Under the knife

We’re actually up at the moment of which it seems to be the point of this story. However, looking at the whole, it is of course about so many other things than the actual surgery. It would be correct to say that the operation spurred a whole slew of other things: Other obstacles, gains, wins, growths, pits of despair, frustrations, moments of happiness. I will stop before I start sounding like a cheesy self-help book (of which I have read plenty.)

MORTALITY
I have several friends or acquaintances who, either have been through or are dealing with, serious health issues. My experiences have put me in touch with what that can mean, and I feel a special kinship with these people. Mortality is a hard, new reality to run up against and to honestly realize that our time is limited. At a certain point, no bargaining can change that. I always felt like any situation was negotiable in one way or the other. There was always a way to either negotiate with somebody to still get to do/experience/have whatever was at stake. You take some losses, but still get to play. You find a new route to it.


With mortality, there is not yet any negotiating. It does not matter what I pull out of my hat, how many losses I am willing to take, how much a promise. It’s a fucking end wall. To me, that is one depressing thought. And when I have thoughts like that, I have to find a way out.

ALIEN’S EYE VIEW
I just started following NASA, and some Space X related accounts on Instagram about a week ago. They popped up as suggestions, and I do think that stuff is fascinating. I figured it’d be an easy way to follow what is happening in that space (sorry for that unintended pun.) The other day there was a picture from one of the windows on Space X, showing a gorgeous view of Earth. Big fat clouds were swirling around it. It was the kind of back-out-from-my-personal-life that I find restful to look at when stressful thoughts close in too much on me. Back up, up, up. Get a bird’s perspective and see how small I am. How little we all are. How everything I do here, stress about here, is so tiny when compared to the big whole. Of course, you can tip over to the other end of the spectrum and, for the same reason, feel like nothing that you do indeed matter. Luckily I don’t have that problem. But if you do, I wish you the best of luck and advice you to talk about it with your friends. Or see a therapist if those thoughts get too overwhelming.

THEN WHAT?
We don’t yet know what happens after we die either, so that is a whole world to explore in itself. It would be a great kicker to find out that the real party is happening on the other side of that fearful passageway. Similar to life, when you struggle to avoid something that seems scary or wrong. Only to discover that even if that something was as bad as you had imagined it, it got you to a better place afterward. A place you would never have gotten to had you not gone through the terrible experience you were just forced through. I guess I can’t stop sounding like a self-help person, no matter how hard I try. Maybe I’ll start a sect of some sort.

Anyway, thank you for coming here and reading this.
Big hugs,

Stefan

Support

In an earlier installment of this comic I said that when I was admitted to the hospital and was told I’d need a heart transplant, my first thought was “ok, personal bankruptcy. Fine, seven years of no access to anything. Let’s just do it. Maybe I can disconnect myself from the family so that they don’t have to sit through this shit”.

This week talks about the outpour of mental and monetary support that our family received. It was incredible and very moving. People that I had not heard from in over 10 years, friends of the family, old coworkers and employers, friends of friends, everyone came forward.

When drawing this episode I re-visited that time again and re-realized what incredible help we received. Thank you to everyone who helped holding us through those tough times!

Thanks for reading and big hugs.

Stefan

Powered…

Hi all,
Another account of life after coming home from the hospital.
I could not be in a situation where did not have access to electricity for any longer periods of time. I had to be in touch with the local fire station in order to ensure power in case there was a power outage. That kind of preparedness was mind blowing to me and made me wonder how many people in similar, dire situations were located in my neighborhood.iLeftMy_electric

Luckily I had never had to run down to the fire station. Instead I got to heal up, ride my bike, pick the kids up from pre-school and take part of daily life. It was great.

It’s amazing how quickly one adapts to new conditions. When going to sleep at night I plugged myself¬† into the outlet on the LVAD machine while the batteries were charging. It just had become the new normal.

Hope you’re all doing well and thanks for reading.

Stefan

Home bound.

Hi all,
This week is about coming home for the first time since I was admitted to the hospital. It was a pretty big deal. I had been pretty close to death, gone through my first open heart surgery, and now had a device that my life was depending on. I had to clean and change the hole where the chord went into my body to make the LVAD, the pump, go. I had to remember to take meds everyday. There were a lot of things to remember, to possibly forget or do wrong and to freak out about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, having two exceptionally active and curious four year olds in the midst of equipment that could not be tampered with or supplies that had to stay as bacteria free as possible was a concern too. Despite all this, things went fantastically well. The kids were amazing an we had none of the troubles I had anticipated. Per usual, Christine had to coordinate a bunch of stuff, the grandparents were basically a second set of parents during all this time, plus friends who helped out with various needs. I don’t know how many times I was called “The Bionic Man” or a “Cy-borg” during this time.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and hope you’re all doing really well.

 

Hugs,

Stefan

First dark day.

I spent this morning doing the last part of a 1.5 week chasing down of one of my immuno-suppressant meds. An immuno-suppressant is something that I can not skip since my white blood cells will then start kicking my heart and wonder what this foreign object is doing in there. It can end very badly.

For 2018 I changed health insurance so everything is new. Like I talked about 2 weeks ago, everything has to be linked up to my old records, new departments and doctors has to be hooked up. Let me just state that my new health service place is great in almost every way this far. I took my, literally, last dose of that particular med this morning and had no more even for my evening dose. I mean literally in the correct sense of the word, not in the “pretty much” way it’s being used these days. I ordered the refill two weeks ago and by this morning it had still not materialized. Last week I checked in, waited at the pharmacy in vain for two hours, called a couple of times etc. So, this morning I got upset. I called and wrote every person involved and luckily, four hours later it was solved. It ate up all my morning work-hours.

I totally understand that things are not perfect, things happen and everyone’s working hard to¬† get things right. Again, I am also incredibly grateful that I even have access to the care I have. However, some health care personnel act as if you’re an ungrateful jerk if you get angry or take them to task over something. As if any attempt of theirs to make things happen should be received with utmost gratitude. I don’t know if there’s some kind of Jesus-like attitude about their work, in that they are doing “the good of the world”. I agree that they are doing a great deed as health care providers, but, it’s a paid career that they chose. If nobody paid them they would most likely not set foot at their hospital or clinic. Just like most other people in other professions. It’s as if I order a ham sandwich at the deli and they hand me tuna casserole. I would complain and they would tell me I should be grateful that I get food. Either way, feel free to rip on me in the comments if you like. I’m happy to hear other angles.

This week talks about my first real dark day after my first surgery. I had managed, with great support from family, friends and staff, to keep a positive attitude during the very serious situation I was in. But, when you’re sleeping your mind goes in whatever way it wants and in my dream I was put back to the time before all my heart issues started. It was really tough to wake up to reality in the morning. I probably had other real downer days after that, but in hindsight, this one stands out.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. Hope you all are doing great.

Hugs,
Stefan the curmudgeon

PS. To add to my surly’ness, I just had to ask a lady to not take her dog for a walk in our yard! What???