October 31, 2021

The Wink of a Hummingbird


Hummingbirds have forgotten the words……

On Friday, I saw a hummingbird hovering near my sliding glass door window.   I took this as a good omen, as it is said that when a hummingbird visits you, it brings good news. 

When passing through difficult times, the hummingbird tells us that the difficult times are over. Also, if they visit after someone's death, it means that you will heal. The hummingbird represents a reminder to follow your dreams without letting obstacles stop you.

Hummingbirds are magical creatures, rarely seen, with the ability to hover and almost stop in mid flight, then dart away, never to be seen again. Their little hearts are some of the hardest working hearts in the great show that is life.

How fast does a hummingbird's heart beat? Their hearts can beat as fast as 1,260 beats per minute. For example, my heart is beating about 69-79 beats per minute.  For reference, average disco song is about 120 bpm.  

After bypass surgery, it is important to reduce the possible strain to the patient’s heart.  Generally, this goal is accomplished through two drugs, a beta blocker, and an ACE inhibitor. 

One of the drugs they use to accomplish this is metoprolol, the beta blocker, which works by blocking catecholamine-induced increases in heart rate, in velocity and extent of myocardial contraction, and in blood pressure. Metoprolol reduces the oxygen requirements of the heart at any given level of effort.   In short, it slows everything down. 

Another is ramipril,  which is an ACE inhibitor, (Angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor.   This medications helps relax the veins and arteries to lower blood pressure.

The end result is the system slows down, giving it time to heal.  A side effect of these two medications is low blood pressure, which makes you feel dizzy and unbalanced when you stand too quickly.  

After my operation, many friends wished me a speedy recovery. But the reality of the healing could not not be further than that truth.  It is a long recovery, not one with speed, but with time and focus. 

Many years ago, I had an interesting man who was my boss. He considered himself an entrepreneur.  His favourite saying was a definition of success that goes like this:


 He would stress two aspects of this saying.  Progressive- meaning incremental progress, not overnight success, and is the way to build something sustainable.  Worthy ideal- meaning something you personally feel is important.   

He said for him that a worthy ideal was the accumulation of money ( no hidden agenda).  But for me, he related, a worthy ideal might be something more altruistic, and for him, that was ok too, as long as his goal of making more money was accomplished.  From the days we met, I would see him buy many companies, and often he would keep the existing management team, just refocusing them on his short and long term goals. It was always a considered expansion aiming to create a larger company or companies, working toward similar goals. And twenty years down the line, his strategy has been very successful.   All because of his focus on Progressive and Worthy.  

As much as I appreciate calls for a speedy recovery, please don’t expect me to have a speedy recovery.  My goal is to have a progressive recovery toward the worthy ideal of creating a better person, who ideally, will be here for many more years.  

Perhaps, I will be more like the hummingbird, who hangs in the air, and gives you wink, then whooosh, is gone to search for more nectar.   

October 24, 2021

I Wake Up Sneezing…From hospital to home….the transition.

 I just sneezed. No big deal, right? 

Now try that with your sternum recently wired back together. 

Coughing is excruciating, and laughing can be a roll on the floor crying. 

But sneezing is sudden and explosive.  The pain reverberates, crashing in your chest cavity, slamming your rearranged lungs into your redesigned heart. Probably some other organs too.

Walking is a painful challenge as I still have a fresh healing 14” wound/ scar on my left leg from the knee to the ankle. It generally gets a bit better as the day goes on.  Mornings or middle of night situations feel as if I cannot put any weight on it. And it’s not because I am overdoing things. 

So far, I am only hobbling from bed to chair, to couch to bathroom. Three times a day I try the hallway walk. Then I’ m exhausted again. 

But every day a bit better.

What about nights?

Seventy percent of heart surgery patients experience sleep difficulties after surgery.  In the hospital, my desire to sleep was compromised by the sounds of the guy in the bed next to me, his CPAP machine, a nice gurgling wave like noise, air going in and out with a mechanical pattern, punctuated with groans, swearing, big flappy farts etc.

One morning a guy down the hallway was screaming I CAN’T SEE!!! 

Only to have the nurses tell him that he had strawberry jam on his nose.

One of the nights toward the end of stay in the hospital, I was trying to wean off the opioids. Around  9 pm the nurse came in to see if I had what I needed.  I said I understood we were weaning, going from two morphine pils to zero was a bit a of jump.  I was consumed with anxiety.  It was like every cell was alive shouting me, me, me.  She said they were too late to get the morphoids, and would I like to try a melatonin?  

My inside voice screamed WHAT THE FUCK-  what the fuck is a stupid over the counter “ natural” supplement going to do to help me with coming off the opioid dependency  that they  had facilitated?  

My polite Canadian patient said instead, sure.  Let me try.  I need something. 

I closed my eyes and the movies began. 

Nonsensical never-ending, rapidly changing images.  



As the hairdresser said, Who the gel knows.

Eyes closed, you are strapped in. 

The wheezing of the CPAP. Gassy flaps, lights on. Lights off. 

Crazed but boring, just plain exhausting images parade inside my eyes.

This dream is like a release of effluent.  Not art. No memory of it, thank god, 

Awake again about 90 minutes.  What a fucking night. 

Relentless. Boring. Painful, No Control or Relief.  

At one point I shifted on the hospital bed and could no longer find the call buzzer. 

Around six in the am, my feet were uncovered and freezing.  The sheets were tied around me,

I grabbed one of the blankets and tried in a very weak and unsteady way to try to “ shake the sheet”. 

What a stupid mistake! It was like a knife was stabbed in my back.  Self inflicted jab to the left shoulder blade.

I lay back and should have done the adult manly version of crying.  But instead,  I was too exhausted and in too much pain now to even cry. 

That was seven days ago, and my shoulder blade is still fucked and in pain.

So sleeping from home is definitely better. It took me about three days to find the right sleeping positions. First consideration is finding best position to breathe. Then the chest must be situated to allow not only for optimal breathing, but also for escape when being in that position no longer works.  

Nothing is static in sleep.  And don’t forget that the leg with the wound has yet to find a place where the wound is supported, but not touching too much. 

As I said before, coughing or sneezing or laughing are all very painful. Now imagine how a full night of that lingers and intensifies, then just transfers to the next shift.  

There is no zeroing.  

However, there is sleep enhancement. 

The little pill dissolving beneath your tongue.  

This minor relief gives maybe 2-4 hours.  

In the night shift, brief respite beats relentless. 

And every day and every night is a bit better. 

October 21, 2021

My Heart is Full of Love The Cardio Diaries part 1


My Heart is Full of Love

We all have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”  

“This was not what I had planned”.  

This statement was uttered by my Father upon learning we had to move him to what essentially was hospice care.  These were the words that came to my mind at that moment that I learned I had to have a triple bypass back in May of this year.

“This was not what I had planned”.  

Well sometimes plans change. 
They go out the window.  
Time for a New page. 
This news was in May, and then I waited two and a half months for a cancellation. Last week I got the call.
It was a different surgeon, then a different date, then another different surgeon.  I had to leave work then and there to get a new Covid test.  The next day, the results were not available,  so before my surgery, I got another Covid test.  

In terms of pain and discomfort, the Covid tests were no fun, but the repeated catheters - that is special kind of pain. 
There is a long swoop of a scar on my left leg from the knee to the ankle. That is where the veins were harvested. There is a very thin red line down my chest, where they sawed my sternum open. The sternum is banded together at the end of the operation with wires that will live with you as long as you live. Mortality rates for this operation are about 1-2 %.  Mortality rates after ten years go up more dramatically.
I am considering this operation a rebirth. 
Time for steel in my sternum.
Today I am under construction. 



My Heart is Full of Love : part 2

Young Physiotherapist comes into my hospital room a few days ago.

 I am on my phone. She says what are you doing?

I said looking at a video on how to breathe.

I should have said. Learning how to breathe properly, as I have not learn to do so so far in my life.

She kind of rolled her eyes in full on millennial scoff.

Well, here’s a video we have made for aftercare.


I am making these blog posts to educate myself and others while talking myself through the emotions.

About 1 in 12 Canadians over the age of 20 live with some form of heart disease.

12 Canadians die every hour from diagnosed heart .

Mortality is 3x higher among adults age 20+ with diagnosed heart disease vs those without.

Death is 4x higher among adults age 20+ who had a heart attack vs those without

Death is 6x higher among adults age 40+ with diagnosed heart failure vs those without


MEN are 2 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than WOMEN

MEN are newly diagnosed with heart disease about 10 years younger than WOMEN 65 to 74 years

When I was having my bypass surgery I was struck by the contrast of the many young  nurses 25-35, and the almost 95% male patients ranging from my age to 80 plus.  There were white guys, and Asian man, a south Asian man.  Probably a range of religions, and monetary status in life.

What was the leveller?  We will get into that. 

So what can you do to protect yourself?

#1. Be smoke free

This is #1.  QUIT SMOKING. I am not a smoker.  A few cigars in the 90’s. a pack of Gitanes that I bought after treating myself to a French meal on my 19 years old first salary.  Infamously, the waiter was called over to the table of a diner who was having the Creme de tomates. 

Diner: this soup tastes like Campbell’s Tomato Soup!

Waiter: Yes Monsieur,  it is Campbells.

The chef thinks Campbell’s makes a very fine soup!

Also dope is still smoking without filters, and no, the used card from the Zig zag papers is not a real filter.

#2 Stay physically active    This advise from a guy who ran only for the bus or theoretically if being chased by a bear.  Active can mean walking, which besides being good for your physical Health, walking is also great for you mental health. 20 minutes a day or 150 minutes weekly. That should not be hard. 

#3.  Don’t eat the bear, instead choose to eat a healthy diet. What is healthy? We’ll get there. Without lots of details, healthy eating is eating better food, but less of it.  Lots of vegetables which are also so much cheaper than meat now. I have to state my experience with eating bear is limited.  Now crow? That is a different story.

4#. Maintain a healthy weight  Notice it says maintain. If you are not a healthy weight already, start with portion controls and eliminating the stuff that is crap from your diet. You know it is crap, and yet you still eat it. Specifics? We will get there.

#5.   Limiting alcohol use    I know. Very rich coming from me. But reduction is possible.if you are drinking to get drunk, then you need to look at why you need to be drunk?  Do you it just catches up on you?

Do you eat more and drink more with friends?  Do you regret what you might have said or did the night before. 


Effective management of serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can help you reduce your risk of heart disease.

My personal road to recovery and a better life is as follows:

Everything I have ever done before this day is now open to review, reflection, and change if necessary. 

Trust me, change is coming.

DATA SOURCES & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), using CCDSS data files contributed by provinces and territories, as of May 2016. Data from Yukon were not available. These data were made possible through collaboration between PHAC and all Canadian provincial and territorial governments, and expert contribution from the CCDSS Heart Disease Working Group. This infographic was developed by PHAC; no endorsement by the provinces and territories is intended or should be inferred.

Learn more about heart disease by visiting the Public Health Agency of Canadaat www.phac-aspc.gc.ca and Heart and Stroke Foundation at www.heartandstroke.ca