As I wrote this post, I offered up apologies to Dr. Seuss. I grew up faithfully watching the cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” each and every December. By the end of the cartoon, I had fallen in love with the fairy tale ending of how a despicable and grouchy reptilian creature could become such a loving and generous fan of the Christmas season.
But I have to admit I was a little put off by the Grinch during most of the cartoon. As I said, even in cartoon form he looks very much like a reptile, and I have never been fond of reptiles. I even avoid the tiniest of frogs, toads, turtles and lizards. So how is it that I could watch this repugnant character every Christmas?
This post demonstrates that my post ideas can develop from the most surprising scenarios. I might be in the midst of an innocent conversation with people I barely know, or reading something totally unrelated to heart failure, and I will learn an interesting fact about the heart.
A few months ago, a friend invited me to an awards ceremony at her Federal agency. I was honored to see her receive an award because I know how hard she works to address legal issues at her agency with empathy and foresight. Her approach to the practice of law in a Federal agency mirrors what I tried to implement for years: Respect the client’s talents, understand the client’s environment and help the devise tangible, practical solutions to the client's issues.
Okay – if you have been reading this blog for a while, you have probably figured out that my two-year old is not a human child. Yes, readers, I am aware that God gave 90-year old Sarah the gift of a child as an answer to her prayers. But the reality is that I was way too at the age of 59 to give birth to a baby. Second, trying to have a baby and raise a baby, all while managing an active case of heart failure is a full-time job. So trust me when I tell you that one of the things I will never be praying for is a human baby.
Nope – my two-year old is not made of flesh and blood. Instead, today’s birthday commemorates the fact that approximately two years ago, I issued my first post on this blog site. I have been publishing weekly posts ever since. And just like a little child, my blog is growing like a weed – with over 100 posts totaling over 250 pages.
It is hard to believe that it has been over five years since I was first diagnosed with heart issues. During those five years, I swear that I have seen more doctors, had more medical tests and procedures, and been to more hospitals than in the preceding 56 years.
But that five year period of rather intense medical care is something that I am grateful for, because I have crossed paths with some of the most dedicated medical professionals. I have also tried to be the model patient, always implementing the advice given to me to the letter. (Although I do ask a lot of questions – hey, a good patient needs to understand the severity of the condition, and the implications and extent of the treatment!). I have been equally blessed that my health care providers have always been open to hearing and responding to my concerns.
A few months ago, my family and friends approached me about taking a cruise in April 2019. The trip is through the Viking Cruise line and the itinerary covers the “Trade Routes of the Middle Ages.” I was immediately intrigued, thinking that this would be a great opportunity to celebrate my 62nd birthday!
We started to look into the specifics of the trip – which deck we wanted to reserve rooms on, whether there were special packages we needed to purchase, and most important to us who are getting older and hopefully wiser – trip insurance! My travel agent shared with me a few policies, but when I looked at the pages and pages of terms and explanations, I just shuddered. I know – I’m a lawyer, but even factoring in my legal skills I got bogged down wading through the convoluted language.
Okay, now you think I’ve truly lost my mind. You’re saying to yourself: “She wants to be like a horse? I don’t get it? Has she taken one too many beta blockers – and they are blocking not just the adrenaline but her sanity as well.” Well, the current blog post started with a car commercial I saw a few weeks ago.
There are a lot of commercials on television that either drive me away from the product, or that I just don’t get. This is especially the case with car commercials. The best example of an “I don’t get it” commercial is a Lincoln commercial featuring Matthew McConaughey. It opens with McConaughey staring with a brooding look into a swimming pool. Then he leaps backward. Just as he hits the water, the commercial shifts to McConaughey driving through a rainstorm. He is driving what I have learned is Lincoln's revamped 2017 MKZ sedan. The commercial ends with the line: "It's Like That."
In July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the moon. On July 21, 1974, the U.S. House Judiciary approved two articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. On July 21, 1979, the National Women’s Hall of Fame was dedicated in New York. Ernest Hemingway, Garry Trudeau, Robin Williams, and Cat Stevens were all born on July 21.
And although not as momentous as any of the events or birthdays mentioned above, my first blog post was issued on July 21. This may not seem to be a big deal, but it means a lot to me!
How do you blaze new trails when you do not have the energy to light a fire? Maybe I need to add another doctor to my team?
Last summer I went to a pool party where I caught up with a number of my former colleagues from the workplace. It had been a few years since I had talked to most of these women. One of them asked me what exciting things I had been doing since retirement, since I always had the reputation of being a trail blazer (unbeknownst to me).
This was a historic moment. I think it was the first time I was ever at a loss for words! I am usually quite chatty. But I really did not know what to say. I had not been doing anything to further my career that was exciting or fulfilling. In fact, I was doing nothing to further my career. I was just trying to live as normal a life as possible. What is exciting, pioneering, or even radical about that?
How do you update your friends about all that has happened with your heart health if you haven’t seen them for a while?
I think an important part of healing my heart has been to keep in touch with the people I have come to know and love. Accordingly, as my chronic condition has become more stable, I have been reaching out to even more friends and colleagues.
Of course, they all remember I retired because I had some type of health issue. But I have not seen some of these folks for a while. When we do reconnect, they always want to know how I am doing. How does one answer that question with enough information to give a good answer but not so much detailed information that it freaks them out?
You may be asking yourself: How did Melanie stumble into writing about the serious and sometimes dreary topic of heart failure? You may be asking yourself: Why did Melanie chose the blogging venue over other forms of social media communication?
Trust me, I’m not out of touch with technology. I text, I google, I download tunes from iTunes, and I download and read eBooks on my iPad. I keep up with tweets from friends and former colleagues. So sure, I could have chosen Twitter to communicate my thoughts on heart failure. But as you can see from my previous posts, it would be challenging to put my thoughts on a particular heart related topic into 140 characters or less.
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. She spent the next 7 years learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth. Then in October 2020, she received a heart transplant. This blog is about her journey of the heart.