Heart Surgery in America: Wednesday 8.0


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Wednesday 8.0

We’re not “The Borg”… but we’re gettin’ there …

The Borg are a collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones of the Collective, or the hive. A pseudo-race, dwelling in the Star Trek universe, the Borg force other species into their collective and connect them to “the hive mind”; the act is called assimilation and entails violence, abductions, and injections of microscopic machines called nanoprobes. The Borg’s ultimate goal is “achieving perfection”.

Basically, part machine, part bioengineering, part of the original DNA.  Take home message on the objective?  Overcome a species’ inherent organic limitations.

So that brings me to Joshua…

A while ago I got a tweet from someone I didn’t know at all.  I had started a perfusion blog, and it was a pretty rough start.  The status quo had their feathers ruffled, and being obscenely persistent in disseminating my material to anyone that might read it, well- to put it mildly, I pissed some people off.

I don’t get a lot of major league support or endorsements from people that visit my blog here, but certainly I have gotten plenty of encouragement.  Then one day I get a very positive comment on my twitter account regarding my new blog, CircuitSurfers.com.  The twitter account name was LVADone, which I had initially assumed that this person was a perfusionist, and left it at that.  I had some social “blinders” on, so I didn’t take the name to mean more than what I clearly wasn’t assimilating, I didn’t think it stood for anything more literal.

As it turns out, the name, “LVADone”  described a procedure, a recovery, and a continuous clinical challenge for the person behind that name.  His name is Joshua, and he was living with a ventricular assist device implanted into his heart, called a HeartMate II.

I was pretty shocked.  I’m sure depending on a HeartMate II on a daily basis is a little more complicated then selecting some new form of body art, and here he was reaching out to have a conversation!

It is hard for me to read and write about Joshua.  It is the more noble definition of the concept of schadenfreude (a sense of sadness while under happy circumstances- is my own definition of that seeming paradox of emotions).  I feel like a liar when I subconsciously compare my experience to his.  Well that sounds pretty stupid, because I  obviously can’t compare anything in my life that is as challenging as what I perceive Joshua’s life to have been like over the last few years.

As a  perfusionist there is a skeptical part in me that I truly hate.  Not skepticism of Joshua, or his experience, but a deeper fear of something going wrong before the bridge to a transplant has been built and crossed.  I think part of that comes from seeing so many failed LVAD’s, so much effort and hope, so many attempts diminished and trampled on by the harsh reality that our existing technology and skill sets had not yet caught up to the demands of our dreams and expectations.


Science was evolving too slow for our imaginations.  These LVAD’s weren’t failures, but they were losses.  Each one a slight “ding”, a little tarnish on the silver lining of the clouds we were looking to reach.  After a while, idealism oxidizes a bit, and perfusion life ain’t that shiny anymore.  I don’t like to lose.  More importantly I don’t want to become afraid to lose, and maybe that’s what a part of Joshua’s story brought out in me.  Realization that I didn’t want to get “dinged” again.

So I finally Visited his Blog.  This guy Joshua, who by the way has quite a few Iron Man metaphors in his story as well as Iron Man pictures and analogies on his Blog Site.  After reading his blog, I sent off a few interview requests (tweets) and wanted to get a conversation going.  This wasn’t about me, my writing, or my blog, this was just to get an idea of what this man felt, and what he thought, and how he dreamed, being in a situation that so incredibly few of the billions of the rest of us could come close to.

And then we did an interview.


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