A Letter to my Students

Dear Students,

I have been missing all of you. No, really I have. As much as we all look forward to vacations, this ‘vacation’ I am currently on is not a welcome one! I would much rather be at Cedar. I’d like to explain what happened to me, in case you were wondering. As you all know, in November I had open-heart surgery to have my aortic valve replaced. That surgery went well, and I recovered well, as you all may remember. Fast-forward 3 months everything was honky dory. I woke up on Monday, March 10th and I felt kinda weird. I had shortness of breath. What that means is even though I was sitting still, it felt like I just got done running a mile. When this happens to people, it is often a sign of heart or lung trouble. I went to the ER on Wednesday but they did not find anything wrong. Finally, on Friday afternoon, my cardiologist called me and told me to come to the ER that she was at, so that she could check me out personally. I was very nervous. Mrs. Maxwell saw that I was distraught as I was leaving school for the hospital. She drove me down the hill because she didn’t want me driving while I was upset! She is a great principal and a good caring person.

When I got to the hospital, I got a special type of imaging procedure called and echocardiogram. It is just like what doctors use to see babies inside a mother’s belly, only they are looking at my heart instead. What they saw was not good. The heart valve that was installed in November was actually COMING OFF! It was wobbling around in a funny way. I could even tell that something was wrong when I looked at it. My cardiologist told me that it was bad and that I needed to go to the LA Kaiser hospital to most likely get surgery again.

The ambulance took me to LA, and my girlfriend met me there. I was very scared. My first surgery was planned. This one was an emergency. The surgery was going to be riskier than the first. The chances of something bad happening during the surgery were higher, but I had the best surgeon around, and I had no other choice but to put my life in his hands. Saturday morning, I went into surgery.

The surgeons found out that some sort of bacteria infected my valve. Bacteria enters the human body all the time. Bacteria live in our mouths, on our skin, everywhere! This is normally not a problem because our immune system fights them off if they enter our bloodstream. The problem is, people with artificial valves are more likely to get infected by everyday bacteria than normal people. This is because the bacteria can stick to the artificial valve or the stitches that hold it in place. Even though that is true, it is still rare. Lucky me.

I was in the hospital for a week. The first few days were very hard and painful, but things gradually got easier. Now, here I am, recovering from heart surgery again. It feels like I traveled through time back to December, recovering from my first surgery. The frustrating part is that I was just feeling back to my normal self before this happened. I was cycling and rock climbing and feeling strong. Another difficult part of this surgery is that I have to give myself lots of antibiotic medicine, everyday, for 6 weeks total! 4 times a day I have to connect the medicine to a special tube that runs into a vein in my arm. This is called a PICC line and it stays in my arm until my 6 week antibiotic treatment is over. Learn about PICC lines here.

Life sometimes has a way of knocking you down when you least expect it. Don’t worry though, I intend on getting back up. This is a challenging time in my life, but it is not impossible. The only choice as far as I’m concerned is to focus on my goals that will help me get better. Just like how many of you have goals that will help you get into college someday, I have goals that will help get me healthy and strong again. Exercise and eating healthy are super important. By the way, I think you all should stop eating so many hot Cheetos and eat more fruit. Bring an apple to school!

So, even though I wanted to come back to work (this week), my doctor said NO WAY! She refused to let me come back to work because I really do need to heal. She said that another surgery would be even riskier, and we don’t want that now. Coincidentally, before my emergency, I accepted a job offer in Rialto (closer to my home) that would have required me to leave Hesperia a few weeks early in May. Even though this is a great opportunity for me, I will be very sad to leave the Cedar family, and all of you of course. The combination of my medical emergency and new job means that I will not be returning to school this year. This is happy and sad for me. My life is full of changes right now; some are tragic, some are exciting.

I have a strict policy of not friending non-relatives under the age of 18 on Facebook, however my other forms of social networking are public. I have Instagram, Twitter, and of course email. You can get my contact info on this page: https://robovalve.wordpress.com/contact-follow/

Remember, you can also follow my journey by returning to this blog to see my future posts about my life after heart surgery. On the right hand column, at the top of this page, you can enter your email to follow this blog. You will get notification emails when I write a new post.

I hope to stay in touch with all of you. If you have any science questions, high school questions, career questions, or life questions, please feel free to email me. Also, feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom of this post! I wish you all success in your lives. You know what success means? To me, success means happiness.

I would like to leave you all with a list of advice of how to be successful. Here it is:

Love, Mr. D


Mr. D’s Advice for 12-14 year-olds

  1. Think for yourself. Always respectfully question authority.
  2. Things are not lame or uncool. This is only your perception. Force yourself to be open to new ideas.
  3. Be peaceful and non-violent. Any form of violence does damage. All forms of peace make the world better.
  4. Remember who your friends are. Even if you lose touch with them, they are still your friends.
  5. Have lots of friends and few enemies. Respect all.
  6. Become a pro at SOMETHING. Learn how to do something new. Learn how to program computer code or design clothing or rock climb or create comics or how to write a song or play an instrument.
  7. Do science AND art. Science is a way to understand the universe. Art is a way to express how the universe makes you feel. To me, these two disciplines are interconnected.
  8. If you want to be a good student, you have to want to learn. Open your mind to your education and it will reward you later in life. I’m going to tell you right now, you probably aren’t going to be in the NBA. There, I said it. Now after basketball practice, GO STUDY DAMNIT!
  9. Make a list of 10-20 goals for the next 10 years of your life. Hang that list on the wall in your room. Change the list as needed. Check off items when completed.
  10. Be positive and be strong. Life will sometimes bring you down. It is up to you to get back up. Nobody will do it for you.
  11. Love.
  12. Whatever drama you are having now, or tomorrow, or even a year from now, you will someday forget about! If you are having trouble in middle or high school, PLEASE BELIEVE ME… It gets better.

One thought on “A Letter to my Students

  1. Amy

    Anthony, I hope you are recovering well. I didn’t realize you had a second surgery. Bacteria is an incredible organism and it’s incredible how little we actually know about some of our body’s bacteria. I’ll be in Redlands again this summer for T3G, but this time I’ll have a teacher from Costa Rica who will be attending. Keep up the positive outlook and you’ll be back training in no time.

    Reply

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