My friend Rick continues to “beat the odds.” He has been fully aware of the grim realities of congestive heart failure for 15 years now, and he just keeps on trucking.
So why has he survived when others, perhaps even others in better overall physical condition, have not?
In a word, I chalk it up to A T T I T U D E. No one I’ve ever met is more consistently upbeat than Rick. Even while facing daily life-and-death challenges, he continues to have a quirky sense of humor and a positive outlook.
This past week, the LVAD Team at OHSU (see September 3 post for information on LVADs) has poked and probed him in every imaginable way. Among other things, he’s had a “right cath” inserted through his neck to study his heart pressures, an ultrasound on his abdomen to map his intestines, an eye exam to check for complications of his diabetes, and dental X-rays to look for any signs of tooth infection.
And what was Rick’s response to all this? “I suppose the proctologist will be next.”
About four years ago, one of the main cardio-guys at the VA Hospital told Rick he was his favorite kind of patient: “Warm, pink, and upright.” And the doctor told him back then that he would do everything in his power to keep him that way.
Now at OHSU, where there are more “treatment options” available, Rick is more optimistic than ever. So far, all tests have moved him further along in the process for qualifying for LVAD surgery.
“I ought to write a book about CHF longevity,” he told me. “But I don’t know where to begin.”
I do. “Just start at the beginning,” I said. “It’s a powerful story that might just be the thing to help others turn their lives around. You’ve been pro-active every step of the way. You’re an inspiration, not only for CHF folks, but for everyone who faces major health challenges.
Rick was 34 when he had his first heart attack. At that time, he weighed around 360 and smoked and drank. His diabetes was out of control. Now he weighs in the 220s, doesn’t smoke or drink, and although he’s still diabetic, his blood-sugar levels are right where they can be easily managed. He takes all his meds “by the clock,” and knows what every single one of them does for him.
Soon, he hopes to be hooked up to one of the biggest, baddest gadgets of all time. Please keep him in your thoughts; he’s a good guy. OORAH, Semper Fi!