Saturday, June 30, 2018

Saturday

 

A visit with Skip and Connie.

 

 

We’ve know them for years, but haven’t seen them in years either.  More catching-up than we could get to this visit.

 

Then the gender-reveal party for Matt and Lindsay on Facebook Live.  It’s a girl.

 

A walk around Waneka Lake Park.

 

 

A new recent record; 1.2 miles.  Still a gentle pace, we took an hour, but stamina is returning.  I’m ready to announce that we’re officially back to where we were eight days ago, before the kidney stone!

 

Dinner with Becky and family again.

Always a delight.

 

Following World Cup with Brian this year.

 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Today’s walk

 

 

Twenty minutes.  Six-tenths of a mile.  A gentle pace.

 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Where we are

 

We’re at a really nice extended stay hotel in Longmont, Candlewood Suites.

 

We’ve got a living room.

 

Kitchen.

 

Bedroom.

 

And Bath.

 

As much as we like it here, all day in one place can get a little long though.  It shortens the days if we go off and walk somewhere different and interesting each day.  Up until the last couple days, that has worked just fine.  With this heat wave though, we’re at about a hundred degrees for a high.  That’s too hot for me to walk, even if we get out early.

 

So today’s walk:

Air conditioned hallways.

 

And stairways.

 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Today’s walk

 

Golden Ponds in Longmont.

 

It wasn't that much of a walk though.  We waited a little too late in the day.  Mid-nineties is too hot for a sensitive soul like me right now.

 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Out and about

 

A drive around the town of Lyons.

 

A walk on a side road.

 

Dinner at Becky’s.

 

That’s a pretty good normal.

 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Yesterday

 

I was a hero.  Today, I realize I got hit by a truck!  I thought I was over it, but that was just the narcotics talking.  I’m moving a little slower today and I’m noticeably less smug.  It’ll take a couple days to get back to where I was a couple days before the kidney stone hit!

 

We never left the building today.  Bo and Colleen came for a visit.  They brought a couple of their kids with them, so we got to chat with everybody.  I got in an afternoon rest before Becky and Brian showed up with dinner.  We continue to live the life.

 

Last week the doctor said it was time for the bandaging to come off.  As soon as anything starts to come loose in the shower, go ahead and peel it off.  For all the stuff they did to me for the heart surgery, there aren’t any stitches anywhere.  They wired my sternum shut so the bone would heal back together.  I guess they put in some internal stitches, but for the major chest wound, and every other entry wound they made for various purposes, they just slapped a piece of tape on it, then put a layer of glue over it.  Everything is sealed up watertight to minimize any chance of infection in the healing process.

 

What I found out right away is that it’s really weird to have this long tacky bandage running vertically down your entire chest.  You lie down on your back at night and find the most comfortable position for your arms.  It’s not with your arms at your side; no matter where you start them out, they end up on your chest.  So you fall asleep with your hands crossed across your chest and everything is fine, until you wake up a few hours later, in the same position.  It’s time to move.  Your right hand moves away just fine.  Your left hand however, is immovable.  A couple hours of a nice warm hand, under the covers, lying across a sticky bandage, and you find your left hand now glued to your chest.  It’s a challenge to slowly peel your hand off your chest without disturbing the bandaging below it.  When you finally achieve separation, you fall back to sleep determined not to repeat that experience and place your hands and arms carefully at your side.  Guess where your hands are next time you wake up….

 

I’m happy to report that I am now bandage-free and that challenge in my life has been eliminated.

 

 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Thursday/Friday

 

Wow.  That was some weird day.  And long too.

 

Judy and I were bumping along normally, enjoying the victory tour where we have morning coffee, take our time waking up, go visit someone, get tired, and go home and take a nap.  Thursday was like that.  We visited cousin Janet and her husband Tom at their house out in the country way north of Denver.  What a delightful spot full of patios, flowers, ponds and birds.  We don’t see them very often so there was a lot of catching up to do.  They fed us well, and I actually felt like eating.  It was the most normal day we’ve had in weeks.

 

It stayed normal until we were sitting in our room at 6pm after my nap.  That’s when the kidney stone hit.  Oh darn.  Not now!  No problem; we know how to deal with this.  We hit back with drugs.  Tramadol.  Hot sit-bath.  No help.  More tramadol.  Still nothing.  This is not some normal kidney stone.  We were at the E.R. by midnight.  Morphine.  CT scan.  Judy warning everyone I was 18 days post-op heart surgery.  The CT results?  I have issues.  Three stones poised at the lower end of the ureter causing all my pain.  One giant stone shaped like a kidney bean still up in the kidney, yet to bring its wrath.  We’ll have to deal with these two problems with two separate procedures.  A night and morning of dozing through morphine, an afternoon procedure to eliminate the three most troublesome stones, a brief recovery, and we were home again by 8 o’clock Friday night.  It’s all kind of a blur.

 

This morning, Saturday, we’re all rested and relaxed, pain-free from the kidney stone, and back on track with the heart surgery recovery.  Know the old saying “If you want your toe to quit hurting, hit yourself in the finger with a hammer”?  I think Dad used to say that.  Well, it’s true.  During this whole kidney stone thing.  My chest didn’t hurt at all!  There are still a couple kidney stone procedures to go through.  We’re going to blast the kidney bean next week with a non-invasive shock wave lithotripsy (they’re going to blow it up with sound waves).  And now that I’ve got a real urologist, we’ll do follow-up studies to see if we can isolate the cause of my recurring kidney stones and try to short-circuit the process.  With any luck, this will all happen during our remaining convalescence for the heart thing.

 

I tell the story of life from my perspective.  Some of it is a blur or a blank.  Not so for Judy.  She has to be awake, alert, and responsible the whole time; a much tougher assignment.  This is not an easy assignment, and she has her moments, but she does what she needs to do, and what needs to be done gets done.  She is my rock.

 

Overall, the kidney stone thing is a minor diversion on our long-term recovery.  I feel better today than I’ve felt in weeks.  We both got a lot of rest last night.  Today we walked at a nice pond.

 

Took in some World Cup with Brian and Tony.

 

 

And got in some deck time.

 

It’s all good.

 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Follow-up with the surgeon

 

He says keep doing what we’re doing.  We’ve been careful with altitude since the surgery.  No restrictions there; just be careful with exercise at altitude.  It’s okay to go see the dermatologist, but stay away from the dentist for at least 3 months.  He’s going to get us started on some Cardiac Rehab.  I asked what the estimated useful life of bypass arteries was.  He responded “Guaranteed for the life of the patient!”

 

A walk in the Loveland Sculpture Garden.

 

 

Half a burger and a small chocolate malt for lunch.  OMG, that stayed with me the rest of the day.  Hard to get my appetite back for real.  Food starts to sound good again.  I eat.  Then it doesn’t sound good anymore.

 

Overall, today was just what the doctor ordered.  More of the same.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Today

 

We got to visit with John B, friend since elementary school, and Kip.

We’ve logged a lot of years together.

 

On the way back home, we made a surprise detour into winter.

 

 

 

There was a black cloud hanging down next to us, then suddenly we were getting pounded by hail.  We pulled over.  It was deafening!  That black cloud spawned a few tornadoes to the east after it passed us.

 

 

Tomorrow is a big day for us.  Our first follow-up with the surgeon.  He’ll tell us how we’re doing.

 

Monday, June 18, 2018

A morning cup of coffee

 

Suck on the coughing machine.

 

Cough.

 

Range of motion exercises.

 

A drive.

 

A walk in the park.  (Covered all of a half-mile today.)

Looks like we wore Henry out!

 

A nap.

 

Judy did some errands.

 

Something for dinner.

 

Suck more

 

Cough more.

 

Exercise more.

 

Baby steps.

 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Thank you, truckers

 

During that long approach to the lane closure on the freeway, (this was a few weeks ago) knowing it was the left lane that would close, we stayed in the right lane.  That’s not an attractive proposition, staying in the lane that you know you need to be in, because that’s what most people do.  As we wait in line in that lane however, we have to watch all those people speeding by in the left lane, to merge ahead of us, knowing that every car that passes us to merge ahead of us puts us that much farther back on our slow-crawl journey to the pinch point.  There are already two lanes merging into one.  Every car that drives on past slows us down even more.

 

It would be nice if everyone drove all the way to the final merge point, then alternated, but that is never the way it happens.  It would be nice if everyone saw the merge coming and got over to the appropriate lane early on, but that is never the way it happens either.  It’s always an inefficient mix of the two.

 

But this time was different.  A trucker about 20 cars ahead of us, and a trucker about 20 cars behind us, each took positions in the left lane and only advanced at the same speed as the right lane, effectively establishing early merge points and eliminating that maddening rush of cars passing by.  We’ve no way of knowing what happened to the traffic behind us, whether it proceeded orderly or not, but the trucker’s actions certainly straightened out the traffic in front of us.

 

Thank you, truckers!

 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The torture device

 

 

It looks innocent enough, right?  And it is, if you’re in normal health.

 

This machine tests lung capacity; not by blowing on it, but by drawing on it.  In a long slow breath, you draw as much air in as you can.  Your progress measures with a float in the tube on the left.  I’ve messed with these before and in normal health I can peg it at 4,000 cc’s, no problem.  Not so now.  Now I’m lucky to get to 2,000 cc’s before erupting in a coughing fit.

 

This is pure evil designed to cause coughing and pain.  The doctor says I can’t let up.  I have to breathe through this several times a day until it doesn’t hurt to do it any more.  Stretching lung capacity after surgery and anesthesia is highly recommended.  I’d like it more if I got to wait until my ribs and sternum were healed, but no.  They say no problem, do it now, just hug the pillow and cough as much as you can.

 

Almost two weeks into my recovery, I can feel the progress.  I breathe better and deeper than I did a week ago, but it’s still not fun yet.

 

Friday, June 15, 2018

The doctors said be sure to exercise

 

But don’t overdo it.

 

How would one know how much is too much?  If a person just tiptoes around the edges, they’ll never find out what the limit is.  I found the edge today.  I went down the three flights of stairs and back up again at exactly the pace I wanted.  It was a pretty good pace!  It turns out that was faster than I needed to do.  I miscalculated, and spent too much energy too early in the day.  I was winded.  I thought my energy would come back in the afternoon, but wrong again.  Apparently, once I’m done, I’m done for the day.

 

A reboot overnight and I’ll be just fine again and have a little more respect for limits tomorrow.  After tomorrow, we’ll see.  Limits are a moving target, right?

 

 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I call B.S.

 

Porsche’s entry into the electric car market will have 600 horsepower and do zero to sixty in 3.5 seconds.  That’s a half-second slower than the Tesla, but it will boast more sustainable performance on road courses.  Jaguar is in the electric car market.  Aston Martin, Mercedes, BMW are all in the mix.  All high-end supercars.

 

So my question is, if moving to electric transportation is critical for our environment, economy, and the future of our planet, why is everybody building electric supercars with super price tags?  Does that make any sense?  Do we only need 600 - 800 horsepower electric cars?  We can’t just tune some of them down to affordable moderately powered commuters with an adequate range, and be there already?

 

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Oops

 

I forgot to take the selfie today!  John and Jo Shaffer brought us lunch (Wahoo Fish Taco.  Maui Bowl.  Yum.) and stayed for a nice long visit.  Then we headed for Louisville and an appointment for Judy with Dr Becky, who has been our physician for twenty years!  Another nice long visit.  Then we got to attend Becky’s birthday dinner, and she didn’t have to cook at all.  Brian grilled the steak.  Teigan made the twice baked potatoes and fruit salad.  Yesterday Teigan and Conner worked together to create the French silk pie for desert!

 

Another wonderful day!

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A fun visit to the office

 

We drove south to Denver.  That’s my first trip to the office this year.  Somehow it just didn’t fit the schedule before now.  In fact, the day of my trip to the cath lab, Judy and I, and Becky, missed the annual lunch sponsored by Gary, the guy in the middle.  He has his own accounting practice in the building, but is such a friend of the firm, he takes us all out to lunch in June every year.

 

We didn’t get to see everyone in Denver this trip.  It’s not often we find everyone in the same place at the same time.  Some of them are out on jobs.  Some are in Durango.  Some in Albuquerque.  We just take what we can get wherever we are.

 

And I remembered to take a selfie.

 

We love these people.

 

Monday, June 11, 2018

I lie down at night

 

I listen to my heart beat.

 

It’s different now; and it’s not exactly a soothing sensation.  My mind’s eye sees an old four-cylinder jalopy inside me chugging along at a rough idle.  The whole chassis is rocking to the beat.  I feel like my whole body is rocking along with it.

 

It’s not that I think anything is wrong.  Maybe this is just what it sounds like when a heart is beating at full strength, after having been quiet for a few months.  Maybe this is, like wearing your underwear on the outside of your clothes, what it feels like when your arteries, and all that blood pumping through them, are now on the outside of your heart.

 

 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

One more perspective

 

Judy tells me at one time I had an IV bag draining into a port on my left arm and six bags draining directly into ports in my jugular.  This clip pretty much sums up my week!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wazTC2nmlBI

 

(Danger, it’s a little profane.)

 

Oh, and an addition to our menagerie;

 

a kind gift and a nice long visit with Todd Reade.  Some of you may remember Todd as an integral part of our extended family in Colorado in the 70s and 80s.

 

Just for clarity

 

The elk encounter was the week BEFORE heart surgery.  I just didn’t get it written up until after.  I’m out and about, but not so out and about that it’s time to go wrestle wild elk yet.

 

I did not invade her personal space, but she certainly invaded mine.

 

If only I’d thought to turn and take a selfie when our faces and flaring nostrils were eighteen inches apart.  That would have been best selfie ever!

 

 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Elk

 

They’re so peaceful.  Here is a small herd resting in the shade at a city park in Estes Park.

 

Here is of one munching grass; caring less that I was close.

 

There was a sign on the trail warning about a protective momma elk farther down the trail,

but I thought that meant all I had to do was be careful; maybe not get between her and her baby.

 

I was so wrong.  Judy and I had gone for a walk with Henry.  The sign to go this direction said no dogs, as to not agitate the momma elk.  Judy took Henry back to the car and I proceeded warily down the path.  There was an elk in the field next to me.  I gave her a wide berth.  I did NOT invade her personal space.

I noticed she was paralleling my progress while getting slightly closer and closer as we went on.  Until she charged.

 

Lucky for me, there was an additional “beware of elk” sign in the trail ahead.  I got to the sign just before the elk got to me, and I used the sign as a barrier.  We stood face-to-face, me and the elk, with only that little sign between us.

We did a bit of a dance around the sign, neither gaining an advantage.  We were in a standoff.  She backed off a few steps and waited for me to make a move.  I tested her resolve a few times, but each time I moved from the safety of the sign, she started right back after me.

That was one agitated elk.  She was determined to make me pay for my offense.  I called Judy on her cell and advised she may not want to have a walk down the path this direction.

 

A guy on a bicycle stopped about fifty yards away to watch the situation unfold.  We chatted while I searched for a solution.  It occurred to me that if I could lure the bicyclist a little closer I wouldn’t have to outrun an elk, I would just have to outrun the elk to the bicyclist.  I tried not making eye-contact with the elk and pretending I didn’t care.  That didn’t improve the situation.  I considered scaling the fence behind me; could I get over it before the elk got to me.  That seemed iffy.  I tried getting really big, waving my arms, yelling and pounding on the metal sign to intimidate her.  Only one of us remained intimidated.

 

Finally, she appeared to be losing interest.  She bent down and munched a tuft of grass.  I took a couple side-steps and she didn’t respond.  I took another.  A couple more and I was beyond the point of no return; She was now closer to my safe space than I was.

 

I turned and walked slowly; pretending it was no big deal.  It worked.  I escaped the angry elk.  Judy and I; we walked a different way the rest of that day.

 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Wow! What a ride!

 

I thought I was awesome.  Then I wasn’t.  Then I thought I was again.  Then I wasn’t.  I guess what matters most is that the hospital team was awesome.  They opened me up, rearranged the plumbing in my heart, and closed me back up.  In between the stress test and the follow-up visit with the cardiologist, while I still though I was cool, we took the following day off and drove up into the high country, took a couple walks around mountain lakes, and I got attacked by an elk.  I didn’t actually get trampled, but not for lack of motivation on the elk’s part.

 

The surgical team took one day to put in all the wires, drains, tubes, and lines they wanted.  The rest of the week was a gradual process of getting them all pulled back out of me.  Some of that was pretty creepy.  The last came out today and here we are, sitting in a hotel room, totally free of the hospital, moving along at a careful pace for now, and looking forward to an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

 

We’ve been looking at the long straight incision in my chest, thinking maybe I need a superhero name, but it would have to begin with an “I”.  The more I think about it though, I think maybe we should read the first letter as a lower case “l” and go with “Captain lucky”!

 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tuesday

This is from Judy and Matt standing in for Steve.

 

Sorry we missed Monday nights update as things were a little hectic as you can imagine.

 

Today was a great day!!

 

Day 1 of recovery – He started the day still in the CICU with seven IV’s bottles hooked up to him all at once. All kinds of tubes and hoses coming out of him from all directions. By the end of the day he is now on a different floor (which is not an intensive care unit), no IV’s but still a few tubes and hoses coming out of him. He has met or exceeded all the expectations set for him by his doctors and nurses. Today he met with the PT, OT and respiratory therapists. He sat up in his chair, drank water and got off of his narcotic pain medications (they were making him nauseous). Took two walks, ate a solid dinner and laughed and joked much of the day. He is still in a great deal of pain and discomfort as the recovery is going to be long and slow but all in all he is in great spirits. We all couldn’t be more happy with where he is at today considering where he started yesterday.

 

The recovery journey has just begun and over the next few days he will continue to recover and build strength here at the UC Medical Center of the Rockies. We are anticipating that he will be released Friday or Saturday.

 

We all appreciate the overwhelming amount of well-wishes, positive thoughts and prayers that everyone has sent. It has really meant a lot to Steve as we have relayed all the messages to him and it has really touched him to know how much all of you truly care about him.

 

We will continue to keep you all posted.

 

 

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Parallels

 

For motorhome maintenance, we keep a list.  There are a lot of complicated systems and there are always things that needs taking care of; some things more important than others.  The most important stuff goes to the top of the list and gets attention the soonest.  It occurs to me that it’s a lot like that with our bodies now too.  These are complicated systems.  It’s not like we ever get every issue crossed off the list at once.  There is always the next thing to take care of.  We’ll take care of the most important one tomorrow.

 

Shutting down the motorhome for storage, we turn off master switches for the batteries and the rig goes completely quiet.  When it’s time to restore the motorhome to service, we switch the batteries back on, and find we have to reset all the clocks; they’ve all defaulted to zero.  When I go in for surgery tomorrow, they’re going to shut me down completely.  I’ll go on a heart lung machine and they’ll stop my heart for hours to work on it.  So I wonder:  When they turn me back on, will they have to reset any clocks?

 

Becky is here.  Son Matt is here from Phoenix.  Judy is always here, wherever here happens to be on any particular day.  Many more are with us in spirit.  We go into tomorrow surrounded by friends, family, love, and support.  Judy even plans to whisper sweet nothings in my ear just before they take me away, to make sure I have something pleasant to dream about while I’m out.

 

I’ll report back.  (Not about the sweet nothings and sweet dreams, but about everything else.)

 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

It seems a strange thing

 

That I need so much surgery, then they tell us to go home and have a nice weekend, but take it easy, watch for warning signs, and don’t hesitate to dial 911.  That’s relaxing!  Oh well.

 

They left me awake for the cath procedure.  I felt the wire or whatever it is they put in through my wrist go right up through my arm.  I talked to the doctor while he was poking around in my heart.  He described the arteries as a “mess”, and told me right then there wasn’t enough he could do with stents to restore adequate flow.  Later, he told me the reason I am still doing as well as I am is that my heart has grown collateral arteries to make up for the natural ones that aren’t working as well as they should.  That got me to thinking that if I can do that well on the treadmill without proper function in my heart; and the surgeon is going to put in five new arteries to bypass all the old ones that aren’t working adequately anymore; the combination of the collateral arteries I’ve already grown, plus the five new ones he’s going to stitch on to me, I should practically end up with super powers!  I’ll report back on how that works out.

 

Today we got the bus zipped up and moved to a storage lot.  We had to do it today because they’re not open on Sundays and I’ll be busy on Monday.  It’ll be six weeks after the surgery before the doctor will release me to drive again, so we need a residential solution in the meantime that doesn’t involve moving the RV.  We’ve worked through some options, but haven’t settled on anything yet.  No need for an immediate solution; we’ll both stay in the hospital until I get released.

 

Judy might cover trip reports for me for a couple days, so we won’t be totally out of touch.  Feel free to email or call her.   Judy@TaylorRoth.com.  303-666-6018.

 

Re: I want a chocolate malt

We will be thinking about both of you.  Sounds like they discovered it and a plan is in place to get you back up and doing your regular things.  Glad you are near Becky!  Will await update.

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From: Steve Taylor <spt@thetaylorcompany.net>
Sent: Friday, June 1, 2018 6:05:15 PM
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Subject: I want a chocolate malt
 

 

And a pizza.  OMG, I think they might have made me pregnant!

 

We did the cath lab thing.  They went in though the wrist and not the groin, which is good.  Once they got inside though, they saw more than they wanted to see.  I'm not a good candidate for stents.  I've got blockages in major arteries that have already been stented, and blockages farther downstream that they can't reach to stent.  (They're saying this to the guy who just ripped up the treadmill test!)  I was in and out of the cath lab in 45 minutes.  They sent us home.

 

Plan B.  We go back again on Monday to a slightly different department, and they crack me open for quintuple bypass surgery.  They're going to totally bypass all three major arteries plus two smaller ones with veins from my legs.  It will be an all-day operation.  Recovery will take longer than we previously expected.  We're not leaving here next Thursday as planned.  I won't be able to drive the bus again for six weeks while my sternum heals.

 

There aren't any decent motorhome parks around and there is a two-week limit at state parks.  Even if we could find a spot for the motorhome at a state park, I won't be in shape two weeks after surgery to move the bus again.  No worries.  We're making plans to put the bus in storage and move into an extended stay hotel.  We have Becky and family here to help us through.  Life is still a delight.

 

Friday, June 1, 2018

I want a chocolate malt

 

And a pizza.  OMG, I think they might have made me pregnant!

 

We did the cath lab thing.  They went in though the wrist and not the groin, which is good.  Once they got inside though, they saw more than they wanted to see.  I’m not a good candidate for stents.  I’ve got blockages in major arteries that have already been stented, and blockages farther downstream that they can’t reach to stent.  (They’re saying this to the guy who just ripped up the treadmill test!)  I was in and out of the cath lab in 45 minutes.  They sent us home.

 

Plan B.  We go back again on Monday to a slightly different department, and they crack me open for quintuple bypass surgery.  They’re going to totally bypass all three major arteries plus two smaller ones with veins from my legs.  It will be an all-day operation.  Recovery will take longer than we previously expected.  We’re not leaving here next Thursday as planned.  I won’t be able to drive the bus again for six weeks while my sternum heals.

 

There aren’t any decent motorhome parks around and there is a two-week limit at state parks.  Even if we could find a spot for the motorhome at a state park, I won’t be in shape two weeks after surgery to move the bus again.  No worries.  We’re making plans to put the bus in storage and move into an extended stay hotel.  We have Becky and family here to help us through.  Life is still a delight.