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December 2010 Archives


God bless you.

This Christmas, we celebrated the birthday of Jesus Christ by giving money

to the church, to charities and individuals, by decorating a record three Christmas

trees in our home with thousands of light, including 1,000 LED white and blue

lights alone on the largest tree in the family room and a gaggle of presents under

the tree to exchange between our children and their children.

We sang and prayed before the kids opened their gifts. But by that time, my

wife Joyce and I knew that the most precious physical present we all, including

you, were hoping I'd receive was neither under the my figurative tree. There was

no new heart for me under my Christmas tree. So, I'll just keep on waiting and

praying.

On Nov. 16, after I had been elevated to No. 1 on the Mayo Clinic's heart

transplant list for B-positive blood types with big chests, I was told the chances

were around 70 percent that I would get a new heart by the end of the year.

After all, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where I am being treated,

had been averaging two heart transplant operations a month this year. So I felt

the numbers were in my favor to get a new heart sooner than later.

Unfortunately, the Mayo had limited my No. 1 status in the 1-A group to 30

days for two reasons. First, their policy guaranteed me that because my heart

was being sustained by a heart pump, technically described as a Heartmate II

Left-Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD). Second, the Mayo rotates that 1-A status

between other LVAD patients suffering end-stage congestion heart failure just as

I am.

Although I badly need a new heart because it is my best chance for

long-term survival since my heart would be pumping at roughly 10 percent

efficiency without the pump, I am not in as dire straits as other patients with

failing hearts.

"If you were in worse health, you would remain at the top of the 1-A list," Jody

Hanson, the nurse case manager representing the cardiac surgeons and

cardiologists treating me in Rochester, "But you have been responding to the

pump exceptionally well. You are in much better shape than most LVAD patients

who are suffering end-stage congestive heart failure. So we have returned you

to the 1-B status where there is only one patient ahead of you."

In other words, in the last couple of weeks, I was dropped from being first

among those classified 1-A to second among those classified 1-B because that

other 1-B patient has been on the list longer.

"If your condition were to worsen, say, because of a pump malfunction,

your situation would be more urgent and you would be returned to the top of the

list," Hanson said.

But, until my condition worsens, other heart patients in worst shape with get

the 1-A classification. But when the next two hearts for B-positive blood types

become available, and there is no similar patient classified 1-A, then those hearts

will go to my current cardiac colleague and me.

Yes, I'm disappointed. When I was first placed on the Mayo Clinic's heart

transplant list on Nov. 15, 2009, I was told I should be getting a new heart within

months because of my rarer blood type. Unfortunately, I suffered a cadio-genic

on Jan. 11 that resulted in me spending 30 straight days in three different hospitals.

When I underwent open-heart surgery on Jan. 20 to have the heart pump

implanted to save my life, that assured me of not being eligible for another

open-heart surgery until I had spent three more months recovering from the

LVAD operation.

Obviously, My chances of receiving a new heart are still high since, as

of Christmas, there was only on patient ahead of me.

Joyce and I recently spent two weeks in Rochester, Minn., so that if a heart became

available I would be easily accessible. It was a boring stay plagued by a 17-inch

snowfall that resulted in me being stuck in the snow twice while going out to get some

food. But the most enjoyable part of a stay was my opportunity to sing Christmas

carols and other songs in the Mayo Clinic's giant atrium at the subway level. Jane Belau

was my pianist. She plays there every Monday and Thursday as part of her many

community service activities. I also joined some regulars who are Mayo employees, who

love to sing and who normally joins Belau to contribute beautiful music that also makes

for powerful medicine for all of us who are there, from all over the world, to receive

treatment for our assorted health challenges.


It would have been nice to celebrate Christmas with a new heart, which

is what we prayed for. But I'm still having a merry Christmas. Once again, my baby

daughter, Natasha Banks, flew up from Atlanta; My middle daughter Noelle came

over with her son. Caleb. And my oldest daughter, Nicole Chapman, came over

with her husband, Larry, and their children Lauren, David, Timothy and Nina.

We had a beautiful time celebrating during the day. Then at night, Joyce,

Natasha and I watched "It's A Wonderful Life," together, because that's my

favorite Christmas movie and because Natasha said she had never really seen

it before.

I warned Joyce and Natasha beforehand that I would cry at least four or

five times and to not make fun of me. Really. I've seen that movie maybe 100

times now, in black-and-white and in color, and I can't help but cry at the peak

scenes of sadness and gladness. Since no other movie moves me so deeply so

consistently, I guess I'd have to call "It's A Wonderful Life" my favorite movie of

all time.

Oh, I love "Gone With The Wind," "The 10 Commandments," "The

Greatest Story Ever Told," "Star Wars," "The Godfather," "Bladerunner,"

"Gadiator," "Raiders of the Lost Art," "Schindler's List," "Les Uns Et Les Autres,"

"Scarface," "Casablanca," "Lost Horizon" and so many, many more. But "It's

A Wonderful Life" is my favorite. And when I think of my life, my ups and downs,

on the whole, I can't complaint. Mine is not a perfect life, neither the worst nor

the best. But, thank God, it is a wonderful life.

God bless you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Faith In God is Lightening The Weight of Waiting

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God bless you,

Every time our phones ring, whether it is our cells phones or home phone,

my wife Joyce and I jump, look at each other and eagerly answer.

We are waiting, most of all, for the call that tells me, "Lacy, we believe we

have found the right heart to replace your failing one. Please report to the

operating table at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn., within four hours."

It's been 23 days since I was placed at the top of the heart transplant

list at the Mayo Clinic. The heart must match my body size and B-positive blood

type. So our lives have been simplified and distilled down to the bare basic of

waiting for this earth's most precious physical gift: a healthy heart.

Prior to now, we'd often not answer the phone if we were busy or just

didn't want to be bothered. If the call was important, the caller would leave a message

that we'd eventually listen to and decide whether to respond.

But until I get a heart transplant, we can't neglect any phone call because it just

might be THE CALL.

So, I'm still waiting. If not for my faith in God, this wait would be the heaviest

of waits. But my faith in God has relieved me of the weary weight of worrying,

wondering and wishing. I am at peace with God. I learned long ago to pray that

God's kingdom come and that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Whatever the outcome, I will let you

know. Meantime, I'm waiting. We have already enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving

and we are prepared to celebrate Jesus' birthday and and enjoy a merry

Christmas, which we wish to all of you. Our Christmas tree is all aglow with blue

and white LED lights. I am praying to receive a new heart for Christmas, which

would be the most precious present I could receive. Nevertheless, we will have

a merry Christmas not because of the gift of a new heart, but because of the gift

God gave man in the form of his only begotten Son, Jesus.

God bless you.

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 is an archive of entries from December 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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