

Forty-two is very young, AC! I'm glad your friend has been "event-free"!

Driving oneself to the hospital is something FORBIDDEN! I wouldn't do it again, for sure!

jo robertson said...

OMG, Sheree, what an experience! Glad you're rid of the appendix; that's a completely unnecessary appendage anyway!

jo robertson said...

Tawny said, "Our first priority should always be to our own health."

So true, Tawny. What did Michelle Obama say, something about if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy! LOL.

Women tend to be caregivers by nature, I think. And very practical. We do what has to be done, so it takes a real effort to take care of yourself and resist the feeling that you're being selfish.

I have a 3-hour block of time during each day when no one's allowed to disturb me LOL -- it's all me-time! Wish I'd been able to do that when I was a young mum!

jo robertson said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, Helen. Every time I look at your avatar of your grands, I smile. So darling.

I'm glad you got a clean bill of health at the doctor's office. And yay to you for eating lots of fruits and veggies. I must admit that's my weakness. Not crazy about lots of veggies. Maybe I need some new recipes to make them tasty and heart-healthy!

jo robertson said...

Donna said, "He found me passed out upstairs. We do get stupid when it comes to our own well-being."

EXACTLY! What is that about?? I'm very calm in a crisis, so maybe that's working against me during my own health problems.

What caused you to pass out? Nothing serious, I hope.

jo robertson said...

I think what helped most, Donna, was that the surgery took place on Dec 27 (my daughter's birthday) and I remember thinking, I CANNOT die on her birthday. What an awful memory that would be. Silly, but we do think about those kinds of things.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Deb!

jo robertson said...

Wow, Louisa, what a story! Thanks for sharing with us. I'm not surprised you stayed two hours more working. It's such a woman thing to do, isn't it?

And the pains just prove my point. A woman's heart symptoms can be so varied and different from a man's. For many years, they only did the heart studies on men. At the time of my surgery statistically more men had heart attacks than women, but more women actually DIED from them.

shannon said...

Wow! All of that brings back memories for SURE. My OWN memory is that you actually went in to surgery the day of my 30th birthday so I will always remember the date. I was a little worried but not too terribly because I am unfailingly opptimistic and figured, "Oh she'll get through this. All we will have to do is listen to her whine a lot and describe every detail of the post surgery hell for years to oome. No biggie." :) (a little bit kidding here mom. Ha!) But you had this beautiful peal ring you had bought yourself for you 40th birthday and you had planned on giving it to me on MY 40th birthday. But here it was only my 30th and you gave it to me (because again... it was my birthday, remember? Hands down the worst birthday of my LIFE with a close tie to the one as a child where both you and Dad plumb FORGOT about it. Again... ha! Not bitter.)

So here it was my 30th birthday and you gave me this ring and suddenly I was no longer so opptimistic and I thought, "Oh my gosh! My mother is going to DIE on my birthday!!" And I saw in a flash, my life without you and raising my daughter to never know her Grammy. And I panicked. Do you remember what I did? I took one look at that ring and burst into tears threw myself down on your bed and pleaded, "Please don't DIE!!!!"

Whew! You didn't. :) Thank you. I love you.

Kennan said...

mom, it was good to read this account as i'd never heard it from your perspective! if you were in a lot of pain, you showed a brave face as far as i remember. i thought it was interesting the link you showed between the stressful events of the year and your surgery. stress is the most underrated factor in heart events, isn't it? i am proud to say my mom taught me well and i now enjoy my hour a day indoor bike while watching my favorite movies! love you mom!

catslady said...

So glad everything went well even though it sounds like a horrible experience. My worst was my gallbladder. I had just had my first child at 33 and for 3 months was in a lot of pain - first time I thought it was a heart attack. I was trying to nurse so was trying to not take even ibuprofen but the attacks were lasting longer and longer (3 days). Visits to the dr. were: you just had a baby (translation: it's all in your head), maybe an ulcer, etc. Finally I had one of those tests where they put the scope down your throat (awake) and they wouldn't let me leave - had to be admitted for emergency surgery. I had mentioned gall bladder but they said I wasn't fair, forty or fat arghhh. It was a couple years away from what they do now and I was cut open quite a bit. All in all not a great experience but I guess I was close to having not made it at all(sigh).

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Catslady,
I had a similar experience with gall bladder surgery. I was 28 at the time and the doctors kept telling me I was too young, even though I TOLD them all my mother had hers removed at 23!

Since nobody LISTENED to me, it took several weeks of me being in terrible pain before someone ordered an x-ray. Then, I walked into the surgeon's office and he said, "Do you want the surgery tomorrow or Friday?" (It was Tuesday.) This was the days before laproscopy so I have a large, ugly scar and I remember the recovery was six weeks but when I went back to work I still felt awful (and I was young and otherwise healthy)!

Glad everything worked out for both of us!

AC

BJ said...

Oh wow..what a post!!!
So far I've had the tonsillectomy, fractured my growth plate in my right wrist, fractured my right elbow, broke my index finger (pillow fighting...lol), and I guess the worst I've ever been was when I thought I just had a cold, went to work thinking no big deal, went down hill... drove 45mins to the ER...remember walking in and someone saying you look like you need to see a DR. I had a 106F temp woke up in an ice bath. I had a serve Kidney Infection that kept me there for 2 weeks. I had none of the normal symptoms.
It totally made me change my look at everything!!!!
I can only imagine what having to go through everything you did Jo did for your life.
Thanks so much for the post :0)

jo robertson said...

Good grief, BJ, 106 degree temp??? That's incredibly high for an adult. I'm so glad they caught the infection in time.

And ouch! on all the broken bones. I've only broken a finger (playing a stupid game, of course) and ribs for which they do just about nothing LOL.

Are you accident prone?

jo robertson said...

Hugs on the gall bladder surgery, Cindy. I understand gall stones can be painful. Shame on those doctors for not listening to you!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Oh, Jo. Your description of the whole process, from pain to recovery brought tears to my heart. To think if you hadn't finally paid attention to your warning signs, I might never have met you, never gotten to be the first Bandita to hug you and congratulate you on your
GH win for Romantic Suspense, learned what a great friend you are with such a great sense of humor!

Okay, gonna go wipe the tears away!

jo robertson said...

Another gall bladder tale, catslady! I guess that's a common thing with women more than men??

Aren't we lucky that today's surgeries are much less complicated most of the time? I tell my husband that I'm not having another heart surgery until they've discovered a way to do a by-pass without cracking open the check! Like I have a choice LOL.

Still LOL at "fair, fat, and forty"!

jo robertson said...

Hi, Kennan! Yes, I'm very proud that you exercise regularly on that bike! And you're such a healthy eater too (sorry I didn't pass that trait along to you). I do love the junk food!

jo robertson said...

Shannon said, "All we will have to do is listen to her whine a lot and describe every detail of the post surgery hell for years to oome. No biggie." :) (a little bit kidding here mom. Ha!)"

Ha, ha! You know me too well.

Actually I was a bit embarrassed to tell about the surgery in a blog -- it's such an old-lady thing to do -- but I thought our wonderful readers should know it's not something to mess around with.

Yes, Shannon, the actual surgery was on your birthday and I remember thinking I cannot die on my daughter's birthday. Silly, now that I think of it. But it's a frightening and awesome experience to go through.

Readers, Shannon is an awesome scrapbooker and in one of her books, she describes my surgery as "Grammy Jo's 'owie.'" Too cute.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, sweetheart, that's a lovely sentiment.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

YIKES!!! That is one BIG OWIE, Jo! LOL!

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Jo, what a powerful post. This is precisely the reason I've been exercising a lot and tracking calories so devotedly this past month. Both of my parents have had heart attacks, though both were stress-related. So I exercise to lose weight and relieve stress.

I've only had one surgery in my life, to remove my wisdom teeth. That was so horrible that I never want to have another surgery as long as I live. I couldn't open my mouth enough to eat more than soup and pudding for a month. I remember crying because I wanted a sandwich so badly.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

The only time I've been hospitalized other than when I was born :) was when I was a senior in high school. I had strep throat so bad that my tonsils swelled almost to the point of closing my throat. I wasn't getting enough oxygen, and even passed out at one point before going to the hospital. They were convinced I had mono, but I knew it was strep. I'd had it before. Still, I was in there four days in which I became a human pin cushion all to find out that, tada, I didn't have mono but a really bad case of strep.

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, congrats on taking home the GR! I hope the kids have plenty to keep him busy. :)

Jo, thank you so much for sharing your pain and trial by fire. I am amazed at your resilience and so glad you have your huge, loving family to support you in your times of need! Of course, you also have all of US to help you, too, these days. And to lecture you as you lecture us. ;)

As for me, compared to others I have had it easy. I've had Type 1 diabetes since I was 16, but it's always been easy to control. I was also diagnosed with Grave's disease (hyperthyroidism) at the same time as my diabetes, but after about 10 years I bit the bullet and had the radioactive iodine treatment.

It's no problem to manage all that, though. I take insulin before each meal, 5 shots a day (2 long-acting, 3 short-acting), take thyroid medication. These days, I also take the lowest dose of a cholesterol med 3 times a week as prevention, along with a daily low-dose aspirin, because heart disease is quite prevalent in my family.

Really, though, it's nothing major. I have friends with very serious issues, like my best friend who has fatty liver disease and a series of serious complications in addition to needing a liver transplant. I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten off so easily!

You're a real champion, Jo Mama. Keep after us to exercise and eat right, because I'm sure we could all use reminders!

Christine Wells said...

Jo, what an amazing story. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, and very grateful that you're still here to tell the tale.

You have definitely inspired me to take more care of myself!

I haven't had any major surgery except for C-sections for both my children, so I'm lucky. Touch wood!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Jo, what an amazing story. And I can't tell you how fantastically glad I am that you made it through.

gamistress66 said...

1st summer in the house, one Fri evening I had to let the dog out. Since there wasn't a dog door yet that meant going outto the porch, down the stoop to unlock opening the screen door for her. Well, when I stepped onto the stoop I hit the edge of the thick door matt and while I managed to catch myself from falling to my left I over compensated and fell to the right instead. Well all of me but my left foot which continued to the left & off the matt's edge. I somehow managed to straighten myself out, let the dog out & back in, lock the screen door, get up & hop back up into the house all with putting as little weight as possible on my left leg which hurt like the dickens. I called a friend to as how to tell if you sprained an ankle. Her reply was to immediately come get & take me to the ER. After x-rays the doctor let me know what the problem was and then admitted it was the first time anyone had ever laughed after she had informed them they had broken a bone. I just couldn't believe I had managed to break my leg bone (the smaller one) just above the ankle.

Needless to say 3 things happened sortly afterward -- that door matt has never been in my path again (it worked as a nice matt under the dog dishes when we ate outside instead); a dog door was installed so I no longer had to go out onto the porch to let the dog out, just safely open the door btwn house & porch; and calcium became a regularly taken additon to my diet.

Jo, glad you made it to the ER ok and through the surgery. keep enjoying life :) and those darling little ones.

jo robertson said...

Trish said, "So I exercise to lose weight and relieve stress."

Absolutely, Trish. Studies have been showing since I was a young mother that exercise is the single most important factor in relieving stress. It's gotten so when I get the screaming-meammies (as Boyd calls them), he says, "You're grumpy, better get on the treadmill!"

He knows me so well.

Beth Andrews said...

Jo, thank you so much for sharing your story! You're a true inspiration. Big hugs!

And yes, we all need to put our health first which means making the time to take care of ourselves.

jo robertson said...

As I understand it, why stress is harmful is that the body doesn't distinguish between the stress of physical danger and emotional stress. The blood clots in an effort to save you from imminent blood loss. This very clotting, however, when you're NOT going to get hit by a 5-ton truck, causes clotting in your arteries which may lead to stroke or heart attack.

We all need to learn to go to our happy places when we feel overwhelmed.

jo robertson said...

Poor Trish. Removing wisdom teeth seems more common now than not, doesn't it?

jo robertson said...

That must've been a terribly bad case of strep, Trish. I was very prone to strep infections during my twenties and thirties, but I never had to go to the hospital.

jo robertson said...

Awww, Suz, don't make me cry! Especially because I'm curling up with Lacy Morgan, uh, Dakota, uh your book this afternoon. And I DO NOT want to cry while I'm reading their adventures!

Ahem, just sayin'.

jo robertson said...

OMG, Posh! How could I not know you have Type 1 diabetes? Facing those needles every day is NOT nothing! Big deal to me, anyway.

Still diabetes is a very serious disease and I'm glad you're managing it so well. I have a friend with 3 daughters, ALL OF WHOM have juvenile diabetes. Many years of worry and concern for her.

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Christine. C-sections are nothing to sneeze at, though, because the recovery is so long. I only had one, but it was enough!

The more I think about it, the more I'm amazed at how amazing we women are!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Anna! Me too! And all my family of course!

jo robertson said...

Wow, gamistress66, what a good sense of humor you have. Glad you remedied the situation!

Thanks for the well wishes.

Susan Sey said...

That's some story, Jo. It made me take a moment to give thanks for you & everything you bring to our little lair. Keep taking care of yourself--I'm attached to you. :-)

As for myself, I've been incredibly fortunate to escape any serious injury thus far. And my kids, too, knock on wood. I've had one kid crack her chin open falling off a stool, & so far that's been it. There's one in every family, though. I'm just waiting for her to show herself.

Barbara E. said...

Thanks for sharing your story - it's a great reminder to us all.
I've managed to make it to 59 with only one hospital stay (to have my son-only 1 1/2 days) and no serious illness or broken bones. I am overweight, but my work is sponsoring a Weight Watchers class & I'm going to participate in it starting March 8th. I walk every weekend and go up and down 9 flights of stairs on my lunch break every day, so I'm hoping I won't have to go through what you (and my brother-in-law) have gone through.

Kate Carlisle said...

Wow! What an inspiring post, Jo! And now I'm about to go for a little walk, thanks to you scaring the hell out of me. Just sayin. :-)

I've never had any broken bones or surgeries, so I'm a lucky one. But after going to the AHA website and reading the Doctor's posts earlier this month, I must admit I'm now concerned about heart attacks. Which is why I'll be walking more now!

I hope everyone got something out of this month's emphasis on heart health and especially from your post today. We want all the Banditas and Buddies to stay healthy!

PJ said...

Jo, thank you so much for sharing your story. I can't imagine it was easy to re-live all that as you wrote this blog but if it gets just one person up off the couch and moving, it's worth it. I'm so glad your angels were watching over you!

I've only had two hospital surgeries: gallbladder and hysterectomy. The GB was a breeze; in at 6am, out at 3pm and off pain meds in three days. The hysterectomy? Not so easy but well worth it in the end.

Ironically, my three long hospital stays were non-surgical. Eight days after taking a bullet in the chest, six days with acute bronchitis and six days with salmonella sepsis. The sepsis got me an ambulance ride to the ER (I was unconscious and missed all the excitement) and multiple docs and nurses working feverishly on me when I regained consciousness. The gunshot earned the same. Unfortunately, I was conscious for that entire episode and can still re-live it, in excrutiating detail, thirty-five years later.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

OMG, PJ!!!
A GUNSHOT?!?!?!
Have you ever mentioned this before??? Surely I'd remember something like that! ACK!!!

Thank all the stars in heaven that you made it through that one, and the other 2 equally scary hospital events. Sepsis??? I don't have to be a nurse to know how BAD that is... EEK!

AC
so glad to have you healthy and with us in the Lair

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Kate, I want to echo what you said --

WE LOVE AND VALUE ALL OUR BANDITAS AND BUDDIES!

I hope our partnering with AHA this month has raised awareness for all of you to take better care of yourselves.

AC

PJ said...

LOL @ AC! I have mentioned that before. You were probably gallivanting around the world at the time. ;-)

BJ said...

No I'm no accident prone...lets just say that I had an interesting childhood :0(

You know I was reading and I didn't even think to put the C-section down. ...guess it should be included, but it was so worth it :0)

Pissenlit said...

Oh...my...goodness! I didn't know they open up your entire leg and pull out veins for that! For some reason, I find that more disturbing than the cracking open the chest part. Glad that went okay for you!

I'm one of the lucky ones without a single broken bone or a tonsillectomy. I even have all of my wisdom teeth.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Beth. I think you're right. We women simply do what has to be done, but somehow we have to carve out the time/activity/skill that helps us remain healthy.

jo robertson said...

Susan, you're such a sweetie! Thanks! It does seem that every family has one accident-prone member. In the Lewis clan (my family) it was always my little brother, believe it or not, but probably because I egged him on to take risks. We're only 17 months apart and were always jumping into the murky waters together.

jo robertson said...

Hi, Barbara E.! Weight Watchers is the best, IMO. My leader is like a stand-up comedian and I find my weekly visit brightens my day. She's also very caring and savvy. Good luck on your journey!

jo robertson said...

Thanks, Kate. I rather enjoy scaring the hell out of you LOL.

You look so healthy, I can't imagine you'll have problems, but exercise is such a good all-around activity. It really calms me and boosts my endorphine levels.

jo robertson said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa, P.J. A bullet shot wound? We've got to hear that story. Tell me it was an accident and not some crazy stalker out to get you. Although, I suppose it's all one and the same and must've hurt like hell.

Give us deets, girl!

jo robertson said...

Amen, Cindy! We've had a great time partnering with AHA this month. Dr. Robertson was a delightful guest and fit right in with our crowd. I hope we can have her back as a guest!

jo robertson said...

Pissenlit, apparently they don't always take the leg veins. My male friends who've had the same surgery tell me they used the mammary and arm veins.

They used mammary and leg veins for me. My surgeon said a woman should never have her veins stripped for this reason. No more shorts in my future (not that I was contemplating it LOL).

PJ said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa, P.J. A bullet shot wound? Give us deets, girl!

Hmmm...I thought I had told that story over here before, Jo. I was 24 and it was one month before my wedding. I was working in a bank and after closing one evening I was standing at the back door chatting with the guard while we waited for the other employees to clock out. The guard was older (in his sixties - though I think that's young now! lol), it had been a long day and he was tired. He took off his gun to put it on a side table but instead of taking off the belt and holster, he took the gun out and fumbled it. Turns out the gun was defective. It discharged and I had the misfortune of being two feet away and in its direct path. The bullet richocheted off my ribs and went through my lung but, thank you God, came out instead of heading for my heart, head or other equally deadly places. I still have bullet fragments in my lung but could be so much worse off. Next week will be the 35th anniversary of my second chance at life.

PJ said...

Oh, and you're right, Jo. It did hurt like hell...for a long time. I was out of commission for eight weeks but the pain (both physical and psychological) lasted much longer.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

WOW, Jo! I'm in awe of you're experience and resolved to add another 2000 steps to my daily routine. grins. Seriously, though (not that I'm not serious about the steps!) you really had a time of it. And you too, PJ. Wow, a bullet wound. OUCH!! And ouch on the appendices and other surgeries. Gosh I feel so lucky. I've on been in the hospital for babies and some outpatient stuff, thankfully. (touch wood, as Christine said) I've been on the other end, alas, sitting, waiting for news. Both hard, but the recovery from surgery's harder. :> Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Sigh. That should have been ONLY not "on"

jo robertson said...

Oh my, PJ! What an experience. And so freaky! How lucky you are to have survived such a mishap. Congrats on your second chance at life! I'm sure you've told the story, but I must've missed it. Thanks for sharing.

Do you have a scar to show your grandkids LOL? Mine are terribly interested in the scar on my leg.

jo robertson said...

Seriously, Jeanne, I think being on the waiting end is much, much harder. I'm far more worried about how my children will handle my passing than I am for myself.

It's the circle of life, you know, but still . . . life is very precious.

PJ said...

Do you have a scar to show your grandkids LOL? Mine are terribly interested in the scar on my leg.


I had cosmetic surgery on my scar many years ago so I'm sure it doesn't compare to yours, Jo. I had no idea that they pulled veins from a person's leg like that. It's really incredible what you went through.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

PJ said: I had cosmetic surgery on my scar many years ago so I'm sure it doesn't compare to yours, Jo. I had no idea that they pulled veins from a person's leg like that. It's really incredible what you went through.

Good for you, PJ. :> And doesn't it seem barbaric, the way it's done? I'll bet even 50 years from now they'll be saying, "Wasn't it awful what they did? Can you even believe...so barbaric!" Grins. Kinda like we feel about 19th century medicine.

Cassondra said...

OMGosh, JoMama!

I had no idea you'd been through this, and I can't imagine a more poignant post.

Thank you. I've just rejoined the gym because I realized that if I didn't, at the rate I was gaining weight and losing flexibility and lung capacity, I was going to get really sick. I've already improved, though I realize I'll never be back to where I was a few years ago.

Next week, I'm going to add weights to the cardio I'm doing. I've cut out sugar, and I eat red meat, but no bread, no preservatives (if I can help it and know about them)and no fake stuff.

So I'm trying.

I just have one thing to say though..Age sucks. Does awful things to the body inside AND outside. I'm not liking it, and I'm having to work harder now to do what I could do a few years ago. I knew, intellectually, that it would be this way, but the reality--I'm not liking it.

Thank you for sharing your experience, and the obvious love of your beautiful family with us

Pat Cochran said...

Jo, remember that you asked for
this: tonsillectomy, appendectomy,
3 breast biopsies/benign, 2 blad-
der surgeries, hysterectomy, knee
repair,& repair/torn rotator cuff.
Can't understand yet how the torn
rotator occurred. I've never thrown
a baseball or tossed a football!
Oh, add on 3 deliveries many eons
ago!

I'm so glad you are doing so well!

Pat Cochran

jo robertson said...

Whoa, Pat, and YOU'RE doing amazingly well. That's a lot of surgeries. The body sure is resilient, isn't it?

Thanks for stopping by, Cassondra. Yes, gravity is the bane of old age. Everything, but EVERYthing droops!