Change Of Heart Support Group

A monthly story of personal strength and courage. This month's story:

The Personal Life of a Nurse

The Story of Margaret Schnieder

Margaret Schneider is a 59 yr. old resident of Green Township, Hamilton County. She had her heart transplant 8 years ago on October 12, 1994 at UC Health Alliance Medical Center, she was # 176 and her surgeon was Dr. Thomas Ivey MD.

Margaret's cardiologist Dr. Workman started treating her after her first hospitalization on March 23, 1991. She tried to be a good patient for 3 1/2 years and hoped to continue to work as a nurse for four days a week until September 25, 1994 at which time her health would no longer allow her to continue lead a normal life on medication.

Margaret Schneider was the lucky winner of the 1998 giveaway of the "Change of Heart Cruise for Two." Seven fantastic fun-filled days aboard one of Carnival lines "Mega Ships." The cruise had been donated by "All About Cruises" and Darrell and Lois Harper of which Darrell Harper is also a heart transplant recipient.

Margaret graduated from Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing and served there for five years before transferring to St. Francis-St. George Hospital where she served for thirty more years. She practiced as a surgical nurse in the department of oncology and enjoyed bedside nursing. Her heart disease started getting the best of her, so she transferred in January 1994 to a nursing review position. That position required walking and pushing a heavy cart long distances, she soon found out that her tired exhausted physical condition still was haunting her.

Besides her working situation she made other adjustments to her life such as hiring someone to clean her house and even do even the simplest of home decorating. All these efforts were apparently out of necessity as well as being in denial. Margaret wasn't ready to accept the fact that her heart disease was getting worse all the time.

Margaret's lung capacity got very poor and the thirty steps in her home were a real challenge. Also, she was spending her nights setting up to sleep. She got very sick and had to see a doctor right away and since her doctor wasn't on duty it was someone new. This cardiologist told her she should think about going to UC medical center and possibly get on the heart transplant list.

Margaret was stunned by this news but ultimately decided that she was responsible for her health care and that it was time to make some decisions as well as get her affairs in order. At her next visit to her cardiologist Dr. Workman plans were made for her to visit the UC cardiac transplant and heart failure clinic. On October 6, 1994 the clinic cardiologist Dr. Lynne Wagoner reviewed her charts and examined her and assured her that she was in the right place. Margaret was assigned a room in cardiac step-down unit; she didn't go home that day or the next. Margaret's body and heart was totally exhausted and she never left her bed except to go the cath lab to have her heart pressures checked. The hospital tried to wean her from I.V. medications several times but each time she suffered heart failure. Dr. Wagoner told her she was on top of the transplant list because of her critical condition. Margaret received her new heart October 12, 1994 only 6 days after her admission.

Margaret had a 3A biopsy results 30 days after the heart was transplanted which frightened her. She was re-admitted and treated in the SICU. In a short time she felt at ease because the competent nurse reassured her rejection was to be expected after transplant but was treatable. Her biopsies since then has never higher than a 1B.

Margaret is thankful for her faith in God and for the strength she received from her husband, Don and her three children Chris 33 years, Craig 29 and Kathy 28. Chrissy is an elementary teacher in Colerain schools. Margaret thought of giving up and taking the easy way out but when she saw the unselfish love and fear in her family's eyes she knew giving up wasn't for her.

One night while in the hospital when she was dealing with her mortality and in prayer, a warm spiritual feeling came over her and she felt convinced that the heart disease wasn't her fault and that everything was going to be okay.

Margaret's husband Don had a position in human resources at Western Southern Life Insurance Co. The company underwrites its employee's medical insurance plan and they amended it to include heart transplants when they learned of Margaret's needs. Don was also a high school basketball official and serves on the board of commissioners for the girl's basketball league in his spare time.

Margaret felt she used to be in control of her family situations and enjoyed their destinations. However, when her daughter Chrissy, got married she had to plan her own wedding because Margaret was too sick. Also in June 1994 Margaret's mother Gertrude Kues died which created additional stress to be dealt with.

Margaret has a new philosophy for life now and part of it is participating in family gatherings and keeping in contact with her nursing friends at St. Francis-St. George hospital. In addition she no longer makes unrealistic goals for herself or expect too much from others.

Margaret enjoys being at home where she can spend time doing things she only dreamed about doing prior to the transplant. She embroiders lovely pictures and she hopes to complete one for every member of her family. She gets great satisfaction from doing volunteer work at the Sharonville Village because of her passion for American history. She guides tours and assists in the administration office.

Margaret attends Change Of Heart monthly social meetings when she can, she believes she needs to support COH's mission and encourages each other. In past years Margaret's family instead of buying gifts for each other have donated the money that they would have spent for gifts to benefit the Change of Heart Support Group.


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