Cecil Van Houten's Journal
Written Jul 31, 2013 3:12pmOnce again it's been about three weeks since I've sent an update. I don't like to take up people's time when there's nothing significant to share. Actually, you could read 'significant' a couple different ways - on the one hand there's no significant crisis or complication to tell you about. On the other hand you could say that every day is significant in that the VAD technology, the medications and the skillful care of the doctors is keeping me going. But there's no drama going on which I'm grateful for.
Medical update: They're still adjusting several meds in order to find the 'sweet spot' where they all work together in the best combination. We must be getting close because the adjustments have become less frequent (about once a week rather than every other day). I met with another doctor last week and he agreed with the doctors at Strong - I should not be working in the office yet. (I'm still handling a number of projects from home which is going well.) I feel like I've hit another plateau in terms of physical activity and how much energy I have from day to day but the doctors all say that's a normal part of the process. Cardiac rehab will begin in August and that will help.
I'm on long-term disability for the time being. I'm also looking at other work and SSD options. It's interesting - I don't believe most people think about how their career is going to end. Me? I planned on working until I was 90 - the oldest announcer in America. "Coming up next on...ah...Family Life...my prunes and a nap...would someone call me on the contest line in 28 minutes so I can start the next program?"
This may not be the end of my career but it certainly moves it in a different direction and I'm not sure what that is...yet. I think I was naive about the the recovery and post-recovery period. The professionals give you a basic overview of what to expect and there are always variables based on the person's physical and psychological outlook. But every patient is different and there is no "one size fits all" post-recovery model. So even though the surgery went well and things are looking positive for the future, it's still a matter of walking by faith - every day - just like it's been since all this began with the initial heart attack four years ago.
We just spent five days camping with Connie's family at Letchworth State Park. We rented a 25-ft. RV which was very nice and met our needs. We had a relaxing, enjoyable time with family and friends.
As far as the book project goes, I'm still writing and assembling the chapters. I have an editor friend in Chicago who is reviewing the manuscript. Publication remains up in the air at this point.
Thank you for your continued prayers for me and especially Connie. She has borne the brunt of the extra responsibilities and effort these last few months but she's done it with grace and amazing dedication and I honestly don't know how I'd handle all this without her.
We'll be in touch. And remember - even when things are hard to figure out - God is there. God is good. And his love never fails.
3 Minute Update
Written Jul 10, 2013 11:22amMedical Update: Overall, things are progressing well on the medical front. With the exception of one indicator my test results are all in the normal range and I feel like I'm gaining a little more strength with each passing week. I'm still having blood draws twice a week and seeing four different doctors or nurses on a regular basis. As long as things continue to progress, albeit slowly, one of the next steps will be cardiac rehab (which I also did after my heart attack in 2009). I haven't been officially "cleared" to drive or go back to work yet and that presents some complications. But as it's been for this entire journey you can have plans and projected timelines and certain expectations, but every case is different and we end up taking things day by day, the good and the bad, as God presents it to us.Website, Book Update: I mentioned last week that I've decided not to use Kickstarter as a funding source for the book. While I still believe that's the right decision it does leave open the question - how do we pay for this thing? Connie and I have been examining a lot of things, one of which being our family budget. There have been some other changes happening - with work, applying for disability - that are requiring some belt-tightening. I began work on a new blog website but launching that is on hold for the moment as well.If you want more details I've put together a one-sheet with the facts, expectations and expenses for the project. I'm not looking to make money on this. I'd just like to be able to see the book out there helping people and any profits would go back to printing more copies. You could message me on Facebook or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you the one-sheet. As I said before, there is no expectation and I don't want anyone to feel obligated to get involved. God isn't going to take me home if I don't fund it right now (hat tip, Oral Roberts).I hope you're enjoying your summer. The weather's been fairly decent and sitting on the patio with a glass of iced tea is one of life's great, simple pleasures. This past weekend (4th of July) we had family, friends and some of the grandkids visiting - some for a day, some for several. It felt like we were running a bed and breakfast except I wasn't getting $200 a night. Oh well...I said 3 Minute Update and I'm at about 2:50 so - thank you for praying, for sharing this journey and being a real encouragement. Keep in touch - God richly bless you,Cecil
Written Jun 24, 2013 4:27pmMedical update: It's been over two weeks since my last post but even though it seems quiet there's been a lot going on underneath. My recovery continues to go well. All the doctors and visiting nurses tell me things are good - the VAD is working as it should, the outboard gear is fine (which is good because if an alarm were to go off, I would go off). The bloodwork and other tests they do several times a week show my heart and kidneys are functioning well. I can walk further and don't have any respiratory issues and last Thursday I had a major accomplishment...I walked up the stairs to the second floor of our house. I realize that may not sound like much but the surgery was only eight weeks ago and I've been home six weeks. There are 14 steps, each with a 9" rise. So, accomplishing that is a big deal.On the downside, measuring those accomplishments is difficult. That was a specific goal and I met it. But most days the improvements are very subtle. Sometimes it's three steps forward, one back. Other times it's only one step forward and three back. That's hard to navigate. Before the surgery I just assumed the progress would be slow but steady. Measureable. Something I could feel. Well, it is. But on a much broader scale. Two weeks ago I couldn't walk as far or get up the stairs; now I can. So, instead of looking at the micro view I need to remind myself to widen my lens and look at the macro view. Then, I can definitely see progress, even if it seems elusive day to day. And I'm learning that recovery from something as major as open heart surgery is as much a mental process as it is a physical one.As always, thank you for your ongoing prayer support. This phase of the process isn't as dramatic as it was, say, in December, but your prayers are still both needed and greatly appreciated. Thank you again.Other news: A number of people have emailed asking about the book. Here are some more details. I've been writing for years and blogging for the last five. I've also kept legal pads full of notes from the last year, things I haven't published on the blogs. So, the purpose of the book is two-fold: first, to offer readers, their families and friends and loved ones, a kind of guide through the different aspects of this type of experience. I know before any of this began in 2009 and as we faced each new challenge I had no experience or context to put it in. Hopefully the book will help allay some of those fears and provide thoughtful encouragement (along with some humor) to readers.The second goal is to offer deeper insight into some of the specific areas of life that we struggle with - physically, mentally and spiritually. What are the things that confuse us, that inhibit us, that influence us and how do we make sense of it all in a crazy, complex world. It will include some earlier blog postings, prayers and song lyrics and select scriptures. It will be readable, encouraging and challenging. There's more work to be done on the manuscript but the first few chapters are already being edited.One change regarding funding of the project. After a lot of thought and prayer, I have decided NOT to use Kickstarter as a funding vehicle. This isn't just because they've had a few negative stories in recent news cycles. I believe they provide a helpful and needed service to many writers and artists. But the more I looked into it, there are some aspects of their procedures that make me uncomfortable. Plus, it's possible - not likely but possible - that people might feel obligated to give and that's the last thing I want. So it will be direct-funded by people who wish to donate to see the project come to fruition. I can't offer a tax receipt - despite some appearances I'm not a non-profit corporation - but I'll make sure people who support the project get discounted books or lunch with the author (now there's something you don't want to miss) or something.I'll post specific contact information next week. And again, no pressure from me to get involved. You've already been involved by reading the blog and praying. But pray about it. I believe God's given us a story to tell but this isn't really about me - it's about Him. Thanks.