Tuesday, March 6, 2012

February Newsletter...MyLVAD.COM

MyLVAD CommunitySpotlight:
Shannon Jarratt

7 Feb 2012 - 02:01 PM    by: MyLVAD

MyLVAD is dedicated to LVAD recipients and their loved ones. We feel it is vital to know you are not alone on your LVAD journey. Every month MyLVAD will feature a recipient or caregiver who has volunteered to share their story in what we are calling our Community Spotlight.

This month we would like to introduce you to Jason and Shannon. Jason is in his early 30s and received his LVAD in the fall of 2011. He has a family history of cardiomyopathy, his father also received an LVAD and heart transplant. Shannon is his partner and his caregiver. She is a mother of two, works full time and is the author of the blog ourlifeourlovehislvad.com which chronicles their LVAD journey.

Shannon shares her reflections on her relationship with Jason since his LVAD implant.

With Valentine’s Day soon approaching, what better things to reflect on than love and relationships with someone with an LVAD.

When Jason received his LVAD on September 26, 2011, I knew life was going to change, but I had no idea to what extent. First of all, it was so hard watching someone I loved having surgery, not to mention heart surgery. None the less I was ecstatic when Jason for made the decision to get an LVAD.

I will never forget the first time I laid my head on Jason’s chest after he received his LVAD. As I listened to this awesome piece of equipment, I couldn't help but to feel a little sad that I couldn’t hear Jason’s heart any longer. .now I will let you know that within the last few weeks, I can hear Jason’s heart beating again, . I was so happy, In a strange way it feel like I got a little part of my Jason back. Now there have been plenty of times that I have thought back and thought to myself “we should have done this ..or that. That is totally normal but you can’t let those things get too you too much. Of course you will wish that you swam in the river together one more time, or took one last shower together. You just have to have faith that one day you will get to do those things together one day. For the day to day battles, I will continue to fight for Jason and be his number one fan. In that aspect I know I will never have any regrets.

When Jason was released from the hospital with his LVAD, I knew things would be different. Starting with his driveline care, we always tried to make things fun. I always love the driveline care every night. I always draw pictures on the dressing, or just write I love you or whatever comes to mind. He always looks forward to what I am going to write that night. My favorite part is how attentive he is while I’m doing his driveline care! I like to think it’s because his totally in love with me!

After the LVAD was placed Jason and I talked about when to become intimate again. I told him just to let me know when he was ready, because I knew he was going to be just as scared as I was. Now I will tell you “The first time post - LVAD”, actually does feel like “your first time” again! Its kind of awkward well I’m not even going to say kind of..it is!, I could hardly touch him anywhere because he was still so sore, I was so scared my legs would get tangled in his cord, or in some way I was going to hurt him. I have good news though, it does get better. Communication is a must in this area, and the more you are intimate with your partner, the easier it will get. You will still always be “aware” of the cords, but it does become more natural.

The emotional aspect of being with someone with an LVAD is the most difficult for me, but it is just as emotionally difficult for Jason. It is scary being with someone with an LVAD, but then again it was hard being with Jason just with his CHF. For the most part it is just dealing with the unknown. For Jason and I that meant that we knew we needed more than each other, we needed faith in our lives. With faith we are able to accept thing as they are and Thank God for everything he blesses us with each and every day. It doesn’t mean that we’ve had an easy road, it has been very hard, but we have faith that God is constantly watching over both of us. Jason and I were lying in bed one night praying, and he started to get emotional. When I asked him what was wrong, he said he was just thanking God for his life…now that’s awesome.

Living with an LVAD, Jason has what he calls “LVAD sad days” . While he doesn’t have them very often, I never dismiss his fears or feelings. He told me not too long ago that he’ll find me when I get to heaven. Although I felt like crying, I said "and if I get there before you, I won’t stop looking until I find you Jason." If you think about what could happen you will never enjoy the moment you have right in front of you. We always share our feelings and nothing is ever left unsaid between Jason and I. I will end saying this. Being in love with someone with an LVAD isn’t always easy, but I’ve never been so proud of someone in my whole life.

MyLVAD would like to thank Shannon for her openness and courage to share her story with our community. Share your thoughts and how you have dealt with some of the same issues on your journey.
I love you more than enough... Post from Our Life Our Love His LVAD
by: Shannon Jarratt
I decided to write this knowing that there are so many Caregivers/Wives/Girlfriends that will be able to relate to this post, hope you enjoy. I loved writing this for Jason.
To My Jason:
I love you more than enough...
I love you more than enough, to ask the hard questions and to be your voice.
I love you more than enough, to stand beside you when things get tough.
I love you more than enough, not to take it to heart when you get frustrated.
I love you more than enough, to make sure our relationship is rock solid.
I love you more than enough, to dress you when you are too sore.
I love you more than enough, to cherish every moment we get to spend together.
I love you more than enough, to do everything in my power to keep you safe.
I love you more than enough, to make you feel special each and every day.
I love you more than enough, and I feel so honored to be with you.
I love you more than enough, to snuggle with you, at the hospital, in your bed.
I love you more than enough, to know that you are the most amazing man I've ever known.
I love you more than enough, to make sacrifices for you.
I love you more than enough, and I love you more and more each day.
I love you more than enough, and I know God blessed me the day he led me to you.
I love you more than enough, not to let fear get to me.
I love you more than enough, to go hunting with you, just so I can be by your side.
I love you more than enough, to be your number one supporter.
I love you more than enough, to tell everyone how awesome you are.
I love you more than enough, to never leave you.
I love you more than enough, to feel strong enough, to have your life in my hands.
I love you more than enough, and I love you with everything that I am.
I love you more than enough, to want to be your wife one day.
I love you more than enough to educate others in the hopes that no one feels alone.
I love you more than enough, to fight for you.
I love you more than enough, to find the best help for you
I love you more than enough, to educate myself more each and every day.
last but not least..
I love you more than enough, to love you for the rest of my life.

Mom's Empty Chair

I received this in an email, and wanted to share...Enjoy!

A woman's daughter had asked the local minister, to come and pray with her mother. When the minister arrived, He found the woman lying in bed with her head Propped up on two pillows.
An empty chair sat beside her bed. The minister assumed that the woman
had been informed of his visit."I guess you were expecting me", he said..
"No, who are you?' said the mother. The minister told her his name and then remarked I saw the empty chair and I figured you knew I was going to show up.' Oh yeah, the chair,' said the bedridden woman. ‘Would you mind closing the door? Puzzled, the minister shut the door. ‘I have never told anyone this,
Not even my daughter,' said the woman But all of my life I have never
 Known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer,
But it went right over my head.'  I abandoned any attempt at prayer,'
 The old woman continued,' Until one day four years ago, my best friend said to me, Prayer is just a simple matter Of having a conversation with Jesus
 Here is what I suggest.
 'Sit down in a chair;
 Place an empty chair in front of you,
And in faith see Jesus on the chair.
 It's not spooky because he promised, 'I will be with you always'. Then just speak to him in the same way you’re doing with me right now. ‘So, I tried it and I've liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I'm careful though.
 If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she'd either have a nervous breakdown, or send me off to the funny farm. The minister was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old woman to continue on the journey.
Then he prayed with her, anointed her with oil, and returned to the church.  Two nights later the daughter called, to tell the minister that her mama
had died that afternoon. Did she die in peace?' he asked. Yes, when I left the house about two o'clock, she called me over to her bedside, Told me she loved me and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later,
I found her.
But there was something strange about her death, apparently, just before Mom died, she leaned over and rested her head on the chair beside the bed. What do you make of that? ‘The minister wiped a tear from his eye and said, I wish we could all go like that.'..