Posts Tagged ‘Heart Transplant’


Just got the official word, sending me home this afternoon!

Hope you all have a great Halloween Weekend!



Stretch Speaks!!!!!

Hi everyone;

Putting out a quick update to help get all the news that’s fit for print out in the proper hands!

The surgery went very well.  The Dr.’s were very excited about the donor heart, and that certainly made Sue and I comfortable as well.  The old heart was ‘trash” according to one of the cardiologists involved in the transplant.  Clearly the pumps were doing all the work. They don’t provide us with any info about the donor heart outside of the blood type, so really nothing for me to share on that front.  Family has been down to visit several times and are all doing well.  I think it helps that the kids are back to a school routine, and I hope to be a more regular part of their day soon.

I am up and walking around on the ICU floor, and they are quickly removing drainage tubes from the surgery which is always a good sign.  My transfer order just got released so I can move up to a normal room when a bed becomes available.  Could be this evening, or maybe tomorrow.  In the meantime I focus on the basics, eating, sleeping, and exercising.  Not a bad little routine truth be told!  If all proceeds at this same pace, I may be home by early next week.  Really an amazing difference from the first set of surgeries which kept me in the hospital some 60 days!

I get many questions about visitors, and that is probably the biggest change I will undergo compared to the prior 4 months.  I am on heavy doses of immune suppression drugs and steroids to help my body from rejecting the new heart.  My dosage will be reduced over time, but will leave me vulnerable to the common cold and other wonderful reminders of the winter months.  Because of this weakness in my armor, I will be keeping personal visits to a minimum for some time.  So as much as I would love to visit with everyone personally, I just can’t swing that yet.  I don’t intend to live in a bubble, but for the next couple months I will need to be very careful, so if you do see me out and about, don’t be taken aback by the possible facemask and other precautions.

With regards to work, my 3 week return to the office has run its course and I will be on short-term leave once again.  I will be out October and November for sure, and we’ll see about the possibility of working from home in December.  We will address all of that in due time.  I will now be turning my attention to more pressing matters like my Halloween costume choice.  I was going to be Steve Austin, $6 Million Dollar Bionic man, but now that my pumps are gone, I only have half the costume (the bills!).  Not to worry, I’m certain I will be able to whip up another fine substitute so that I’m ready for tricks and treats.

Thanks to all of you that have reached out with a kind word, a prayer, or support for our Trust.  We truly appreciate all the kindness we have been blessed with, and look forward to paying it forward each and every day.

As I get more news, I’ll be sure to share it as quickly as possible.  Until then, thanks again and God Bless.

Jim “Stretch”

Jim is awake and talking!

Jim is awake and talking.  I know.  I thought they were going to keep him out for awhile.  But you know Jim, always full of surprises.  I don’t think anyone was more surprised this morning then our daughter Meggie when he called home to wish her good luck at her soccer game today.  She was so shocked and happy to hear his voice.


Jim and I are both in awe of our blessings.  He has only been on the heart transplant list for 10 days.  When I lay my head on his chest this morning, I heard the most beautiful sound, his new beating heart, so strong and steady.  We will thank the donor family everyday.  This is truly the greatest gift.


We know we are not out of the woods just yet.  He is on a number of medications that will prevent rejection, and in doing so will suppress his immune system.  So as social as he is, he will be unable to have as many visitors, due to the risk of infection.


As always, thank you for your continued prayers. Enjoy this beautiful Fall day.




This from Sue Armstrong a short time ago…I believe in miracles.

This from Sue Armstrong a short time ago…



Jim’s new heart is in and pumping! They will keep him in surgery for 2-4 hours to make sure everything is okay and no bleeding.  They will watch him closely over the next 24 hours.


Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I believe in miracles.




Great News!!

9:20 PM

Stretch is off the heart lung bypass and his new heart is functioning!  They will keep him open to check for bleeding the next 2 to 4 hours. Things have gone very smoothly.   I’ll let you know more as I hear more.



Please keep Jim in your prayers today.  We got word last night that they have a heart.  The surgery started at 3:15 today.  It is expected to take 8-10 hours.  I will keep you posted.


Jim and I feel so blessed that he will be given another chance at life. He is so excited and ready. We both feel at peace and feel that we are in wonderful hands.


Please also remember the family that has given us this wonderful gift today.  It must be so hard to say goodbye.


God bless,



Hello Friends and Family! – The Latest Note From Jim!

Hello Friends and Family!

Thought I would send out a little mid September missive, now that Labor Day festivities are behind us.  Hope you all had a good holiday.  Just prior to the Labor Day break, our dear friends the Machado’s and the Thom’s hosted a wonderful get together for friends and family here in Lake Forest.  About 140 of us got together for a night of laughter and entertainment.  It was a great time, and it felt so good to be out and about with friends.  There also was a person helping people sign up electronically to be an organ donor now that the law has been update in Illinois as of January 1.  I think over 50 people agreed to become donors that evening, and it was great to see that much support.  Sue and I want to thank everyone that helped with the Lake Forest evening, it was a great event and a wonderful showing of community support for our family.  There is a group of college and sailing friends organizing another get together for Nov. 5 at Chicago Yacht Club.  Please mark your calendars as I hope to see you there!

Now that we are past the holiday, we are definitely back in high gear at the Armstrong house.   Kids are all fully entrenched again with their school work, and of course they keep their afternoons and weekends busy with a variety of activities, including, choir, dance, soccer, and a new addition field hockey.  We have some great carpool helpers which keeps it all manageable as Sue an I are no longer able to “divide and conquer” when it comes to kid’s activities.  We still find plenty of time to hang out together, and that is of course the best time spent!

Sue and I keep pretty busy as 24/7 buddies.  We make a point of getting out of the house for a few hours each day.  Sometimes it’s running errands, sometimes a long lunch, or even a long walk.  Neither of us have tried to make a run for it, so I guess all’s going well as we go through life joined at the hip!  It helps to have a partner that you enjoy spending time with.  Our routine will be the same as long as I’m on these heart pumps.

At our last weekly visit to the hospital (last Thursday) we were introduced to the young nurse that has the responsibility of cataloging all my medical records for the FDA and the maker of the heart pumps, HeartWare.  I made a comment that the records probably took a little time to compile.  She replied that I currently have a 6” thick binder of medical data and records as part of the medical study.  Fortunately she kept smiling so I don’t think I hit the nerve too deep!  Probably the most memorable part of our discussion was when she said how nice it was to see me up and about.  She and others in the hospital really hadn’t expected me to leave the hospital until after the heart transplant.  I had heard that comment other times, but for some reason it stuck with me this time.  Made me think about how sick I really was, which is something I really didn’t focus on before. I never really bought into the idea that I would not get up and about quickly, it’s just not the way I look at things.  The funny thing is the difference in how I look at my situation with a different focus from the doctors and nurses. I’m always anxious to move to the next hospital floor, stage of treatment, and now the transplant itself.  They take a much more measured pace as you might expect, and one that has the memory of how far we’ve come. They are never in a hurry, and make sure we account for every variable.  I guess we make a good team – I keep pushing to move on, and they make sure I don’t try to go to fast!

So at the moment we’re in a bit of a friendly stalemate.  I continue to get stronger, and the vast majority of excess fluid on my body has come off thanks to a diuretic treatment.  I’m down to a mean fighting weight of 160 lbs which is a far cry from the bloated post surgery Jim in the hospital that was over 210!  So physically I feel great.  The best part of having all the fluid off my body is that it makes it easier to walk, to sleep, and my appetite has returned to normal.  Over time my muscle mass will come back too.  So why I feel physically ready for the transplant, there’s still a number of measures the Dr. is watching before he’ll pull the trigger and put me on the list, hence the stalemate!   My kidney function continues to be good, but they would like to see it stay stable for a few more weeks.  They are also tracking a few other markers that need to be in line before they move forward, particularly some antibodies I developed to certain medicines that they need to use in the transplant surgery.  The good news is that they still see the end of September as a reasonable window for me to go on the transplant list.

So in the coming weeks we’re basically in a holding pattern so I probably will not put out another update until end of September, or if I get news that I’m moving to the transplant list.  In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy our days together as a family, and look forward to more days to follow.  Thank you to all of you that continue to pray for us, we truly appreciate the outreach.  We in turn will keep all of you in our prayers as well.

Until we talk again…….


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