Monthly Archives: March 2016

Day 1186: Violent Agreement

You’re probably in violent agreement with me that one rarely sees the words “violent” and “agreement” linked together, as they are in today’s post title. You might violently agree that the words “violent” and “disagreement” are MUCH more commonly paired.

People who have have read this blog before could be in violent agreement about all this:

  1. I usually blog about things that have happened the day before.
  2. If I see or hear something that agrees with me (violently or otherwise), it appears in this blog.
  3. Since I started this daily blog, cardiologists have been in violent disagreement about my very unusual heart, including how it affects my health and my prognosis.

Yesterday, I wrote a  despairing (if not violent) email to my chief cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, with the subject heading “descending into confusion and anxiety (again).”

Hi Deeb,

I know that’s a dramatic subject heading, but there it is.

One heart specialist tells me I’m in class 2 heart failure, a week ago Friday.

That affects how I feel.

Another one insists that I need to have a surgical consult when I visit with her at the Mayo Clinic.

She is not available for me to ask her why.

Her very kind and nice scheduling person tells me that she was concerned by the data she saw in my records about my valve and believes a surgical consult is necessary.

My mind goes to — THEY WANT ME TO HAVE A VALVE OPERATION!

And I remember you and I deciding that the odds were not good for a valve operation.

Why would I want to talk to a surgeon in Minnesota ? There is no friggin’ way I would have the surgery out there, away from my friends and family.

So my question is this: does it make sense for me to shlepp all the way to Minneapolis, especially if the likelihood is that they are going to suggest valve surgery, which people here have  already convinced me would be very dangerous?

I know that you are used to dealing with smart people who ask a lot of questions. Please answer as best you can.

I am seeing Dr. Laura Snydman today and I’m sure we will be discussing this also.

Inquisitively,
Ann

After I saw Dr. Laura Snydman yesterday  (whom people would agree, violently or otherwise, is AWESOME), I checked my email and saw this:

Ann,

Give me a call.

Deeb

When I called Dr. Deeb Salem and told him where I was, he invited me up to his office.

Then, Dr. Salem listened patiently as I expressed all the thoughts and feelings in my heart, about my heart.

When I was finished, he said:

I’m in violent agreement with you.

Which immediately made me feel less violent and much more agreeable.

Isn’t it amazing how validation and agreement can do that?

As I write this “Violent Agreement” post today, Dr. Salem and I are in violent agreement about the following:

  1. I will consult with adult congenital heart specialists at the Mayo Clinic in May.
  2. My sister will accompany me there.
  3. No matter what happens, that will be a valuable trip.
  4. Brown University and the University of Edinburgh would both be non-violently agreeable places for my son to attend college next year (if he gets into both of those, which we should find out today).

Here are some pictures I took yesterday, in the midst of much violent agreement:

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Are you in violent or non-violent agreement  or disagreement about any of the above?

I hope you are in violent agreement with me that Dr. Salem deserves to be on my

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and so do my readers, including you!

Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Day 1185: I left my phone at the office

I left my phone at the office, yesterday.

That means

  • I can’t show you any new photos,
  • I might have missed an important call from the office of cardiologist and Congenital Adult Heart specialist Dr.  Carole Warnes at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and
  • something significant to Sigmund Freud , although he might have made an exception for cell phones.

Because I didn’t leave my laptop at my office, I can look this up, here and now:

Freud said we often forget things for a reason. Motivated forgetting is a concept well documented in psychology and recognized in everyday life. For example, workers at dental offices know they have to call patients the day before an appointment, because otherwise patients commonly forget to show up. Freud would say this is because on some level they want to forget a dental appointment.

How can motivated forgetting or losing things reflect an “unconscious wish”?
Losing things can be revealing if the loss occurs “accidentally on purpose.” Freud said people sometimes lose a valuable thing they borrowed because, unconsciously, they rebel at giving it back. On other occasions, a loss might reflect an unconscious wish to get rid of something.

A student who raised her hand during a discussion of meaningful losses supplied an example. She said, “What would Freud say about this? I threw my wedding ring away while I was sleepwalking the first night I was married!” Not wanting to say, “That means you don’t want to be married,” I said, “Freud would probably make a lot out of that, but not all errors are meaningful.” In this case, however, the student was divorced within a year.

“Freudian Slips” and Other Errors (www.intropsych.com)

What do you think it means, that I left my phone at the office? What do you think it means when you forget things?

I may have left my phone at the office, but I didn’t leave my mind at the office.  Therefore, I can share some videos my co-worker Megan and I were talking about yesterday:

Even though I left my phone at my office, I can still remember that next Wednesday, April 6,  I’m seeing Martin Short and Steve Martin in “An Evening You Will Forget For the Rest of Your Life” with my son Aaron!

I wonder what Freud would say about that?   I especially wonder what Freud would say if you left behind a comment.

Left behind thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for not leaving this blog behind, today.

Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 1184: You’re in

You’re in for a treat today, if urine the mood for stinky puns.

Are you in, pee-ple?

Yesterday morning, as I was minding my pees and q’s, I was  feeling  a little pissed, about my heart.

Then, I became much more pissed when I realized that our cat (whose name begins with O, not P), had urinated, peed, and pissed all over the bottom of our bedroom closet.

Of course, I had to de-urinate, de-pee, and de-piss the closet, pronto, even though I had an early appointment about my heart.

Does this  pissy post on my Facebook page sound pissed off?

Apparently, one of our cats tried to distract me from worrying about my heart by peeing everywhere in our closet. It worked.

After this pissy and pee-ved start to my morning, I met with Melanie at the New England Cardiac Arrhythmia Center.

Urine for some surprises, perhaps, when I tell you that:

  1. Melanie and I have worked together, through many pacemakers, for thirty years.
  2. I always feel less pissed after I talk with wonderful pee-ple like Melanie.
  3. Melanie showed me empeethy and understanding, as usual, which helped my heart feel much better.

Throughout the day, I felt pissy about these things:

  1. I could still imagine smelling that cat pee.
  2. Several pairs of my shoes are probably ruined because of urine, which is very pee-ving.
  3. I phoned  pee-ple at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and Dr. Warnes (who is the expert in pee-ple with my heart condition) is taking vacation the same week as my vacation in May, which is pee-ving, because now I’ll have to miss work to visit her.
  4. Dr. Warnes wants me to meet with a surgeon when I visit her in Minnesota, and surgeons are pee-ple who can piss me off.

Ready for some pissed photos from yesterday, pee-ple?

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That last pissy picture shows our own personal Urinetown — the back porch containing everything Oscar has recently peed on.

Because personally, puns do NOT peeve me, here’s the subject heading of an email I sent to my doctors about my mixed feelings re: traveling all the way to the Mayo Clinic about my pissy heart:

Hold the Mayo?

Here’s a punny clip from the very punny movie Airplane! about the Mayo Clinic:

Pissed off, peeple?

If urine the mood to mark this territory with a comment, I will not be pissed or peeved.

Many thanks to all people who pee, including those who helped me create this pissy and punny post and to those who are reading it, here and now.

Categories: health care, humor, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

Day 1183: The positive and the negative

In life, in batteries, and in mathematics,  the positive and the negative have to coexist.

In my life (which has depended on  cardiac pacemaker batteries for the past 53 years), I have encountered the positive and the negative.

Throughout my positive-and-negative life, I’ve been told I have a surprisingly positive attitude, considering all the negative experiences I’ve encountered.

On my medical dream team, there is a more positive cardiologist and a more negative cardiologist.  In other words, one cardiologist accentuates the positive and another one focuses on the negative.  Both work very hard to help keep me alive and well.

When I see and hear the positive,  I feel better. When I see and hear the negative, I feel worse. Even though my logical mind knows they both, together, provide necessary balance, my very unusual heart reacts positively to the positive and negatively to the negative, every time.

10 days ago, I heard the negative words “heart failure” from one cardiologist.  Since then, my heart has been struggling.   Today, after I publish this positive-and-negative post, I’m going back to the place where I heard those negative words. I am positive that my heart needs to say something, to maintain the balance of hope and caution so necessary for survival.

What will I say, today, to communicate to my medical team how we can balance the positive and negative more effectively, going forward?

Maybe I’ll sing this song:

Accentuate the Positive

by Harold Arlen and  Johnny Mercer

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate my last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do just when everything looked so dark?

Man, they said “We’d better accentuate the positive”
“Eliminate the negative”
“And latch on to the affirmative”
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between (No!)
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between

Ya got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene

I’m accentuating the positive by including several versions of that song:

Do any of my photos from yesterday accentuate the positive?

Please leave  any comment — positive, negative, or in between.

I positively could not do all this, every day, without music, my doctors, my family, my friends, and my readers. Positive thanks to all!

Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 47 Comments

Day 1182: Be great, feel great, act great

 

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Be great — like my son creating this video for his friend Clark’s birthday yesterday, using found footage and videos he shot with my iPhone:

Feel great — like I feel about my son (and all the people who agreed to be in that video).

Act great — like the people in that video.

Let’s see if we can all be great, feel great, and/or act great — here and now — about some other things I saw yesterday:

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Be great, feel great, act great by having a wonderful Easter, everybody!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, pride | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1181: What’s wrong with me?

Earlier this week, somebody in my office asked

What’s wrong with me?

I immediately replied, “Nothing.”

Throughout the therapy session, I said, “What was that question again?” And she repeated

What’s wrong with me?

And each time, I responded, “Nothing.”

By the end of the session, she was asking different, more helpful questions, including:

  • What’s right with me?
  • What are my options?
  • What can I change?
  • What are my needs?
  • What do I want?

All this week, I’ve been asking

What’s wrong with me?

And I’ve been answering myself like so:

My heart.

What’s wrong with that?  I mean, I do have a a heart with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (cctga).

However, it doesn’t help me, either, to ask

What’s wrong with me?

Does it ever help you to ask

What’s wrong with me?

What’s wrong with me assuming that it doesn’t help?

What’s wrong with these pictures I took yesterday?

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A better question is “What’s right with those pictures?”

What’s wrong with me asking for comments or thanking you for reading this, today?

Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , | 35 Comments

Day 1180: Alone

If you have thoughts and feelings about being alone, you are not alone.

“Alone” is a very common topic and important issue for people. That’s why I’ve written several  previous posts with the word “alone” in the title:

Day 163:  Alone in the presence of others

Day 247: No one is alone

Day 289:  Sometimes, it just helps to know you’re not alone

Day 839: Never worry alone

Day 908:  You are not alone

Day 1028: Can’t do it alone

Last night in a therapy group, nobody was alone — everybody wanted to focus on the topic of being alone.

I, alone, wrote this during the group:

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If you have trouble reading that, I’m sure you’re not alone. It says

In ways we are all alone even when we are with others.

In ways we are connected with others even when we are alone.

I did not take that photo, alone. Here are more photos I took yesterday:

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I’m going to explain that last photo, alone. I wrote that on my office’s lone whiteboard to show somebody they weren’t alone in eating things that aren’t good for them.

When you think of being alone, what song comes to mind?  Am I alone in thinking of this one?

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know I’m not alone today.  You can do your part by leaving a comment, below.

Thanks!


When I first published this post alone, a couple of hours ago, I forgot to say that many of us feel more alone today because of the passing of brilliant comedian Garry Shandling.  Here’s Conan O’Brien, not alone in missing this man:

Categories: group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

Day 1179: Mind blowing

Why am I writing a post titled “Mind blowing” today?

Is it because I saw this mind-blowing image yesterday?

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Is it because my mind is easily blown by what I encounter in the here and now, every day of this precious life?

Is it because some readers seemed to find  yesterday’s heart-centered post mind blowing? Sometimes, my mind is blown by other people’s positive and caring reactions.

What are your associations with the words “mind blowing”?

While thoughts are blowing through your mind about all these questions, here are some other mind-blowing sights from yesterday:

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Aren’t all the amazing connections we encounter every day mind blowing?

Mind-blown thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for blowing my mind by visiting this blog, here & now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1178: What is heart failure?

Yesterday, I asked the blogging question

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

Today, I ask the blogging question

What is heart failure?

Please do not fail to take a moment to answer that question, in your own heart.

My heart  tells me there are many definitions of heart failure. Indeed,  I did not fail to find this definition of heart failure online:

Heart failure: Inability of the heart to keep up with the demands on it and, specifically, failure of the heart to pump blood with normal efficiency. When this occurs, the heart is unable to provide adequate blood flow to other organs such as the brain, liver and kidneys. Heart failure may be due to failure of the right or left or both ventricles. The signs and symptoms depend upon which side of the heart is failing. They can include shortness of breath (dyspnea), asthma due to the heart (cardiac asthma), pooling of blood (stasis) in the general body (systemic) circulation or in the liver’s (portal) circulation, swelling (edema), blueness or duskiness (cyanosis), and enlargement (hypertrophy) of the heart.

Until today, my heart has failed to tell you about this heart-felt exchange with one of my heart doctors, Dr. Estes, last week:

Dr. Estes: I think you’re in Class 2 heart failure.

Me:  I don’t believe you. Maybe Class 1.  MAYBE.

Dr. Estes:  Well, there’s a grey area between Class 1 and Class 2.

Are you surprised at my heart’s failure to

  • report about that conversation before today or
  • accept Dr. Estes’s opinion?

My heart has such an unusual structure that nine out of ten doctors fail to agree about its failures and its successes. And I find that thinking in terms of failure — for my heart or for anything else — does not help me survive or succeed.

My heart will not fail to provide you with a definition of Class 1 and Class 2 heart failure, here and now:

Class I

No limitation of physical activity. Ordinary physical activity does not cause undue fatigue, palpitation (feeling heart beats), or dyspnea (shortness of breath).

Class II
(Mild)

Slight limitation of physical activity. Comfortable at rest, but ordinary physical activity results in fatigue, palpitation, or dyspnea.

Again, my heart expresses this:  I believe my heart is not failing me. I feel comfortable during all ordinary physical activities, except climbing stairs. And, I have no swelling, blueness, or duskiness, EVER. I do have some enlargement of the upper part of my heart, because of my leaky valve.

Also,  I have an amazing team of heart doctors, committed to helping my heart not fail.

My heart will not fail to express this, either:

I think the term “heart failure” is a failure of the heart because it is WAY too frightening.   My heart-felt suggestion:  stop using “heart failure,” replacing it with a more heart-successful term, like “heart struggle.”

Do you see any heart struggles in my heart-felt pictures from yesterday?

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Please do not fail to express what is in your heart, below.

Heart-felt and successful thanks to all who helped me create this heart-struggling post and to you — of course! — for not failing to read it.

Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Day 1177: What if the concept of failure did not exist?

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

is a question I’ve asked people who describe themselves as failures.

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

…. is the title of the shortest blog post I’ve ever written.

What if the concept of failure did not exist?

… was the first sentence I thought of when I woke up this morning.

Now I’ll ask you. What if the concept of failure did not exist?  How would life be different?

No worries about how you answer that, if the concept of failure does not exist.

What if the concept of failure did not exist for each of these photos?

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Speaking of concepts, here’s a clip from Robin Williams’s first album, “Reality: What a Concept!”

I’m including that performance titled “Shakespeare” for many reasons, including this: My son is trying out for a part in a play by Shakespeare — Henry IV, Part 1 — tonight.

What if the concept of failure did not exist about trying something new?

Conceptual thanks to all those who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — for successfully visiting here, today.

 

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

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