God bless you.
Spending one's birthday in the hospital recovering from surgery is no happy thought
and no springboard toward a happy birthday.
But that's my lot since I undergo back surgery Monday morning (Aug. 10) at the
University of Chicago Hospital, where UCMC neuro-surgeon Dr. Frederick Brown will
perform a lumbar laminectomy on me.
Then the next day, Aug. 11, I'll hopefully celebrate my 66th birthday.
Not with a party, which I have never had. But I'll celebrate it recovering from that
back surgery. And the happiest part of that birthday will be simply surviving a successful
surgery with as little pain as possible.
After a hopefully short recovery, unless God gives my heart the miracle healing we
have been praying for, I will then undergo my most serious surgery yet. I will have a
Heartmate2, a left-ventricular-assist-device, implanted to desperately improve my blood
My weakened heart, afflicted with end-stage congestive heart failure, has been
doing a progressively poor job of pumping life-sustaining blood throughout my blood and
that has resulted in a slow-motion death for me. I am experiencing more and more
stiffness, pain and weakness in my fingers and hands, toes and feet and joints.
The bad back has simply made matters worse by preventing me from standing or
walking longer than a minute or two. And the increasing sedentary life is no friend to the
exercise and therapy crucial to improving or preserving the health of my heart.
I have done a lot of study on the heart pump. A very good source of knowledge
and encouragement has come from a new friend named Robert Winston, a 48-year-old
Cabrini Green native who wore a Heartmate2 for a year before receiving his new heart
a month ago at the University of Chicago.
Robert's story is very intriguing, exciting and encouraging. At trimming down some
100 pound from being what he calls a sick, 297-pounder, his congestive heart failure
worsened and resulting in him collapsing into a coma before being rushed to the
hospital and given an implanted Heartmate2 as a bridge to a much-needed, life-saving
"That pumped saved my life and made me feel better than I had felt in years,"
Winston told me. "The next thing I noticed after getting the pump was that my toenails
and fingernails started growing again. I also started getting back strength in my legs, my
hands, my whole body. It was difficult to adjust to at first, having to depend upon
battery packs and a home console machine plugged into the wall to keep me alive. I
couldn't sleep on my stomach or takes baths or any long trips. But when you realize that
your very life will depend upon those changes, you learn to adapt to them sooner or
later because you have no other choice if you want to live.
"And my main drive was the fact that I wasn't ready to die and didn't want to die.
I loved living and I had a lot of my family, especially my three sons, depending upon me.
Also, the fact the pump made me feel so much better made it easier for me to put up
with the negatives and inconveniences because they were such a little price to pay to
After getting his new heart from a donor half his age, Winston says he so far has
noticed little improvement in the way he felt after having the pump implanted in him.
This really says volumes about the benefits provided by the pump. Obviously, the
heart transplant, if successful and compatible with the recipient, is the better option
because the patient once again is more mobile and self-sufficient. He no longer has
to live being powered by and tethered to a battery pack or an AC console through a
drive line connecting to the D-battery-sized motor that is attached to his heart and
that provides a constant flow blood that no longer includes a heartbeat.
With my health deteriorating, I desperately need the pump and am praying for
a successful and timely implantation.
God bless you.