Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday: Implanted Defibrillator 1, Sudden Cardiac Death 0

A picture of Evander Sno doing what he loves.

        I am always happy when I hear that someone recovers from, and walks away from a cardiac arrest.   Evander Sno, 25,  is a Dutchman who plays football (soccer) for a variety of teams in Europe.  An hour ago, Reuters reported that Sno experienced a cardiac arrest and collapse, but when his internal defibrillator sensed this cataclysmic disturbance in heart rhythm, it fired, allowing him to walk off the field.
        Mr. Sno is one of the lucky ones.  His prior cardiac arrest was recoverable and brought attention to the fact that he has an episodic potentially life threatening disturbance in heart rhythm on occasion.  So many people do, and do not know, and like our Daniel, die the first time a potentially lethal heart rhythm leads to a cardiac arrest.  Daniel did not respond to immediate CPR, but may have responded to an AED, and most certainly would have responded to the firings of an implanted defibrillator, if only someone had known he needed one.
        Evander Sno experienced a full cardiac arrest in September 2010 while playing a game.  Paramedics were able to resuscitate him after ten minutes using a defibrillator. Physicians took the "precautionary" step of inserting an implanted defibrillator during that particular hospitalization.  It's an awfully good thing they did.  Congratulations, Evander.   We are glad you remain here in order to finish out your life on Earth.

Evander Sno, has played for Scotland, different British clubs, and others.

Safe Shopping


    It's Autumn once again, and once more, in order not to stand still and think too much about this time of year.  This season took my mother in law in the 1990s, my aunt in 2000,  beloved Golden Retriever Susan in 2006, my mother in 2007, my father and Daniel within about a month of each other in 2008.   You would think that I look upon this time of year with some level of trepidation, but I do not.  I simply realize that life is spinning faster and faster and that there is still much to do before I too leave the Earth when I am called.
      So, I spend the Fall with a nervous energy a bit like a wound top.  This morning I could not decide whether my daughter and I should attend an Estate Sale looking for furniture she needs, or whether I should take James to the county fair.  My daughter and I could have finished the second coat of paint on the interior doors to her guestroom. We could have raked her back yard.
      Instead, we spent time looking for a safe for her camera equipment.  We went to several shops only to find that theft wasn't our only concern, and that such a safe would need to be fireproof for a certain period of time also.  Then we met my eldest son for lunch at a favorite delicatessen.  We had a really pleasant day, but came home no closer to selecting anything. The small ones were too small and the large ones, too big for the space she has allocated. I wonder if an upright freezer with a key mechanism would do the trick ?

This is what she could use for her photography equipment.


This is what she can actually afford.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Changes Need to be Made


Sometimes, like anywhere else, it's just not idyllic.

  We have arrived at the end of a very difficult seven days.  My husband, who is an engineer was sent to an industrial city in Mexico in order to engineer an industrial system.for a worldwide company.  It is not enough that large amounts of jobs have exited the United States due to high taxes and anti-business governmental policies toward regulation.  Now, increasingly my husband's work will take him out of the US.  This also took him to a section of Mexico which quite recently was considered by the US State Department,  a place where Americans should not go, due to drug cartel activities.
             We were all concerned not only for his safety, but from a farm and animal standpoint.  We keep up with chores here because everyone does them, and my husband does some very important and difficult farm chores here. Since I have had atrial fibrillation, I have been unable to pinch hit for him in the ways in which I would have prior. The kids have certainly been helpful but one has a medical problem which is in process, another has a demanding full-time job, one has moved out, and another is in college.  Even with advance planning, we were all left scrambling to get animal care and mowing done. This is also an important part of the year from a standpoint of readying for winter.
               My husband departed and was filled with a great deal of anxiety from the outset. Things began to go downhill here almost immediately. One of the considerations we extended to our daughter in order to enable her to save to buy her new house, is that we agreed to maintain her car for a period of time. My husband had been promising to replace her radiator. He left telling her to check the water level daily and to replace the water if needed.  She drives a significant distance, and one cannot check the water level from the highway when one is half way there.  Ultimately, the car overheated and would not start again. My eldest son then took over, had the car towed and had a mechanic look at it. It was the mechanic's opinion that the car, which has on the order of 100,000 miles on it, has a cracked block from overheating and is not salvageable. This of course upset Stephanie who feels let down by my husband, and who wonders how she will get to work.  Immediately her boyfriend and I crafted a plan whereby she would not miss work this week, and she cancelled some activities related to her second job.  At that point I will admit to doing what I think most wives would do, but this was probably not the kindest and wisest thing given the circumstances.  I called my husband to hold him accountable for his failure to complete his promised task to our daughter and to tell him the results.  He of course, was in a high level meeting I knew nothing about and was not pleased to be bothered by what he considered minutia.  By then, we were behind on animal care, even on the first day, so I ran out to catch up. I fed alpacas and forgot their vitamins.  I watered dogs, and fed them in the regions of the farm which dogs patrol.  I was pretty breathless when I got to the chickens, in part because of the work I had already done, and in part because asthma is a problem for me particularly when working with chickens.
By then, my husband called back and proceeded to rail at me for calling during a meeting and giving him information on a problem he was powerless to change at the moment.  Our exchange was heated and he hung up on me.  That evening I woke up in atrial fibrillation.   I took medication, and magnesium and prescription potassium, and the kids sat up with me until I converted in the middle of the night.  I felt lousy the next day, short of breath, and weak.


                 I tried to take it easy the following day, but animal care did need to be done.  I paced myself as best I could and made very simple meals.  Asthma is an a-fib trigger for me, and I fell into a-fib for a short period the following day while taking care of the chickens.  I later found I had left one pen without water as a result.  One of the kids found it later on a routine check during the day and rectified this.
                 For the remainder of the week I didn't go near the internet, or the telephone, and I didn't talk to my husband, nor did he call.   The third episode of a-fib occurred later in the week.  By that time, I really should have gone to the ER some distance away, but our insurance now requires a three hundred dollar copay for ER visits, and my husband had not left that much money here.  The two hundred I did have had been spent on the towing, and on the mechanic.  I eventually converted an hour and a half after taking medication for this purpose, but each time it was a harder conversion, and I felt worse.   I also was unable to do any work whatsoever on the two books which my publisher needs asap for a pre-Christmas launch.
                The animals are all fine. Haphazard care has had no effect on any of their health. We were fortunate that the weather was cool here this wee making all of the tasks easier.  However, my husband's trip to to Mexico has had a serious impact on my own health.  My husband is back to running back and forth to his job within the US. My daughter still has no car. My husband spent his weekend trying to resurrect a car the mechanic says is dead. I remain short of breath, dizzy, and easily converted to atrial fibrillation.  My asthma is worse, and this may be the cause.  Some things have to change otherwise the natural progression is that I will be inadvertently joining Daniel.   Changes need to be made.


Nelly Furtado, featuring Josh Groban              "Silencio"

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Challenges and Perspectives

The last few weeks have been busy.  I have been working hard on the book about Daniel, and on the other book which has been commissioned.  The publisher calls often, and I am feeling just a little pressured.  I try to balance farm tasks against writing, readying for winter, and family life.

   Stephanie has chosen rather than to take on debt for appliances in her new home, to exhaust the possibilities of finding what she needs either in a really good consignment shop, or on Craig's  List. We also peruse Freecycle whenever we can.  She has not found a really good stove in our area just yet, or a refrigerator or a washer/dryer, but she continues to look.   She did buy a gorgeous couch in an antique shop, which was reasonable this week.  I also found an amazing butcher block style kitchen table with lovely sturdy chairs at a nearby garage sale yesterday for her.   My husband cautioned me about buying things when she is not available to okay them, but this was her taste, and she loves it.  Daniel would be so excited for her.  She is creating a lovely home that she can afford.
    My husband is out of the country on a business trip and this is a reminder of how much he does here on the farm. My week will be spent trying to keep up.
      This week although I am certainly experiencing joy in terms of watching my daughter assemble a home, I have to say that things do not make a life. The relationships and the love between people, is all that is really important, and that this love endures beyond the life we know now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Loss of Lily and Family

Talented Photographer Lily Romando

     Our daughter, as an offshoot of her illustration career, is involved in a fair number of photography projects and photography education. . During one of these projects she became acquainted with a young photographer, Lily Romando.  Lily is very talented.
          This week, according to Albemarle County, Virginia police, Lily's brother, Noah Romando, 19, is alleged to have killed his entire family, before killing himself.

Elizabeth Walton, was mother to Lily and her brothers. She was an advertising executive in Charlottesville, Virginia
She had only married her husband Don in June, and still used the name Beth McLaughlin professionally. Beth is also a former teacher.

Andrew Romando, 15, was Lily's younger brother.

Noah Romando, 19 was a college student at the highly rated Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville, Virginia.

                  Somewhere between the shooting of the family, and just before Noah took his own life, Noah called Albemarle Police to let them know there had been a shooting at their address. When police arrived, Andrew was found shot, but still alive, and was sent to University of Virginia Medical Center where he died afterward.

                   The murder suicide phenomenon is not new.  Although there is no national tracking system for murder-suicides in the US, cursory medical studies seem to indicate that this pattern is increasing.   It happened less often in the US about ten years ago.   Psychiatrists tell us that sometimes, a person who would normally commit suicide decides that they cannot leave people they love alone on the Earth without them. In a sense, they wish to leave the Earth, but protect those they love from their suicide, and also from life or a particular circumstance or challenges on Earth.   Of course, this is profoundly disordered thinking, but it is important to examine because perhaps in understanding this thinking, we can intercept people who might do such a thing.    In the last ten years, family murder suicides have increased in incidence in the United States. This is the first time someone known to our family has been taken in such a manner.

                   Please join me today in prayers for the Noah, Andrew's and Lily's father, Peter Romando, and for Beth's husband, Don Walton, for their related families, and for their friends as they grieve and try to make sense of such a senseless and insane act.  This family, all of them, including Noah, were highly valued by this region. Noah, Andrew and Lily will be sorely missed by their many friends at their schools.  Beth will be very missed by both her friends and her co-workers.  Mrs.Walton is the daughter of Philip and Paula McLaughlin of Greenbrier County, West Virginia,  and the late Jane Forms McLaughlin.


     Lily feared being forgotten, which is so ironic when you consider how visually talented she was, in tandem with how much joy she brought so many people she encountered.    These are some pictures taken by Lily.

This is a picture Lily took of Beth, her mother.
Lily was an avid nature photographer also.

This is a picture Lily took of her Dad.

Friends and clients Aliyah and Drew.

     Lily,   You saw and lived a lot of joy while you lived here on Earth.     I can promise you that none of the people who were touched by you, or by your work, will ever forget you.   We know that you, your Mom, and your brothers are safe home, and that your brother was ill, and loved you all very much despite what happened in those last moments.   Godspeed, Lily.