Signs of spring in Minnesota

Spring is just around the corner in Minnesota, so we have been able to enjoy some walks and bike trips in St. Paul and Minneapolis. If you haven’t tried the Nice Ride bikes yet, we recommend it. On Saturday, we rode from the Cathedral Hill area of St. Paul to St. Anthony Main in Minneapolis to have dinner on the patio at the Aster Cafe and attend an album release event for Rachel Kilgour, who performed with Sara Pajunen, Chris Koza, and Liz Draper. So convenient to get bikes from the station near our home and then return them to the station near St. Anthony Main. No worries and no fuss, plus little expense and good exercise!

I hope the sun and warmth of spring helps to get me going on my cardiac rehab program again, after a bit of a plateau after Christmas. Here is one of my favorite spring poems by the Nobel-prize winning Norwegian author Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Below each line is my own, very literal translation, intended to convey some of the meaning of the poem but not its poetic rhythm and beauty.

Jeg velger meg april!
I choose April

Jeg velger meg april
I choose April
I den det gamle faller,
In it the old falls,
i den det ny får feste;
in it the new gains a foothold;
det volder litt rabalder,-
it causes a bit of a ruckus,-
dog fred er ei det beste,
yet peace is not the best,
men at man noe vil.
but that one wills something.

Jeg velger meg april,
I choose April,
fordi den stormer, feier,
because it storms, sweeps,
fordi den smiler, smelter,
because it smiles, melts,
fordi den evner eier,
because it has abilities,
fordi den krefter velter,-
because it overturns powers,-
i den blir somren til!
in it summer is created!

– Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

Sett i gang 2 is available on Amazon!

What a difference a few months can make! On the morning of August 5, I had just updated my author biography for the upcoming release of the second edition of Sett i gang 1, the first book in our introductory Norwegian curriculum. Suffering from the effects of a bad cold, I was working from the couch with my Mac laptop, covered up with a blanket on a warm summer day. I felt a little bit funny and could smell something burning. Of course, I googled something like “what does it mean when you smell burnt toast,” but that is the last thing I remember before my cardiac arrest.

Anyway, not to revisit that whole thing again, but I didn’t really get to enjoy that book release as I normally would. That’s why it feels especially good today, exactly five months later, to finish the second edition of Sett i gang 2, the second book in our introductory Norwegian curriculum.

sig2-book
It was really good for me to get back to work on the Sett i gang project once I was home from the hospital and starting to feel better. In fact, it was a type of cognitive rehab for me to accompany my physical cardiac rehab program. In the beginning, I tired easily, but after a few weeks I was able to work more normally again. My co-author Kari has been very patient as I worked my way from being a patient to a full-fledged colleague again. We were also very fortunate to have two incredible graphic designers working with us – Laura for the first three chapters and Erika for the rest. We appreciate their talent and dedication to the project.

And just in case you are interested in learning some Norwegian, here are the links to Amazon where the books can be purchased:

Christmas Fest at St. Olaf

christmas-fest2016

(L-R: Stephanie, JoAnn, Nancy, Cynthia, Abby, Judy, Kit, Mary Beth, Leo, Mark)

Our group at the St. Olaf Christmas Festival in 2016. Here we had just finished a fantastic Christmas dinner with lutefisk, meatballs, ham, herring, potatoes, peas, rice cream, krumkake, and many other delicious desserts. After a nice walk around campus, we enjoyed the beautiful music by the St. Olaf choirs and orchestra.

Update on Nancy’s MRI

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 10/21/2016

Nancy received a written report yesterday that her cardiac MRI is normal. We give thanks for that. As expected, there are parts of her heart that can’t be seen clearly because of her defibrillator. So this is good news on Nancy’s continued road to recovery. She says, “Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.”

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Update from Nancy & Steph

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 10/18/2016

Week by week, Nancy has continued her amazing recovery. The proof is in the pictures! We just finished walking 5.2 miles from our house to Longfellow Grill via Summit Avenue. We are ecstatic to be sitting outside for supper in mid October!!!

Last week Nancy had an appointment with the electrophysiology cardiologist (the doc who placed her defibrillator before she left the hospital in August), and he discovered her kidney numbers were back to normal and her heart MRI could be scheduled. So she will have that tomorrow afternoon already. Please hold her extra tight in your thoughts and prayers for both a calm and easy test as well as a NORMAL result. We are not sure if we will get results tomorrow or not.

Thanks to all for your continued support. We are grateful for each day, each other and all of you!

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Cardiac Rehab

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/31/2016

First day of official rehab! Nancy has been building her strength and stamina with twice daily walks in the neighborhood. 5000 steps yesterday! She’s, well, she’s incredible!!

rehab

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Our Evening Stroll

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/24/2016

Nancy continues to recover here at home. She remains an amazing and patient, well, patient. There have been a few wee bumps along the road to recovery — namely a bit of an infection and a whole lot of hives from a new antibiotic — but, to no one’s surprise, she has persevered.

First day of cardiac rehab earlier today. She had to take a 6 minute walk while they monitored her heart. That led quite seamlessly to a 60 minute nap upon returning home.

evening-stroll

We also went on a short walk together this evening on our block. She’s looking pretty amazing, don’t you think??? 🙂

I’m just happy she’s alive, happy she’s home, and happy she’s getting stronger every day.

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We’re Home

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/18/2016

A two week period of our lives we won’t soon forget even though there a some days in the beginning that Nancy won’t remember. I have new found awe for the brain and the heart and the way we humans tick. Also thankful for all the medical advances that kept my beautiful bride alive. Not to mention her amazing caregivers.

steph-nancy-home

Nancy will do some outpatient cardiac rehab and, naturally, we have a few follow-up appointments in the coming weeks. The doctor who discharged Nancy today encouraged her to get back to her normal life and activities as soon as she is able. Amazing.

Thank you all for your written support. It means a lot to me; I know it means even more to Nancy.

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Going Home Tomorrow!

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/18/2016

Nancy continues to heal and get stronger each day. Her ICD is in place, and it’s time to go home. Together. The very best of “outcomes,” as they seem to say in medicine.

Bailey, one of the hospital therapy dogs, called on Nancy yesterday soon after her procedure. Ok, maybe a little more like pawed on. And there mighta been a little dog slobber in there somewhere, too. And everybody’s heart was just a little better for it. That’s Tina in the middle and the dog owner on the left. Woof woof!!

dog-therapy

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Hospital Song of Blessing

CaringBridge journal entry by Nancy Aarsvold — 8/17/2016

Hello all —

The chaplain here at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Bill Dexheimer Pharris, came to visit me yesterday, and we had such a nice chat about the Nordic countries, films, and music, as well as about healing and life changes. When he left, he sang me a really beautiful blessing, and I thought many of you might enjoy it as well.

 

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Procedure Successful

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/16/2016

Nancy is back up in her room after a by all accounts successful ICD procedure. She had conscious sedation for this and seems to be enjoying a sweet afternoon nap while she recovers. The docs told her to just take it easy the rest of the day.

nancy-tina-hospital

Yesterday we wheelchaired down to the 4th floor ICU and found Nancy’s nurse, Nicky, from her first two overnights in the ICU. Nancy doesn’t remember those nights, of course, but Nicky certainly remembered Nancy!! I’ll let the photo tell the rest of the story….. I stood there and cried like big baby pretty much –tears of gratitude and thankfulness for such extraordinarily kind and skilled caregivers.

nancy-nickie

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Getting an ICD Tomorrow

CaringBridge journal entry by Nancy Aarsvold — 8/15/2016

Hi all!

This is Nancy again. Thank you for your comments, your encouragement, and your prayers! The support from our various communities has given us strength and courage in the midst of a difficult couple of weeks.

I’m doing better here at the hospital this week; I still don’t have much of an appetite, but I have been able to sleep a little more. Otherwise, I have been doing physical and occupational therapy daily and spending time with family and friends. Today, the chaplain stopped by, and he sang a little blessing for us at the end. He had such an amazing singing voice, so I will ask him next time whether I can make a brief 15-second recording so you can hear it too.

Tomorrow, the docs are going to do a procedure to give me an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator). It is a procedure that they do all the time here, so it should go smoothly. We’re hoping to be able to go home on Wednesday or Thursday, and I will start outpatient cardiac rehab at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

icd2

 

Below are some links about Sudden Cardiac Arrest if you are interested in learning more:

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Much love from
Nancy, Stephanie, and families

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Improving each day!

CaringBridge journal entry by Nancy Aarsvold — 8/13/2016

Hi all!

This is Nancy writing for the first time. Well, we don’t have a lot of exact information about why I had two cardiac arrests on Friday, August 5, but here is what I do know. Stephanie saved me for sure by giving me CPR at home until the ambulance with the paramedics arrived, and later the excellent staff at the University of Minnesota Medical Center revived me again. During these past 8 days, we have been surrounded by the love and support of our family who have arrived from near and far, and by the care of the doctors, nurses, and physical therapists at the hospital.

circle-of-trust

I feel a little better each day and have been enjoying visits with friends and family, as well as receiving various types of physical therapy and care from the staff here. Here’s a picture from a morning visit today with a group of women from our church. Amazing how much better you can feel when sitting out in the sun, wearing your own clothes instead of a hospital gown, and surrounded by close friend!

Hope to have a cardiac MRI and get an implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) sometime during the first part of the coming week!

Much love to all!
Nancy, Stephanie, & families

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Quickest of Updates

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/11/2016

Nancy hopes to add her own journal entry very soon!  Meanwhile, her brain MRI is normal.  Heart MRI not scheduled yet due to some blood test #s they want improved first.  Not a complication in any way, just an expected delay.  Nancy is wowing the PT or OT folks twice a day.  And wooing all the nurses, doctors and other staff minute by minute.  She makes us all belly laugh several times a day, too.

nancy-family

We are so grateful for one another, our families and our circles of friends and colleagues.  Thank you.  NA and SF

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Life’s Simple Pleasures

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/10/2016

nancy-smile

Walking, talking, brushing teethers, showering, and, of course, lots of good laughs with loved ones. Sorta miss those cute pigtails though…

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We love these guys!!

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay — 8/10/2016

drbrett-jason

And two of Nancy’s doctors — Doctor Brett in the white coat and Doctor Jason. These two guys are Fellows here and were the ones who talked with us the most about various important decisions on Friday. Doctor Brett was also the doctor standing at her foot of Nancy’s bed and calling the shots when she arrested in the ICU. You could feel good putting your life in their hands, and they are both just very compassionate human beings.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. Nancy and Steph

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Cardiovascular ICU Graduate

CaringBridge journal entry by Stephanie Fay – 8/10/2016

Nancy moved up to the 6th floor later this afternoon. Hurray! MRIs have been moved to tomorrow. She’s one very entertaining patient. And, as the evening nurse said to the overnight nurse, Nancy has a very loving and involved family. Indeed.

icu-aug9

Must sleep so will rely on a few photos this entry. Nancy with her nurse from 3 am last night to 3 pm this afternoon, Katie. Check out those gorgeous pigtails!!

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