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Los Gatos and Fresno Guests (Plus A New Ticker for Marianne)
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
written October 19+
OK, so we had a week carefully planned, starting with a winery tour at Fresno State and continuing through a trip to see grandkids and friends in the (SF) Bay Area, a 50th High School Reunion, and a visit from Dale and Peter, dear friends from our German life. So, how is all that planning going?
The first event, the private tour of the Fresno State winery, got put off in favor of a trip to the Kaiser Hospital Emergency Room. As most friends and relatives may know, Marianne has a heart with a mind of its own. Over the last ten years or so, she has visited cardiologists and hospitals to get her heartbeat to settle down to a regular pattern whenever it starts to march to its own drummer. Well, on Thursday morning, it started again, this time not double-time fast like usual, but rather at a somewhat-fast-but-quite-irregular beat. A cardiologist call resulted in a recommendation to visit the ER, so that's what we did.
The hospital team did EKGs and X-rays and concluded, again, that Marianne had "atrial fibrillation" a condition which needed treatment with drugs or a pacemaker or an operation or something. Unfortunately, these are all serious options needing careful consideration, so we checked her out of the hospital, still with the misbehaving heart, planning for more doctor consultations next week. We got on with the rest of our plans.
Early Friday, we drove over to Ava and Sam's house (we no longer call it Gabby and Mamal's), for a weekend visit. The kids are getting bigger and older all the time and we see changes, even in the few weeks since our last visit. We enjoyed some time with Sam, while Ava was at school, and then we all met up with mommy (aka Gabrielle, Gabby)for patio lunch at the country club. I should have taken a picture, because it is a very lovely location.
Organized activities started on Saturday. First we went to Ava's weekly soccer game, and I tried some "action sports" photography.
Gabby was hosting a baby shower so we had time only for some pictures of the elegant patio setting and then Marianne and I left to visit friends Malinda and Scott, while Mamal took the kids off to their friends for the afternoon.
We refer to Malinda and Scott as "our Nuremberg friends" because we have seen them more there, where they have an apartment, than here is California, their real home base. In fact they had just gotten off the plane from Germany and, despite the jet lag, they treated us to a very pleasant lunch and afternoon of catching up at their new home. We felt right at home among the construction debris. Nice afternoon.
That evening, we babysat while Gabby prepared for a bachelorette party and Mamal had some time with his buddies. It is always fun to have time alone with the little kids, even if Opa did rough house with them too much, just before bedtime. That's why they NEEDED a bit of TV and snack time.
Sunday morning, Mamal went to exercise, while the rest of us opted for a breakfast out. The short wait was just enough time to grab yet another family picture. Cute looking bunch.
The next big deal is the 50th reunion of my high school, Junipero Serra HS from nearby San Mateo. The event was held at The Olympic Club, "the oldest sports club in America". I have managed to ignore my high school chums for most of those decades -- mostly because of my own wandering life. Generally, Serra graduates stayed in the SF Bay Area, mostly still in San Mateo county. Meanwhile, I was moving between a dozen different states and countries. Hard to keep up with classmates, but maybe I'll change.
On Monday morning, we left early for our return trip to Fresno and implementation of our plans for visitors Dale and Peter. But life happens while one is planning. Monday afternoon, Marianne went out shopping. The short story is that her heart misbehaved again and, by the time Dale and Peter were in town, Marianne was in the Kaiser Hospital Emergency Department. Again. Darn.
On Tuesday, Dale and Peter went off on their own, making the best of a free day in Fresno. I stayed with Marianne discussing the merits of various heart treatments, including a pacemaker. We are learning a whole lot more about atrial fibrillation and beating hearts and we are getting comfortable that it is a manageable situation -- with treatment.
Dale and Peter visited the hospital Tuesday afternoon and that evening they took me out for dinner.
On Wednesday our guests headed off to continue their California visit. Sorry it was so short and complicated a visit, but we will find a way to get together again - somewhere.
Meanwhile, Marianne is off for a pacemaker. We decided in favor of the ticker at about 9:30 and by 11:30 she was being whisked away to the St. Agnes Cath Lab for the procedure. After months of consideration, it was a relief to be taking concrete steps forward. The procedure started about 3:15 and was done by 4:30. I checked on her and she was groggy, but doing fine. She was driven back to Kaiser Hospital by about 6:00.
Back in her Kaiser room, Marianne received her first meal in a day and polished it off in no time. I watched the World Series while she phoned to assure Mamo, Babi, and Gabby that all was turning out well. And so it seemed.
Thursday morning I headed over to the hospital. Marianne had already texted a request for a low-fat latte, decaf of course, so I assumed she was doing just fine. That was the case and she was released at 11:00. Good news!
The not-so-good news followed. At about 2:00 on Thursday, Marianne developed strong chest pains. We returned to the Emergency Room for five hours of testing. That testing demonstrated that she did not have anything life-threatening and they gave her pain pills and we went home.
The pain did not go away, and we returned to the ER Friday morning, armed with a web search of the Mayo Clinic that described her symptoms under "pericardenitis", a inflammation of the heart lining. To make a long story short, the ER folks repeated the did-she-have-a-heart-attack tests with the same negative results of the day before. There was a CAT scan, a pacemaker check, EKGs, a pair of X-rays, and an echo cardiogram. This was thorough enough to really answer the question of serious heart problems - no problems.
This time however, pericardenitis became an acknowledged possibility and the cardiologist prescribed 800mg ibuprofen. It worked quickly to reduce the chest pain, confirming the likelihood of a correct diagnosis. By the time we left the ER, eight hours after arriving, we were encouraged that Marianne could return to "simply" adjusting to life with a pacemaker.
It is now Saturday morning and Marianne is weak, from a week in and out of the hospital, from the pacemaker insertion surgery, from the chest/heart inflammation, but on the mend. Gabby is coming up this afternoon to help hold her hand, fix soup, and celebrate Marianne's 69th birthday.
Thanks for all the good wishes and I will end this diary now, with its not-quite-as-planned story.
John and Marianne
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