As you may recall, I have been participating in the Meteoric – HF study since late December 2019. All was going well till we hit the pandemic detour in the road. I began to wonder if I would even have my April 3 study appointment. The purpose of the appointment was to track my symptoms if any, to track the impact on my heart failure, and to issue new study medications. It seemed like many appointments in a doctor’s office or hospital were being canceled unless they were for emergencies.
But the week before the appointment, the study coordinator called to tell me that I was still on the schedule to have the appointment, but it would be done at the circle of one of the hospital buildings. They did not want me to be inside the hospital environment. The day before, she confirmed that the appointment was still on to see both her and my study doctor, but it would be a drive-through appointment and I would not get out of my car. I thought: "Well this should be interesting." I also couldn’t resist asking the question: "Can I get french fries with that drive-through appointment?" (Hey – if you can’t keep your humor intact during this pandemic, it seems to me like you’re toast!)
Sorry – I know people are overdosing on corona virus coverage. Alas, this post also takes a cue from the virus. But less as a negative and more as something that could have a lasting positive impact on my life. And no – this post is not based on any scientific evidence. It’s just based on my experience and good old common sense.
In my early morning walks, I have started to notice many things that never came to my attention before. When I go out each morning, it is a very peaceful, time. I usually go out right around 6:30 when it is starting to become light and Arlington is just beginning to wake up. But once I get out to the street, there is some activity going on because I live right across from Whole Foods, and the Amazon HQ site.
I am a person who thrives on routines. Alas, my routine has been thrown off balance because of the restrictions that have been put on our lives in response to the COVID019 outbreak. As a country, we all need to pull together in a united effort to defeat the spread of the virus.
I see that many people are referring to life in the COVID-19 era as the new normal. Why am I saying temporary normal rather than the new normal? Well, because the restrictions are evolving as I type this post and some areas with a higher rate of positive COVID-19 tests have stricter restrictions than the rest of the United States. I am not ruling out the possibility that even more restrictions will be imposed on the area where I live. This hopefully explains why I am calling this the temporary normal because we may have to apply even more flexibility and alter our lives again. But hopefully the temporary normal will not become the new normal for the rest of time.
People tend to want to join things – golf clubs, book groups, churches, fraternities and sororities – the list goes on forever. But there is one group I would more than happily resign from if I could. This is the group of people who are at a high risk of having complications or even dying from COVID-19.
In fact, on two occasions, I heard Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaking about the virus. Dr. Fauci has been in that position for years and he has a great reputation. Accordingly, I always follow his advice. I remember that he basically said that people who were in the high risk group should not take long trips and should especially not get on a cruise ship. He used as an example on two occasions people over the age of 60 and with underlying conditions like chronic congestive heart failure. Wait a minute - that's me!!!!! Yikes – I felt like there was a target on my back.
We are always interested when there is a Presidential candidate who breaks the norm. I was very young when President John F. Kennedy was elected, but I remember that there was a lot of attention paid to the fact that he was the first Roman Catholic elected as President. I was in my teens in 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to run on a major party national ticket for vice president, increasing the speculation regarding when and who the first woman President might be. I was much older when another Democrat, Barack Obama, became the first African American President.
But in late February, I was listening to the local news on NBC when another first of a different sort came to my attention. The news anchor announced that candidate Mike Bloomberg released his ejection fraction. She even explained what that term meant, probably anticipating the blank stares on most of her viewers faces. The ejection fraction, as readers of this blog know, is a measure of how well your heart pumps blood. I quickly did an internet search and indeed found a number of stories sharing a synopsis of Bloomberg’s heart health.
I suspect that in the minds of most people Lent just can’t seem to compete with Advent. Advent has a lot of fun things – candles to light, sanctuaries to decorate, manger scenes to enchant the children - and this is just on the religious side or the equation. You broaden it to include the secular traditions and you have Santa, reindeer, elves and presents. The season of Advent abounds with joy.
When the word Lent comes up in conversation, I bet the word that leaps to mind is sacrifice. Sure, there is the bunny thing going on as you approach Easter, but even the bunny can’t hop around the fact that the season of Lent leads up to Christ’s death on the cross. Instead of Advent wreaths, angels and shepherds, we see a crown of thorns, a rugged cross, and a crowd that turns on Jesus. Christians know that this horrific scene ultimately leads up to Christ’s resurrection and the promise of eternity for those who accept Christ as their Savior. But non-Christians may just see a gory death that occurred 2000 years ago – and a tradition of people giving up really great stuff for Lent. Chocolate, alcohol, dessert, are just a few things that come to mind that people pledge to give up for the 40 plus days of the season.
If you have followed this blog for a while, you know I dread having someone take my blood pressure. This is because it is exceptionally low. Most people are aware of the dangers of having blood pressure that is too high. But low blood pressure also has some serious health implications for some (not me at this point!)
Where did it all start? I am a person who always had low blood pressure. A law school classmate joked that they needed to station someone in corners of the law school to periodically jump out and scare me so that my blood pressure would rise. It was bad enough that this stood out so much that jokes were made about it. But later on, when my heart’s pumping ability became deficient, I was forced to take medications causing my blood pressure plummet. I had entered the zombie zone.
If you are a person of a faith, I think the discipline of prayer interact becomes critical when you have a chronic illness. It gets you in touch with God on a regular basis and reminds you that there is a purpose to why we are here beyond just getting ahead as an individual. You soon realize that God can heal damaged souls, and perhaps that is more important than healing a damaged body. It also reminds you that while your mortal life will end at some point, there is something glorious to anticipate. All of these epiphanies cures the anxiety out of nagging thoughts like “when I die is that the end?”
I can only speak to the faith that I know which is the Christian faith. But I have to think that other faith traditions are similar. In the Christian faith, we believe that God sent his son into the earth to save us. The salvation was two-fold. He saved us to live a better life on this earth by recognizing that God has given us talents we must us to benefit the other creatures that God put on this earth. And of course, God sacrificed Christ to death so that he could be resurrected and lead us in a journey that will end in God’s heavenly kingdom.
If you are a fan of late 19th century English literature, you may have realized that the title of my blog is a riff on the Oscar Wilde classic: “The Importance of Being Earnest”. It has been a long time since I read this play, but I found a summary on a website called Sparknotes.com. For purposes of the blog, here is the description of the plot that will help you understand why this classic occurred to me as I was creating this post:
The other day, I came across an envelope labeled “important papers”. It contained things like my birth certificate and my social security card and other things I wouldn’t want to lose. I found an envelope that had a return address of Fort Hunt High School on it, and it was addressed to my parents.
Inside this envelope, I found a form that appeared to be a mid-term report about my progress in the class “A&M History”. This was a class from my Freshman year in High School. As I recall, that stood for Ancient and Medieval History. The report indicated that I was in danger of getting a D in that class. Happily, though I can’t remember the exact grade I got in the class, but I can assure you that I did not fail.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. Since that time, she has been learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth.