Posts Tagged With: living with a congenital heart condition

Day 3402: What I’ve Been Watching

Every evening, my husband Michael and I’ve been watching something on TV together. Lately, we’ve been watching “Better Call Saul,” “Top Chef,” and “Landscape Artist of the Year,” but all those got put on hold when Michael discovered “Cat Hospital” on Acorn TV, which is available to us this week only.

“Cat Hospital,” according to the website, shows “the cute, cuddly, and dramatic daily life at an Irish veterinary practice catering exclusively to cats.” I don’t know about you, but with all the dramatic daily life we’ve been experiencing, I need cute and cuddly wherever I can find it.

Before Michael and I watched “Cat Hospital” last night, my son Aaron and I met up with our old friend Tom Joyce, British comedian and mathematician extraordinaire who has appeared in this blog many times (including here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and especially here) and who is visiting Boston for the first time.

My son and I’ve been watching and running into the incredibly funny, smart, and kind Tom in Edinburgh many times over the last nine years. I’ve been watching in amazement as the coincidences with Tom have piled up — besides an appreciation for Aaron, Tom and I share many things: we both have congenital heart conditions, have pacemakers, had surgeries when we were young, and are now on Coumadin. I look forward to many years ahead where I’ll be watching Tom, Aaron, and I sharing more great times together.

All the other images in today’s blog, of course, also reflect what I’ve been watching:

I’ve been watching the Daily Bitch for many years and today I’ll be watching some people erasing the stigma associated with mental illness in my remote therapy groups.

Here’s a YouTube video of what I’ve been watching:

What have you been watching?

Thanks for watching many things with me today!

Categories: life in the USA, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Day 3396: Naming It

I’m naming it, here and now, that I’ve written previous blog posts named “naming it” because naming it is a helpful coping strategy.

Earlier this week, people in therapy named how naming your feelings — including grief, anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger — can help you deal with those feelings. And I recently read an article, which I can’t name right now, that cited scientific proof that naming feelings can help relieve them.

Can you name any examples of naming it in my images for today?

I’m naming that (1) The Daily Bitch Calendar is a great name for my favorite calendar and (2) there are many National Hairball Awareness Days around here.

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

At the end of each post, I name my thanks for all the people who help me blog every day, and your name is on that gratitude list!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, therapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Day 3386: Important messages

In all of my careers — including marketing communications and psychotherapy — I’ve thought a lot about communcating important messages.

In order to effectively deliver important messages, you need to

  • know your audience and
  • choose clear, strong, passionate, and honest ideas to reach your audience and inspire them to action.

I believe that many important messages are getting lost in all the noise out there and I fear we are running out of time to communicate them effectively.

Do you see important messages in any of my images for today?

Important messages I received from being born with a very unusual heart is that life is short and every day counts.

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

I look forward to the important messages that will appear in the comments section, below.

Gratitude is an important message I deliver at the end of every post, so thanks to all who help me deliver the daily messages in this blog, including YOU!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 3342: Herding cats

A manager I know at work sometimes refers to her job as “herding cats.”

Here’s what I find online about herding cats:

Managing people can be like herding cats. Managing thoughts, which can go everywhere — into the future, into the past, miles away from where we actually are, and often to the worst-case scenario — can be like herding cats. People and thoughts are entities which are inherently uncontrollable.

Speaking of entities which are inherently uncontrollable, there’s cats. Yesterday, I didn’t close the front door correctly after we got home after food shopping amongst many unherded people. When the door came open later, our cat Joan (who used to live unherded on the streets of Tennessee with her sisters and lots of kittens) got out. My husband Michael, who was on the phone, noticed the door was open and his unherded thoughts went to disaster (a cat has escaped and is GONE!) but Joan, unherded, walked back in. When Joan jumped up on the sofa next to me, my unherded thoughts tried to figure out why she felt so cold.

We’re all very relieved that Joan didn’t take off — unherded and unheard from again — for warm Tennessee.

Now I’m going to herd my images for today into some sort of order.

I assume that someone on Twitter is going to herd those days into a single celebration, like “I’m going to go to the dentist wearing a dress after getting cavities from eating frozen food, oreo cookies, and white chocolate cheesecake, and getting a medal for finishing all those.”

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

Now I’ve got to go herd my blood-testing equipment into line and check my INR. Feel free to herd any thoughts and feelings you have about this post into a comment, below.

Thanks to all those who help me herd so many things into this daily blog, including YOU.

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

Day 3298: Hyper-vigilance

Hyper-vigilance is well know to me, both as a therapist and as a person diagnosed with PTSD (because of my hospital experiences when I was a child and living with a very rare heart condition for 68 years).

Because of the pandemic, global warming, racism, economic disparities, and many other complex and constant abuses to our psyches and our bodies, there are very few of us who are not hyper-vigilant these days.

Here is a definition of hyper-vigilance from healthline.com:

Yesterday, when I was at a hospital waiting for a bone scan, I tweeted this as I was trying to take deep breaths and slow down some racing thoughts:

Some people on Twitter responded with gratitude for the thought, others pointed out how hyper-vigilance is not a choice. I work on hyper-vigilance every day, and I understand.

Do you see hyper-vigilance in my other images for today?

I think our phones add to our hyper-vigilance, do you?

I want to be vigilant (and not hyper) in wishing a happy birthday to my first husband (and father of our son, Aaron), who reads this blog. Happy birthday, Leon Dave, and many more!

Because of my vigilance in sharing music I love in this blog, here’s one of my favorite Thomas Dolby tunes:

Thanks to all who are vigilant enough to get to the bottom of this “Hyper-vigilance” blog post, including YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 3173: Ampersands

Today is National Ampersand Day & the second day of Rosh Hashana & the day I go back to see the Ear Nose & Throat people at the hospital about my nosebleed caused by my anticoagulant medications & our new & adorable cat Joan trying to wake me up by scratching my nose & so much more.

Yesterday I started working again after my 2-week vacation & people were very glad to reconnect in an online therapy group & had a lot to say.

Today, as always, I want to welcome all thoughts & feelings including happiness & sadness & fear & anger & despair & hope & so on.

Here are photos & screen captures for today’s post.

How are you going to celebrate & otherwise mark this precious & unique day?

Last night, when we were eating this delicious & nutritious vegetarian chili …

… my husband & cook Michael & my son Aaron & I were talking about the many ways you can get chili in Cincinnati, including with cheese & beans & spaghetti.

Here’s “Ampersand” by They Might Be Giants (a band that Aaron & Michael & I saw in person years & years ago).

Thanks & more thanks to all who visit this blog, including you & you & you & YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 3172: National Grateful Patient Day

Since the day I was born in 1953 with a very rare heart condition, I have been a grateful patient. And today — as well as being the first day of Rosh Hashana — is National Grateful Patient Day.

This morning, I am a little less grateful and patient than usual to be a patient, because my nose bleed — caused by the unfortunate combination of our new kitty Joan scratching inside my nose and my being on anticoagulants because of my mechanical heart valve — has not completely resolved.

However, if I focus on being patient and grateful, I know that I have wonderful people on my medical team who will help solve this problem, just as they have solved so many issues with me before.

I am especially grateful and patient, every day, because it’s so unlikely that I would have survived — with such overall good health — as long as I have with my very unusual heart.

And really, what’s so terrible about a little nosebleed? I have been a grateful patient through so many surgeries, set-backs, scares, disappointments, surprises, dangers, close-calls, and physical and emotional traumas over the years, and look! I’m still here to blog about it today.

So let’s try our best, during these challenging times, to gratefully and patiently celebrate another precious day. Here are the other images this grateful patient has to share with you on September 7, 2021.

The Daily Bitch is right about this: with my heart condition and my tendency to catastrophize, the way I do things may not always be the easy way. However, the way I’ve done things has helped keep me alive and resilient, even if I’m not always the most patient of patients.

Here’s something I find when I search YouTube for “National Grateful Patient Day.”

If you’re patient enough, you’ll always find gratitude at the end of my blog posts!

Categories: heart condition, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Day 3171: Old habits

Yesterday, while I was indulging in my new habit of being on Twitter, I tweeted this question:

I have an old habit of wanting to acknowledge and validate everything that people share, and there have been many profound answers to that question. I also have an old habit of not asking anyone to do anything I’m not willing to do myself, so here’s my answer to my own question:

Actually when I look at that answer, I’m not sure if I’ve totally broken those old habits. However, I’ve made a lot of progress on each, for sure!

One old habit I’ve definitely broken was sucking my thumb, when I was kid. It was a difficult habit to break, and what helped cure me were hospital stays for my heart condition. That reminds me of an old habit I choose not to break: looking for the silver lining in every situation, even if it’s difficult to find.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten into the habit of not working because of my long-awaited vacation. I’ve also developed an 18-month habit of working completely from home.

I’ll be breaking those newer habits soon, and reconnecting with older habits as I work at my hospital office on Mondays and work remotely the rest of the week. I also want to break the old habit of doubting my abilities to adapt to challenges that feel new.

I have no plans to break my old habit of sharing my latest images with you here.

Since it’s National Read a Book Day, I strongly recommend “Blind Spot,” which is about the difficulty of breaking old habits that result from unconscious biases, including internalized racism, sexism, and ageism.

I have an old habit I have no wish to break: that of sharing great music here, every day.

I also have no intention of breaking my old habit of thanking those who help me create these daily blogs, including YOU!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Day 3165: Cats

Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved cats.

My mother, who was very neat, did not want pets in the house, so she resisted my requests for a cat. Also, because she had a dog growing up, she couldn’t understand why I wanted a cat rather than a dog.

I couldn’t explain it to her. I just felt a connection when I looked into the eyes of a cat. I was fascinated by them, and encountering a cat anywhere always made me happy.

One day, when I was about seven years old, my father brought home a stray cat, a small tiger kitty, who had wandered into his store. I was beyond thrilled. My mother didn’t want the cat in the house so my new kitty was relegated to the garage. I remember spending hours watching that cat eat and play in the garage, so happy to finally have one.

Soon though, the cat escaped from the garage. I remember searching desperately through the neighborhood, crying as I called out for my lost kitty. When I got home, I found that my parents were frantic about my being gone so long.

My parents were particularly worried about me because I was born with a heart condition. My heart condition really needed a pacemaker, but pacemakers hadn’t been invented when I was born in 1953.

Soon after the cat in the garage ran away, I had to go into the hospital more and more as my condition got worse. The doctors tried different treatments, including yucky medication I had to take under my tongue, which speeded up my heart but made me feel really sick.

Then, when I was in the hospital for observation at age 10, I had a heart stoppage. The doctors decided to implant a pacemaker, which they had been avoiding because pacemakers were so new and really too big for a small kid like me.

When I woke up from the heart surgery that was required to implant pacemakers back then, I said to my mother, “What have I got to look forward to if I don’t have a cat?” Tears streaming down her face, she promised me a cat.

After I had recovered enough from my surgery (which by the way, was on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was killed), my dad took me to the local vet, who had several cats there for adoption. I chose the shyest one, who was a calico kitty I named Tuffy.

Tuffy was definitely my “personal medicine,” helping me heal and be tough enough to endure the many surgeries I needed to undergo as my pacemakers broke in every conceivable way.

Since then, I often choose shy cats who remind me of Tuffy. Our cat Harley is one of those cats. Harley, even though I feed him every morning, much prefers my husband Michael. Harley avoids me when he can, although he sometimes affords me the privilege of patting him for two seconds. Mostly, he run away from me, like I’m the enemy.

Our new cat, Joan, is not shy. I chose her because she gets along with cats, humans, AND dogs. My husband Michael loves dogs so I’m thinking there MIGHT be a dog in our future. And because Joan is not an alpha cat, she and Harley get along surprisingly well.

Joan is very rambunctiousness and always wants to play. Harley tolerates that, keeping her away with a hiss when he wants more personal space.

Last weekend, Joan invaded my personal space, clawing my nose when she wanted to wake me at 2 AM. Because I take anticoagulant medication (required because of the mechanical heart valve I got in 2016), Joan gave me a nose bleed that just wouldn’t quit.

So here I am, in the second week of my long-awaited vacation from work, stuck at home with a painful balloon up my nose and two cats.

And you know what? I still love cats and always will.

Do you see any cats in my images for today?

I was kind of hoping that today would be National Cat Day, but to us cat lovers, EVERY day is cat day.

I wonder if I’ll find anything on YouTube if I search for “cats”?

Thanks to all the cool cats who have helped me get through the tough days, including YOU.

Categories: cats, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Day 3163: Say Yes to the Mess

“Say Yes to the Mess” is something I put on a t-shirt years ago.

I chose to wear that t-shirt yesterday, partly because we’re all imperfectly messy human beings, trying to deal with the mess we’ve made — climate change, racism, pandemics, wars, etc. etc.

Little did I know that I would be wearing that same t-shirt to the Emergency Room this morning because of the first nosebleed I’ve ever gotten in my life, which started last night at 2 AM and is showing no signs of abating as I’m writing this.

What a mess!

I’ve had no choice but to say yes to many messes in my life. Saying “yes” doesn’t mean I like the messes; saying “yes” means I accept the reality of them and do my best to deal with them while staying positive. It also means accepting the intrinsic messiness of being alive while figuring out the next achievable step to move forward.

Let’s say yes to the mess in today’s images as I wait for a doctor to show up to stop my current mess.

A doctor just came in and we’re figuring out a way to say yes to this mess and to get me home soon!

Say yes to a mess of gratitude from me to you!

Categories: health care, heart condition, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

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