||Feb 22, 2011
A journey to discover why, at the age of 35 years I had a heart attack so severe, it ended my military career and changed my life forever.
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Brian M. Hayden
Brian M. Hayden
For over twenty years I have found myself on the verge of death and fought to stay alive. My heart attack in 1989 marked the beginning of a life and death struggle that has lasted more than twenty years. I have been in hospice, and my family told I had three weeks to live. I was on a heart transplant list but was removed because they said I was too sick to survive surgery. This is the story of the journey I am taking. Living, and dying with heart and lung disease. Join me as I talk about what it is like to be terminally ill, and to be told time and again that I was dying.
Most importantly, I wish to impart this: hope. For every doctor that is telling people that they will die: Stop it! People do not have expiration dates tattooed on their behinds. For family and friends of people who have terminal illnesses, have faith. Hope and faith are very powerful, and while I cannot tell you that they are all you need, I can say with certainty that without it, there is no hope. As you will read, I have died many times. Please read my story and think: if this poor bastard can still be skulking about after all he has been through; after all he still is going through, maybe I can too.
"The ambulance is on its way, but they are not here yet. I cannot think clearly, although I think about concentrating… think Brian, Think…You know, when confronted with the real possibility of dying, a strange calm envelops you. I breathed easier facing the obvious conclusion…I was going to die today. My thoughts turn to my family again. I brought each one, one at a time into my head. Reminiscing, missing them, then: BANG. The fifth and final shock of the day interrupted my dream. The shock barely moved my already limp body. I lie there, motionless, and lifeless waiting for the ambulance. In the background, I finally hear the sirens. I hope they can save me. I hope they are not too late…"
"In the coming weeks, I saw my endurance and strength disappear, until one day, my walking trips were over. In less than 2 months, all the strength I needed to walk was gone. Without so much as a letter of introduction, End Stage Heart Failure had arrived. I tendered my resignation in the latter part of winter, 2005. Just like that, my working days were over. I had worked nonstop since I was 15 years old (1969) and now it is over. My body swelled with panic and depression as the realization of what lies ahead begins to sink in. My wife Denise flew out, helped me pack up the truck and we drove home to San Antonio. What will become of us? How will we survive? Who will provide my health care and keep me alive? Will I be able to stay alive?"
"Take the pain or go to the emergency room. It is usually a tough call. Every time I go to the E.R. I have to take off all my clothes, get one or two catheters placed in me and get medicine that usually makes me sick and gives me a headache. I do not ask to go to the hospital because I am bored. I go because I think I may be dying. So I am not going to die this trip…good…hand me my pants. They are right over there."
I heart this writer..., February 28, 2012
I read a lot of books. I read a lot of memoirs. Nothing could prepare me for Brian's story. His story was so personal for me because my own husband lives with heart disease. I live with the fear that when I step forward the floor may not be there. Brian has a gift for storytelling, his sense of humor is amazing and I find myself cheering and praying for him and his family.
A Surprisingly Fun Read, December 1, 2011
After following some of Brian Hayden's blogs about his medical experiences, I decided to read his memoir mainly because I enjoyed his honest writing. Plus, heart disease runs in my family, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to learn more about the subject from someone who has been through the gamut of surgeries, medications, and hospital procedures.
I must confess, however, that as I opened to the first chapter, I braced myself for a sad story, or at the very least a chronicle of one man's painful battle against terminal illness. What I did not expect was to laugh out loud. Nor did I expect a book about dying to offer so many reasons to go on living.
While the author's insight into coronary/pulmonary disease is informative reading, interwoven throughout the prognoses and treatments is, in true memoir fashion, the story of his boyhood, his military service, and his marriage to a very unique woman. Yet it is not only the love of a good wife and family that sustain him through his illness, but Brian's own unsinkable spirit and sense of humor.
I highly recommend Death: Living to Talk About It, to everyone who needs a boost of hope. And nowadays, who doesn't?
There's More to Death & Dying Than I Knew!, September 9, 2011
"Death, Living to Talk About It" by Brian M. Hayden is a frank look at death from the point of view of the dying. Hayden doesn't pull any punches, speaking of his heart and lung problems with honesty. He admits what he did to bring on his issues, not making excuses for himself. Smoking and drinking from a young age surely were major contributors to his health problems.
Hayden's health issues began in 1989 when he experienced his first heart attack at the ripe old age of 35. From this point onward, his health degrades until doctors finally tell him it's time to go to hospice. Resigned to his fate, he and his family arrange for him to go, only to pull him out again two weeks later. And guess what? He's not dead yet!
Hayden was given that death sentence back in 2007. It's 2011 and he's still alive to talk about it. Hayden's book chronicles his journey through heart attacks, blood clots, pulmonary problems, spots on his lungs, pace makers, COPD, migraines and medication issues. His life has been a series of doctor's appointments, hospital visits, operations and treatments all designed to improve his quality of life. Some have the desired effect, others--not so much.
Hayden's courage and tenacity see him through. His loving supportive wife, Denise, whom he credits with saving his life more than once, also keeps him going. Her love and care make life tolerable for a man who's seen death. Hayden stresses that life for the caregiver of the chronically ill isn't easy. Denise has constantly been at his side, dealing with hospitals, doctors, medications and worries. This has been her journey as much as his. She sounds like an amazing woman.
"Death - Living to Talk About It" is a wonderfully readable book which gives hope to those with chronic health problems. It gives shows the reader that no matter how bad it gets, there is always hope.
My favorite quote says it all: "Hope and faith are very powerful, and while I cannot tell you that they are all you need, I can say with certainty that without it, there is no hope. Please read my story and think: if this poor bastard can still be skulking about after all he has been through; after all he is still going through, maybe I can too."
I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those dealing with chronic health issues.
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