Devastated

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
My husband, Ed, had a heart transplant. The following describes the emotional roller coaster ride my family had gone through for the next nineteen months.

Submitted: March 06, 2017

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Submitted: March 06, 2017

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My day began with kissing my husband, Ed, goodbye before he drove to the lumber yard to buy some wood for the deck he was building. I didn’t just kiss him once, but three times which was unusual for me; one kiss usually sufficed.

I remember noticing that the color of Ed's face looked to be gray. It could have been from the shade hitting the drivers window. or maybe it was because of the long, stressful work week he had. It concerned me. I pleaded with him not to go, but he said he was fine.

An hour and a half had gone by since he left the house and I hadn’t heard from him, which was not normal. Now, I was worried.

I called the lumber yard to see if Ed had left yet. The manager said that he had passed out when he went to step up into the truck. He had fallen backward hard enough to crack the window in the camper shell. He was unresponsive, not breathing and blue so the store manager called 911.

When the ambulance arrived the manager said that the EMT’s wheeled Ed into the ambulance and began CPR, then, they drove him to the nearest hospital, which was only a couple of miles away.

The next four weeks were the worse days of my life, I thought, but I had no idea what the next nineteen months would bring.

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All I could think about was calling my two sons. I left messages on their home phones, they didn’t have cellphones, to let them know what had happened. My two older sons were in the Marine Corps; thank heavens they weren’t deployed overseas. They arrived at the hospital soon after I did.

As we walked into the intensive care section of the hospital there was a priest and two nuns waiting to console us. Soon after,  surgeon arrived and explained that Ed had a severe heart attack and after X-rays and EKG' s, he would need a five-way bypass and explained the procedure to us. He said the medics were wheeling him into the operating room. He  would let us know when the surgery was completed

The surgery took six and a half hours. The doctor said that we wouldn’t be able to see Ed until the following day. Although Ed had a five-way bypass his heart was so severely damaged that he may not make it through the night!

None of us were able to sleep that night. My two sons and I stayed in the ICU waiting room that night.  As soon as I would close my eyes the code blue alert would sound over the speakers followed by the room number that Ed was in. The alert continued off and on during the night. Whenever the alert would sound I would run to the nurse’s desk. The nuns would stop me and then they would walk me back to the ICU waiting room. That went on all through the night. The nuns would be there to comfort us. We said prayers together.  Later on, we went into the chapel and said the rosary over and over again.

The following morning the surgeon told us exactly what had happened to Ed’s heart. The way that he explained it to us is that the bottom of Ed’s heart had exploded. All of his arteries were blocked. The reason for the bypass was to keep him alive for a heart transplant. The transplant team put him on the list immediately because they were afraid that he wouldn’t last but a few days without it. Days went on, touch and go, with many more code blue alerts.

Ed’s lungs and kidneys were failing.

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Two weeks after the bypass the doctors were elated—they found a heart for Ed. The heart donor was a young man from Salt Lake City Utah that was killed in a motorcycle accident and was brain dead. The doctors in Utah said they would keep the heart of the donor beating until the heart transplant team could fly there to harvest the heart. The doctors said that they would let us know when the heart would arrive so we could go to the roof to watch the helicopter land. Within three and a half hours the transplant team harvested the heart in Utah and were back at the hospital in Los Angeles CA. Within two and a half hours after the heart arrived Ed had his heart transplant.

What I was not told is that the heart donor had Hepatitis C, which would mean that if Ed survived the heart transplant he would eventually have the disease and could reject the donor's heart. Somehow, Ed was able to sign the OK, which is unbelievable, since he was on a respirator machine with tubes going everywhere... Unfortunately, the doctor told my son’s girlfriend about the Hepatitis c and not me. I didn’t find out about it until the day following after the transplant. I was upset because if I would have known, I would have talked to Ed first to let him know what could possibly happen if he would agree to the transplant. I didn’t want him to die but I didn’t want him to suffer like he had been, either.

 

The transplant went perfectly. No problems. I had to make sure he took all of the rejection drugs etc. I gave him the pills; he wouldn’t know how many pills and how often he was to take them. I was happy to help him, I loved him so much.

Ed had to take forty-two pills a day. I had to weigh him in the morning and at night and take his temperature twice a day, every day. I logged in the information on the computer and if there was any change, I would fax the heart transplant team.

The first sign of the rejection was three months after the surgery. He didn’t show signs of rejection but the day before, he had to have heart biopsies to test for rejection. They called us with the results. The next biopsy was the following month and it showed that there were no signs of rejection. I can remember how happy he was.

 

For the next 4 months Ed had medication changes and many more heart biopsies, but no rejections. He looked wonderful and felt great. He said he felt like a young man again.

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Before his transplant, Ed worked in the corporate offices of Hughes Aircraft as an electronic engineer, in Culver City, Los Angeles. He loved his work. One day he mentioned that he wanted to return to work. The drive to work took two hours back and forth. I tried to talk him out of it, but his mind was set on the idea. So, four and a half months after his transplant, he returned to work.

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Mimie Durand. All rights reserved.

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