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Aortic Stenosis / Regurgitation
The Patient's Guide
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I TURNED 2 TODAY!!Hard to believe it's been 2 years since my Ross Procedure at Mt. Sinai in NYC! I absolutely love how Dr. Stelzer's patients stay in touch and help other through the intimidating choices and decision making processes. It's so much to take in if you're blind sided with surgery as I was in December of 2011. I've learned that helping others is rewarding in so many ways especially when it's something near and dear to your heart (see what I did there?)
1st Year Echo Results Are In! (Hint: I'm awesome)Hello HVJ Fam!
12 Month Ross Update!!So I'm 1 year old today and I'm a little big for my age, what can I say? :-) I'm so excited to be alive and am STILL buzzing with excitement a year post op. Being a sales guy, I spend a lot of my time driving to various appointments around Houston and it's amazing not having to worry about dizziness / vertigo any longer. For about a year there I was in a pretty bad way. I literally used to pull over while on my way to a meeting, get sick, clean myself up, then make the mtg. And flying? Not a chance. Now, I catch myself looking around and think, "Man, I'm not dizzy anymore?! This is awesome!!"
10 Month Ross Procedure Passes the Disney World Test!We just returned from an amazing road trip to Disney World in Orlando. We had a blast but as they say, there's no place like home!
Merry Christmas!!Today is so special. I finally came through this morning with a promise I made to my kiddos back in February during heart surgery. I promised a fun vacation and they awoke to Disney World tickets under the tree this morning. And we leave tomorrow!
9 Month Ross UpdateHard to believe 3 months has passed since my last journal entry. Shame on me. The thing is, I don't really FEEL like a heart patient and forget to post updates. So this morning when my wife sent me a text message that said, "Happy 9 months" I was like, "What in the world? Are we pregnant or something?" OH YEA!!! HEART SURGERY!! :-o
6 Month Ross UpdateToday is a big day for me. This time 6 months ago Dr. Stelzer had my chest open and was working his magic to repair my bicuspid aortic valve and repair my ascending aorta. It's funny, I'm still hyper-sensitive to the smell of rubbing alcohol, certain hand sanitizers, and certain perfumes that the nurses would wear while checking on me.
4 Month Post RossHard to believe my surgery was 4 months ago today. It feels like so long ago now. It's so bizarre how time can play such tricks on me. The weeks and days before surgery were like months and the months after surgery seem like years. I've continued my daily exercise but still don't have all my wind back for long runs. My lungs are great, just need more conditioning which I guess anyone can lose with time off. I'm playing in my first racquetball tournament since the surgery this weekend so we'll see how that goes! If I medal, I plan to send the hardware to Dr. Stelzer! I think he's earned it! :-)
3 Months Post RossIt's truly amazing how time flies. 2 weeks before my surgery, every minute felt like hours. I felt like I couldn't read enough, couldn't research and absorb enough about surgery and what to expect. Looking back, I can't help but to think how lucky we are to be living in a time of medical marvels and to be in the greatest country in the world protected by the greatest men and women in the world.
2 Months Post RossAs time goes by, I realize my choice for Ross was a good one. I bounced back quickly and I've been back in the gym now for 3 weeks doing light weights and playing racquetball regularly in addition to my walking. The mosquitoes have been so bad in our area that I've been walking on our treadmill at home. My "everyday" strength was back at 3 weeks and I'm still working on getting the "gym' strength back. Pushups still feel a little weird so I'm being careful there. I promised my wife that I'd stay off the heavy weights for good since I probably won't make the Houston Texans this close to 40!! :-)
1 Month Post RossIt's difficult to describe the way this surgery has affected me. Not only do I feel fantastic, but I truly see the beauty and value of life and those around me. I almost feel cheated that I couldn't see this before surgery. In short, I've been given a gift of sight.
2 Weeks Post RossFirst of all, it feels amazing to be home. Seeing my kids and family makes everything seem so real. Being in NYC for 2 full weeks was very difficult on us but I would would do it again tomorrow. I had my first Cardiologist appointment this morning and everything was perfect! I go back in 3 months -- that seems so far away! My chest scar is healing very fast and I don't require heavy pain meds. The anesthesia is still working it's way out of my system so I do feel a slight brain fog. My lungs are back to normal and I'm walking every day.
1 week post RossI'm looking at my last journal post and am cracking up! Wow was I looped out. I'm actually not even taking pain meds aside from motrin and Tylenol at the moment. I'm feeling very good but experience "cold sweats" which are flu-like symptoms. This will go away very soon.
It's me!!Has a great day folks. Took 2 walks and Peed on my own! I'm still waiting for a better room and the first 2 days postop royally sucked. They had to work hard to keep me under and even harder to pull my ribs back together. So ohs surgery sucks for guys that lift a lot.
He is out of ICU!We have moved out of ICU! These tight quarters of NYC are a whole new experience for us Texans.
We are planning for a calm dayChris had a good night and started the day sitting in a chair for 5 hours. We are planning on a calm day to wean him off of the meds that are supporting his heart. All that goes well, he will be able to leave ICU tomorrow.
Made it over two big hurdles!The balloon that was assisting his heart is out and his heart is beating on its own. They also just removed the breathing tube and his lungs are working on their own.
He can do this!
Prayers neededChris had some complications when they tried to colse him up. His heart is working with the help of a balloon. He will stay asleep tonight and we will start try to reduce the balloon support tomorrow.
Heart is working beautifully!Dr. Stelzer just called to let me know that Chris is doing excellent. They are closing him up and I should hear more in an hour or so.
He left for the ORChris went to the OR about 30 minutes ago. He was calm and relaxed just as you all said he would be. Dr. Stelzer said that we should expect to hear from him around 3:00 this afternoon. Please say a prayer that all goes well.
I'll be a new man tomorrowI can't believe it's my turn tomorrow. Today is such a beautiful day here in NYC. Niki and I have had such a wonderful time. My mom and Niki's sister, Mandy, just arrived at the hotel. Mandy has set up a surprise dinner for us tonight. I should probably stay away from the spicy stuff! This morning we walked to Dr. Stelzer's church and had such a heartfelt experience. Niki and I also had a chance to briefly visit with Mrs. Stelzer. She is a very special lady indeed.
Pre-Op. Check.Arrived in NYC yesterday at noon and rushed over to Mt Sinai hospital for my 1:30 pre-op appointment. I wasn't nervous at all during the 3 hour ordeal. I will arrive Monday morning at 5:30 am for surgery. I remain confident in my choice and am enjoying NYC food and new friends.
I'm Famous!Woohoo, I'm in the patient spotlight -- look at that! :-) Special thanks to Mitch Friedman for scooting over a bit to share the spotlight. I've been emailing Mitch and boy does he sound great. Though I haven't met him yet, I'm very proud of him and look forward to having lunch with him this Friday in NYC.
Pre Surgery Visit with Dr. StelzerNiki and I just got back from NY. We visited Dr. Stelzer and his staff at Mt. Sinai Hospital. We know where we'll do the pre-op stuff and are ready for the big show on the 27th. Dr. Stelzer answered my 3 pages of questions and even prayed with us at the end of our visit. I must say, I'm completely blown away with this guy on a few different levels. He is truly a gifted, technical surgeon and I now know why his patients adore him. Sandwiched between degrees and medical recognitions, his office walls have letters, picture frames, and medals of former patients now competing in Iron Man's, marathons, etc.. I really debated on flying to NY to see him; boy am I glad we went. It was a wonderful visit and these New Yorkers are good people! :-)
Happy Heart Day!I told my kids this morning on the way to school that I loved them so much that I had to have surgery to add some more space in my heart. At 11 & 9 I'm fairly certain they bought it with my fine salesmanship and all.. But when I thought about it, it should be fairly simple. Figured I'd throw a C note in Dr. Stelzer's tip jar in the OR room for some extra "memory" while he has my batteries out.
Surgery Date Set!Well. I did it. After another week of agonizing research and phone calls to patients, I've set my date for February 27th with Dr. Stelzer. Yup, this Houston boy is heading to New York. I have to admit, It's hard to believe I'm leaving the medical metropolis in Houston, but Dr. Stelzer is simply the best I can find and location doesn't matter.
Time to make a decision!! (Ross vs. Mechanical)I've narrowed my AVR down to two choices -- mechanical vs. ross. I thought I had it figured out till I met with a world famous heart surgeon in Houston this week.
Heart Cath, check!Heart cath was not nearly as bad as I had imagined. HOWEVER, I do have the bestest wife in the world there waiting with me. The folks at St. Luke's in The Woodlands, TX are fantastic although I'm already tired of hearing everyone say, "you're too young to be in here!" Uh yea I know.. Actual procedure took 20 minutes with Dr. Acquino but I had to lay flat for 2.5 hours after. Caught up on some Melbourne Tennis and ordered a tasty turkey sand.
Finally told the kids what's going onWell, the Dixon family had a pretty good weekend. Both kiddos won their basketball games and we had a couple beautiful warm Texas "Winter" days. After basketball on Saturday, we went to our favorite sushi bar and we decided to tell the kids about my heart. My goal was to wait till we were more certain about the procedure (mechanical vs. Ross) and had a surgery date pinned down. But, we sort of spontaneously decided to let the cat out of the bag. They took it pretty well but I did choke up as they stared at each other with watering eyes across the table. At 11 and 9, they naturally had lots of questions. And my 11 year daughter, which we affectionately call an "old soul," requested to be present at future surgeon visits because "she had some specific questions." Lol, leave it to her for some unintentional comedic relief in a tense moment.
Patiently waiting for the next step (well, not so patiently)Seems like everyone I need to speak with is either on vacation or "out." I've always considered myself a fairly patient person but when it comes to something like this, I've still got some learning to do.
Reading "The Patient's Guide to Heart Valve Surgery"I'm having a hard time focusing on work stuff today. I ordered The Patient's Guide to Heart Valve Surgery" eBook today and haven't been able to stop reading it. I'm like a sponge reading and absorbing as much as I can about this entire process. I have so many questions for my Cardiologist who believes a mechanical valve is the way to go. The Ross Procedure is certainly worth my time & investigation. I've only told a few people about my upcoming surgery. That's about to change.
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