Saturday, October 30, 2010


I'm talking about a different
kind of straw today!
It is a very simply thing--a straw, which has four definitions from on-line Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

1. a. stalks of grain after threshing; broadly dry stalky plant residue used like grain straw (as bedding or packing); 
b. a natural or artificial heavy fiber used for weaving, plaiting, or braiding.

2. a. dry coarse stem especially of a cereal grass;

3. a. (1). something of small worth or significance; (2). something too insubstantial to provide support or help in a desperate situation <clutching at straws>;
b. chaff 

4. a. something (as a hat) made of straw;
 b. a tube (as of paper, plastic, or glass) for sucking up a beverage.

A rather common, lowly material, it is derived from multiple sources, usable in weaving, plaiting or braiding  as well as fodder for livestock. And in areas where I have lived straw and hay equate to each other.

Drinking straw

However, I am discussing definition 4.(b) the tube used for sucking up a beverage. 

Crafters have made use of drinking straws in many ways, usually in connection with children's crafts. In and of itself, children have played with straws as if prized toys. Mischievous youngsters use a variety of techniques in settings where drinking straws are available. I remember dipping them in honey and blowing so high in the air as to stick on the ceiling in a popular teenage hangout.

But today I want to introduce the drinking straw as an instrument which I have added to my personal first aid kits.

While in Arkansas Heart Hospital I had a serious atrial fibrillation attack at 3 a.m. one morning--3 days already on new medication. The night shift was in a tizzy as my heart rate would soar to dangerous heights and quickly fall to lower rates, although still not normal.

Since I was placed on a medication with narrow safety margins, they had to check several sources before administering the usual routine medications for the episode.

Meanwhile my assigned nurse brought in a straw, told me to place my finger over the end and blow as hard as I could into the straw. I did several times but the desired effect did not appear on the monitor.

 Later I was told to keep some straws handy; if I saw my heart rate rising on my pulse oximeter or blood pressure machine, or felt arrhythmia's, to try this trick.

Since being home, if my heart rate jumped 30 points or more a couple of times while simply sitting, or the arrhythmia symbol shows up on my blood pressure machine, I completed this low tech procedure to stop the spiraling heart rate. It worked, but, importantly, I did this early in the episode, and is probably the clue to when it works.

Since coming home I have assembled several packages of medications including a straw, to use if I am far from medical help.



I know....I have used our rescue and paramedic personnel four times in recent months.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Arkansas Heart Hospital (Internet photo)
 After a morning of admissions from Emergency Room, I had barely returned to normal heart rhythm at Arkansas Heart Hospital when the chaplain walked in, dressed nicely in his brown suit, white shirt and tie. My husband (H) was sitting in a recliner reading a newspaper.

I was supposed to be admitted on the 12th, so we traveled to Little Rock on the 11th where we planned to spend the night in La Quinta Inn and register as instructed at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the 12th. H would spend nights there while I was admitted.

Since I usually hit Sam's and WalMart when we make the very tiresome trip to Little Rock we usually go a day earlier. [We have another trip coming up November 1 to VA for my  H and Nov. 8 with H and best friend to allergist.]

Upon arrival we hit Sam's for some big time shopping as a friend sent a list, too. We were considering where to eat, or snack in the room, when another Atrial F attack hit about 8 p.m. When my heart rate spirals above 100 and I am placidly sitting at my computer, I have learned it is ER time. These attacks involve NO pain, just your heart is trying to jump out of your chest.

Instead of ambulance we went by car to the ER entrance, and amazingly was admitted before an accident victim. It sounds crazy; no doubt the AR Heart Hosp. ER is set up for heart emergencies and only stablize accident victims on a short term basis. Rescue units usually carries accident victims to nearest ER-no matter what kind of specialty hospital it may be.

After an hour on an IV drip I was admitted to the main hospital about 10 hours earlier than usual. Like my previous experiences I stabilized in same time as home, 3.5 hours.

So the Chaplain charmingly and patiently listened to my tale of woe. The he spotted my sparkling new Kindle adorned with a Dallas Cowboys skin wrap. [this skin came for SkinIt. also has some kinds of skins, too.]

Kindle Front Skin

"Oh, you are a Dallas  Cowboys fan," he said. My husband, a non-sports follower of anything, groaned in the background.

I answered 'yes' and Texans, too, but really watch anything that flings a football in the air--not an exaggeration.

We dissected the ailments of the 'Boys for about 10 minutes, maybe more, when he realized it was time to move to next patient.

"I'd like to say a little prayer for you," he said. I okayed it and ask him to to remember the 'Boys too." My husband's face was probably turning a tad red with embarrassment.

But the Chaplain obligingly did pray for both us and the 'Boys.' I  thanked him as he moved on to what he probably hope was a sane patient. I figured he would avoid my room, but I saw him nearly every day.
Kindle Rear Skin

When he left the room, my husband' face had a look of  disbelief with "Why did you do that?" I grinned and offered 'I believe you could pray for anything. I really didn't ask for a win.'

When I told my sister this story she said, "the Minnesota Vikings prayed harder!" I agree with her wholehearedly.

But I have to hand it to the Chaplain to comply with his patient's requests. May the Lord bless and prevent him from further insane patients! But how is he to separate the sane from the not so sane?

P.S. The screensavers are timed to inactivity. The one in the picture is said to  be Desiderius Erasmus by Hans Hobein, the younger.

If you have a Kindle and wish to identify some of the screensavever go to this site: Kindle Screensavers.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


We checked out of Arkansas Heart Hospital Oct. 16 and spent night in Little Rock, both of us worn out, so felt an immediate resumption of a near 175 mi, long drive simply to much to attempt under the circumstances.

Since WiFi did not reach the hospital 3rd floor, I am behind on reading all your blocks and a few FaceBook notes.

I have a couple of funny and not so funny stories to write.

Mainly I am trying to get some strength to do just daily stuff like washing clothes. It is not the washing--I do have a clothes washer and dryer, it is the sorting, folding, carrying from room to room, etc.

And cooking is proving a problem. I think I may consult the a certified nutritionist. The hospital warned me to watch salt, and of course fat. Yet they served me bacon, but no breaded, fried foods in the heart hospital. This does not help me in food selection, nor my husband who tries to help cook.

I have some Mrs. Dash products. But meat tenderizer has salt in it, same for Lawry's seasoned salt, both long time staples in my seasonings.

Last night I had one serving of Healthy Campbell Chicken and Rice soup and 1 serving Kashi Original crackers. It alone had 1/2 my daily salt allowance. That is after turning down black-eyed peas,which I love, my husband cooked with a hunk of ham in it. I still don't know which was the better choice. He did not add salt to the peas, but the cured ready-to-eat ham was injected with solution which usually includes salt ablationin addition to other ingredients. The curing process usually includes salt also.

As the King and I movie: "IT IS A PUZZLEMENT!"

It will be hectic until we adjust to so many paradoxical changes, not to mention the drug, called TIKOSYN, has a lot of other restrictions as to which medications can be used, but no food restrictions that I have yet found.

The ablation may be the answer; as soon as I have my lungs re-evaluated, I may sign up for it. It is not open heart type surgery. It is done with special catheters, but under general anesthesia--the one hold up in my opinion.

I took no pictures but really enjoyed the Kindle and had time to learn a few features. I read one Max Lucado book, Imagine your Life without Fear, three times, underlining passages I thought I needed to re-read frequently.

Of course, learning a few the Kindle's features were great, like using the dictionary, highlighting passages, but have yet to find them in My clippings. Am sure I'll get it eventually.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I am OFF THE BLOG HIGHWAYS, Monday, unless I sneak a connection from surreptitiously I will have NO connection until out and home.

The Arkansas Heart Hospital only has WiFi in two lobbies which apparently are floors of offices, not patients rooms. One very nice contact offered me his ATT phone connect cord. He has no idea that I'm used 24 hr connection. I thanked him for his generosity and helpfulness. I think these phone connections are like a cell connect and quite expensive.

I am sure some funny experiences (to me, some of which may be ribald and unprintable) will happen so plan to have my computer in my room along with my Kindle. Still gotta a lot to learn about the Kindle.

I am not leery of the stay except we are introducing still another medication to my many, especially COPD ones. I just worry about mixing such a cauldron of potions  (it is October, you know!).

Also, it is the second time in my life I have spent my birthday in the hospital! They don't even bring you a cupcake! Maybe a piece of pumpkin pie? I love that, too. Pumpkin has some very good nutrition, just not with added sugar, but I'd even take Splenda in it and ONE candle, maybe a dab of fat-free Cool Whip.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


After a frenzied two weeks of political (I resigned) and medical activities, I decided to post an alert I'm still around.

I will be spending about a week at the Arkansas Heart Hospital in Little Rock to hopefully regain  control of atrial fibrillation, short is A-Fib, where a special oral tablet will carefully be subjected to titration for my body and circumstances.

If things go as expected, I am given 2 tablets a day and I can read, sleep, whatever I want while being evaluated. I am sure evaluated means wires hanging out of you in ever conceivable manner.

However, I was promised I may be able to take less meds which is comforting, too, at least as the ones related to heart and blood pressure.

So maybe I will be able to catch up on reading your blogs!! And my Kindle.

We have two laptops so HUSBAND gets the one that works the best at the nearby motel. Luckie gets the one that is near dead. HAH HAH.