Posts Tagged With: recovering from surgery

Day 1486: You don’t want to do that

I don’t want to do overgeneralization (or any other cognitive distortion), but most people don’t want others to tell them what they do want or don’t want to do.

I don’t want to break confidentiality, so I won’t identify the person in therapy yesterday who expressed frustration with a family member who tells others what they want, don’t want, or otherwise experience.

I don’t want to brag, but two years ago I made a t-shirt that says, “The Expert on My Own Experience.” I don’t want to give that t-shirt away, but I think my therapy patient could use that t-shirt, especially when dealing with that opinionated family member.

I don’t want to be too negative about the near future, but I posted this on Facebook last night:

I survived open heart surgery, but how will my heart survive the next four years?

You don’t want to miss  all my photos from yesterday:

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You don’t want to pay $20,078.33 for heart surgery, especially when that charge is the result of somebody entering the wrong diagnostic code.

 

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You don’t want to live on Nathan Lane, because that would be uncomfortable for both of you.

You don’t want to watch Nathan Lane in Stephen Sondheim‘s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum?  Then don’t.

 

You don’t want to leave a comment for this post? That’s okay, too.

You don’t want to go too long without expressing gratitude, so I want to thank everyone who helped me create this post and you — of course! — for wanting to visit here, now.

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Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Day 1445: What’s in store?

What’s in store for this blog post?  The usual new photos stored on my iPhone,  some thoughts and feelings  being stored in the here and now, and music that’s stored on YouTube.

What in store for the next four years?  What’s in store for this moment?  What’s in store for the moment after that?  Only everything.

People in my therapy group yesterday did not know what topic was in store for them, until we decided to write and draw about the concept of “home.”

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This present was in store for me at work:

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All these things were in store for me during the rest of the day:

 

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I didn’t know tears were in store for me, but here I am, crying, as I create this post.  Those tears were probably stored up  from my  recent open heart surgery, the additional surgery I had to undergo soon after that because of a recalled pacemaker battery, and the U.S. election.

The message that was stored on the teabag that was in store for me last night stores the truth:

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By listening you comfort me.

Here‘s the music in store today (which I listened to twice, yesterday, for comfort):

 

I wonder what comments are in store for me?

Stored up thanks to all who helped me create this post and to you — of course! — whose appreciated presence was a present in store for me today.

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

Day 1403: Ever Vigilant

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my ever vigilant doctors to replace my recalled Implantable Cardiac Device (ICD), my ever vigilant sister Ellen showed me calendars of her awesome photographs, which included this:

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Your ever vigilant blogger chose that for today’s topic, mostly because her new incision was bleeding SO MUCH last night and this morning that she was vigilant enough to return to the hospital so that her ever vigilant doctors could look at it.

That’s why your ever vigilant blogger is so late posting her latest vigilant post today. If my ever vigilant readers are worried, I want to vigilantly reassure them that I am going to be okay.

As ever, I will be vigilant about including other photos I took yesterday (in ever-vigilant chronological order):

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That ever vigilant teabag is reminding us that love has no fear and no vengeance.  With all the fearful things I’ve been dealing with lately, I LOVE that reminder.

I am ever vigilant to look for music that fits my daily blog posts. Since I’ve been “talking about my troubles” with blood, sweat, and tears lately, how about this?

 

I am ever vigilant to remember to thank those who help me create my posts (including my talented sister Ellen) and also you — of course! — for being vigilant enough to be here, now.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 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: , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Day 866: Looking up

Since my heart-related surgery 12 days ago, many things have been looking up, including me.

Almost every time I looked up where I  work last week, I saw people looking up to each other in group and individual therapy. Looking up at them, as they worked on looking up in their lives, I heard language like

“Floating”
“Rising”
“Flying”
“Staying above it all”

The language of looking up affects how we look at things, I believe.

Yesterday, I saw the following images, as I was looking up:

       

          

  
              

Looking up at those photos, I see the familiar and the unexpected. What do you see, when you are looking up?

This photo …

… which I took looking up in the cafeteria at work, reminds me that when we look up, we often see birds (and, sometimes, gluten-free food).

Speaking of birds, as I’m looking up ahead to my June audition for the  musical Follies (with music by Stephen Sondheim, whom I greatly look up to),  I’m looking up at this bird-related Sondheim song as a possible audition piece:

Looking up at that video, I wonder if I’m setting my sights (and my voice) too high with “Green Finch and Linnet Bird” from Sweeney Todd.  Things will probably look up if I imagine my audience looking up at me, while I’m singing,  with appreciation and approval.

If more upbeat music and lyrics help you look up, I just heard Los Lobos, in “A Matter of Time,”  sing

It will be all right

As I’m looking up at this post I’ve just written, I want to express something else about “looking up.”

After dealing with scary uncertainties and difficult decisions (especially about my health) — as I have the last six months — it can be difficult to put all that aside and  focus on looking up.

Things are definitely looking up today, in that regard. I suppose it was only a matter of time. 

I’m looking up, with thanks, to people I work with, to all those who help us find our way, to my fellow social worker Lauren, to worms and bots, to Fenway Park, to Wild Willie’s in Watertown Massachusetts, to Stephen Sondheim, to cast members of Sweeney Todd, to finches of all colors, to linnet and ceramic birds, to Los Lobos,  and to you — of course! — for looking up, here and now.

Categories: gratitude, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Day 861: Wildest Dreams

I saw this yesterday, while fulfilling my wildest dreams of spending all of Mother’s  Day with my 17-year-old son, Aaron:

Actually, at the time when I took that Wildest Dreams photo, Aaron was at his weekly keyboard lesson. Nevertheless,  I was still in Wildest Dreams territory:


                

 



         

Which of those photos seems the most Wildest Dreams-like, to you?

Wildest Dreams have been featuring prominently in three TV series I’ve been watching  — Louie, Shark Tank, and Mad Men —  during my recovery from surgery (which might fulfill mine and others’ wildest dreams concerning my wildest and unusual-est heart).

As I’ve been discussing with Aaron and my boyfriend Michael (both of whom often exceed my wildest dreams), the wildest dreams we have while asleep can seem wildly similar to our waking experiences.

For example, while I was sleeping without general anesthesia  during my entire 7- hour operation exactly a week ago, I had a wildest dream that the surgery was not successful. I woke up from that wildest dream to hear my not-so-wild cardiologist Dr. Estes say to me, “Ann, that went about as well as it could have,” which was Dr. Estes’s way of saying

That surgery met my wildest dreams.

Now, we’re all hoping that last week’s surgery grants our wildest dreams of no major heart surgery in my future.  Dr. Estes says there’s at least  a 50-50 chance that those wildest dreams will come true.

I’ll probably find out more about that today, when

  • The surgical staples are removed.
  • We program my new pacemaker/defibrillator for wildest-dream longevity AND quality of life.
  • I return to work, faster than many people’s wildest dreams.

Yesterday evening — on our way to our weekly  routine of dreamy food-shopping —  Michael and I were discussing our wildest dream that Massachusetts would return to wildest-dream spring temperatures,  after a day of near 90 degree heat. Suddenly,  Michael remembered  a wildest dream of his own:

I had a dream I bought tuna at Shaw’s, and it was bad.

How might  you interpret THAT or any of these dream-like photos, which I captured  right after Michael told me that wildest dream?

          

    
  

That last wildest dream image shows Al reenacting  — for my camera — his saying to Michael:

You better take good care of this lady. DON’T LET HER PUSH THAT SHOPPING CART!

Al — who is the cashier of our wildest dreams  — is fulfilling  one of his wildest dreams next weekend, when he attends a Civil War reenactment in Richmond, Virginia.

One more short list of wildest dreams, before I end this Wildest Dreams post. During my week of recovery, I’ve had wildest dreams including:

  1. The voice of my friend Jeanette (who spoke to me on the phone from Philadelphia the night after my surgery) coming out of a microphone that was hanging from a high ceiling and
  2. Encountering my son’s keyboard teacher in a large wood-panelled room that looked like a cross between a library and a college dining hall, where we both wondered whether Aaron would remember to go to his next lesson.

What meaning do you make of any of the wildest dreams in this post? Or, if you include one of YOUR wildest dreams in a comment here, that would meet my wildest dreams.

What wildest dream music might you include, now?

The Moody Blues are are singing about “Your Wildest Dreams” here on YouTube.

Wild and dreamy thanks to all those who contributed to my creating this Wildest Dreams post today and to you — of course! — for fulfilling my wildest dreams by reading it.

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

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