At 85, After Tissue Valve Replacement And Pacemaker Implant, Connie Keeps On Walking!

I just received a great patient story from Connie Batich. Considering that Connie’s note touches on so many elements of heart valve surgery – diagnosis, symptoms, second opinions, angiograms, vent tubes, a-fib, recovery – I thought you might appreciate reading about her experience. Here is what Connie wrote to me:


We both had heart valve surgery. Only difference.. You were 33 and I am 85!

I’ve had a heart murmur all my life. But, in 1996, I felt palpitations and went to a cardiologist who diagnosed stenosis of the aortic valve. Since then, I’ve seen a cardiologist yearly for an echocardiogram and stress test. Then, about two years ago, my cardiologist called me all excited that my stenosis was severe and I should have the valve replaced right then-and-there!

Connie Batich, Heart Valve Surgery Patient

Well, my family wanted a second opinion… So, I went to another cardiologist who said, “Well, let’s wait until you get symptoms.”

I kept on doing my two-mile daily walk and gardening, etc., etc.

Eventually, I became very fatigued and finally decided myself that I needed the operation. So, on September 4, 2009, I went to Morristown Memorial Hospital (supposedly one of the best for heart surgery) in New Jersey. Doctor John Brown operated on me. Dr. Brown used a tissue valve replacement. After all, how long can I live? And, I dreaded the thought of being on Coumadin the rest of my life.

When the cardiac catherization was done the day before surgery, I learned that all my heart vessels were fine! On the day of the surgery, I woke up in the intensive care unit. I turned to my daughter and said angrily, “How come they haven’t operated on me yet? I was supposed to be first one on the docket.”

My daughter calmly said said, “Mother the operation is all over with.”

I couldn’t believe it. I was thankful. I wasn’t ever aware of the ventilator tube which I had dreaded. The tube was already removed from my throat when I woke up.

I had to stay in the hospital for 10 days on account of atrial fibrillation. My heart actually stopped beating for 3 or 4 seconds. Doctor Brown wanted to monitor it. The medical team even considered “electroshocking” my heart which didn’t sound like fun. To resolve the issue – the day before I left the hospital – the doctors put in a pacemaker under local anesthetic (which was somewhat painful).

Diagram of Pacemaker Implant

My recovery is going well. I have been taking walks around the block. Last Saturday night, I went to a school track and did half a mile. I am really anxious to have some pep and be back to my old self… Or, even better!

Thanks so much for your heart valve surgery book! I read it cover-to-cover before my surgery!

God Bless!

Connie Batich
Garwood, New Jersey

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

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  • Lucy Grubbs

    connie, that is such good news and great to hear! I am awaiting valve surgery also for aortic stenosis and am 45, every day I am feeling a little better about the surgery. I’m thinking now, lets just get it over with. Good to hear your doing well

  • anita devine

    Your story is really inspirational. thanks so much for writing.
    I also had a smooth recovery, and was back in my garden three weeks after Mitral Valve surgery. I wrote to Adam a few weeks ago, and shared my story of climbing 2 Adirondack Mountain High Peaks 6 months after surgery. So, I am back to my old self, and feeling better than ever.

  • Midge

    Connie, congratulations on having the courage to go ahead with the surgery and it’s really wonderful that you are having a good recovery. Keep on walking…the mantra of us heart surgery recoverers. It was fortunate that you listened to what your body was telling you and got the surgery over and done with sooner than later.

    Best wishes for a continued quick and not too difficult recovery. I had my aortic valve replaced on 2/13/09 and went with a mech valve at age 67. Had I been past 75 or so, I would have followed the route you took and gone with tissue.


  • Joe

    What a great outcome for a potentially bad situation, Connie! Although 30 years your junior, I went through almost the exact same scenario a year ago. I had the tissue aortic valve replacement and ended up – after a 10 day hospital stay – needing a pacemaker also. I really had no severe symtoms but the only issue I had with my healthy heart and arteries was the stenosis in the one valve before surgery.

    I have felt 10 years younger since recovery! Last weekend I was out splitting wood for the fireplace. And that’s quite an accomplishment for me since I sit at a computer all day and am not in all that super shape! I wish you the best through your recovery!

  • Helen Galvan

    Dear Connie,
    Well done and I wish you all the best. I have just had a pacemaker put in after 7 months of roller coaster ride following my aortic valve mechanical replacement in February of this year.Everything else had been tried including medicine and, recently, ablation, but nothing took away the auricular flutter and I had too many cases of emergency visits to the hospital because of the heartbeats being too low or too high. I hope that I can finish this year finally putting all this behind me and, like everybody, just live a normal life.

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