I had my older sister and her family in town for a visit this last weekend and had a great time. However, I could tell almost right away that my health has drastically changed since the last time they visited. It was a real eye-opener for me and quite discouraging too.
Thankfully, I was already in the habit of preparing in advance a meal or two to be able to pull out of the fridge or freezer and heat up. Mostly, these were for dinner. I have found this to be extremely time and energy efficient for me. Well, really, for everyone. My sister now knows that I can’t help her much in the kitchen and still have energy to talk with her. I get pretty short of breath. So, after dinner, she would have me go sit down and she would take over to clean the whole kitchen.
One thing I’ve learned about both of my sisters is that when they do something at my house for me, it’s because they want to. Mainly because they don’t want me to wear myself out just because they are there to visit and because they actually WANT to do it.
It’s just like my older sister to bring me her special Christmas cookies as part of my Christmas gift from her. Before I was even able to get one, everyone started eating them. I was like… Heeeyyyy… *pout* They are that good. I was willing to share but gee wiz. So, she went to the store to buy all the ingredients that I didn’t already have to make another batch for me. Yay!!! As she’s whipping up another batch of sugar cookie dough, I was amazed at how easy it was for her and she wasn’t even tired! I had to go sit down after a little bit of watching, help with cleaning, and holding the cookie pans so that my niece and sister could place the cookies on each pan. I helped Frost some too but my niece did all of the Sprinkles artwork!
After they left for home, I was so tired but I had stuff to do Monday and we ended up having to take Rocco to the vet on Tuesday because he tweaked his back and we wanted to make sure he hadn’t damaged anything. He’s going to be ok. No jumping for a while.
So, today is recovery day. I’m resting all of today. I already told K not to even ask me to do anything or go anywhere because I just needed one whole day of quiet rest. I’m going to post the recipe of one of the dinners I premade for my sister’s visit in case you want to try it. It will be under the In the Kitchen link of my blog’s menu. Beef Tips is what I made and my sister asked for the recipe. I’ll try to get my enchiladas recipe on here too but I’ll do that in a few days. Take care everyone.
Let’s be honest… I’ve missed blogging and I know it’s been since before my birthday (last month) that I’ve posted anything on my blog for you to read. In my defense, the last two months have been incredibly… what’s the word I’m looking for?… trying?…no. Hectic? You could say that. Let’s throw in challenging with a bit of a MacGyver twist and super stressful at times. If you wrap all that up and include my two road trips that I took (one to Oklahoma to see my family & one to South Padre Island for my birthday/25th anniversary), I have to admit, it’s been a pretty awesome adventure.
It all started with my birthday/anniversary vacation that we try to take every year. We both took turns driving down to South Padre Island which took us about 9 hours even while having to stop nearing every two hours (when K was driving) to get out and stretch our legs and walk the dog. Rocco loved sniffing new territory but I hated having to use convenient store or McDonald’s bathrooms. Not just because I never knew what to expect going into one of those things but also because getting in and out of the car and walking to the bathroom now wears me out and makes me short of breath in the worst way. That’s something new.
We made it to Padre and it was overcast but that’s ok because we knew Hurricane Harvey just past by and almost everything was up and running again on the island. Yay for us! Two days after we arrived, a boat washed up on the beach which drew everyone, including the Padre Beach police, to check the boat out. We should have set up a beach chair next to it and charged people for us to take their picture! It took nearly a week for the boat to wash up this far on the beach.
K and I normally go for a nice steak dinner for our anniversary celebration. But who knew that there wasn’t a restaurant on the island, nor close by on the mainland, that sells a good steak? Instead, we had a small party of two at our condo with a gigantic birthday/anniversary cake that K intended to share with the waitstaff had we gone to a restaurant. Thankfully we brought our big ice chest and I had some square foil pans to save the leftover cake to freeze and take home. You better believe that I ate it all once I got home (K had the last piece..darn him!). I LOVE birthday cake!
We really had a lot of fun and took a few goofy pictures. I was even a pirate! Argh! After ten days in Padre, it was time to go home and on the way home, the craziness began. We were north of Austin, Texas when it happened. I was reading and K was driving… thankfully. Our grill from the front of our van broke loose and flew over the hood and smacked our windshield and then continued over the top of the van. It scared us so bad. Thankfully, no one was behind us and we looked but didn’t see it land on the highway. We get home ok and called our mechanic to see what it would cost to get it replaced. $600! Are you kidding me? The thing was made mostly of plastic. K and I had the same idea… look on eBay for the part. K said he could fix it himself and I was, like, “You go Rambo…you get into that MacGyver mode!” Sure enough, it cost us a total of $200 and K attached it with no problems! YAY K!
What K didn’t tell me was that on the way home from Padre was that he was starting to see floaters in his right eye. Then when he went to work, he called his optometrist and they told him to come in RIGHT NOW. He had a detached retina. I was so worried because now he had to have surgery and this was his eyesight!. The first time I went with K to his optometrist, K told me that he had been telling the doctor about me because he has a daughter who has some similar health conditions. Let me tell you that I have no problem that K talked about me. I mean, I blog… so of course I don’t mind. I was really excited about meeting this doctor to learn more if he wanted to talk about it. Naturally, I knew this appointment was about K but I did bring a printed copy of an x-ray showing my scoliosis. This doctor was really neat and very personable. K and I really like him. But what excited me the most was his waiting room. Holy cow… the moment I walked into the building, I was thinking that EVERY waiting room should be like this one. There were crocheted afghans on a blanket rack next to the door and in each waiting area there was a card table with a puzzle to be put together. I immediately zoned in on the puzzle. K knows. I love puzzles and there was an older man sitting there working on the one I noticed. I just blurted out … “Oh yay a puzzle!!!” (I know you’re visualizing that.. aren’t you? haha!) The man heard me and started to get up saying that I could work on it. I told him to please stay and I can work on it with you. I told him that I love puzzles and this reminds me of when I worked on puzzles with my dad. Awww! I know, right? I was so engrossed that I didn’t even hear K’s name called by the nurse. What’s so awesome was that there was ANOTHER puzzle in the waiting room in the back! I was in waiting-room heaven!
K’s surgery went well but I wore myself out having to drive him to appointments and waking up to check to see if he wasn’t sleeping on his back for the first week after surgery. That was stressful but after the first week, he could sleep on his side but NOT on his back. You would think that it wouldn’t be a big deal but people move around while they sleep and K is accustomed to sleeping on his back. So, I had a lot of waking up to do to check on him. With everything that was going on with K, I truly had an eye opening experience about how much he does for me without complaining. He drives me to doctor appointments that are an hour away, he pushes me in a wheelchair when I need it, he takes care of everything in the background when I have migraines, not to mention doing most of the chores and all of the grocery shopping now…and most of this is done without me having to ask. I got a taste of what he does for me when I needed to take care of him for a change. I was definitely humbled and I gained a new appreciation for what he does for me. Not that I never appreciated it but my health is changing faster now, requiring K to do more and I don’t always see what he does for me.
Lots of love to you all! Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to follow along! Leave a comment too! Have a great day!!!
I had a very long but fun weekend. First was the Pulmonary Hypertension doctor appointment and an Arterial Blood Gas drawn. Then we ate lunch at McDonald’s because we had other things we needed to do. We had to run to Walmart to return some stuff and pick up some forgotten thing from the grocery trip K did the previous day. Plus we picked up a new inhaler at the pharmacy. That was all on Friday.
When we came home from the errands, we got busy finishing up with cleaning the house because family was coming!!!! Yay!
After I made it to bed feeling exhausted, I knew I had to get up way early again for another appointment on Saturday that was a little over an hours drive away.
While we were at the appointment, my sister & her family already arrived at our house (we call it The Chateau), and we finally got home around 2pm. Yay!
We got to babysit my niece for 4 hours, which was super fun but by the time they got back, K and I were wiped out. My niece must have some sort of super-charged mega-battery that keeps her pumped up with energy. I asked to borrow it but I didn’t think it’s transferable. Darn!
We had so much fun but I’m glad we didn’t go to lunch with them today. It’s time for this girl to crash. I need sleep or at least down time. My niece is 7 and she asked me lots of questions (even taught me a two person hand-slapping song that was called Lemonade. I think?!) about my bipap mask that I was using when she snuck in my room to see if I was awake yet yesterday during my very short nap. She wanted her own cannula. She also wanted to see what it felt like with it connected to the oxygen.
So, like a fun Auntie that I am, I used it as a learning experience for her. I got her a 7 foot cannula (like the ones used with portable tanks), connected it to one of my oxygen tanks, and I turned the oxygen on to 2 liters first. She wasn’t really impressed. So I told her, “Ok, now this is was it feels like at the amount that I have to use which 6 liters.” Her eyes got really wide when she felt it in her nose and she said, “Whoa! How do you do that?” “Baby girl, I do it because it helps me breathe.”
I always want to make sure that she knows it’s ok to ask questions about me or my equipment. Curiosity can be a good thing when paired with learning about something that will expand her mind. We had a great time this weekend and I feel happy as I always do when I get to see one or both of my sisters. It’s like medicine to my soul. Sounds a little corny but it works for me.
I know I’m a lucky person. I have a husband who loves me and takes care of me in ways that I have no idea that he’s doing it. May 26, 2017 was one of those days.
Last year, K found out that U2 was coming to Dallas, Texas in 2017. It’s rare that they come here and they are one of K’s favorite bands of all time, next to Pink Floyd, of course. So, he asked and then begged and told me how important this concert was to him. He said he’d consider it his birthday AND Christmas present if I’d buy these tickets for him. I’m the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of this family. Anything spent, that’s over $100, should be cleared through the CFO. That’s what happens when you’re living with someone who is disabled and has to go to the doctor often and take expensive medicine.
I knew how much K wanted to go to this concert and I won’t lie to you and say that I was really excited about going to the concert at first. I hadn’t been to a concert in YEARS. I didn’t know if I’d be able to last through a whole concert. I mean, how long do concerts last nowadays? That question was the most important question we faced going into planning for this night of fun. Yes, I bought the tickets. In fact, for the first time ever, I bought a seat for the disabled and a companion seat ticket. We decided to use my wheelchair.
The closer we got to the date of the concert, I started getting more and more excited. I asked my younger sister how long concerts last and she thought about 3 hours. So, we thought 2 liquid oxygen portables would be enough. We didn’t want to leave before the end of the concert. Two portables would give me about 4 hours of time safely. Though, when you least expect it, things don’t always go as planned. Do they?
On the day of the concert, I dressed up in my retro dress. It took me a while to figure out what shoes to wear and how to tie the belt around my dress. I’m not a fashionista. At all.. but K kept saying that I looked beautiful. So, how could I NOT wear a dress? How sweet of him!
We finally departed our house and drove to the DeathStar (the new Cowboys stadium) and there was a lot of traffic. I whipped out my handicap placard once we got close to the stadium. I told K to slow down and I rolled down my window. Well, I just pressed a button and it rolled down on it’s own. I stuck my head out the window and waved my handicap placard (like I knew what I was doing!) to a cop directing traffic. Yeah, I’m not shy AT ALL. The policeman walked up to my van and I asked him directions on handicap parking. That’s right. We were going in style! We ended up paying just a little extra (ok.. a bit more than I was comfortable with) to park at the building (a sidewalk away) in the handicap. It was right up there near Valet parking. A parking attendant poked his head in K’s window to scope the inside of our van. I don’t think I need to tell you what they were looking for with what happened in Manchester, UK a few days prior. There were police dogs walking the crowd and police with automatic rifles. Texas is serious with security. No purses allowed unless it was no larger than 5″x8″ in size. I actually took my PH International Conference name ID badge that I got in June 2016. It held my ticket, driver’s license, credit card, insurance card and my cellphone. It was the perfect size!
We got in the building and had no idea where to go. However, we quickly found out that if you are arriving in a wheelchair, not only do you jump through the line to enter the building quicker than anyone else. You get some incredibly friendly help from the Event Staff. It was nothing short of AMAZING! We only had to say we weren’t sure where to go and the Event Staff person we asked not only told us where we needed to be but also, TOOK us there personally. It was awesome! I was all smiles and “Thank YOUs!” I have to say the handicap seating was excellent. We were fairly close and not a single person was in front of us.
U2 concert 2017!
Now the scary part. As K would say, we “GROSSLY” underestimated the amount of oxygen we needed for the concert. I use 6LPM of oxygen 24/7 and my 2 portables would last roughly just over 4 hours. It was already 7pm which was when the concert was scheduled to start. It didn’t start until almost 8pm and it was the Lumineers, not U2. K and I talked about what we would do. I told him that I could turn my oxygen down to 5LPM if I just sit here in my wheelchair but I’d have to turn it back up to use the restroom or if I started feeling bad. He had left me for a little bit to find out about souvenir concert shirts. At least that was part of what he was doing. I didn’t realize he was going down to the police or the Event Agent at the door to see if he could later exit the building to refill my oxygen. He said no. He couldn’t let him back in he building if he left. Well that sucks! Right? So, he next went to the fire department personnel and explained our situation to him. He asked if they had oxygen with them and they said not to worry. If we have problems to bring me straight to them and they would help. Wow! (yes, they had oxygen!)
K came back to his seat without even telling me he had setup a backup plan in case we needed it. He even packed a picnic to leave in the van for after the concert in case we were hungry. We had a lot of fun, with my oxygen turned down to 5LPM, I was able to watch the whole concert from start to finish. We even stayed a little longer to watch some of the breakdown of the stage. That was cool too. It was just after 11:30pm when we finally got back to my van but all was well and we had a great time. Quite a number of the event staff and a police officer asked if we had a good time. I’d like to think this kind of hospitality happens everywhere but being Texan, I’m kinda biased. *hugs* haha!
Waiting for the U2 concert… Lumineers will be first!
Throughout November and December, life was difficult because I was so depressed even though my sisters came for a visit on New Year’s Day. I finally got off of Tikosyn and back on Cordarone. I had to buy it from Turkey because the U.S. doesn’t produce brand name anymore. Don’t worry… I had the approval of my cardiologist, that I’ve seen for about 25 years, to take the Turkey Cordarone. So he knows me pretty well. Now that I’m back on Cordarone, I’ve started feeling more myself, as in my heart has settled down. However, I went through a month of feeling as if I had no motivation and all the Christmas stress was getting me depressed. K was noticing. It was definitely a struggle there for a while. I even stopped crocheting for about a week and a half. *SHOCK!* Whaaaat??? Say it isn’t so! I know, I’m surprised about it too. But don’t worry. I’m back at it and I finished the December Need a Hug afghan and have started January’s afghan! Yay! I still need to get the December afghan in the mail. Ergg… Sorry!
Because my breathing has been worse, I exchanged my 5 liter oxygen concentrator for a 10 liter concentrator that I use with my liquid oxygen. I still use a splitter that I can connect the two (concentrator with the liquid oxygen) to use together to make my liquid oxygen last longer. There’s another reason for upgrading to a 10 liter concentrator. I need a machine that will give me more oxygen for when I need it in the future. Plus, it will make vacations a lot easier because we will only have to travel with one 100lb liquid oxygen reservoir and one 75lb reservoir as well as the 10 liter concentrator. I’m thinking ahead for my future. You may be wondering why I still use my concentrator with the liquid oxygen bled in together. Well, the oxygen concentrator does not put out 100% pure oxygen like the liquid oxygen does. My lungs are very sensitive and they just need a higher concentrated level of oxygen. Plus, using 6L of oxygen from both 100lb reservoirs using the splitter (each on 3 liters) doesn’t last me a whole week. My O2 guy only comes once a week for a refill. I tried just the oxygen concentrator at 6LPM but everyday I slowly started feeling worn out. It’s as if I’d use liquid oxygen on 5L… I could do it but by the end of the day my body would feel weak and my breathing would be much more difficult. Here’s a picture of my splitter.
But now for the good news… K and I are planning to go to two concerts!! U2 and Roger Waters! K has been waiting for what seems like forever for U2 to announce a concert date in our area. The really neat thing that’s kicked me out of depression is that K has finally decided to help me do a MAJOR Spring cleaning. It’s not the type of Spring cleaning that you may be thinking of, but it’s more of the kind where you take all the stuff out of every closet and my craft room. We are sifting through all of it and deciding what to throw away, what to donate and what to shred. I have TONS of paper work to shred. We had to get an extra paper shredder so that K could help. The one I already have is slower and shreds less paper at a time. K is parting with his McFarlane action figures and he has a LOT of NHL series 1 thru 12 plus variants. (We are looking for a place to sell them. Most likely below cost.) We’re talking boxes and boxes of dolls. Oops! Did I just say dolls? I mean action figures. *wink* It’s good to get the house uncluttered. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. I work on it everyday and even though it makes me feel exhausted, I don’t want to stop until my house is just the way I want it. Finally!
I plan on blogging more often. So keep coming back! Thanks for reading and stay well. *hugs*
While at the 2016 Pulmonary Hypertension International Conference in Dallas, TX on June 17 – 19, I met Steve Van Wormer, who helped create the PHAware Global Association. At the conference, he did interviews of PH patients to help get their PH Stories out to the public to raise awareness of this devastating and currently incurable disease. He asked me to do an interview. I tried my best to do the interview. He was SO gracious when my brain decided to blank out.. I explained that I write much better than I talk. The long term effect of high CO2 on my brain really has affected my memory and recall. Thank goodness for editing… and cut & paste. Hopefully, he can make something out of what I said.
For this reason, I want to get what I REALLY wanted to say here on my blog. Here we go!
I’m aware that I’m rare. Rocco has now become PHAware. He’s my PH Pup!
My name is Christine Liles and I have Secondary Pulmonary Hypertension. I was born with PH due to Congenital Heart Defects and Scoliosis that caused Restrictive Lung Disease. The doctors knew almost right away that I had Pulmonary Hypertension. The pressures were really high and since I was born in 1969, there were no PH medications or a course of treatment for this very rare disease. So, I grew up living with this disease taking Lanoxin for a short time to help slow my heart rate down. I was restricted from most gym activity because of the shortness of breath.
My parents & sisters were great at providing me with as close to a normal life as possible. Before the age of 10 years old, if my sisters bowled and played baseball in leagues, I was right there with them. Granted, I was much slower but I did it even though the doctors kind of frowned upon it. At the age of 10, my parents finally talked my Cardiologist into performing a corrective surgery on my Ventrical Septal Defect in my heart. My Thoracic & Cardiac doctors, both, didn’t want to do it because they didn’t think I had a chance to make it off the table. It was my most glorious moment walking out of the hospital 7 days later with a patched VSD. With that successful surgery, my PH pressures reduced slightly.
Life really improved until I turned 17 years old. I started having blackouts while driving, began becoming forgetful, and my CO2 was much higher. So I started using oxygen at night. As time went by in my life, I started having more Shortness of Breath. My oxygen flow increased, I started using a bipap to sleep with and I had to stop working all together. This happened when I was 23, just a year after I got married to the love of my life. It was a very difficult adjustment. He knew it was coming.. this health change. I told him when we were dating and then before we married. This is the best I will be. I won’t get better because there are no medications to fix my PH and only one pill that can regulate my heart arrhythmia that I now have. I asked him… Can you handle this? His answer was total honesty which is what I wanted to hear but was hard to hear because he said.. I don’t know. And then, I went on oxygen 24/7. My husband has been my rock and he’s made from the finest quality of human beings… his parents.
In 2006, my Cardiologist asked me to check out the medicine Revatio & Cialis with my pulmonologist. So off I went to see my Pulmonologist who then sent me to see a PH Specialist. I didn’t even know there were PH Specialists. Over the years, after trying most of the PH medications that are available, which there aren’t nearly enough, there is only one medication that my body can tolerate. This is what I will stay on until something new comes along that my doctor thinks might work. I’m not a candidate for lung transplant because of my deformed ribs. I spend my life finding different ways to do the things I need to get done. Picking things off the floor are by using my toes to lift it to my hands. Vacuuming is my husband’s job now. I bend at the waist to wash my hair. I have an adapter for my van to use my bipap on the road for vacations while in the car if have trouble breathing. I do things in short bursts of energy. What takes my husband 2 hours to clean the whole house, takes me all week and even then I can’t get all of the really hard things done.. such as scrubbing the tub, vacuuming or mopping the floors.
This is my life now and I’ve learned to adapt which is the key to keeping myself happy. I’ve found hobbies that I can do that brings me GREAT joy. Just to be able to garden, my husband has built me a raised garden at the height of 16 inches to help me not have to bend down to the ground to grow vegetables. Instead of growing my dwarf fruit trees in the ground, he planted them in half whiskey barrels. I had trouble with dragging a long rubber watering hose, so I asked for a Pocket Hose because it is SOOOO light!
Will there be a cure in my lifetime? I don’t really know. In all honesty, I’m not so concerned for a cure for ME. I’ve had a GREAT life, filled with love and so many adventures. What I am concerned about are all the children who have Primary Pulmonary Hypertension. They need a cure in their lifetime. They have their whole life in front of them but with PH and without a cure, all they have are the medications that are currently available. My passion is for these kids. I know what it’s like to grow up with health problems. PH is no easy disease to live with. Help us. Be PHAware and get the message out that we need a cure.WE ARE DESPERATE TO BREATHE. Check out PHAware.global to see how you can become involved in finding a cure and spreading the word about Pulmonary Hypertension. Or follow on social media @phaware
Yesterday was so exciting! K & I drove to meet my sister & family at their hotel for a visit before they take off today for their vacation. It was so great! Yesterday, though, I got a text from one of my twin nephews asking if I’ll make his favorite cookies. The whole family loves Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. I texted back.. “Of course I will!” I made a whole batch yesterday morning at 5am because I couldn’t sleep any longer. Before I started, I was kind of freaking out because I thought I ran out of sugar and thought I didn’t have enough 1-minute oatmeal but I finally found the new bag of sugar that was hidden away and the oatmeal ended up being enough. Whew!
I made Klondike a new hat, an English to German dictionary (like his French one), a fun tourist map of Germany, some miniature old newspapers of WWII as reading material for my chicken while on the plane, his wallet & money, his Germany Travel Journal (different from his Paris Journal) and his passport. My sister said she will get some German stickers to cut down to size to add as customs stamps to his passport. How clever is that? She’s very creative like me.
The first picture came in today as they are getting ready to head to the airport. Klondike is a PRETTY COOL DUDE! I can’t wait to share his adventure with you and hopefully brighten your days to come like it does for me. Being on oxygen, we need all the fun and exciting things we can get to help us get through life. So, even though owning a rubber chicken who goes off on adventures is a little silly, he does his job in brightening my day. He really makes me laugh so much! lol!!!
Klondike is wearing his fuzzy wolf ears from the hotel and enjoying his first Chocolate Oatmeal cookie. He’s ready to travel!
This is the cover of his dictionary. It’s only 2 inches tall. Everything fits in his backpack.