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Heart Strings: by Nick Paranjape
He's a world-renowned guitarist who's played with some of the most talented singers like John Denver and Leann Rimes. But recently, Pete Huttlinger of Nashville suffered a stroke and massive heart failure. His world came to a screeching halt. But after months of therapy and having a heart pump put in, Pete is back to playing and touring once again.
Watching Pete strum his guitar with such ease and gracefulness is simply a treat. But three years ago, the music suddenly stopped playing. Pete says death was knocking at the door and the door was starting to open. Pete suffered a stroke waking up one morning and couldn't move. The entire right side of his body was paralyzed. He was rushed to Vanderbilt Medical Center for emergency surgery. A few days later, doctors saw Pete's finger twitch. It was good news. After months of rehab and learning how to eat and walk again, Pete went back to playing his guitar.
But a year later, another health scare. Pete suffered massive heart failure. He was airlifted to a Houston hospital and was back in the operating room. Doctors put a heart pump inside Pete's body supported by two batteries and controller always by his side. He also had his guitar by his side at the hospital.
A year after heart failure and 50 pounds lighter, Pete walked the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. He said it was always his goal. He's also worked on getting back on tour although on a much lighter schedule.
Pete admits he doesn't have the chops like he used to before the stroke, but says he pulls more beauty out of the instrument and is less of a show-off.
On top of having a heart pump in his body, Pete takes 15 pills a day. He lives by the motto "don't just live, live well". These days he travels around the country to tell his story and plays a little music too. He's also in the process of writing a book.
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