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It Ain't Easy Living A Tethered Life With A Heart Pump

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God bless you.
It's been four months since I underwent open-heart surgery to have Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam implant a heart pump in me at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Well, I'm still adjusting and, quite frankly, it ain't easy. It ain't easy living a tethered life with a drive line coming out of your body to connect a micro pumping machine attached to your heart to an exterior power source.
By day, when I get out of bed and move around the house or go outside the house, I am powered by two four-pound batteries that are secured in an holstered vest I wear. The batteries will sustain me up to 12-14 hours before they have to be replaced by freshly charged batteries.
By night, when I go to bed, I hook my drive line up to a bedside power console that is plugged into the wall and runs off house current until there is an electrical blackout or we forget to pay our electricity bill and Commonwealth Edison cuts our electricity off.
The pump is keeping me alive until I get a heart transplant and it affords me reasonable mobility. But I have to keep reminding myself of, among other things, these following limitations:
* I can't take a bath or go swimming.
* I have to have access to either battery power or electrical power at all times and can survive only a few minutes without it.
* I can no longer enjoy going into a hot sauna and sweating out toxins and excess weight.
* I need special clearance to go through security checks at airports, must not take flights longer than seven or eight hours unless I pack extra batteries for longer flight or in case of flight delays.
* I must take care not to get my two-foot drive line snagged loose by things that stick out like handle bars on my exercise bike, door knobs, furniture edges, etc.
* I can't stay outside in 100-degree temperatures and above except for a few minutes.
When I hook up to the power console to go to bed, I have much more wiggle room with its roughly 12-foot cable. But I still have to be tethered up and the system module controller I wear on my right hip makes it difficult for me to sleep comfortably on my right side. The SMC is the control device that connects my drive line with the power sources.
I recently was cleared to take showers again instead of sponge-downs. But I have to place my batteries and system module controller in a rubber pouch that I wear over my left shoulder like a purse and it gives me only about 20 inches in wiggle room. But I'm able to lather up and suds down under the shower spout for a more thorough and refreshing washing.
Otherwise, I am able to drive, do a little yard work, write, cover games, preach, shop, walk and do other exercises. It's not real good. But it's also not that bad. At least, I'm still living.
Now that I have recovered sufficiently from the Jan. 29 heart pump implantation, Mayo Clinic has scheduled to re-examine me so that I can be reclassified on the national heart transplant list. Because I am now living with the aid of a heart pump, I am assured of getting the highest classification or the second highest classification on the heart transplant list.
Last year, I was hoping that my next major surgery would be the heart transplant operation. Instead, I had to undergo the emergency Jan. 29 heart pump implantation to save my life after some bad news ignited a life-threatening cardio-genic shock that required a 30-day hospital stay and came frightfully close to taking my life.
Thank Jesus, I'm still alive.
God bless you.

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2 Comments

Rev.Lacy, It's a blessing to read that you are continuing in your adjustment to being a temporary bionic man. You are unwaiveringly faithful and patient as God works out His plan for you. I and your fellow readers remain encouraged and strengthened by your journey, always reminded of the song It Is No Secret, "What He's done for others, He'll do for you". May your joy in the "little" things keep increasing as your healing becomes closer and closer. Prayerfully, Marie

BANKS' RESPONSE: Bionic man? I like that, Marie. Are you old enough to remember the TV series by that name? Or young enough not to remember? Well, as I have been outfitted with stainless steel stents and stitches and a titanium pump, I indeed have lots of precious metal in me. If lightning strikes, I hope it doesn't have a sweet tooth for my interior metal or I will be toast, my dear Marie. My main problem with my pump is that the batteries are extra weight that has me sort of leaning backward with my arms when I walk to help balance carrying that cargo. Moreover, I have been too easily annoyed by its nuisance that I have not exercised as often and as well as I should. Few things expose weakness better than adversity. I appreciate your continued prayers. God remains my refuge and strength and a very present help in the time of trouble.

Dear Rev. LOL! Yes, I am old enough to remember watching Lee Majors in the Six Million Dollar Man and many others on a big black and white TV console that took up the whole corner of the dining room. We were only allowed in the living room when company came. (-: I was born in the mid-1950s so I was young when it was on, but I remember a lot of the old programs. Yeah, you definitely have to watch out for storms with all that equipment. Try not to be too hard on yourself about the exercising and do what you can. Just carrying the weight of the devices is exercise itself. You've been through a lot (major understatement) so it will take a while to adjust and get back in the groove in that area. While you are doing that, God's strength continues to be made perfect in your weakness. He is so delighted to be your rock in these times of adversity because it demonstrates His unlimited and unfailing love and power to those you come in contact with. YOU ARE a walking miracle, something this world so desperately needs. I don't suggest adding up all your medical bills and associated costs, but I'm certain you are much more than a $6 million man! Prayers and blessings, Marie

BANKS' RESPONSE: Having prayer partners and supporters like you, Marie, make sickness worth my while. When I was a little boy, I didn't mind it so much when I caught a cold because mama would give me some Luden's or Smith Brothers wild cherry cough drops. Sometimes, I'd even fake having a cold or exaggerate it to get those cough drops. Your emails and those of other faithfuls like John, Marcia, Gwen, Tomas, Donna and others are much more soothing than successful surgery or some groovy sedative. You not only help me feel better, you help me BE better and encourage me to help others in the same way. Boy, it sure is nice to be saved and to be in the company of other saved people. God bless you.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.

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This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on May 24, 2010 4:59 PM.

My Mistake Could Have Cost Me My Life....Lord Have Mercy! was the previous entry in this blog.

Blackhawk Success Is Part Of My Medicine is the next entry in this blog.

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