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March 25, 2014

Marine for Life: Took a licking; and kept on ticking

(Continued)

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —

I had one pre-op meeting with my surgeon before the diagnosis was confirmed and surgery was scheduled.

On March 21, 2007, my family pushed me into the hospital; I was in a wheel chair at that point, and I was prepped for surgery.

It’s weird going in to a surgery that you’re not sure you’ll come out of.  People don’t want to say it, but they’re not sure if this is goodbye and it shows on their faces.  When I was wheeled away from my family, I saw my dad cry for the second time in my life.

Before the anesthesiologist put me under, I made the entire surgical room stop what they were doing and say a prayer for me.  I don’t know who prayed, but it seemed like they had just said “amen” when everything started to fade to black.  I don’t remember much after that. 

And just like that, I was awake.  I was disoriented, I couldn’t see and I had a breathing tube down my throat, but I was alive and my family was right there with me.

When I finally came to my senses and started realizing what was going on, I noticed a ticking sound.  I looked all over the room and didn’t see any clocks; I asked one of the nurses if they heard it.  She smiled and said that ticking was a good thing, it was my new aortic valve and, as long as I heard it, that meant I was still alive.

It took a while to get used to the ticking.  It kept me up at night sometimes, but I did eventually get used to it.  It’s part of who I am.  A ticking heart is a small price to pay to still be alive.

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