Posts Tagged With: world’s longest surviving person with a pacemaker

Day 320: Show up, be gentle, tell the truth

Hundreds of days ago (doesn’t that sound more impressive than “on March 12”?), I wrote a blog post called “The Secret to Life is Three Things.”

And those three things,  Ladies and Gentlemen of the Blogosphere,  comprise the title of today’s post. Here they are, engraved on a clock:


Many years ago, when I first heard somebody reveal those secrets to life, I believed them, immediately. Why?  Because they matched my value system — how I’ve tried to live.

I remember those three things, whenever I can, and offer them to others.

Personally, I’ve had trouble remembering an important component of Part 2 of The Secret to Life. Therefore, when I pass that on, I say, “‘Be gentle’ includes being gentle with yourself.”

Regarding the other two parts —  showing up and telling the truth — I’ve had no trouble remembering those.

I’m really good at showing up. For example, I’ve shown up here, every day this year, with a post. No problem.

Sometimes, maybe I show up at places when I really don’t have to.  For example, maybe I should take a day off from work (or from other obligations), more often than I do.

I would like to be more gentle with myself, regarding the showing up — to remind myself that I have choices.

Regarding Part 3 of The Secret to Life,  I can also be a little … what’s a good word? — extreme. That’s because Telling the Truth is very important to me.


My parents were very honest.  My parents let me know how much they valued honesty.

Also, when I was a kid in the hospital, somebody lied to me after my first surgery. (As I’ve recounted here before, the nurse who took off the dressing after my first surgery, revealing the pacemaker implanted right under my skin, lied when I asked her what THAT was, by replying, ‘That’s your hip. It’s swollen from the surgery.”)

And if I were going to change anything in my life — ANYTHING! — I would change that encounter, with that lie.

Although, I’ve been more gentle about that, lately.  Last week, I remarked to a friend, “You know, there was a very good reason why people were not at their best, dealing with me after my first surgery. President Kennedy had just been shot.”

And it helped to realize that (and to write, now, too).

I still value honesty, sometimes to the extreme.

What is my definition of Extreme Honesty?  Answer: When you tell the truth, even when it is not to your benefit.

Two examples of Extreme Honesty:

  1. Getting into a car accident, where you and the other driver conclude all the fault is his, realizing soon after that you are somewhat at fault and calling the other driver to confess.
  2. Being involved in a law suit, finding a document that might hurt your case, and confessing about its existence  (even though you could easily ignore it).

Extreme Honesty doesn’t always come easy, I must confess. Sometimes, it involves many hours of soul-searching, including the wish to Not Tell.

Today, I want to be honest about something that I discovered yesterday, on the internet.

This year, I’ve been more open and up front about my experience with illness and hospitals, especially when growing up.

Some of that honesty has involved bragging.

This has been my Big Brag:

I am the longest surviving person in the world with a pacemaker!!  Ta-da!!


People seem impressed when I brag about that.  And I have felt  secure, with that brag, for many years.  Several experts have endorsed that brag, too.*

However …..

This is what I discovered, yesterday, at WikiAnswers:

Wow, I’ve got everybody beat! I recieved my first pacemaker at 21months old in June 1962.( first infant) Next year I will have been pacer-powered for 50 years.I ran on nuclear energy for 30yrs and was one of the 1st 15 people to get an american made nuclear pacer. I was born with a total heart-block with 2 holes in my heart. One closed after the pacer was installed and I had open-heart surgery to repair the second when I was in my 30’s.I now run on a state of the art defibulator and all 4 chambers of my heart now function for the first time.Lets hear it for great technology & fantastic Doctors!!

Rocky Hutchinson

When I found that, I immediately sent it to my cardiologist.

I knew I would blog about it today.

Maybe this is resistance — to giving up what I’ve “owned” for many years —  but that story does seem, in some ways, incredible to me. An enormous pacemaker (much larger than mine, probably, because that was over a year before my first one) given to an infant?  I didn’t think they were doing that.

However, it’s possible. It’s definitely possible.

And I know this: When I tell the stories of my childhood experiences with pacemakers, they can seem unbelievable.

And here’s something else that matters a great deal, to me: To be believed.

As a matter of fact, I treasure, beyond measure, something my cardiologist said to me, two weeks ago:

One thing I’ve learned, Ann, is never to doubt you.

That, in ways, means more to me than any record.

So, how do I want to end this post, today?

I think I showed up, was gentle, and told the truth.

I did my best.

Here’s one thing that feels left undone, though.

Yesterday, Shaun of prayingforoneday gave me the Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award.

While I have mixed feelings about awards at WordPress, I accepted that award, with honest gratitude, where it was given (in the comments of my About page).

However, I couldn’t figure out how to include the award logo in my acceptance comment.  So here it is:


I KNOW I deserve THAT award.

Many thanks to Shaun, to Rocky Hutchinson, to the longest surviving person in the world with a cardiac pacemaker (wherever that person is**), to people doing their best with honesty (and other endeavors), and to you, especially, for visiting today.

* Although several have said, “We can’t be 100% sure.”

** See more about this, here.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Day 59: WORLD RECORD (pacemaker)

I’m typing this post while waiting for an appointment this morning at The Pacemaker Clinic.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I’ve had a pacemaker since I was 10 years old.   I Am The Longest Surviving Person in the World with a Pacemaker.*  I used bragging initial caps in that previous sentence because of something new I’ve been doing lately. I’m being open, even proud, about this.

A couple of summers ago, at a group therapy conference I attend every year, I was participating in a day-long therapy group. During the afternoon, I revealed to the group my Big Secret for People Who Don’t Know Me: the heart stuff and how that affected my childhood. I also described my fears about how revealing this might screw up my connection to the other people in the group. I was afraid that they would withdraw, or see me in a very different way:  as The Person With The Pacemaker.

There was this really cool woman in the group, who was wearing these great shoes.

kelsi dagger

(They’re Neeves, by Kelsi Dagger, which I’ve since found for myself online.)

This woman in my group said to me, “Why not be proud about that?  I’m hoping that next year, when you return to this conference, you’ll be wearing a t-shirt that says something like “World’s Longest Surviving Person With a Pacemaker!”

What she said made a big impression on me. All year, I considered getting a t-shirt.   And a week before last summer’s conference, I ordered this t-shirt on-line.


During the day of the conference, I had a jacket over the t-shirt (I was too self-conscious to have it out there completely),  but I did show it to the people from my group the year before.  And they thought it was quite cool.

Okay. Time for my appointment. The people at the Pacemaker Clinic are definitely on My Team, and I’ll write more about them in a post here, very soon.

Thanks for reading today!

* Note: In late January 2014, almost a year after I published this post, I heard from somebody who has had a pacemaker longer than I have.  See the comments below, for more about that. I actually am no longer wearing the t-shirt. I’d like to send the t-shirt to the real champ … we’ll see how that goes!


Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

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