Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Good news sometimes comes in strange packages, as in the lesser of two evils. "Hey Dad, I crashed the car. But- good news! I'm not hurt!", or, " Mom, I got a D in math -- but at least I didn't fail!".

My good news is that I may not need the oxygen permanently. The low oxygen saturations that I've been experiencing are most likely caused by a cardiac defect that can be repaired. Definitely the lesser of two evils: irreversible lung damage vs. small hole between 2 of the heart chambers. Did I mention that it can be repaired?

Patent foramen ovale, or PFO for short, is the medical term. Everyone has one before they are born, since babies in utero aren't breathing and receive oxygenated blood from the mother. The body, efficient mechanism that it is, shunts the blood from one side of the heart to the other, bypassing the lungs. Why use something that isn't working? After birth the foramen ovale closes up and the infant's lungs start doing the work. Rarely one won't close up and will need to be repaired, or in my case it has re-opened due to higher pressure in the lungs from the chronic disease.

I had an echocardiogram (echo for short, an ultrasound of the heart) on Monday and got the call from the nurse yesterday afternoon: I have a PFO. I was ecstatic! I doubt she expected my reaction. A heart defect requiring surgery? Sounds bad, right? Maybe, but it can be repaired and I may not need to deal with the oxygen issue just yet. Someday, but at least not right now.

When I exercise or lie flat my blood is shunting from one atria to the other through the PFO and neither getting rid of CO2 nor picking up new O2 in my lungs. Hence, the low O2 sat levels and shortness of breath. Once the PFO is repaired all should return back to normal. It almost feels like a miracle to me, since I was preparing for a new phase in my life, needing oxygen for activity and sleep. Not the end of the world but something that would be limiting and add complications to daily activities, to be sure.

I'm waiting to hear back from the nurse who will be setting up an appointment for me with a cardiac surgeon. I'm anxious to have this over with and get on with my life, hopefully less short of breath and with a bit more energy. I can't even express my gratitude to my doctor who decided to check this out, when it could have easily been written off as CF progression. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted. Good news, indeed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deep Peace

This is what I see when I'm at my kitchen sink. We bought this lovely hanging Buddha in Portland and were going to hang it on the fence, but this spot seemed to be calling out for it.

Deep Peace

Deep peace of the running wave to you

Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour their healing light on you,

Deep peace to you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bye, Bye Birdie

If anyone had ever told me I'd watch every episode of each season of the Sopranos I'd have told them they were nuts. First of all, I don't care for watching violence. Secondly, we don't subscribe to HBO and lastly, I'm usually dozing on the couch or fast asleep by 9pm. However, there is a wonderful invention called Netflix, from which one can rent just about any dvd, any series or television show from the premium channels. Sure, you've got to wait a year or two, but I am usually a bit behind the times with most fads anyway, so it's perfect!

We decided to start renting Sopranos just to see if we liked it. I've always been intrigued by the mafia ever since reading The Godfather series as a young adult. Yes, the show is violent, but hey, it's the mafia after all. The plot line and characters proved to be so engaging I was able to overlook (or cover my eyes) for most of it.

The show starts out with Tony, the head of the "family", in therapy. He's been having panic attacks from the stress of his job. One thing that had recently given him pleasure, a family of ducks who settled into his swimming pool, had just flown off. Naturally, the psychiatrist thought the loss of the ducks somehow equated to his castration fears, but that's beside the point.

The reason I bring this up is because the day after I took the picture of the momma wren feeding her hungry babies, they fledged. They had been very noisy and active, with their little heads poking out of the bird box hole in between visits from Mrs. Wren. In hindsight, it's clear they were preparing themselves for their first flights.

In some ways I felt a little bit sad that they were gone. I had grown accustomed to sitting outside for my breakfast and watching the parents make their many trips back and forth with a tasty bug or moth in their beaks. The cheeping of the babies and the chattering and singing of the parents was one of the first things I heard lying in bed in the morning. They became part of the environment and I enjoyed their presence.

I'm sure a psychiatrist or psychologist could read all kinds of things into my feelings from penis envy to being sad all over again at Wilson's growing up. Who knows, maybe they'd be right. I prefer to think it's just what it is: I liked watching them and seeing the process but it was time for the babies to go forth and do what birds do. I'm sure another year we'll have a different bird family in the birdhouse and I'll enjoy them just as much. In the meantime I'll enjoy the rest of the garden and get to weed the patch under the bird box that I had been avoiding. :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Garden Notes

Yesterday morning I got up early and enjoyed my first cup of coffee outdoors. The sun was just coming up and everything looked so fresh and green. Ms. Wren was busy making many trips back and forth feeding those demanding babies of hers. I was able to get some photos, one of which came out clear enough to post.

The garden is growing well, especially now that there is some deer fencing surrounding it, which makes it impossible for Gomer to get in and use it as a litter box. I'm all for organic fertilizer, but draw the line at horse and cow manure. No cats allowed!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Twitter Update

For the past few days there has been a lot of activity into and out of the bird box, and last night, while dining on the back deck, both Joe and I heard the faintest little peeps coming from that direction every time one of the adult wrens entered the house. The babies have hatched!

What I wouldn't give for a glimpse into the box, I wonder how many there are. I do hope they all survive. Gomer isn't a threat but there have been a couple strangers passing through the yard lately: long-haired orange and fluffy-tail. Maybe Gomer's presence will keep them far enough away when the babies take their first few flights.

That's my tweet for today.