||The Sewing Basket has been an amazing place to be during this time. I can't begin to express my thanks for all of your
prayers, caring and support.
If you are interested, you can check on this page to see how things are going. I will only update when changes occur. If you don't see a recent post, it means things are stable for now and that is great.
3/30/2017: Just finished all of my one year testing. Everything is great. Got the virus issues under control. Now just getting stronger everyday! Thanks for all the prayers and support. And all of the help sewing hearts!!! See details below - we can still use help.
1/11/17: The "bug" is gone and I'm feeling great. We are busy at the shop getting ready to do some charity sewing for the organ donor network. See below for details:
FREE pattern "Rachael's Heart" - make blocks at home or join us for a heart sewing event.
Click here for information on charity sewing events promoting organ donation.
12/14/16: Doing great. Had a bit of an issue in November. Ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Needed IV Meds. Things are going well now and hopefully we "beat the bug" and the pills will keep things under control.
The nurses and doctors got a kick out of my project. I was able to work on my quilt blocks a little, then nap, then work, etc. I used the hospital windows for a design wall and wrote "Welcome to St. Luke's Quilt Retreat" on the white write board!
9/13/2016: 7 Months since my new heart. All is well. Getting stronger each week. It is great to be back at the shop. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support!
6/25/2016: Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. It is almost 5 months since surgery. I am doing well. Last week I finished Cardiac Rehab, now just exercise at home to continue getting stronger. Thanks to all of you for your caring and support! Hope to see you all at the shop sometime soon!
3/26/2016: Happy Easter to all. Eight weeks on Monday! Doing great. All test numbers are "perfect" - yeah. I start cardiac rehab on Thursday for about 2 months. I can now go out in public without a mask and can drive! So I will be able to get over to the shop a bit! Looking forward to seeing everyone.
3/2/2016: One month home - yeah! Things are going well. All of the tests and numbers that are reviewed are "perfect". I am getting stronger each week. Have a little breathing/lung issue that we are working on, but all will continue to improve. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support. Another 4 weeks or so and I should be able to be out in public a bit! Then I start cardiac rehab and hope to be in the shop some too! Looking forward to seeing you all soon.
2/16/16: I am home! Yesterday was 2 weeks since my new heart and all tests show everything is going well. I need to stay home and out of public for 6-8 weeks. The first 8 weeks my immune system is very, very weak. So I need to avoid crowds, kids, pets and as many germs as possible. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon. Thanks for all of your prayers, cards and support.
2/8/2016: Elayne has been move out of ICU into a regular room. All IV's have been removed and she continues to improve everyday.
2/4/2016: Good morning everyone,
We have GREAT NEWS. The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared. On Monday February 1st Elayne West received the call we have all been waiting for, they had a heart transplant match for her. After an 8+ hour surgery she is currently recovering in an ICU unit at St Lukes hospital in Milwaukee WI.
Her new heart is beating strong, she is awake and was able to sit up in a chair yesterday. There is an obvious long recovery road ahead but everything is proceeding as expected for now.
I will try to do a update post weekly unless there are any major changes.
I’ve been asked to re-post her benefit fund information for those that didn’t see it the first time.
Elayne and Danny are truly grateful for all the well wishes, prayers and financial support they have received during this long 20 month battle.
1/10/2016: HI, It is me!!! Elayne. I am home and getting stronger everyday! I've gotten used to the VAD (or heart pump). If you see me in the shop I'll be sporting a lovey shoulder bag for batteries and a belt to hold the controller. I don't think the fashion statement will catch on, but it keeps me going and I'm very happy to have it. Danny is teasing me that he finally has me under control - it just took a 20 foot "leash" - the cord for the pump! I am back on the active heart transplant list so that is good news. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and donations. I can't begin to thank you enough.
12/1/2015: Came home from the hospital on the 24th. Had a small setback over the weekend with some dehydration from the nausea. New medications are helping so she is able to eat and drink again. She is feeling much better and getting some energy back. Rehab for her leg and arm are slow but steady.
11/23/2015: Elayne remains at St Luke's hospital in Milwaukee. She was moved out of ICU late last week and into a regular room which allows her more access to physical therapy for her leg and arm. Recovery is going slow. She continues to have a hard time walking.
She remains on standby status for the heart transplant list.
Many of you have asked how you can help.
Due to her extensive medical bills, along with this newest complication, we have established a medical fund account in her and her husband's name at Bank First National here in Plymouth. If it is your wish to contribute to her cause you may send a check directly to the bank or here to the shop.
Please know that from the beginning Elayne had requested that we don't do a typical "Brat Fry" fundraiser, nor did she ever expect all of this to continue for so long.
We, here at the shop, have decided (with her permission) to open this account because of the many requests to do so.
She truly appreciates and thanks all of you for the well wishes and prayers you have been sending her. She wishes all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.
For those who choose to contribute
Checks can be made out to: Elayne West or Dan West
Mailed to either:
Bank First National The Sewing Basket
C/O Elayne West Benefit Account C/O Elayne West Benefit Account
P.O. Box 348 426 E Mill Street
Plymouth WI 53073 Plymouth WI 53073
11/14/2015: Talked with Elayne this evening. She sounds GREAT. Her voice was strong, her speech was fast and she is breathing much better, so the pump is working! Her left side is still sluggish, but is much improved from yesterday. The doctors are very confident the therapy will help her recover. She should be out of ICU some time this week but will remain in the hospital for a while.
11/14/2015: Update from Danny this morning. The bleeding is under control. They are calling it a brain bleed, not a stroke, but it has similar affects. The bleed was most likely caused by the blood thinning, which is a necessary evil for the pump to work properly. She had minimal use of her left leg, so she will remain in the hospital for therapy to be able to walk again before she can go home. The will continue to adjust her meds while she it there.
11/13/2015: Another 911 ambulance ride back to St Luke's. She woke up with a loss of feeling in her legs and was unable to walk. It was determined she had a significant brain bleed. A CAT scan showed the bleeding had stopped. She has been admitted into ICU for further evaluation and to determine the next course of action.
11/9/2015: Back in the hospital over the weekend. She was getting dizzy and fainting, so they admitted her for observation. It was determined her blood was too thick, which can be a problem with the heart pump. After adjusting her medications she was able to come home on Monday.
10/29/2015: Home from the hospital. Weak but happy to be home.
10/23/2015: Last night Elayne was moved out of ICU into a regular room. She is dealing with some nausea and obvious pain, but otherwise is moving along nicely. She came out of surgery on Monday with 12 IV's, 4 chest tubes, 3 cath's and a ventilator. As of today they have removed everything but 1 IV. If all continues to well, she could be home next week. We will keep you posted. Thank you for all the cards and prayers.
10/19/2015: Being as the medications were no longer working to keep Elayne's heart functioning, a heart pump was installed on October 19th. The surgery went as well as can be expected. She will remain in ICU for this week, and then in the hospital for 1-3 weeks. She will still need a heart transplant in the future, but hopefully the pump will give her some relief allowing her to come home and possibly spend some time here at the shop. She misses all of you tremendously.
10/12/2015: Update from Sheryl. Elayne has been at St. Luke's Hospital in Milwaukee since the beginning of October and will be remaining at St. Luke's indefinitely. Being in the hospital, Elayne stays at A1 status which gives her the best chance of receiving a heart should one become available. Please keep the good karma coming!
9/24/2015: Back from Dr. today. Having some troubles. Trying some changes in meds. Hopefully, that will help. Follow up appointment next Wednesday. Thanks for all the the prayers and cards.
9/8/2015: Appointment on the 4th was so-so. I go back for a right heart cath on Thursday the 10th and Dr follow up appointment on Friday the 11th. We'll have more news after that.
8/31/2015: At the shop today for a little while. Thanks for all of the birthday wishes. Still moving very slow and breathing hard. Hope to get some energy back after a bit more rest...Still 1B status on the heart transplant list. Thanks for keeping me in your prayers. Next follow up Friday, Sept 4.
8/26-8/29: In St Luke's for a few days. Nice ambulance ride down there. Had some major breathing and water issues. Looks like things are balanced. Just really tired.
8/12/2015: In for follow up this am. Some water problems - working on getting it balanced. Status is officially 1B. So that means I could get a call when there is a match. Thanks for all of your prayers.
8/7/2015: Home from St Luke's, PICC line installed and medication running 24/7. I'll be sporting a lovely black fanny pack. I am sure it will become all the rage. So far, so good.
8/1/2015: Tests on Wednesday showed some decline. They did a number of tests including a drug study for a different heart med. That went well and they will be starting it on Monday. I will be out of the shop - at St Luke's for 2-3 days. The drug is a 24 hour continuous infusion, so they need to put in a picc line, teach me how to manage it and keep an eye on my numbers for a few days. Hopefully, that will give me a little easier breathing and a little more energy. The "good" news (using the term loosely) is that going on this drug automatically moves me up the transplant list to a 1B status. That means I am high enough on the list that it would be possible to get a call that a heart is available. Still need to be the "sickest" one on the list that the donor heart matches, but things are progressing.
7/23/15: Things are slowing down a bit. Have tests next Wednesday, July 29. Will know more then.
6/9/2015: Things are progressing a bit. Moving a little slower, less energy and strength. Still on monthly follow ups (next visit June 25). It is a strange place to be - sick, but not sick enough to be at the top of the transplant list. We'll just keep hanging in there! Thanks again for all the prayers and support.
5/7/2015: All tests are done and clear. Things are maintaining so far so that is good news. Should be monthly follow ups from here unless things change.
5/2/2015: Good news. The lungs issue has been identified and is clearing up. Have another test Monday to check overall function of heart and oxygen levels. Thursday the 7th is the next Transplant Evaluation meeting and they should be reviewing my status then.
4/3/2015: Echo test went well! Things are maintaining, so even with the drop in meds the heart is hanging in there. They also did a couple little "tweaks" to meds and an adjustments to the pacemaker, didn't know it had a motion sensor feature. I hope the lights don't go on every time I move! This feature helps to keep the heart rate up and should keep my energy up a bit too. Still waiting on a few things to move forward with the transplant application status. Hopefully, results at the next appointment on May 1 should give us the ability to move forward. When all goes well, my status will be reviewed by the Transplant Evaluation team here and then the application goes to UNOS (United Network of Organ Sharing) for their review and approval. Thanks again for all of your prayers and support.
3/17/2015: Last few weeks heart is getting weaker. Couple of meds no longer help. Good news is those meds lowered blood pressure, without them I have much more mental energy and better color - so I look healthier. I'll gladly take what I can get. Still waiting on cultures. Next echo (test to see how heart is doing) scheduled for April 2.
2/9/2015: Spending a week in the hospital for testing and stuff. They need to be sure you are healthy enough to handle a transplant. You need to be sick enough to need a heart, but healthy enough to survive the surgery and have no other problems anywhere in your system. (If you get a transplant the anti-rejection drugs knock out your immune system and something else could make you sicker than you were). Lots of tests, all went well except they found some spots in my lungs - not cancer, but working on identifying it. Takes 7-8 weeks for some cultures to grow.
Quick History: May 9, 2014 I had a heart attack due to heart failure. I spent a week in intensive care and they implanted of a BV-ICD (fancy, multi-function pacemaker type device). My heart was functioning at 30% of what it should be and enlarged to about half again its normal size. Not a good thing - thought I was healthy - 54, on no medications, just really tired and short of breath. Things maintained until September when I was referred to the Advanced Heart Failure Clinic at St. Luke's, Milwaukee. Things weren't "maintaining" . . . so in February I was referred to their Heart Transplant Clinic to start the process of getting approved to be added to the heart transplant waiting list. And that is where we are now.