Posts Tagged With: living with adult congenital heart disease

Day 1316: Clarity

When life is confusing, I am often looking for clarity. And to be clear, I often find life confusing.

Is there clarity in the photos I took yesterday?





















When I’m asking if my photos have clarity, I’m not wondering about how focused they are.  Instead, I’m wondering if my photos communicate clearly what I was trying to capture around me.

For more clarity here and now, I shall clearly tell you that

  1. I am looking forward to reading about Alexander Hamilton, especially when I am recovering from heart surgery in September.
  2. My cat Oscar likes to bite my feet in the morning.
  3. I saw my son Aaron (who has red hair and a beard) perform in his last ever Arlington Children’s Theater production yesterday, which was the musical Anything Goes.
  4. Arlington Children’s Theater, at the end of their summer production, does a special honoring of all the seniors who are leaving.
  5. Aaron is a senior, leaving for the University of Edinburgh in September.
  6. When my boyfriend Michael saw one of the photos I took yesterday, he made a sarcastic comment about Aaron cleaning his room.
  7. I took one photo yesterday with the intent of sharing a particular song from Anything Goes.

For more clarity, here’s that one photo …


… and here‘s the song:

Be like the bluebird, please, and leave something behind here.

For even more clarity, thanks to all who clearly helped me create this post and to you — of course! — for whatever clarity you can bring.

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

Day 1234: Travels

As my eye travels over the title, above, I notice that my daily blogging travels have brought us to a particularly interesting number.

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … Ready for more travels in this post?

The people who included my therapy group in their travels yesterday chose the topic “travels” as the focus of the work of the group. The group traveled to that choice after traveling to many other important issues, including family, being present, depression, anger, comfort, discomfort, comfort foods,  connections, being alone, difficult people, optimism, fear, finances, delays, luck, judgment, letting go of judgment, what we can control, and time.

During the time of that group, my mind traveled to all these places:




I hope you don’t feel lost as I share other photos I’ve taken on my recent travels.











When my boyfriend Michael, my son Aaron, and I traveled to Starbucks last night for coffee and no cookies, my traveling iPhone took these pictures of Aaron with the New York Times:


Because Aaron has never picked up one of those before in his travels, Aaron is asking Michael, “How do you operate a newspaper?”

How about a little traveling music?

At this time next week, I’ll be traveling around  the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, to consult with another cardiologist about my rambin’ and traveling heart. My heart hopes for many more wonderful travels ahead.

Good travels to all who helped me create this traveling post and to you — of course!  — for including this blog in your travels today.

Categories: blogging, group therapy, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 1087: Christmas Colors

Yesterday, I noticed these  Christmas colors at the hospital where I do group and individual therapy.


That inspired me to notice more Christmas colors throughout the day.


Sometimes I get distracted by colors.  For example, yesterday I picked up the wrong Christmas-colored cup at Starbucks when I thought I heard a barista call my name.


In green-and-red Boston, “Ian” sounds a lot like “Ann.”  I returned that purloined Pumpkin Spiced Latte, and here’s my correctly colored cup of Chai Tea:


Does anybody — in Boston or elsewhere — know the history of Christmas colors being green and red?

I suppose I could use Christmas-colored Google to find out, but I’d rather show you some other colors I saw yesterday:








Which colors seem the most like Christmas, to you?  Right now, I’d choose those black-and-white hand-written thoughts, from my long-time friend Jerry.

Finally, here’s gratitude and a Christmas song with colors for Jerry, for  you, and for all my other readers.



Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism, staying healthy | Tags: , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Day 1086: Hard to read

Yesterday, on my drive in to work at a major Boston teaching hospital, I saw somebody holding a sign that you might find hard to read.


Sometimes, I find people’s expressions hard to read, too.

I hope it’s not hard to read, here, that lately I’ve been thinking that maybe my visions of very large faces who all look very angry might  be faces hovering over me — after I was born with a congenital heart condition — that were actually worried, not angry. After all, grown-up faces can be hard to read, for a very young child.

Which of the following photos do you find hard to read? Which are easy to read?






If anything here is hard to read, please ask for my assistance.

Are the lyrics for this song (which first appeared in my blog post titled “Everything you need to know about the world”) hard to read?

The rules for “The Voice” try-outs (which are not hard to read) indicate that I should prepare five songs to sing in Philadelphia, two months from now.  I’m thinking I might attempt a reading and a singing of  “Mad World.”  I wonder if I’ll be able to read the expressions on people’s faces then.

Thanks to all my wonderful co-workers (who are easy and a pleasure to read), to grownups and children, to red, green, and pink cupcakes,  to all the people responsible for creating “Mad World,” to judges everywhere, and to you — of course! — for reading this blog today.


Categories: health care, personal growth, photojournalism, taking a risk | Tags: , , , , , , | 25 Comments

Day 976: Reflections

Here’s my first reflection of this post:

What we reflect out into the world — and what we see reflected back at us — is a reflection of our inner, sometimes hidden reflections.

Here’s my second reflection of this post:

That’s a lot of reflection, so early in the morning.

Yesterday morning, after I had reflected some morning reflections in my 975th consecutive daily-reflections blog post, I saw this reflected in my iPhone:

That reflects how much construction is going on around here.

At my office, we reflected about the reflections of anger, and how internal reflections of anger can be distorted:

After four hours of therapeutic reflections at work, I had these reflections:

  • It was my co-worker Mary’s last day before her retirement (which will give  her precious and deserved time to relax and reflect) and — despite both of us previously reflecting that we wanted to meet for some goodbye reflections — I had to leave work at noon, without her image reflecting in my eyes. My sadness about Mary’s leaving reflects her kindness and her beautiful nature.
  • I was about to see myself reflected, in a medical sort of way, for four hours of pacemaker/defibrillator tests, echocardiograms, and reflections with my cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, who has been reflecting with me since 1980 about how to reflect the best treatment towards my strangely reflecting heart.
  • Since birth, I’ve often reflected about  how to reflect on that strangely reflecting heart of mine, which reflects blood back to my body through very unusual pathways.
  • Since November 2014, many different Boston cardiologists have reflected back mixed, contradictory, and sometimes dire reflections about my prognosis, which reflects how rare and confusing my reflecting heart is.
  • Perhaps those mixed medical reflections have been reflected in some of my daily blog posts, since then.
  • Four months ago, after much reflection, my team at Tufts Medical Center and I decided on a cardiac procedure that would reflect the least amount of harm onto my strangely reflecting heart and which might extend my years of reflection on this amazingly reflecting earth.

Since what we notice reflects our inner reflections, I reflected these reflecting images onto my iPhone after I left work yesterday and went to my medical appointments, sometimes lost in reflection:

Finally, at 3:30 PM — after reflecting with pacemaker experts and technologists and students in the echocardiography lab (not pictured) — I was reflecting, with my wonderfully reflecting cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem, upon my strangely reflecting heart. These afternoon reflections included the worries and hopes we’ve reflected together during our mutually reflecting medical partnership for over 35 reflection-filled years. The focus of those reflections  reflected the uncertainties of the last year. I also reflected with Dr. Salem some fear that how difficult it is for me to climb steps and hills might reflect poorly on my heart (although it might just reflect my age, the need for more exercise, and/or how strangely my backwards-reflecting heart operates).

As Dr. Salem and I reflected together, our tones probably reflected the fact that we were waiting for the echocardiography lab to reflect back some important findings, including:

  • my strangely reflecting ventricle’s ejection fraction, which would reflect whether I was heading toward heart failure and
  • how much my strangely located and reflecting  tricuspid valve was leaking.

At this point in this reflecting blog post, I could include many more reflections reflecting all the topics Dr. Salem and I reflected upon yesterday, but I’m reflecting that you probably want the reflections from the echo lab, as soon as possible.  There’s no reason why your wait to find out those reflecting results should reflect the time Dr. Salem and I waited together.  Therefore …

I think those facial expressions reflect the happiness reflected in the room when the echocardiogram reflected that

  1. My ejection fraction is no worse and maybe a little bit BETTER, reflecting no dreaded downward trend in the functioning of my strangely reflecting heart and
  2. My leaky valve is reflecting blood just the way it has for years, reflecting stability.

Dr. Salem’s reflection to me: “If these numbers stay like this, you should be around for a while. ”

Pretty good reflections, right?

After much reflection on what music to include in this reflection-filled post,  I choose to reflect my love and esteem for my co-worker Mary, like so:

Take 6 (singing “Mary”) reflects THE best a capella singing I have ever heard, in my 62 years of reflection in this world.

If you express your reflections on this post, I shall reflect back a reply, after due reflection.

Reflections of gratitude towards Dr. Deeb Salem, Mary, Take 6, everybody else whose reflections helped me write this post, and you — of course! — for all your reflections, here and now.

Categories: gratitude, inspiration, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

Day 975: Steps

In my work as a psychotherapist, I encourage people to identify and take achievable steps, towards where they wish to be.

Last night, I noticed several steps (some more achievable than others).


These days, steps — if they’re going up — remain a challenge for my very unusual heart, despite surgical steps we took six months ago. I’m not sure what the next steps are for me and my doctors, but I’m sure we’ll all be stepping up to address those, during my four hours of cardiac appointments and tests this afternoon (which may include climbing hospital steps to see how my heart and implantable cardiac device step up to that challenge).

Before I step into any meetings with my very in-step medical team,  I always take the step of writing down questions and concerns.  I believe that kind of preparation  helps people take next steps, wisely.

Step up — before I step out the door — to all the notes I’ve taken steps to write down, so far,  to prepare for stepping into lots of appointments and tests today:

Next steps?

By the way, this is not one of the doors I’ll be stepping out of today:

My next step is to share a song about steps.

“Step One” from Kinky Boots was what I was listening to last night, when I was taking steps to capture steps (and one door)  for today’s blog.

I shall now take another achievable step, and include some steps from a performance of “Step One” on Broadway:

What steps might you choose, today?

I need to step up, now, and thank all those who helped me take the necessary steps to create today’s post and you — of course! — for stepping up to read it.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , | 40 Comments

Day 959: Really Scottish

Yesterday, my son Aaron, his aunt Deborah, and I went on a 12-hour  tour of the Scottish Highlands, which was

… really Scottish of us.

In reality,

  • I’m not Scottish at all,
  • Deborah and Aaron may have some Scottish blood, and
  • Aaron looks

… really Scottish, don’t you agree?

Even though I am 0% Scottish, I know more about being really Scottish today than I did yesterday. On the bus tour,  I learned the following:

  • Stirling, a town north of Edinburgh, means “endeavor” or “striving.”
  • The horse-head statues we saw on our first day in Edinburgh were inspired by two gigantic statues on the side of the road to the Highlands.


  • The Scottish  Highlands have their own strangely adorable cows.


  • The Scottish Highlands have their own strangely mysterious beauty.





  • Loch Ness is so deep and so large that the water there is more than the water held by all the other bodies of water in the United Kingdom, combined.
  • “Ben” means mountain and Ben Nevis (which means “mountain with head in the clouds”) is the tallest point in the United Kingdom.

  • Hot chocolate in the Highlands does NOT have the requisite white and pink marshmallows found in Edinburgh.

  •  No matter how much beauty is all around, certain 0% Scottish people like to take certain types of photos.




  • The word “Inver”  — as in “Inverness” —  means “mouth” (and certain people who look Scottish and are born of mothers who are 0% Scottish go all artistic when asked to take pictures in the Scottish Highlands).

Any really Scottish or any other questions?

I leaned more really Scottish facts yesterday, but I need to get ready to meet two people whom I believe are really Scottish and who both have the same extraordinarily unusual congenital heart condition as I do.

Before I end this post, here‘s some really Scottish music Deborah and I were singing along to yesterday on the tour bus.

Really Scottish thanks to my son Aaron, to my excellent ex-sister-in-law Deborah, to the bus driver Peter, to Alastair McDonald, to all the Lochs,  Bens, and other amazing things we saw yesterday, and to you — of course! — no matter how Scottish you are.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Day 873: Just Deserts

I just looked up “just deserts,” because I believe we all deserve a good definition today.

According to wiktionary, “just deserts” means:

A punishment or reward that is considered to be what the recipient deserved.

Wiktionary also believes we deserve to know this:

Usage notes

  • Deserts here is the plural of desert, meaning “that which one deserves.” “Desert” is now archaic and rarely used outside this phrase.
  • The spelling just desserts is non-standard. It is sometimes used as a pun in, for example, restaurant names.


  • payback, poetic justice, comeuppance

Now that you’ve read through that definition, how about the just deserts of some of my photography from yesterday?



At this point in my day yesterday,  I realized that just deserts, for me, included some delicious ice cream.

Your just deserts include knowing that Boston Massachusetts USA is  just desert-ly famous for offering delicious ice cream  all year round (despite the harsh winters,  which are NOT just deserts for its many residents).

However, I did not get my just deserts in Boston yesterday, because — no matter where I looked — delicious ice cream was just not to be found.

While searching for my just deserts — and  encountering  a veritable desert of ice cream — I saw all this:






… but no ice cream, which I found particularly ridiculous, because I was mostly searching on

… and wasn’t Louis Pasteur somebody who helped us all get our just deserts of ice cream?

I believe that, as human beings, our just deserts include help from others, especially  when we’re trying to get our needs met. Therefore, I asked Robert

… from

… why I was having so much trouble getting my just deserts of ice cream, especially in an area with so many hospitals, where people justly deserved that kind of comfort. Robert  told me the only place to get ice cream nearby was

I then replied, justly (I believe), that our just deserts included better ice cream than that. When Robert agreed with me, I suggested he open up an ice cream place and get his just deserts of lots of money, but Robert thinks he won’t get his just deserts that way.  Here’s Robert

offering me the just desert of some ice cream he would keep frozen at Beantown Burrito just for me.

I don’t think I deserve that!

Here are more just deserts I deserved to see yesterday, after my work day was done:


While I didn’t get my just desert of ice cream after lunch yesterday, I DID get that just desert after dinner, last night.

Which of those just deserts do you think I — or you — might deserve?

What music do you think would be a just desert for this post?

This was a musical just desert for me, yesterday, as I was snapping some of the photos for this Just Deserts post:

The first three words of “Mammal” by They Might Be Giants are

Glass of milk.

Is that not a just desert?

Just deserts to Louis Pasteur, Robert, the Longwood Medical and Fenway Park areas of Boston, Rancatore’s Ice Cream, They Might Be Giants, Katie Cunningham for the “Mammal” video, and everybody else whose just deserts include gratitude from me, including you!

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 870: What are you taking a picture of?

Yesterday, I took this picture of a trash barrel being rolled —  by a guy, pictured on the left — near Boston’s Fenway Park.

Immediately after I took a picture of that, the guy asked me the question du jour.

What are you taking a picture of?

My immediate response, as I pointed at the trash barrel, was this:


… which was an interesting communication, when you think about it.

Imagine what might happen, if somebody were to point toward a stranger and say:


Here’s what happened to me, yesterday. I asked him if I could also take a picture of his t-shirt.

While I think my answer left something to be desired, I believe his question

What are you taking a picture of?

… is a very good one.  So, I am going to invite all my readers, today, to similarly question the other pictures I took yesterday.

Ask yourself, what WAS I taking a picture of?


What was I taking a picture of, right there? That’s Fanon — from my workplace garage — showing his reaction to how I look to him, after my recent cardiac-related surgery.

What else was I taking a picture of, after I took a picture of Fanon?



If, while you were reading this post, you wondered

What ARE you taking a picture of?

… or you thought


… or there was anything else you’d like to share,  I hope I have the option of taking a picture of any comment you make, below.

Hey! What’s Deborah Harry —  from the group Blondie —  taking a picture of, in this 1978 performance of “Picture This”?

What might you take a picture of, now?

As we used to say when I was a kid:

Take a picture, it’ll last longer.

Can you picture me now, thanking (1) everybody who helped me create this post and (2) you?

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 28 Comments

Day 869: Jerks

At my appointment yesterday morning, with Dr. Estes at the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center of Boston’s Tufts Medical Center,  it became obvious that today’s post should be called “Jerks.”

That’s NOT because I think Dr. Estes is a jerk — quite the contrary. Dr. Estes is the opposite of a jerk. (Am I a jerk for not knowing the right word for opposite-of-jerk? Would you be a jerk if you knew that word and didn’t share it here with the rest of us?)

No, I realized that today’s  post should be titled “Jerks” because:

  1. I could have felt like a jerk for jerking a little with anxiety over the weekend about how swollen my new pacemaker/ defibrillator was, after my implantation surgery two weeks ago.
  2.  Dr. Estes reassured me that my knee-jerk, worst-case fear — that the implantation site was infected — was not true.
  3. I wasn’t being a complete jerk asking to be seen by him yesterday, since the site really was quite swollen.
  4. The swelling is due to the increased jerking of my arm (as I am returning to normal movements), combined with my need to be on anticoagulants because the upper part of my heart is constantly jerking with atrial fibrillation.
  5. I can feel like a jerk if (a) I bother a doctor for no reason AND (b) I don’t bother a doctor when I need to, which doesn’t leave me a lot of room to feel non-jerky.
  6. When Dr. Estes asked me to assess my return to work  (full-time, starting just one week after the surgery), I replied, “Work is great, except for the jerks.”
  7. Dr. Estes jerked a little with suppressed laughter as he gave me this medical advice in response:  “Maybe when the jerks are giving you a hard time, you can …” and he mimed grabbing the shoulder location of an implanted device and jerking with cardiac distress.
  8. When I told Dr. Estes that — ever since the May 4th surgery — my heart beating can cause  a strong jerk in my rib cage, depending upon my position, he said, “Avoid those positions.”
  9. Dr. Estes didn’t jerk with surprise or treat me like a jerk  when I  reminded him about this old joke:

Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this.
Doctor: Then don’t do that. 

The whole time that Dr. Estes and I  were taking about jerks, I was thinking about this Gary Larson cartoon, which I told my friend Maxine about, two days ago: 


Do you see any jerks (who make life interesting, according to that Gary Larson cartoon) in the photos I jerkily took yesterday, after my morning appointment with Dr. Estes?


Actually, I am the one being the jerk in that last photo, calling out, “Hey, Jerks!” to the supremely non-jerky Jan and Arvetta at Starbucks, just to get a good “Jerk” photo for today’s post.

Any evidence of jerks in these photos, also from yesterday?


I have a question about those last two photos. Do you think my boyfriend Michael was a jerk for leaving me a yummy meal of bluefish to microwave for supper, because he was working last night helping his brother John?

The final three “Jerk” photos from yesterday show my son Aaron rehearsing his dramatic monologue for a play audition tonight:


Aaron (right) is playing Biff Loman to Oscar’s Willy Loman, and his reading got better after he used the method of saying out loud  to himself before the monologue, “Oscar’s a jerk!”

Speaking of Aaron’s audition, he’ll be performing a punk classic about a famous jerk:

“Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads is a great try-out song for Green Day’s musical, American Idiot, don’t you think?

I’d obviously be a jerk at this point if I didn’t thank Dr. Estes, Gary Larson, Maxine,  Jan, Arvetta, Aaron, Oscar, Michael, Arthur Miller (for the play Death of a Salesman), Talking Heads, and everybody else who helped me create this jerky post, today.*

* What a jerk! I forgot to thank YOU.

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

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