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  • Writer's pictureTina Marie


By Tina Marie Marsden - February 22, 2023

It's always interesting sharing my advanced heart failure diagnosis on a more personal level. I literally get butterflies thinking about how I'm going to explain my LVAD to new acquaintances. For me, it's one thing to share in public spaces such as this. However, opening up on a more personal or intimate level requires a different type of courage. So I thought.

Letting it all out

Adapting to life in a constant fight to overcome heart failure was enough in itself at the age of twenty-eight (28). So the first mention of an implantable defibrillator was a no for me. Little did I know that would be nothing in comparison to receiving my first LVAD.

At the first description of the LVAD, I was ready. That was until the day my surgeon walked into my hospital room holding a prototype of the LVAD pump, batteries, and a controller. I was confused because I did not realize there would be external components. I was only thirty-six (36) at the time. For me it was one thing to say, I'm overcoming heart failure and have a defibrillator. I asked my team, "How do I explain a cord coming out of my stomach connected to batteries and a controller?"

Let's just be honest, how could anyone not be afraid or worried for you when you explain the severity of your health? When I imagined explaining my LVAD all I saw was rejection in my future.

Embracing the new and advanced me

Even with the thought of rejection, I had this belief that it was best to lay it all out on the table when meeting new acquaintances. So I asked another friend recently, "How can I explain my LVAD without scaring someone?" The response I received was, you can't. No matter how you explain it, it's gonna be scary. As much as that statement bothered me I understood it.

I processed those words though... "you can't" and "it's gonna be scary." Moving forward, I decided to try something different. No more laying everything out. Besides, for all I know there may be no true connection, and we may no longer speak past this week...I'm just saying.

So now, only when the time is right I share a few details about overcoming PPCM (pregnancy-induced heart failure); but not my LVAD. I share my LVAD when it becomes absolutely necessary. I decided to just live, and allow new acquaintances an opportunity to get to know me before introducing my full diagnosis.

Besides, are new acquaintances telling me, or you, everything?

All I see is you: Dating with heart failure

We always say we're not our diagnosis right? So, let's truly live in that. I definitely know that my LVAD doesn't define me. In fact, it adds its own little spice.

For now, I'm enjoying making new connections just as Tina. Not Tina with PPCM, not Tina with an LVAD, nor Tina with a defibrillator. Just Tina. I even had one new acquaintance tell me, I don't even see your LVAD. All I see is you. I was told that was based on my approach and how I live life. Unbeknownst to me, this new approach to dating and heart failure appears to be working.

Do you share your diagnosis while dating? Are there parts that you leave out until necessary? 

What have you found that works for you?

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