Posts Tagged With: valve replacement surgery

Day 1377: Best Day Ever

Last month, if you had asked me to predict my next best day ever, I never would have predicted I’d be writing a post with this title, today. I mean, really! How could a day in early October be a ….

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…  if I was undergoing  open heart surgery on September 21?

Nevertheless, yesterday, October 7,  WAS one of the best days ever, because:

  1. one of the best college roommates ever, Maria, is staying with me and my best ever boyfriend Michael to give us support as well as rides to medical appointments and grocery stores,
  2. I received  one of the best get-well cards ever from my co-workers at a major Boston teaching hospital,
  3. my blood test showed the best INR level ever of 2.8, indicating I will still be able to eat the best food ever, even though I’m now taking Coumadin/Warfarin,
  4. it was one of the best autumn days ever in Boston,
  5. I was in the least pain ever as I was taking walks alone and with Maria, and
  6. I’m feeling much better than I ever thought possible so soon after my valve replacement surgery.

In other words, a day I had predicted might be one of my worst days ever turned out to be one of my best days ever.  What’s the best lesson we can learn from all this?

Don’t worry about the future, my dear readers.  Why assume that things will turn out badly?  If you’re going to assume, assume the best possible outcome. That way, you’ll still get to the future without the added burdens of fear, worry, and emotional pain.

Is that the best advice ever?

What is the best image ever, among all the other photos I took yesterday?

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What do you think would be the best music ever, to go with this best-day-ever post?

This is one of the best songs ever, from Rent:

Might you now leave the best comment ever?

Finally, to all the best people ever who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — for being the best readers ever, I hereby express some of the best thanks ever:

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

Day 1373: Dreams

Yesterday, my  12th day after open heart surgery,  I fell asleep and had a dream of  being lifted suddenly by unseen hands and carried, very rapidly, as I lay flat on my back, through many rooms and hallways. In the dream, I thought, “Oh no!  Ghosts are taking me away!” I screamed in the dream, the dream faded, and I woke up in my  bed at home.

Somewhat of an expert on dreams (because I’m a psychotherapist), I asked myself, “What did that dream mean?” And I realized the dream captured the dreamlike experience  of being wheeled down hospital hallways into  operating rooms, which has happened to me more times than you could possibly dream between the ages of 10 and 63.

Then, I got ready for my dream of a friend, Carol, to pick me up and carry me to my appointment at the Coumadin/Warfarin clinic at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, to find out if I would be able to eat all the foods of my dreams on this new medication.  The nurse there, Kathleen, was a dream, as she allayed my fears and told me I would probably be able to eat whatever I wanted (including chocolate!), as long as I did so consistently.

Then, I told Carol I wanted to drop in on members of my Cardiology Dream Team at Tufts Medical Center, who hadn’t yet seen me since my surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota on September 21. I assumed my appearance would exceed their wildest dreams. And while most patients wouldn’t dream of dropping in unexpectedly on their doctors, my cardiologist Dr. Mark Estes has demonstrated (see my previous dreamy blog post here), that he is fine with my doing that.

The next hour was like a dream.  Dr. Mark Estes showed up trailed by five students and told me I looked like a dream — better than he had ever seen me in our decades of working together.  I told Dr. Estes that I might have been dreaming, but I thought I had heard various people at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota state that my heart was in a normal/sinus rhythm after the operation, instead of its usual atrial fibrillation.

Let me explain why my heart going out of atrial fibrillation and into normal/sinus rhythm, even for a limited amount of time, would be a very unlikely dream come true.

  1. My heart went out of normal rhythm and into atrial fibrillation almost exactly three years ago today (described in this here dreamy blog post).
  2. At that time, my doctors agreed it did not make sense for them to try any non-surgical means to return my heart to a normal rhythm, because the atria were so stretched out from my leaky valve that my heart would almost definitely return to a-fib.
  3. When I had my last cardiac procedure in May of 2015, Dr.  Estes told me that my fibrillating atria were even bigger — “the size of a grapefruit, instead of the normal size of a walnut.”
  4.  My other cardiologist, Dr. Deeb Salem,  had a dream: he hoped that the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, when performing the open heart surgery twelve days ago to replace my leaky valve, might also use a surgical technique (called the Maze technique) to try to get my heart back into a normal rhythm.
  5. When I discussed that possibility with the Mayo doctors, they all agreed that the added surgical time of two hours was NOT worth the risk, since the chances of any technique returning me to normal rhythm was highly unlikely.
  6. At that point, I let go of the dream of my heart getting out of atrial fibrillation, and instead focused on preparing myself for the heart valve replacement surgery.

So when I told Dr. Estes yesterday that I thought I had heard people at the Mayo Clinic say that I  was out of a-fib after my surgery, he looked like he thought I was dreaming. He said, “Ann, if your heart DID get back  into sinus rhythm post surgery, that would have lasted for a very short time. I am skeptical it happened at all.”

And then everybody  — Dr. Estes, the students, Carol, me, and others — watched yesterday, as if in a dream, as we accessed the data stored in my pacemaker/defibrillator to see what kind of rhythms my dreamy heart had been generating recently, when I’ve been awake and dreaming.

As if in a dream, my dream team cardiologist, Dr. Mark Estes, announced to all of us: “You’re in sinus rhythm.  And you’ve been out of a fib and in normal rhythm consistently since your surgery on September 21.”

I responded, “My boyfriend Michael would call this a Christmas miracle.”  I heard Carol say, dreamily and sweetly, “Today is the Jewish New Year.”  Everybody looked happy, like in a dream or in a special on the Hallmark Movie Channel where the heroine does better than anybody dreamed possible.

How did this better-than-anybody-could-possibly-have-dreamed result occur?  I have a dreamy memory of a discussion, last week, with a Mayo Clinic EKG technician, who told me I was in normal/sinus rhythm when he visited me in the Intensive Care Unit.  Perhaps, we speculated, when they stopped my heart and then restarted it after the open heart surgery, that helped my heart’s rhythm — just how we often fix our phones, computers, and other devices  by turning them off and turning them back on again. Sometimes, the simplest solution works better than our wildest dreams.

After this dream of a visit with Dr. Estes, Carol carried me away in her car and drove me home to my dreamy boyfriend Michael. I told him the good news, as if in a dream. Later, when I shared the good news with my dreamy 18-year-old son, Aaron — far far away in the dreamy land of Scotland — Aaron texted me: “It sounds like a magical fairy wonderland situation over there.”

Magical and MUCH better than the scary dream that started out my dream of a day, yesterday.

I also want to say, at this point in this dreamy post, that it’s very possible that my dream of a heart with its shiny new valve might go back into atrial fibrillation — tomorrow, next week, or some other point in the future.  However, I wouldn’t dream of lowering my heart’s expectations right now — that heart of mine has exceeded everybody’s dreams for sooooooo long.

When I was dreaming under general anesthesia last week at the Mayo Clinic, my surgeon played dreamy music by our favorite saxophonist, the late Michael Brecker. On this dreamy day, 13 days later, here is one of my favorite tunes by Dreams, the 1970s dream team of Michael Brecker, his brother and trumpet-player Randy Brecker, the dreamily fabulous drummer Billy Cobham, dreamy bassist Will Lee, and other dreamily amazing jazz musicians.

 

 

Because my readers appreciate photos I take beyond my wildest dreams, here are all the dreamy images I captured yesterday:

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You know what?  Yesterday still feels like a dream to me ….  too good to be true. And I don’t have any photos showing Dr. Estes, the medical students, Carol, Kathleen the nurse, or any of other people I dreamily wrote about in this post.

So …. maybe it was all a dream?

What do you think, my dreamy readers?

Dreamy thanks to all those who helped me create this dream of a post and to you  — of course! — for whatever dreams you bring, here and now.

Categories: adult congenital heart, celebrating, heart condition, heart surgery, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 57 Comments

Day 1372: Short and sweet, warm and sincere

Today’s post title was inspired by a greeting card I saw, yesterday, during my first trip to a supermarket since my open heart surgery on September 21.

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This warm blogger is sincere when she reassures her readers that yesterday’s trip to the supermarket was appropriately short and sweet. Also, I had two warm and sincere people accompanying me for support — my short friend Deb and my tall boyfriend Michael.

Today’s blog post needs to be short and sweet, my warm and sincere readers, because my  sincerely awesome friend Carol will soon be taking me to a warm Warfarin/Coumadin clinic, as I sweetly work my way toward the right dosage of that medication while also eating the sweet, sour, and warm food I sincerely prefer.

Do any of my other photos from yesterday seem short, sweet, warm, and/or sincere?

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For all of my readers who are celebrating the Jewish New Year today, here‘s a short and sweet, warm and sincere video:

If you leave a short and sweet comment,  I will reply warmly.

Short and sweet thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and to you — of course! — for visiting, here and now.

Sincerely,

Ann

Categories: adult congenital heart, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Day 1365: Intentional Rounding

As you are rounding your way past the beginning of my blog post today, what do you suppose is the intention of the phrase “Intentional Rounding”?

My intention is to round my way to showing you this sign I saw yesterday, after I was intentionally rounded out of the Intensive Care Unit four days after open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota:


As I intentionally rounded corridors  –slowly, but on my own two feet — around the cardiac units here, I intentionally rounded up these images on my iPhone camera:



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Be cause people here be cool, be kind, be nice, be appreciative, and be respectful, they might be intentionally rounding me out of the hospital soon, so that my boyfriend Michael and I can be intentionally rounding back to our home in Boston.

How about a round of intentional applause for that possibility?

Thanks so much for intentionally rounding yourself here, today!

Categories: heart condition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , | 33 Comments

Day 1360: Clean and ready

The title for today’s post comes from a sign I saw yesterday on an examining table at the Mayo Clinic.

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Yesterday, I was clean and ready to use the knowledge and advice of Dr. Carol Warnes, the expert on unusual hearts like mine.

This morning, after using a special anti-bacterial soap, I am clean and ready for my open heart surgery today.

My boyfriend Michael, who took the photo above,  is clean and ready for guest blog appearances here.

After I had my cardiac catherization yesterday, which showed that my arteries are clean and ready for today’s surgery, I met the amazing Dr. Joseph Dearani, the Mayo heart surgeon who will be replacing my leaky valve with a clean and ready to use  mechanical one. When I was ready to share with Dr. Dearani my knowledge that he plays jazz saxophone,  Dr. Dearani was ready to answer my question, “Who is your favorite jazz sax player?”  I was clean amazed that he named my favorite saxophone player — the late,  great Michael Brecker.  I asked Dr. Dearani if he would play Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny music in the operating room during my surgery, and he was cleanly ready to do that.

Are you clean and ready for my other photos from yesterday?

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That last photo shows the clean and ready waiting room near admissions, where I’ll check in today at 5:30 AM, after this  post is clean and ready to publish.

Are you clean and ready for using a tune  with Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny playing  clean and beautiful musical lines?

 

I am clean and ready to join Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny in expressing that readily beautiful sentiment: “Every day I thank you.”

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

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