The best thing I can report this morning is that I did my presentation about group therapy yesterday and, despite my fears, it went very well.
The best thing for me would be to have faith in my ability to give good presentations about groups, but somehow I always find a way to worry about them. Maybe that’s because communicating effectively about something I love is important to me. And the possibility of failure is scary.
The best thing would be for me to know that I don’t have to be the best thing to be valuable. I hope that other people realize that too, including Mikaela Shiffrin.
What’s the best thing in my blog post today?
The best thing is that I can celebrate what’s unique about me on National Battery Day — I’ve been kept alive by batteries in cardiac pacemakers for almost 60 years!
Joan is the best thing for all of us, no matter what she does or doesn’t do.
Here’s a Stephen Sondheim song that’s been running through my head the last few days — “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened to Me.”
The best thing would be to see your comment about this post!
The best thing to end this blog post with is my gratitude for YOU.
Yesterday, as I took my farewell walking tour of this magnificent city, I saw a sign promising “The best views of Edinburgh.”
I didn’t climb the Scott Monument, so perhaps my views are not the best views of Edinburgh (even though in my view, they’re pretty great).
That last photo is another best view of somebody my son Aaron and I view as the best stand-up comic/improviser/PhD of Mathematics in Edinburgh — Dr. Tom Joyce. (Tom is best viewed in my previous posts here, here, here, and here).
Over the years that Aaron and I have gotten great views of Edinburgh, some of our best views have been thanks to Tom. Somehow, we always run into Tom and get to view his kind, comic, creative, and often surprising views. Yesterday, I got a different and surprising best view of Tom when we viewed each other’s medic alert bracelets and found out we both
were born with heart conditions,
have cardiac pacemakers, and
got our first pacemakers when we were young (age 10 for me, age 11 for Tom).
The best thing I can say about that is this: even when you think you’ve gotten the best views of somebody, there’s always more to view.
My Boston cardiologists have ordered an operation next week to replace my current pacemaker, because other out-of-order pacemakers like it have already killed two people.
I am trying to get my thoughts and feelings in order about all this by writing in this blog, talking to friends, and consulting with experts.
I shall now show you all my other photos from yesterday, out of order:
Would I be out of order if I chose thisDuncan Sheik song out of all the tunes titled “Out of Order”?
I am not ordering you to leave a comment about this “Out of Order” post, but if you do, that would probably help me put my thoughts and feelings more in order.
Usually I end every blog post with gratitude for all who helped me in the creative process and for all my readers — of course! — but, instead, here’s another out of order photo (thanks to Mary Ann, a friend from high school):
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.
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.
“Shall we dance?” That was the title, for today’s blog post, in my head, when I woke up this morning.
I remember feeling joy, when I was very young, watching the movie “The King and I,” when Anna (Deborah Kerr) and the King of Siam (Yul Brynner) connected, in a new way, through dance.
The movie is not on YouTube, so I can’t show you that exact scene, but here’s a version of “Shall We Dance”, with Yul Brynner and Patricia Morrison, from the 1971 Tony Awards):
For me, with my unusual heart, and the evolving capabilities of pacemakers to speed up that heart of mine, there have been times when my physical activities have been restricted. However, no matter what has been going on with my heart and with pacemakers, I have always been able to dance.
I’ve been able to dance, in my basement alone, after my first surgery at age 10, listening to the music from many musicals, including West Side Story (like this number):
I was able to dance to that number, my heart beating 80 beats a minute, every minute, never speeding up.
Every once in a while I had to stop, to rest, but then I would be up and dancing again, on the basement floor.
Then, in the 70’s, when I was in my 20s, I was dancing disco whenever I could, with my heart beating 72 beats a minute, every minute, never speeding up.
I asked my doctors, how am I doing that? How am I able to dance throughout the entire length of a song?
Like this one, sung by Gloria Gaynor:
Or this one, by The Trammps:
(I’m including that number, even though John Travolta and his partner are not really connecting, because .. I could do all the moves she’s doing there!)
No matter what disco song was playing, and how long it lasted, I kept on stepping, spinning, and dipping — always keeping pace with my normal-hearted partners.
So, how could I do that? I asked my doctors.
My doctors said, “Your heart is keeping up with you, somehow. It developed that capacity.”
I’d have to sit down and rest between dances. But not for long. I was back up on the dance floor, very soon.
Then, starting in 1987, all my pacemakers were able to speed up, making my heart beat like a “normal” one.
And I stopped dancing as much. Perhaps that’s because I could do all sorts of physical activities, then.
Last month, my heart went into atrial fibrillation and — according to my doctors — it’s going to stay there, for the most part, for the rest of my life.
When my heart is in atrial fibrillation, my pacemaker cannot do as great a job, speeding my heart up. When I’m in atrial fibrillation, the pacemaker needs to pick up signals from my breathing and body movement, in order to help compensate for physical exertion.
So, when I go upstairs, I’m more out of breath now. However, climbing stairs still feels better than it used to, before 1987.
Two weeks ago, my bf Michael and I started taking Argentine Tango lessons.
Last night, we danced across the floor, for the good part of an hour.
I had to stop and rest. But only once.
And we’re beginners, so we’re not exactly exerting ourselves, like this:
Thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein (for The King and I), Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim (for West Side Story), Clifton Davis (for “Never Can Say Goodbye”), Leroy Green and Ron Kersey (for “Disco Inferno”), Patricio Touceda and Carla Chimento (the tango dancers), and to you — of course! — for visiting today.
Reason Not to Fear THAT: The vast majority of people will NOT get annoyed by something like that.
Another Reason Not to Fear THAT: If anybody does get annoyed, that will pass, very soon.
To conclude, this song is in honor of me, doing the Heart Walk today, raisin’ money and celebrating my 50 years of living with cardiac pacemakers. (It’s also in honor of two people who have helped me get through many things: Carol Burnett and Stephen Sondheim.) **
Many thanks to everybody!
Or, at least, a very ironic story.
** Who are both still here, on September 7, 2013. Thank goodness for that.