heart condition

Day 3671: Knowledge

Today’s Daily Bitch Calendar reminds me of sayings about knowledge like “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” and “ignorance is bliss.”

I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to living your whole life with a rare heart condition, and it hasn’t always been easy. Yesterday, when I went for an echocardiogram, I was uneasy with the knowledge that the September echo I had in Georgia (when I had a T.I.A. or a “mini-stroke) had indicated there was “severe regurgitation” from my mechanical valve. My long-time cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem (who has lots of knowledge), told me that might mean the valve needed to be replaced or that a clot, since dissolved, might have caused temporary regurgitation.

Yesterday I made sure the echocardiogram sonographer had the knowledge about that earlier echo. Based on my experience in medical systems, I had the knowledge that she couldn’t really tell me the results yesterday. I knew I wouldn’t receive the official knowledge of whether or not I needed a new valve and another open heart surgery until later, after somebody with more knowledge had interpreted and documented the results. However, I really wanted reassuring knowledge yesterday after holding this scary knowledge for a while, so while watching and listening to her perform the echo and not having the knowledge to interpret the results as they were happening, I carefully said this: “What would it look like if there were severe regurgitation around a mechanical valve?” and I got the knowledge I wanted when she replied, “Not like what we’re seeing here.”

That knowledge made me very, very happy.

What knowledge is there in my other images for today?

I’m definitely going to celebrate today (with popcorn) my latest good news and the knowledge that I’ve really beaten the odds of life expectancy for my heart condition. When I see Dr. Salem next month, I’m going to ask him what it was like to be my doctor, starting when I was 27, having knowledge like this (which I just found when I googled my heart condition):

Dr. Salem, in all our years of working together, never conveyed that knowledge to me and here I am, about to turn 70! Also, I have the knowledge that some people with CCTGA have made it into their 90s and why shouldn’t I be one of those?

Here’s what I find when I look for “knowledge” on YouTube.

Thanks to all who help me share knowledge through these daily posts, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 3589: Hideaway

I’ve been spending many hours thinking about how to remodel our upstairs shower, because I want that to be a hideaway.

I don’t want to hide away why that’s so important to me: When I was a child spending too much time alone in the hospital, the private bathroom with a tub, at the end of the long hallway, was really my only hideaway. The rest of the time, I was under the eyes of doctors and nurses, hooked up to a cardiac monitor that beeped out my unusual heartbeat, day and night.

Years ago in therapy, I gave myself the healing assignment of drawing a floor plan of that Children’s Hospital cardiac unit, and the room with the tub stood out as a precious and safe hideaway.

I’m also thinking of how Jerry Seinfeld described the shower as a hideaway:


Do you see any hideaways in my images for today?

It’s such an amazing coincidence that I’m writing about hideaways on National Hermit Day!

Here’s “Hideaway” by the incredible Jacob Collier:

I can’t hide away my gratitude for all who help me share these daily posts, including YOU.

Categories: heart condition, life during the pandemic, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Day 3573: That must have been scary

When I tell people about my experiences in the hospital when I was young, they often say, “That must have been scary.”

That must have been scary, I agree. However, I don’t remember being scared. I was so focused on trying to understand what was going on, connecting with others, and surviving the frequent hospitalizations and surgeries for my heart condition that I must have been disconnected from the fear.

I appreciate people saying, “That must have been scary.” That demonstrates empathy and allows me to acknowledge what I’ve been through. I may wish that people had said “that must have been scary” to me back then, but that must have been scary for them to do.

This morning, I woke up thinking about the phrase “that must have been scary” and decided to reframe that to “that must have been necessary.” Somehow, that makes things less scary for me, here and now.

Do you see anything that must have been scary or necessary in my images for today?


Learning something new, screenings, and breast exams: all scary AND necessary.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “that must have been scary.”


If you think that must have been scary searching through the videos that popped up for me on YouTube, you are correct. However, it was necessary for me to finish this blog post.

Thanks to all who help me deal with things that must have been scary, including YOU.

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 3554: Trying to make sense of things

Here and now, I’m trying to make sense of things, including:

  • Why my INR level dipped dangerously low yesterday,
  • Why I thought to check my INR earlier than usual (thank goodness),
  • How it was so difficult to get the shots I needed to protect myself from having such a low INR from my local pharmacy,
  • Why I’m doing a better job administering those shots than some trained professionals did last week at a Georgia hospital when my INR was also dangerously low,
  • Why some people that I reach out to take so long getting back to me,
  • Why the repair of our upstairs bathroom is taking so long,
  • Why some days have so many National Day observances and other have so few,
  • Why so many people in the USA don’t exercise their right to vote,
  • Why so many people get fooled by toxic narcissists, and
  • How I continue to remain sane through all of this.

Yesterday, my dear friend Carol and I discussed how trying to make sense of things can lead to magical thinking.

For example, I’ve been trying to make sense of the unexpected and scary medical things I’ve been dealing with lately by magically thinking they might be the the result of:

  • my unexpectedly being reassured by a new cardiologist this month that my very unusual heart was serving me very well and should keep me alive for many years to come,
  • my not observing the Jewish High Holidays,
  • my boldly and confidently sharing my original song “Everybody‘s Somebody’s Asshole” with total strangers in Georgia and getting a delighted reaction, and
  • being “too” confident in general.

I’m wondering how you are trying to make sense of things (including this blog post) right now.

Please join me in trying to make sense of my images for today.

Thanks to the National Days website, now I’m making sense of National Seat Check Saturday.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “trying to make sense of things.”

Gratitude always helps me make sense of things, so thanks to those who visit this daily blog, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Day 3544: Never seen

Before this vacation, I’d never seen

  • the islands off the southeastern coast of Georgia,
  • the inside of a brain CT scan machine, and
  • the inside of a Georgia hospital.

You’ve never seen anybody as happy as I’ll be when I get out of this hospital and rejoin my vacation tour of the Georgia islands, which MIGHT be today.

Here are some images I assume you’ve never seen:

I’ve actually never seen the world through another’s eyes but I try to do that, every day.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “never seen.”

I’ve never seen Limoblaze before, but I’m very glad to see that video today.

You’ve most likely seen gratitude from me before, but you’ve never seen this particular image of thanks:

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Day 3543: What does T.I.A. stand for?

This Is Ann, Telling It As it is on a Tuesday In A hospital room, Thankful I’m Alive.

T.I.A. stands for Transient Ischemic Attack. The Incredible And Thorough Investigators At This Institution Are Thinking I, Ann, had a T.I.A. yesterday.

Terrifying Incident, Actually, That Included All The Indications of A stroke. This Is Absolutely not how This Individual Anticipated spending her vacation.

These Images Are what This Insomniac Accumulated yesterday:


This Is A T.I.A. video on youTube, I Assume:

Thanks In Admiration to Those Intrepidly Assisting yesterday — my Terrifically Intelligent Amiga Deb, the Emergency responders on Jekyll Island, the staff at this wonderful Georgia hospital, my Boston cardiologist Deeb Salem (who called in response to my email and talked to the doctor here) — and to Those I Adore (That Includes All of you!)

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 51 Comments

Day 3533: Balance

Yesterday, as I was trying to balance my needs with other people’s needs, I

  • balanced providing individual and group therapy at the Boston hospital where I work,
  • helped prepare my two wonderful co-workers who will be covering three of my groups while I’m on vacation for two weeks,
  • had the delicious macaroni and cheese at the hospital cafeteria for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic (because they only serve it on Fridays and I usually work remotely from my home on Fridays),
  • met with my new electrophysiologist/cardiologist, Dr. Peter Zimetbaum, at the hospital where I work, and
  • felt very relieved about how knowledgeable, encouraging, and willing Dr. Zimetbaum was to collaborate with my long-time cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, who works at a different Boston hospital.

On balance, it was a terrific day.

Do you see balance in my images for today?


Leave it to today’s Daily Bitch to have the last word on balance.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “balance.”

I also find this:

Balanced thanks to all who help me keep my balance every day, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 3450: Two wrongs don’t make a right

“Two wrongs don’t make a right” was one of my late mother’s favorite sayings. Another favorite saying of my mother’s was “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place” so I think this is the place for today’s Daily Bitch Calendar.

It sure as hell would make me feel better right now to share a photo of my mother. It’s right that I coincidentally captured an image of my mother with my son Aaron yesterday when I took a picture of our cat, Joan (on the right).

Two humans — my husband Michael and I — were wrong in worrying that our old and fretful shelter cat Harley would never accept shelter cat Joan. Those two together definitely make a right.

There’s a place for everything and this is the place I’ll share a story about my mother and me and “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I was born with a heart that was wrong, which resulted in many hospitalizations and my needing pacemakers from a very young age. We didn’t know what kind of heart condition I had until my very right and still current cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, figured out in the 1980’s that I had the very rare heart condition of congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCTGA). When Dr. Salem rightly described how my heart was very wrong in two different ways — (1) the aorta and the pulmonary arteries are switched and (2) the ventricles are also switched — and

  1. that means all the blood ends up in the right place and
  2. having just one of those wrongs would have killed me when I was born in 1953 because of what kinds of heart surgeries were available then,

I turned to my mother and said “You know how you always say ‘two wrongs don’t make a right?’ I guess not!”

There’s a place for everything and this is the place for me to say that I miss my mother and my father every day.

It’s right that many of my images for today have twos in them.

It seems wrong to me that onion rings and kissing — both very right in their own way — are celebrated on the same day.

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

I also find this very right rendition of “Two Wrongs” by Wyclef Jean with Claudette Ortiz:

It’s right for me to end each post with thanks to all who help me blog every day, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Day 3425: Brain damage

Yesterday, at an urgent care clinic, a doctor tried to convince me to go to a hospital emergency room to get a CAT scan for possible brain damage.

My brain was surprised by this because I had come to the urgent care clinic suspecting wrist and ankle damage after taking a rather spectacular fall on my daily walk, which was preceded by this tweet:

I’m not showing any signs of brain damage there, am I?

Anyway, because I’m on the blood thinner Coumadin, almost immediately after the fall giant bruises were appearing at all the points of contact I’d had with the ground. My brain was undamaged enough to call my Coumadin nurse, Veronica, before everybody left for the long weekend. Veronica suggested I go to an urgent care clinic to see if the damage included any hairline fractures.

My son Aaron wanted to know if he should cancel our plans to go out to dinner with his friend Clark, who would be arriving soon, but I didn’t want to damage everyone’s evening, so I said “no.”

At the urgent care clinic, they x-rayed my left wrist, right wrist, and my right ankle and found no fractures. Even though I had walked the half-mile back home without pain, my right foot was now so sore that they gave me a walking boot. They said the ankle damage could be a sprain or just internal bleeding because of the Coumadin.

Then, just when I was thinking I had escaped serious damage, a doctor came in all concerned about brain damage and quoted this poem to me:

He bumped his head and went to bed,

And he couldn’t get up in the morning.

That got my brain’s attention, because I always want to get up in the morning. I thought the doctor was mainly concerned about brain damage because I had described hitting the side of my head very slightly in the fall, causing my glasses to fall off. However, she insisted that even if I hadn’t hit my head at all, any fall on Coumadin could cause brain damage and I should get at least one CAT scan, if not two.

I asked what the signs of brain damage would be and she said, “headaches, double vision, nausea, or change of personality.” Telling my son Aaron, his friend Clark, and my husband Michael to be on alert for any brain damage, we went out to dinner as planned and the only cat scan I got was this:

Because my brain is not so damaged that I take foolish risks, I contacted the on-call doctor at my hospital to see what they would suggest and, as I suspected, she was rather surprised about the Urgent Care doctor’s concern about brain damage and supported my decision not to worry about it. Believe me, my brain is damaged enough by worries without adding unnecessary ones at this point.

Do you see any evidence of brain damage in my other images for today?

It seems brain damaged to me that all of today’s National days involve eating dead cows. There seems to be too much brain damage in my country as I write this, and we better use our brains before it’s too late.

Because double vision is one of the signs of brain damage, here’s “Double Vision” by Foreigner.

If you see any evidence of brain damage in this post, please let me know in the comments section, below, and I’ll consider getting a CAT scan.

Thanks to all who help me write these daily posts with my brain and my heart, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, life in the USA, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 3338: Chores

It’s no chore for me to blog every day and here’s a definition of “chore.”

My husband, Michael (who does almost all the chores around here) and I sometimes discuss what chores we dread. He dreads the chore of taking out the garbage and I dread the chores of being on call at work, doing our taxes, and testing my blood every other week because I take the anticoagulant Coumadin. We both dread the chore of taking either of our cats to the vet.

Last night, I asked this question on Twitter:

I phrased the question that way because a few people have let me know that they find my Twitter questions a chore. I look forward to reading all the answers to that question, which will be no chore at all.

My niece Julie McGrath has said this about chores: “Try changing I HAVE to do this to I GET to do this!” Using Julie’s advice, I’ll say this: I get to check my blood INR today!

I also get to share all these quotes about chores with you, plus other random images.

Today I get to celebrate National Love Your Pet Day, which is no chore at all.

If it’s no chore, please leave a comment below.

Now I get to express my thanks to all who get to do chores and who read my blog, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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