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Waiting For Transplant
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Carol Agle
Heart Transplant Feb 2002
(photo taken 11months post transplant)

Carol AgleHi, my name is Carol and I was transplanted in February 2002.  I was born with a congenital heart condition but was able to lead a normal life, although the cardiologists always cautioned me not to over do it and to stop when I got tired.  When I was is my late 20’s my cardiologist put me on a beta blocker not because I was having any symptoms but rather as a preventative measure (they hoped that by putting me on it that my heart would not have to work as hard).  I remained on the same medication throughout my 30’s and saw my cardiologist once a year. No one would have ever guessed I had a heart condition. 

At the end of July 2001, I woke up in the middle of the night burning up and with a sensation in my chest as if someone had my heart in their hands and was squeezing the heck out of it.  I decided to drive myself to Emergency (at 2:30 a.m. no less) since 30 days before I had been taken off the beta-blocker and given an ace inhibitor.  About half way to the hospital my chest stopped hurting and I told myself to just turn around and go home and just as I reached my home, it started up again, so I turned around and went back.  When I walked in and told the staff in the ER that I had a heart condition and that I was in pain they took my vital signs and discovered I was in Atrial Fib.   It happened again in September, so my doctor ordered a cardiac catheterization to be done.  They thought that by my echocardiogram; the problem had to do with my mitral valve and that I probably needed it replaced.  Well, during that procedure; not only did I need a new mitral valve…I needed a new heart as mine had enlarged and the ejection fraction was at 26%.

I was placed on the waiting list the day after Christmas, 2002 and was told that I might have to wait for up to a year.  I thought to myself that as long as I stayed the way I was – a year wait would not be bad.  I tried to resume most of my activities but found that I could no longer walk my dog (he went to stay with my Mom).  I could still enjoy an occasional horseback ride as long as one of my friends saddled my horse up for me and helped me up.  I could only walk on my horse, as any running would tire me out!  I continued to work full time, and by the time I got home I would be totally exhausted and flop on the couch.   My Mom was great – she knew I was tired and wouldn’t make myself anything to eat, so I got many a care package.  

About two weeks before my transplant, I started feeling more tired and my stomach was bloated and I had trouble eating.  Of course, I figured it had something to do with my digestive system and checked out my quick medical reference book I have and all the symptoms I was experiencing were just like the one for a condition called IBS, so I looked up the condition on the internet – found some home care remedies I could follow and felt a sense of relief that I had discovered what had me feeling so bad.  I called my transplant coordinator and told her of my discovery and she asked me where I had gotten this diagnosis and I told I her that I had diagnosed myself…well, I guess they were not impressed by this and off I went to see my transplant coordinator and doctor…little did I know what had happened was that I had taken a turn for worse and then I got the call!

I spent a total of 12 days in the hospital.  Once I was home I was so motivated to get on with life.  Since I was house bound more or less for the next 6 weeks, I did a major spring-cleaning in my home – even painted my dining area in time for Easter.  I also called my boss to come get me and take me to the office – it felt good to be working even if it was only for a few hours a day.  Once the six weeks was up I was ready to drive myself around and I even started to go horseback riding again.  My friends still had to assist me with lifting my saddle but I was riding again – Yippee! 

I got hooked on walking on a treadmill after using one in Cardiac Rehab so I bought myself one and walk on it every day. 

Carol AgleI came across John’s website a couple months after my transplant when the results of my biopsy came back showing I had some rejection going on.  I wrote in and another transplant recipient e-mailed me, which I took great comfort in, so now I feel it’s my turn to share my story and be available to others who may have questions or just want another transplant recipient to be able to talk to about things that are happening to them. 

There is a quote from Florence Nightingale that says “Live your life while you have it.  Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it”.  For those of us who have been blessed with this miracle of a second chance at life – we surely embrace that thought.

God bless and best wishes. 


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