Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And Even More Changes

Stock photo of the Main Entrance of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center

It was a full day at the VA yesterday. Started with them needing some bloodwork, then on to the Warfarin Clinic. From there to Xray, then an EKG. I hand carried the results to the Device Clinic where it was explained to me that I would be receiving a monitor in the mail and it had to be set up somewhere near where I sleep. Mine will be wireless as we don’t have land-line phone service.
This monitor will report what the Pacemaker is doing every night while I sleep.
The last appointment was with the Dysrhythmia doctor. He looked me over along with the results of the Xray and EKG and set a schedule for the future. Since the Warfarin Clinic results did not have me in the proper blood thinness level range, some adjustment was made on how much Coumadin I am taking. Hopefully, I’ll get regulated into the range they want it to be. This medication breaks up any blood clots and stops them from forming.

Since I had a blood clot, and they have a picture of it from a procedure I got when I was in the hospital, they want to wait two full months before looking for it again. They used a scope/camera that you swallow, like an endoscopy, except it photographs the inside of the heart. They did this on November 11th, so they will wait until mid-January to look again.
If there are no signs of any blood clots, they will do an Ablation. They literally go up with a catheter into the heart and change the electric impulses around to get the heart to fall back into a normal sinus rhythm. From there, if all is successful, the Medtronic D334TRG Pacemaker that was implanted in my chest will do the rest.
Sounds so simple. But it’s my heart they’ll be playing with. But I feel lucky on a number of fronts. First of all, the doctor that did a lot of the procedural work at the hospital used to work at the VA. He called those he knew from the departments and discussed my case with them. They knew of my case and were ready to serve me. You see, when I called 911 that fateful night and got into the ambulance, they took me to United Hospital in St. Paul, not the VA. I was told there were no beds available at the VA and that they authorized United to do any treatment they deemed necessary at their expense. That was a stroke of luck right along with this next tidbit.
Seems United gave me the “High End” Pacemaker, the newest design, the one with the fewest flaws. Around $40,000.00 worth of hardware implanted in my chest! That means the occurrence of an erroneous shock is lessened. It also means that when I got out of the hospital and started going to the clinics at the VA, they want to protect their investment and get things to work properly. Hopefully that’ll be the case.
I think these things are answers to prayers. I think there is positive energy coursing through me. Then again, maybe it’s not about me at all. Maybe some intern needs the practice.
In between the clinic visits, I had to have a quick lunch and get to pharmacy to check in with a pharmacist. The doctor I talked to on the phone yesterday ordered a change in some medications and I had to pick them up so I could start using them immediately. Then when all was finished, over six hours since I arrived there, I had to check in with fee basis and the travel department.

Fee basis is allowing me twelve visits to the local hospital in my home town for Cardiac Rehab. That will save me having to drive the 90 mile round trip to the VA to get some walking on the treadmill three days a week with medical staff supervision.
All in all, I feel better than I have since October 26th when I first started feeling punk. I am fortunate to have health care and I have absolutely no complaints about any services at the VA. They seem to be doing what they promised me back in 1968, that they would take care of my health care needs for the rest of my life. This was promised as I accepted the honor of serving my country when they asked.
My mind set is an up and down playground. I can feel so good, then get depressed in an instant. Monday, I didn’t feel like doing anything. Today I wanted to tell you all about it. I guess this kind of physical trauma and the mixture of ever changing drugs has something to do with that. I’ll do my best to get through it. In the meantime, I plan on joining my friend Rebecca at recuerda mi corazon for the Second Annual 12 Days of Mary, or as we called it last year, "A Virgin a Day". This Virgin Business runs from the first to the twelfth of December, culminating on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patron Saint of the Americas. To me, this is a very reverent exercise in Faith, Art, Culture and Peace.

Mrs. Spadoman is home safe and sound with the entire mission accomplished. I am very proud of her. She made the trip exactly how I would have done it. One day at a time. Isn't that a well-known saying that I should be heeding? All I can do is try, just as I try to stay thankful to all of you for the prayers, energy and support.
Peace my Friends

Monday, November 28, 2011

Changes in Attitude

I have to say a few things out loud. Writing them down is best for me. It’s actually my only choice as Mrs. Spadoman is on the road, and that means my soul mate isn’t around for me to bounce my troubles off of.
She is in New Mexico. She went down to take care of our business with the apartment, the bank, the post office and the gas company. She also will bring back our personal belongings from the place we were renting down there.
Seeing as we weren’t going to be going down there and making use of the place, the land lord found another tenant and let us off the hook for the rest of the lease. The new tenants are to move in December 1st, so we had to get our stuff out of there.
I tell you, it’s pretty damn hard for me not to be making this trip with her, you know how much I love to travel, and it seems harder to be home alone. But Mrs. S needed the break as she has been on edge throughout the entire hospital stay. I am stable enough to be alone, and the chore had to be done. Besides, I have a cell phone for any emergency and very optimistic that I won’t need to use it.
As far as my recovery process is concerned, I can tell you that there is definite improvement. I am breaking in the new routines and they are becoming habit. My weight is down. I’m getting used to the lowered blood pressure and I am able to drive into town and walk around the grocery store and stop in at the coffee shop. The bigger problem is I haven’t had a cup of coffee, or any caffeine for that matter, since October 26th!
What I am having a problem with is a desire to participate in many things at the level I did before all this happened. One of these things is computer involvement. That means reading and writing the blogs and Facebook interaction, all the stuff I did on a regular basis.
I sit a lot and watch TV. I read a little and stare out the window, watching the birds at the feeder. This morning, I got up really early because I went to bed really early. I had the luxury of listening to a very loud hoot owl for about a half hour long concert.
This is by no means a sad thing. I am not suffering. I just don’t have the drive and desire right now to create. It will come, but isn’t there right now.
Please bear with me as I adjust. I’m sure the new drug regimen  has something to do with it. I am forever thankful for all the outpouring of thoughts and prayers and concern all of you have shown. I cannot seem to convey how much I appreciate it. And although my presence to your pages and postings on my own pages is slow and intermittent, I am still around and hope to get back to normal soon.
Thank you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New Mexico Dreaming

Haiku My Heart
November 25, 2011

Haiku My Heart is a weekly forum with folks from all around the globe participating. Read more at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon.

A load of chile ristras hanging up, ready for giving to friends and neighbors for the holidays

Colorful chiles
Ristras for a fragile soul
Will be missed this year
New Mexico State Flag
Glad I have photos from all my years past in New Mexico. Mrs. Spadoman and I have postponed any traveling for the rest of this Winter, at least for now. I still have some tests and procedures to get through and need to build up more strength. All that is coming along,  but it will take a lot of time.
The landlord in Truth or Consequences has found a tenant for our little casita and my motorcycle is safely stored away in Albuquerque at a dealership there. The places aren't going to move away and I am more optimistic every day that I'll visit this fabulous land again in my future, a feeling I didn't have two short weeks ago.
Luckily, we have ristras and other colorful paintings, blankets and clothing from the Southwest. We even have a bag of frozen green chiles in the freezer and found an outlet that will ship them when we are in the mood for a New Mexican style meal. Of course with wholesale diet changes for me, those kind of meals might be less often and even then, less in quantity. Maybe it is a good thing we’re not going to be there this Winter.
In the meantime, I’ll gaze upon what I have here at home sweet home and watch the fire crackling away in the fireplace as the snow flakes wander down from heaven. It’s still very nice to be home, and yesterday, I spent with my family at the youngest daughter’s place. It was such an experience to be thankful for, to be with everyone, watching football, listening to the kids laughter, sharing large quantities of really good food and generally just seeing the relief in everyones face and smile that we’re all together again. I am truly blessed for having them, and for having you, my bloglandia friends. Thank you all, again and again, for your support through all this.
May Peace be in your lives

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slowly Getting Back to Normal

It wasn’t that long ago I started to write about how things used to be back in the good old days. I’m talking about before the likes of Walmart and the corporate stranglehold on our lives. There was a time of a different existence. 
I was reminded of this time the other day when the doorbell rang and someone from the local coffee shop, The Dish and the Spoon Cafe here in River Falls, brought us a basket of food. 
Back in the day, mom did the shopping. She’d go to the butcher for meat, the bakery for bread and the market for fruits and vegetables. There was also the shoe store, the dress shop, the men’s clothing store, the florist and the gas station, not to mention a store for pretty much about any item you might need in a household. 
There were larger grocery stores that only had hours from eight in the morning until nine at night and closed at six PM on Saturday. Sunday? Forget about it!
We had a small neighborhood store on the corner called Arlene’s. I’d be sent up there to get a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs or a ½ gallon of milk. Maybe a pack of smokes back when my folks were smokers.
Bob’s Texaco, next door to Arlene’s, pumped gas and had a couple of repair bays. Bob always had time for us neighborhood kids. We could go on his desk and help ourselves to a cookie or two from a package he had opened up or grab a banana.
We roamed the alleys for empty glass pop bottles and redeemed them for 2 cents a piece back at Arlene’s. A couple of coke bottles found on the ground would fetch some candy from the bins located along the counter at the front of the store.
If something went wrong with someone from the neighborhood, it was people like Arlene that would take care of things so folks wouldn’t have to worry. When my Grandpa was sick and close to meeting his maker, Arlene would allow us kids to get the milk and bread and the folks could pay later, and when Grandpa passed away, she sent flowers and gave out hugs.
When life all changed from this model of neighborhoods and close relationships with the people that provided us with goods and services, it was the death of a greeting card of condolence from people like Arlene who ran the places we traded with. No one had ever gotten a card or flowers from a big box store.
When Jody from the Dish stopped by the other day with a freshly baked quiche, pasta, lettuce and fruit salads and scones, the faith I had from a bygone era was shown to me.
While I’ve been dealing with these heart matters, it has put pressure on the entire family. Visits to the emergency room and the doctor’s office. Extra jockeying of the children here and there for day care, no time to get to the grocery and general helter skelter made it hard to plan a meal let alone gather what was needed and prepare it.
The gift of prepared food from our neighbors at the coffee shop lifted a burden from our lives and provided us with sustenance. This is the spirit of giving from the heart. 
Our faith in humanity is renewed, or at least we were reminded of it, and promise to pay it forward when we see a friend or neighbor in need was made.
This morning was my first visit back to The Dish and the Spoon Cafe since the first of November. The regular baristas were there and welcomed me with hugs. Then Emily wandered by and stopped to tell me that she missed  me and was so glad that I was back. Abbie came in and stopped for a hug. I tell you, they may have greeters in Walmart, but they’re no match for friends that remind you that if there is anything I need that I shouldn’t hesitate to call.
I thank Abbie and her mother, Emily, the owners of The Dish and the Spoon Cafe, and the entire staff. I was sure to let them know how appreciated they are in our community.
Thanks so much you guys. You are truly neighborhood friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011

First Round Scorecard

Haiku My Heart
November 18, 2011

Haiku My Heart is done every Friday. To see more and find out how you can participate, see Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog.

Joe Spadoman, one
Creator not done with me
Grimm Reaper, zero
There is a tree outside my hospital room window. It is full of green leaves. I don’t know what kind of tree holds its leaves this far into November here in the Northland, but it sits outside my window and tells me that there is still life in it. Not ready to become dormant. Not ready to die.
I have been getting messages from friends and family throughout this ordeal. There is no way I can tell any one of you how uplifting and important it is to read or hear that someone is thinking good thoughts for me and my family. I am eternally grateful and can only mutter the words thank you with humility and keep my head firmly hanging, hiding the tears.
Huckleberry Finn had the extreme luxury of attending his own funeral. He heard people eulogizing his life. I feel so blessed and fortunate that I have been afforded this same luxury as people who have never met me speak such wonderful words about me and pray for me.
I will tell you, it worked so far. I do have a good fight ahead of me, but for now, I have been sent home after almost two weeks in the hospital and I will wait for time to pass and the drug chemicals to work in my bloodstream to break up a clot in my heart. In the meantime, a pacemaker device was installed in my chest, upper left side. All of these procedures while trying to control diabetes and keep my lungs, legs and stomach clear of fluid from congestive heart failure. It will take perseverance, discipline and a lot of help from my family.
The changes in medication alone will once again change the way I live, but the doctors are optimistic that I will improve. They tell me that I will be able to ride my motorcycle again someday.
When I came out of anesthesia after my second triple bypass in 2003, I found myself alone with my thoughts, and although heavily sedated, I talked with the Creator. I told the Great Mystery that if it was my time, I am ready. I was told that it wasn’t my time and to fight for my life. I recall clenching my fists and feeling the adrenaline flowing through my body. Like Rocky Balboa I rose up and lived again.
When I was recovering from this 2003 surgery, I felt that I’d never come around and that I’d never walk comfortably again. Yes, the recovery process took a while, but I have been able to enjoy a very reasonable lifestyle, considering the circumstances, since then, right up to when my heart went aflutter on October 26th of this year.
I must believe that every day that I see my reflection in the mirror is another day of opportunity at living life. I also realize that It isn’t about me at all, and that I owe this continuation of life to God, as we understand him, and the many souls that take part in wanting me to be around. That would be my family, my friends and my loving wife Barb that is the glue that holds all of us together.
My haiku today is not a bragging right, nor is it a declaration of victory. It is a testament to the power of the many human spirits that walk the universe and ask, dream, wish, hope and ponder the idea that one person’s life is important enough to let him know they think it is. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate all the kindness that has been afforded to my family and myself.
In that essence, I send prayers of thanks back to you to use when you need them. I send these every day and say that I believe it was your prayers of light and love that allow me to be here today to speak this prayer to you:
Creator, Thank you for the light of day
Thank you for another day
Thank you for this new day today
Thank you for the rest you’ve given us
Thank you for the coolness that gives us comfort from the heat
Thank you for the warmth that brings us comfort from the cold
I thank you for the Sacred Circle that this creates, and for the opportunity to be a part of this Sacred Circle and the lessons it teaches
Thank you for listening to the prayers of the people
Thank you for listening to my prayers today
Today I pray for the Veterans, for the Elders, for the Addicted, for the Sick and Infirmed. I pray for the families and friends of these so that their suffering is relieved as well
I pray for the Children, the Families and Relationships
I pray for the Spiritual Leaders that help the people to pray, for their families and for their safe travel
Mitakwe Oyasin
Go back to the first paragraph of this post. Read it again. Yesterday, when the doctor came into my room and examined me to allow my trip back to my home, the sun was shining brightly, as it has for the past week. I watched the people walking to and fro bundled up against a raw North wind. That tree started to drop its leaves, and by noon, it was barren, with the still green clumps of small feathery leaves scattered on the sidewalk, street and courtyard like a blanket.
This tree spoke to me every day and sent me your words and thoughts. I was able to see the life you sent to me every day and I felt it. Now, as I have spent the first night in my own bed after a fortnight away, I slept soundly, and I thank you from the bottom of my soul.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Field of Dreams

Shadow Shot Sunday
November 6, 2011

Every Sunday, folks from all a round the globe het together and post their Shadowy images. To see more and find out how you can participate, visit Hey Harriet's Photography.

I made this Dream Catcher for a friend. While photographing to archive this piece, the shadows appeared, seemingly made by the flash. I liked the effect.

Here's another shot of the same piece using ambient light and no flash. Some unique shadows created here too. 

Hope everyone has a fine weekend and enjoys the Shadows.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Broken Heart

Haiku My Heart
November 4, 2011

Haiku My Heart is the creation of Rebecca who pens the recuerda mi corazon blog. To see more haiku and to find out how to participate, go to recuerda mi corazon.

Heart beat is broken
Relaxing comfortably
Loving being loved
An update is in order. You, my friends, deserve it. I don’t know if you realize how much your words, thoughts and prayers mean to me and my family. Each and every one of you is so greatly appreciated. Thank you all so much.
I experienced something called Atrial Fibrillation. My heart rate went way up and now beats out of sync. Along with this diagnosis came the evidence of Congestive Heart Failure. A friend of mine thought they should call it something a little less dramatic, like it’s a heart pump issue. Like she says, “Who wants to hear the words ‘heart’ and ‘failure’ in the same sentence?”
The heart failure has my heart pumping at 30 percent. The fibrillation has my heart racing and beating irregularly, skipping some beats. All of these issues on the back of pneumonia and this lingering bronchitis and its ugly raspy dry annoying cough.
Aside from the fear I had when I felt the sensations in my chest, the drugs leave me dizzy, disorientated, weak and tired. Yet I can’t sleep from the shortness of breath that wakes me if I doze off while watching TV or manifests itself if I lay down.
There but for the grace of God go I
This phrase sums it up as I have no other thoughts or reasons for living through what my heart and I have been through over the years. 
I have the diagnosis and the treatment has started. This process is hard as every body is different and the chemicals need adjustment. I see permanent changes in my lifestyle ahead and I accept them. Perhaps my days as a traveler are over. Surely if this had happened while driving across the desert alone the outcome wouldn't be quite so rosy. Maybe there will be more activities that I will have to recall as a memory instead of participating in them as before.

Mrs. Spadoman believes my heart was broken from my participation in the American war in Vietnam. A Spiritual break, if you will. On top of that, there’s the mechanical stuff happening now and the clogged arteries from exposure to Agent Orange. There’s the heartbreak of the surgeries themselves, where someone has my own heart in their hands as my breath is created from a machine. The pain in my heart still and forever from losing our daughter. The broken hearted feeling that comes with witnessing and taking part in a war as a young person, barely old enough to be called a man, and watching war continue at the hands of the masters.
There was a time when I would never believe I had a friend. I felt completely alone and abandoned, even by my family members, I thought. Through a healing path, I started to realize, as I learned, that I am loved. The next step was to accept it and believe it.
That’s where you come in. Strangers, for the most part, even the few that I have met in person don’t really know who I am. You say such wonderful kind things to me on my blog. You accept me and my quirkiness. You tell me you love me and you wish, for me, nothing but the best speedy recovery from my wounds.
I tell you I cry when I read your comments. I am crying now. And not only did I learn to accept and believe I am loved, I learned how to love too. How to love my family more than I thought I did. How to love you, my friends, and my enemies as well.
I’m a lucky man to have this family I have, and to have you as friends. I don’t know why I am still around, but I am. Maybe I’ll get to know the answer to all things mystical someday, but for today, I am thankful and I love you all.
The feeling I have in my broken heart is one of Peace. Amidst the broken beats knowing why I cry gives me my path. Knowing you makes it worth while as I feel that now,  it is your hands that hold my heart together.
May peace bless each and every one of you, totally, every day of your lives

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dia De Bloglandia 2011

The Ofrenda at the Spadoman household, 2011

My dear friends. Here are a few photos I took of our Altar. We cancelled our celebration tonight because of my illness, but the spirits are here and enjoying themselves. I am so sorry that I don't have the energy to give this event the attentionn it deserves.

A couple of our guests

Check out the great blog posts for this years Dia De Bloglandia A Mr. Linky listing can be found at Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog.

A whimsical creature

I thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers. It will take some time and effort to recover properly, and I'll do my best to make it happen.

Our daughter Maggie

Peace and love to all.