Thursday, February 24, 2011

My four-month blogging hiatus!

OK, I am a slacker, but the last four months plus have been an adventure.
First, when we left Charleston we decided to drive up to NY.  We wanted to change our airline tickets with US Airways, but the change fee cost more than the tickets had (!) so we took less money and rented a car one way.  We didn't have to worry about luggage this way, and it gave us the ability to stop in Washington DC for a couple of nights and visits the museums and monuments.

Pio was feeling out of breath most of the time as we walked around and I was glad we had called ahead and made an appointment with the cardiologist he had when we lived in NY  We were thinking he'd schedule him for a stress test.  Wrong!

The cardiologist said that with Pio's symptoms (they were predictable, repeatable, etc.) he needed to go straight in for the cardiac cath.  OK, then we started thinking that Pio might need a stent because he was often out of breath with little exertion--and it no longer seemed obvious that it was his asthma acting up.

Long story short--the catheterization showed four blockages--including one in the main descending artery (the "widow maker"--60% blocked) and he was scheduled for a bypass operation the following day, November 18.  I must say the surgeon made it all sound easy and routine (for him!) and predicted that within one month he'd be able to fly home.

Well, Pio was an exception to the rule and has had a rough recovery.  He spent 3.5 weeks post-op in intensive care because of respiratory distress brought on by a "strong inflammatory response".  As they weaned him quickly off the steroids his lungs filled up with nearly two quarts of fluid--which required another 5-day intensive care hospitalization, leading us right up to Christmas Eve.

In mid-January he started cardiac rehabilitation while we lived with my sister in Pennsylvania.  He has felt better quickly, building up stamina and muscle tone after having lost 40 pounds while in the hospital!  He's put back on about 7 of those pounds and he is actually at his ideal weight now.  (Let me say that some of what he lost, I managed to find.)

In any case, we're thrilled that we've finally been given the go ahead to go home to Italy.  Pio is still on steroids, though at slowly-reducing levels, he needs his lungs x-rayed every two weeks to see if the fluid is returning, and he needs about six more weeks of rehab.  We're confident we can get this all arranged in Italy.

Our six months in the States have been trying, scary and exhausting (4 weeks+ in intensive care, homeschool teaching) but also  fun (Charleston, Washing DC, staying with family).  It's been great to see family and be able to say, "We'll see you tomorrow"...or "in two weeks"...or "at the birthday party". It's been great to NOT have Dante in school six days a week, but rather make our own flexible schedule (getting him to write all the curriculum-required essays in English, however, is another story!!).

 Living in Italy we are isolated from sisters and brothers and my father and cousins,nieces, nephews, kids and grandchildren.   Being local to them all once again has been great.  It's also been fun to catch up with friends over a cup of tea or a glass of wine...or even on the phone where the time-zone change is more easily managed if it exists at all.  Here in America it's standard operating procedure to go out with girlfriends...but I've not been able to duplicate that in Italy and I miss it.

The horrible snowy weather has had a silver lining.  Without guilt, I've sat down and watched netflix galore, while embroidering pillowcases as a gift for my friend who's been holding down the fort in Italy for us.  I'm also enjoying easily buying all kinds of  stuff (a new little Kindle, consignment shop clothing, for example) that are so easy to do here, but a full-days' adventure if done in Italy (and usually more costly too).

And our poor Blackie--how she's suffered in our absence!!  Seriously, we'll be glad to get back to the Italian relatives, friends, garden and our pets!  There's no place like home!

This picture was taken last month by our house sitters :).

How goes the homeschooling you ask...and will it continue once we return to Italy?  Stay tuned for another post--soon!


LindyLouMac said...

You are not a slacker, it sounds more like life as been a roller coaster of a ride for the last few months. It has been a horribly cold winter here in Italy. Good Luck with plans for your return, please bring Spring with you.

Gil said...

Glad to hear that everything is okay and you are back blogging. Where did Pio have his surgery? It sounds like they really on the ball. Good luck on your return to Italy.

jann said...

Oh, my goodness, Diana. Gasp. What an "adventure" indeed. Come back soon, and all the best to you and your family! (Your doggie looks like he misses you so much.)

Diane said...

Gil, Pio had his operation at St. Francis Hospital in Nassau County, Long Island, NY. As they reminded us through posters and banners,it's on the list of 100 Best Heart Hospitals in the USA, and the only one in NY on the I felt good he was in good, experienced, hands.

Adri said...

Oh my - In exploring your site further I came upon this post. That is indeed, one heck of an adventure. I remeber when my husband had surgery 2 years ago. At first I switched into nurse mode - vividly do I recall assessing his belly ache one Friday afternoon and saying to him "Bart, you're going to surgery." Up until then I had it together. A loved one's illness is scary and threatening. I like hearing of your husband's recovery, but I want more info! Update,please! I am so terribly sorry for the ordeal. I feel honored that you shared it with us all.

Diane said...

Adri, thanks for your concerns. We are back in Italy and recovery is slow. The heart rate and pressure are fine (with meds) but now it's more the breathing. Being prime allergy/ asthma season is not helping at all. He's taking three meds to improve breathing (for asthma and allergies) and they are helping somewhat. We are waiting for "olive pollen" season to be over with...another week or so, and then we'll see. Progress is definitely slower than either of us would like. Perhaps I will make an update post soon. Thanks for stopping by!

Adri said...

I am glad to hear that the overall trend is on the upswing, and that the meds are doing their job. I bet you are right that once pollen season comes to a close he'll be much more comfortable. I am keeping good thoughts over here in southern California. And I really enjoy your site. How lovely to live in Italy. I am indeed envious!