Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
I pass a local farmers market on my way home each week, and they have had the most colorful assortment of late summer/early fall blooms - marigolds, zinnias, & lots of hearty greens. I just love 'em!
Off for a fun fall weekend with family and friends!
Friday, September 18, 2009
(from my sister's update...)
I'd be tender, I'd be gentle
and awful sentimental
regarding love and art
I could stay young and chipper
and I'd lock it with a zipper
If I only had a heart.... xo
Avery is doing spectacular! She is walking almost on her own, eating (she grazes all day long), weaning on her oxygen, and just looks like the Avery we remember almost a year ago - when this unbelievable journey came to a peak last November when she was admitted the day before Thanksgiving due to her human aortic valve deteriorating.
That was really the start of this extraordinary experience - having a mechanical aortic valve placed in early December followed by a bi-ventricular repair (a 14 hour bypass surgery) in mid-December, and then emergency surgery a week later (on a Sunday night in a blizzard) when the OR team was called in from home to repair her pulmonary artery which was bleeding around her heart.
After weeks of recovery - she was finally discharged home January 26, 2009 - skinny and week - but fortunate to have 2 ventricles (or so we thought).
Avery was home for 7 weeks but on March 22nd we brought her to the emergency room at around midnight for a "belly ache" and what we thought would be a stomach virus. Neither Mike nor I were overly excited about sitting in the ER for 6 hours to be told - "make sure she drinks plenty of fluids" but she had come so far and we didn't want to take ay chances - even if it meant a tired Sunday the next day.
A couple of hours later, Avery went into cardiac arrest -- her first of what would end up being 3 arrests due to coronary artery clotting, spasms and heart ischemia. Avery also suffered severe pulmonary and GI hemorrhages from damage to her lungs and CPR with extensive anticoagulation.
On June 10th she had her 3rd cardiac arrest and was placed on ECMO for the 4th time. She was officially listed on the heart transplant wait list on June 14th as a Status 1A.
On June 15th - Avery had her bi-ventricular artificial heart pumps placed and was changed temporarily to a hold -- or "Status 7" on the transplant list to allow her to recover from her VAD surgery.
On August 6th - Day # 51 on the transplant wait list, Avery received the ultimate gift that would save her life and allow her, with a beautifully healthy heart - to heal the many many parts of her body that had suffered from an extremely sick, exhausted, dreadfully damaged heart.
Avery's liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, bowel, skin, muscles and nerves (especially those in her legs from the ECMO cannulas) were all effected - but are ALL recovering now that she has the heart of her super hero beating life (and love) into her every second of every day!
...and because of this...and Avery's inexplicable WILL to live (as Dr. Laussen eloquently stated one grim night on ECMO) - her spirit, sheer guts, and love for life and all it hands her remains completely unscathed.
On Monday, Avery will have her 4th routine post transplant biopsy and if all goes as planned - she will be transferred to the cardiac floor (OUT OF THE ICU!!!!) sometime during next week.
She has been in the ICU 180 days (which does not include Thanksgiving, December and January)
As I write this - Avery is sleeping peacefully arms above her head, her covers kicked off...as she rests up to welcome another tomorrow. Her DVD player is at the end of Polar Express which is one of her favorite night time movies (year round)...which seems perfectly appropriate for how Avery faces life...
Cheryl and Mike
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
(l. to r.) Cheryl, me, Jennifer, and (seated) mom.
My sister Cheryl (Avery's mom), invited us to a fundraising dinner in Boston last week, to benefit my niece's heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Francis Fynn Thompson. Dr. Fynn Thompson returns to his native Ghana at least once a year (but preferably twice) to do life-saving open heart surgeries on children there. More importantly, the team that travels there is teaching the medical staff there so that they will be able to continue his work and have a cardiac surgery program of their own in Ghana.
The evening was wonderful. We laughed and talked with Avery's doctors and nurses, ate some wonderful food, and contributed to an amazing cause.
And speaking of my niece, Avery has been up and walking - on her own - in the hospital garden. She is progressing wonderfully and we believe she is on the path to going home in the near future.
Friday, September 11, 2009
11 x 14 mixed media and collage on canvas.
I am working a lot with rusty pieces of flotsam and jetsam that I find primarily on my dog walks. Although there are ways to rust new objects with chemicals and smelly stuff (liver of sulfur), I prefer to find items that have survived the elements. In addition to being rusted, they are usually mangled and crushed and run over and abused, and something about this appeals to me -- perhaps that they have managed to survive, and to me, all that weathering adds a beauty that was lacking in their original form -- another metaphor for life.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Now on exhibit...
Art 'Round Town, a group of local artists to which I belong, has an exhibit at the Colonie Town Hall through the end of October. The theme is Sacred Spaces, and the exhibit features the works of eight artists, who work in a range of media -- art quilting, mixed media, collage, acrylics and pastels among them.
If you live in or around the Albany, New York area, I hope you have an opportunity to visit the second floor of the Town Hall. Information is also available about purchasing works on display.
Above is a glimpse of my pieces. All are 11 x 14 mixed media & collage on deep set canvas.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Part 2 of my travels took my sister Jennifer and I to the NY State Fair in Syracuse for the Kenny Chesney concert. If you think we were wet running through the Prudential fountain (previous post), you should have seen us by the encore.
Thank heavens for Cowgirl hats & stylin' rain phonchos! The Fair boasts a booth called Pride of NY where you can purchase NY grown/manufactured goods. I wanted(naturally) a bottle of NY State wine, but apparently State law prohibits my carrying the bottle around the Fair -- I could, however, carry 4 plastic cups of the same bottle, poured for me. Ya gotta love the law! I was also tempted to get an airbrush temporary tattoo, but I am glad I resisted this urge, as it would have been dripping down my back by the end of the concert.
I would also be remiss if I didnt' mention Kenny's warm-up act - one Jake Owen - I see a crush of the month blog in my future.
Here, again are the highlights.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Within the last week, I've been to Maine (Rockland), Massachusetts (Boston) and Syracuse, so I've not had much time to blog. My overnight of mischief with Ali was pretty tame by our standards, and I only took one decent photo, so I don't have much to share, in spite of the build-up in the last post.
Then I was off to Boston with my cousin Susan to visit my niece Avery, and take my sister Cheryl out for a night (actually 2) on the town. In spite of (or because of) having spent the better part of 2009 in a hospital with her daughter, Cheryl decided to dare us all to run (repeatedly) through the fountain at Prudential Center. We don't need much coaxing...and quite frankly, after all my sister has been through, if Cheryl had asked us to walk against traffic on the yellow line, we would probably would have indulged her, so the fountain was just plain fun. She then dared me to wade in the reflecting pool, which earned me a serious scolding by the Prudential security madame with the big flashlight. Kinda scary (not!)- unfortunately it was dark and we could not capture this second dare, but here are some of the highlights (above).