On July 14th, Dick Cheney's heart failed. The doctors say it was congestive heart failure. He would have died if surgeons hadn't installed a Left Ventricle Assist Device, known as a LVAD.
It's an internal pump the size of a D battery.
It's has been installed in his chest.
An external device is strapped to his body.
Each night, throughout the night, the external device must be plugged into a wall outlet. This will re-charge the device, enabling it to support the pump. The pump keeps blood flowing in and out of the heart.
During the day, the battery which lasts six to eight hours, will need to be replaced by one of the extra battery packs Cheney will be carrying, in purse of briefcase.
Cheney, age 69, no longer has a pulse; The LVAD is keeping him alive
Cardiologists refer to the LVAD as a "bridge to heart transplant." It sounds frightening. It is a major setback for Cheney. Without a transplant the device will possibly give him two more years of life. Whether he is a candidate for a transplant will be determined later.
This Time Magazine cover -- the vision of Cheney whispering in Bush's ear haunts me.
In my mind, Cheney is a villain, the conniving, powerful instigator/supporter of election fraud, war with Iraq, unconstitutional spying on Americans, water-boarding, the mishandling of aid to Katrina victims, our country's inappropriate employment of Haliburton, the imprisonment of possible terrorists with no trial or legal counsel ... and other things.
The surgery took place last week at Inova Fairfax Heart and Vascular Institute in northern Virginia where Cheney is now recuperating. In a statement released by his office, Cheney said: "The operation went very well and I am now recuperating -- the surgery will allow me to resume an active life."
Is this surgery the beginning of the final days of Dick Cheney? Am I quietly rah-rah-ing, glad he's sick, hoping the end comes soon?
No. The man's a fighter -- he's alive, adjusting, and making plans -- I admire him for that. Wait a minute -- isn't he the enemy? Why not rejoice that he's at the end of his life -- that it's uncomfortable, depressing to have to change your batteries during the day and plug yourself into a wall at night? Is this punishment for the bad things he 's done?
Actually, I think this guy's ability to survive is ... well, it's a marvel, and an inspiration that's giving hope to the five million other people in the country who are dealing with congestive heart failure. And Cheney, husband and father, has stood by his family -- with his wife, he's full-out unequivocally supported Mary, his gay daughter and daughter Liz.
Rachel Maddow, a trustworthy strong voice that I listen to almost every night, told us about the operation, and then said, "Dick Cheney is, of course, among the most significant and polarizing figures in modern American politics and policy. And as always, we sincerely wish him good health tonight.
She's generous, affirmative, and right.
I want Obama's White House to achieve what Obama is trying to achieve. I want the no-sayers to say yes, and help. I voted for Obama -- in voting for him I voted for a better, richer, fuller life for us Americans. I voted for LIFE.
If Cheney manages to keep going, get a transplant, and have more years, it's something to celebrate.