My Journey to Heart 2.0
It is weird to write out that title. It is a bit strange to see it in black and white. Once again I am in a position where I need a heart transplant in order to stay alive for the long haul. I am in another period of waiting. For the good or the bad of it, it is a place I am familiar with. I am on a journey to heart 2.0.
If you know my story, or follow my blog, you will be aware that in January of this year I had a pretty major case of organ transplant rejection, and my body tried to rid itself of my heart. It was pretty rough, and very touch and go for a long while to see if I would still be here today. Luckily I am blessed that the Guy upstairs must still have some things for me to do down here.
In 2014, after living with an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) for two and a half years, I got the call that I had been blessed with a donor heart. May 1st of 2014 marks 3 years with this new heart. For two and a half years there was pretty smooth sailing. There were never any biopsies that ever showed any rejection from my body. The immune suppression drugs were doing their job. Life isn’t stationary though, and my journey to Heart 2.0 has begun.
A case of acute rejection
At the end of December 2016, I started to notice my heart rate was elevated. I thought maybe it was related to the stress of the holidays, but it was concerning. After the New Year’s break, my heart rate was still elevated and I felt some fluttery beats when the rate was higher. It was time to call my cardiologist and get this figured out.
Boy, it was a good thing we did. Lab results confirm that I had a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) which grew the e-Coli bacteria in my blood. That woke up my immune system. In addition to my body attacking the e-Coli, it also attacked my heart and sent me into acute rejection. I went downhill pretty quickly after that.
The incredible heart teams here at the University of Minnesota then went into action. I am so blessed that my Wife and some of the best Medical professionals, in the world, coordinated my recovery. I was flat-line. My heart wanted to quit. They utilized an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) device and an Impella device to take over the pumping of the blood through my body and take over for the heart and lungs so my heart could have a break to rest and perhaps heal.
I was in an induced coma for the first couple weeks of January. It then took about 2 more weeks to clear my head from all of the medications used as anesthesia. Those drugs make you pretty crazy, but that is for a different post.
So What is Happening Now on this Journey to Heart 2.0?
I need a new heart, and maybe a kidney as well this time around. My new heart is too small for an LVAD to be effective in aiding with the function of the heart. The muscle walls are stiffening which also affects the function of the heart. There is a chance that this could heal, but so far in the almost 5 months I have been here in the hospital, it has not. I am currently, and will continue living here in the hospital until I receive the blessing of another new heart. Goal number one in this time was to get my heart stable. We are there now. The second goal was that I needed to drop weight again to qualify for the list, and to increase my chances that they can find a heart for me.
So I have moved in. I have decorated my room a bit more to my tastes (Super Heroes, Inspiring Scripture, Star Wars, etc.). I am O+ blood type, so even at the top of the list, it could be a wait. My goal now, is maintaining my weight, stay stable, and work out as much as possible to allow me the strength to survive another transplant surgery.
I am able to slowly start returning to work and blogging. Luckily, most of the work I do can be done wherever I have WiFi and internet access. It has been great for keeping my mind right. I also took this time, and can finally announce that I have my first cookbook coming out!
What does the near future hold on this Journey to Heart 2.0?
The Easy Low-Sodium Diet Plan and Cookbook – Quick-Fix and Cooker Meals to Start (and Stick to) a Low-Salt Diet will be coming out in just a few short weeks. I will add links here once I have them live and ready to go. I am also getting ready to launch the Hacking Salt Podcast. On the podcast, we will have many great guests such as Chef’s, Dietitians, Nutritionists, and many more. We’ll also have Q & A segments and personal sodium stories shared by you.
As you can imagine, going through the LVAD surgery, a Heart Transplant, and facing a Second Heart Transplant surgery, our finances have been strained, our savings depleted, and we are working as best as we can. We have been blessed by many friends, family, and community members. A good friend went and setup a Go Fund Me. If you would ever consider a donation, you can do so here: https://www.gofundme.com/LowerFamily
For now, prepare for a bunch of new blog posts! We’re on a mission to secure Chris’s new Heart 2.0! I hope you will follow on this journey to Heart 2.0. Enjoy the ride!