Friday, July 15, 2011

LVAD exit here....

In order for you to truly understand the story of the day we "got the call"... well, I've got to rewind a couple of days......

Sunday July 3
Kevin's turn to sleep in this morning. Me and the boys in our pajamas on the sofa watching tv... I actually posted a blog entry on the morning of July 3.  Kevin wasn't feeling well, not himself. I let him sleep until just before noon. He didn't look good to me and he said he was indeed in pain. I made the call to our VAD coordinator. An hour later we were enroute to Cedars emergency room so that the doctors could take a look at Kevin. We arrive and let me just say that if you ever want to get seen quickly in an up with an LVAD'er not feeling well. People were falling all over us to get us in the door. He progressively got worse, something that could be compared to a 12 hour flu of sorts. Considering he had the LVAD and was listed as 1A on the transplant list...they kept him overnight for observation.

Monday July 4
I get the call from Kevin that he's perfectly healthy again. Must have been a little 12 hour something that hit  him really hard, he was being discharged. I arrived at Cedars by 1:30pm. One of our favorite nurses, Jimmy, was discharging us... just chatting it up and then walks over another favorite nurse of ours, Lea. I can't remember who said it but it was joked that "ha ha how funny would it be if you guys went home & you got the call to come back?" Between you & me I was laughing on the outside and secretly anxious on the inside because in three days Kevin's 30 day priority would be up and he'd be moving down to status 1B. This was probably the only discharge from Cedars that went off without a hitch. No issues at discharge. Very smooth. We were home by 3:30pm. Just in time to have family dinner with our boys. Red, White & Blue iced cupcakes for the fourth of July. Relaxing evening at home. Around 9pm my friend Gina called me from her husband's cell phone. "Hey Tracy my cell phone is dead, gotta charge it. If you guys get the call tonight, call this number or my home line." Gina is so cute... she lives the closest to us and she has family that lives close by so that when we got the call she could be to us in a pinch. She has been calling for the past couple of weeks telling me what number to call because her cell phone was dead or was being charged. She makes me smile. We were in bed by 10pm.

11:52pm my cell phone rings. I didn't look at the caller ID because I was THAT exhausted from not sleeping the night before. Here's the conversation:

"Hi, is this Tracy?"
Yes, this is Tracy. Who's this?
"This is Brian. I'm a Transplant Coordinator with Cedars Sinai and I'm calling to tell you that Dr. Trento just accepted an offer on a heart for your husband Kevin."
You're shitting me?!!!?????!!!!
Insert Brian laughing here
I'm sorry could you say that again? KEVIN WAKE UP!! They umm, they have a heart for you..

And I handed the phone to Kevin on speakerphone. We received our instructions, he hung up the phone, and I remember us looking at each other with blank faces... Kevin said "what the fuck do we now?" And then we snapped back into reality and started frantically getting dressed, he was switching from plug to battery, and I dialed Gina. No answer on her cell phone. Kevin reminded me to call Sean's phone. Nothing. I dial again. Both of the numbers. Then the home number and left a message. (Clearly she was just as exhausted as I was that night. She was at my house the entire day prior with our boys while Kevin & I were at Cedars.) I look at my phone and dialed Kristy. Third ring and Kristy picked up...she said hello, I said hello, and she asked "did you get the...?" I said "YES Cedars has a heart!!!" She replied with "I'm coming right over" and hung up on me. We woke up the boys, gave hugs & kisses...... Kevin had a private moment with each of them and we were on our way at 12:35am on Tuesday July 5....

12:38am Who the hell stops to put gas in their car when Cedars Sinai, the top transplant facility in the U.S., calls to tell you they have a heart for you!!!??? I'll tell you who... Tracy & Kevin do... it's how we roll. As hysterical as it sounds...we never would have made it to Cedars... the gas tank was on freaking empty and in the red.

This is a reflection in the 6th floor windows at Cedars of us..
I made him stop so we could remember it forever...
second to last picture of Kevin living with an LVAD..
1:15am we arrive at Cedars, get admitted, and the transplant process begins. It really was like a whirlwind. Nurses in and out, taking blood, hanging units of plasma to reverse his INR before the actual transplant, putting in needles for IV's, sign this, don't eat or drink, sign that, and then the morning nurse shift came in. I can't tell you what a relief it was to see all of our favorite nurses from 6th floor northeast taking care of us... how fantastic it felt to see their smiling faces, the hugs, the tears of happiness ... all from the nurses who really have become our "Cedars family" ... the people that have seen us through the worst and they were here taking care of us at such a pivotal moment in this journey.

1:30pm and they were coming to take Kevin to the OR. I was allowed to walk down the hallway with them towards the OR. They were kind enough to let me come inside the door, about 15 feet in. I was told at this point I could go no further and to say my goodbye. And at that, the OR team turned around to give us a private moment.... It was for sure the kiss of a lifetime, one I will never forget. As tears flowed down our faces, we said we loved each other. As I walked out of the door, I stared at him being wheeled further away... I was standing in the middle of the 6th floor hallway, my heart was racing and not knowing if he could even hear me I yelled "I LOVE YOU KEVIN!!!" He raised his hand up and yelled "I LOVE YOU".... he heard me.
Last picture of US, living with an LVAD

3:30pm my first update from the OR: Kevin's chest was open, the LVAD was turned off and he was on pulmonary bypass. His new heart was enroute .....

4:00pm his new heart was in the building...

5:30pm Melissa, the perfusionist in the OR with Kevin..whom by the way has been with Kevin in the OR before.... she came out to give me an update... Kevin's new heart was beating on its own. My friends Claire & Gina told me I must've asked her at least 25 times if she was sure that his heart was beating on its own .... her answer was yes every time. It had been nine very long months since that had happened and I can only tell you that for the next few minutes I cried in the arms of Claire & Gina. As the tears of happiness flowed I took great joy in telling both of Kevin's parents this fabulous news. After a few more phone calls, a swig of Scotch from a flask, and a happy dance in the 6th floor hallway...I ran to tell the  6th floor nurses, saw Jimmy, told him the good news, and he shared with everyone else.

7:15pm The doctor came out to tell me Kevin did wonderful, was on his way to the CSICU, and I said thank you and gave him a really BIG hug!

From start to finish, they were by my side.

About two hours later I saw Kevin in the CSICU, still sedated of course from surgery, and it was the first time he was without the LVAD. He had color in his face. He was doing wonderful. The surgery went really well. I walked into the waiting room to see all of my dear friends that have been on this journey with us... the ones that started this LVAD journey in the ICU waiting room back in October... how wonderful to end it with the exact same people. It was, without a doubt, a moment to remember. And from that moment perspective of living with an LVAD ended.

1 comment:

  1. It's been quite a journey.. of tears and love and hope and most importantly.. strength. Your love and devotion is such a powerful force.....I ♥ you guys dearly. I'm so happy to view this ending... and it's just the beginning to a new chapter in a new novel. Many long years ahead... xoxo
    PS. I can't believe I missed that call!