The Bionic Woman – Don’t Forget The Velcro

New to This Mommy’s Heart? Check out my story from the beginning here – My PPCM Story

The first day post-op from my TAH surgery went pretty well. That is, of course, until it didn’t.

All signs had pointed to me being ready for extubation. Unfortunately, when the nurse removed the tube from my throat I was unable to pass any air. A code was called and I had to be reintubated. My husband was in the room when this happened and up to this point, he said that was the most stressful and scary thing that had happened. Although I don’t remember this happening, I had a lot of anxiety and fear about having to get intubated again.

I had asked my husband early on to never leave me and he took it very literally to the point where my nurse forced him to leave my room to get fresh air and food. He also got to spend some time playing cards with his family. I’m so glad that while he was looking out for me, there were people taking care and looking out for him too.

The next day things got better. With the help of an anesthesiologist, I was successfully extubated. I actually do remember this extubation. The doctor was very nice and gave me a lot of comfort while removing the tube. It wasn’t too bad but I still had my fears of when I would have to get intubated again.

With extubation, however, came secretions. So many secretions. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t remember a good amount about what happened while I was in the hospital. I am only able to write this blog because of the notes my husband wrote throughout the experience. The brain is an amazing thing and it really does try to protect you from memories it doesn’t think you can handle. I don’t remember the secretions too well but I do remember hating them and constantly feeling like I couldn’t breathe. My husband was constantly having to come over and use a suction tool to help remove the secretions. Now, tell me that isn’t true love?

ECMO really zaps your muscles since you are essentially just laying in bed for days so I got a lot of help from physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). This day we were able to work on dangling my legs off the bed and was able to stand briefly. There was a lot of work on arm and leg raises that I handled pretty well. Just from these simple activities, by the end of the day, I was exhausted but it was a good start in my path to recovery.

This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Leg dangles
Leg dangles
This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Seeing my babies after the TAH
My husband holding our daughter up for me to see.
This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Holding my hand
My baby girl holding my hand
This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - Giving my son a kiss
Giving my son a kiss

Another good thing that happened this day (you have to take it when you can get it) was that the transplant team had voted and, once everything was approved with insurance, I would be listed on the heart transplant list as a 1A. WOOHOO!

Medical terminology

  • 1A Status
    • This status is given to stable patients in the hospital with a mechanical device who have the highest priority on the basis of medical urgency.

So, what is all of this business about the Velcro? Well, let’s briefly go over the TAH. According to Syncardia (the creator of my TAH) “Just like a human heart, the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart (TAH) is pulsatile and consists of two ventricles and four valves that pump blood throughout the body. The SynCardia TAH is made of a special biocompatible plastic, which offers a high degree of fatigue resistance and strength for long-term durability.”


Below is an image of the TAH in the body connected to the portable Freedom Driver. In between the two artificial ventricles (the two big cream-colored things) is Velcro that connects them and can be repositioned by the surgeon to best suit the recipient’s body. A random thing to mention but I always thought it was funny that Velcro was inside my body. From artificial hearts to toddler shoes, oh the many uses of Velcro.

This Mommy's Heart - My PPCM Story - TAH
Syncardia Total Artificial Heart

147 thoughts on “The Bionic Woman – Don’t Forget The Velcro”

Leave a Comment