Hi Donna, good luck with the cardiologist on Thursday. Glad to hear you will be going home and hope it goes well. Do pay attention to that low grade fever, the surgeon is right, my infection showed up 3 weeks after surgery, when the incision opened up a little with a stitch protruding! I ran a low grade fever and just didn't have any energy by the end of the day. Amazing how much antibiotics helped!!! Thinking of you!
One thing I know for sure.....there is no place like home.... I know, first hand, how good it feels to return home after a surgery.
I think that maybe my biggest "ugh" for my pending OHS....... is being away from my comfortable home....(not really, but sure looks & sounds good in print...haha)
So glad you are well enough to go home...Take it easy as you continue on your journey!!!...
Donna, I would have been able to start rehab 6 weeks after surgery, but I developed bronchial pneumonia and had to put off rehab until I was completely over that. You shouldn't have to wait as long as I did. Some have started earlier than that, but the rehab center here requires a 6 week wait after valve replacement. So far, it has been fun and I really do feel better afterwards. Don't worry, time will really speed up in the next few weeks.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
Donna, I think we all have had good days and not so good days, but the best advice is to see your doctor, even if it just "eases your mind". Don't know if you are on any meds, but perhaps if so, they may need adjusting. I was put on Toprol ER after surgery. The generic name of Toprol ER is metoprolol succinate. When I got a new prescription from my cardiologist, he just wrote metoprolol...did not specify succinate. Well, it so happens that there is another metoprolol...metoprolol tartrate, brand name Lopressor. Same active ingredient, but metoprolol tartrate is not extended release...you get it all at once! Can you believe the pharmacy did not call my doctor to have him specify which metoprolol, they just filled it with the tartrate!!! No wonder my BP and HR took quite a dip when I was taking it. I get the 90 day supply from mail order and thank goodness they had the sense to call my doc before filling it!!
I started cardiac rehab last week and I am having issues from time to time during exercise of my heart rate going up and then my blood pressure dropping when I'm done. They monitor me very closely though and I can truly say I am really enjoying rehab. Makes me feel much better.
Call your doctor about the irregular heartbeat, probably okay, but better safe than sorry. Let us know how it goes.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
I am 8 months post op and have very low blood pressure and very irregular heart beats. My new normal heart rate is about 40 beats per minute, and when it is that low, my blood pressure is usually about 80-90/40-50.
I feel really weird when it is so slow, but several doctors have assured me it is nothing dangerous, and as long as I don't pass out, they do not want to treat it. It seems to go in spells....... For about six weeks, i was feeling pretty good with a reasonably normal heart rate and rhythm, but since the heat arrived, I have been feeling awful. Still trying to figure out what makes it go wacky all of a sudden, but I haven't come up with much. I do know that stress makes it worse though.
Hope you can get some answers and start feeling better soon. Please let me know if you find something that gets you back to normal. I'm willing to try anything about now.
So glad you are "outta there" and staying with your sis for some TLC!
Take it easy...and keep your eye on the prize! Wishing you a very speedy recovery!
Looking forward to your updates... I am not far behind you! (oh my!)
OK little cousin. I just read "Donna's Story." As long as you have to be in that bed, take some time and really write your story. I am sure many of us would love to hear more about your beautiful children and grandchildren. Love you so much.
I am 11 wks post op with a St. Jude Valve. So far so good. The coumadin has not been a problem-hope that continues. I do not hear my valve (like so many others). I kind of wish I did hear it .... at least once in a while!
I will keep you in my prayers and I look forward to great updates.
I am 51 and received a mechanical aortic valve 2.5 months ago and feel great now. Coumidin is no big thing and there is a new drug in the approval process that is supposed to be better. Still a couple of years away but still better then second surgery. If interested you can read about my whole deal at steveheart.com. Seriously I have been surprised at how much better I feel and quite frankly how smoothly the recuperation has been. Good luck. Steve
Donna, I am older than you, but still young enough that God willing, I probably will need surgery again at some time. It was a difficult decision for me also, but I chose the tissue valve. They are saying that with today's valves they are lasting 15 to 20 years. Who knows??? Anyway, I will say this...my surgery experience was not at all bad, much easier than I expected and I no longer "fear" another possible surgery in the future. Hopefully the catheter approach will be perfected by then and available to all and surgery won't even be an issue. We are all different, I apparently had a much better experience than a lot of folks because it was practically a non-event for me. I had pneumonia 6 weeks out of surgery (not related to the surgery) and it was much worse than the surgery itself. I wish I could say chose this or chose that, but any decision YOU make will be the right one for you. Sorry...I searched and searched for the crystal ball...but I never found it...if I had, I would gladly share it with you, lol! Decisions, decisions!
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
Hi Donna, you will be in my thoughts and prayers tomorrow. As for the decision about the valve, I would go with my own gut feeling and probably go tissue, I am 52 and initially thought the mechanical would be the way to go, but technology is advancing at such a fast pace, I decided to go with tissue if they had to replace my valve. It's a hard decision, and your surgeon will make the best decision for you if you can't decide. I had my mitral valve repaired April 25th and am doing well, 7 weeks post-op. You can do this, stay strong and determined!
Hi Donna. You wrote your aortic valve is down to 1.0 cm. So yeah, time for surgery since it doesn't get better on its own. And once symptoms appear the odds start getting worse. So now's the time! Get excited. This is going to give you your life back.
As for kind of valve... There really isn't a bad choice, it's just that they are different. Mechanical means blood monitoring and taking meds. Bio means possibly another replacement a few decades down the line. Both paths are improving as time goes on.
Spend these days before surgery getting your head in the right place. There's so much to be looking forward to: years and years that you otherwise wouldn't have. Pretty cool, huh? -- DVB
OK, here's the deal on the chest tubes. It hurts for a few seconds when they take 'em out. Then you are REAL GLAD they are gone. That is when things start getting lots better lots faster. You can do it. -- DVB
I also got 3 opinions prior to my surgery and was happy I did, it helped me make my decision to move forward with surgery and it provided me with peace of mind.
In regards to the tubes, I found them to be uncomfortable, yet they were manageable. I was happy when they came out and the process of removal was quick. In fact I felt much better almost immediately once they were removed. When they were removed there was very little pain, it just felt really strange and unusual.
It sounds as if repair is not an option? I just had surgery and was fortunate to have my mitral valve repaired. However; as a backup we needed to choose if a repair could not be done and a valve was needed. We decided on biological, cow tissue. I am 45 and this may seem crazy since I understood that I may require a second surgery somewhere down the road. My reasons for this choice were that the tissue was more compatible with our tissue, not having to take Coumadin for the rest of my life and endure regular bloodwork and even with the Coumadin the still lingering chance of blood clots. As far as knowing if you need the surgery or not...I knew for sometime now that I have not felt well. I had my primary care not quite sure, cardiologist with an opinion and lung doctor with an opinion. I ended up going to the ER and finding I was in CHF (congestive heart failure) so for me that was my 2nd opinion and knowing how weakened I felt I had no question whether or not the surgery was needed. Good luck. Karen Campo
First, I wish you the best in this. Whatever you choose you will be miles ahead of having the bad valve. The choice, for me, was balancing how long the new valve lasts and taking blood thinners the rest of your life. mechanical valves last much longer.
I was 59 when I had my surgery for aortic valve replacement, (Aortic Stenosis). I chose the biological valve. My reasoning was I was 5 or so years of valve life (15 vs 20) for not having to take blood thinners.
I feel that in that 15 years they will come up with a new process that will update my valve without invasive surgery. They are already experimenting with catheter implanted valves.
Ask your surgeon about sizing the valve to work best with future implants.
In addition to the bio valve I had the minimally invasive type of surgery. Adam describes it in his book.
If you would like more information I have journals in here under my name.
Donna, the 4.7 to 4.8 sounds like the measurement of your aorta. The most accurate means of measuring the aorta is by cat scan, although a "rough idea" can be seen with the echo. The aortic valve area is measured by the echo and/or cath. A generally accepted indication of severe stenosis is a valve area of less than 1.0 cm. The pressure gradient is also one of the indicators...the higher the number, the greater the indication that it is time for surgery. At the time of my surgery in March, my valve area was 0.6 cm and my gradient was 80. My aorta was also dilated and measured 4.0 cm. I also did not have any symptoms. We had followed my condition for several years and the "numbers" gradually worsened until in November, during a cath, the valve was so narrowed that the cardiologist was never able to get the catheter across the valve. I would encourage you to get your reports so that you have a better idea about exactly what the situation is. The surgery, while completely doable is still big surgery. I think if you know the "numbers" yourself you will be more comfortable with what the doctors are telling you. I would wonder myself if I were getting different opinions. Good luck!
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
I know you are facing a big decision and the closer it gets-the scarier it is! I am 47 and will be having surgery the first week of August (no exact date set yet). I have a bicuspid aortic valve and it is severely stenotic (no symptoms). We are about 95% sure I am going to have the Ross Procedure.
I don't know if you are a candidate for this type of "switch" surgery-but it prevents the lifetime use of coumadin. I will keep you in my prayers. Please contact me if you would like to visit.
Hi Donna, My daughter at the age of 29 with 3 little kids had a valve replacement. She has a St Judes valve and does have to take coumadian for the rest of her life. She hates that. She is always having to have INR checked. Sometimes they do it from arm and sometimes with the finger. It is a big decision. My valve is moderate at 3.7 since Feb. I have read that 4 starts becoming severe. So I am just hanging in there. Now I am getting a second opinion. Maybe you need a third opinion. Do you have any symtoms?There is a lot of info on here and maybe this site will help you decide on what to do. I will follow you. Good luck to you.
For the long haul
Hi Donna, I have decided on surgery in three weeks. I worried if I had to have surgery, too. I really do not think I have a choice but I wanted a choice. I need two valves repaired and I am going to get the Maze procedure for A-fib. I hate the constant blood tests for cumadin. So take care and write soon.
Donna, did they indicate you need surgery now because of your stenosis or because of the enlarged aorta? Do you know what your measurements are? Most physicians make recommendations based on the measurements and/or whether or not you are having symptoms or if there is "damage" already to the heart. You need to get the one you feel most confident in to explain these measurements to you. There is a pretty much "accepted" cut off point for both the stenosis and the enlarged aorta. Hope you can get some answers. I will say...I had my aortic valve replaced in March with a porcine valve and I am still wondering if I made the right choice. Didn't want all the "headaches" of coumadin at my age (63). I don't think any of us think about it from time to time. But if I do need surgery again in the future...it really was not so bad. Good luck with your decisions!!!
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12