heart surgery

Day 1383: Blooming

I hope this blooming post finds you blooming well on this blooming beautiful October morning.

Speaking of blooming, all my blooming doctors and everybody else who sees me says that I look blooming wonderful as I am blooming and recovering from my blooming valve replacement surgery last month.

My blooming friend, Carol, gave us a blooming plant soon after my blooming boyfriend and I got home from blooming Rochester, Minnesota, where I had my blooming open heart surgery.

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As you can see in that blooming photo, that plant has a lot more blooming to do. As a matter of fact, I took that blooming photo moments after my blooming boyfriend, Michael, was saying out loud to that blooming plant: “Bloom!  Bloom!”

Would you like to  blooming see all my other blooming photos from yesterday?

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That blooming tea bag is now reminding of one of my favorite blooming songs, ever, by the blooming Beach Boys.

Isn’t that blooming great? Now, please leave a blooming comment so I know what you blooming think of this blooming post.

Now I have to blooming decide whether to publish this blooming post at 2:42 AM, when I’m blooming finishing it, or wait until a more reasonable blooming hour tomorrow morning.

Oh, blooming hell! Does it really blooming matter?

Blooming thanks to all who helped me create this blooming post and to you — of course! — for being my blooming reader, here and now.

Categories: blogging, heart surgery, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 1382: Add Sparkle to Your Life

Yesterday, as I continued to sparkle with life after my open heart surgery on September 21, I saw this sparkling and lively sign:

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What helps you add sparkle to your life? Personally, my life sparkles when I …

  • let go of fear,
  • see the love around me,
  • take good care of myself and those I cherish,
  • embrace all feelings,
  • am hopeful about the future,
  • am realistic about the past,
  • accept both the bruises and the sparkles of the present,
  • allow my mind and body to heal from past wounds, and
  • take new steps every day.

Do any of my other photos from yesterday add sparkle to your life?

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Here‘s some sparkling music from Earth Wind & Fire:

 

Please add sparkle to my life with a sparkling comment.

Gratitude adds even more sparkle to my life, so here’s a message to all those sparkling ones who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for whatever sparkle you bring,  here and now:

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Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Day 1375: Band wagon

Time to join the band wagon of Ann’s readers, who are used to seeing her begin posts by defining phrases like “band wagon.”

band·wag·on
ˈbandˌwaɡən/
noun
1. a wagon used for carrying a band in a parade or procession.
2. a particular activity or cause that has suddenly become fashionable or popular.
“the local deejays are on the home-team bandwagon”

I had a recent experience with definition #1, when one of my  Boston cardiologists offered to pick up me and my boyfriend Michael at Boston’s Logan Airport in a band wagon, no matter when  we returned home after my September 21 open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.  However, I foiled that band wagon by returning late at night and way before anybody expected me to —  six days after my heart valve replacement surgery.

By the way, I just noticed that WordPress is suggesting I invite my readers to join a band wagon (definition #2) by including this message at the top of post-creation page:

Encourage your US-based users to register to vote by adding a subtle prompt to your site.

If you were in my band wagon  of classic American movie musical fans, you might add a third definition of “band wagon,” like so:

3. the most intelligent AND fun American movie musical ever made starring Fred Astaire (as opposed the most intelligent AND fun American movie musical ever made starring Gene Kelly, which is Singin’ in the Rain).

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Because I like to join band wagons of people recovering from a traumatic event like surgery who treat themselves exceedingly well, I watched the beginning of The Band Wagon yesterday morning, which included these two musical numbers (here and here on YouTube):

No  matter what is going on in my life, that second number from The Band Wagon puts a melody in my heart, gives me a singable happy feeling AND a wonderful way to start my day.

Now, would you like to join the band wagon of Ann’s readers who enjoy looking at  images captured on her iPhone from the day before?

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Those last two photos feature Dr. Deeb Salem, one of my band wagon of cardiologists (but not the one who offered to pick us up in a band wagon at the airport).  In the first photograph, Dr. Salem  is with Dr. Marvin Konstam, 31 years ago, as they performed the first heart transplant at Tufts Medical Center. In the second photo, Dr. Salem is with the person who is writing this here blog post on band wagons.

Now, would you like to join the band wagon of people who keep telling me I look way too good to have had heart surgery a scant two weeks ago?

Because I always like to join the band wagon of people polite enough to express thanks when they are feeling gratitude, here’s a message to all those who helped me create this post and to all those who are reading it, here and now:

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Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 1374: The near future

Whenever you’ve had a harrowing experience, it helps to plan for the near future, especially if you focus on what you adore.

For example, exactly  two weeks ago today I had major heart surgery which was, honestly, pretty harrowing. So it’s helping me to plan for and focus on the near future, which includes:

  • My college roommate, Maria, whom I adore, flying in from Portland Oregon, which I adore,  to stay with me and my boyfriend Michael, whom I adore,  for eight days.
  • An appointment this afternoon with my Primary Care Physician, Dr. Laura Snydman, whom I adore.
  • Getting a ride to my doctor’s visit this afternoon from my sister, Ellen, whom I adore.
  • Seeing Mel Brooks, whom I adore, in person in a few weeks, accompanied by my neighbor Karen, whom I adore.
  • Attending a performance of “An American in Paris,” which I adore, the following week with my friend Barbara, whom I adore.

It also helps to look at the near past, especially when my progress is so encouraging, which I adore.  For example, last night — for the first time since my surgery — I went for a short walk outside alone, which I adored. Here’s what I saw:

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In your near future, you could plan to adore this post even more, as I show you other pictures from yesterday of things I adore:

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Here‘s the music I am listening to as I write this near-future post, which I adore:

Is there a comment in my near future, which I would adore?

I adore everybody and everything that helped me create this near-future post and also you — of course! — for including me in your near future.

Categories: heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism, self-care | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Day 1373: Dreams

Yesterday, my  12th day after open heart surgery,  I fell asleep and had a dream of  being lifted suddenly by unseen hands and carried, very rapidly, as I lay flat on my back, through many rooms and hallways. In the dream, I thought, “Oh no!  Ghosts are taking me away!” I screamed in the dream, the dream faded, and I woke up in my  bed at home.

Somewhat of an expert on dreams (because I’m a psychotherapist), I asked myself, “What did that dream mean?” And I realized the dream captured the dreamlike experience  of being wheeled down hospital hallways into  operating rooms, which has happened to me more times than you could possibly dream between the ages of 10 and 63.

Then, I got ready for my dream of a friend, Carol, to pick me up and carry me to my appointment at the Coumadin/Warfarin clinic at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, to find out if I would be able to eat all the foods of my dreams on this new medication.  The nurse there, Kathleen, was a dream, as she allayed my fears and told me I would probably be able to eat whatever I wanted (including chocolate!), as long as I did so consistently.

Then, I told Carol I wanted to drop in on members of my Cardiology Dream Team at Tufts Medical Center, who hadn’t yet seen me since my surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on September 21. I assumed my appearance would exceed their wildest dreams. And while most patients wouldn’t dream of dropping in unexpectedly on their doctors, my cardiologist Dr. Mark Estes has demonstrated (see my previous dreamy blog post here), that he is fine with my doing that.

The next hour was like a dream.  Dr. Mark Estes showed up trailed by five students and told me I looked like a dream — better than he had ever seen me in our decades of working together.  I told Dr. Estes that I might have been dreaming, but I thought I had heard various people at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota state that my heart was in a normal/sinus rhythm after the operation, instead of its usual atrial fibrillation.

Let me explain why my heart going out of atrial fibrillation and into normal/sinus rhythm, even for a limited amount of time, would be a very unlikely dream come true.

  1. My heart went out of normal rhythm and into atrial fibrillation almost exactly three years ago today (described in this here dreamy blog post).
  2. At that time, my doctors agreed it did not make sense for them to try any non-surgical means to return my heart to a normal rhythm, because the atria were so stretched out from my leaky valve that my heart would almost definitely return to a-fib.
  3. When I had my last cardiac procedure in May of 2015, Dr.  Estes told me that my fibrillating atria were even bigger — “the size of a grapefruit, instead of the normal size of a walnut.”
  4.  My other cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem,  had a dream: he hoped that the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, when performing the open heart surgery twelve days ago to replace my leaky valve, might also use a surgical technique (called the Maze technique) to try to get my heart back into a normal rhythm.
  5. When I discussed that possibility with the Mayo doctors, they all agreed that the added surgical time of two hours was NOT worth the risk, since the chances of any technique returning me to normal rhythm was highly unlikely.
  6. At that point, I let go of the dream of my heart getting out of atrial fibrillation, and instead focused on preparing myself for the heart valve replacement surgery.

So when I told Dr. Estes yesterday that I thought I had heard people at the Mayo Clinic say that I  was out of a-fib after my surgery, he looked like he thought I was dreaming. He said, “Ann, if your heart DID get back  into sinus rhythm post surgery, that would have lasted for a very short time. I am skeptical it happened at all.”

And then everybody  — Dr. Estes, the students, Carol, me, and others — watched yesterday, as if in a dream, as we accessed the data stored in my pacemaker/defibrillator to see what kind of rhythms my dreamy heart had been generating recently, when I’ve been awake and dreaming.

As if in a dream, my dream team cardiologist, Dr. Mark Estes, announced to all of us: “You’re in sinus rhythm.  And you’ve been out of a fib and in normal rhythm consistently since your surgery on September 21.”

I responded, “My boyfriend Michael would call this a Christmas miracle.”  I heard Carol say, dreamily and sweetly, “Today is the Jewish New Year.”  Everybody looked happy, like in a dream or in a special on the Hallmark Movie Channel where the heroine does better than anybody dreamed possible.

How did this better-than-anybody-could-possibly-have-dreamed result occur?  I have a dreamy memory of a discussion, last week, with a Mayo Clinic EKG technician, who told me I was in normal/sinus rhythm when he visited me in the Intensive Care Unit.  Perhaps, we speculated, when they stopped my heart and then restarted it after the open heart surgery, that helped my heart’s rhythm — just how we often fix our phones, computers, and other devices  by turning them off and turning them back on again. Sometimes, the simplest solution works better than our wildest dreams.

After this dream of a visit with Dr. Estes, Carol carried me away in her car and drove me home to my dreamy boyfriend Michael. I told him the good news, as if in a dream. Later, when I shared the good news with my dreamy 18-year-old son, Aaron — far far away in the dreamy land of Scotland — Aaron texted me: “It sounds like a magical fairy wonderland situation over there.”

Magical and MUCH better than the scary dream that started out my dream of a day, yesterday.

I also want to say, at this point in this dreamy post, that it’s very possible that my dream of a heart with its shiny new valve might go back into atrial fibrillation — tomorrow, next week, or some other point in the future.  However, I wouldn’t dream of lowering my heart’s expectations right now — that heart of mine has exceeded everybody’s dreams for sooooooo long.

When I was dreaming under general anesthesia last week at the Mayo Clinic, my surgeon played dreamy music by our favorite saxophonist, the late Michael Brecker. On this dreamy day, 13 days later, here is one of my favorite tunes by Dreams, the 1970s dream team of Michael Brecker, his brother and trumpet-player Randy Brecker, the dreamily fabulous drummer Billy Cobham, dreamy bassist Will Lee, and other dreamily amazing jazz musicians.

 

 

Because my readers appreciate photos I take beyond my wildest dreams, here are all the dreamy images I captured yesterday:

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You know what?  Yesterday still feels like a dream to me ….  too good to be true. And I don’t have any photos showing Dr. Estes, the medical students, Carol, Kathleen the nurse, or any of other people I dreamily wrote about in this post.

So …. maybe it was all a dream?

What do you think, my dreamy readers?

Dreamy thanks to all those who helped me create this dream of a post and to you  — of course! — for whatever dreams you bring, here and now.

Categories: adult congenital heart, celebrating, heart condition, heart surgery, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Day 1370: I’ve never seen you like this before

Now that my  heart valve-replacement surgery is behind me, people are saying, “I’ve never seen you like this before” for different reasons, including these:

  1. I have new scars,
  2. I am even more in love with my wonderful and care-taking boyfriend Michael,
  3. I’ve got a cool new heart robe I’m wearing,
  4. I’m dealing with new levels of pain,
  5. I’m crying at strange times,
  6. I’m less patient with people than usual,
  7. I’m taking new medications including Coumadin/Warfarin, and
  8. Something major like open heart surgery tends to change people, doesn’t it?

Yesterday, my long-time friend Eleanor — who has seen me in many ways over the years — said, “I’ve never seen you like this before” when I got  angry and upset with an abrupt hospital administrator whom I needed to get past in order to my blood tested for another INR level. I’ve decided I never want to see the administrator like that, again, so I probably won’t go back to that same location for future blood tests.

After I got my blood drawn by people I had never seen before, Eleanor and I went to see people I really like to see and who have been seen before on this blog (like here): the wonderful staff at Mount Auburn Hospital Cardiac Rehab.

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That’s Kathy,  Danise, and Carla.  In a week or two, they’ll be seeing me like they’ve never seen me before, recovering slowly from  open heart surgery.

Here are some more photos you’ve never seen like this before:

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I’ve never seen the amazing pianist Lyle Mays like this before:

Have you ever seen a blog like this before?

Thanks to all who helped me create today’s never-seen-before post and to you — of course! — no matter how you’ve been seen before.

Categories: heart condition, heart surgery, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 49 Comments

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:

HISTORY OF PRESENT ILLNESS
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.

SOCIAL HISTORY
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:

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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!)

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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.

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

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