Posts Tagged With: living with a heart condition

Day 2211: Hanging on for dear life

If you hang on until the end of this blog post, you’ll see the photo that inspired today’s post title.

I like the title “Hanging on for dear life” because I’ve been hanging on for almost sixty-six years and life is very dear to me.    I also like that title, here and now, because life can sometimes seem precarious, especially with global warming reports, the current political situation, the stresses inherent during the holiday (and exam) season, interpersonal conflicts, and a fire alarm going off during a group therapy session.

Hang on, dear readers!  Here are all my photos from yesterday:

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Work, blogging, and important relationships keep me hanging on.

What keeps you hanging on?

Thanks to all who keep me hanging on, including you!

 

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Day 2195: What’s allowed

Because I often think about what’s allowed in this world, I just searched WordPress for any previous posts I might have written on this subject, because that’s allowed.

I can now allow, aloud, that I was surprised that the only post WordPress allowed in that “What’s allowed” search was Day 717: Interrupting.  Four years ago, I allowed myself to write that looooong post (which features, doctors, cows, and lots of interrupting) when I was dealing with some very confusing medical issues.  Writing about those medical issues daily and receiving helpful and supportive feedback from my readers allowed me to navigate through them.  Thank goodness all that was allowed.

So, what allowed WordPress to find a connection between “What’s Allowed” and “Interrupting” today?   I am allowing myself to speculate that interrupting, according to WordPress, is something that’s allowed. Therefore, I’m allowing myself to interrupt this post to share my photos from yesterday.

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According to those photos, it’s allowed to

  • get irritated with technology (and other things),
  • dress animals in outfits,
  • be welcoming,
  • gobble until you wobble,
  • use cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia,
  • make it all work,
  • spend four days in Fenway, and
  • appreciate Prince

… but it’s NOT allowed to go into stores with animals and bare feet (although maybe bare other things are allowed).

Sharing music is allowed, so here’s Prince with I Would Die 4 U.

While I wouldn’t exactly die 4 u to comment, I hope u know that all your thoughts and feelings about what’s allowed are allowed in the comments section, below.

Gratitude is always allowed here, so thanks to all who allowed me to create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1858: Falling

Ever since I’ve been on anticoagulant medication  (for most of the time I’ve been writing this blog), I’ve been afraid of falling, so I take great care not to fall.

Yesterday, despite my efforts not to fall, I felt myself falling on my walk to work.  I tried not to fall, but you can’t fight city hall and sometimes you can’t fight a fall.

As I was falling and I saw the cold, hard sidewalk rushing up to meet me, I thought,

  • Ooops!
  • I didn’t expect this.
  • I hope I won’t bruise too much.
  • I’m probably going to feel this for a while.
  • I bet this looks interesting to other people.

After falling, I stayed down, checking myself.  I was glad I hadn’t hit my head or my Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD). I didn’t think I had broken anything. I couldn’t see any bruising.  People in cars rolled down their windows and asked, “Are you all right?” I replied, “I THINK so.”   A woman walking behind me asked if I was okay and she helped me get up off the sidewalk.   She said, “Did you slip on the ice?”  We looked around and didn’t see any ice.  I said, “I think I just caught my toe on something.”  Everybody else I told about falling yesterday asked, “Did you slip on the ice?”  I could have easily fallen into a white lie and said, “Yes,” but lying is not one of my fallings.

An hour before the falling, I had called to make an appointment to see a doctor about the ongoing pain around my ICD, so I had the relief of knowing I would see a doctor later that day.  And because I naturally fall into trying to look at the bright side, I thought, “Well, maybe the pain from this fall will distract me from the other pain.”

And it did.  As the morning went on, my falling resulted in increasing pain in my shoulder. It hurt to draw this on the whiteboard in my Wednesday morning group:

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Because many members of the group had many obligations and worries falling on them, I suggested that they draw a protective circle around themselves and write down the things that were bothering them outside the circle.  I invited them to include the realities of the present moment inside the circle with them.

Inside my circle, I wrote “warmth,” “safety,” and “pain” among other things.  Outside the circle, I wrote “falling,”” “hard sidewalks,” and “pain” among other things.

Since falling, I’ve seen a doctor and had an X-ray.  There are no breaks or dislocations. I’m using ice and Extra Strength Tylenol to ease the pains from my falling.

I’m falling into a prediction that I’ll be feeling pain on my birthday tomorrow but I’ll also be feeling joy for having the strength to get up, again, after falling.

Here’s a song I heard somebody singing at The Voice try-outs last Saturday:

 

While you listen to Alicia Keys singin’ “Fallin’,” here are more photos I took after falling:

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Gotta go ice my shoulder and go to work. Plan for the day: Avoid Falling.

As usual, I’m falling into gratitude for all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — for YOU.

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Categories: group therapy, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 1787: Progress

I often tell people in therapy that it’s important to acknowledge and validate progress, especially their own.

Therefore, I’m going to acknowledge and validate progress in several areas.

Michael sent me the three photos he took for me on Saturday.

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I am having a pain-free reaction this year to November 22, the anniversary of the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy and also my first heart surgery at age 10 (progressively blogged about here, here, here, here, and here).

For now, when I have my teeth cleaned (as I am today), I take only a single  pill of antibiotics instead of having an intravenous infusion  (progressively blogged about here and here).

Because I got my own INR monitor last week, I can test my blood levels at home instead of going into the hospital every few weeks to manage my anticoagulant medication.

There is progress in women feeling safer to speak up about sexual harassment.

I continue to progress in taking photos for this blog.

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I hope we can make progress towards peace.

Here’s “Progress” by Mutemath:

I shall now progress in giving thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Day 1407: Enough

As if other people aren’t asking you enough questions these days, I have another one for you:

Do you ever feel like saying “Enough”?

This morning, when I woke up sore from my third surgical procedure in 45 days, facing one more day before the U.S. Presidential election, adjusting to another time change, looking at more than enough new emails in my inbox, having enough things to take care of today, not having enough energy on stairs, and recently receiving this mailing from the Mayo Clinic …

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… I said to myself, “Enough!”

If, at this point, you don’t have enough information about what I’ve been going through lately,  you could read some of my recent blog posts. But, honestly, I don’t know if you have enough time to do that.

Now, I know  I have enough things to be grateful for in my life, but sometimes I wonder whether we give ourselves enough time to just stop and say, “Enough!”

Have I written enough to make my point?

Because this post isn’t random enough, I want to tell you that I recently told my boyfriend Michael (who is more than enough for me) that if I ran for President of the United States, I thought this would be enough of a platform to get me elected:

  1.  Enough with the time/clock changes! We’re going to pick one and stay with it!
  2. Enough with advertising holidays before we’ve gone through the most recent one! For example, no Thanksgiving advertising until after Halloween, and no Christmas advertising until after Thanksgiving!

Do you think that platform would be enough to get me elected?  If not, I have more than enough other ideas (including ENOUGH WITH THE UNASKED-FOR UPDATES TO SOFTWARE FOR OUR DEVICES!)

Let’s see whether I have enough new photos on my iPhone (which, by the way, has a cracked screen because it’s taken enough abuse from me):

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Do you think there are enough cat photos on the internet?  And if I haven’t given you enough information about the photos above, Michael conducted another cooking lesson with my son Aaron (who’s far enough away in Edinburgh) via phone last night, making enough delicious vegetarian chili for us.

There’s enough music on YouTube, including these two songs (here and here):

I certainly spent enough time dancing to that first song in discos, decades ago.

As if this all weren’t enough, WordPress is having trouble saving this post. Will I have enough time to publish it successfully before I have to leave for cardiac rehab?

If you have enough to say about this “Enough!” post, I hope you know enough to comment, below.

And, yes, I do have enough gratitude for all those who helped me create today’s blog post and to you — of course! — for having enough time and energy to visit here, today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Day 1401: What is the inspiration?

What is the inspiration for today’s blog post title?

It’s this card, which the inspiring Carla from cardiac rehab wrote for me, yesterday:

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That is the inspiration for me to share this definition for “inspiration.”

in·spi·ra·tion
ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
“Helen had one of her flashes of inspiration”
synonyms: creativity, inventiveness, innovation, ingenuity, genius, imagination, originality
2. the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

As you draw in your next breath, pause a minute and think about this:

What is the inspiration for you?

That question is the inspiration for me to list some inspirations, here and now:

  1. My late parents.
  2. My son Aaron.
  3. My boyfriend Michael.
  4. My family.
  5. My friends.
  6. Other kind people I encounter, every day.
  7. My work.
  8. My patients.
  9. The beauty I see all around me.
  10. Music.
  11. Things that make me laugh.
  12. Bravery in others.
  13. Writing.
  14. My readers.
  15. Delicious and healthy food.
  16. Self care.
  17. Nature.
  18. Animals.
  19. My doctors.
  20. Hope for the future.
  21. Acceptance of what is.
  22. Faith in myself and others
  23. Learning new things.
  24. Home.
  25. Taking time to heal.
  26. My iPhone camera.

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One thing I photographed yesterday was the inspiration for Carla from Cardiac Rehab to talk, non-stop, for several minutes. Can I inspire you to guess what inspired her so?

Carla’s inspiration was …

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… Mort, the hedgehog, who is riding high in a surgical mask, who always wears that hat, who gets dressed up in various outfits,  and who, one morning, was all packed to go to Las Vegas but “he missed his flight.” Nevertheless, Mort is the still the inspiration for many inspiring people who attend cardiac rehab at Mount Auburn Hospital.

What is the inspiration for my musical selection this morning?  I just searched YouTube for “inspiration music” and found this:

I’m hoping this post is the inspiration for you to leave a comment, below.

For all the inspirations who helped me create today’s post and for you — of course! — here’s one more inspiration from yesterday:

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Categories: inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 35 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 1384: Too ____ To Be True

About a week ago, I wrote a post about my very recent open heart surgery and how the outcome seemed too good to be true.

Today, I’m writing another post about a development that seems too weird/unlucky/odd/scary/infuriating/ distressing/unfair/sucky/ridiculous to be true.

Yesterday, I got a voicemail message from one of my too good to be true cardiologists, Dr. Mark Estes, requesting that I call him as soon as possible on his cell phone. This seemed too unusual to be true, since I’ve never gotten a message like that during all the decades of my working with Dr. Estes.

When I called Dr. Estes, he picked up immediately and told me this, which seemed too bizarre to be true:

Ann, St. Jude, the manufacturer of your pacemaker/defibrillator, which we implanted in you a year ago May, has  informed us that your device can suddenly  and prematurely completely lose  battery power.  We are informing all those patients with the device. You are one of seven patients we have who are completely dependent upon your ICD, so I am recommending that you have surgery to have the device replaced within the next two weeks.

I was too shocked by this unexpected news to believe it was true, but Dr. Estes did his too-calm-to-be-true best to clarify the situation, accept my reactions, and continue to push for surgery as soon as possible. It’s true that I was initially reluctant to agree to another surgery so soon, especially since my sternum/chest still feels too painful and tender to be true, three and a half weeks after my valve replacement surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Estes was too empathic and reassuring to be true, as he explained that the device replacement surgery would be day surgery and minor enough to allow me to resume my normal (?) activities a day later.

Dr. Estes suggested that I think about this too-strange-to-be-true development for a few days, while he informed my other too-good-to-be-true Boston-based medical team members about this new and too-ridiculous-to-be-true truth.

I hung up the phone and informed my boyfriend Michael and my ex-husband Leon (who had just driven me home from  another  one of my too-frequent-to-be-true medical  appointments) about this too-absurd-to-be-true necessity  for me to undergo another too-soon-to-be true surgical procedure. Michael and Leon are too-friendly-with-each-other-to-be-true, considering the complicated history there, and they were both  immediately too-sympathetic-to-be-true about this unexpected turn of events for me.

Then, I wrote a too-stunned-to-be-true post on my Facebook page, as follows:

Just found out that my pacemaker/defibrillator is being recalled and my doctors want me to have it replaced within the next two weeks. What kind of hashtag should I use for this news?

Here are the too-quick-and-empathic-to-be-true hashtag suggestions I got:

  • #defibrilatethis
  • #wtdf
  • #ohsh*t
  • #oyvey
  • #SMDH
  • #sucks
  • #thatispoop
  • #holyshit!
  • #unfairperiod
  • #annisnotaguineapig
  • #WTF?!
  • #gimmieabreak
  • #showmethemoney
  • #you’vegottobekidding
  • #It’sAlwaysSomething
  • #shoulda put in a zipper
  • #IWillSurvive
  • #areyoukidding
  • #speechless

Here was my too personal to be true suggestion for a hashtag about my too freaky to be true situation:

#INeedMyOwnTelethon

My ex-student, Chris, was my too-clever-to-be-true Facebook friend who came up with the too musical to be true hashtag above (here on too-popular-to-be-true YouTube):

 

Here are  the too-happy-to-be-true photographs I took yesterday at Mount Auburn Hospital (where I was registering for the too-awesome-to-be-true cardiac rehab program there), before I got the too-infuriating-to-be-true news from Dr. Estes:

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And here’s the too-delicious-to-be-true meal my boyfriend Michael cooked for me, last night, after I got the too-overwhelming-to-be-true phone call from Dr. Estes:

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Because I am having trouble sleeping tonight because of this too-outrageous-to-be-true need for more surgery so soon after my September 21 valve replacement, I just sent this email to my too-great-to-be-true Boston-based medical team:

Hi all,

Dr. Estes tells me that he recommends replacing my recalled St. Jude ICD within the next two weeks. I would like to comply with his recommendation but also feel the need to say these things:

  • My chest is still soooooo sore from the open heart surgery that the thought of another surgical violation, no matter how small, seems quite daunting to me.
  • I would like Dr. Carol Warnes and Dr. Joseph Dearani from Mayo to be informed and included in this decision process. Even though I understand that too many medical cooks can sometimes spoil the broth, adding the ingredients of their participation would help me feel better about moving forward with the plan.

 

Now that I have communicated these thoughts to my trusted Tufts team, I believe I can go back to the process of healing from the major surgery I so recently underwent.
As always, I am eager to hear any thoughts you want to share as we move forward.

All the best,
Ann

It would be too awesome to be true if you could leave a comment about this Too ____ To Be True post,  below.

I am too grateful to all those who helped me create this too-whatever-to-be-true post and to you — of course! — for reading it.  And in case you were wondering,  it’s all true!

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Day 1198: Mindful

What does the word “mindful” mean to you?

I’m mindful that I’ve asked that mindful question, many times before, to people whose minds are full of pain AND hope.

I’m mindful that “mindful” was the first thing I was mindful enough to capture on my iPhone yesterday.

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The world was filled with many other mindful things yesterday, when I was mindful enough to notice them.

Which of these mindful photos fill your mind, and why?

Here’s what I’m mindful of, right now:

  • Yesterday was the home opening game for our beloved Boston Red Sox.
  • As I walked through the crowd directly after the Red Sox game was over — mindful of how people looked, sounded, and acted — I tried to guess whether the Sox had won.
  • Despite a particularly difficult loss, people seemed okay.
  • One image I was mindful of  yesterday didn’t seem to belong with the mindful montage of photos above, so I left it out.
  • If you’re now mindful of any curiosity about that missing picture, here it is:

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I am now mindful of this: when we can, we pick and choose what we allow to fill our minds.

As always, I am mindful of how much I appreciate

  • those who helped me create this post and
  • YOU.
Categories: personal growth, photojournalism, Psychotherapy | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 981: Righteous Numbers

Yesterday, one of my particularly righteous high school classmates messaged me, asking me a  righteous question about our righteous reunion, taking place in a righteous number of days and less than two weeks:

How many people are coming?

I replied:

Number is difficult to say.

Here’s the reason her righteous question seemed righteously difficult to answer in that particularly  righteous moment: Many of our righteous classmates who’ve righteously expressed a righteous intent to attend the reunion had not sent in their righteous money, as of the righteous Friday before a righteous holiday weekend.  I am not the least self-righteous about this, because I  often wait to the last righteous minute to send  in my righteously earned  money, no matter how righteous the bill. 

Because my classmate’s question was so righteous, though, I also righteously told her the  righteous number of people who had righteously sent in their righteous $ ( according to  another righteous classmate, who’s in charge of our righteous class’s righteous cash). 

I wish I could say that righteous number of paid-up attendees was 42, since several of my righteous readers have righteously reminded me that 42 — according to righteous author Douglas Adams — is the righteous meaning of life.  The righteous reunion number I told her yesterday was not 42, but righteously close to that. 

Here’s  my righteous classmate’s righteous reply:

41 is a righteous number. This week it will be 42. 

How could  my righteous classmate so righteously know that our righteous reunion would definitely meet that righteous, meaning-of-life number? She had every right to know, because her righteous check was in the mail. 

I righteously expect the number of righteous reunion attendees will, at least, match the righteous number of my class’s years out of high school — 45. 

I think 

  • 45 years is a particularly righteous number to survive beyond high school and
  • we shall easily and righteously have 45 people at our righteous reunion. 

Actually, I think — righteously or not — that we’ll have a  number righteously higher than 42 or 45, on our righteous reunion date of September 19. However, as another righteous classmate texted me last week, when we were discussing the righteous reunion numbers:

Time will tell. 

He is so righteously right about that. 

Here’s another number I am righteously contemplating this morning:

97

That’s the number of righteously hot degrees we’re expecting in righteous Boston today.  Since the righteous high school my righteous son righteously attends has no righteous air conditioning, my son just  said to me, righteously:

Maybe I’ll wear my bathing suit to school.

I wonder if I should wear my bathing suit to my high school reunion? I could, because the righteous reunion location …
   
 
… is righteously near the ocean. 

It’s only righteous that I include a righteous number of new photos in today’s righteous post, in addition to those 2 righteous pictures. What do you, my righteous reader, guess is the righteous number of new righteous pictures I took yesterday, which was righteous Labor Day in the righteous USA?

   
   
 Was that a righteously lower number than you righteously expected?

Here’s my righteous prediction for the number of righteous readers who will comment on this righteous post:

 13

Time will tell if I am righteously right about that, too. 

Time for some righteous music for this righteous post! 

The righteous number of Gustav Mahler’s last complete symphony is 9. This is righteous movement #4:

Here’s the righteous Leonard Bernstein, taking about Mahler’s 9th symphony:

This weekend, the righteous announcer on the righteous Boston classical radio station WCRB-FM  said, about Mahler’s righteous 9th symphony:

It’s like Mahler’s farewell to the world and life 

… which struck me as particularly righteous, because of how righteous that symphony is.

According to righteous Wikipedia, Mahler

  • knew he had “a heart that was defective” when he was composing his righteous 9th,
  • kept composing and performing until the end of his life, despite his heart condition,
  • died 2 months short of his 51st birthday because of “bacterial endocarditis, a disease to which sufferers from defective heart valves were particularly prone, and for which the survival rate in pre-antibiotic days was almost zero.” 

Some of my righteous readers might understand these 4 righteous words from me:

Thank goodness for antibiotics. 

Righteous thanks to all the righteous people and things that helped  me compose this righteous post and special thanks to you — of course! — for being so righteous. 

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

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