Life has happened and the blog posts did not….
Here is an update.
#1 Life Change
Shortly after my last post, Tom (the handsome husband) and I were relaxing on the couch one Sunday afternoon. Tom was doing some computer work. Now to preface what happened next, we have always dreamed of moving to the mountains, but we have noticed that teaching positions (Tom is a teacher) don’t come up that often–especially the position that Tom has enjoyed for the last several years. Tom is certified in math, science, reading and engineering/technology. The math and science–easy to find jobs, but Tom has loved teaching middle school engineering and has had a sweet gig in a middle school with lots of resources. Anyhoo, Tom was looking at the state site for job openings and says “Hey, honey, there is a middle school engineering position open in Pickens County.” Pickens county is located in North Georgia and is basically, the area where the Smokey mountains start in Georgia. I say, “What the heck, just apply.” Little did I know that two days later, Tom would get a call from the principal of said middle school and asked if he could come for an interview. The. Very. Next. Day. To make a long story short, he nailed the interview and within the next few weeks we got the official word. Tom accepted the position for the next school year. Tom called me when I was out-of-town and said “We are moving!”
So, the preparations began to sell our most loved home that we had only lived in for 3 years. And, of course, the big decision of exactly where we were going to move. In the end, I was not ready to give up my job in Atlanta, but we narrowed down an area to live that is right in between our two jobs. It actually worked out to be a much better commute for me, and Tom’s commute isn’t bad since he travels away from Atlanta. We put our house on the market on June 1st. By June 30th, we had found the new house near the new job and a week later we had a contract on our house we were selling. Working perfect, right?
#2 Life Change
Back in February, Tom and I went in for our annual physicals with our internist. Both of us were doing fine. We had even lost a few pounds. My labs were perfect. Tom’s were okay. His cholesterol was even down a few points, but still borderline as usual. When the doc asked Tom if there had been any changes in his family history, he said, “Oh, yea, my 55 year old sister (3 years older than Tom) had a very mind heart attack last summer and ended up with a stent.” The doc said “OK, Tom, I think it’s time we sent you for a test. I want you to have a cardiac calcium CT scoring. Schedule that as soon as you have time.” Which, of course, Tom promptly did not and didn’t even tell me anything about the doctor telling him to do so.
During the spring, Tom got an upper respiratory infection/sinus infection and went to the local family practice for antibiotics/steroids. This scenario has been all to familiar. It seems that two or three times a year Tom has this happen and in 2015 he had pneumonia. In the past, he has had pleurisy two different times. So, we thought–more of the same. For whatever reason, Tom has this weakness with his lungs. He had asthma as a kid… blah, blah, blah. Only, this time, he didn’t seem to bounce back. He kinda kept mentioning that he continued to have “lung tightness” or “chest tightness”. Like his breathing just wasn’t normal. I finally said, “Tom, you can’t keep messing with the family practice place. Call the internist.” Tom called him and described what was going on and the doc said “Well, Tom, if you had had that test I wanted you to get, we might be able to at least rule out anything cardiac.” Right! Now, during this time, I am just hearing about this test for the first time. Ok, so Tom gets the test scheduled (by this time it’s May and we are prepping the house to get it on the market). The test literally is 20 minutes and you are done. “Your doctor will call you with the results in a week or so.” Fast forward to the second week of June. Tom had just dropped me off at the airport for another business trip and on the way home gets the news–your Cardiac calcium score is through the roof. “You are now a cardiac patient, Tom. I am starting you on a statin and a baby aspirin a day and we have to get you in to see a cardiologist.”
The earliest cardiologist appointment was July 5th. The cardiologist says, “Yea, we really need to do further testing. It’s a hard case, because you aren’t really having symptoms.” The vague “lung tightness/chest tightness” was inconsistent and Tom never had chest pain. But, with the super abnormally high calcium score, we had to look further. Nuclear stress test vs. cardiac catheterization. The cardiologist felt comfortable with either. Tom voted stress test. I voted catheterization. I won.
The catheterization got scheduled for one week later, July 11. We had wrapped our minds around the fact that Tom would likely end up with a stent like his sister and that these vague chest tightness symptoms were really related to his heart (funny how Tom started admitting to more symptoms in that week). On July 11th, Tom went in for the catheterization and I waited in the waiting room accompanied by my Pastor. In about 90 minutes, we were taken back to the room and they rolled Tom in–pretty much awake. We were told he didn’t have any stents placed, and for a moment the thought was “yay, its not so bad, maybe he just needs to be on the statin and that is it.”. Nope. The cardiologist came in and she says “Good new and bad news. Good news–Tom’s heart muscle is completely healthy and he has had no damage. Bad news–he has two significant blockages in places that we can not stent. He needs open heart surgery.”
Well, a lot of decisions happened over the next hour. While the cardiologist said this was not an emergency, she also said we couldn’t wait until next summer when he was out of school. Tom suggested Christmas break. The doc said–why would you ever want to recover during Christmas. She was right. I now could not imagine us waiting to have the surgery–months of a ticking time bomb inside of his chest. In the end, Tom had a quadruple by-pass by the one of the top heart surgeons in Atlanta (who just happened to have had a cancellation) two days later–July 13. Tom did great. He didn’t get to start his new job on time, but the principal was great and said Tom’s j0b was waiting on him. Two weeks after the surgery, I drove Tom to the open house at his new school. He at least got to meet his students. He was so stubborn, that he got the cardiac surgeon to let him return to work part-time on August 22. Just 5 weeks after surgery. He went back to work full-time on September 6th. Tom continues to recover and is in cardiac rehab until the end of the year. He looks and feels great most of the time. To look at him, you probably would never know he had open heart surgery–except that 7 inch scar down his chest. Most of our friends and family thought Tom would be the LAST person to ever have cardiac disease. Goes to show–you can’t do much about your DNA. I have told Tom’s sister “I am sorry you had your mild heart attack and I am so happy you are doing well. I am also grateful that you had your heart attack, because it saved your brother’s life.” She says that messes with her head…
Tom’s blockages were in the left main artery and the LAD–translation “the widow-maker”. Tom likely would have been out jogging or mowing the lawn and just dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Many times you just don’t get warning with his type of blockages.
Oh and about the whole selling house, buying house and moving….yep, we did that on August 12/13. Exactly 1 month after Tom’s surgery. We hired a moving company and were blessed by help from family and we moved 75 miles north towards the mountains. Still in suburbs of Atlanta, but closer to the mountains. I sometimes wonder why we just didn’t throw caution to the wind and make the move all the way…oh yea–I didn’t want to leave my job.
So, you can kind of understand why this blog has been neglected. I hope I can change that and make regular posts going forward.
Here are some upcoming posts:
- New House Tour
- Frugal Christmas Gift Baskets (ever Christmas shop at grocery store?)
- 2017 Goals
- Wedding planning (daughter getting married 10/7/17!)
- Real life budget
Maybe listing some topics will help keep me accountable.
Here is Tom today:
Here is Tom on July 13th:
If you or someone you know and love has a family history of cardiac disease, please take the time and the $100 to have a quick easy test. Read more about it HERE. It could save your life.
Go HERE to read about Tom’s experience in his own words.
Thanks for stopping by!!