So, I have to back up a few years to start this story...
Way back in 2006, my sweetie, Nancy, had a major heart attack. It was a left anterior descending blockage. Of course she was in denial about it and worked a full shift at the jail, I mean 55 year old women don't have heart attacks... right? That's what she thought. That left her on a medical retirement, with an ejection fraction (EF) of 25 to 20%. (normal is 55 to 70%)
We had 13 really good years together. I retired early in 2010 just to spend more time with her.
She had been having symptoms of congestive heart failure (CHF) for several years, but her cardiologist tweaked her meds and managed to keep her going.
This Spring things started to go down hill... shortness of breath, fluid retention... She was excited to get in on a research study on a new device to help stop the CHF, but after being prepped for surgery and having a right heart catheterization, her blood pressure in her heart and heart output were not within the accepted range to be in the study.
The doctors at that hospital transferred her to a different hospital for more help. Her EF was dropping, and was down to 10-15%. Since the first of June she has been home only 8 out of the first 76 days..
The doctors at Abbott Northwestern told her she had 2 choices... a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) or a transplant. The LVAD would severely limit her lifestyle. She couldn't swim or kayak any more. The LVAD would require her to wear what amounts to 2 shoulder holsters of batteries and a fanny pack with a controller in it. ... Think of an LVAD as a high tech, in-line, booster pump for your heart.
Nancy elected to do the transplant...
She finally came home on IV meds because she was in too good of shape to be in the hospital, but was dependent on the IV meds.
She was home about 3 weeks and we were beginning to get used to being home. Labor Day was here and we enjoyed the holiday.
At 5:25 the phone rang. It was the transplant coordinator from Abbott. They told her that they had located a matching donor heart, and she should be there (160 miles away) in the morning!! We had GO BAGS already packed. We left home at 2:00 AM Tuesday morning and got there before 6:00 am..
Tuesday was a blur of doctors, nurses, staff, case workers, and transplant specialists. They took blood samples, did x-rays, and more tests....
At 2:45 AM Wednesday morning she went to surgery... As they were rolling her out the door one of the surgical nurses told Nancy that now she can celebrate 2 birthdays... her original in December, and her new heart birthday.... September 4
Why was that the best birthday present ever?
September 4th is MY birthday!!!
Best gift ever!!
Shes recovering nicely and feels better every day!