Posts Tagged With: cardiac pacemakers

Day 1706: The best views of Edinburgh

Yesterday, as I took my farewell walking tour of this magnificent city, I saw a sign promising “The best views of Edinburgh.”

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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).

 

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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

  • take Warfarin/Coumadin,
  • 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.

Soon I’ll be getting best views of the friendly skies on my flights home to Boston, so I’ll leave you with these best views of Edinburgh:

In your view, what are the best views of Edinburgh in today’s post?

All my best to those who helped me share the views in today’s post and to all my readers who — in my view — are THE BEST.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Day 1398: Out of Order

Yesterday, at cardiac rehab, I saw this sign on one of the exercise machines:

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Here are my out-of-order thoughts about “Out of Order”:

  • In the past, out-of-order machines have made me feel uneasy and unsafe, because I’ve been relying on cardiac pacemakers to keep me alive since I was 10 years old.
  • My current  pacemaker is being recalled by its manufacturer, which has placed my plans to return to work next week after my September 21 open heart surgery out of order.
  • 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:

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Would I be out of order if I chose this Duncan 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):

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Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 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

Day 311: Shall we dance?

“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:

Not yet.

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.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 250: Things Not To Fear (I’m Still Here)

Thing Not To Fear #1:  If you make a mistake in the midst of doing a really great job, the mistake is the only thing that will linger.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT:  Everybody makes mistakes.  Mistakes make you human, resulting in other humans connecting with you even more.

Thing Not to Fear #2:  Public speaking.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Most humans are anxious about public speaking, so if you are at all anxious about that, they will join with you about that, too.

Thing Not to Fear #3:  That you will die today.

One Reason Not to Fear THAT: Looking at all the data, it’s extremely unlikely (even if it would make a good story). *

Thing Not to Fear #4: If you share a song with people — even if you recently shared another song by the same composer — they will get annoyed with you.

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.) **

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Many thanks to everybody!


  • Or, at least, a very ironic story.

** Who are both still here, on September 7, 2013.  Thank goodness for that.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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