Heavy Hearted Year

Heart Health2017 was one heck of a year and not always for good reasons. As if turning 40 right before it started wasn’t enough, 2017 threw a lot of curve balls our way. The year started with the flu and soon we received news about my mother’s heart. A cardiac procedure gave us the news we had been hoping to avoid for over 15 years. Mom needed open heart surgery, including an aortic valve replacement.

On February 3, we heard it was a must and briefly met a surgeon. Twenty days later we spent most of the day waiting for news on my mother. It was a long day and to be honest,much of February and March are a blur. I have wanted to write about it for months now, but had to keep up with living life.

February 23 was the day my mother was given a new life. Her heart is now beating strong thanks to a cow valve in her chest. Those days challenged all of us. I spent a lot of time with my parents while my mother was in the hospital and recovering at home. I saw their love take on new meaning. I watched my father fight the doctors to help her when she was in pain. While she slept, I walked around with my father a lot. I got to know him in a way I never had before. 

Recovery had challenges for my mother, but they were happy to be able to plan a long awaited getaway in November. While on the cruise, my father was not okay. When they got home, we heard more about what was going on. HIs legs were horribly swollen and after a lot of initial testing, they found out he was horribly anemic. That explained some of his exhaustion, but it didn’t end there.

Many appointments later, my parents had their already scheduled visit to the cardiologist. He was quite worried about my father. He sent him for a calcium test and also scheduled an echo cardiogram. Results from the former were alarming at best. So a nuclear stress test was added on two days after the echo. All of this was last week. The stress test and echo showed things that meant the cardiologist wanted him to have a cardiac cath immediately.

Thursday, I drove my parents to the hospital for the procedure. It was surreal to be in the waiting room with my mother waiting for news on my father. This is the man who has never been sick. This is the man who has only had cataract surgery. Prior to them wheeling him off, we joked that this was enough he could stop being a copy cat. These words now haunt me.

The doctor never came to see us, so they brought us back to see my father and wait with him to talk about what was seen. We had a bad feeling since the procedure was over quickly. My father greeted us with a quick announcement that he needed open heart surgery too.

As I sit and write this, it’s only been a week. One week of trying to figure so much out. The next day my father went to the cardiologist. His warning system failed. He never felt any chest pain or anything else. We are lucky this was caught. Hard to think about that as you face a parent looking at major surgery.

Yesterday, my father saw the surgeon.

The same surgeon who performed open heart surgery on his wife less than 365 days ago.

The surgeon that saved her life.

The surgeon that made her heart beat so strong that it keeps here up at night now worrying about her husband of almost 45 years in March.

I am a worrier. I worry about both of my parents. I worry about my father knowing too much about this procedure since he lived through it from the other side. I worry about my mother still being less than a year out of her surgery.

In about a week, my father will be in the hospital for the first time in my life as the patient. He will have to listen to what they say, do what they say, and let us take care of him. I never would have believed you if you said we’d be heading back to the cardiac surgery location in under a year for Dad. Never in my life could I have imagined this scenario.

Yet, here I am thankful that he is alive. I am grateful that the doctors listened, did more tests, and found it. Surgery sucks, but it means he is alive. Surgery means both of my parents can enter their 45th year of marriage working on their hearts together.

Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+

Moving Beyond Middle School

Middle school is a time that most people would love to forget. I know I did not like my two years spent in one. Thanks to this, I worried for many years about my oldest son going to middle school for grades 6-8. I had general concerns and some as the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. Let’s be honest, kids can be cruel and this is a rough time where you are trying to figure things out. When NHL finished elementary school, it was also the last time my boys were in a school together. It was a hard time for me to get beyond that. Was I sad about him leaving his school? The honest truth is that I was not. I was simply scared of the unknown.

School Memories

Fast forward three years to the last day of middle school for NHL. What I never could have predicted at the time was crying over the end.

Middle school has been the best three years of my son’s life. He has grown socially, emotionally, and academically. He is becoming a self advocate, more independent, and sets his own challenging goals which he meets. Once again, NHL adores learning and genuinely likes being in school. This is pretty big for a teen.

So what made the difference?


We didn’t know a single teacher or professional at the middle school the day we walked in. They quickly took not only my son under their wing, but our entire family. For the first time in years, I was a special needs mother that could exhale, sit back, and stop being in defense mode. This was hard to adjust to and took time. NHL’s 6th grade teachers helped me to realize that we are all a team. Team meetings over the last three years taught me a lot about my son, his teachers, and the school he is leaving.

This week, I wrote one of the hardest thank you notes I have ever written. It was to the TA that has been with NHL for three years. This amazing man got my son. He was our eyes and ears when we could not be there. He was also a strong advocate for NHL. J took time to not only learn about autism, but about my son and his quirks. His patience went above and beyond. He has helped NHL to be more independent, aware of his anxiety and how to cope, and been a fantastic role model.

Something that had been missing before J came into NHL’s world was the ability to trust an adult. NHL had been hurt so badly over the years in school.  Not only did his peers bully him, but he was bullied by adults that refused to understand my son. They simply did not get that autism is different for each child and could not see beyond behaviors. The reality is my son was bored, anxious most of the time, and had lost his love of learning. J helped him to get past this. Thanks to J, NHL learned he could trust most, if not all, of his teachers. They were there to help him.

Heading to high school

Once again, the unknown has me nervous. We don’t really know anyone at the high school. We have met a few people and they seem nice, but it won’t be the same. Middle school has set my expectations to a very high point. I blame a lot of this on the principal. He not only hired NHL’s TA to work with him, he crafted the wonderful teams of teachers in the building.

The difference this time around is I know my son’s true potential. NHL is an amazing young man who is so smart. He gets things to such a levels that it blows my mind. I know that no matter what happens at the high school he is going to do great things because he can and will.

Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+

Listen to Your Heart

Sometimes you blink and life simply runs away from you. That seems to be how I feel since turning 40. When I think there may be time to settle and focus, something else happens. Influenza hit our house several weeks ago. My poor teen was so very sick. He shared with me and I figured it out while I was at the cardiologist with my mother. That was the day that so much changed and at warp speed.

Heart Health for Women

Just after TechyDad and I were married, my mother got really sick. All we know is that she had a virus. After not getting better for a long time, her friend was able to convince her to go to the doctor. Mom was admitted to the hospital soon after and told that she had heart failure. What she thought was asthma was not. To make a long story short, the virus she had attacked her heart. There was damage and she had to start seeing a cardiologist to assess it. Over time, the doctor was able to see some of her heart get better, but her aortic valve never did completely recover. For all of these years, we knew that that valve would eventually have to be replaced.

During this time, my mother has never been the same. Things got even more serious almost two years ago when she had a heart attack at a restaurant while celebrating her birthday and retirement. Several days later, they went in to find the cause, fixed it, and we were told that she probably would need that valve replaced in the next two years.

At mom’s appointment three weeks ago, she finally told her doctor she had enough. Exhaustion and trouble breathing had her scared of another heart attack. The doctor listened and told her she needed an updated cardiac catheterization. This procedure was done several days later. The news was not good. Mom’s valve was much worse than the echocardiograms had shown less than six months before. While they said she could go home, surgery would be needed shortly. They did something to help open the valve up to make breathing easier until surgery could be done.

Mom is having open heart surgery on Thursday.

Wrapping my brain around this is hard. While we knew this day would come for over 15 years, so much has happened in such a short amount of time. Thank goodness she listened to her body because it has to be done along with a triple bypass.

Please take a moment and know the signs of cardiac distress, especially in women. Do NOT assume things are asthma if they don’t get better with medication. Breathlessness is a sign of heart problems. Also get your blood pressure checked and know what your cholesterol levels and blood sugar are. High blood pressure and diabetes are not a friend to your blood vessels.

The next few weeks and months are going to be a challenge for my mother. However, we all know that seeing mom with energy and able to breathe will be worth it. My eye on the prize will be having Nana sit next to me at moving up day at the middle school in June. We will celebrate another birthday with her and then get ready for her oldest grandson to head to high school.

Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+

Hello 40

2016 has been a year filled with many emotional events. When it started, I knew it was also a big milestone year for me. Part of the time, I wondered about turning the big 4-0. There were things I wanted to do while I was still in my thirties, but life sometimes gets in the way. Being an adult means going with the flow and working through the roller coaster of events that come your way. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t whine about it from time to time with those that are close to you. A huge thank you to those that listened and cheered me on.

 40 is the new 30

Several days ago, a friend asked me how I was feeling about turning 40. The reality is I have not had time in the last few months to think about it. So much is happening in my personal life that I have not had a lot of time to stop and think about it. That’s a good thing, but I think it may kick me in the gut once the reality hits. As I sit here typing this, I am technically still 39. When this post publishes, it will officially be my 40th birthday. Lately, I have noticed I keep getting random thoughts that stop me in my tracks. Here are a few of them. .

— As a child, you think 40 is so far away. Then you graduate from high school, continue with schooling, get married, have kids, and suddenly you are here!

— I have been out of high school for more years than I was in school.  A random factoid that crushed me while driving to pick up the kids the other day..

— My oldest is a teen and about to begin his high school life. In a few short years he will be finishing high school and entering the world as an adult.

— My baby is almost ten. Please make him stop growing up.

— Each time I go to school, I think about my youngest’s last years of elementary school and my oldest finishing up middle school. I swear they were both just in kindergarten. I want those days of innocence back.

— Family members are aging and with that come new adult topics. Take time to hug those you love.

— Middle age makes you tired thanks to insomnia. Clearly, I need to work in the middle of the night when I can’t get back to sleep.

Family First at 40

40 is going to be all about putting my health and family first. While we were away in October, we were all happy. Some recent events have proven that you need to live life in the moment and enjoy the time you have with loved ones. While we may get on each other nerves, family is forever. I want to watch the wonder in the kid’s eyes while they are still home. I want to travel more with them to see our beautiful country and beyond

Looking forward to life after turning 40 and sharing bits and pieces of it here.

Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+

Kids Are Our Future

Kids Are Our FutureNumb. That is pretty much how I would describe the day after Election Day 2016 in our house. After less than two hours of sleep, my boys woke up and came into our bedroom. First, my 13 year old son wanted to know if Hillary had won. When I told NHL to sit down because we needed to talk, he knew something was wrong. I explained the events of the evening from the time he went to bed until three in the morning when the president-elect came on stage. The look of horror on his face was real. When I saw that, I instantly felt tears in my eyes.

Thanks to NHL’s age and topic of his Bar Mitzvah Dvar Torah (read it here on TechyDad’s post), he knows history. He recognized similarities of a man from the past and the one that will soon become our president. I left him with words to be extra kind to the kids in school. To remember that this is going to be especially hard for many of the students in classes with him because of their race, religion, and where they come from. You see, NHL’s school is beautifully diverse. A large number of children are new to the United States. At the end of the day, he reported that there were tears at school. I can’t even imagine.

Now back to my youngest. I had shielded him from a lot this election cycle. He is only nine and doesn’t need to grow up too quickly. What I didn’t realize was he was painfully aware. When TechyDad and I told him the news he started to cry. Nine year old JSL could not pick up his head because he was crying and afraid. When we asked him why he was crying, it broke my heart. He worried about his friends, many who are new to this county. He asked about the wall and whether they would be kicked out.

I sat there and was numb, but tried to perk him up for school. I reminded him to be a great friend and try to make people smile if they were upset. That night JSL did not sleep well. It took me several days to figure it out. Apparently a buddy of his that is Muslim had been out since Election Day. My poor child thought he had already fled from what may happen in our country.

So why am I writing all of this?

I need to get it off my chest and I must do more to help others. Like my son wrote in his speech, if we don’t help others there will be nobody left to help us when the time comes.

The fear in my mind and heart is real.

  • I worry about family and friends that are not white. While I am Jewish, I am a white woman. I know that if I am walking down a street wearing regular clothing, I do not attract as much attention. My boys are white and I have had to talk to them about being the eyes and ears for their friends in case injustice happens in front of them. I want my boys to speak out and help a friend if they are wrongly accused of something. They must stand up if a friend is being bullied for any reason. It makes me sick and sad that friends have to worry about their children simply walking down the street because of the color of their skin.

  • Hate crimes have never gone away, let’s set that fact straight. They have been all too real for many living in the United States, but they are increasing and being more blatant for the public to see first hand. Silence from the President-elect on this topic is deafening and says a lot.

  • Religious freedom is being threatened. An entire religion is being attacked by the President-elect and many of his followers. Why? Simply because they share it with extremist groups. Friends I know have been threatened and told to leave the country, though they are United States citizens like me. The only difference? Their skin color and religion. Peaceful people now live in fear and are trying to keep their families safe. No, the election did not cause this. It has always been happening. The difference we have someone that is instigating it and not telling others to stop.

  • Deporting innocent refugees that came to our beautiful country to escape horrors is not the answer. This is not the American way and it never should be. We need to embrace those that come here and help them to get back onto their feet. My community is special because of all of the different people living in it. This is what we need to keep in the United States, not stop it and send people back.

  • Marrying a person you love should make no difference to anyone else so long as you are in love. I have family and friends that are LGBTQ. Some are married and others are not. They all should have the same rights that I have as a married person in this country. They should not have to live in fear of being hurt holding hands with their spouse while in public. Oh and if you are wondering, you can’t wish it away with therapy like a certain vice president-elect may think.

  • Most people know it is never acceptable to make fun of someone with a disability or special need. This could be physical, neurological, mental, or something else. Every human being is different and we need to stand up for them. They have right and should not be harassed. In addition to this, they should not have to worry about medical care. If we don’t watch it, they may be stripped away from people because of preexisting condition status.

  • While I do not have daughters, I am concerned for the future of women in our country. How can they feel safe? The President-elect of our country has stated that as a celebrity it gave him rights to touch women in places that are not acceptable. Hands off my kitty and anyone else’s! While we are at it, I don’t want any man or politician telling me what rights I have for my uterus and any care I need for it. No, I did not vote with my vagina, but I sure as hell want my rights to remain without someone putting their religious beliefs ahead of mine. Separation of church and state is here for a reason.

  • Seeing Swastikas in the news sends chills down my spine. Anti-Semitism is alive and thriving. Horrid groups are showing the country that they have been lurking and are ready to be seen again. Crickets from politicians on support from their group and the hate that they spew is a real kick in the gut. My oldest son sees similarities with the past. My youngest is still learning about the Holocaust and history of Germany and WWII. Neither of my kids have seen it first hand. I wish I could say the same. I still remember my synagogue being set on fire when I was slightly older than NHL. Swastikas were all over the walls and we knew it was an arson fire based on hate. As I am typing this, a known anti-Semite has been selected as a chief policy adviser for the new administration. I am going to be sick. I see history flashing before my eyes. I feel like I have entered the Twilight Zone. I used to have nightmares about being in the Holocaust like my ancestors. Now, I have to worry about this and more for my family and countless others that are not acceptable to the incoming administration.

So I am writing this as a starting point. I am looking for local, state, and national groups to work with and make a difference. I want to be actively involved and show my children what must be done. Below are some posts that I have gathered by different friends in the blogosphere. If you have more links to add, please let me know in the comments below and I will edit and add to this post.

Together we can and will make a difference. We have to because ALL of our kids are our future.

Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+