Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"what's that?"

So, living with an LVAD we get all sorts of questions, stares, looks, from everyone and everywhere we go. I mean if you don't know what an LVAD is, what the LVAD gear looks like, or know Kevin personally....then, you probably would look at Kevin with his gear & wonder "what's that?"

He gets the question from the people who are curious enough to ask. One time in the movie theater the lady behind the counter pointed at the system controller and said "hey, is that one of them there ab things for exercising?" Caught off guard Kevin and I giggled, he looked at her and replied "no, it's actually an LVAD & it's pumping the blood through my body." She seemed mortified but smiled, handed us our popcorn & we carried on with our evening.

We had to go to the ATM one afternoon. I pull into the parking space and Kevin gets out to use the walk up ATM. I notice as Kevin is using the ATM that the security guard for the bank is staring at Kevin...I mean really staring and getting closer to him. He didn't approach Kevin to ask him anything but he was definitely "eyeing" him up as if he looked suspicious. My guess is that this security guard has never seen someone with an LVAD and maybe he thought Kevin was packin' or something. He stared at Kevin his entire walk back to the car.

Walking through CVS pharmacy with Kevin.... a woman walking by us very rudely points at his LVAD gear and asks "hey is that a pain pump? I had one of those too." We shook our heads no and then as we're trying to explain what it is....she's walking away. Why ask if you're not going to listen to our answer? Oh right she was "assuming" and being rude. Two things in life I loathe...people that assume and people that are rude.

Then there are the genuinely curious people.... the ones that upon hearing our reply will get even more interested and wish us both well.

And yes, a couple of people have said "hey Dick Cheney has one of those." Yes, he does but I'd like to think he's NOT the poster person for LVAD's.

This pic was taken in January.
Kev is wearing the LVAD vest
which encases the batteries at either side
and system controller on his belt.
I've attached a couple of pictures for everyone to see what the LVAD gear looks like. This way, if by chance you're walking through a store or on the street and you see someone wearing something similar... you already know, they've got an LVAD.... and most likely their story is probably just as emotional  as ours. Flash them a smile....... my mother always told me a smile goes a long way and it can definitely change your mood. My father always told me to smile because it'll make people think you're up to something. He's more of the comedian in our family. Smiles are indeed contagious...and personally speaking, I smile a lot because I've got nothing to be sad about. I've got a wonderful husband, healthy beautiful children, great family, and fantastic friends. I am a lucky girl. And I'm a thankful girl because without that LVAD I wouldn't be blogging about this right now.

Here is my very handsome husband enjoying himself at a recent block party.
As you can see, what might look like a fanny pack is really his "system controller."
If you look closely you can also see one of the batteries which are on both his sides at hip level.
The system controller & batteries are attached to his jeans and/or belt loop here.

Here's Kevin wearing a "tactical shirt," worn by military or undercover police.
It's a great shirt because the pockets are meant for firearms but in Kev's case, they're perfect for LVAD batteries!
(system controller attached on jeans)


  1. Well if I ever run into Dick Cheney, I will be sure to say,"Hey Kevin Riepl has one of those, but your no Kevin Riepl!"

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  3. My husband had one in 2010 for 7 months and went into a dollar general and a lady asked if he was playing the sympathy card because you could see the batteries and wires.😲😲 I wish I was with him but I was at work