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Thomas M. Recipient

Attitude is Everything

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.

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In reply to by gail p.

gail p.

This is a hard life being a care giver for a loved one with an lvad. I have learned to be more spiritual since this happened to my daughter. I have seen Jesus make a way when there was clearly no way. My daughter was in a coma for 22 days after her lvad surgery. The physician's did not think she was going to make it. I could not believe what was happening. I was 57 years old and my daughter had just given birth to a healthy baby boy. I was a single mom and thought there is no way I am going to raise my new grandson, and seven year old granddaughter. My daughter was never married to the father of these children. I would leave the hospital not knowing if her newborn son was going to be without a mother. My granddaughter was so close to her mother and she was just getting ready to start the second grade. I was a nervous wreck. I had both children at my house and was trying to hold on to my job. I lived over 70 miles one way from the hospital and had to leave the children with relatives while going back and fourth. I did not know which way was up. The Lord got me through it. I lost 50 pounds during the seven months my daughter was in the hospital. Since the lvad implant my daughter had to learn to walk, talk, and eat again. When I brought my daughter home she had a feeding tube in due to not being able to chew and swallow properly. It has been a long journey. My daughter now walks on her own, is able to speak and eats normally. She has come a long way and still has more to go. Due to her brain injury she is not able to work or drive. I have to take care of the children who go back and fourth between my home and the father's home. My daughter has no social life. All of her friends and the father of the children have all forgotten her. It is so sad to watch. It is amazing how people disregard you once you become ill. My finances are in the toilet. My health I going down, but I know God will sustain me during this time. Keep your head up and give God the Glory He does see our struggle, and hear our prayer. Gail Palmer/Care giver/Mother
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Geoffrey H.

three and a half yrs. Had my first lvad installed,second year and half ago.Just another operation,Had 14 in 3.5 yrs.I* just do anything I want,except strenous sports,,Life is not fair so don,t worry about it. There is no light at end of tunnel,probably a train.Just keep going,do the best you can,I, am 73.Anything any body ever wanted to do, I probably have already done it.

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Beverley F.

   I was living what I thought was a normal life with occasional set backs.Dr Mazer at the Heart Institute in Albuquerque NM proved me wrong and saved my life.He told me to go out to lunch with my husband and come back in 2 hours while he made some arrangements for me to go to Salt Lake City University Hospital. He was kind and casual about the whole thing as I was a typical heart failure patient in denial!! I have had my LVAD heartware for 5 years now.We live in a small community Truth or Consequences NM, I was back to work and amazed at how well I felt.I wear my LVAD around my waist with a srub top over it...I work  12hr shifts, no problem flying, and living life! I was on the transplant list but had cancer a year after my LVAD and had to have my eye removed.My LVAD is destination therapy and I plan to set a record on how long you can live with an LVAD....Good thoughts,good words,good deeds....God willing!! Great supportive husband and family...Love them all!   Bev