I was a healthy young woman preparing to marry in three weeks. I noticed I chest tightness and slowness. A concerned doctor friend advised investigation where my primary care physician did an EKG and referred me to a cardiologist, Dr. Luttmann.
On December 26, 2008, my fiancé and I visited Dr. Luttmann’s office where, after an echocardiogram, he diagnosed Viral Myocarditis, resulting in 20% cardiac output.
Living life became more difficult, I was moving slower and developed a persistent cough. I kept adjusting to my weakening body, pushing through with Dr. Luttmann’s help.
In short order I developed congestive heart failure and pulmonary embolisms. Breathing became tougher with frequent episodes of CHF. I was hospitalized at Miriam Hospital 14 times from 2009 – 2012, which became my home away from home.
On June 29, 2011 while visiting my parents I collapsed. My Mom heard me hit the floor. As she tried to call fire rescue for help, she gave what turned out to be life-saving compressions. The EMS team shocked me three times, performed CPR, then transported me to Miriam hospital where I was the second person they gave ice therapy and induced a coma for three days. Amazingly, I awoke with no brain damage after a 10 minute cardiac arrest.
I received a defibrillator and soon after Dr. Luttmann informed me that I would need a heart transplant and introduced me to Dr. DeNofrio the director of the Transplant program at Tufts Medical Center.
I was sent to Tuft’s, evaluated and added to the transplant list on April 24, 2012. I was told it would be approximately 9-18 months before I might receive a heart and that we had options to bridge me until a transplant was possible. By May my cardiac output had reached 5% and I was being sustained by 24 hour IV meds. Not long after, the meds could no longer sustain my heart and by mid-June a Heart Mate(LVAD) was implanted. Five days later while walking with the physical therapists, I suffered a massive heart attack that damaged my right heart. The prognosis was bleak, with talk of a BiVAD implantation, but I was too weak for the surgery.
Four weeks later a new heart became available. On July 18, 2012, at 3:30 AM, I emerged from surgery with a brand-new heart. As one part of my journey was ending a new part had just begun.
My recovery has been like a roller coaster ride; times when I feel great, then times when minor issues knock me on my butt for weeks. It’s an adjustment, but we all have to make those.
My spirituality has always played a major role in my life. It has been my lifeline through this illness. My faith has provided some of the best doctors, family, friends and true miracles which have been witnessed by many. My faith in the love that surrounds, has sustained me.
To everyone who played a role in my journey, I extend a sincere and heartfelt thank you. There aren’t words that can accurately express how I feel for the love, support, prayers, and care that I received from so many. My prayer would be that everyone who has to travel this journey would receive the same blessings of a godsend husband and family, church family and friends as well as the doctors, nurses and staff that took such good care of me.