Day 822: April Fools

I would be fooling if I wrote that yesterday —  April 1/April Fools Day, 2015 — was an easy day for me.

Was I a fool to see several cardiologists on April Fools Day, as I tried to reach non-foolish decisions about my foolishly unusual heart?

Here’s something I foolishly took a picture of, as I was waiting to see the first cardiologist on April Fools Day:

Here was the most foolishly scary thing I heard all day yesterday, soon after I took that foolish photo:

Your current doctors have been foolish by not replacing your valve before now. Valve surgery is the only thing that can save you. The operation may kill you, but if you do nothing, you will keep getting worse and die a horrible death.

You may think I am foolishly exaggerating what that first cardiologist said. I am not, although I foolishly cannot remember each one of his exact words.

After I heard those words (and many other scary ones), I shed a few tears. As always, it was NOT foolish to cry and to have my feelings.  Then, I went to the hospital where my long-time cardiologists — Dr. Salem and Dr. Estes —  have been treating me non-foolishly for over 30 years.

Here is Dr. Salem, trying not to make a fool of himself as he is interviewed on the phone by the Boston Business Journal:

Dr. Salem discussed many possible next steps with me, including:

  • Valve surgery
  • Pacemaker/defibrillator surgery
  • Heart transplant
  • Wait and see.

When I told him the scary words I’d heard from the cardiologist earlier in the day, Dr. Salem explained why those words  were foolish and not true. During the many years I have been working with Dr. Salem, he has helped me let go of foolish fear because of foolish  words I read or hear about my extremely rare cardiac condition, which can easily fool doctors who don’t know me well.

After I saw Dr. Salem on April Fools Day, I met with Dr. Mark Estes, whom I foolishly did not photograph.  Dr. Estes, like Dr. Salem, is no fool. He told me he has spent the last few months talking to as many non-foolish experts about  hearts like mine and reading as many non-foolish articles as he could find, in order to make his best, unfooled recommendation to me. Here was Dr Estes’s April Fools Day recommendation:

Replace my current cardiac pacemaker with a pacemaker-defibrillator combo and add new wires to pace and synchronize both ventricles of my heart.

Because I had foolishly not eaten enough yesterday and because I was still feeling the foolish fears from my first cardiology appointment earlier in the day, I foolishly did not write down all of the details of Dr. Estes suggestions, including the name of his recommended surgical procedure.

I am no fool, though, because I do remember all this:

  • This surgical procedure has a 50% chance of increasing my life longevity,
  • It is much less dangerous than valve surgery,
  • If it doesn’t work, we can always consider valve surgery again,
  • We scheduled this recommended surgery for May 4, and
  • The first  week of May is the week I was already planning to take off from work in order to enjoy the spring, which will be so foolishly and spectacularly gorgeous for all of us Bostonians who have survived this year’s foolish winter.

Be still, my foolish heart!

Actually, that’s a rather foolish thing to write, considering the circumstances.

Last night, I foolishly took all of these April Fools Day pictures:




What “Fool” song would you choose for this post-April Fools Day post?

Here’s my choice, about a fool on a hill:

No fooling: I’d be foolishly pleased if you leave any fool songs, questions, or comments below.

Heart-felt, day-after-April-Fools thanks to Dr. Deeb Salem, to Dr. Mark Estes, to Paul McCartney and the Beatles, to cardiologists everywhere, to those who try their best not to get fooled again, to hearts that follow their true path, and to you, my non-foolish and much  appreciated reader.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 58 Comments

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58 thoughts on “Day 822: April Fools

  1. I need to work some joke about Dr Salem and a witch hunt. My parents love Fool on the Hill. Have a good day. Three very unconnected points but wanted to say hi

  2. yeoldefoole

    O dear one!…

  3. I am glad you have Dr. Salem and Dr Estes to strengthen your foolish heart.

    Many hugs, much love and light to you dear one!


  4. “Only fools rush in” – so glad you got to speak to Dr. Salem and Dr. Estes and get some “non-foolish” answers. Sending some heartfelt happiness and good energy your way.

  5. Old, blurry, and a lot of up-front chit chat, but this is the first I thought of:
    Glad the date is set for your surgery!

  6. I will be keeping you in my thoughts…

  7. yeseventhistoowillpass

    If anyone has a heart you have a wonderful one… Does it work perfectly… That’s debatable but you have a big heart!

  8. Hi Ann – I was sorry to learn of your medical condition, but it was very entertaining to read this post. My mother had a valve repair a couple of years ago, and it was no walk in the park. Sadly, she’s dealing with chronic AF now. Best of luck to you with your upcoming surgery – hope you can keep that sense of humor. 🙂

  9. This is comforting news, Ann, and this member of Team Ann feels much better today than yesterday. This sounds like a solid plan from the wise cardiologists who know you and your special heart the longest and best of them all. I don’t think this fine and sunshine-filled April 2 deserves a Foolish song choice, my friend. Instead I shall offer:

  10. Ann, “Fool on the Hill” is one my favorite songs of all times. Your heart beats for all of us.

  11. What a stressful and frightening couple of days you’ve had. I am so impressed with your team of doctors, though. You are being thoroughly investigated and considered and there’s actual dialogue between specialists. But in your situation, the best possible news is not exactly stress-free. I think you are doing an amazing job of advocating for yourself and comforting yourself and I hope that after your treatment, you will feel better and have much, much, much less stress and no more life and death decisions.

    You are strong and amazing, Ann!

    • I have much, much, much less stress whenever you visit here, Maureen. Thank you for this strong and amazing comment.

  12. I think I may have chosen an other word rather than foolish for the first doctor yesterday! Like Mark, I am so grateful that you have a great team to support you. It seems like a sound decision – and not foolish in any way!
    I choose Fool at Heart

  13. Your pictures are perfect! And I know your decision has risks, but trust your intuition — and don’t be afraid.

  14. Thank goodness for your two unfoolish doctors, Ann. Dr. Salem and Dr. Estes sound like truly wonderful cardiologists and I know you value their advice as well as their care and support. Your pictures are excellent, as alway, as is the old Paul McCartney song.

  15. That sounds like a marathon, I hope you have a very peaceful restorative day tomorrow.

    • (pant pant pant) You’re right, Hilary! I doubt tomorrow will be peaceful, but I’m hoping for restoration over the weekend.

  16. The doctor let you take his photo, what the hell doctors I have encounted do not like that they don’t like it when you pull out a digital recorded either to record what is said so you can play it back later to help yourself get your head around what was said I in fact usually record in secret. It is good that you have a couple of good doctors

    • Dr. Salem likes to have his picture taken, which works out well, since I like to take pictures! It’s good that I have good readers like you.

  17. Our cardiologist hails from Egypt and has put my wife on Beta blockers. I seem to have escaped having a crook heart but with a temperamental bowel was put onto a regime of donating stool culture samples to the pathologist which was quite challenging. There are no problems that can;t be turned into a ‘challenge’ or, as is the parlance of the day, demands ‘a solution.’
    I would not like to be a pathologist who specialises in examining stool samples. The mind boggles.

    • Isn’t it great that there’s usually somebody who wants the job we don’t want? Thanks for donating this sample of your writing here, Gerard!

  18. That first picture is a stunner, Ann. But not as much of a stunner as the information in your post–and the playful way in which you dealt with this heart-breaking news. That you took heart and turned your thoughts around is to be applauded. Wish I had my Skype emoticons at hand here to give you one. That you were able to also include the April Fool’s Day theme just brands you for the unapologetic scribe that you are–willing to turn your life to your writing advantage no mater what. I hesitate to say I enjoyed your blog, given its topic, so let me say I appreciate your words. xo Judy

  19. Ann I like the comment “life’s too short to drink bad coffee” It’s also too short to take bad advice or do nothing so I’m glad that Dr. Salem and Dr. Estes have given you good advice and that you’ve agreed to surgery in May. I’m sure you’re in good hands. Sending positive thoughts over the air waves. Hugs! Carol

  20. Hello! I’ve just discovered your blog – and jolly glad I did, too. Thanks for popping round to my pad, by the way 🙂
    I’m sorry to hear about your heart problems and the hard decisions to make for surgery. We’ve been there for our oldest child when he was five – he is now referred to as Bigfoot, and has grown up to be a strapping lad who towers over me. It’s a tough time to go through – I’m amazed by your positivity and love the snaps you publish here. I’ve been humming this song since I saw you pic of a mug above. All the best, MM.

    • Yes! I’m so glad you visited, wrote what you did, and brought that Marley song here. All my best to you and to Bigfoot.

  21. Actually, after I had my aortic valve surgery,I felt like I had the opportunity to start a new life. I gave up all red meat. I eat only low fat and low cholesterol foods, and exercise almost every day. Surprisingly, my appetite has improved, and I have more energy than I had at 40.
    Before surgery, I was warned that I had at most a year to live if I didn’t have the surgery. And one surgeon warned me, “Be careful! Your next heart beat might be your last!”
    It did take me months to recover, but I learned better health habits through my very intelligent caretaker from the Philippines, Glenn Malapit. I’ve been lucky, and I can only wish the best for you, Ann.

    • I appreciate your sharing all this, Robert. I am told that because of my heart’s unusual anatomy, there is a one in ten chance I would not survive a valve operation. However, if I need that kind of surgery in the future, I will remember your positive experience. Many thanks.

  22. Don

    You are a profoundly brave and courageous woman, an absolute inspiration – thank you.

  23. Oh goodness. I think I would have gone through all the phases of emotions within seconds after the 1st doctor’s visit. Hope all goes well with whatever path you take to make your decision.

    I liked the pix. I think today I’ll shower in confetti. 😀


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