Attitude is EverythingFri, 07/13/2012 - 11:13AM
I was just slightly winded, short of breath, even though I hadn't walked far. I had been fit and healthy my entire life so whatever was wrong couldn't be serious, I thought. I was diagnosed with heart failure in October 2009. My decline was rapid and by April 2010 I was constantly in and out of the hospital. My body's functions began shutting down as they were denied proper blood supply. Finally, after nearly dying in an emergency room, I was transferred (thankfully) to Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego where I had the best team possible caring for me. Within a week, I was in surgery having my Thoratec Heartmate II LVAD implanted. After the implant and as I began to feel better, I decided to take the problem as my own and find a solution as no cause had ever been given to me, save for a good guess that it was from a virus. I read obsessively and searched for a doctor to work with me, which I finally found. Once on a three pronged program, my heart began to heal. Within four months, my ejection fraction rose from a pre-surgery 18 to 35 in October 2010. My cardiologist told me that if the trend continued they would be able to remove the LVAD in the future. I stayed my course and in June 2011, my ejection fraction had risen to over 50 and surgery was scheuled. My LVAD was finally removed in September 2011. I am back to life with my own heart, able to shower, bathe and swim. I have written a book about my experience, my path to wellness and the lessons I learned from this, at times, nightmarish experience. I speak to groups about heart disease, LVADs and taking responsibility for your own health issues. I could have rolled over and felt sorry for myself, something that would have been quite easy to do, but instead I decided to take control and move forward. I hope you all do the same.