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A whole new ballgame

 

I entered Baptist Hospital early in February 2013, and on the second day of my stay, several people entered my room and introduced themselves as the Advance Heart Failure/Transplant team. I didn’t realize it then, but these people would become like family to me as the days and months passed. They told me they had reviewed my medical records and would like to proceed to qualify me for future heart transplantation. They also asked if I had heard of an LVAD, or Left Ventricular Assist Device. I had heard of it, but didn’t know anything much about it. They explained the device in great detail, as well as the heart transplant program. They asked permission to run test to see if I was a candidate; to which I agreed. For the next three days I underwent every medical test known to man (well, maybe not all, but a lot). I had scans, tubes run into most every orifice of my body, blood tests, stress tests, cardiac catheterization (both left and right heart), breathing tests, and on and on. The results: I was a candidate for heart transplant, but needed a LVAD as a bridge to transplant. I was not too thrilled about the LVAD because I would be “tied” to a power source, either batteries or a power supply, all the time. I asked about just going ahead and getting the transplant, but the doctor told me that nobody would directly transplant me now because I was still functioning and doing fairly well. I resisted the idea that I needed an LVAD immediately. I said, “Doc, I know that down the road I’ll need this treatment – maybe in a few more years.” He looked at me for a moment in silence then dropped a bomb shell. “In my professional opinion,” he said, “you have about 18 months to live without intervention.” Wow! Did I hear him right? I have only 18 months to live? It’s strange how we go into denial at news like that – I didn’t believe him! I said, “You may be right, but I am still working every day and doing what I need to do. I think it will be quite some time before I get to that point. However, the doctor began to paint an ugly picture. “In the coming months your kidneys, which are already showing signs of deterioration, will begin to fail; then your liver will fail, and finally your body will no longer be able to compensate. But, the choice is yours, you may choose to live out your days and go into the presence of God.” Again, I didn’t really believe what I was hearing. “Ok,” I said, “I understand that I will need the device down the road but I don’t want it right now.”

 

Let’s do it

 

In mid-March I was back in the hospital, my heart out of rhythm once again. Again the LVAD was brought up, and one by one each member of the medical team tried to convince me I needed it, and I needed it soon. Again I resisted the idea, hoping to at least put it off for a long time. This time my heart went back into rhythm on its own. “This is going to continue to happen with more frequency as your heart gets weaker, and you’re going to be in the hospital numerous times. I went home, having a lot of talks with the Lord and my family. Like most people I hate being sick, and I absolutely hate hospitals! I was not prepared to live a sickly life if there was anything that could be done to prevent it. When I went back for my follow-up appointment in mid-April, I had made up my mind to have the LVAD implanted. If it would improve my quality of life it would be worth the risk and inconvenience. When my doctor brought it up during the visit I responded, “Let’s do it.” I was scheduled for surgery the latter part of May. I was in God’s hand, and I would trust in Him to “work all things together for good …”

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