Tausha’s Story

Site created on November 26, 2018


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I am officially on the list for a heart transplant.  My heart journey began in October 2008 when they found a blood clot in my heart.  This is also when they discovered that I had a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Liden which makes me more susceptible for getting clots.  This incident did cause some slight damage to my heart and that point I was told I had beginning stages of heart failure.  My doctors told me not to worry as heart failure is a very broad term and I could still maintain an active lifestyle.  In May 2009, I had my first incident of VT (Ventricular Tachycardia) - this is a very dangerous arrhythmia.  They shocked me to get my heart back in rhythm and a couple days later implanted an ICD (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator).  This device was there to protect me if this heart rhythm was to happen again.  This incident again put a little wear on my heart but I was still feeling good.  I went for many years on medicines that controlled my heart rhythms effectively.  On May 5, 2018, I had a cardiac arrest.  My family was told that I wasn't going to make it.  That is until the most amazing group of doctors and surgeons at the University of Minnesota Hospital got me hooked up on the ECMO machine which saved my life.  It was honestly a miracle!!  I was out of the hospital in 12 days.  I was very tired but overall feeling good.  As you can imagine, my heart took a big hit with this one.  I started Cardiac Rehab and successfully completed that in September 2018.  On the evening of October 6, 2018 - I had an episode of VT and landed me in a hospital bed for 4 nights.  Following that, I had 3 more hospital stays - one that included an ablation that was not successful and one that we thought was but I ended up back in the hospital a few days later.  By this time, I really wasn't feeling good overall and had days that I could barely walk from room to room. In November, I went it for a Right Heart Catheterization and the results were not good and they wouldn't let me leave the hospital.  My heart was pumping at less than 50% of what it should be.  They got me on an IV with some medicine that helped open up the vessels so I would start feeling a bit better.  It was on this hospital visit that my team of doctors/surgeons atthe U of M decided that my heart failure was at the point that we needed to look at transplant.  They completed the entire workup and evaluation while I was there.  And, that brings us to now while I wait for the call that a heart become available.  It could be 2 weeks, 5 months or a year.  There is so much that goes into matching a donor with a recipient so they never know exactly where you are in line.  When a heart becomes available for me - I will need to be at the U of M Hospital within a couple hours for surgery, so no traveling for me for awhile.  I can't tell you how blessed I am with the most amazing Transplant Team.  Please know that if I have any updates - we will always put them on this site.  I will continue to work until the transplant as I am blessed to be able to do that from home.  I need to stay as healthy as possible until the surgery so I likely won't be out and about much unless it is for a doctor appointment, church or something to support Natalie.  Please feel free to come and visit (unless your sick :)) and know that I am okay talking about "normal" people stuff and not just my health.   Please pray for my medical team, the family of the donor whose heart I will receive, my family and of course, ME!!

Newest Update

Journal entry by Tausha Martinson

God is good!  As you know, I had 2 days worth of testing on Monday and Tuesday.  It was a very long 2 days but it brought great news so it was a small price to pay for a healthy heart!!  I am going to throw a lot of information at you now but you know me....I like to be very transparent on things.  

  • I had a whole bunch of labs drawn - like 12 tubes!  Everything was good!  My white count continues to be high enough that I don't need to do the injections which is good plus, it's been quite a relief while navigating through COVID. 
  • Monday was the big day - angiogram, biopsy, right catherization and intravascular ultrasound...
    • The biopsy didn't show rejection which means I don't need another biopsy again unless there is cause for concern re: symptoms of rejection, etc.  This was great news and something that I don't remember hearing before but apparently, once you hit the 2 year mark post-transplant - no more biopsies.  Woo hoo!  I will still need to have an echocardiogram (which is easy peasy) in August and then an angiogram at my 3 year check-up.
    • The right catherization was good - no fluid retention and pressures were good!
    • The angiogram showed some minimal CAV - CardiacTransplant Vasulopathy (thickening of the blood vessel walls).  This is something that is fairly common in transplant patients so that is why they watch for it so closely.  Before my transplant, I didn't have any arteries with more than 25% blockage which is apparently really good for someone in their 40's.  My number was at 37% last year and has dropped a bit this year - so more great news!  They wouldn't do a stent or anything until 85-90%. Unfortunately, this isn't like the plaque that you can control with diet, exercise or cholesterol meds however, the new medicine they started me on after my 1 year check-up helps with it.  Although the results were all good - the procedure had some hiccups.  They go in through the groin for all 4 tests - 2 are done through a vein and the other 2 through an artery.  They went into the right side and did the vein first which is the biopsy and right cath and all went well.  Then, they tried to get into the artery on that side and were blocked by scar tissue.  UGH!  So, they had to go for the artery on the left side of the groin - therefore, I ended up with 2 incisions instead of one which meant an extra 2 hours in recovery.   When it was finally time to leave at 4:00pm - I got up to use the bathroom and a HUGE hematoma formed on the right side (not even the side they were worried about) so that bought me another 2 hours of bedrest and they brought in a male nurse to apply pressure for 20 minute to the hematoma.  It was the most painful thing I think I have been through and I have been through quite a bit.  :)  They pain was so intense that I literally told the nurse like 20 times that I was probably going to throw up.  He just kept holding pressure and smiling at me through his mask.  At 6:00pm, Gary finally got to come and pick me up!  I am still very sore but I will power through!  
  • I had an cardiac MRI on Tuesday.  It was long and boring and my IV was painful but when my doctor told me during our visit yesterday "your heart looks beautiful" - it made it all worth it.  This is great news as an MRI tells them a lot about a heart!  My ejection fraction on the left side of the heart was 65% and on the right side 72% - those are great numbers and even better than the last time they were checked in September.  Dr. Alexy said, "you look great - keep doing what you are doing because it's working!" 
  • Phew - that was a lot of information - thanks for reading all of the way!

My adventures continue and am grateful to each of you for continuing to follow along.  My story wouldn't be complete without each of you.  I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe!

Love & Hugs!

Tausha 

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