PRE-NOTE: An outstanding film we saw yesterday: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
My friend, Emmett, sent a note overnight: “Hope your heart appointment went well. Please let me know what the results were.” The note jogs this post, which I was going to do anyway.
People I know, all know I had heart surgery Dec. 4, 2018 – trifecta GT tissue heart valve, says the card in my wallet. I don’t know who knows what, if anything at all, so this seems as good a vehicle as any to send the update from the cardiologist appointment last Friday – the one Emmett refers to.
First, I had a barista take the below photo of me in my “corner office” at Woodbury Caribou Coffee this morning. This same spot has seen me most every day for the last 19 years (the cup almost qualifies for Antiques Road Show – well seasoned). Yes, I’m a creature of habit. (If you’ve ever gotten a letter from me – always handwritten – chances are it was written in this corner. You’ll see no iPhone or such in the vicinity…my refuge from computer!)
Here’s the note I sent to family members after the appointment on Friday: Yesterday I had my scheduled appointment with my cardiologist to check out the ticker, etc. It is coming on 10 1/2 months since the heart operation last Dec. 4.
Things are going well. There were some changes in medication. ECG, and related were essentially normal. There was nothing of particular concern that wasn’t known before (my blood pressure was 140/90, which is a bit higher than it was before the surgery, and the adaptation was to increase dose of one med back to what the same med was before the surgery).
I am on a reasonably vigorous exercise program at the fitness place – about 45 minutes a day on tread mill, enough to increase the heart rate and get me sweating. I’m pretty ‘religious’ about that. I used to walk outside, but I have rosacea and decided to go to more indoor activities at least for now. I think I need some work with weights to tone up other muscles.
This summer had some trouble with bleeding due to anti-coagulant. Had to deal with periodic nosebleeds. Did finally do cauterization of a vessel or two. It seems to have worked. Urologist is watching a growth on kidney, but there are no alarm bells. Next check on that is in January.
I don’t think I look like ‘death warmed over’ – others would have to reveal that.
It is useful, though, to be aware of the fact that I’m one year older than last year, and at 79 [half way through my 80th year] that makes more of a difference than going from 15 to 16, or such. Anything can happen at any time, and as we older people know from just watching our friends and relatives, stuff happens.
My outstanding cardiologist has 20 years in the trade; she’s the person who delivered the news to me about a year ago that the valve needed to be replaced. I had no symptoms before hand – the potential problem surfaced in the annual physical in late May, 2018, ironically on the very afternoon grandson Ben and his Dad were in a horrible car accident. I’m very fortunate. So have they been.
There are endless people to thank and I won’t even try to list even a few.
One especially, though, is my friend Clarence, who was one of the first other than family visitors when I was in intensive care last December. Some months later Clarence, now 88, was diagnosed with advanced cancer – pancreatic, and is certainly close to the end of his time as a friend to so many of us. It won’t be long for him. We haven’t seen him at church for some weeks now. Great, great guy. As I heard a minister eulogize a younger man years ago who’d died in a car accident, Clarence definitely ‘lived before he died’. At 88, he won’t need the rest of that long ago eulogy “died before he was finished”. Clarence has run the race with grace.
[Phone message overnite Oct 14: Clarence Birk has died. Funeral at Basilica of St. Mary on Monday Oct 21 11 a.m. visitation followed by funeral at noon. RIP]
I’ve become fond of saying that “the main cause of death is life“. None of us are “forever young”, whatever the age. Best to live as best we can, one day at a time, giving back in the sundry ways available to us, such as the young lady taking my ‘pitcher’ this morning! Work for a better world.
COMMENTS (More in the ‘comments section, below)
from Dick: I’m really grateful for all the comments. They mean a lot. Thanks everyone.
from David: Thanks for the update. As you state so well, we are all temporary residents of life. I’m glad that you have mostly returned to your same old cantankerous self. Take care. See you at the usual time and place.
from Kelsey: Hello from St. Rose Care Center! Glad to hear things are going well for you. I especially enjoyed the quote on death you shared, “Main cause of death is life.” Blessings,
from JoAnn: Good morning, Dick. So glad that you are doing well and I appreciate the update. Funny (?) that we are getting to know lots of -ologists these days (doctors of some form of -ology). 😄 I have certainly added a few these past few years! Just a little update from me: I’m finally regaining my spirit, and health. At least feeling like I can live a more normal life, exercise, socialize, engage(!) more than a year ago. Basically I’m learning to manage my pain, which is mostly associated with my back. So, little by little I’m working on the deferred maintenance of family and friend relationships, house projects, and re-engaging in communities – as energy allows. Also continuing with RJ [restorative justice]and Civility work.
from Beth: Thank you for the update, Dick. You look well. I am so grateful for that. Also, for your post today, as it had some real nuggets for me. God bless.
from Juel: It is great to read that you are doing well. I had colon cancer surgery Dec.4, 2017. Dec. 4th is a good day for surgery as I, too, am doing well.
from Michael: You look great Dick! Glad to hear the good news. I’m in Amsterdam with my son for a few days before we head to Dubrovnik, where it should be warmer.
from Frank: Congratulations on the good report. At this age it’s always nice to survive one more year. The eternal question? Is it time to start spending capital? Maybe start flying first class every now and then and bump up one class in hotels? Answer, of course, is no, not yet. I can remember in my late 50s when I took a close look at retirement funds anticipated and deciding that max level savings weren’t necessary any more. So far, it’s worked.
from Emmett: Thanks for the health update. I have to say that you look pretty chipper in that photo. I understand what you are talking about when you say that you are a creature of habit. I am getting to be as bad as Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory program when it comes to adjusting to changes. It gets tougher every year.
from Carol: You will probably be around long after me… 🙂
from Peter: you look marvelous!
from Judy: Thanks my friend! You and Cathy are in my thoughts! Love you both!
from Paul: It’s Paul C in Maine. Just read your heart update – all very good news!
I looked forward to reading about your Friday check-up. Thank goodness that you are so fortunate. I know I share your same kind forturn (apart from the No Good News and even some Very Bad News for almost three weeks that fell squarely on my husband).
You look and seem happy, and you are one of the writers I grow from reading. You also strike me as resolved to embrace the sheer delight of living now. Excellent report out!
from Jane: You are looking hail and “hearty” in the photo , my friend!
from Jerry: Thanks for the update on your health, Dick. It’s always great to see you at our meetings as I value your wisdom and experience.
from Nancy: Nice photo! I like being able to visualize you in “your” coffee shop.
from Joyce: Thanks for the update, Dick; we all have our expiration dates, but I expect yours is well into the future, and I cannot bear to think that we could lose you. Besides, you need to be here to watch every adult member of the Trump family, including Jared, but probably excluding Tiffany, doing the perp walk.
from Lloyd: Hi Dick, I don’t reply to much on computer but I want you to know that I and Joanne(Sheldon) really do like your postings.
Do keep us on your mailing list. Good luck with that heart also. You have a true one.
from Bob: Glad to learn you are doing well after your heart surgery last year. It’s time for another visit.
from Kathy: appreciate your musing on life and death almost a year post surgery…as well as your many sharings over the years. I note with interest and amazement you are at your station at 7:30 in the morning!
from Deb: The report from the doctor sounds great! Thanks for sharing… Exercise and walking is always key and feel better all the time and more energized… So glad to hear you take the program serious and doing so well! It is very important to have the appointments and monitor dosages as body does change… Wishing you the best every day and continued success! Love it that you have sat at the coffee shop 19 years… wow…
from J.P.: Must admit you look very good. Keep up the good work.
from SAK: I was happy to read your update & find that all is well with you & the “ticker”. Sad to hear about your friend but as you suggest he has had a full life & who can ask for more? Wonderful that you keep up your exercise routine: another important message you are sending to us all.