Hiland’s Heart Transplant Recovery Continues

| February 28, 2011 | 10 Comments

On January 26th, I took a bus to a place that left me an eleven minute walk to LifeStyles, my fitness center in Tampa. The sun was brilliant, the weather comfortable and best of all everything was flat. We heart transplant recipients like flat!

I was excited because I was returning to Albany for a series of meetings with doctors and I expected to be the bearer of good news. My weight was increasing and it ,as muscle.

After a prescribed forty minute workout, which concentrated on a series of lower leg exercises and stretches outlined by my conscientious trainer, Zach, I turned to my pretty feeble upper body exercises. Suzanne would walk to the fitness center from Davis Island and we would walk more than two miles home. Suzanne is inspirational and a good conversationalist to boot. All in all, it was a great cardio and strength program. Life was good.

On Thursday, January 27th, I exercised at home and seemed to be breathing with effort. On Friday morning, I could barely mange to walk fifty feet. On Saturday, we managed the flight home, but I was forced to stop for frequent rests after very short distances. I could not lift my travel bag.

By Saturday night we were home but a fever had arrived. After my 2100 meds, the fever decreased. On Sunday, the fever returned and did not diminish after either the 0900 or 2100 medications.

On Monday, I called my friend and cardiologist Dr. O, who listened to the symptoms and suggested I get on a plane back to Tampa. I notified Tampa General and was instructed to stay in Albany and get to an emergency room. When stabilized, I could return to my home away from home, the Mirasol and Tampa General.

Today is February 28th, I have moved from one hospital to another, Albany Medical Center, where I have received the courteous, professional services of a team of health care specialists and support staff that do the medical profession proud.

I have been discharged twice and been hospitalized two days later in both cases. As Dr. Philbin, who suggested the good news was that I was not in rejection but the bad news was that the cause of my symptoms was unknown combined with information from the first hospital that was slow in arriving.

My difficulty walking was especially puzzling and frustrating. An ultra sound for my legs was ordered and the young administrator began to unravel the knot. Major blood clots were found in every vein in my lower legs.

A series of thoracic, abdominal and pelvic ultra sounds were ordered and things now took on an alarming feel and look. The intensity of the staff and testing really intensified.

After a series of catscans, Dr. Philbin presented the news that I had a pulmonary embolism and a blood distribution system riddled with a large number of blood clots. A Pulmonary expert was added to the team and a hematologist, Dr. B, joined the group. Morning rounds by the AMC team were informative and the physicians of the teaching center actually took the time to answer questions.

Of course, the possibility of cancer was present and added an undercurrent of tension that I found difficulty controlling. After four days of waiting, “there were no cancerous sources although I had an enlarged and unhealthy spleen and gall bladder that would need to be removed.

That happened today by Dr. Stain, who I cannot wait to thank tomorrow. For the first time in three weeks, I have energy. This will mark the third time I have had to begin the recovery by learning to walk. There is so much to say about this three week period. Much of the information exposes the strengths and definite weaknesses in the health care system.

There are still hard questions that will need to be answered.

But, you know what, I am ready to start again. I really like my health care team in Albany and I really like the Tampa General cardiology, psychological and transplant surgery departments.

This experience was the first time in this process that I thought about dying, but perhaps this will drive my recovery. And, the Yankees are starting Spring Training in Tampa. It could be worse.

Filed in: Recovery

10 Comments on "Hiland’s Heart Transplant Recovery Continues"

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  1. Larrie Calvert says:

    What an update !!!! All the best to you and STAY WITH IT BUDDY !!!!

  2. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Thanks Larrie. Hi to Gretchen.

  3. ron lanzetta says:

    just got all this information this morning. an amazing turn of events.i was ready to giveup just reading the journal. hang in there we just put in 35 new fairway bunkers. i will put you on the pray chain at church.

  4. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Thanks Ronnie, Got to see Yanks at Steinbrenner Field one more time! Best to Eileen and tribe. Hope all goes well. HBD

  5. Eileen Lanzetta says:


    I am always inquiring about how you are doing. I was so excited today to find out about this website and to follow your progress. What a time of it you have had Hiland. You sound so positive. We will all continue to pray for you and your speedy recovery. A friend of our’s son just had his second liver transplant about 1-1/2 yrs ago and is doing great. Give our best to Suzanne.


  6. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Thanks Eileen, if you know Suzanne, you know there is no quit in that puppy. Sometimes she terrifies me! LOve to all. m I have joined a christian men’s bible group in Tampa. I have drawn such spiritual strength from thios group. Best always, HBD

  7. Lynn and Dick Esmay says:

    Hiland, it’s hard to believe the vigorous and healthy looking man we say on the day after Christmas could be going through all THIS. We are so sorry you have these challenges but know you will call on those inner strengths to buoy you up and bring you to safe harbor. We have you in our prayers and in our hearts.

    Love, Lynn and Dick

  8. Hiland Doolittle says:

    Gee, I really has it going but it stopped on a dime. Perhaps one bridge too far. Now, we begin again but I am loaded with steroids. The brain is busy, busy, busy. Not sure when we canget back to the flatlands and spring training.

  9. June says:

    Hello Hiland,
    I just came upon your website today. We have the same doctors at TGH. I had my heart transplant Dec. 31, 2007. I call Dr. Hoffman “the little general” I was smiling when you were talking about her. I knew exactly what you ment.
    Blessings June

  10. Rob Taylor says:

    Brutal. My heart goes out to you as you wage this battle. I hope you’re feeling stronger now. Keep up the fight and I hope to see you this summer.
    Big hugs,

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