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Steiner 1 Caleb Steiner Mr. Harrell English Comp.

1 4, November, 2013 Heavy Hearted: The Story of a Strong-Willed Women I have always lived a life full of things that I cannot quite understand. I have received gifts, gifts that most people do not normally receive in our world. Whenever I wake after a long nights sleep, I think to myself and realize that I am more thankful for them than anyone can imagine. I have lived my life, bestowed with a beautiful gift of intelligence, a wonderful family, and a very luxurious life compared to most. However, one blessing that many of us constantly take for granted happens to be one of the greatest ever to be received. The gift that we receive of being able to wake up in the first place, that we were given this next day here on Earth to do with what we will, remains as one of the most underappreciated blessings that we are offered in our lives. Although most of us do retain a sense of ungratefulness, out there in this world exists those that have to fight in order to see the light of daybreak. When I first approached Mrs. Wise, I could not help but feel unappreciative for that very thing that lingers so precious, life. I ask her, prepared for a story full of heartache and tales of triumph, how she first realized that she was sick. She states: After my father had passed away, I had to start cleaning up his house, and I had to walk up and down the steps and I realized that I would get out of breath very easily. My family

Steiner 2 decided to take me to a hospital, where they did a heart catheterization and they put a stint in. My chest hurt so bad that even walking to the mailbox and back was horrible. I wasnt getting better. They kept giving me medication and I wasnt getting better. I ended in the hospital a second time and the pain was going from my chest to both sides of my jaw. I was having a heart attack! They did an echo and my heart doctor said I would need a new heart to be okay. Feeling a sense of shock and fear, she went on, I couldnt believe it, and I was in denial. They went through with the surgery, only I was still not breathing well, so they put in a balloon pump in my heart to help it pump. The team at the hospital said they couldnt do anything else. (Wise) So it was determined that the journey of one women would encounter toils so great that many never could have imaged. Mrs. Wise, a frail middle-aged woman, with a determination stronger than most, more than makes up for her weaknesses with shear will. Mrs. Wise lives a very religious existence and embraces it as one of her strongest passions. She says that she plans on living her life according to how God has decided for her to live and no one else. Prior to the event in which she went to the hospital, Mrs. Wise was a mother to two lovely children, whom she had primarily stayed home to watch when they were growing up. She had settled down and was married 37 years ago, February 14th. She grew up, the middle child of her family, having two brothers and two sisters. Her older brother joined the military and went to Vietnam. Her older sister passed away in her sleep while staying in a hospital for heart problems. Her younger sister still does a lot of things with her and has even tried to stay with her more than most, and her youngest brother tended not to talk with the rest of the family, but after 2010 started talking with the rest of his siblings here and

Steiner 3 there. In 2010, her father at the age of eighty-seven and her mother at the age of seventy-one passed away, leaving the family scarred and feeling a sense of emptiness. Currently, Mrs. Wise and her family have tried to stay more in touch. Each of them had changed in their own ways from the experience and the family continues to try to stay connected after so many toils and adversities. Mrs. Wise and her husband to this day remain living together. Their son, having joined the Air Force, now resides in some undisclosed location somewhere in the U.S., and their daughter visits her from time to time to stay with her as she muddles through after her ordeals. She believes that one of her biggest reasons for not giving up was probably her family because they were there for her, especially when she needed them most. After her first ordeal with the heart pump, she described what the doctors did with her after they could do nothing else. She replied: I rode in a helicopter to the Cleveland Clinic from Summa. They transferred me from hospital to hospital along the way, changing my wires each time they transferred me. I was put in intensive care at Cleveland Clinic and I did numerous tests. I went in on the 11th of April and on the 23rd of April. They said I needed open heart surgery and they would have to repair a valve and have my arteries bypassed. They went through with the operation and I came home on May 1st but I had to go back on May 13th on Mothers Days because I couldnt breathe. On the ride to the hospital, the men in the ambulance kept telling me to keep my eyes open and I didnt want to because riding backwards in an ambulance makes me sick, so I had to just focus on breathing. A friend of mine, Roxanne was at the hospital and told the doctors what had been going on.

Steiner 4 It was a long hard road for her from there as her story took a more and more heart-wrenching turn for the worst. They took her and tried everything and through all of it, Mrs. Wise was forced to keep going. She used every bit of strength to keep going. She stated, Keeping from being negative was probably one of the hardest challenges (Wise). It truly was a rough patch up until this point, but was nothing compared to what was to come. After she had finished telling me about the ambulance ride, she told me what happened when they brought her to the hospital and I was shocked at the response. Tears welled up in her eyes and she looked at me, almost unable to even speak: They put me in the very same hospital room that my sister had died in at the age of fiftyfive, and I was fifty-five. I could feel my lungs filling up with fluid and I started passing out and then, everything went black. They had sent me back to Cleveland Clinic, but when I woke up, I had no idea where I was. Apparently they had put me on a ventilation machine on a Monday and took it out on Thursday. I would have never known what had happened to me had it had not been for my daughters friend. I asked her where I was and how did I get here and she told me how I got there. The doctor came in when I was talking and I asked him how long I had been out. He tells me that it was May 17th and I whispered, I missed four days? and he said yes, and you did not want to be awake for those four days. So not only did she get taken to the hospital, but her condition had taken a turn for the worst. I sit in complete disbelief at what I had just heard, still unable to get past the fact that the doctors had put her in the same room that her sister died in as well as the fact that she was also the same age as her sister when her sister died. She had passed out and woke up, not even

Steiner 5 knowing where she was. At this point I had completely developed the setting within my own mind, and I begged her to go on. She tells me: I kept going down-hill from there. They tried taking the balloon pump out of my heart due to fear of bacterial infection, but each time they tried I did worse and after a couple of hours they would have to put it back in and they did just that, six times. They did a bone marrow test to find out what was going on with my blood. They did a heart biopsy and they took four pieces of my heart while I was awake. They kept forcing oxygen into my system and pumping me full of medication. They put a butterfly IV on the side of my neck to give me medication and take blood. They were taking blood every hour. At some point they also put a feeding tube down my nose to give me food because I was not eating. After they took the feeding tube out, it seemed like it was ten days before I could eat. I sit and stared blankly, never realizing the pure struggle that some have to endure in this world, that pure never ceasing hardship that comes to some that only try to see tomorrow. Without a doubt, stories like these remain the ones that many should look to when they think that they have it hard, and maybe, just maybe, we would live in a much brighter world. After all of these tests and operations, and the story about the emotional distress that Mrs. Wise had gone through, I, myself almost on the verge of tears, ask her to describe to me what had finally worked, or at least worked the best in the end. She states: On June 5th the doctors said that I was the main topic of conversation because everything that they used on others before did not work on me and I said Yes! I was just so excited because they were actually working to help me. They told me that there was one surgery

Steiner 6 that they hadnt tried, but there was only one doctor willing to do the surgery. The operation was to put a heart pump in or I would die. His choice to me was to put the heart pump in or lay there and die. I told him I wasnt gonna to just lay down and die. The surgery took five hours and I was back on my ventilator. They kept me out for several days to recover. Afterwards, I asked the doctor if everything had gone fine and the doctor said that the pump was actually larger than my heart and that it was a difficult surgery, but I would make it. One downside to the surgery was that my heart was so small that I had to have my heart shocked back into rhythm five or six times over two days after the surgery because the pump was going too fast, and they also put in two batteries and a controller through my skin that are attached to my heart. So in the end, she found a surgery that would help her, but it was not a sure thing, in fact, she was not supposed to live past about six months. The doctors kept telling her that she would not make it, but she looked into my eyes and told me, I was not about to let them tell me how I would die, that is up to God and no one else (Wise). At this point the determination in her eyes told me that she knew it would continuously get harder as she went through all of this, but no matter what, she was willing to fight. I was curious as to whether or not there was anything that had happened to her that perhaps frightened her or caused her to feel uncomfortable while she was recovering and the answer brought both of us to tears. She looks at me and I can see the terror in her eyes as she states The first time I went to the bathroom alone I saw my mom in the mirror. I turned around but it was just me (Wise). She turns away for a moment and continues, I did it again and I saw my sister. My sister died when she was 55 and my mom was 71, both passed away from heart problems. I looked so much like both of them in the mirror. I was terrified (Wise).

Steiner 7 Hearing this, I knew that I should ask her one last time what happened to her that kept her going and she tells me simply, God, family, and all those that were praying for me. Without them, I dont know if I would have made it (Wise). I looked at her and said all that I could mutter at this point, God bless you. In the end, Mrs. Wise had told me a truly fascinating story of struggle and triumph indeed, perhaps even more than I had previously imagined. To have gone through so much and overcome every obstacle to fly to the heights where she now has found her own separate peace, resides in the heart of all that know her as a truly amazing feet. After all this, I feel as though there is only one last question that I felt necessary, as this conversation had drained both of us emotionally, and this question was pretty much just asking about what reassured her that everything was alright and would stay that way, and she said: There is a group up at the Cleveland Clinic for other LVAD pump patients like myself. I got to meet about 40 other people who have this same pump. I did not know what my life expectancy would be. At first they said only six months, but I said forget that, I will be here for as long as God wants me here. At this group I met a woman who had one for four years and two more gentlemen that had them for seven years. My hope right now is that I would love to have a transplant, but until the protein Amyloidosis [disease attacking her heart] can be fixed, I cannot get a new heart because the protein would attack the new heart as well, but hearing their stories, I cant help but feel like I can make it too. After hearing this, I left Mrs. Wises side and told her that I will pray for her and that I hope everything gets better. I guess that ultimately, I believed that God had truly touched this woman and that she truly shines as an example of a walking blessing.

Steiner 8 Works Cited Wise, Amy. Personal Interview. 26 Oct. 2013