May 26
Justintime , Posted on SUPPORT NETWORK Blog

Just like that

Story image

I am just another construction guy. I worked hard for a living, played hard. 

I never let the young guys outdo me, and when they did I made sure they knew it was luck.

April 28th 2018 that all changed in a few minutes.

I carried stuff nearly my weight all the time, I made it to 48 before it caught up with me.

I fell at work one night and actually broke three ribs but didn't know it. This is kind of common I guess according to my doctors.

I finished out the work day and worked another day after.  On day two after originally breaking ribs, They finally started hurting. I turned wrong or something the pain became like a vice on my lower left rib cage. I was pretty sure at the time I must have ruptured something under those ribs. I never did have one chest pain.

I waited to have them call 911 as i was out of town on the road for work. It's just pain it should pass right? I couldn't even handle a smoke but wanted one really bad.  I was nervous and scared and didn't want to show it.  Finally i realized this wasnt going away. 

I felt myself nearly pass out more than once.

When the ambulance got there I was able to walk to it. I was gasping for air and white as a ghost but thought 'hey they let me walk to the ambulance so i must be okay.' 

they hooked the machine up to me and claimed the thing must be broken.  I heard them chatting back and forth as they swapped it out for another one. then they got quiet. Started giving me the 'you're fine we are just going to let the doctors check you out." That was the first time i got nervous.

i didn't care really after they gave me childrens aspirin and a nitro and the pain and panic from the pain were finally going away.

The hospital ran some tests and i was expecting the worst. broken ribs and id be out of work for a month or two.

The hospital ran some more tests and still wouldn't tell me what was wrong. First they said i had blooclots on my lungs, then said i didnt. after another xray they found a blood clot in the tube of my heart that the blood flows back out to the rest of the body.

Every time my blood pressure went up my heart was swelling up. the outside of heart vessels were also dead or dying. I wasn't sure what this meant. it wasn't sinking in at first.  Not at all.

They transferred me to another hospital Advocate Christ medical center in Chicago.  Great hospital, great Nursing staff. There I came to understand what was ahead of me. I need a heart transplant. I wanted to workout, super diet my way back to health. Although nothing is impossible my doctor simply smiled and said 'that's not going to happen, Your heart can't come back from this'. I smiled back for a moment and thought he doesn't know what i am capable of. I'm fine, let me up and I'll show you. I surprise people everyday i do my job. This is nothing. I fell asleep later trying to use all my energy to eat my lunch.

A few weeks later, I was finally out of the hospital. I borrowed a friends car to go shopping. I was walking down the candy Isle looking for low sodium anything when it hit me.  I'm now the slow guy in the isle. I'm the guy who when i would see that guy, would go out of my way to let him know he wasn't in my way. even though he was. sounds really wierd to a normal person i know. call it self pride I don't know. 

I started bawling like a baby.  couldn't stop. luckily no one saw me, if they did they just kept walking past the isle.  

I finally got myself pulled together long enough to make it through a check out lane an got my car loaded up. Cried all the way home. The next night something trivial set me off and i was so angry and couldn't understand that either. My insurance provider/ helper told me these are just stages of grief. I am single, I have family around but pretty much have gone through this on my own. I am also a writer though and writing was the one thing i could do through all of this.

I do want to help/ warn others out there that every cigarette they smoke slowly destroys your heart. If you have heart disease you will never feel it when that starts to happen. by the time you do it will be too late. If you are lucky you will survive like I did and get a chance at a heart transplant. Right now with medication my heart is back up to 30 percent compression. That was enough to get me out of the hospital.

I am waiting to get myself approved to get on the transplant list. so the medication and daily sodium intake are crucial to my current survival.

I'm going to have to apply for dissabilty since getting my blood pressure raised at all is dangerous with the blood clot still in my heart. rather than remove it, since they can't save the heart, they have me on blood thinners to slowly  get it to dissolve hopefully.

  • AHAASAKatie

    Thank you so much for this great post! What can we help you with while you are waiting for the transplant? I can only imagine how your life has changed. There are many other survivors on the Support Network with stories similar to yours. I think you will find a sense of support and community here. Looking forward to getting to know you better. Best Katie 

  • RaizAli

    Lots and lots of prayers and wishes for you 👍 .

  • AmbassadorB

    Hi Justintime !

    I think you should be awarded a Medal.   I suspect that the large majority of us that have been there - where you are, and done that, have had a Caregiver that provided the love and support that was so valuable in our recovery.  In fact, I suspect that many Caregivers go through more anguish and distress than their patient who is getting the medical care.  So ?   Where's the old girl friend?  Any family member in the area that could provide support?   Some church friend, or fellow worker?  Some of those errands and commitments that you are working to make happen, could be accomplished by a "caregiver".  Create a new friend!

    As I take a moment to look back over my heart procedures, I realize how important the support and love that I received from my lady was in getting me back to a high quality of life.   Take a serious look at it, Justintime.   There is a caregiver waiting for you out there.

    All the best!

    Ambassador B

  • Tinkerbell54

    I wish you the very best of luck,thanks for sharing.I hope you get everything you need soon and hopefully God will send you support in your area to comfort you.

    God Bless

  • jcummings26

    Hello! My name is John Cummings. I am a graduate student at NEIU in Chicago. I have found your story to be compelling and worth sharing. I would like to ask your permission to use it in a project for school – your name and picture will not be shown. My email is Please contact me. 

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