Posts Tagged With: living with a congenital heart condition

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

Day 3146: Guilty pleasures

My guilty pleasures include chocolate, mac & cheese, watching old game shows on TV, blogging, tweeting, and sharing my latest images with you.

The Daily Bitch never looks guilty about her pleasures, so I’m going to follow her example. No guilt about pleasures!

Here’s what I find on YouTube when I search for “guilty pleasures”:

What are your thoughts and feelings about this “guilty pleasures” post?

It’s a guiltless pleasure for me to thank all who visit this daily blog, including YOU!!

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 3095: It’s never what you expect

My husband Michael, who exceeds my expectations, often says “It’s never what you expect.”

It’s never what you expect on Twitter.

It’s never what you expect, and based on that last tweet, you wouldn’t expect that one of my most important posts of the last eight-and-a-half years (and I never expected I would blog for more than a year) is titled “Very Unique.”

Is it never what you expect when I share my photos from the day before?

It’s never what you expect, and I expected to see a photo of the amazing meal Michael prepared last night — delicious vegetarian meat loaf with mushroom sauce, couscous, and vegetables — but apparently I fucked that up.

Here’s what I find when I search YouTube for “it’s never what you expect”:

If you were expecting some music here today, it’s never what you expect.

When I taught at Boston University over thirty years ago, I never expected that one of my students from back then would ask to have lunch with me today. Just a few months ago, I never expected that I would be dining out in a restaurant again.

It’s never what you expect and who knows what comments I’ll find when I check back later?

It’s never what you expect and how do people expect me to end my posts?

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Day 3078: It’s No Lie

It’s no lie that I am

  • going to meet up with blogger Mark Bialczak, his dear wife Karen, and his sweet dog Ellie B. on Cape Cod today,
  • looking forward to the weekend,
  • keeping this blog going for the 3078th day in a row,
  • wanting you to understand that my impressive blogging streak does include making sure that my then-boyfriend, now-husband Michael wrote three entries after my open heart/valve replacement surgery in 2016, and
  • terrible at lying.

.

It’s no lie that it helps to know that you are not alone — that’s why I love being a group therapist (and that’s no lie either).

It’s no lie that my coping strategies, as we all deal with the pandemic and politics, include blogging, singing, dancing, walking, talking, eating, and tweeting.

.

It’s no lie that I’m no expert on lots of things, including Brazilians.

It’s no lie that Mark Bialczak and I both love Steely Dan and it’s no lie that I was singing and dancing to this in my neighborhood yesterday:

It’s no lie that I end each blog post with gratitude, so thanks to all who help me blog every day, including YOU!

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

Day 3043: Whatever doesn’t kill me

Who said “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?

It didn’t kill me to discover that it was Friedrich Nietzsche.

It didn’t kill me to finally spell “Friedrich Nietzsche” right in that previous paragraph.

Here are others things that didn’t kill me:

  • being born with a rare heart condition,
  • spending lots of time in the hospital when I was kid,
  • ridiculous hospital rules which prevented my parents from staying with me,
  • a few awful nurses and doctors,
  • medicine that made me sick,
  • many surgeries,
  • relying on cardiac pacemakers since age 10,
  • the assassinations during the 60’s,
  • bullies at school,
  • mean or incompetent teachers,
  • bad leaders,
  • bad weather,
  • bad food,
  • choking on a piece of hard candy I accidentally swallowed while laughing,
  • car accidents,
  • scary plane trips,
  • scary movies,
  • scary people, including a rapist,
  • jobs that didn’t fit my skills or interests,
  • walking across a frozen river,
  • my mistakes,
  • other people’s mistakes,
  • traveling by myself,
  • not being able to swim,
  • three bouts of endocarditis because of a leaky heart valve,
  • valve replacement surgery,
  • public speaking,
  • public singing,
  • mountains,
  • valleys,
  • depression,
  • anxiety,
  • PTSD,
  • suicidal thoughts,
  • rejection,
  • disrespect,
  • sexism,
  • anti-Semitism,
  • ageism,
  • COVID-19, and
  • everything and everybody else I’ve encountered in my long life, including what you see in today’s images.

The Daily Bitch Calendar kills me (in a good way).

Here’s Finger Eleven with “Whatever Doesn’t Kill Me”:

It doesn’t kill me to express gratitude, so thanks to all who help me create these daily posts, including YOU!

Categories: heart condition, life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Day 3011: What would you like to clear from your system?

Yesterday, on Twitter and Facebook, I got this out of my system:

Responses included

  • worrying,
  • anxiety,
  • guilt,
  • perfectionism,
  • panicking,
  • urgency,
  • uncertainty,
  • repression,
  • resentment,
  • too much busyness, and
  • my own prejudices.

Every day, I clear those from my system by blogging first thing in the morning.

Now I’m going to clear images from my iPhone system by sharing them with you.

Decades ago, when I was dealing with upsetting medical news about my very unusual heart, I went to a percussion class and cleared fear, anger, resentment, panicking, uncertainty, and worry from my system by wildly drumming along to “The Dancer” by Stanley Clarke.

If you want to clear unexpressed thoughts or feelings from your system, you can do so in the comments section, below.

As always, I’ve got a lot of gratitude in my system.

Categories: life during the pandemic, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

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