Chronic Illness  
 February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentines Day, and most of us think happy thoughts – about love, friendship, and family.

Last year a few days before this very holiday, I was told that my heart had become so tired that it just gave up for a few moments, long enough to render me unconscious in the middle of the street in Manhattan, and then again on a stretcher in the ER of a NY hospital. My heart had stopped beating long enough to place me on the borderline between alive and dead, and my sensations during this period were those of warmth, light, and peace. For some reason my body was not ready to give up, and I woke up again.

There was no good explanation as to why my heart would just stop, and the more experienced docs at the cardiology ICU, sent me home after three days of observation, with the advice of taking it a little easier, drinking more water, and simply not overdoing it.

I spent Vday 2015 at home with my boyfriend, happy to be with him, but more scared than I had ever been during all my years with diabetes, before my kidney and pancreas transplants and during my bouts with serious infections. It was a new fear, one of immediate death without any control or ways to reverse the sequence of events. I felt utterly helpless.

The heart is the muscle that pumps the blood, nutrition and oxygen around our bodies, supplying all organ essentials. However, the heart also represents our soul, our emotions and the very center of our beings. I am a logical medical scientist, so I know we can survive heart attacks, and even heart transplants, but I knew we cannot survive when our hearts simply stop.

These episodes continued for another 3 months, with six additional fainting events, at the most inconvenient occasions, and finally, the docs implanted a detector close to my heart, called a loop recorder, and miraculously, three days later I was yet again on the floor face down, this time in the office ladies room, in a toilet booth, with a growing bump in my forehead. I had experienced another fainting episode, but this time the docs could clearly diagnose the episode as complete heart arrest, and would not let me leave the hospital before a pacemaker was implanted.

One year later, I have a visible device under my skin under my left clavicle, and wires going into my heart that are triggered when my heart beat slows down too much. I have not passed out since the procedure June 17, 2015, and i am getting comfortable with the lump under my skin although i hate what it does to my appearance when I wear a tank top, bathing suit, or evening dress.

This year for V day, I am confident in my heart’s ability to continue beating, even when I am tired or stressed and I am definitely confident in my ability to love and cherish my close ones and be inspired and motivated by everyone in our Lyfebulb Community.

Thanks especially to Jean and Anna for helping me last year, and to Dr Evelyn Horn and Dr Bruce Lerman at NY Hospital, Weill-Cornell.

Happy VDay!

Karin Hehenberger

CEO & Founder of Lyfebulb