Monthly Archives: September 2016

Day 1369: Cool Cats and Cool Jazz

Hello, Cool Cats!

It is AMAZING to me that the number of today’s blog post is 1369. That is the coolest number, right now, to the cool cat writing this here blog post.  Why?  Because the 1369 Jazz Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was one of my favorite haunts in the 1980’s. And this post is very much about jazz cats and other cool cats.

Last night, this cool cat was reading her own medical record from the cool Mayo Clinic in jazzy Minnesota, where she had open heart surgery a scant nine days ago. She found a very cool  Cardiovascular Surgery Consult note in that medical record from a very cool cat named Lucinda Stroetz, assistant to the jazziest, coolest heart surgeon in the world, Dr. Joseph Dearani, who also plays jazz saxophone.

Here are the best excerpts from that pre-surgery note, written last week on September 20, 2016:

Ms. Koplow is a delightful 63-year-old woman who was born with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries. She had congenital complete heart block and underwent pacemaker implantation November 22, 1963, with epicardial wires and underwent epicardial lead replacement in 1966; both via left thoracotomies. She has had multiple pacemaker revisions. An endocardial dual-chamber pacemaker was implanted in 1987, then a CRT ICD was implanted May 2015. Her echocardiogram now shows congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries, mild systemic ventricle enlargement (morphologic right ventricle), severe left atrioventricular valve regurgitation. Ms. Koplow had her first episode of congestive heart failure in July 2016 in the setting of pneumonia.

Ms. Koplow is a psychotherapist. She is accompanied by her boyfriend, Michael. She is a jazz enthusiast and singer.

Anesthesia: Please note Ms. Koplow reports severe nausea and vomiting following previous anesthetics. She is also a singer and is concerned about vocal cord irritation from the endotracheal tube.

She is a jazz music enthusiast and has requested Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny music in the operating room if appropriate.
Patient is ready to learn, no apparent learning barriers were identified; learning preferences include listening and visual aids.

Because I DO prefer listening and visual aids, here are my coolest photos from yesterday:
















That last cool photo shows the coolest gift in the world from fellow jazz-lover and extremely cool friend, Peggy.  I was hoping to create a video of that dancing-cool-cat speaker playing “The Schuyler Sisters” from Hamilton as I was singing along to the lyrics, but that was a little too arduous for this cool cat, as she continues to heal from open heart surgery.

Instead, I’ll just share this favorite tune from those cool jazz cats Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny:

Here’s one more cool photo, of three cool cats (including jazzy Jackie Chan!)


Because gratitude is the coolest, here’s how I’m feeling towards all those who helped me create today’s cool post AND to you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.



Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 1368: Good, better, best

Today’s post title is inspired by this equipment from the Mayo Clinic, designed to prevent pneumonia after major surgery:



It would be good, according to my health team, if I breathe into that plastic instrument once every hour I’m awake. I’m doing a much better job than I expected following their instructions. It’s best if I don’t tell you how often I’m REALLY using it.

Here are some photos I’ve recently taken, now that I’m home recovering from open heart surgery  a week ago:




















Are there any images you thought were good, better or best?

People seem to think this blog is good enough no  matter what I post. They seem to like it better if I show photos and best if I include music. So here‘s music from one of the best movies I’ve ever seen — The Crying Game. (Please click on “here” in the previous sentence to hear that music.)


It’s good that I feel well enough to create another blog post so easily and so soon after my very recent valve replacement surgery.  It would be better if you left a comment with your thoughts about good, better, and best.  It’s best if I publish this post now and take a rest.

Thanks to all those who helped me create this good, better, best post and thanks to all my readers, who are the BEST!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 40 Comments

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: , , , , , , | 75 Comments

Day 1366: Did you even have heart surgery?

Yesterday, the doctors and nurses at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota kept asking me variants 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: , , | 91 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 | 65 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 | 37 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 | 47 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 | 53 Comments

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