Road to an LVAD

How do you get to a place where you need a left ventricular assist device (LVAD)? Everyone’s story is slightly different. Below is my story, when you have a chance share your story with us.

My cardiologists finally convinced me that I needed to go through a heart transplant evaluation to get on the heart transplant list. This was after many years of denying that I was in end stage heart failure. I continued to work six days a week, thinking somehow I was invincible. Frankly, I was just stupid! I reluctantly agreed to go through the evaluation. In the final testing, they put a catheter, a Swan, through my Carotid artery into my heart to test the heart function. The tests confirmed that not only was I dying from congestive heart failure I also had extreme pulmonary hypertension caused by the heart failure.

While waiting to be discharged from the hospital, well things went really wrong. I stood up to use the urinal jug and… woke up on the floor surrounded by doctors and nurses. How long had I been on the floor? I had no idea! Since I still was on the heart monitor, a Code Blue alarmed due to a lethal arrhythmia, which could stop my heart permanently. The medical staff lifted me into the hospital bed. At this time I thought” everything was good”. My internal defibrillator must have gone off, I had just passed out before the shock.

Then I heard the doctors and nurses say, “Get him cleaned up”. I don’t want to get into much detail here, but had a full urinal jug with me at the time I passed out. I’m thinking, “Good, just clean me up and send me home. I was wrong again as they quickly ushered me down to the Cath Lab to implant a temporary balloon heart pump to keep me alive. I woke in the cardiac care unit (CCU), totally confused and angry that I was not going home.

The temporary balloon pump provided the doctors a few days to stabilize me and determine the next steps. It was not a long-term solution. In my case, the doctors explained I needed emergency surgery to implant an LVAD to keep me alive as a bridge to a heart transplant. My first thought was to tell everyone just let me die, NO f*#!*#! Heart Pump, LVAD, for me I told my wife that I wasn’t going to sign the authorization forms for the surgery, making her distraught. The LVAD would improve my probability of living to see a heart transplant, without it I would not make it. I wouldn’t listen to the medical doctors and I wouldn’t listen to my wife.

My wife asked my younger brother to talk with me. He was able to convince me with tears that I must go through the surgery; I had too much to live for, my family and friends. He was right. I was being stubborn. I was fearful of the unknown. I am one of eleven children and ten wanted me to live. I knew I would have my wife and my brothers and sisters to help through this ordeal. But I first had to help myself; I signed the authorization papers for the LVAD surgery and never looked back.

Bob