Lub Dub, Lub Dub (the sound of a heartbeat)

(This article written by Milja Saldarriaga)


Lub Dub, Lub Dub.  That’s the sound of a heart beat.  Look it up in the internet.  It states that normal heartbeats can be described as lub dub, lub dub.  Many of us take it for granted.  Many of us wait patiently for the day that we hear a baby’s first heart beat; while others don’t hear it at all.

I fall into the last category.  Oh, I hear my heartbeat well.  Actually I don’t hear it as much as I feel it.  Especially when I scare the *bleep* out of myself.  It’s my husband’s heart beat that I don’t hear.  He had a heart beat at one time a very faint heart beat, and then he had a “whirling” sound.  How do you say?  Let me explain and take you on my personal journey.

My husband was diagnosed with Idiopathic Cardiomyopathy, basically an enlarged heart.  His heart was attacked by a virus that enlarged and weakened it.  It still pumped like a heart but instead of the regular heart beat it took a bit longer to beat and it was a softer beat.  Not the strong beat as everyone else.  He survived well enough, or as well as a heart patient can survive.  He was living with medication.  His physical activity became limited and he became tired quickly, but he was living.  He was sick when I met him & he laid the cards on the table & told me of his condition & that basically it was a death sentence.  Sooner or later he would need a heart transplant if he wanted to survive.  Who are we though to question who we fall in love with?  His cardiologist in NY wanted to implant a pacemaker/defibrillator as a “precautionary” measure.  As a just let’s see what it can do.  It improved his heart condition.  Well, according to the doctor it was a 1% increase, not enough to celebrate. It was to me!  An improvement is an improvement.  We moved South Carolina and continued our married life enjoying new friends, new scenery & a new home.  All was happily ever after…..until November 29, 2008.  At around 2am I felt the bed shake.  What’s the first thing you think of when you’re sound asleep & your bed is shaking “EARTHQUAKE”.  No it wasn’t that.  My husband’s defibrillator had actually given him a shock.  After going to the Lab and having his pacemaker/defibrillator checked we found out his heart had gone into an arrhythmia.  If he didn’t have the defibrillator he would have died.  He would have had a massive heart attack.  Thank you Dr. Kalman for insisting on the precautionary measure.  The machine was also low on battery so he would need a new one.  Easy enough it was an out-patient procedure.

Now all this time he had his heart.  Large & weak, but it was his.  It sounded more like lub——–dub, lub——dub.  You couldn’t really hear it, at times I even wondered if it even did beat.  So come Spring 2009, he started getting more & more tired.  He was retaining water no matter what diuretic he took, he couldn’t sleep, he couldn’t walk, and he could barely go up the stairs.  There were days that he would never leave our bedroom.  After one day of finally calling the doctor & basically insisting that he come in they made us come in.  They didn’t think it was the heart & wanted to do a Heart Cauterization, basically a procedure to check the function of the heart.  We had to be there first thing in the morning, only thing, that morning took forever and a day to come.  We went to sleep around 1opm.  We wanted to be rested & refreshed for the procedure.  It didn’t work out that way.  He couldn’t sleep, he felt cold, and then sweaty, couldn’t breath, his body hurt, couldn’t get a comfortable position.  I was slightly upset because I was tired & just wanted to sleep.  When I touched him I felt ice.  His skin felt like he was standing outside in 20 degree weather.  Uhm, this was August 2009 South Carolina.  It was sweltering hot & humid.  The AC must be hitting him directly I guess.  Took his temperature but the thermometer must have been broken.  It was registering around the 50s or 60s.  Took my temperature, that’s weird it registered 98.6 which is normal.  Took his again, 50s.  What’s wrong? According to the magical world of the internet he was in the world of hypothermia.   Again, summer in South Carolina????? Made him hot tea but then he was hot & sweaty.  Tried to take his blood pressure, machine was not working.  The error message says it does not pick up a heart beat.  Stupid machine.  Why does nothing work when you need it to?  Hhmm, again took my pressure & it worked fine.  Now I was in a panic.  One website said it might be due to lowered blood pressure which if not taken care of could lead to death.  DEATH!  Dear God, no not that.  It was now 5 am.  I needed to speak to someone; I needed someone to tell me it was going to be alright.  I couldn’t talk to German. He had enough to worry about. Didn’t need to hear some silly female & her “what ifs”.  Finally it was time to get ready & go to the hospital.  He couldn’t walk to the office so I had to wheel him to the waiting area.  They were delayed in the Cath Lab so we had to wait.  Finally around 11am they took him.  They gave me my little pager & sent me off to the waiting room again.  I had just sat down with my nice warm cup of coffee when the device went off.   UH OH!   Had a conference with the doctor who told me my husband was being admitted to the Dickson Unit because his injection fracture was less than 20%.  Huh?

His heart had weakened to the point that it wasn’t pumping blood to his lower extremities, to his major organs.  If something was not done he was going to die.  Okay I thought, so give him new medicine & make him better.  He needs to go home.  Hopefully in a few days he would be home.  The nurses in Dickson who took care of him (Emily she introduced herself to me) said to please step out of the room while they administered medicine & set him up in the room.  There I stood alone in the hallway.  After 45 minutes they let me in.  In plain words, he looked like shit. He was nervous & so was I.  We had spoken of this day but I never, ever wanted it to come to fruition.  I stayed by his side all day long.  The night nurse told me to go home.  No way in hell I was going to leave.  He swore to me that German was doing better.  He looked me in the eye & said he was doing better.  If he saw that German was not going to survive, they would have set up a bed for me.  So fast forwarding in history about 11 days & after going to the regular Cardiac Floor & back to Dickson (I think I met every single nurse that worked in those two departments). The doctors agreed that the only procedure that would save his life was to have an LVAD implanted.  A who?  LVAD, Left Ventricular Assist Device, basically a heart pump.  It would be attached to his damaged heart.  It wouldn’t pump.  It was a motor that would constantly push his blood to the rest of his body giving him life.  It worked, but no more heart beat.  His heart was still there but all you can hear was a whirling.  Funny if you got to close you heard the whirling.  It hurt your ears a bit, but it gave my husband the energy he needed to condition his body; to lose the weight & get strong.  On June 27, 2010 he was officially listed on the Heart Transplant list.

On September 27, 2010 he received his brand new heart.  What a miracle!  It was as if he was never sick.  Funny how one day can erase the history of 15 years.  He was in the hospital for one week where then he was released.  We are religious people.  We thank God for giving him back his life with the LVAD & now even more grateful that he gave us a heart. So like good Christian people we went to Church that first Sunday he was released from the hospital.

We had so much to be thankful for.  As we sat there listening to the priest give his sermon, I was holding my husband’s hand.  I looked him in the eyes, smiled & put my head on his shoulder.  That’s when I heard it for the first time.   Lub Dub, Lub Dub.  No, it can’t be.  I listened again but there it was. Lub Dub, Lub Dub.  I looked at my husband with a tear in my eye.  “Honey what happened” he asked.  I heard your heart beat.  I officially heard your heart beat.  After 6 1/2 years of marriage I heard a heart beat.

Now I know how a mother feels when they hear that first heart beat.  It is the most amazing sound ever.  Never have I heard a sweeter sound.

Lub dub, Lub Dub…………



10 Responses to Lub Dub, Lub Dub (the sound of a heartbeat)

  • Paul W says:

    The two of you can now combine ideas and write a best selling non fiction story. You are, both, excellent writers.

  • frances van leuvan says:

    milja, sal,
    it was very touching reading your story. we all take life for granted, but like you said to hear a heart beat is the best beat you want to hear. sal and milja i wish you the best. love fran

    • Gsal says:

      Thanks Fran, Paul, Jason and Billy.
      Yes, Milja is very special and has endure alot, because of my condition. That is why we felt it was a necessary for her to write an article, about her perspective from her point of view. The best part of this that even though the article is very touching, we intended it to help people appreciate all the blessings that we are given. Life has some rough spots, but tomorrow always shows promise. Thanks for reading our posts and we appreciate all the kind comments and suggestions, keep them coming.
      Best wishes,

  • bill wolf says:

    Sal and Milja,
    Great article! Very touching and emotional to read. You have an amazing wife sal.

  • Gail Brafford says:

    Milja, Good Job I really enjoyed the article, I have also enjoyed Germans articles. Both you guys are inspiring and I really apprciate it. I am just waiting for the day I can lay my head on Joe’s shoulder and hear Lub Dub Lub Dub. May God continue to richly bless you both is my prayer. We pray daily for all the LVAD and transplant patients.
    I don’t know is you ever met Anette Connell or not, she got her LVAD the day after Joe and exactly one month later it Clogged and had to be replaced, she did well for a while and just a couple of weeks ago she went home to be with Jesus, she is fine now, but her Husband really needs our prayers so please add him to your prayer list. Only God can fill the void he has in his heart. Love you guys, and we need to get togeher again soon. Keep in touch. Gail

  • Tracy Dickson says:


    That is a beautiful blog…thanks for sharing these moments with us. What a true blessing this experience has been. So happy to know both of you! XOXOXO

    Tracy (just wondering why Brian wasn’t from THOSE Dickson’s!?!?)

  • jen roe-brown says:


  • Evelyn says:

    Having had the blessings from God, I know exactly how you felt when you hear that lub, dub. It is the most beautiful music any body can compose. I am so grateful to God for first having the both of you find each other and second for Germans new heart. It is a true miracle and what you both are doing with the new time is awesome. As your sister and sister in law to German I am so sorry I was not able to be there, you know that if I could I would have been there every second. YOu are both such strong and beautiful people I love you both so much, and yes I am shedding tears of joy. I love how you both are sharing. I agree a book would be a way to spread your strength to others that may be in the same or similar situations. It is so sad to see people waste away for so much less and here are you two never giving up and always smiling and laughing enjoying and psuhing on for more. May God always shed his smile on you both. Love you guys.

  • Annette says:

    Vous avez de bons points il, c’est pourquoi j’aime toujours verifier votre blog, Il semble que vous etes un expert dans ce domaine. maintenir le bon travail, Mon ami recommander votre blog.

    Mon francais n’est pas tres bon, je suis de l’Allemagne.

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German (Sal) & Milja Saldarriaga
Fort Mill, SC

I am available for lectures, consulting, life coaching, motivational speaking, interviews and appearances.

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My Life Experience

  • Retired New York City police officer
  • coping with heart disease since 1996
  • had defibrillator/pacemaker implanted in Oct 2003
  • had Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) implanted in September 2009
  • Received heart transplant September 2010.
Read more at About Page