Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Out-of-Synch Mom

I finished reading a novel today, and is often the case, my take on the book was radically different than the blurbs that made me want to read it in the first place. Not that I didn't like the book, quite the contrary in fact. I loved the book. It was beautifully written, had strong and sympathetic characters, an interesting storyline, and was exceedingly witty and compelling. It was, in fact, a brilliant first novel, one that left me begging for more.

The blurbs, however, called it humorous, hilarious, uproariously funny, deadpan, and madcap, none of which I would use to describe this story of the marriage estrangement of two vastly different personalities parenting a six year-old autistic boy in regional North Carolina.

"this is just exactly like you" by Drew Perry (sic) is a sadly touching and quirky tale of a marriage gone wrong between Beth and Jack, acted out to the background of Hendrick, their savant young son. Beth, an English professor at a small college, is wound too tightly for her own good. She is a controlling woman with an overload of fear who can't seem to accept the limitations of her young son . She wants everything in her life to be done correctly and quickly. Not a risk taker nor a easy acceptor, she worries more about posting emergency numbers and poison control information all over her house than she does trying to communicate with her son.

Of all the men at the University of Carolina, Chapel Hill that Beth was exposed to, she ended up with Jack, an ABD in the same program. Jack is a man with visions of what the future might be, but with an inability to finish most of his visions. He sees their small tract home with a breakfast nook, then knocks down a wall where it would be in his vision but is stymied once a problem comes up, and angry Beth is left with a wall of plywood where the nook was supposed to be. This inability to finish what he starts eventually becomes too much for Beth, who takes off for a time out with Jack's best friend Terry after Jack buys the house across the street with plans to fix it up and sell it at a profit.. Terry's marriage has also fallen apart when his wife Rena leaves and moves into her own condo in the city. Hilarious so far?

Hendrick, or Hen as Jack calls him, is a savant that started reading at 2.5 years and had continued reading and memorizing anything he can get his hands on.  Hen likes the Weather Channel and TV commercials, which he has also memorized. While verbal, Hen speaks in commercial and quotes the tree catalog that is his favorite belonging. Hen rarely speaks to people, but he speaks at them citing a commercial as his mode of discourse.

Hen seems to favor Jack, which makes Beth even angrier, but allows her to leave him with Jack when she takes off. This departure, odd as it might sound, is the catalyst for Hen to take off verbally. Jack must take Hen to work with him at Jack's Patriot Mulch & Trees. As Hen settles into this new twist in his life, he begin speaking in fluent Spanish, as learned from Ernesto, one of Jack's employees. Apparently, Hen and Ernesto have become friends as they ride around delivering mulch and top soil, chatting en espanol.

Once Jack has gotten over his astonishment that Hen speaks Spanish, he starts conversing more with Hen and is rewarded with not only answers, but snippets of things Hen is interested in. When Beth finds out about Hen's increasing verbal skills in both languages, she is furious with Jack for not telling her immediately, nor taking Hen to the doctor. What controlling Beth cannot do is be proud and supportive of Hen or Jack.

On a whim, Jack and Rena take Hen out to a bar on Karaoke night, and Hen and Rena get up and sing a song together, thus cementing Hen's acceptance of Beth's departure and Rena's arrival into his confusing life. With Rena, Hen starts coming out of his shell, showing Jack a child he had only dreamed about a couple of weeks back, before Beth left.

While out with Hen and Rena, Rena drives past a putt-putt golf place that was closed down. They stop because Jack wants to look at the huge fiberglass marine sculptures. The owner comes out, lets them play a round of golf, and Jack gets another of his crazy ideas. He buys the marine animals that he plans to use in his back yard as decoration for a cement big wheel and tricycle figure 8 track for Hen. Not that Hen has ever ridden on any toy, but you never know.

The very next day, through a series of questionable deals, Jack gets the NCDOT to build the track, only he decides to put it in the yard of his auction house, where he has recently moved himself and Hen to. In the midst of construction, Beth pulls up the driveway and has a screaming fit in front of Hen, Rena, and the construction guys. Beth becomes physically aggressive when things don't go her way, and from that point there is a downward spiral of anger and hurt feelings for all of the characters. No happy ending to this story of anger, jealously and flawed people all surrounding a child that needs normalcy, quiet, and routine.

I found much of this book tragic. The inability of any of the characters to tap into their own selves, the utter lack of communication by all of them, and the unwillingness to stop and realize that their adult misbehaviour were deleteriously affecting an autistic child frankly pissed me off. As adults, we should be better than that.

And yet I loved this book, despite the flaws of the characters. What other reviewers saw as funny, I saw as quirky tragedy. Such a beautifully imagined and written story impacted me to write this, as well as to go back and read it again just for the prose. For all the sadness and nuttiness this read presented, I urge you to read it next in your pile of books. Really, read it. It will affect you in ways you just can't fathom.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Royals

Hell yes, I'm going to watch it. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Nobody does pompous celebrations better than the British and following a long line of dubious Royalists in my family makes following the wedding "Tradition."  I know, hard to believe that this Jewish girl from Southern California can use the tradition excuse for staying up all night watching the wedding of two people she'll likely never meet, but heck... I have this in my blood.

Granny Rose, my father's mother, was born and brought up in Birmingham England. She saw Queen Victoria when she was a little girl (Grannie. Victoria was an old lady, I imagine) and as a child I was not allowed to play with her Queen Victoria doll, dressed in a purple velvet cape trimmed in ermine (probably dyed rabbit fur, but it was ermine to me.) My sister became keeper of the doll, so you can be sure that I never got a chance to touch that doll. My sister was born a bitch and only worsened with time.

Grannie was APPALLED when Edward VIII abdicated and headed off into the sunset with the twice divorced Mrs.Wallis Simpson, the woman he love. I don't blame her, it was appalling. I don't recall her ever mentioning King George VI, although I imagine that she would be first in line at the movies to see him depicted in "The King's Speech."  King George VI married Elizabeth, know as the Queen Mum, and they had two daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. The King died in February, 1952, which is the year that I was born. With his death, daughter Elizabeth ascended to the throne and became Queen Elizabeth II.


When I was a child, I was a strict royalist and was besotted with photographs of Prince Phillip and Princess Margaret astride various horses. I could think of nothing better than to have a stable of fine steeds with stalls I would never have to much, and early morning feeding and turnouts left to the servants. I was no fool, but I was horse crazy. Being in the royal family seemed very dull until Margaret became a divorcee and the failed royal marriages begun it's downhill procession. Prince Charles, a funny looking man with huge ears born in 1948, was proclaimed a hot bachelor and I recall reading about his various "love interests" that were all a sham to hide his real affection for Camilla Parker Bowles. His younger brother Andrew was more dashing and also very single.


Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, a kindergarten teacher in 1982. The wedding was televised world-wide, and was the first royal wedding that I watched from beginning to end. I couldn't get enough of Diana. She was elegant, beautiful, and as we later learned, troubled and miserable. However, she loved her two sons, William and Harry. And this is where my personal story becomes really interesting.


The eighties and early nineties saw me traveling often and then living in England. I too was in love with an Englishman, the father of my half-British children. I was freaking hooked on being an anglophile. Every day in London was glorious, but my favorite times were the weeks I spent in Sloane Square, a particularly posh neighborhood located a hop, skip, and jump away from Westminster, Knightsbridge, Kensington, and Belgravia. Right at the top of our street, across from the Sloane Sq, tube station and the Royal Court Theater was a gourmet style grocery shoppe. A small store but filled with mouth-watering goodies imported and British, and it was a purveyor of food to the royal family. I stopped in occasionally for a nibble, and one fine fall day I went in to find Princess Diana shopping for after school treats. Being me, I was struck deaf, dumb, and blind with agonizing panic in the middle of s small aisle, and she looked up at me and said "Hello."  I stumbled on repeating the greeting back and she lightly touched me left arm (it has since been washed) and said something about the treats we were both looking at. The floodgates opened and I gushed on about being a lowly American living in the neighborhood and how much I loved it, and did she really do her own shopping, to which she laughed and admitted that occasionally even Her Majesty bought an item or two in a local shop. She told me she had to pick up "the boys from school" and I also had some place to be, so we said goodbye and THAT, my friends was my brush with Royalty. I learned, as I told every human I knew about this encounter, that the "boys" school was right up the street from where I was living, and then stalked the school looking for a glimpse of them, to no avail.

After Diana's death, Prince Charles became a doting father, and when the boys were away at college and in the army he married his firso love, Camilla.

A couple of years later I went to watch the Queen's procession to open Parliament and saw the entire procession head down the Mall. When the Queen's gilt carriage passed by, she waved right at me. I have a photo and everything, but it is packed in a box in Gemma's room.

So, with two half-British kids, a brush with Royalty, the history of my family, and my love of anything British makes me the perfect royal wedding fan!


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have you ever?

Have you ever done something really stupid without thinking of the consequences? Like crossing the street without looking both ways. Or putting ice cream on the counter meaning to put it away but then forget? How about leaving your hand washed items flung up on the shower curtain bar and forget to take them down while your in-laws are visiting. Have you gone to the grocery store, spent an hour loading your cart up with a bunch of goodies for the party you're throwing that evening and get through checkout to discover your wallet isn't in your purse and either is your checkbook?

I am not all that proud to say that I've done all these things in my past, mostly before I got sick and got really spacey. I know I've always been a bit of a space cadet, but lately I've graduated from cadet to full admiral. I'm telling you, I keep doing and saying things that I can't believe. I'd feel guilty if I remembered half of my faux pas, but my memory is shot and this particular combination of meds I'm taken has turned me into a silly billy. I swear it, I'm not all there.

Take tonight. Please. I went to bed around my normal time, 3ish, and tried to fall asleep but Pepper decided that was a great time to dig to china in her litter box. Dig, scratch, dig some more. I got a tad bit agitated (apoplectic) and started yelling at her but she was undeterred until I threw my shoe at her. She gave up the expedition and went off to complain to Spot about what a bitch I was, while Graham comes out of his room to tell me how insane I am. Does he KNOW me? I'm beyond whacked. Then he goes into the kitchen and microwaves some of MY oatmeal (the organic less calories and less taste kind I like). I give him shit for using mine when there is another kind that he can add maple syrup and brown sugar too, but that is "too hard." 

I try to get to sleep but I'm too agitated, what with kitty archaeologists and a wayward kid on my mind, so I decide to look at my Facebook, and then peruse the furniture on craigslist until I realize that I, too am a little peckish. I decide to get some almonds because they are good for my heart, and then I proceed to (wait for it) lay down on my back and eat said almonds while going thru more craigslist forums.

Now any fool knows that eating whilst lying flat on your back is stupid and dangerous. Especially when you are eating something like nuts, which won't dislodge easily if, heaven forbid, they get stuck in your gullet.

Sooooo, guess what happened? Oh yeah. Totally choked on a damn heart healthy raw almond. I should freaking kill the asshat that decided almonds are good for you because they almost killed me tonight. Of course the cats and Graham slept through my desperate coughing so I had to dislodge the nubbin o'nut myself.

I am such an idiot!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Frustrated with my own rules

Something happened that was important today. I can't tell you what because it isn't my story to tell, but a waft of fresh air blew in to the house late this afternoon and by early evenings were turning around.

Gemma once again is out at Bassnector, which is some dubstep DJ that does raves. She's gone before, just a couple of days ago, and then an extra ticket came up today and she was off. It is kind of strange to me that she is blossoming so well socially after so many friend disasters in middle and high schools. Her friends are mostly in college or working hard. She's been exposed to really wonderful things by these friends, and is setting off an advancement in her vocabulary and her interest in the world around her. If she wasn't such a slob (which she is) and she wasn't so tight with her money on anything that is not for her, well then I'd say she is just about perfectiom in my book. But she still has a way to go.

We haven't really had spring here yet. It is cold and winter clothes are still required. I guess after going through such a brutal winter it seems almost unfair to have to endure a cold spring as well. I'm waiting for the forsythia to bloom, which is the real sign that winter is gone. I've seen a few bulbs up in sunny spots, but no flowering trees or shrubs. And where are my lilacs?


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What is wrong with me? Part 2

As I said in Part 1, one of the more horrible side effects of obstructive hypertrophic cardiology is congestive heart failure. I have been in heart failure for the past 7 years now. I've spent many hospital visits trying to regulate my heart, and to bring my heart failure back into less than the heart threatening problem that brought me into the hospital in the first place.

Heart failure, also called congestive heart failure, is a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Heart failure is a chronic, long-term condition, although it can sometimes develop suddenly.The condition may affect only the right side or only the left side of the heart. These are called right-sided heart failure or left-sided heart failure. More often, both sides of the heart are involved. In my case, both sides are affected.

Heart failure is present when the following changes are present:
  • Your heart muscle cannot pump, or eject, the blood out of the heart very well. This is called systolic heart failure.
  • Your heart muscles are stiff and do not fill up with blood easily. This is called diastolic heart failure.
Both of these problems mean the heart is no longer able to pump enough oxygen-rich blood out to the rest of your body, especially when you exercise or are active. As the heart's pumping action is lost, blood may back up in other areas of the body, causing fluid to build up in the lungs, the liver, the gastrointestinal tract, and the arms and legs. As a result, there is a lack of oxygen and nutrition to organs, which damages them and reduces their ability to work properly. In my case, the edema (water retention) pools more in my abdomen and legs. I can see how badly the swelling is in my face, too.

Perhaps the most common cause of heart failure is coronary artery disease (CAD), a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. Heart failure can also occur when an infection weakens the heart muscle. Such a disorder is called cardiomyopathy.
Other heart problems that may cause heart failure are:
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Heart valve disease
  • Some types of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
Diseases such as emphysema, severe anemia, hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism may also cause or contribute to heart failure.


Symptoms of heart failure most often begin slowly. At first, they may only occur when you are very active. Over time, breathing problems and other symptoms may be noticed even when you are resting. However, heart failure symptoms may begin suddenly after a heart attack or other heart problem. Common symptoms are:
Other symptoms may include:
Some patients with heart failure have no symptoms. In these people, the symptoms may develop only with these conditions:

Signs and tests

A physical examination may reveal the following:
  • Fluid around the lungs (pleural effusion)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Leg swelling (edema)
  • Neck veins that stick out (are distended)
  • Swelling of the liver
Listening to the chest with a stethoscope may reveal lung crackles or abnormal heart sounds. In my case, my heart murmur signaled my official diagnosis of HCM but made hearing other abnormal sounds more difficult.

The following tests may be used to diagnose or monitor heart failure:
This disease may also alter the following test results:


If you have heart failure, your doctor will monitor you closely. Too often, in my opinion. If I don't control it, my doctor's appointments would be all that I do. I see 3 cardiologists and my primary care doctor monthly. You will have follow up appointments at least every 3 to 6 months and tests to check your heart function. For example, an ultrasound of your heart (echocardiogram) will be done once in awhile to see how well your heart pumps blood with each beat.

You will need to carefully monitor yourself and help manage your condition. One important way to do this is to track your weight on a daily basis. Weigh yourself at the same time each day and on the same scale, with little to no clothes on.Weight gain can be a sign that your body is holding onto extra fluid and your heart failure is worsening. Talk to your doctor about what you should do if your weight goes up more than 5 lbs or if you develop more symptoms.

Other important measures include:
  • Take your medications as directed. Carry a list of medications with you wherever you go.
  • Limit salt intake.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Stay active. For example, walk or ride a stationary bicycle. Your doctor can provide a safe and effective exercise plan for your degree of heart failure. DO NOT exercise on days that your weight has gone up from fluid retention or you are not feeling well.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
Here are some tips to lower your salt and sodium intake:
  • Look for foods that are labeled “low-sodium,” “sodium-free,” “no salt added,” or “unsalted.” Check the total sodium content on food labels. Be especially careful of canned, packaged, and frozen foods. A nutritionist can teach you how to understand these labels.
  • Don’t cook with salt or add salt to what you are eating. Try pepper, garlic, lemon, or other spices for flavor instead. Be careful of packaged spice blends as these often contain salt or salt products (like monosodium glutamate, MSG).
  • Avoid foods that are naturally high in sodium, like anchovies, meats (particularly cured meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham, and salami), nuts, olives, pickles, sauerkraut, soy and Worcestershire sauces, tomato and other vegetable juices, and cheese.
  • Take care when eating out. Stick to steamed, grilled, baked, boiled, and broiled foods with no added salt, sauce, or cheese.
  • Use oil and vinegar, rather than bottled dressings, on salads.
  • Eat fresh fruit or sorbet when having dessert.
Your doctor may prescribe the following medications:
Certain medications may make heart failure worse and should be avoided. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, thiazolidinediones, metformin, cilostazol, PDE-5 inhibitors (sildenafil, vardenafil), and many drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms. Right now I use metoprolol, spirolactone, torsemide, warfarin, and many other medications.

Heart valve surgery, coronary bypass surgery (CABG), and angioplasty may help some people with heart failure.The following devices may be recommended for certain patients with heart failure:
  • A pacemaker to help treat slow heart rates or other heart signaling problems
  • A biventricular pacemaker to help the both sides of your heart contract at the same time; it is also called cardiac resynchronization therapy.
  • An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator that recognizes life-threatening, abnormal heart rhythms and sends an electrical pulse to stop them.  I have one of these implanted and should be replacing it this summer.
Severe heart failure may require the following treatments when other therapies no longer work. They are often used when a person is waiting for a heart transplant:
Note: These devices can be life saving, but they are not permanent solutions. Patients who become dependent on circulatory support will need a heart transplant.

Expectations (prognosis)

Heart failure is a serious disorder. It is usually a chronic illness, which may get worse with infection or other physical stress. Many forms of heart failure can be controlled with medication, lifestyle changes, and treatment of any underlying disorder.


  • Irregular heart rhythms (can be deadly)
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Total heart failure (circulatory collapse)
As stated before, the next installation of this 3-part post will concentrate on my irregular heart rhythms.

Possible side effects of medications include:
 I tend towards light-headedness, fainting, coughing, headaches, nausea, and WICKED muscle cramps. I don't just get foot and leg cramps, my hands cramp as do my abdominal muscles. Very very painful. The cramping is caused by a potassium and magnesium deficit.  The cure is to take a lot of potassium in gigantic pill form. In the hospital they make me drink potassium, which is vile. Taking diuretics is a constant balancing act, with blood tests galore. It really sucks.

Of all the many bad things about CHF, the worst is taking diuretics. HATE IT. They destroy my ability to lead a normal life.

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The power of words

I forget sometimes how powerful words can be. An "I love you" or an "I'm sorry" can change a bad situation to a good one. Sometimes simplicity in words is all you need to convey your feeling. Other times help, like a life editor, can make a difference. As writers, we need to be egoless with our words. To not be so attached to the way you say something. After all, they are only words.


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Saturday, April 16, 2011

What is wrong with me? Part 1

Over the years many people, most of them trolls or anonymous posters have challenged my disability. These folks are not doctors or any other medical professionals. Mostly they are bored housewives in their thirties who think it is grand to make a sick person admit they are faking or using "the system" to their advantage. Looking at me when you think that? Good on you.

However, for those that know me IRL, or who have a long online relationship with me know that I'm not malingering and sucking the government's teat dry. Heavens Forfend! So I like to remind my dear readers just what is wrong with me and why, so we can clear up any misconceptions you might be harboring. I'm going to do this long, convoluted medical class in several steps. Part 1 is about my Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. Part 2 will cover congestive heart failure. Part 3 will be atrial fibrillation, and Part 4 will explain about diabetes and the heart.

So let's begin at the very beginning, shall we?

I was born with a congenital heart defect called obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. This means that my heart is thicker and larger than normal hearts. The thickening makes it harder for blood to leave the heart, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood. As the heart is consistently working much harder, it starts to run out of flexibility and grows stiff.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is often asymmetrical, meaning one part of the heart is thicker than the other parts. The condition is usually passed down through families (inherited). It is believed to be a result of several problems (defects) with the genes that control heart muscle growth.
Younger people are likely to have a more severe form of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. However, the condition is seen in people of all ages.


  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting, especially during exercise
  • Heart failure (in some patients)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Light-headedness, especially with or after activity or exercise
  • Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
  • Fatigue, reduced activity tolerance
  • Shortness of breath and Shortness of breath when lying down

    Of those symptoms I have dizziness, fainting, heart failure, high blood pressure, palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath standing, sitting, and laying down. These symptoms greatly hinder me ability to live a normal life

Some patients have no symptoms. They may not even realize they have the condition until it is found during a routine medical exam.
The first symptom of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy among many young patients is sudden collapse and possible death. This is caused by very abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), or from the blockage of blood leaving the heart to the rest of the body.

I have an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation and have an increased risk of blood clots and stroke. I take a blood thinner daily for it and get my blood tested every Tuesday morning. 

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a major cause of death in young athletes who seem completely healthy but die during heavy exercise. However, certain normal changes in athletes' hearts can confuse the diagnosis.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Listening with a stethoscope may reveal abnormal heart sounds or a murmur. These sounds may change with different body positions.
The pulse in your arms and neck will also be checked. The doctor may feel an abnormal heartbeat in the chest.
Tests used to diagnose heart muscle thickness, problems with blood flow, or leaky heart valves (mitral valve regurgitation) may include:
Not all of these tests are useful for evaluating all of these conditions.
Blood tests may be done to rule out other possible diseases.
If you are diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, your health care provider may recommend that your close blood relatives (family members) be screened for the condition. My kids have been screened since they were 12 years old.


The goal of treatment is to control symptoms and prevent complications. Some patients may need to stay in the hospital until the condition is under control (stabilized). Last year I was in the hospital for 9 weeks getting stabilized. It was not fun.

If you have symptoms, you may need medication to help the heart contract and relax correctly. Some medications used include beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, which may reduce chest pain and other symptoms, particularly with exercise. Medications will often relieve symptoms so patients do not need more invasive treatments.
Some people with arrhythmias may need anti-arrhythmic medications. If the arrhythmia is due to atrial fibrillation, blood thinners may also be used to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Some patients may have a permanent pacemaker placed. However, pacemakers are used less often today than they were in the past.

When blood flow out of the heart is severely blocked, an operation called surgical myectomy may be done. This procedure cuts and removes a portion of the thickened part of the heart. Patients who have this procedure often show significant improvement. If the heart's mitral valve is leaking, surgery may be done to repair or replace the valve.

In some cases, patients may be given an injection of alcohol into the arteries that feed the thickened part of the heart (alcohol septal ablation), essentially causing a controlled heart attack.  I have had this done and it has improved my life.

An implantable-cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may be needed to prevent sudden death. ICDs are used in high-risk patients. High risks include:
  • Drop in blood pressure during exercise
  • Family history of cardiac arrest
  • History of cardiac arrest or ventricular tachycardia
  • History of unexplained fainting
  • Life-threatening heart rhythms on a Holter monitor
  • Severe heart muscle thickness

    I have had an ICD implanted for over 5 years now.

Expectations (prognosis)

Some people with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy may not have symptoms and live a normal lifespan. Others may get worse gradually or rapidly. The condition may develop into a dilated cardiomyopathy in some patients.
People with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are at higher risk for sudden death than the normal population. Sudden death can occur at a young age. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a well-known cause of sudden death in athletes. Almost half of deaths in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy happen during or just after the patient has done some type of physical activity. Patients are sometimes advised to avoid strenuous exercise.


  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Life-threatening heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
  • Severe injury from fainting

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Pink eye

Both of my kids appear to have the dreaded pink eye. I can't even remember the last time we dealt with particular plague but it must be at least 10 tears ago. Even though they are now grown up, they still act like hellions when it comes to medical treatments. Graham has spent his entire life convinced that eye drops will kill him. Getting drops, never mind gunky oily ointment into his eyes is impossible. Even the mention of drops has him screaming like a girly girl.  He won't try to put them in himself and there is no way in hell that  anyone else can get within 5 feet of him if holding an eye drop bottle.

And then there is Gemma. Remember that she wouldn't take pills as a little kid. She also will not take pills as a mature kid in her late teens. No way no how. Especially when whining is SOOOOO much more fun. I've left the benedryl out for her to reconsider because guess what? I'm an idiot that cannot believe that she won't crack. I am ever hopeful. Not that it ever works, but what the hell?

I've also got a full prescription for an antibiotic that has not expired and she refused to take a while back. Long since whatever infection it was prescribed for, I keep on hoping that someday she might swallow a damn pill. In the meantime I am thankful that a Nuvaring was invented for stubborn girls like her.

So far I have not caught the conjunctivitis, but then again I use allergy meds daily including Panetol eyedrops. I believe in preventative practices that will keep me as healthy as possible. Cause I am a fragile speshul snowflake.

One last thing. The more I watch Bethany (Gets Married, Ever After, RHONY) the more I see huge similarities between us. It is kinda uncanny. She has the same short fuse that I do. She has the same type of family background that I do. She reacts to birthdays the same way I do. She's bossy and controlling like I am, and she does not trust anyone to do it as well as she does. It is unnerving to watch her sometimes because I know what she is thinking before the action happens. The biggest difference is that I'm an XL and she is a XS. Oh, and Jason. Otherwise? Peas in a pod.

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Monday, April 11, 2011


Some time in my sleep last Thursday night I hurt my left knee. I cannot for the life of me figure out how a person totals their knee in bed, but if it can be done, I'll be the one to do it.  So I did. It hurts like hell in the inside right of my patella. It is a familiar pain. My right knee is a fake knee installed way back in 1980. i have done the knee thing. I do not want to do it again. When my right knee fell apart in 1980, they weren't really doing much microsurgery so I got the full 12" scar, some teflon, and a new patella. It took months and months to heal and it never has been 100% right since them. Consequently, I've been avoiding admitting that my sad left knee might be really torn up. Especially because....sleeping injury? How embarrassing is that?

Meanwhile, someone at JCFS called me today about all our other crisis problems and recommended that I call their mental health department because of my high level of stress. I didn't even know they had a mental health department but I agreed to call just to lower my stress level and problem solve how to dig my way out of this hole.

Meanwhile Gemma appeared home yesterday evening, slept until 2 this afternoon and then screamed at me when I mentioned job hunting. Graham applied for a job at our local Dunkin' Donuts. He's hoping to get an interview and has even agreed to wear his navy blue dockers on an interview. We are making progress people, progress.

I saw a show the other night called Cats 101 that showcased a British cat that lived near the seaside. The cat somehow figured out that it could hop on the little tourist train, ride it to the last stop that happened to be the seaside aquarium, walked through the aquarium building gazing at the fish tanks until he got outside in the back where the penguins lived. He sat watching the penguins for a long time with no growling or meowing until it was time to go back home. He hopped back on the train, got off at his home, only to do it again the next day. It was hilarious but I can't find a clip to show you. Sob.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sat. afternoon in the 'hood

This is the first weekend where the neighbors left their houses and ventured outside to play in the early spring sunshine. There are a ton of kids all around our house so the nice quiet neighborhood came alive with the typical kid sounds. Next door on one side the kids were playing basketball and yelling at each other every time someone missed a basket.

Across the street the twins were out playing on their front steps with a bunch of bright plastic toys and no parent hovering all over them. Not even a patent in sight, jus mohawk dad working on the back yard. Nice to see some free range parenting.

On the other side the little girl was having a birthday party with a large group of friends wearing bright-colored cotton dresses. There must have been at least 20 girls in a rainbow sherbet of adorable fabrics screaming that shrill shout that only 10 year girls can make.

When the neighborhood comes alive I get nostalgic for when my own kiddos used to play outside with their friends, running up and down the streets, skate boarding or roller blading over the hills. I think back to the times when they seemed so worry free and happy just being a kid.

My kids aren't the free form kids of their youth. They brood, they worry, they panic, they have high anxiety. They are moving into adulthood where free time is at a minimum and hanging out with friends means drinking beer and smoking pot. It seems unfair that they got so little time to be a kid versus the long, dragged out amount of time they'll have being burdoned with adult worries and woes. People always that youth is wasted on the young, and now it is even more unfair because kids grow up so much faster than they used to. 

I miss birthday parties and playdates and summer camp. I miss sending the kids outside to play and then watching them as they did something crazy or creative just because. This getting older shit is a total crock and I don't like it one bit.

Where is Peabody's Wayback Machine when you need it?

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Tough morning doesn't bode well

We have had a really hard month and it is just going to get worse this month. I am out of money already, and once again that is without food shopping. We're going to starve to death. In the past 3 days I've eaten 6 slices of bread. Plain bread. No butter or jam or anything else. We're running out of bread. We ran out of rice and pasta. There is literally nothing left to eat. I think about food all the time. I dream about grocery shopping and eating all the time. A friend is bringing by some stuff to tide us over until Family Table, our food pantry delivers some staples. I've contacted a Jewish charity about Passover food coupons that we usually get but didn't this year. I'm going to apply for food stamps AGAIN. I'm going to call Project Bread AGAIN. I'm looking for some freelance gigs (so far nothing is out there). I'm doing everything I can including nagging my kids about jobs on a continual basis.

What scares me is that the government wants to take even more away from us. They want our family, and the thousands of families like us to disappear into the mist. They want to pretend that the only worthy Americans are in the top 1% of the financial pyramid, as are the Senate and house members, and the rest of us don't exist. They want to strip bare the American safety net because, after all, they don't need it so why should they pay for it. The financial divide ever widens, while the financially insecure keep free-falling into the pit of debt and death. American children are starving. American children have no health care. American infrastructure is a disgrace. American education is a joke. But the Republicans only care to line each others pockets. More money for them, no money for the rest of us. It is wrong. It is mean-spirited, it is horrible and yet we continue to allow it to happen.

America, we need a revolution. We need to get back to when it wasn't shameful to be middle class or poor. We need to get to the point where nobody needs the kind of wealth we now see in the US. Why does ANYONE need billions of personal dollars? I'd like to see personal income topped out with a 100% tax of anything over 10 million per year. If you can't live on 10 million, something is seriously WRONG with your values. I'd like to see everything over a million taxed at 65%. I want the rich to pay for the privilege of being rich. And I want ALL corporate loopholes closed and a mandatory tax of 50% on ALL corporate earnings so companies like GE and EXXON would finally be forced to pay taxes. Screw the shareholders, they are all rich too. I want the money in this country spread around all the population and not just the richest 1%. I want equity. I want socialism. I want to live in a country where all the citizens have value.

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Monday, April 04, 2011


As anyone that has read even a few mommy bloggers for a long period of time knows, this group of grown up women often act like middle school mean girls more times than they care to admit. There is the subgroup that makes jokes about themselves and their bitchy meanness. There are those that blame everything on a single poster that had the audacity to disagree with them. There are those that urge on their readers to stand up and verbally fight the dissenters. And my personal favorite, the present one sweet face on your blog but really be a vicious bitch behind the scenes in email. I'm also fond of the posse mentality that permeates this world.

I'm more inclined to like the bloggers that stay away from the fray, but I'm also very partial to the few, the proud, and the opinionated who go against the grain and refuse to be kowtowed by the mean girls of mommyblogging.

There have been some interesting developments recently in the mommy world. The incredible dull and whiter than white vblog Momversations, is being recognized as the uncool thing to be involved in, primarily because there are no women of color and every woman on there is well-to-do and live comfortably with their husband's salary and the loving help of assistants and nannies. Life is tough for these mommys as they discuss potty training and nursing. None of their kids are teens and/or young adults. They haven't yet met the REAL parenting bugaboos of sex, drugs, and rock & roll yet.

The other controversy over there is how much money is pouring in thru advertising and paid public appearances. One poster that is particularly annoying wrote a whole long post about how HARD she works getting all of those free trips to Disneyland while she is (gasp) parenting her 2 young kids. She went on and on about the rigors of her "career" as a mommy blogger, if we only knew the pain. It is so hard, she had to (gasp) hire an assistant. Boo hoo hoo. Of course she claims she's making bundles of money but the real number is not up for us to fawn over. She's too scared that she might get a negative response. Horrors! She goes on to say how a differing take on her worthiness to get negative attention was bizarre. Girl seem to think there is only one way, and it is her way.

I find all this mommy blogging angst particularly amusing since my past job as a professional corporate technical writer was about six thousand times harder than writing some blog posts designed to solicit even more funds for their coffers. I worked at home in my sunroom home office with my babies around the first two years, and then in daycare and school as they grew older. I did this without a husband or his salary to back me up. I did it without constant trips to social gatherings called "conferences". And I certainly had no assistant. The last salary I earned was $160,000 and it was all mine. I sent two kids to private school, overnight camps, and various lessons. And I did it all on my own. I had to research highly technical information and turn it in to usable prose. I needed to learn several programming languages and many software programs. Most of the time I wrote either in Framemaker or XML. I had to supervise fellow employees, do program management, and as my career topped out, learn how to change to a usability position in my copious spare time. No free trips to Disneyland and very few social gatherings. The conferences I did attend were to learn something new and I went on my own time. No drinking or hamburger parties, no "guest list invites" to exclusive events held be advertisers. Mine was a real job, 49 weeks a year, 10 hours per day average with crunch times all nighters as part of the package, I had to interface with printers, stay up on inventory, work with technical trainers and create my own graphics. It was not a wimpy job choice I made, and it commanded a lot more respect than it was given. Engaging with engineers on a daily basis was enough to earn me a medal of honor. Not! But I did this job for 22 years before I got sick.

So pardon me if I don't feel like falling to my knees in supplecation for the mommy bloggers. I just wish they would shut up about their tough lives for once. Because EVERY working mom would love to have a rich husband, a nice house, good schools for their kids and a little extra for something nice. Most working moms do not have these niceties, but they complain a lot less and don't spend precious moments trying to justify why they are advertiser's bitches.

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Frozen tootsies

It's been might quiet around here. By that I mean both at home and on the blawg. I could lie and say I've been busy. Ha! Not quite. I've been sleeping, reading, and watching some movies and Buffy that we downloaded. I barely see Graham because we sleep at different times, and Gemma is still in Miami, although she comes home tomorrow. I've caught up on a lot of the paperwork piled up, and that's pretty much it from these here parts.

The reason it is so quiet is that, because I am totally flat broke and beyond, Comcast gracefully turned the switch and that results in no internet and no TV. Additionally, Graham used up every minute on my phone and Gemma didn't have enough money to pay her phone bills, so we have no phones either. When you take away the TV and the phone it gets rather moribund in the house at first, but then it gets really pleasant. I'm the queen of introverts so essentially living the life of a hermit is pretty cushy for me. The only complaint I have is that our neighbors are having work done on the side of the house that faces us so there is a lot of banging, excited utterances, and an air compressor for the nail gun that I personally would like to shoot. I've had a headache for a week now.

The headache isn't just from the air compressor, it is also from a lack of food. We finished all the dry cereal, which is all I've eaten in 2 weeks. With no bread, eggs, butter, milk, and cheese there are very few things to make. Graham has been eating beans straight from the can, and yesterday I dipped into my passover stock from last year and made myself a bowl of what they call "Hot Cereal." In reality it is matzoh meal, and it was SO vile, even after I doctored it with cinnamon sugar and raisins that I couldn't eat it. I've never had a cabinet so bare. The only thing in the freezer are two trays of ice cubes. The fridge doesn't fare much better. We do have condiments, but nothing to put them on. We've eaten all the canned tuna and most of the canned salmon, which has been the only protein. I even polished off Gemma's peanut butter and I HATE peanut butter.

The last time we were in a grocery store was at the very end of January. If you think about how much you keep in your pantry, could you have made it for a bit more than a month with no fill-ins or mad dashes to the store to pick up just an item or two? I was pretty sure we could make it if the cereal hadn't run out, but once that was gone it got mighty bleak in the kitchen. I can't even go in there. Graham has made such a spectacular mess while concocting recipes and he won't clean anything that doesn't go in the dishwasher.

Speaking of Graham, I was talking to him the other day about maybe learning a trade if he feels that he can't handle college. (I am FINALLY, after two years of trying, getting to the bottom of why he is not interested in college and it makes a lot of sense if you know Graham's history with school.) We settled on plumbing because of all the trades, they make the most money. A licensed plumber can make six figures easily. So, we're going to investigate the wonderful world of pipes! Maybe he can apprentice with Mike Holmes. He has a bunch of kids working for him including a son and a daughter. All I can say about this is, how wicked cool would it be to have a plumber in the family? For once my pipes would drain.

I'm re-reading "A Crack in the World" by Simon Winchester. It is a primer on tectonic plates, geology, and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. I read it last summer and liked it, but I didn't absorb a lot of the more difficult scientific data because I was reading more for the story. But after Japan's earthquake I wanted to go back and re-read for the more arcane technical information. If you are interested in geology, seismology, and the earth's movements that cause earthquakes, this is the book for you. Told be a superb writer who studied geology at Oxford before the discovery of the side slip of the earth's tectonic plates. I've read several other books by Winchester and all are meticulously researched and extremely readable. Just the social history of San Francisco is well worth the read. HIGHLY recommended.

UPDATE: Comcast back on but argumentative on Sunday morning. Finished the earthquake book which should be required reading for everyone west of the Mississippi, especially in Northern CA, Southern Missouri, and Charleston SC. Los Angeles, while still earthquake prone, gets a reprieve for not sitting directly on a fault. San Francisco people, I'd start packing now. You are SCREWED.

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