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

The mind

Getting these installments out while running my own video production shop has shown to be a challenge. I am very happy to be very busy with paid work, but it doesn’t leave much extra time to jot this stuff down. I am hoping to reach the end of this story pretty soon and then make a book.

On a different note: as of 2018 I changed health care providers and am now going to a different hospital. Did I mention I had my annual checkup in August and everything looked great! A big relief, since a couple of months before that I had noticed that I did not have the same stamina in my workout class as before. I used to be able to run at pretty high speed for the reps we did, but now I found myself getting tired quicker. Granted I had taken a few months off, and at 50 years old my shape is going away pretty quickly if I don’t keep at it. I had also experienced a few head rushes when standing up after squatting or sitting on the floor. In short, all things that I used to feel before my surgery. My first thought was “oh man. Is this it with this heart? Will I need another transplant?” There’s a big range of how long your heart lasts after a transplant and a few years ago I heard about a guy who’s heart started to get a lot weaker after 9 years. I am only 5 years out, but you never know. Basically, I will never be “out of the woods” with this. I will always need medication. The best thing I can do is to take as good care of myself as possible and I think I am doing alright in that department.

week 48 mind games

But, the annual test results told me all was good! I feel like it was yet another wake up call. To the point of this week’s installment, it is easy to start slipping on your commitments. Even the life important ones, like in my case doing some kind of physical activity every day. So this time I realized that I really wanted to be serious about regular workouts. It doesn’t have to be some insane cross-fit sessions, but going for a swim or a walk or some type of workout class. I always hated running so walks is a good compromise, and right now there is research stating that a 30-minute walk is as good as any heavier workout. Who knows? Those things change every six months it seems like, but I choose to believe it since I really like walking.

Anyway, like I said, this week is about saying and promising things that you think you will for sure (!!!) do, and then still not following through on them. Even things that could be life-threatening. It is a mystery. Life is not as linear and organized as I thought. It is a goup of emotions, happenstances, circumstances, wims and other mind mysteries. Hopefully, it has made me a bit more understanding of other people and their struggles.

Thanks for coming by and reading,

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

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