Thanks for posting your story and update Domenic. Sorry to hear about your rough summer. I spent quite a bit of the past summer myself going through open heart surgery, and two procedures to fix a seroma in my groin incision, but can't be anything compared to 7.5 weeks of IV's.
Not sure if this helps, but I did have the minimally invasive surgery for my repair. The three surgeons I consulted (Gillinov @CCF, Ryan @Baylor Dallas TX, and Galloway @ NYU) all stated that a minimally invasive right thoracotomy was the way to go for MV repair. That may not be possible given your history of endocarditis and potential need for a replacement, but might be something to look into.
BTW, I felt this site was great for searching for and reading reviews on valve surgeons. My thought was if the cost is reasonably similar, I needed to find the best and most experienced one there is.
All the best to you and feel free to look my journal up if you want to see some impressive bruises! Haha...