Anticoagulation & Anger Management

Anticoagulation & Anger Management

When I first began anticoagulation therapy, out-of-range INR readings scared the heck out of me. I was new to this whole thing, and didn’t know how high or low my numbers could go without something bad happening. I also didn’t know how bad that something bad might be. Continue reading

False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

False Alarms: Lessons in Patience and Positive Thinking

I remember my symptoms all too well. Chest pain. Back pain. A soreness around the ribs and difficulty breathing deeply, as though I was wearing an invisible corset. Anxiety growing like a cancer in my stomach and my heart.

Which was why, when I experienced similar symptoms a couple of weeks ago, I immediately imagined the worst. Continue reading

Beauty Marks: Scars, Bruises, and Self Image

Beauty Marks: Scars, Bruises, and Self Image

Being fair-skinned and occasionally coordination-challenged means that I have always been quick to bruise. As a kid, black and blue blemishes on my shins and elbows served as constant evidence of having a good time. My knees were perpetually red for years after multiple run-ins with mailboxes while attempting to ride my bike, and though I never got into fisticuffs, or even so much as a slap-fight, with anyone, I still managed to wind up with a black eye one time when I tumbled face-first into the wooden edging of a planter in the front yard.

Being on blood-thinner medication has not exactly improved this facet of my existence. Continue reading

The Obligatory Gratitude Post

The Obligatory Gratitude Post

Historically, November has not been kind to me. Two beloved pets have passed away during this particular month, one actually on Thanksgiving night. In November 2013 my dad suffered a stroke just before the holiday (and a big moving day). The same time last year, I was in medical limbo, miserably symptomatic without the benefit of an explanation. (My valve diagnosis didn’t come until December.) And, a year ago today, I lost a friend and mentor to brain cancer — the same cancer which he had been diagnosed with just before Thanksgiving 2006.

Eventually I decided that all I really wanted for Christmas was to skip straight from October to December. Continue reading

No Road to Recovery: Wellness as a Journey

No Road to Recovery: Wellness as a Journey

When you’re sick, say, with a cold or the flu, you can’t wait till it’s over. From the moment you realize you’ve caught something, you look forward to the day it’s gone, over, finis. The first day you awaken without symptoms is the dawn after a long and restless night, the peaceful quiet after a thunderstorm. You are officially well and you know it, and the absoluteness of that simple truth comes as quite the relief.

Unfortunately, not all diseases or conditions are so mercifully uncomplicated as a 24-hour bug that comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Continue reading

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

Dreadful Dreaming: Nightmare and Sleep Tips for Cardiac Patients

As any good doctor will warn you, nightmares are one of the most common side effects of open heart surgery. Anxiety over an upcoming operation, the fear that another might soon follow, bad memories surrounding the first — with so many possibilities, it would be a bit surprising if you didn’t have a disturbing dream or two. But with all the stress of reality, who needs the extra burden of stressful slumber as well?
Continue reading