Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart...

You know that Janis Joplin song – “Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart”? One stanza of lyrics is below for reference and nostalgia – feel free to belt it out, you know you want to.

     I want you to come on, come on, come on, come on and take it,
     Take another little piece of my heart now, baby,
     Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah.
     Hey! Have another little piece of my heart now, baby, yeah.
     You know you got it if it makes you feel good.

The song is in my head because today marks my two-week transplant anniversary and my cardiologist quite literally took another little piece of my heart this morning. Every week for the first six weeks after transplant, I will get a heart biopsy, which consists of my cardiologist inserting a claw thingie through my neck to grab a piece of heart tissue for testing. [She’s probably really good at that arcade game where you use the claw to try to grab a toy or stuffed animal, but that’s neither here nor there.] For the six weeks after that, I’ll have it done every other week, then monthly, until eventually I will only need to have the procedure once a year.

The biopsy itself takes under an hour and the hardest part is not eating for the ten hours prior. Those of us on large doses of steroids get mighty hungry! After the procedure, I go to the transplant center to talk with the nurses and the pharmacist about my medications. To give you an idea of the array of meds I’m taking, below is a picture of my stash (ONE month's worth). Not pictured are the random pieces of equipment, ranging from a glucometer (the steroid essentially causes [hopefully temporary] diabetes, so I have to test my glucose four times a day) to a scale (yes, I still have the pleasure of weighing myself daily), from a thermometer (I take my temperature twice a day) to a blood pressure cuff (also used twice daily). So if anyone ever wonders what I’m doing at any point during the day, you can be pretty sure I’m either sleeping, taking a pill of some sort or measuring one of my vital signs. This transplant thing is a full-time job!

For a quick status update, I am feeling good most of the time. The ups and downs continue, but the downs are nowhere near as low as they were several days ago. My trusty roommate (my mom) and I walk outside for ten to fifteen minutes each day. I’m beginning to shed some of the fluids, but I still look like I eat roughly a dozen donuts each morning and/or am pregnant. My biggest complaint is incredible indigestion, which is caused by the steroids (hence the giant bottle of Maalox pictured). As I taper the dosages, I expect this to be less and less of a problem. Overall, life is good.


  1. Hi Andrea,

    Congratulations on your successful transplant. Pretty awesome, eh? I was fortunate enough to receive a heart and a kidney last February. I have had a coupla adventures since, all kidney-related and rather minor. But after five totally flat years, my focus, personality and interest have returned. Not good news for anyone who didn't like me before, but so what?

    I enjoyed your Janis reference; I'm not sure but I think I used that in one of my blogs. My very funny brother-in-law also suggested "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" which is totally true, since I had the surgery at UC San Francisco. And, yeah, my heart is still there I guess.

    Anyway, keep doing well and enjoy this incredible gift. I sure do. I will be following your blog. By the way, mine is if you are interested. It sometimes gets silly, and is not suitable for small children. Scare you off on that??

    Bob Moss

  2. That's quite the impressive stash there!

    After I had my first child (yeah, not quite the same as a heart transplant) my already-puffy ankles and everything else got puffier (I told Hubby I was swollen to my hips - he poked me and informed me I was swollen to my waist). A week later when the fluid left me I was convinced that my ankles were dead sexy. So you have that to look forward to!

  3. Sounds like you continue to have a wonderful attitude and are being quite the trooper! Glad you have your trusty roomie there with you! Still cheering for you in Texas!
    Bob & Melanie

  4. I continued to be amazed and impressed by your progress A. I am supposed to be enroute to work, but here I sit wanting to have the chance to interact with you in any way I can. It's so true, life itself is full of ups and downs. some of them likely more serious than other. (i.e. I don't want to go to work today) But then I read your blog, and you inspire me. To be grateful, mush forward, no matter what my mood.
    You are amazing dear friend
    Thank you

  5. Amazing! Do you feel like you'll have a bachelors in cardiac science by the end of all this? Glad to hear things are steady, and that the bumps in the road are getting smaller.

  6. I can't get the song out of my head; loved Janice. While on the "Roids" you should be able to belt out a good Janice.

  7. Andrea, you are remarkable! I'm so pleased that you're doing well and that you have your steadfast roommate to keep you annoyed. Reading your posts is so much fun; I can just see your deadpan expression as you write. Much love to you and your mom and dad.

  8. Well - you answered my question about what you get to do all day. And here I envisioned you watching soaps and eating bon bons next to a pile of US Weekly, People and National Enquirer! Hang in there! You're a total champ and are doing such a fantastic job of this recovery thing. I think of you often (particularly since I am combing through the 95 page final report from the lotion claim sort!) and can't wait to see you! Keep the good days coming!!