By Jennifer Browning
On February 12, 2009, Kimberly Goodloe knew she was going into surgery to receive a new heart valve. What she didn’t know was that four days later she would need to receive a pacemaker.
Kimberly said that a strong network of family members, church friends, co-workers, friends, neighbors and her pastor helped her through her journey from surgery to recovery.
“My strong support system provided prayers, phone calls, flowers, books, beautiful cards, hospital visits, home visits, meals and more,” she said. “It was important to provide support for my husband and children. We discussed the surgical procedure with our children. It was necessary to continue providing a secure and stable environment for them. The door is always open anytime for the kids to come to us with any questions or concerns.”
The valve replacement surgery was successful, however then, Kimberly developed blockage. The doctors notified her husband that Kimberly would need a pacemaker to help her heart function. It was unplanned, but necessary. But Kimberly, who was hospitalized a total of 11 days, not only had her support group cheering her on, but also, at her request, received visits from the hospital chaplains.
For Kimberly, she said that her faith in God, support from my husband, family, pastor and church family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and employer continues to play a major role in her healing process.
“I know that God loves me and promised never to leave me alone. He helped me get through this time of testing,” she said. “Acceptance is crucial during the recovery stage. Not living in denial, but accepting the daily challenges occurring inside my body, coping with breathing issues on a daily basis, living with a pacemaker, taking Coumadin for the rest of my life, and dealing with the discomfort in my chest.”
Kimberly said that part of the healing process included the healing for her family which meant keeping the lines of communication open in her home. By doing this, her children and husband are able to get past the uncomfortable parts of her surgery.
“When I returned home from the hospital, my son, age 10, quietly walked into her bedroom and prayed by my side every night,” Kimberly said. “It was very important for him to thank God for healing his mother. When my daughter saw the scar on my chest–an incision from heart surgery, it made her very uncomfortable. She thought I was in pain. I spoke to the school counselor about the issue. My daughter touched the scar and saw that I wasn’t in pain. I’m happy to say, my daughter is now comfortable with the scar.”
Kimberly said her children continued to be curious about their mother’s heart surgery and what would happen next.
“After my surgery, our children asked about the limitations, when I would be able to drive again, how did I feel overall,” she said. “We continue to keep the lines of communication open in our home. It’s very important for our children to express their feelings.”
After her surgery, Kimberly decided that her journey would not end with recovery. She called the American Heart Association looking for a support group for heart patients and their families. In January 2010, she joined Atlanta’s Mended Hearts Chapter #81 and began doing hospital visits in February.
“I was discharged from the hospital on February 23, 2009. I was in a wheel chair, could barely walk, Victor, my husband, helped me get into the van,” she said. “A year later, I return to the hospital as a volunteer [with Mended Hearts].”
Kimberly said that she is using her second chance to not only continue living her life with her family, but also to help others with heart conditions.
“God has given me a second chance. I’m using my ‘gift of service’ to help cardiac patients and their families cope with the recovery process. Spreading the good news : I’m a Survivor!” she said. “By sharing our stories of healing, health information etc., I learn more and I can pass the information on to my family, church members, friends and the community.”
This week Kimberly returned to the hospital to have a lead replaced on her pacemaker. The procedure was a success and she will be out of the hospital in time to celebrate her 17th wedding anniversary with her husband who she said continues to provide her with emotional, physical, mental and spiritual support.
“I thank God for my victory and for my beautiful family and friends,” Kimberly said. “We have allot to be grateful for: life is GOOD.”
In addition to visiting heart patients through her Mended Hearts chapter, Kimberly has also started her own blog documenting her journey.
“My goal is to share my story of healing, provide support and encouragement to everyone I know and love,” she said.
Click here to follow Kimberly on her blog.