God bless you.
A year ago today, after suffering a cardio genic shock that almost killed me, I underwent open-heart surgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where chief cardiac surgeon, Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, implanted a heart pump to save my life and sustain me until I get a new heart.
It hasn't been fun living a tethered life.
By day, I'm powered by batteries whose electrical current is channeled by a system controller through a drive line that goes through my chest area into the Heartmate II, which does the pumping my diseased heart can no longer do sufficiently to keep me alive.
At night when I bed down, I change from the batteries, that are carried in a vest, to household current. To make that transition, I disconnect from the 18-inch-long cables connected to the batteries and reconnect to 15-foot-long cables drawing the power from a power console plugged into the wall to access AC current. Heaven helps me if there is a widespread, extended electrical blackout.
My batteries weigh roughly three pounds each and run for 12 hours before requiring recharged batteries. I've had to purchase huge shirts to wear over my medical machinery so that people don't mistake me for a terrorist because batteries are pretty much strapped to my sides. When you see me wearing the system controller and batteries, I can look rather armed and extremely dangerous.
I certainly have to conceal them especially when I board a plane.
The batteries afford me pretty much unlimited mobility, except for things like taking baths, swimming or sitting in a sauna, as long as they are charged. But the night cables restrict me to a range of 15 feet from my bed.
Yes, living a tethered life isn't fun. In fact, it is downright boring and frustrating. But it's better than the death I almost suffered.
I spent 30 days spitting time between three hospitals. I was placed on life support twice. And I remember clearly what I firmly believe was imminent death. I saw angels. No, not the kind normally depicted in human form, wearing wings and halos. Rather, what I saw looked like transparent dragonflies or small propeller-driven airplanes zoomed all around the room I was in.
I wondered why those around me weren't trying to shoo away these flying objects. I wanted to tell people around me what I was seeing. But I couldn't because I had a breathing tube stuffed down my throat. I experienced both feelings of fear and happiness. Fear that I was dying with extending proper goodbyes to my family and happiness because I would soon be seeing Jesus Christ, my Lord and savior.
Only after I fell into a coma did I cease seeing these "angels?" For or five days before I left the hospital last Feb. 5, I was so weak that I could not scoop down or up in my bed. Nurses had to come move me into a comfortable position. Sometimes, I'd have to push that emergency button again and again before anybody came to ease my discomfort.
I could not even sit up on my own. So, obviously, I could neither stand nor walk either. So whenever I had to use the toilet, I had to do so into a bedpan the nurses slip under me and I can think of nothing more uncomfortable.
Pain killer was my round-the-clock menu until I stopped hurting and realize I was too weak to move on my own or even feed myself.
I have been blessed to return to work and also to preach from time to time. And I'm talking about preaching with power.
Now, I'm waiting for a new heart. That isn't easy either because of the medicines, roughly 20 pills I still have to take, some with very irritating and painful side effects. The water pills frequently give me the gout, which I have suffered in every joint of my body. And the gout forces me to take indomethcin, a medication that is harmful to my kidneys.
Then there is my blood thinner that keeps my blood from clotting and causing me to have a potential deadly stroke. That medicine occasionally results in torrential nosebleeds and also results in blood in my stool. Now, Mayo has placed my candidacy on hold until I undergo a colonoscopy to rule out any emergence of colon cancer.
After suffering the agony of being diagnosed with a brain tumor and after enduring the pain of prostate cancer and radiation seeds implantation, the last thing I need is to be dismissed from the heart transplant list by colon cancer or any other serious health issue. I undergo the colonoscopy, an out-patient procedure, next week.
Yes, I'm blessed and glad to be alive and not in any significant, ongoing pain. From the very start, I placed everything in God's hands. I pray that His healing will be made manifest in my flawed flesh. I'm doing my best and trusting God for the rest. There is only much that I can do or control. But God has all power in His hand. And the bottom line and every Christian's prayer is that God's kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
God bless you.