Sharing your story is one way to help others know that they are not alone in the journey that is CHF and LVAD. It is also a way to help you deal with the challenges that daily life with an LVAD creates. We encourage all of our community members to share their stories, send us pictures and tell us what you think. MyLVAD is dedicated to giving you a voice and helping you to make that voice be heard. Our sincere thanks to Brian for sharing your story with us!
Brian Rogers Story
I won't go into the details of what may have caused my heart failure. But it was partly from job stress.
My first indication something was wrong was back in 2011. I was driving a truck inside the facility I worked at when my eyes went crossed. The only way I got parked was to cover up one eye to have enough to see. I sat there for a couple minutes and my vision came back to normal. I was like "what the hell was that?". The same thing happened to me two more times later in the year.
I went to my primary care physician to begin and try and diagnose what was wrong. Some of the things he tried were an MRI, to see if I had a brain tumor. Sent me to an eye specialist and found nothing there. The doctor's office called the day after Christmas 2011and It was in some blood work that it was determined I had Congestive Heart Failure.
In early 2012 I went for a heart catheterization. The thinking at that time was I had a clogged artery and maybe could fix with a stent. After the procedure, while I was in recovery, the doctor came in and informed me that there was nothing he could do. He then told me I needed a heart transplant. I was floored by that news to say the very least. And so my journey began.
After more testing, which included Echocardiograms, it was determined my EF was 22%. My health by this point was going downhill fast. I had no energy. I had trouble breathing. I was getting very weak in my arms and especially my legs.
On October 12, 2012 I had an ICD placed. A Medtronic defibrillator. An LVAD was going to be the next step necessary to save my life and to become strong enough to survive the heart transplant.
So on August 6, 2013, Dr. Eric Skipper at Carolinas Medical Center implanted me with a "Heartware" LVAD. After 20 days in the hospital, I was released to come home. I've never been so sore in all my life. It took about seven (7) weeks for my sternum to heal enough that I could get in/out of a bed or chair without pain. But I slowly began more regular activities like mowing the yard, using my tractor, driving again,etc.
Further testing has revealed my kidneys are only functioning about 30%, so I will be a dual transplant of a heart and kidney when an appropriate donor becomes available.
Each morning when I wake up makes me realize how fragile life can be and how grateful I am that modern technology has enabled me to continue living. Life with an LVAD is certainly not easy but it sure beats the alternative. If anyone ever needs someone to talk with about the possibility of needing an LVAD, I am more than willing to give my perspective, both pro and con. I can be brutally honest but I think it's best to be well informed in such an important decision.