In the entire history of this blog, I’ve never used the word “historic” in a title. Does that automatically make this post historic?
Let’s check the definition:
famous or important in history, or potentially so.
“we are standing on a historic site”
synonyms: significant, notable, important, momentous, consequential, memorable, newsworthy, unforgettable, remarkable
Here’s the historic inspiration for today’s post:
When you use the word “historic,” what do you mean?
Do you see anything historic in my other photos from yesterday?
Do not hesitate to choose a different ending for the sentence “She who hesitates is ____,” based on your own experience with hesitation.
I chose that title today for three reasons. I shall not hesitate to share those reasons with you, here and now.
Reason #1. Last night, despite my hesitation to worry about anything (since worry doesn’t do any good), I was worrying that I might have hesitated too long to have my leaky heart valve replaced at the Mayo Clinic next month. Cardiologists have not hesitated to tell me that if I hesitate too long and my heart loses too much function and resiliency, the heart valve replacement will not help. And I hesitate to admit that I believe that my heart has deteriorated in function over the last few months.
Whenever I have concerns about my heart, I do not hesitate to contact my long-time and trusted cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. Here’s the email I did not hesitate to write him before I started writing this post:
I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. I thought I would give you a preview of what I’ll be bringing in to the meeting.
My main topic is going to be my concern that I might have waited too long for the valve surgery. This concern is based on the fact that I just have not been feeling or looking as well lately and particularly that I need the Lasix every once in a while, so I’m obviously having more issues with heart failure. I’m assuming my BNP will be higher if we test it tomorrow. I’m also wondering whether I should inform Dr. Warnes about these developments.
I keep thinking about the moment during my consultation with Dr. Warnes in May, when she told me I needed to get a mechanical valve, NOW. When I asked for an extension until September so I could spend time with my son in Edinburgh before he started college, she paused and thought and said that was okay. I wonder now whether it was. I guess I’ll find out, soon enough.
As usual, it helps me to get my thoughts down. I am sure we’ll have an interesting discussion of this and other topics tomorrow.
All the best,
Reason #2. Today’s title gives me the opportunity to share a joke I made up several decades ago, which I did not hesitate to deliver to live audiences during my two open-mic stand-up comedy appearances in the 1980s:
I’m sure you’ve all heard of “Light” beer, which has less calories and alcohol than regular beer. I’ve invented a new product — “Fat Beer.” It has four times the calories and alcohol content as regular beer. I’ve even got a marketing slogan for it: “He who has a taste is sloshed.”
Reason #3. As usual, I shall not hesitate to use whatever blog post title I’ve chosen as an excuse to share whatever photos I did not hesitate to take the day before.
Let’s not hesitate to look at those five photos, shall we?
it’s okay for me to go to Edinburgh, Scotland in August with my son and my ex-in-laws,
she thinks it’s going to be “great” when I get a new mechanical valve for my heart in September, and
she liked the idea of my transforming my future open-heart-surgery scar with a tattoo.
I made it crystal clear to Dr. Kogelman that I did NOT like her idea of turning that scar into the medical symbol of a snake climbing a rod. I told her, “I have plenty of medical symbols on my body already” and informed her that if I do decorate that new scar after I get it in September, I’ll probably add some flowers and leaves.
What is crystal clear to you, here and now?
Are all of my photos from yesterday crystal clear?
Is it crystal clear to you that I made that t-shirt and that I especially like to wear it to medical appointments?
Yesterday, somebody named Jeanyne, who works at Tatte Bakery in Boston (not pictured), made three things crystal clear to me:
she loved my t-shirt,
she wanted to own a t-shirt like that, and
her mother, Diane, who recently retired, is just now starting a new business marketing cool new wearable items.
explained that one of my cardiologists, Dr. Mark Estes, believed I was in heart failure,
reported that I did not agree with that diagnosis,
tried to de-dramatize the extraordinarily scary term “heart failure,” and
suggested the alternative name of “heart struggle”instead.
My chief cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, has suggested, for years, that I weigh myself every day, to make sure that I’m not going into heart failure. Why? A major symptom of heart failure is the body’s retention of fluid — which shows up in weight gain as well as swelling around the ankles.
Last weekend, as I was dealing with many successive days of unsolved fevers that were apparently not endocarditis (everybody’s main fear for me), I stepped on the scale, at home, for the first time in several days. And I noticed I had gained a lot of weight. My heart dropped in fear and I immediately called the Infectious Disease Fellow on call at my hospital. Here’s my memory of the conversation:
Me: I’m still running fevers.
Infectious Disease Fellow: We’re still watching the many cultures that were taken, including those when you were in the hospital last week. They are not growing anything. Don’t worry, you don’t have endocarditis.
Me: Good. I wanted to let you know something I just noticed. I’ve gained some weight inexplicably.
Infectious Disease Fellow: How much weight?
Me: I’m not sure. But it really doesn’t make sense. I haven’t been eating much.
Infectious Disease Fellow: Okay. Well, keep watching things. If your fever goes up or you’re feeling much worse, come into the emergency room.
I called the Infectious Disease Fellow three times over the weekend. The last time, Sunday evening, I was feeling very lousy — no energy at all and an even higher body weight. I could tell that the Infectious Disease Fellow was not nervous. Why? Because he was focusing on his specialty, according to how he had been instructed — “Above all, watch out for endocarditis with this patient.” We both agreed that I should come into the emergency room if my fever went over 101 — something I knew was inevitable by Sunday evening because it was climbing.
On 7 PM last Sunday night, my fever went over 101 and I told my boyfriend Michael I was heading back to the Emergency Room. He insisted on accompanying me, thank goodness.
When we got there, they discovered I was having trouble breathing, because I had pneumonia AND — for the first time in my life — I was in heart failure. My heart had been compromised enough by the fevers and the developing pneumonia that it could NOT do its job, and fluid was gathering in my lungs.
In the Emergency Room Sunday night and then in my hospital room Monday morning, I felt worse than I have ever felt in my life. I kept panicking, because I was in “air hunger” — not getting the right amount of oxygen. Also, there was a psychological component to my panic — I feared I would not be able to go to Edinburgh in August with my son and I feared I would not be able to have the reparative heart valve surgery we had scheduled at the Mayo Clinic in September.
But soon, because of the right medications, the pneumonia and the heart failure began to resolve.
This photo, from last week, shows my successful cardiologist Dr. Deeb Salem, smiling at how much better I looked, felt and sounded last Monday evening:
Right before I took that successful photo, Dr. Salem and I had successfully discussed the following:
My insistence that somebody talk to the Infectious Disease Fellow on call ASAP about how that person had missed the very important clue that I was going into heart failure.
My concerns about my trip to Edinburgh in August (plane and hotel reservations which Dr. Salem said I could cancel, if need be, with a note from him).
My concerns about my heart surgery in September, which Dr. Salem totally reassured me about, stating I would definitely be recovered sufficiently by then.
How I was right 99.9% of the time about medical issues, beating Dr. Salem by 20% (these were Dr. Salem’s calculations, which I do not necessarily endorse).
The fact that — after all these years of living with my extremely unusual heart — I had finally gone into heart failure (temporarily), and Dr. Salem’s belief that this was more proof positive that the heart valve surgery in September is perfectly timed.
Any failures in today’s post, so far?
Of course, my heart cannot fail to share my recent photos with you:
Of all the dozens and dozens of songs with the word “Heart” in the title, how can I successfully choose the right one for today?
At various points during the day yesterday, people coming into my hospital room — where I’m being treated for pneumonia and some associated heart failure — have had to wear masks, for their protection and mine.
Because I’ve been wearing various types of oxygen masks and because my face has sometimes been a mask of exhaustion, illness, worry, nausea, and anxiety, I haven’t taken a lot of photos of those masks.
Here’s the one photo I took yesterday.
Who is that masked man?
That is my long-time and trusted cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem. To me, the mask cannot hide his wonderfulness. Both times he showed up in my room yesterday, he dispelled my masks of worry and fear.
What music am I about to unmask for this post about masks?
I cannot mask my delight and appreciation for your visit to my blog, here and now.