Day 1367: What does “INR” stand for?

Because I need to take the drug Coumadin  (aka Warfarin) for the rest of my life after getting a brand new shiny mechanical heart valve exactly a week ago, “INR” is now an important abbreviation in my life.

So what does “INR” stand for?

Answer # 1: International Normalized Ratio.

Coumadin is a blood anticoagulant, and everybody who takes it needs to combine the right dosage of medicine with  consistent food choices in order to prevent both internal bleeding AND stroke, maintaining that all-important  International Normalized Ratio.

Answer # 2: I Need Rides.

In order to establish and maintain a consistent  ratio of medicine and Vitamin-K-containing food as soon as possible, I Need Rides to get my blood taken and evaluated. Because I just had heart surgery, I cannot drive. My boyfriend, Michael, who has been an excellent caregiver, also does not drive.  Therefore, I need to impose on others to to get me to blood tests and to cardiac rehab (starting in a week or two).

Answer #3: Independence Needs a Rest.

I am a fiercely independent person. People who have heart surgery and who have trouble asking for help sometimes have emotional as well as physical pain in the weeks after surgery. I must learn to put aside this need for independence  as I recover, and ask for rides and other things I need.

Answer #4: I’m Never Ridiculous.

Even though I may fear that I look and sound ridiculous as I recover, I don’t.

Answer #5: It’s Not Rational.

People recovering from open heart surgery sometimes have irrational fears (e.g., sneezing is going to burst the wiring of their sternum, one of their cats is going to infect their stitches,  or sex will kill them). These irrational fears are typical and fade as the days of recovery proceed.

Answer #6: Inconsistently Not Replying.

Because I’ve been so busy healing from heart surgery and making the long trip back from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to our home in Boston, I have not been able to keep up my previously perfect record in replying to all the comments in this blog. I hope my readers can forgive me.

Answer #7: Images Not Relevant.

When I just looked at all the images I captured on my iPhone yesterday — my last day at the amazing  Mayo Clinic in Minnesota — I am realizing that none of those  images are relevant to today’s blog post topic.

Answer #8: Irrelevence Now Rules!

Answer #9: If Needed, Respond!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 1366: Did you even have heart surgery?

Yesterday, the doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota kept asking me a variant of today’s blog title:

Did you even have heart surgery?

I’m surprised they had to ask, because we’ve been planning this valve-replacement surgery for me since last May, and you would think the amazing staff at such an esteemed institution would know whether a patient actually had a scheduled  procedure, as I did on Wednesday.

Maybe they were asking whether I had really had heart surgery because:

  • my surgeon, Dr. Joseph Dearani, decided to discharge me considerably sooner than expected, last night,
  • my boyfriend Michael and I are flying back to our hometown of Boston today,
  • my very unusual heart was pumping even better than anybody had even dreamed it could, so soon after the trauma of open heart surgery, and/or
  • I look so friggin’ good.

I will answer the question in today’s title as follows:

Did you even have heart surgery?

Yes! And I am so grateful. 

Do these look like photos taken by somebody who had major heart surgery less than a week ago?


This person who had heart surgery and her caring caregiver, Michael, will be flying over the territories shown in that last photo. If we hit any air turbulence, I’m sure I’ll know I had heart surgery, even if nobody else can tell.

Did you even read this blog post today? Please let me know, in a comment below.

Categories: adult congenital heart, heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 42 Comments

Day 1365: Intentional Rounding

As you are rounding your way past the beginning of my blog post today, what do you suppose is the intention of the phrase “Intentional Rounding”?

My intention is to round my way to showing you this sign I saw yesterday, after I was intentionally rounded out of the Intensive Care Unit four days after open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota:

As I intentionally rounded corridors  –slowly, but on my own two feet — around the cardiac units here, I intentionally rounded up these images on my iPhone camera:

Be cause people here be cool, be kind, be nice, be appreciative, and be respectful, they might be intentionally rounding me out of the hospital soon, so that my boyfriend Michael and I can be intentionally rounding back to our home in Boston.

How about a round of intentional applause for that possibility?

Thanks so much for intentionally rounding yourself here, today!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 33 Comments

Day 1364: Cardinal Rules

Yesterday, my boyfriend Michael, who likes cardinals, bought some cardinal cards at the Mayo Clinic hospital gift shop. 

One of my cardinal rules is never to wager unless I’m sure about an outcome, so there was no betting when Michael and I played 500 Rummy in the Intensive Care Unit last night, as I continue to recover from my recent open heart surgery. 

Another cardinal rule of mine is that I prefer winning to losing , so Michael and I might play Crazy Eights  today, instead. 

I also have a cardinal rule about eating fresh and healthy food, so these meals at the Mayo …

… are definitely inspiring me to get out of  the hospital as soon as possible. 

Another cardinal rule of mine, which I practiced at this daily blog for several years, was never to show my own face here. I break that cardinal rule if I think my readers might find my face reassuring.

And don’t I rule, looking so good so soon after valve replacement surgery ?

What are your cardinal rules?

Another blogging rule for me is to end a post with  thanks to my readers, because you all rule!

Categories: personal growth | 47 Comments

Day 1363: Melting

As the hours melt away from my open heart surgery three days ago, the nausea and pain are slowly melting away. 

Yesterday, I was able to tolerate this melting chocolate ice cream. 

And I took some pictures of my old melting sound machine, which freaked out the security people at the airport last Sunday. 

That sound machine, with a plastic casing that has melted from years of exposure to strong sunlight in the window of my office, looked like a home-made explosive. When I explained that I was bringing it with me to the Mayo Clinic to help melt away my fears and anxiety with the soothing sounds of the ocean, the airport security staff’s fears melted away and they even gave me a hug. 

Two more  melting photos today, before I melt back into sleep. 

That’s a screenshot of my meltingly adorable son, Aaron, FaceTiming with me from Scotland. 

And doesn’t this oxygen reader on my finger remind you of E.T?

I am melting with gratitude that I can “phone home” to those I love from the hospital.



Categories: personal growth | 32 Comments

Day ? : I C U

Just wanted to let people know I am still in the Intensive Care Unit, which is intense and caring. I See You are all sending me good wishes and healing thoughts, thanks to my caring guest blogger, Michael. 

I will see you with a longer post once they see their way to letting me out of the ICU, perhaps tomorrow. In the meantime I hope U C how much the intensive care of my readers is helping me recover. 

See you soon!



Categories: personal growth | 35 Comments

Smoke after the battle.

It’s me again, Michael, with an update from the scenic mid-west.

The title of this post is a phrase that one of the cardiologists here at the Mayo used to sum up Ann’s post-op and it seemed rather apt. Although a blinding success, the second day after surgery has left her nauseous and sore. This is naturally to be expected. Overall though, things couldn’t have gone better and now, if everything goes as predicted, Ann is heading out of the ICU and ready to start the long, mundane yet essential process of healing. The more mundane the better.

Anyway, I’m taking my computer over to the hospital with me so Ann can read all your beautiful comments and, hopefully by tomorrow, Ann will be back online and ready to enthrall you with the harrowing details of her ordeal. Thanks very much for everyone’s patience and I’m sorry I couldn’t get to any of your comments but, I’ve read them all and , I must say, you’re an exceptionally beautiful and well heeled group of people. Take care of yourselves.

Categories: personal growth | 43 Comments

The year of…well…living.

Guest editing this blog is Ann’s medical chaperone with news from Minnesota and the news is good. Ann’s heart surgery went exceptionally well and she is lying peacefully in the cardio intensive care unit at the Mayo clinic, waiting to be awakened. Under other circumstances, I’d be a lot more verbose, but I don’t have that much time right now so, I just wanted to share this update with Ann’s avid readers and thank you all for your well wishes and concern. She’s going to be alright guys.

Categories: personal growth | 47 Comments

Day 1360: Clean and ready

The title for today’s post comes from a sign I saw yesterday on an examining table at the Mayo Clinic.


Yesterday, I was clean and ready to use the knowledge and advice of Dr. Carol Warnes, the expert on unusual hearts like mine.

This morning, after using a special anti-bacterial soap, I am clean and ready for my open heart surgery today.

My boyfriend Michael, who took the photo above,  is clean and ready for guest blog appearances here.

After I had my cardiac catherization yesterday, which showed that my arteries are clean and ready for today’s surgery, I met the amazing Dr. Joseph Dearani, the Mayo heart surgeon who will be replacing my leaky valve with a clean and ready to use  mechanical one. When I was ready to share with Dr. Dearani my knowledge that he plays jazz saxophone,  Dr. Dearani was ready to answer my question, “Who is your favorite jazz sax player?”  I was clean amazed that he named my favorite saxophone player — the late,  great Michael Brecker.  I asked Dr. Dearani if he would play Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny music in the operating room during my surgery, and he was cleanly ready to do that.

Are you clean and ready for my other photos from yesterday?








That last photo shows the clean and ready waiting room near admissions, where I’ll check in today at 5:30 AM, after this  post is clean and ready to publish.

Are you clean and ready for using a tune  with Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny playing  clean and beautiful musical lines?


I am clean and ready to join Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny in expressing that readily beautiful sentiment: “Every day I thank you.”

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 1359: Center for the Spirit

Here’s the first photo I took yesterday at the Mayo Clinic, a center for the spirit of people like me who need life-extending, life-improving, and life-saving heart operations:


Do any of my other photos from yesterday provide a center for the spirit?


















































All new directions converge at this center for the spirit, as I prepare myself for a cardiac catherization today and open heart surgery tomorrow. Since blogging daily at WordPress has been a center for my spirit since January 1, 2013, I’ve made sure that another center for my spirit — my boyfriend Michael — will center himself in front of my laptop to give updates to my readers after my surgery.

Art and music are both centers for my spirit. Here‘s some music I hope can be a center for your spirit, from a CD I made sure to bring with me to the Mayo Clinic:


What are centers for your spirit?

Spirit-centering thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for centering my spirit with your visit, here and now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

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