Earlier this year I partnered with Mended Hearts. Mended Hearts is an incredible organization that works to support the heart disease community. They set up local chapters for peer-to-peer support groups, counseling, education, and so much more. This past year they have been focused on supporting those heart patients who have an LVAD or are considering one.
They sponsored a contest with St. Jude Medical, who recently acquired Thoratec, the company that manufactures the Heartmate LVADs. I had the Heartmate 2 LVAD for two and a half years, while I waited on the heart transplant list. The contest was to raise awareness for LVAD support. People with an LVAD, their caretakers, and support teams were asked to submit videos about life with an LVAD. Go here to see the winning videos. Many of the videos were about what benefit, reward, or gift people thought that the LVAD had offered them. Here is the story of what I felt was the greatest gift for me and my family:
Time is the Greatest Gift of Life with an LVAD
Time really is a four-letter word to those of us with heart disease. We’re told we have limited time left, we fight to extend time, we wonder how we should spend our time, and we are afraid of running out of time. It is part of the process and these thoughts are constantly on our minds with our disease. It feels like we obsess about time a lot. At least I know I did.
When I was told upon diagnosis of my cardiomyopathy that I probably had five years of life left, my time felt limited and stolen. I was a new husband, about to be a new father, had moved into a new home, and launched a new business. There was no way I was going to settle for my time being limited at all, if that was possible. I would do whatever it took to extend my life.
The sad part about life, whether you do have heart disease or not, is that we are all going to eventually die. With untreated or worsening heart disease, that span of time may be pretty short. Tomorrow is never promised. There are things we can do though to try to extend that time; get proper care from a qualified team of physicians, diet and exercise, and make use of the technology today that can help prolong the health of our hearts.
There is no Magic Wand or Pill for an Instant Cure
As much as I wished there was, there is no magic wand or pill that creates an instant cure. The LVAD is an incredible device. I almost wish I had received it earlier in my heart journey. In rare cases, people have had their hearts heal to the point of the pump being explanted. It wasn’t possible in my case. By the time I received the LVAD, my organic heart was too far gone. Whether it is five more minutes, five more days, or five more years, the LVAD has given many of us the gift of more time.
With this gift of time, we have to decide how to use it. We must tell the people we love how we feel. We can’t miss important milestones, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, and it is important to set aside quality time with our friends, families, and loved ones. Many of us who have or had LVADs have also regained energy and the ability to increase our quality of life by returning to activities we may never have thought we could do again. Favorite hobbies, low-impact sports like golfing, or just playing with our kids and grandkids.
Moving Stories of Life With an LVAD
There were some incredible videos created and submitted by people on the LVAD journey in the recent “Thanks to an LVAD …” contest. I was struck by one in particular. Jessica’s story is very similar to my own. While there are limitations with an LVAD, it doesn’t have to limit your goals and dreams. I was able to work on so many more of my dreams with this gift. Jessica was also able to achieve many of her personal goals and milestones all because of that gift of more time!
This post is sponsored by Mended Hearts, a non-profit organization offering the gift of hope to heart disease patients and their families. All opinions are my own. Learn more about Mended Hearts at http://MendedHearts.org