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“It was the fourth time my chest was going to be cracked open,” he said. “The complication for bleeding was extremely high.”
Blessedly, the surgery went smoothly. Duevel woke up on Sunday, Feb. 17, feeling “so great, absolutely fantastic. The best I have felt since I was a kid.”
He’s staying at a hotel near the hospital, which is a requirement, until around March 20, when he hopes to be released to return to Lake Mary. “In case something goes wrong, you want to be right there,” Duevel said. “You don’t want to be two hours away if you have a fever spike.”
He’s had a few temporary setbacks, including a virus. His cardiologist, Dr. Maya Guglin, isn’t overly worried by it. But she is trying to get her energetic patient to be patient. “He’s doing great,” she said. “He just wants to do everything at once, all the normal things.”
Since his transplant, Duevel has taken advantage of Tampa life, going to restaurants, the beach and a bookstore in neighboring St. Petersburg. His subject line on a recent e-mail was “Brand New Man in Tampa.”
“I’m like a tourist right now,” he said.
Guglin expects Duevel to have a full recovery and enjoy a normal life going forward. “He has a healthy, strong heart,” she said. “It’s just been a pleasure to take care of him.”
Next up: Cardiac rehabilitation. After that, Duevel hopes to make a trip back to Minnesota to visit family, friends and his medical team. I’m guessing there will be cupcakes there, too.
“I’m here and I’m happy I’m alive,” said Duevel, a member of the St. Paul-based Young Adult Heart Foundation (www.youngadultheart.org). “I’m just so grateful. I can’t wait to see what transpires.”