What is that noise?

May 9, 2018

Yesterday at 1AM, I was awakened by a sound that I have never heard in the middle of the night. Den’s LVAD controller was beeping. It sounded like the alarm when he has a battery that is almost depleted. I honestly thought he had gone to bed hooked up to his batteries (a major no no). I  was ready to yell at him when I realized he was not on battery power and I could see the light from his controller screen was lit up (through the blanket). I know this means that there is a problem, so I turned on the light and found the controller under the covers. It said, and I quote…”Call Hospital Contact     Backup Battery Fault”. So I did just that….I put a call into the LVAD Coordinator on-call. I gave the operator Den’s name, the alarm on the controller and waited for the call back. Nichole called back within 5 minutes. She had us change over to battery power to see if the alarm would clear, which it did not. Since we could only silence the alarm from our end (for just 4 hours at at time), she asked us to come in to the Device Clinic in the morning. I can tell you, and you most likely already know, it was a night with very little sleep for both of us. I tried to go back to sleep, but it was hard to come down off that adrenaline rush. I tried to get Den calmed down as best as I can. He thought that he was in danger, but I kept assuring him that if he were in any real danger, we would be heading for the ER by now. His pump was still running, just the back up battery inside was having a problem. All the talking did nothing for him, he was in flight mode by this time. So he decided to get up and play on the computer for a while. I stayed in bed and tried to sleep…remember the adrenaline rush? Well, it took me 2 hours to finally fall back to sleep. When I finally did get back to sleep, Den woke me up when he changed over from battery to house power, because the alarm that was silenced started up again. So I needed to show him how to make it be quiet again. We did sleep finally and just 3 minutes before my alarm clock buzzed at me, his controller started up again. I quickly found the silence button and hoped for those 3 more minutes…to no avail.

After I took Em to school, I set my phone alarm for 9AM and tried to get some more sleep…3 hours is not enough for this girl! I did finally fall asleep, but I only got about 45 minutes. For me that just makes me more tired and cranky, but I had no choice but to power through the day. We got up, got dressed and headed to the U of C for our check in with the LVAD team. We left early enough to stop at the Sky Cafe in the new building to eat lunch. By the time we checked in at the clinic, we only had to wait about 20 minutes to be seen. It was as we had suspected, Den’s backup battery was depleted and needed to be replaced. Nichole and I talked while his battery was changed. She knew something was really wrong when she saw my name on her emergency page last night. (I normally communicate via e-mail with the LVAD team with questions or concerns.) We were both groggy during our phone conversations during the night so we double checked everything that we had discussed. Nothing new had shown up on Den’s LVAD history, so we headed home. Unfortunately, we still have to go in for his after hospitalization check in next week. (Den and I were both hoping that we could skip next week.)

When we arrived home, we both felt a little energized by the nice weather. I had mowed the back yard the day before and Den wanted to mow the front yard. We borrow my cousin’s riding mower, since the yard is sizable and using the push mower takes about 2 hours to do just the front yard. Den loves to cut grass and this is the first time this season that he has had the opportunity to do it. I decided we all needed a treat…Den and I for not snapping at each other last night and Em for her exceptional grades…so I stopped at the local Ice Cream/Italian Ice stand for treats on the way home when I picked up Em after school. Now I just have to get a few meals made for Den for while Em and I are out of town this weekend. Don’t worry…I have lots of people checking up on him while we are gone. A few of them even have some surprises in store for him. But those are secrets he will have to find out on his own. (Trust me, Den, you will like them!)

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