Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Whew! I feel like my life has been such a whirlwind lately! But all is well, and Iwanski is doing well, so I couldn't be happier.

I've been busy working, exercising like a mad woman (gotta keep my heart healthy, too!), and researching and cooking healthy, yummy recipes.

It's been busy, but honestly, I'm having fun with the whole healthy eating and exercising thing. I love our new exercise bike that Iwanski's family were so very kind to buy for us, and best of all, I've discovered that I really do like cooking!

I have to marvel at the magic of the universe sometimes. It really was a natural progression for me, to learn to cook and enjoy cooking.

It all started a couple of Christmases ago, when we did a "homemade gifts" Christmas with Iwanski's family. I decided to bake cookies for Iwanski's sister, and I discovered that I like baking. So over the next year or two, I started to bake more and more often--but I still didn't really like cooking. I think that most of it was just that I was afraid to try it and fail.

Then, my good friend Jonathan started to have me over for "Julia Child night" every Tuesday, during which he showed me many useful and relatively simple cooking techniques, like how to chop an onion, or how to peel & devein shrimp. I started to realize that cooking wasn't quite as crazy-difficult or as scary as I had previously thought. I began to develop "cooking confidence" and made a couple of tasty dishes that Iwanski and I really enjoyed.

Then, this whole thing with Iwanski's surgery happened. It was completely unexpected--something I couldn't have prepared for--but I do feel in a way that the Universe was at least preparing me for one part of Iwanski's recovery--how to cook healthy meals for him...and for me! I've got a good 30 pounds to lose, too.

But guess what? I've already lost 5 pounds! Whoo hoo! This healthy eating and exercising thing really does work, folks. The challenge is to make sure that we stick to it. But I'll tell you, there's nothing more motivating than open-heart surgery!

Now I'm eagerly doing things like sprouting my own bean sprouts, researching healthy seafood recipes, and looking up recipes for various types of hummus...I just found one for sweet potato hummus that sounds divine!

So I guess life handed us a bit of a lemon recently...and I'm making a giant jar of lemonade!

Oh, and for all of my wonderful blog buddies who have been busy posting and haven't seen a single comment from me, I want to assure you that I will be back soon to read blog posts and leave a comment or two. Believe me, I do miss reading your funny, interesting, and even sometimes silly blog posts. I've just been a wee bit busy as of late.

But as former California governor Ahhhhnold said in The Terminator... "I'll be back!"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm Back!

Well, it's been two weeks since Iwanski had quadruple bypass surgery...and first and foremost, I want to say that he's doing well. He's recuperating very well and even though he thinks he should be running marathons by now, I tell him that a six-block walk only two short weeks after open-heart surgery is wonderful! I am very proud of him and his progress.

This whole thing took me--and all of our family and friends--by total surprise. We were all shocked when we learned that Iwanski had to have bypass surgery.

But here we are, two weeks later, and Iwanski is alive and well and recuperating at a normal rate. And I am so very grateful for that.

It was a scary time, and at first very overwhelming for me. Somehow, by the grace of God, I held it all together. Sure, I've cried a good many tears, but so many of them have also been tears of gratefulness to God for saving my beloved, and to our wonderful family and friends, who have been so kind and generous during this trying time.

That has really been the most surprising and wonderful thing about this time...how much many of our loved ones reached out with support and offers to help, and as I remarked to my best girlfriend Diane, how many reached out with their own little "nuggets of healing."

Like Iwanski's good friends...from Andy, who flew in all the way from Ocala, Florida with his wife and his one-month-old baby in tow, to visit Iwanski in the hospital three times and to give us love, support, and a generous Whole Foods gift card...to Dan, who visited Iwanski in the hospital twice--once with his lovely wife Karen and adorable red-headed little girl--and gave us a bagful of heart-healthy foods, as well as his own brand of hilarious humor...to Mike, who brought Iwanski a book of baseball trivia while he was in the hospital, and quizzed him on baseball facts, which he thoroughly enjoyed...

And like our friend Jonathan, who was so supportive and kind to me, before and after the surgery--sticking by me in those first trying days and even staying with me the first two nights that Iwanski was in the hospital--and who delivered three yummy heart-healthy meals to us just one day after Iwanski got home...

And like my lovely sister and brother-in-law, Sheri and Rick, who were so supportive and kept the whole family informed via Facebook and phone calls on Iwanski's progress...

And all my sisters and brothers and my lovely Mom and Dad, who called and left messages of support--both by phone and by Facebook...and my sister-in-law Lynn, who shipped a case of Fiji water to us (which she says is the purest, best water to drink)...

And then there's Iwanski's family...and in particular, my wonderful mother-in-law, who has lived through many a loved one's heart surgery in her life...my sister-in-law Anna, who is a cardiac nurse (how convenient was that?!--you have no idea!)...and my sister-in-law Donna, who works in medical records and has also been an amazing source of medical information to me...I'm telling you, these people are some of the most wonderful people you can ever meet. And they have been so generous!

Anna, for starters, has truly been a Godsend to Iwanski and me. She has helped us SO much with her support and medical advice. I don't think I could have gotten through this whole thing without her. Even now, when Iwanski experiences a little dizziness or other strange symptoms, I know that I can call her up, and she'll be able to calm me with her advice and wisdom. I am so grateful for her. Also, she not only got together some of her family members to buy Iwanski and me an exercise bike (I told you they're wonderful people!), but she also came over to help put the bike together AND brought us some healthy groceries to eat...how very nice of her! She's also sent me a bunch of heart-healthy recipes and taught me how to sprout some seeds (sprouts are apparently very good for you)...I'm telling you, she's just a very kind and generous person.

And then there's my lovely mother-in-law, Mary Kay, who flooded (and I mean flooded!) our house with groceries when Iwanski came home from the hospital. Anna had told me to send them a grocery list before Iwanski came home, but I had no idea that my mother-in-law would buy everything we needed in bulk! (She loves Costco; I don't know why I was so surprised!) Anyway, it was definitely a welcome surprise...and believe me, just knowing that I now have enough paper towels and chicken breasts to last me through the next Presidential election is very comforting to me. And she's also been a tremendous source of emotional comfort, as well. For starters, she has been through several surgeries with her late husband--including three open-heart surgeries...but believe it or not, her fiance just had open-heart surgery, too (valve replacement surgery), and he was released from the hospital on the same day Iwanski was! I mean, really, who better can understand what Iwanski and I are going through right now? It is so comforting to be able to call her up and say stuff like, "Iwanski gets tired a lot these days," and she says to me, "Yeah, that's normal...he'll be like that for a while." I'm so grateful for her.

And last but certainly not least is my sister-in-law Donna. During Iwanski's surgery, Donna helped me stay busy and distracted by letting me play countless games of solitaire on her little electronic hand-held game system (no idea what it's called...but I can tell you that I didn't win one game of solitaire that day--I wasn't exactly at the top of my game!). And since we had to change doctors and hospitals as of January 1st (yes, our insurance changed in the middle of all of this--isn't that wonderful?!), Donna was so generous with her time and spent hours and hours researching doctors and finding the right doctors for Iwanski and me. I am so grateful to her for that! She has also been there for me with little nuggets of wisdom--medical and otherwise--that have been a relief to hear. On the day that I had to go pick up Iwanski's medical records from our old hospital, she was able to tell me exactly which of his medical records that I needed to get, so that I could get them for free (rather than getting every single page, which would have cost me something outrageous like 60 cents a page). I'm telling you, it's certainly helpful to have a sister-in-law who works in medical records! And when Anna came over to help us put together our new exercise bike, Donna had sent along a Brita water filter pitcher that she had bought for us. Talk about generous...I'm so grateful for Donna.

And to my best girlfriend Diane, and to all of my wonderful Facebook and blog buddies, who have sent countless messages of support and offers to help, I am so grateful for all of you.

I've always thought of myself as a lucky person, but I don't think I ever realized how lucky and blessed I am until now.

Especially since I still have my beloved...my loving, kind, funny, creative, wonderful husband, whom I love more and more every day. I know I'm so lucky to have him.

And judging by the fact that he just did a little walk/dance around the house for the past 30 minutes, I think he'll be here with me for a really, really long time.