American Heart Walk and A Mechanical Heart

As a reminder, I am doing fundraising for the American Heart Association as part of the Heart Walk in which my family is participating in memory of my brother, Lee.

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You can donate here: AHW Kate’s Page.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.  You can donate as little as $25 on line and I know times are tight; however, below is a link to when Lee got his mechanical heart.  Some of you who were with me during my journey have read this; however, now you can read it again with the perspective of all the good the American Heart Association can do!

For those that haven’t read it, you get to learn all about how a mechanical heart works!  Please read A Mechanical Heart here and feel free to let me know if you have any questions or comments!

Again, thank you so much for your help, every donation helps.

My Wicked Weekend in Pictures

I had a busy weekend!

Mr. T and I got up and drove to Dallas.  I took the wrong toll-way.  This is not surprising since there is insane construction at the exchange and I was arguing with the GPS.

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This is the GPS I was arguing with for part of the trip. Mr. T was a great navigator, though! (See the hand still messed up?)

First, we went to visit Erica and meet her new baby Landon.  He is so cute!  I love babies.

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I was more focused on holding the phone properly than I was smiling… but T taught me that the volume button takes pictures! I didn’t know that!

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Her daughter Em playing around with me and the camera!

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My baby holding her baby. I just love this picture. (You can barely see the steri strips still holding the gash by his eye closed!)

Mr. T and I stopped for lunch, and I took a picture and beamed it to Erica cause I knew there was a Taco Casa by her house, she just hadn’t found it yet.  I don’t think the rest of the country (and Canada) has Taco Casa, and I’m okay with that, cause it just means more for me!!!

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You don’t know what you are missing!!

After fueling up our bodies, we headed downtown to Fair Park.  A few months ago I bought us tickets to Wicked, the musical.  I splurged and spent the $15 for a ticket for valet, too.  So worth the $15!! I loved being able to just get out of the car and not worry about finding a place to park!

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Mr. T and I eventually found our seats. 🙂

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The view from our seats.  We were pretty high up, but we had a clear view of the stage so that was really nice.

Mom and dad saw this play on Broadway and both really liked it, and T and I have been looking forward to this for months.  It was so very good!!  I was reading the Playbill and several of the cast members were from the original Broadway cast, so that was pretty cool!

Now, just minutes before the show started mom texted me that Lee was out of surgery, so several hours later, and as long as we were already in Dallas, Mr. T and I stopped by the hospital to say hi to them.  What I didn’t know was that as soon as Lee was out of surgery and back in his room, something went wrong and they had taken him right back to the OR.  We arrived just as he was getting back to his room, again.  So, we waited.  Eventually mom and dad got to go back to his room to see him and then dad came and got T and I and we went back to see him.  Bless his pea-picking heart.  Poor guy has been put through the wringer. He was taken back originally that morning because his LVAD clogged up.  They put on a new LVAD, removed the RVAD and put him on ECMO.  As soon as he got back to his room they discovered that the LVAD and ECMO were not synced up properly, so they took him back.  Lee is the first patient that they have done the LVAD and ECMO at the same time.  Have I told you that yet?

Anyway… after seeing him and hugging mom and dad, we made the long drive back home.

We got back to our side of the world and ran by my parents house to gather up some things they needed and left them for my Uncle to pick up and take to them.  That was when Mr. T and I decided we were hungry again!  It was dinner time after all!

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My view from the dinner table!

We enjoyed a nice dinner out – and I had a coupon for a free dessert!  The restaurant doubled the dessert!! Instead of one serving, they put two on the same plate – so we didn’t really have to share – we got our own!  It was the perfect way to end the very busy day!

Sunday I rested.  A lot. Well, I did laundry.  I cleaned the kitchen and my bathroom.  I pulled a lot of weeds.  But otherwise, I rested.  My buddy BA came over and helped with the yard work and mowed, weed eated and trimmed the big bush up front.  I felt so much better once that was done.  I was too physically wiped out to do it and with T injured, there was no way.  So, I’m glad that I have great friends like that who can help out.  He stayed and had dinner with us, and we laughed and had a good time.  It was the perfect way to end the day.

It was a good weekend.  And I highly recommend Wicked – and Taco Casa!

A Mechanical Heart

My brother has a mechanical heart.

It is weird to even just say that.  So, let me back up a bit and catch you up.

Tuesday Lee ended up being sedated and put on the ventilator.  He spiked a fever, so he was also under an ice blanket (a blanket that they run cold water through to cool the body down, sometimes ice packs are put on top of this blanket to help bring the temp down even more.).  We were told Tuesday that he might not make it through the night.

He stayed pretty much out of it on Wednesday – on purpose, they wanted/needed him to be sedated while he was on the ventilator as each time he would surface, he’d fight the vent.  Also on Wednesday his fever broke, and then came back.  And then broke again.  It was decided that they would do the Right Heart Cath, no matter what!! on Thursday.

Thursday.  Lee’s fever came back but stabilized.  The docs decided not to do the right heart cath but to just proceed with the operation for the LVAD the next day.  They did discover that he is allergic to one of the meds that the surgeon wanted to use.  And, thank God for the surgeon who was willing to do the surgery.  Since it was such a high risk operation, apparently several turned down the opportunity.

Friday.  He has his surgery today.  About five hours in we got the report that he was doing so very well!  He was still open and on the table, but they had installed the device and were watching the heart respond.  They were also doing dialysis to cleanse his blood of toxins and meds. Yay!  This is great news.

About two hours later they came back and told us that the right side of his heart didn’t hold up when they put the LVAD on, so they had to go ahead and install an RVAD (if LVAD stands for left ventricle assisted device, guess what the RVAD stands for?  You got it! Right ventricle assisted device.)  They were still doing dialysis, but Lee was doing very good and it would be a few more hours.

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The next update we got was right at 2 hours later and he had survived the surgery!! I had left the hospital by that time and dad’s text finished with “Victory!” They will monitor him closely for his vitals to stabilize and for any internal bleeding.  Mom and dad got to see him briefly, and mom said that it was amazing, his hands were warm.  Lee’s hands haven’t been warm for ages, with the lack of blood flow, they were always cold.  So, if nothing else, we have physical proof that he has blood pumping though his body.

Now, he’ll have a very rough weekend, but, what a blessing.  He will wear a couple of devices to keep his heart pumping and he has to plug in to recharge every night.  But, having batteries to recharge means that he gets to come home! No, we don’t have a release date, but if he starts to heal, he gets to come home to finish healing.

Now, I know you are all wondering, so here’s your medical lesson:

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This is an LVAD – it’s bigger than you think.

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This is the internal and external picture showing how it works. We have four fail-safes on it in case of power failure or a short circuit.

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Thanks to the Mayo Clinic, you all will be the most educated people out there!

Keep in mind, because the blood from the left and right side of the heart can’t co-mingle, Lee will have two of these in his chest pumping his heart for him.

Oh! And, he was approved for transplant!! He has to recover from this surgery, have two teeth pulled (they are decaying and pose a risk of infection) and has to conquer the infection he has that the doctors can’t identify (and Lee is on the four most powerful antibiotics there are and the infection is still present… What’s up with that?!?).  Once those requirements are met, then he will be placed on the transplant list. This is good news guys!

Thanks for being there for this journey with me!  I’m sure there will be more.  And, I have to tell you all about Mr. T totally wiping out on his bike, and the fact that he needed stitches, but by the time someone agreed with me on it, it was too late.  I have pictures!! 🙂 Tomorrow we are going to meet Graced By Emilie’s new baby brother, and then going to see the Broadway musical Wicked, followed by a stop at the hospital to see Lee!

Have a great weekend!!!

WordPress Family Award

Real quick – Lee was transferred to St. Paul over the weekend and he is listed as “seriously ill”.  I still don’t know if I fully comprehend this.  I do know that they are going to re-attempt the right heart cath that couldn’t be done last week because of his INR numbers (they were afraid that his blood wouldn’t clot.)  His labs have still been all over the place; however, for the first time, they are really talking heart transplant.  Unfortunately, they are also talking kidney transplant.  He is not well enough to handle this, so the goal is still to get him well enough to make this a serious discussion.  He has been approved for an LVAD:  Left Ventricle Assistant Device.  This device helps his heart pump and is used frequently for people waiting for a heart transplant. As with everything, there are pros and cons, but from what I’m gathering, the pros outweigh the cons.  The current goal is to get him well enough for this surgery.  We are praying! (Update as I got a text from my mom before I could finish this blog post, his blood is too thin to do the right heart cath today, so maybe tomorrow.  They are more concerned about the LVAD now, because the right side of his heart might not be able to handle it.  And, the heart transplant stuff is in the works, but it will take weeks to months or more for that to be finalized.)

Now, onto the “I am part of the WordPress family award”.  I teared up when I read what Jess wrote about me when she nominated me.  It could be lack of sleep and emotional stress, but all the same, she wrote the sweetest blurb and it touched my heart.  You should go read it, and more of what Jess writes about here.  She’s even been featured on Freshly Pressed!  I’m amazed and awed by her writing, and love that she takes on all topics from autism to how we really need Lego to invent a Lego vacuum, which I think is genius!

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This is an award for everyone who is part of the “WordPress Family.”  A blogger named Shaun started this award on the basis that the WordPress family has taken him in, and showed him love and a caring side only WordPress can.  The way people take a second to be nice, to answer a question and not make things a competition amazes him.  He has been given many awards, but he wanted to leave his own legacy on here by creating his own award, as many have done before.  This represents “Family” we never meet, but are there for us as family.

I love this award, as we all can win and be a part of it.  This award resonates with me as I have made some great friends on WP, and have seen more love and support from you guys than I ever expected.  I really thought that I would be just another random person on the blogosphere, but instead, I’ve made real connections.  I look forward to seeing what is happening in your lives and I am just narcissistic enough to really enjoying sharing my life with you!

Now, I’ll give you the rules, but be warned, I’m not going to follow them! The Rules:  (1) Display the logo on your blog.  (2)  Link back to the person who nominated you.  (3) Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.  (4)  Let your 10 family members know you have awarded them.

I’m not going to come up with 10 people, I’m going to just go with my heart on this one and mention the people that have become my WP Family and shown me the love and support that I feel embodies this award.

  1. Who or What was That is a blog by Karaboo.  She’s also a friend in my real life, so I have the pleasure of having lived through some of her blogs!  Her writings are funny, witty and insightful – and excellent cause I’m mentioned in them occasionally! Recently she wrote about the fact that she was about to leave town for a business trip and how her family was planning for the end of the world.  It’s pretty funny, and spot-on accurate! 
  2. Me, Myself and Kids technically doesn’t qualify anymore.  Larry has grown so big he has his own website now that hosts his blog; however, he started on WP and he has been one of my biggest supporters.  And, actually, I hear this about Larry all of the time, that he’s been there to give us a push when we need it and a pat on the back when we deserve it.  To me, Larry is the embodiment of the family on WP, plus, he’s a brilliant writer!  He and his wife and two kids live on the East coast side of things, and I’m learning a lot about public transportation through him!
  3. Surviving The Madhouse is a blog by one of my new favorite people, Holly.  Not only do we share a very similar taste in movies, she is awesome and supportive and really helps me indulge in my obsessions.  Her Random Ramblings are some of my favorite reading times because I know that she is going to be honest and real and make me laugh and make me cry – sometimes all in the same post!
  4. Graced by Emilie is written by my good friend and co-worker.  Erica takes us through her daily life and time spent with her daughter Em doing arts and crafts all the way through her pregnancy and the recent arrival of Landon! She’s out on maternity leave right now, at home in sleep deprived chaos (or at least, that’s how she put it on the meeting notice she sent out for her leave!)
  5.  You Caught Me Sitting Still is a new blog by Kari, and friend of mine from a long time ago.  We spent hours and hours together everyday volunteering at the hospital when we were both in high school and a great friendship developed.  She lives in Alaska with her husband and dogs and goes to school and has recently starting working out. Her journey has cracked me up and I love that she is documenting it – it makes me feel great that I’m not the only one that struggles!

Now, there are many more of you out there that have inspired me, such as Motherhood is an Art and My Journey to Live an Authentic Life , but I am stopping at five official ones because this is insanely hard to do and my boss is eventually going to notice that I’m not working!