Wednesday, April 19, 2017

In Good Times And in Bad, For Better Or For Worse: First Comes a Honey-Do Project, and Then Comes Surgery

Salutations from the waiting room of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Center!  I've been here since 5 AM.  They wheeled Bernie into the operating room and relegated me to this waiting room at 6:45, began his open heart mitral valve repair and maze ablation surgery at 8 AM, and although all of the updates have been that things are "going well" in there, I have no details and they were not finished yet as of 1:30 PM. 

5 AM Today, Before Changing into the Gown
So of course we had to take a Pre-Op Snuggling Selfie before he got into his hospital nightie.  If that's not a Thing, it should be.

And I share that with you because in a moment you are going to be appalled and thinking I am a TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY BAD WIFE when I tell you what I had my heart patient husband doing all day yesterday, the day before his heart surgery.  Let the evidence show that my husband still loves me, he knew exactly what he was getting himself into when he married me, and he picked me anyway.

Yesterday Morning, Loaded With Goodies
Yesterday morning we rented a big commercial van and drove in it together for two hours, until we got to Hendersonville.  After about an hour of shopping for goodies and loading the van, we drove home another two hours, unloaded the van, and returned it to the Enterprise rental place.  Then I ordered the heart patient to rest while I took Anders to his violin lesson, and after dinner, Bernie started the assembly:

Lulu Supervises as Bernie Adjusts the Table Height
Why, oh why would I choose to do this yesterday of all days, the day before his surgery?  Because I know this man and I know what he needs.  As the '80s pop song goes, "I know what boys like, I know what boys want..."

This man of mine has been SO worried and anxious ever since we got back from Florida.  Sitting around staring into space, googling gory images of his surgery on the Internet, worrying about the anesthesia, worrying about the breathing tube and the IVs and everything that could go wrong, giving me morbid instructions about his passwords and "final wishes" and the name of the HR contact at his company "in case anything happens."  This was NOT good for my husband.

But what IS good for my husband is any project involving tools, ingenuity, and focusing his brain power on figuring out how to get heavy stuff in and out of the van and up the stairs with as little exertion as possible, digging through boxes to look for parts, and concentrating his attention on putting something together that he's never done before instead of obsessing about his surgery.  Lars and I both helped him and made sure he wasn't overdoing it (I even resorted to standing on the bottom shelf of a heavy MDF bookcase to prevent him from moving it for me).

Thoroughly Modern Millie Comes Home to Roost!
And look what he accomplished!  This is before he put the rails on, when he was totally flummoxed and trying to figure out whether he was missing some kind of rubber bumper to keep the machine head from flying straight off the back of the machine.  He had to resort to looking at the manual as well as the installation instructions to figure out that the rails themselves keep the machine head from sliding off the tracks.

Isn't it cute how my 6'8" Sasquatch of a husband looks NORMAL sized next to this ginormous long arm quilting machine?  As Bernie likes to say (especially to short people), "BIGGER IS BETTER!"

He got it all set up for me last night, rails and all, perfectly level and with the legs extended 8", the height feels just perfect for me, MUCH better than any of the demo machines I've tried at quilt shows, dealer showrooms or at that hands-on Gammill workshop I took a couple of years ago.  This is a hand-guided APQS 26" throat Millenium machine on a 12' Blissed frame with auto fabric advance, a 4-year-old demo machine purchased from an APQS dealer who wanted to get one of the new 30" Millies in her showroom in this one's place, and I got a fantastic deal on it but needed to commit to the purchase before someone else snapped up the machine.

I've been looking for awhile, and it wasn't easy to find the exact make and model used machine I wanted on the exact frame size I wanted, with all of the features I wanted, for sale anywhere remotely reasonably near to me.  Best of all, my dealer, Sheridan Kay, is just the most wonderfully kind, knowledgeable and all-around fabulous person to do business with.  I am so glad to have her as a resource!

We had to pick up the machine before surgery, because Bernie won't be able to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for the next 6 weeks.  I'm clearing my schedule as much as possible so I can be home with him and drive him wherever he needs to go once they release him from the hospital.  And now I have a new toy to play with while I'm home tending my sickie... 

I'll tell you more about my Millie and why I picked this particular machine once I get home.  I've been in the hospital since 5 AM this morning, and it's now 2:30.

Bernie's surgery took 6 hours from start to finish and he went to the recovery room at about 2 PM.  They tell me all went well but I'm still waiting for the doctor to come out and give me his briefing.  The patient is still asleep and I haven't seen him yet.

A great big, heartfelt thank you to all of you who have been covering us in your prayers.  They are working!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What Happens In Florida Doesn't Stay In Florida: Fabric Shopping, Slow Stitching, and a Splash in the Pool... Oh, and Open Heart Surgery.

Well, hello there, blogosphere!  I've been in Naples, Florida all last week visiting my in-laws and just got home in time for Maundy Thursday church services.  While in Florida, my darling husband offered to take me to the local quilt shop, Flash Sew and Quilt.  And once we got there, and I started picking out fabric, he was SURPRISED.  Isn't that funny?  What did he THINK I was going to do at the quilt shop -- just pet the fabrics and then leave empty-handed?!  Silly man.

Fat Quarters, Layer Cakes, Charm Packs, and Kona Solids Skinny Strips
The assorted green and blue fat quarters are for my remaining six pineapple log cabin blocks, because I'm bored with the fabrics I've used on the other blocks.  Plus I want as much variety as possible so no two blocks in that quilt are identical, and it would be great if I could lay out my blocks so no patches of the same fabric end up adjacent to one another.

Work In Progress: Pineapple Log Cabin Blocks on My Design Wall
The purple and hot pink Kaffe Fassett fat quarters will be for clam shells and for my 6" sampler blocks.  The Moda dotted layer cake is going to mix in with some of those other big, bright prints in my Farmer's Wife blocks

Another WIP: 6" Sampler Blocks, Farmer's Wife and Others
The white charm squares and the charm pack with the cat food novelty print are for my clam shell quilt, too -- either that or for a tumbler quilt yet to be started -- because 5" charm squares are the perfect size to cut with my clam shell and tumbler Accuquilt GO! dies.

Cutting Out Clam Shells With My GO! Baby Die Cutter
I know I will have lots of leftover blue and green 1 1/2" strips left over once all of those pineapple blocks are complete.  The roll of brightly colored Kona Solids 1 1/2" strips will be mixed in with these leftover blue and green strips for some other project yet to be devised.

Current 1 1/2" Pineapple Strips, Leftovers Will Mix with Kona Solid Strips
After cramming all of these textile goodies into my suitcase, I was able to spend some time relaxing with some slow stitching -- my Frankenwhiggish Rose needle turned applique project:

Slow Stitching in Florida: Needle Turned Applique

I'm working on appliqueing the stacked petals that I assembled off-block to the remaining 8 applique blocks for this project.  I'm having some difficulty lining the pieces up properly when I pin them in place, however, as you can see in the above photo where the bottom petal doesn't touch the adjacent stems like the other petals do.  It's hard for me to tell where the stitching line is in relation to the stems when the seam allowance is still sticking out, covering up the stems!  Ah, well -- antique applique quilts aren't perfect, and this one won't be, either.  Going forward, I'm trying to feel for the bump of the stem and line up the petals that way.  We'll see if that works better.  After all, the whole purpose of this project is LEARNING new applique techniques.  

Here's my husband and son, splashing around in my father-in-law's pool a few days ago:

Bernie and Anders in the Pool
Hard to believe that Bernie is having open heart surgery this coming Wednesday.  Just within the past few weeks he was diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation caused by a congenital heart defect that has degenerated over time, going unnoticed all these years (during which Mister Tough Guy rarely set foot in a doctor's office -- he has maybe been to the doctor twice in the last 20 years).  Until it got so bad that his heart was enlarged and only pumping blood with 40% efficiency, was short of breath, having chest pains... And finally this 6'8," presumably healthy and very active 48-year-old man was told that he was at risk for congestive heart failure or stroke and needed open heart surgery ASAP.  Very bizarre and surreal; we keep thinking this is a weird dream and we'll wake up tomorrow and laugh about it. 

Bernie's Case Is Severe, Like the One on the Right
Again, Bernie's In the Severe Category
This is the best article I've found that explains about the prolapsed valve regurgitation thing, a condition which my family has (not so)fondly nicknamed "Vomit Heart": Mitral Valve Prolapse Regurgitation

Bernie's surgeon is 90% confident that he can repair this defective valve (rather than replacing it outright) and he is also going to do a surgical maze procedure where he will create scar tissue to disrupt the wacky off-beat electrical pulses that have been making his heartbeat go haywire (Atrial Fibrillation, see cool animation here).  That's why he's going in through the breastbone rather than one of the less-invasive side-access surgeries they can do for valve replacement or for bypass surgery.  He wants to be sure he has access to completely fix the whole heart so Bernie won't need to go back for a surgical encore.  So we're hoping for a full and complete recovery after surgery.  Wish us luck, please!  Warm and fuzzy thoughts and PRAYERS are greatly appreciated.

On My Mind
So this Easter, while I'm singing "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today," I'll also have little earworms in my brain looping "Change of Heart" by Cyndi Lauper...

...and "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey:

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Weekend to All!

I'm linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday, Design Wall Monday, Monday Making, and Moving It Forward
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