Episode 11

Considering the "long game" of heart transplant with Chris Moll- 11

Chris Moll breaks his heart transplant journey into three two-week chunks with Boots. In particular, he takes walks us through the mental health aspect of organ transplant and how he sought out support while he waited for a donor heart and how he coped post transplant.

Website: The Heart Chamber (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

Transcript: Joyful Beat | The Heart Chamber (theheartchamberpodcast.com)

The Heart Chamber (@theheartchamberpodcast)

Thanks to Michael Moeri for being my right hand man. Michael Moeri - Audio Editor, Podcast Producer and Marketing Director

0:00 introduction

1:30 In the fall 2017, Chris noticed he began to struggle with fishing trips. Out of breath. He rationalized it, saying he's 50 now. But, then it got worse. Much worse.

3:00 He sees his general doctor who immediately sends him to a cardiologist.

3:30 The local cardiologist orders an echocardiogram and it shows Chris's heart was only functioning at 6%.

4:40 On February 17, 2018, Chris was admitted to the local Jackson, WY hospital and then transported to the University of Utah.

6:00 What was it like to hear your heart was not ok?

7:00 A month prior, Chris had had a virus that possibly was affecting his heart.

8:00 Once at U of U, Chris had genetic testing that would eventually lead to a genetic disorder affecting his heart.

8:30 What it's like to be on a life flight.

10:30 Chris is met by the entire heart failure team at U of U. This marks the first of three 2 week segments of his hospital stay.

12:00 How Chris handled the series of events.

14:00 Chris's heart wasn't improving. He needed a heart transplant.

18:00 Chris undergoes medical testing to ensure he can undergo a heart transplant.

19:00 Chris is officially placed on the transplant list. This is the middle two weeks of his hospital stay.

20:30 He shares his struggles as he waited for his new heart.

21:30 While he waited for an organ to save his own life, there had to be tradgedy elsewhere and that the hard emotional component of his journey.

22:40 How Chris's family coped.

26:00 Chris gets the news that a heart is available. Now he enters the 3rd two week period. Saturday, March 17.

29:30 Chris shares his mental strategy as the hours ticked down to the transplant.

31:00 It's normal to have a range of thoughts but the more you can focus on the future in a positive way, the better the outcome.

33:00 Boots shares her approach to her surgery.

34:30 Chris strikes up a conversation with the anesthesiologist.

35:00 The heart transplant took 6 hours.

35:50 Chris walked right after surgery!

36:30 The first couple of days post surgery.

38:30 He is extubated. "I lost a few days."

39:20 His first thought coming out of the haze, was he could finally breathe.

40:00 He was able to go outside!

41:20 Food did not taste good to Chris except for fruit and yogurt.

41:50 A positive memory and a reality check.

44:30 Chris's struggle with being in the ICU.

45:00 Regaining autonomy was everything when he was moved to the PCU.

45:50 Chris pushes to be discharged from the hospital.

46:20 Juggling family logistics once Chris was released but he had to stay close to the U of U.

48:30 Chris is getting stronger so the family was able to be back at home more.

49:00 What the 6 months entailed while Chris was staying in SLC.

50:30 Cardiac rehab

51:30 Chris advocates for more independence.

54:00 The mental health component.

57:50 It was good for Chris's healing journey to be away from home for those 6 months.

59:40 Chris references the movie, Animal House.

1:01:30 What does thriving mean?

1:02:00 What was the genetic mutation? FLNC. Filamin C.

1:03:00 Two family members have the gene and are receiving care.

1:03:50 University of Colorado has specialists for the FLNC gene.

1:04:40 The source of Chris's heart and navigating the choice of knowing the source.

1:07:00 Chris decided that he did not need to know what happened to the person that gifted him his heart.

1:08:00 Chris celebrates five years post transplant. Initially, he thought of his heart all of the time. He struggled in the first couple of years. Now, he is stable with medications and supplements. Now, he doesn't think about it at all.

1:10:00 How he gauges progress now.

1:12:30 Chris is released from mental therapy as he is doing well now.

1:13:30 Chris is done doing things he doesn't want to do.

1:15:00 Chris's advice to others waiting for a transplant. Think "long game."

1:17:30 Chris shares how he wants to see a shift in how doctors approach medical care. He shares what he'd rather hear from doctors.

1:20:00 Boots hopes this podcast can inspire the medical community to shift patient care to more supportive care.

1:21:30 Closing.



Transcript

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[:

I'm so excited to share this episode with you, so let's get to it.

n his, almost his same role, [:

So thanks Chris for your service there. It's an incredible organization here in the Tetons. but I brought Chris on today to talk about his incredible heart journey. He is a heart warrior and his journey is a little different than most. And so Chris, I'm gonna let you just take it from here.

ht it really started in about:

Now had maybe thrown on a little bit of weight and my kids were younger at the time, so I was busy and I wasn't exercising as much. I was like, yeah, I guess this kind of makes sense that I'm a little bit more outta shape than accustomed. however, over the next 3, 4, 5 months, um, that changed pretty dramatically. it got to the point that I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs in my house without needing to sit down and take a break. I remember vividly I couldn't walk across a parking lot, and I was like, Ooh, this isn't good. so I wound up, you know, going to my, My general [00:03:00] doctor, he did some blood work, listened to my heart, did an E K G, and was like, yeah, you better go to the cardiologist, like immediately

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

Chris did the EKGs show something at that time?

chris_moll: yeah, it showed, I had several arrhythmias going on with my heart,

Track 1: Okay.

chris_moll: and it just didn't sound right.

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: so I go, I went to Bill Mullen, the local cardiologist who I think the world of, he ordered, basically an, an echocardiogram of the heart. And, as it turned out, my heart was functioning at 6%

Track 1: so that the echo showed 6%.

chris_moll: Yeah.

Track 1: Wow.

chris_moll: nobody's heart at a hundred percent.

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: know, most people are at 70 to 75%. I think that's sort of in the normal range,

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: down to 6%.

: he hear a heart murmur?[:

chris_moll: no, no

Track 1: Okay. Okay.

chris_moll: but I had some atrial fibrillation. and I also had, gosh, now I can't think of, it's another, it's a tachycardia.

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

was it vent, ventricular, tachycardia?

chris_moll: Yeah.

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: and sort of plagued me throughout my stay. So really, I went back to a follow-up appointment and, Dr.

Mullin was essentially like, you're about a half a step away from going to Salt Lake. So I came home and reported the findings to my wife she immediately started plotting with Dr. Mullin. And I was admitted to the hospital the following morning, which was,

Febu St. John's,

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

,:

Track 1: Okay.

moll: I remember [:

Track 1: So while you were at St. John's, what did they do for you?

chris_moll: Not much, basically stabilized

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: got me on a bunch of diuretics because my heart wasn't pumping very well. My body was maintaining a lot of fluids, they were, I think, you know, at the time they were just trying to move those fluids out of me.

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: it turned out, my kidneys weren't working great at the time either.

Track 1: Yeah.

Isn't that interesting how the two are so dependent upon each other? They're, they're almost like their own, their own team. so,

chris_moll: Um, did you run into kidney issues?

take a diuretic off and on. [:

before we fly to Salt Lake with you,

chris_moll: Yeah.

Track 1: walk me through just preparing even to go to the hospital. Like even just, what was it like to hear from the cardiologist, you know, that this is, this is not heading in the right direction.

chris_moll: you know, it was, I'm not gonna call it a slap in the face. you know, I think much as I wanted to deny how serious things were, I knew in the back of my head, and it was, I think a combination of a relief okay, we need to deal with this, let's move forward because I'm not on a good track. but it was, you know, it was also pretty scary, of the unknown of. You know, at that point we really had no idea what was wrong.

Track 1: So even, even the cardiologist was like, I don't know what's wrong, but we've gotta get you to Salt Lake.

chris_moll: absolutely. as it turns

Track 1: Mm.

moll: for about [:

And [00:08:00] as it turns out that I really only later learned, following my transplant that I had a genetic disorder.

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . Wow. And, okay, so let, we ha obviously listeners, we have a lot to unpack. He just gave away the ending . Spoiler alert. He lives thankfully, but, so, okay. You fly to Salt Lake. I've always wanted to know what is it like to be on, and I hope I never find out , but what is it like to be on a, on a medical flight from Jackson, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah.

chris_moll: Well, I've gotten to enjoy a couple of them.

Track 1: Oh, lucky you.

chris_moll: yeah, and I can, I'll talk about that and I'll talk about the second one in a

Track 1: Okay. Golly.

's one based in Jackson now. [:

Track 1: You don't get like warm nuts and a hot towel and a foot rub, none of that. Okay.

chris_moll: there was no champagne, no mimosas, no nothing. and basically a nurse sits with you in the back of the plane and makes sure you're comfortable. Fly your 45 minutes down to Salt Lake, get loaded into another ambulance, and then you arrive at the University of Utah.

: Okay Just like that. Wow. [:

chris_moll: Get to salt. Yeah. And, um, you know, fortunately the local cardiologist, is good friends with the head of the team down there, Dr. Fang, Dr. James Fang, who I think the world of. And, you know, immediately I was greeted by, they have an entire heart failure team. it's a team of sort of rotating doctors, nurses, everybody you can imagine.

It's also a teaching hospital, so there are a lot of residents there as well.

you know, I'm greeted by like a team of 12 and sort of was, I was really overwhelmed. Um, and they were just basically, you know, grilling me on my entire life.

and that's how it [:

Track 1: Okay. So it's now been, let's see if I'm doing the math right, like thr okay. You were in the hospital for two nights in, in Jackson. . And so now we're on day three and

chris_moll: maybe one

Track 1: maybe one one

chris_moll: have a great memory

Track 1: that, that, you know? Fair enough. We'll, we'll give you a pass on that, but I, I, I just know this journey is long, so, okay, we're now in Salt Lake.

You're greeted by a heart failure team. That's incredible. You must have just immediately felt like you were in such great hands. But I, I just keep going back to, like I said, I, I've had the, I had the honor of knowing you, you know, years ago, bridge, we've just recently reconnected and you've just been this larger than life, Chris Mole in my mind.

ou've just flown on a plane, [:

chris_moll: I do remember The way I've always kind of operated is okay a problem in front of me look at the problem let's figure it out how do we best get to the other side

Track 1: That's the Chris. I know . That's what I remember about working with you, so that doesn't surprise me.

chris_moll: so I I sort of break my time up in Utah into about two week segments

I should say at the ho at the hospital

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

t felt tired all the time So [:

Track 1: Wow. So [00:14:00] before we dive into that, those two weeks leading up to determining you needed a heart transplant, what test did they run while you were in the hospital? Do you

chris_moll: can't rem I can't I mean I remember getting heart an MRI of my heart

know a lot of Echocardiograms

Track 1: Yeah,

chris_moll: a lot of blood work

Track 1: yeah,

chris_moll: and yeah to be honest the ex the exact tests that they were doing are sort of a blur

Track 1: yeah. No, that's fair. Oh, okay. And then at what point did they do the genetic testing?

chris_moll: So they did the genetic testing pretty early on

but it took I believe it took about eight weeks for the genetic testing to actually come back

later learned you had until [:

chris_moll: I was discharged Yeah

Track 1: okay, and we'll get to the mutation in a minute. Let's go in chronological order here. So at two weeks they come to you and they're like, Chris, you need a heart transplant.

chris_moll: Yep

Track 1: Wow.

chris_moll: So at that point you know I'm like okay great you know

Track 1: Okay, great. . But you, you, you just probably wanted to feel better. You were like, I'm gonna do, you've

chris_moll: feel

Track 1: your dad, your husband.

chris_moll: be able to breathe

Track 1: Yeah. You, you wanted to Yeah. Basic life stuff.

chris_moll: Yeah

so you know then they lined out what that would really look like and and what it means You know their protocol was once you're discharged from the hospital you have to stay in Salt Lake City for six months you know you're gonna have to take medication for the rest of your life this is the protocol that you're signing on to

: [:

chris_moll: And you know there were some other conditions that came along with it know basically for the first six months you're not gonna drink alcohol you're not gonna use illicit drugs you're gonna see a mental health therapist you know at this point I'm like I'm all in

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: let's get the process rolling

to have a big meeting to see[:

fortunately the team voted to put me on that

Track 1: Wow.

chris_moll: that vote occurred Yeah

Track 1: I am just like picturing a whole bunch of white coats in a room. being like raising their hand. Hey. Does he, does he get, uh,

chris_moll: Does he

I

Track 1: Yes. . I mean, yeah. I almost didn't wanna say that, but yes.

chris_moll: that yeah I mean that's the grim reality of it and I mean I could I probably shouldn't but I could talk about that process for a little while

Track 1: we can talk, we can make this as detailed as you want, Chris, like as much as you want to share. I mean, the listeners who are,

chris_moll: I probably don't wanna talk about it because

could be offensive

Track 1: Okay.

chris_moll: because I I have some I have some strong opinions about

Track 1: Okay.

in a public forum so once I [:

Track 1: So you're still in the hospital?

chris_moll: protocol for the testing

Track 1: Yeah. You're still in the hospital. And the,

chris_moll: entering

Track 1: sorry I interrupted you, but like I just a picture you with a schedule of like all these tests each day just to like get you ready.

s what I call the the middle [:

But then you know so after about a week goes by and I s I was starting to get impatient and I and I shouldn't be you know and I remember I remember thinking know I'd look out the window of my my hospital room and it's snowing out you would have these sort of dark thoughts of well it's snowing out Maybe somebody will get in a car crash tonight and I'll get a heart And like and it was like what the f are you thinking Like you're wishing ill on other people Hey hey And you know it's just terrible thinking And I remember vividly talking to one of the nurses about it I was like I need to talk to somebody about this Is this normal and they're like oddly enough this is completely normal [00:21:00] because your survival instinct is so strong But I didn't like thinking that way it really bothered me I mean I there wasn't much I could do about it obviously

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: while you're you know sitting around basically waiting for an organ to save your own life there has to be tragedy on somebody else's side And that was really hard for me to digest I'm you know do I deserve this and that was hard was a really hard emotional part of it

Track 1: I can only imagine. Yeah. I'm just, it makes sense that you would think all of that. I mean, yeah. You so desperately wanna live yet, you know, it hinges on a death, and that is the ultimate and dialectic thinking.

chris_moll: Yeah it really is

Track 1: Mm-hmm. , can't think of anything more intense than that.

n't have a lot of outlets to [:

Track 1: Yeah, it doesn't sound comfortable at all. while you're also waiting, you have a wife, a family, your brother. What did they do? Were they just kind of taking turns coming down? And just for listeners who maybe aren't familiar with our area, where Chris was compared to his house is about a five hour drive, give or take with [00:23:00] weather.

So

chris_moll: the in the winter

Track 1: in the winter. Right. And we we're just a very tight-knit community. Chris has been around for a long time. He's beloved in the community. So help me understand your, before we get to the transplant piece, help me understand your support network,

chris_moll: Yeah absolutely

Track 1: because this had to be hard on them.

some help they were actually [:

Track 1: Wow, is fortunate.

ther lives here um and we're [:

Track 1: Sounds like the Jackson community,

chris_moll: real yeah over that first Four weeks that I was in the hospital the community was incredible and you know I good friends would come down and see me and yeah so that's how it worked It it really took a lot of help from a lot of friends and and everybody was just incredible to us

So, okay, so you're getting, [:

You're in the waiting game,

chris_moll: Yep

Track 1: and then you get the news.

chris_moll: Yeah so that Sort of concludes that second two week period that I was in the hospital

Track 1: I.

c however it gets a slightly [:

Track 1: But at the time, what was her age?

chris_moll: Well she was in um she was in

: [:

chris_moll: a hundred percent and you know after the fact she was also really able to talk about how much she hated seeing me in the hospital which and I get she to this day she loves ski racing that's what she does she's a ski racer and she wanted to ski in this race nonetheless she didn't ski in the race and yeah I remember My in-laws came My brother-in-law flew in from Seattle and yeah you know chronologically they said you know we are we're gonna do the surgery this evening And I remember sort of at about three o'clock in the afternoon I was like all right I've thought about this enough now Like maybe you should have told me about an hour before because now I want this to happen Like immediately Like I'm [00:29:00] tired of sitting around and waiting Let's do this

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: and yeah You know I

Track 1: Chris, if I can interrupt, what, what were you thinking about? Like what, during, when you, you just said, I've thought about this enough. I mean, I read into that maybe you were, your, your mind was going in a lot of different directions. I mean, what is it like knowing it's about to happen?

chris_moll: Well so right there's gonna be there's a possibility of a couple outcomes

als and what am I gonna do I [:

Track 1: Ooh, I that.

chris_moll: helpful Way to think

so it would be great if you could really control how your mind works but you can't as much as we might try our mind is our mind Um so Sure You know I definitely had those thoughts of like well if I expire tonight then that's what happens Like I can't do that me it was much more helpful to look forward and what I'm gonna do with this incredible gift

Track 1: Well, Chris, if, if I may, I also think, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you just naturally tend towards the positive anyway. Like that's just a skillset you have.

chris_moll: I try

Track 1: And

ning that is facing the same [:

It can't be written on a script.

chris_moll: I agree And you know perhaps a little bit of the backstory to that the treatment center that we work at and in my work

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: licensed therapist one of our focuses the kids that we treated was to be strength-based Let's focus on what a kid is doing well versus what are the behaviors and what is the thinking patterns That they're not doing well Because I think in life it's much easier to build upon things that we do well versus the things that we struggle with

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

that can hopefully roll into [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: So to me that was sort of natural fit of I can look back on the past but I'm I can't change anything about the past I can learn from it and how am I gonna apply that moving forward Which as I just said for me thinking about how I'm gonna move forward post-transplant much more helpful thinking and and was much better for my own mental health

nt through my heart surgery, [:

And, I'm, I'm not religious, but I, I'm spiritual, I believe in, you know, higher beings and I just pictured the room filled with. Helper guides and angels. And I started focusing also on what could I do afterwards once I got the remodel of my heart. I call it the heart remodel

chris_moll: Yeah I like that

Track 1: but it, it's normal to have, uh, both though I did wonder what, you know, if I did, did not wake up, was I happy with how my life went. And the only two regrets I had was I hadn't skied enough and I hadn't published my book

chris_moll: Yeah

Track 1: I was at peace, everything.

moll: [:

Track 1: This is just such a trip.

chris_moll: I rem Yeah So I remember you know just sort of going into it and just sort of having an a little bit of an easier feeling talking with this man about things that we both loved And he was like okay this guy's on my team He knows what I'm talking about

: [:

chris_moll: Yeah Then it was lights out

Track 1: for how long? How long was the surgery?

chris_moll: they said the surgery was about six hours which of course I know nothing

Track 1: thankfully.

chris_moll: in hindsight I you know I was talking to my wife and my family I'm like well what did you guys do during this six hours and they were like well they told us there's nothing we can do here and we should probably go do something to try and You know get a little sidetracked so they went back to the hotel and went swimming and took a hot tub and had a nice dinner but I suppose it was probably around midnight or 1:00 AM by the time my surgery was complete

Track 1: you

the next couple days the one [:

Track 1: So you don't remember waking up?

chris_moll: no

Track 1: Okay.

y headphones on and put some [:

Track 1: The intubation was the worst part for me, and I w I remember waking up and I was intubated and they had my hands tied to the railings and I w I I immediately. A reaction to the anesthesia. And I knew I was gonna throw up, [00:38:00] but I had this thing and

chris_moll: Yeah

Track 1: I couldn't say anything, but I was so terrified I was gonna asphyxiate on the vomit and so I just kept flipping off my surgeon, my nurses, my husband, cuz it was the only way I knew how to communicate.

And they just thought I was being a jerk. But I was like, no, I was trying to tell you something was wrong. And I just knew

chris_moll: like I have I have issues here

Track 1: the moment they took it out, I just, yeah, it just went everywhere. . Oh my gosh. All right. So you're, so now they've, they've taken it out the tube out and, but you're likely, probably still on morphine, but and walking,

chris_moll: I've

Track 1: you're saying something.

chris_moll: Something Yeah

Track 1: Oh my gosh, Chris.

chris_moll: So that

Track 1: you

chris_moll: you know

the I

Track 1: go

chris_moll: few days You know I have

Track 1: Yeah,

chris_moll: idea sort of what transpired

Track 1: that makes sense. and you know,

moll: but [:

Track 1: you were on the heart and lung machine too, and the anesthesia, and that affects your memory. But yeah, go ahead,

chris_moll: Well and I'm sure they sedated the shit out of me while I was intubated cuz I know I I did not handle that well just knowing my personality and sort of my anti-authoritarian attitude I I can only imagine I was a handful but sort of I remember the first thing I really thought sort of coming out of that haze was that I can and sort of what a relief that was that I wasn't struggling to breathe or feeling like I was gonna pass out

Track 1: Wow,

chris_moll: couldn't get a good breath

Track 1: you knew immediately.

chris_moll: I knew immediately

Track 1: Ugh.

arm sunny day and I was like [:

Track 1: Oh God.

chris_moll: was a there there was a lot of hustle going on and I'm just sort of laying there clueless And you know my wife is there sort eyeballing everything and she's like yeah that was the only time they really moved quickly your care is when the dialysis machine stopped working

Track 1: Wow. Wow.

chris_moll: Yeah

aren't working, it can also, [:

Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: but then I remember I got off dialysis and for whatever reason at this point food did not taste good to me Like any sort of like Turkey sandwich like it just tasted like absolute garbage but the one thing I really did eat a lot of was fruit Fruit and yogurt tasted great to me But at this you know now we're you know call it a week out they're like you need to start eating or you're getting a feeding tube So I essentially started force feeding myself Uh like I don't want a I don't want a feeding tube

I want

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

available I think it was on [:

Track 1: Well, yeah. I mean, if you think about it, how many weeks now had it been since you had really used your legs for more than just a walk down the hallway.

chris_moll: Other than walking around the hallways It had been a while

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: and at this point it's know let's call it roughly five five and a half weeks in the hospital

Track 1: And like you said, you hadn't been able to breathe very well. I'm not a doctor here. But if your heart wasn't working, if, if you know, it was only 6% . , your lungs probably had to go through a whole new learning. Well, first of all, it's working with a new teammate, right? It's got a new team member, . So your body is like trying to get to know your new heart and plus, you know, the whole use it or lose it thing.

Your legs probably were just atrophied. Oh my gosh. That's just a lot. Yeah.

life before that was skiing [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: You know my body had sort of that similar reaction to being that tired And I was holy crap I need a knack And that was exhausting

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: You know and then sort of chronologically I finally got out of the cardiac I C U and into the regular ward I really didn't like being in the I C U basically your feet were not allowed to touch the floor unless there was a nurse there to assist you you know so if you let your mind wander a little bit any sort of humility that I had with my body and body functions was completely

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: care at that

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

could get up and walk around [:

Track 1: Well, you had autonomy again.

chris_moll: And I'm yeah I'm a fiercely independent

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: so having that autonomy for me just to be able to get out of the bed and go sit on the couch because that's what I felt like doing w felt wildly successful

Track 1: and it's an important step cuz you have to be able to do that at home. There's all these steps that while in the hospital you have to be able to prove you can do all these different things so they can let you go.

chris_moll: Yep Exactly and then I remember so I was sort of I was in that ward for a few days and one of the younger doctors came in I was like listen I'm re I need to get out of the hospital Can we make a plan for me going home and I probably pushed a little bit and he was like I fully support that And I went home that day

: [:

chris_moll: They dis well they discharged me

Track 1: right? You didn't go to Jackson cuz you had to stay close.

chris_moll: no

Track 1: Yeah.

chris_moll: so which sort of triggered off another rodeo of wife knew it was coming and she knew we had to stay down there And my wife and kids were staying in a hotel and within hour she found us a place to live for a couple weeks which was amazing and we I was able to be discharged and to this spot we had to figure out more of a permanent solution And then are we gonna do with the kids at that point kids said they wanted to move down to Salt Lake so we can all be together and that they would finish out the school year down there which they did and yeah

rmative times in their lives [:

chris_moll: and yeah so at the time um now we moved into soccer season my youngest daughter didn't wanna miss soccer games with her team so And you know my wife is just incredible lined it up so that she could practice with a team down in Salt Lake And then and for people who don't know the geography our we don't really have any quote unquote home soccer games The closest we would travel for a games in Jackson it's two and a half hours like down to Pocatello Idaho we'd play in Boise and Salt Lake we were able to work at the she never missed a game with her team

Track 1: Wow. So she practiced in Salt Lake, but played for the Jackson team.

chris_moll: Yep

Track 1: That's incredible.

chris_moll: again lots of help from

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

do that again at the end of [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: we'd get her a one way flight to Boise I'm lucky enough to have a good friend that lives in Boise and he would pick her up at the airport and then get her to the soccer games so just trying as hard as possible to keep our lives as normal as as possible for the kids while I was recovering from my transplant And then sort of once the school year ended So they were really down there for about a quarter and at this point you know it seemed I was getting stronger I my mental functioning was coming back once the summer hit my wife and kids really started going back to Jackson more and more full-time and I was like listen I'm fine You guys don't need to be down here go back go home but they would you know still come back and forth And um you know I had agreed that I was gonna stay in Salt Lake for six months which I did I maybe snuck a couple trips in home

Track 1: we won't tell

moll: I would [:

Track 1: I was just gonna ask, what was that six months like for you? What did that entail? As far as like dealing, you know, I'm, I'm suspecting blood work and more testing and cardiac rehab.

nth And then it went to once [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . What was that like getting that started?

chris_moll: uh I remember the first sort of where they were establishing a baseline you know sort of in my mind I'm like I'm gonna show these bitches What's up And I just

Track 1: instead they showed you what's up?

chris_moll: it was just an a was an absolute beat down

Track 1: You were thinking you were bringing your A game, but it was more like your Z game,

chris_moll: Yeah I'm not even sure I brought a game think I went to 30 sessions but by the end I was apparently I had set the record for the most recovery from my

Track 1: that does not surprise me.

tivated the other thing which[:

Track 1: But you made it a mile and a half. That's incredible.

chris_moll: made it a mile and a half And I remember that being like okay I'm gonna get through this I can do this

Track 1: it.

chris_moll: I need to do this for my mental health basically

Track 1: I'm also just hearing hope, right? Like. because I'm just, I'm just reflecting back to like when you initially flew down there and all the testing and they didn't know what was wrong and then the, and then they were like, so you need a new heart. So then you're waiting for it, and then now six weeks post transplant, you are mountain biking and you made it a mile and a half after your old heart was only at 6%.

This is incredible, Chris.

ow another sort of part that [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

one session my whole entire [:

and it was incredibly uplifting I I sort of cause I sort of fell into that victim role essentially and it didn't it wasn't sitting well with me and I'm so glad that I was able to bring it up with my therapist and that we continue to work through that and that was a really pivotal moment in in my recovery Cause I think oftentimes you know you think about you know whether it was your heart issue or a transplant or What whatever medical condition people might be going through I think the big thing that people focus on is really the physical recovery from it And we don't pay enough attention to the mental health aspect of the recovery and and sort of what that experience does to your overall being and that was a huge moment for me

Fuller, which is my physical [:

So how many EMDR sessions have you done?

chris_moll: I had probably done Really only seven or eight in at least for me it happened pretty fast and you know I think sort of what what what your lead-in question was what was that six months like so sort of overall think all with the exception of about month five to six cuz at that point I was over

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

was able to put myself on a [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: Which in you know in talking to the medical team they've since changed that protocol that now you really only have to stay in there three months I hindsight I was really thankful that it was six cause I think it was better for me overall

Track 1: That's a powerful reflection. You mentioned the genetic

chris_moll: that time

Track 1: Oh, sorry.

chris_moll: yeah

Track 1: No, you go first. You go first.

ort of that type two mindset [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: should just be happy that I'm out riding my bike Like you're up to five and a half six miles This is great

Track 1: That radical acceptance piece that seem, you have to exercise every day of like, okay, so I had to have this heart transplant. This is where I'm at. I, did you find that that was like this constant conversation of reminding yourself where you had come from?

nger Get stronger try harder [:

Track 1: it sounds like, uh,

chris_moll: internal battle

Track 1: The ego versus the new heart.

chris_moll: a hundred percent

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . . Yes. You're speaking to the choir here. Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: Yeah and honestly like that's five years later now It's something I still struggle with and it it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm 55 Like I still want to I should still be performing like I'm 30 in my head you know Um but

Track 1: Wow.

chris_moll: that's my internal dialogue Yeah

Track 1: and I struggle with that too, and like I said in episode five, Cassie and I talk a lot about that and the mountain town perspective versus what's best for the heart. You know, the expectations of our friends and, but mostly our ego versus what the heart needs.

ning home I had a reluctance [:

Track 1: Right.

chris_moll: else cares It's it's all in my head

Track 1: They're just glad you're alive,

chris_moll: that yeah

Track 1: and, and thriving.

chris_moll: go do something with

Track 1: I mean, the fact that you,

chris_moll: I'm grateful for

Track 1: I would dare say you're thrive. You were thriving relatively quickly. Would you agree with that?

chris_moll: is that an external definition of thriving or

Track 1: Ah,

chris_moll: you know externally you probably perceived that way

Track 1: I, I'm perceiving, yes.

chris_moll: way

Track 1: Okay.

chris_moll: Yeah

Track 1: fair.

chris_moll: But but that's the conflict right

: Mm-hmm. . I have two more [:

chris_moll: So I learned that I have this condition condition called n c and I don't really know what the acronym stands for Um like I call it Florida North Carolina

Track 1: That works

one of my kids interestingly [:

Track 1: I always knew you moles were special

chris_moll: Yeah exactly Yeah We're super unique Yeah But I don't have the gene anymore Mine

Track 1: True.

chris_moll: Yeah

Track 1: Oh, the, the

chris_moll: Sorry I have

Track 1: dark humor that comes from this.

chris_moll: me

Track 1: Yes.

chris_moll: Yeah

Track 1: Okay. But your brother's holding stable. Your daughter is looking good. And it's just a matter of, of just knowledge is power and monitoring.

chris_moll: Precisely

Track 1: Okay. Now this heart of yours, this, this new to you heart, do you know the person it came from? you know the name of the person or the family or?

ote a thank you letter which [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, that sounds like that's a very personal choice cuz there's just so much other medical trauma that you are processing and it's like you almost have to also process the donor's medical trauma too. , if you're gonna choose to know the story, and so like, Hey, let's just stick with my own. I've got enough trauma to deal with.

? Like that's, that's what I [:

chris_moll: Yeah and you know really my I mean all sort of have this curious nature but what I sort of boiled down to is I is that information that I really need

Track 1: Yeah. Does it help you?

chris_moll: just sort of does it help me in any way Does it help the victim or their family in any way I sort of boiled down to at the time that it wasn't really something that I needed

Track 1: Yeah.

chris_moll: I didn't see how it was beneficial except for it was perhaps more to perseverate on

Track 1: Well, and I also go back to the strength-based skillset that you were sharing earlier in our conversation. I think this goes along with it. It's like you have the wisdom to know that that's just not gonna help your journey. It's not, it's not an way informing you to take a step forward. Yeah. Mm-hmm. . So Chris, it's been five years.

You've just celebrated five years. You've had a lot of time to reflect. reflect.

moll: [:

Track 1: March 17th though, right? So with that

chris_moll: luck of the Irish,

Track 1: it is. Yes.

chris_moll: I'm not, which I'm not Irish

Track 1: Me neither. Um, glad we got that established. That was very important.

chris_moll: Yeah.

Track 1: now that it's almost at the five year mark, like where are you landing now? Physically? Mentally and emotionally.

have been incredibly stable [:

So, and some meds that your average, 55 year old man be that different from being on a blood pressure medication, a cholesterol medication. And then I take supplements like calcium and magnesium. and other than that, like I feel really fortunate, but like my medications aren't that bad, you know, some of my friends ask, well, isn't, you know, a huge pain in the ass to take those meds twice a day? I'm like, no, no. It's really not. Compared to the

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

this is, this is what I got. [:

Track 1: How does Nicole feel about that?

chris_moll: she knows, I tell her my, she knows my motivation. And she's still kicking my butt by a fair amount, but I'm, the margin is coming down. she's got about five minutes on me at this point, but I'm bringing that back. I'm, I'm narrowing that

Track 1: And for listeners, uh, that don't live here, Snow King is our local in town ski hill that allows AHI travel in the winter. So a lot of the locals enjoy doing something called skinning, which is a method of getting up the hill on skis. It kind of looks like cross country skiing, but you put this felt thing on the bottom of your skis called the skin and keeps you from sliding backwards, and you can take it off at the top and then ski down.

It's really fun.

s obviously from out of town [:

Track 1: Yeah, it is in a weird sort of way, yes. You know, it, it, I don't know about you, but for me, anytime still I get to move my body and don't have chest pain and I'm not gasping for air. That's fun. You know? It's like, yes it is. The alternative is not fun. I'm going to enjoy moving my body. Yeah, but how about emotionally and mentally

is caseload. and he is like, [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm. . I like what I play. The game I play with myself is I get to pay taxes.

chris_moll: Yeah,

: I also [:

chris_moll: Yeah. Yeah,

Track 1: What? What have you been calling it?

chris_moll: we're, trying to, been trying to avoid giving Ching to the man,

Track 1: Yes. Yes. Yeah. Oh, wow. final,

chris_moll: it's just that sort of stuff.

Track 1: yeah.

chris_moll: you know, work is great. I'm more passionate about my work than ever. kids are in a great spot. So, yeah. And you know how I sort of say it, like the big change is like, you know, like, do you want to go on this fishing trip, for example, in the past it might have been, oh, I need to figure out what's going on, blah, blah, blah. Now it's, yes, want to go on that fishing trip. Yes, I want to go biking,

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

a good time with friends and [:

Track 1: Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: and doing adventures.

Track 1: If you could give one piece of advice to others out there that are on the wait list for a transplant for the heart, what would it be?

chris_moll: Wow. well I think that's a really tough question because a lot of people who are on the wait list are on the wait list for a really long time. and my experience was really unique that had happened so quickly, so I'm not really sure. I have great advice. I don't have any profound wisdom because my circumstances were so different, and how I came about getting my transplant. So I'm not really sure I'm the one to doll out any sort of in that

inking and I mean, you asked [:

There, I, I am willing to bet a hundred percent of the other people out there waiting have those same thoughts.

think about how you would do [:

Track 1: Have you followed through on yours?

chris_moll: I'd like to think I've followed through with many of them. not perfectly. but I think a lot of them I have and I feel good about that.

Track 1: and the only person grading you on those goals is you, of course.

chris_moll: This is myself,

Track 1: Mm-hmm. ? Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: can I sort of talk about one last thing?

Track 1: please.

m, and this is, it's sort of [:

Track 1: In my cynical mind goes to what? I can't think of anything to make money off of you for

chris_moll: Yeah,

Track 1: that's

chris_moll: it that way necessarily because, and my, dad was a, was a doctor. and the way people practice medicine these days is so different because of insurance

Track 1: mm-hmm.

chris_moll: and it is what it is. I'm not, I'm not here to change or, or tool on the system, all my doctors are on salary.

They're not, they're not making commission by putting me in the hospital. but it's just, it's an evolution of thinking that I think really could go through the medical field would make patients do better rather than thinking about what's wrong. okay, what's actually right? build off what they're doing right. it's a lot easier to build off habits than it is to change bad

'm glad you shared that. And [:

chris_moll: No, that's, that's my soapbox

Track 1: it's a worthy soap box and it's a, I've been having similar conversations with all the other heart warriors that I've been interviewing, and

everyone has a slightly different take on how they'd like to see the medical system shift. And I, I hope that this podcast can start helping move the needle to more.

supportive care for heart patients than what currently exists. And it's, and I don't blame any one person, it's just the system

chris_moll: Oh,

Track 1: everyone's in their own, you know, professional lanes and it's, it's almost like it's too even segmented, right? So like the surgeon's done with you, then they release you.

o land. And, and so Cassie's [:

it is starting to move. If people are willing to say, Hey, something's gotta shift here. It has to start with conversation. Mm-hmm.

chris_moll: yeah. And yeah, the silos, I mean, that's, that's a whole nother hour long conversation is the silos that exist even within the same institution, really for the protection of their own, departments. Is not helpful to good patient care either

Track 1: No,

chris_moll: everybody's, everybody stays in their lane and doesn't wanna look at other folks.

As someone who knows you, to [:

chris_moll: Thank you so much for having me. Enjoyed talking to you.

And that's our episode for today. Thank you so much for spending a little bit of your day with me. If you enjoyed this podcast, I sure would appreciate if you would go to my website, the heart chamber podcast.com, and make a donation. Also, if you are a fellow heart warrior, I'd love to hear from you.

Would you like to share your story on this podcast? You can either send me an email at boots the heart chamber podcast.com or you can go to my website and go to the contact link and leave me a message there. There's also a way to leave via voicemail on my website. I'm so glad you joined me for today.

Please [:

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Hope, Inspiration, and Healing. Conversations on Open Heart Surgery.

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