Day 736: Endless

Yesterday in my office, somebody in a therapy session described how responsibilities and pressures — at work and at home — seemed endless to them.  I asked, “Do you ever get a break from all this?”  In response, I thought I saw an endless-yard stare — doubt and worry without end.

I knew my day, yesterday, would end. Days always do. At times, though, obligations,*  concerns,* needs,* unexpected situations,* and unfinished business* can seem endless. Why? Because there’s always more to do and there are always tasks not being done.

That’s why I invite myself and others to focus on what we are doing (instead of those endless things we aren’t).

Another person I saw in therapy — who has been working on improving  self-confidence and the ability to experience and express joy — realized something important. This person recognized that despite the mind’s ability to endlessly worry, worry, worry, worry, worry, worry, worry,  this was an important, personal truth:

IMG_4415

Considering that bad things have happened to this person in the past, I felt endlessly grateful to witness that non-endless,  5-worded sentence. I’m hoping the positive results of healing realizations (like that one and others) can seem as endless to people as

  • hopelessness*
  • despair*
  • powerlessness*
  • guilt*
  • shame*
  • paralyzing self-doubt*

and other non-helpful thoughts and feelings I observe, which can make anybody’s life seem truly endless.

Last night, after a wait that seemed long — if not endless — to me, I finally spoke with one of a seemingly endless crowd of cardiologists, regarding a stress test I took a non-endless number of days ago.

Here were my endless hopes for what the cardiologist might say to me:

Ann, we looked at the results of this stress test measuring the interactions of you, your unusual heart, exercise, and oxygen and …. congratulations! You and your heart are endlessly strong! Well, actually, nobody’s heart is endlessly strong. But your heart, Ann Koplow, is as strong as anybody else’s! You are a WINNER!

However, despite my endless capacity to hope for the best (and, simultaneously, expect the worst), the cardiologist — rather than sounding like an endless series of endlessly enthusiastic game show hosts* I’ve seen in my many years watching TV* — sounded more like a cautious, consulting cardiologist. That is, he said the tests were inconclusive. Then, he gave me his prediction of what I needed, which was major heart surgery, sooner or later.

I just met this cardiologist, so I don’t know if his expertise or his knowledge of me is as endless as I might want it to be.  And, I am meeting, tomorrow, with another new — to me — cardiologist for whom people seem to have endless respect, affection, and faith.

However, before my post today seems endless, I want to tell you that the cardiologist yesterday, in our conversation, used this word

weakened

about my heart.

Words, to me, can be endlessly powerful. I reacted to that word with what felt like  an endless amount of fear.* Worry, frustration, resentment, and defiance were all in there, too. I don’t like people using words like that about my trusty heart, which has kept me going for so many days, months, years, and amazing experiences.

So I responded, to the cardiologist last night, with questions. Questions are my endlessly useful weapon/protection/instrument/magic.  If you ask anybody who knows me well, how many questions I ask, they might answer

Endless!

The questions I asked the cardiologist, after he used the word “weakened” for my endlessly unusual heart, included:

  • Do we know for sure that my heart is weakened?
  • If we were able to compare my heart now to what it was a year or two ago, would it seem weakened?
  • If my heart is weakening, is that happening gradually or quickly?

The cardiologist responded,  to every question I asked, with

That’s a good question

which is something I’ve heard, endlessly, for a very long time. And, despite his kind competency, the cardiologist could not end my endless-seeming uncertainty* and confusion* in our conversation, last night.

Here’s a question I did NOT ask that cardiologist:

If my heart is weakened, WHY DO I FEEL SO FRIGGIN’ STRONG?

As I write this post, I am in the middle of compiling a list* of questions to ask Dr. Michael Landzberg, Congenital Cardiology Expert Extraordinaire, when I see him tomorrow morning, at Boston Children’s Hospital.

I resolve,  as my readers are my witnesses, to add that last question to my list, now.

And because of the strength of

  • that question,
  • my feelings,
  • my hopes for the future, and
  • the tiger

I am deciding to keep my profile picture

1897c2860b744829a41748f62efca093

as it is — if not endlessly — at least, for now.

Because I endlessly hope to avoid hurting and disappointing others — including inanimate objects like PENs, for heaven’s sake — I shall now present a visual series-with-end, taken yesterday by your endlessly humble photographer:

IMG_4402

IMG_4410 IMG_4412 IMG_4411 IMG_4404IMG_4414IMG_4416

IMG_4405 IMG_4407

Appearing, above, are Carla, Danise, and Kathy at Cardiac Rehab AND Penny the Pen (who has been appearing in a non-endless number of New Year posts hereherehere, here, and here).

In that last photo, as you can see, Penny is taking a break on one of the workout machines at cardiac rehab. I — even when my workout on that particular machine seemed endless — did not.

Last night, when I started writing this post (which is coming to an end), I thought of this song:

You can find “The Song That Doesn’t End” by Shari Lewis, Lamb Chop, etc. here on YouTube.

Today, as I was ending this post, I thought of this song, too:

Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst,” from Mel Brooks‘s The Twelve Chairs can be found here on YouTube, at least for now.

Also, I found this long but not endless tribute to Mel Brooks and songs he’s written for his movies and stage musicals:

Endless thanks to all who contributed to and who are reading this post — which includes you, of course!

The End(?)


* Which can all seem endless, but actually are not.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 32 Comments

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32 thoughts on “Day 736: Endless

  1. I like that advice to focus on what is being done, what is being accomplished, rather than on all that remains. I own an old house that needs an overwhelming amount of work. There is also a guest house that needs work. And a barn and a sweet shed that may soon become a writing studio for me. But I get overwhelmed with what needs to be done., including getting rid of *too*much*stuff* and a lot of junk my former husband left when he moved out.
    BIG yard sale in the spring and then the rest goes to thrift stores. Oh! That will help tremendously!

  2. Wow, you are going through a lot right now. (I love your question, Why do I feel so friggin’ strong? That’s a good question.)

    I think I can see where that worrier in your group session was going with the observation that “Nothing bad can really happen.” But, bad things really can happen — it’s just that worrying (or not worrying) don’t make them more likely to happen. (Sometimes, I think, we believe that if we worry, we can ward off the Bad Thing that might befall someone we love, or ourselves.)

    I think that worry, and thinking about the bad things that might happen, do serve a purpose when we are facing major choices. They help us decide what our priorities are, what we want, and to face the bad things that can happen and prepare for them. All that worry and thought can give us wisdom, too, and bring us to a place of acceptance. Worry and thinking can help us see where our doctors might not have worried or thought enough, too, and therefore they can help us advocate for ourselves.

    I think that your very unusual heart is worth worrying about. It’s worth investing that emotional energy so that your doctors notice you and so that you and they all make a brilliant treatment plan, which may not be the first or second recommendation they propose. Even though you are a therapist who helps people with anxiety, don’t forget that sometimes it’s okay to worry. Sometimes, worry is productive. And even if it’s not productive in a conventional sense, worry might be one way of connecting to what is meaningful in life, a tool that pries open the lid of our everyday world, so that we can see what’s inside.

    I’m glad you’re keeping your old avatar for awhile. I’m very fond of those glasses.

  3. *Hugs*!!! I pray for the best possible outcome in your discussions and subsequent decisions and actions taken with all these specialists Ann!

    On another note: I thought I was the only weirdo who worried about inanimate objects. I used make my daughter stop holding Barbie under the water in the bath and when we brought Barbie and other toys along when visiting others, I made sure the plastic bag was not tied so tightly that no air could get in! I have more stories like this than I care to mention. ❤
    Diana xo

    • I have endless gratitude that I am not alone in these things. I do notice that empathic people often have concerns about inanimate objects. That’s not weird. It’s adorable!

  4. Doctors don’t have all the answers. Especially to conditions they have not seen before, or where there is no research to support outcomes.
    Yet we still look for answers and reassurance….
    When facing the unknown sometimes we have to listen more to ourselves.
    And tap into our inner tiger 🙂
    Val xo

  5. I admire your courage and strength in facing the decisions you will now need to make.
    You are an inspiration.

  6. There have been many times when trip to the doctors leaves me feeling stressed and annoyed because when they don’t know what is wrong they tell you to stop smoking, lose weight and excise more which is what annoys me so bloody much

  7. Here’s what I think, Ann. Your unusual heart has done one hell of a job these years carrying you to this tiger of a position in life, where you’ve become the sturdy backbone for so many to lean upon so they can begin to help themselves. So, if when all the smart cardiologists get done looking at your test results and into their best minds and finally come up with their answers, if the consensus points your unusual heart toward some help from them so it can continue to help you be the tiger that you are … If If If … That’s not the very most awful thing for Team Koplow to get through. We would. If. With Endless support.

  8. Kentucky Angel

    Ann, I was told several years ago my MS is so advanced there is nothing they can do for it any more. I was also told I would never walk again. And I was told about 7 years ago when a stent was put in my heart that I would need open heart surgery within a year if not before. I’m seeing a new Neurologist about some of the new MS meds, I’m walking again with my walker and only falling a couple of times a month, and I haven’t taken a nitro since the stent was inserted. Oh, yeah, I forgot about my out of control diabetes. Two years after losing weight, my blood sugar seldom rises above 95, my weight is down to my high school level and has stayed there without any dieting on my part, and I have thrown away all of my dibetic meds. I test every other day, but am more inclined to have very low blood sugar now (45) than for it to get over 100. I think I don’t really believe the doctors much any more.

  9. I so much enjoyed the “12 Chairs Opening: Hope For the Best” video. I like your avatar as it is. Tigers are so strong and demand so much respect. I think, if I’m not mistaken, they had to be taken out of the circuses because of the “eventual” failure to tame them and coax them into doing tricks.

  10. I think you should ask the Dr. tomorrow : what can I do to get my heart in strong condition again?

  11. Um, I’m guessing that after many decades my heart, and anyone else’s that has been beating all those decades could be called weakened. The question seems to me to be: ‘weakened relative to what?’ I’m maybe a bit trusting, but if the consensus of the ‘experts’ (and I include you, as you know more about your rare condition than anyone else) is that some repair work is necessary for it to continue beating, it will be worth it. You will have not only your own strength, but all of us out here to see you through.
    I am very slowly learning, through meditation, to live in the moment and not in the endless future of things undone. It feels good.

    • Hilary! I am endlessly apologetic for not seeing this comment until today! As usual,I am endlessly grateful for your insights and support.

  12. Pingback: Day 738: Plans for today | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  13. Pingback: Day 746: I’m here! | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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