My surgery scar at one year. You can still see a couple of scars lower where the tubes were.
One year anniversary
Journal posted on September 11, 2014
Received "Toro", my bovine aortic valve replacement a year ago today. So, this is my one year rebirthday. Heartwise I feel great. Good stamina and can do so much more physically now than before surgery. I still have a pain at the bottom of my sternum. Cardiologist thought it might be a loose sternum wire, but my Cobra insurance ran out before we could get it checked out completely. That's been 6 months or more. They did do a chest x-ray, and the wires were intact, but the cardiologist said we'd really need to do a CT scan to see if they are loose and insurnance ran out before we got to that point. I only get the pain when I lean back a ways or sometimes when I sneeze, otherwise it doesn't really hurt. I also still have little sparkly "fireflys" in my vision. Not near as much as I had right after surgery, but they're still there. I've been bad, I haven't been walking like I should and put on some weight. But, when I do walk, I've got good stamina and that's so much better than before surgery. I remember when I asked the heart surgeon about exercising to loose weight before surgery to help recover quicker, and he told me to only walk at a leisurely pace because I could die very suddenly doing strenuous exercise. Now my heart is "strong like bull". This surgery definitely saved my life.
For those going into surgery and in recovery, take it slow to heal quickly. Don't try to push yourself too quickly to do too much too early physically. It's not a race---it's recovery. Plus recovery is not linear. It's a roller coaster. You have good days and bad days, and if you push yourself TOO hard on the good days, it will bring on the bad days.
Take your pain meds on a regular schedule. If you wait until it starts hurting before you take your pain meds, it's going to keep getting worse before the pain meds kick in, so don't wait too long. As you recover you'll be able to last longer and longer before needing to take more pain pills and you'll be able to ween yourself down to Tylenol and get off the Vicodin.
Sleep doesn't come easy at first, so sleep and nap a lot so your body can heal. Also eat well and get good protein to aid in the healing. It took me several weeks for me to get my appetite back.
Adam's book is really helpful and this website answered so many questions and alleviated so many fears before surgery. Use the search function, watch videos, and read journals of past patients to know what to expect. I went from pissing myself in public thinking " Oh crap, I'm having open heart surgery" to confidently thinking, "Let's get this baby done" before surgery. I still piss myself in public but at least it's not because I'm scared. Great big thanks to Adam for the book and the website.
Good luck to those going into surgery and those in recovery. And a shout out to Jim, Dan, Aubrey, Gabi, Debs, Joe, Carols, Higgy, and etc. who jumped on the recovery train around the same time as me. Big hug to Rachel in the UK. Thanks to all my heart valve buddies who laughed at my journal and were so encouraging and supportive. And great big thanks and love to all my family and friends, and especially Brian who made so many trips over here bringing food and company while I was recovering. Big thanks to Mom for coming out and watching out for me during surgery and recovery. I've almost paid off your bill at the liquor store.
If you're brave enough, read my journal for a laugh or two.
March 11 was 6 months post op for my heart valve surgery. I saw my cardiologist Feb. 11th and he was very happy with how I was doing and said not to come back for another 6 months. My blood pressure was 120/70 and heart rate was 70 bpm.
I've been bad. I pulled a muscle in my calf and stopped walking for a couple of months. I did a three mile walk today at a brisk but not too fast pace and felt fine. I've got a pain in my lower sternum that started about three weeks ago (AFTER I had been to the cardiologist, of course). I only feel it when I sneeze, twist a certain way, or when I toss my head back to swallow my pills. I wanted to walk and see whether I got really tired or not to see if it was a return of pericarditis. Since I didn't get tired, and out of breath walking, and I don't have a temperature, I doubt it's pericarditis. My roommate thinks it may be muscular since I've been using a dumbell to try and rehab my shoulder from the rotator cuff pain I developed recently. Doesn't feel muscular to me, though. I've got a regular doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks. If the pain persists until then, we'll see what he thinks.
I thought I'd do the final post tonight, but the football game on TV, strippers, pizza and a bit too much beer took up most of the day, so I'll have to postpone it. I'm going to write a summary for new patients so they don't have to read 20 pages of my B.S., so I have to organize my thoughts first before my final post. I plan on posting at 6 months and a year, but I'll post if any other signicant event happens, like Mom finally completing rehab or if I get a tattoo of a zipper on my chest scar.
Quick update from me healthwise: Feeling great. Did 3 miles walking/jogging on the treadmill in 39mins. and then a half mile cool down. Wasn't breathing hard and felt like I could do it faster, but no need to push it right now. Hoping to do a 5k sometime in 2014 when I can do consistent 10min. miles or less. 15min. miles last week were pretty easy, so upped my intensity a bit this week. I'll probably keep it at 3 miles for 39 to 40 mins. all next week before I up the intensity. I'm 16 weeks post-op, so about 4 and 1/2 months out and feeling great. I dropped 3 or 4 pounds this week from the 10 pounds I gained over the holidays. I weighed 194 lbs. this morning and the goal is 175 lbs. I haven't weighed that since college so I'm looking forward to reaching that goal. Maybe an all beer diet will work.
Did a motorcycle ride today through the twisty canyon roads in the mountains behind my house. It was the first time I've ridden since my surgery. Rode 50 miles and no sternum pain, and I didn't wreck, hit a deer, or get hit by a car so I'm plenty happy about that.
Next post will be my heart valve surgery summary.
Waiting with fingers crossed for Rachel to get a nice, viable heart for transplant, and expecting to hear great news.
Good luck, good health and safety for everybody here in 2014.
I thought my doctor's appointment was on the 23rd, but it was yesterday. Doctor was happy with everything and said I was doing well, so sent me on my way.
Not sure if I should watch the Cowboys game tomorrow or not. I guess if I do, I'll just have to make sure there is nothing in reach that I can throw at the TV. They need to teach all of the Cowboys players how to do the Heimlich maneuver in case Romo starts to choke again as usual.
Christmas party tonight at my friend Kirby's place, and I'm going down to my sister's for Christmas Tuesday. Gotta try and get through Christmas without gaining too much weight, but I can't make any promises. Big time sweet tooth. Can't say no to desserts, especially anything chocolate. I guess I know what this year's new year resolution will be.
I didn't see the Dallas Cowboys game, and I'm glad I missed yet another Tony Romo big-time choke. The Dallas defense (if you can call it that) didn't help matters either. Roger Staubach is only 71. Bring him out of retirement. I'm sure he could do a better job than Romo.
About 3 and a half months post surgery and recovery is going great. My cardio is better than before surgery, so very happy about that. Sternum is healing really well. Seeing fewer sparks in my peripheral vision, so I think that's getting better, too. Starting to drop a few pounds that I gained from Halloween and Thanksgiving. Just boring good news. Nothing special to report on.
Glad to hear good news about Rachel in the UK. She and her support group have so much strength and class. Very proud of her and them. Lawson even took the time to respond on my guestbook as well as others and he even subscribed to my journal putting me over the top of my goal of 100 subscribers. How classy is that? Not sure who I have a bigger crush on, Rachel or Lawson.
To all those in recovery, heal like the wind! Those getting ready for surgery, good luck and keep a positive attitude for positive results. Recovery will take a while (and you need to take it slow!), but you will be so much better after you've recovered.
My next doctor's appointment is Dec. 23, so if nothing else comes up to report on before then, that'll probably be my next journal entry. Until then--- Heal, damn you, heal!
No, I didn't hit on Kristie the exercise physiologist, although she's a real sweety-pie.
My insurance has a limited amount of lifetime cardiac rehab visits allowed, and Kristie didn't want to use them all up at this time since I'm doing so well. My numbers were hitting right where she said they should be and I was having no chest pains or discomfort, so she sent me on my way and told me to keep doing cardio 5 days a week for 45 minutes. She told me not to do any upper body exercise until January to let my sternum heal, and then when I do start, no chest exercises like push ups or bench press, and nothing that involves lifting the arms higher than the shoulders like lat pulls.
13 weeks post op I'm walking and breathing better than I did before surgery, so I feel great about that. My chest doesn't hurt except sometimes when I sneeze, so everything is going well. This week I started sleeping flat again instead propped up in bed with a bunch of pillows, and I think I'm sleeping better. All in all, healthwise things are going great. Now I just need to get a job.
Great to hear Rachel is doing better and that the other people in recovery are doing well, too. Good luck to those going into surgery.
Just noticed that I've got 98 subscribers to my journal now. I've almost reached my goal of 100.
I had gotten a bit lax about walking over the last several weeks, so put on a few pounds. Thankfully cardiac rehab has gotten the ball rolling again. Today they had me do 40 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph and halfway through they had me bump up the gradient to 2. I worked up a sweat, but cardio-wise had no problem. My heart rate was 75 before I started and the highest it got was 123 while I was exercising. BP was 120/70 before and after exercise, and it was about 160/80 during exercise. So, everything was looking good. I had some weird chest pains driving home afterwards, but it felt more musculo-skeletal than heart pain. I was driving my Jeep and it doesn't have power steering, so hopefully that was the cause. Or gas.
We've got a bunch of new people getting ready for surgery. I never wrote a summary of my experience in the hospital, so need to do that. Jim Jones, Dan Sinclair, Aubrey and others have done a really great job with their summaries and advice/tips they can offer from their experiences.
My BEST advice for when you are in the hospital---prune juice and Dulcolax. Pain meds tend to slow things down a bit, and the prune juice and Dulcolax help to get things moving along.
Also, I had to change the ring tone on my cell phone. The hospital staff didn't appreciate the humor that my ring tone was the sound of a heart monitor beeping and then flatlining.
Good luck to everybody getting ready for surgery and good healing those of you in recovery. Positive attitude yields positive results. Keep up the good fight Rachel. We're all praying for the best outcome possible.
Low and behold, Brian made it back to the house for Monday night football. Yay! He picked up some food coming over--- chicken, salad, mac and cheese, and some ice cream and pie for desert. He picked up Vanilla Bean, Sweet Chocolate, and Pumpkin Pie. We usually only have two strippers over on football night, but Pumpkin Pie wanted to come along too.
Had cardiac rehab yesterday, and it's going well. Feels good being able to walk better on the treadmill than before surgery.
Hope everybody has a good Thanksgiving, and continued prayers for Rachel over in the UK.
Started cardiac rehab this week and went twice. They have me doing 40 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 speed. I feel fine and the only thing slowing me down is sore tendons from many sprained ankles, so I have to stop and stretch them after about 10 minutes. Since I have a bovine valve, they usually hold up a red cape in front of me for incentive to keep me going.
Had a doctor's appointment Friday, and he was very satisfied with how my recovery is progressing. If I was doing any better I'd have a rainbow coming out my ass.
My friend Brian hasn't been by the house ever since I made that joke about having strippers dressed in cheerleader outfits when he's over here for football night. Maybe his wife DOES read my journal. It was a joke Joni!! They're basically just wearing thong bikinis and high heels, not cheerleader outfits.
I've read the journals and see that several of the ladies in recovery are having some problems. I hope ya'll are feeling better quickly, especially Rachel who we continue to pray for.
No real pains. Feeling good. Walking well. Then I sneeze and I'm reminded real quickly that the old sternum has a bit more healing to do.
My friend Dave read my journal where I wrote that I had a week where I couldn't get motivated to do anything. He said it sounds like I'm totally heaIed because I was basically back to the way I was BEFORE surgery. The bastard.
Mom just called while I was typing this. She was pretty sober this time, so it was a pleasant call.
Last Friday went to an animation career expo and spent the better part of the day walking around and visiting with friends and ex co-workers. Got a lot of comments about how well I looked post surgery. Didn't feel too tired from all that walking and talking, but yesterday ended up taking a good 3 hour nap in the afternoon. It's been a few weeks since I've had to have an afternoon nap like that.
Football starting soon, so gotta get off this infernal machine to go turn on that infernal TV. Continued prayers for Rachel in the UK and wishing the rest you good health and healing. Take it slow. Not everybody is a machine like Aubrey.
Congrats DanSinc on getting discharged from the hospital. Now the recovery really begins.
Went into the hospital yesterday to start cardiac rehab, and all they had me do was fill out paperwork and answer health and body questions. They are going to have me come 15 times or so, twice a week. So, no workout. I already had my sweats on, so I just swung by the gym on the way home and walked 3 miles on the treadmill.
Continuing prayers for Rachel in the UK. Good luck for those getting ready for surgery and continued healing for those recovering.
I know. I haven't been updating my journal much lately. Last week I didn't feel like doing much of anything. Hardly left the house, didn't do bills, didn't hardly exercise (and I was really kicking ass the week before). I didn't really feel down, so I don't think I was depressed, but I just couldn't get motivated to do ANYTHING. It was almost like I WAS depressed, but without being in a funk. I blame it on the Dallas Cowboys. (Hey, I can't blame myself!)
I had a cardiologist appointment yesterday. I've been feeling well physically, and the doctor was happy with how I was doing. Got an EKG and it matched my last one, so that is my new baseline normal. The cardiologist recommended and prescribed cardio rehab, so I've got my first appointment scheduled for Thursday. Looking forward to it.
Today's tip for people recovering from heart valve surgery---- no NAKED TWISTER for at least three months after surgery. I found that out the hard way. Got into a position I couldn't get out of without hurting myself and needed help to get out of it. It wouldn't have been so bad, except I was alone. So, I had to wait for my roommate to come home. Another ten minutes, and I think I would have sobered up enough to get out of it myself. It was embarrassing enough having my roommate walk in with me stuck like that, but unfortunately he brought a couple of lady friends home for dinner. What's worse was by that time the house had gotten pretty cold, and the heater was turned off.... Why the hell does EVERYBODY have a cell phone with photo and video capability nowadays?!! I think I need to buy an Xbox or Playstation for the next time I get drunk and bored and decide to play a game.
Good healing to all those who just had surgery and are joining us on the recovery train, and those of us a little farther along in recovery. Jim (JJ), Lynn E, Jenn, Tom, Aubrey, Higgy, Cindy, Sandy, Carol(s), Rebecca, Barb, Mary S, Debbie J, Ralph, Anna, etc. Thanks for those much farther in recovery who post (like Linda H and Elsie) and keep encouraging and inspiring us. Good luck Dan Sinclair, Tracy, Bob, Tamara, etc. who are getting ready for surgery. And prayers for Rachelle in the United kingdom who's having some trouble right now after surgery.
Romo pulled out a comeback win for the Dallas Cowboys this weekend!!! Holy cr@p!!
I've got 95 subscribers to my journal! Haven't hit my goal yet of 100, but this is the closest I've come so far.
Finally paid off Mom's bill at the liquor store. Mom, the store owners want your address to send you a thank you card. They miss you and ask about you every day.
Another tip for heart valve patients: If you have strippers come visit you at the hospital, the nurses don't appreciate it if they show up dressed in "sexy nurse outfits". And, if you're in a hospital like St. Josephs, they especially don't like it if the strippers wear the sexy Catholic schoolgirl costume. Better to have them show up in the sexy cop outfit.
Thanks Brian for stopping in for Monday night football and bringing tamales and ice cream. Glad you're feeling better. Next time I'll make sure the stripper's cheerleader outfits match the teams playing that night. Might require a bigger tip, though. (Hopefully your wife doesn't read my journal.)
Good luck to the November patients going into surgery, and continued healing for the rest of you on the recovery train with me. You know Aubrey's an engineer, right? He'll get us where we need to go.
Diarrhea. No fun. Hope I'm not getting sick. Woke up this morning feeling a little tired, so hard to tell if it was a stomach bug, or something else. Maybe snacked on too much Halloween candy.
Good amount of trick or treaters came by yesterday, but still have a good amount of candy left. Little bastards took all the Almond Joy, but that's all right. I'm good with just chocolate.
Walked in the neighborhood yesterday, and went up one of the most steep hills. Did well, but coming down hill my left knee started hurting and got so bad I started limping. Loosened up and quit hurting once I turned onto my street and onto even ground. Damned 50 year old knees! A lot of wear and tear over the years.
Sternum must be REALLY healing now. Starting to get some chest pains but only feel it when I breath deep, cough, or sneeze. It's a dull pain, more like a bruise feeling. Totally manageable, and don't need anything for it.
Ever since surgery I've had these "firefly" like sparks that fade in and out every once in a while in my peripheral vision. I looked at other heart journals and some people said they had "floaters" but eye floaters are usually dark, and mine are more like sparks that fade in and out as they zoom through. I wonder how much longer I'll keep getting those? I don't see them when my eyes are closed when I'm trying to sleep.
Congrats Jim and Lynn on your Red Sox victory. That was when I was taking a nap, so I missed the final game.
Went and saw GRAVITY yesterday and really liked it.
The good news: Got back the results of the kidney ultrasound.
The bad news: I have a kidney stone.
The good news: It's nonobstuctive and the doctor said if it's not bothering me, then we don't need to do anything to it, and I need to drink more water to keep from getting kidney stones. (I guess alcohol doesn't count)
The bad news: I didn't do any REAL walking the last 4 days.
The good news: I went into the gym today and did 4 miles on the treadmill and averaged 15:25 a mile. I jogged several times for two minutes at a time and did well.
The bad news: I was a little chilly earlier this afternoon and crawled in bed just to warm up and fell asleep, so I didn't get much done today since I slept a good part of the day.
The good news: I got a damned good nap in today and it felt great. :)
The bad news: Mom called today while I was taking a nap, so I didn't get to talk to her.
The good news: Mom called today while I was taking a nap, so I didn't have to talk to her. (I kid, I kid! I love Mom--- when she's sober)
The bad news: My sister Lori had a birthday yesterday, so she's getting OLD.
The good news: I'M YOUNGER THAN SHE IS!!!! :)
The bad news: A number of us here on this website have had or ARE having open heart surgery.
The good news: It's saving our lives and we will be better because of it.
Hope eveybody's doing great, and thanks for checking on me.
My friend Dave(Squid) flew in this weekend and stayed with me Friday through Monday. We went to a couple of Tiki events this weekend and got to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen since before I had surgery. It was great seeing people's reactions when they were surprised to see me, and when they were even more surprised when they realized Squid was there too, because it's been a year or two since he's been here.
Had a bunch of compliments about how well I looked, and had a few people say they couldn't tell I had surgery just by looking at me (except for the scar peaking out of the top of the shirt). Plus, I had 2 or 3 rum drinks, so I got a little alcohol in me this weekend.
It was a long weekend and I felt a bit wiped out on Monday, but got some good sleep last night and I feel good today. It was great seeing everybody this weekend and Squid and I had a blast.
Brian's been sick, and he hasn't been over here to watch the World Series, so I haven't been keeping up since Dave was in town this weekend. I did catch the game yesterday. Rooting for your Sox Jim Jones. If they win, that'll make your surgery and recovery in November SO much easier. :)
Haven't heard back about my kidney ultra sound yet, but the results of the blood test were fine except for low hemoglobin, which is to be expected after major surgery. Doctor said it's nothing to worry about and the hemoglobin will replenish over time.
My sister said Mom's had a few sober days now that she's back in TN, and my brother got the staples removed from the incision for his new bionic hip. He's not running sixty miles per hour yet, but he's burning through the wheels on the walker he has to use right now.
Good luck to everybody recovering and those getting ready for surgery. A little tip---when you're in the hospital, if you bring a laptop computer, they discourage you downloading porn during your stay.
P.S. Thanks Eric for the awesome mug, and Sandra for the cookies and pumpkin seed. You look great Sandra after your brain surgery same time as my heart surgery. Good to see you out and about.
I don't think I'm sleeping well at night, and usually nap during the day because I'm tired. Before surgery---hookers and lots of alcohol and I slept through the night, no problem. Do you think 5 weeks post op is too early to start binging again?
Usually I have to get up to pee 2 or 3 times at night because I take a diuretic, but yesterday I must've had too much water when I did my walks, because i spent half the night getting up to whiz, so I felt pretty tired this morning. I kept having a weird dream that I was a dog and had to mark my territory. Hopefully I won't run into one of my neighbors who says they saw me peeing on their fire hydrant at 3 in the morning. Wasn't able to get a nap in, so hopefully I can sleep well tonight. No sign of blood in the urine, so that's good. Dr.'s appointment on Tuesday, so will let you know what he thinks.
I've been walking real well and a lot, and that usually helps with the energy level, or it tires me out and I take a good nap. Maybe they replaced my aortic valve with a dog valve rather than a bovine valve. I knew I should have opted for the more expensive heart valve!
Today is the first day my spirometer numbers were about the same as before surgery, so very happy with that.
Started off tired, but felt really well today and had some good hikes up in the Angeles Forest breathing some good mountain air. Ate well and going to probably have heart burn tonight, but at least since I'm still sleeping pretty propped up in bed, that shouldn't be too bad with some Tums.
Hope all the post surgery people are healing well, and those getting ready for surgery are thinking positive thoughts. Thanks all the heart valve journalists who read my journals and sign my guestbook. And thanks to all my friends and loved ones for your support. Higgy, don't forget to post something now and then in your journal you bastard!
Still feeling a bit tired during the day, and have to nap.
Yesterday my second walk was a long walk, a little over an hour, but not hard. Came in and fell asleep in the recliner watching baseball. Woke up about an hour later and took a whiz and urinated blood and passed a few blood clots. Didn't have any real pains anywhere. Haven't peed blood since then, so not sure what that was all about. Never peed blood before, so that was weird.
Eating well and walking pretty well, so that's good.
Talked to little brother and Mom today, and he seems to be doing really well after hip surgery, so that's great news.
Just woke from a nap, so it's time for walk #2 today.
Saturday I felt a lump in my arm and when I looked down it was in the vein that my IV catheter had been in. The whole vein in my forearm is lumpy and hard, but doesn't hurt and it's not red.
So I searched on the internet, and what I found was that it's called phlebitis and it's my vein's reaction to being traumatized by having the IV in it for a period of time. The lumps are valves in the vein. Supposedly I can treat it by heat or cold compresses and an inflammatory like aspirin or ibuprofen. I'm already taking Naproxen as inflammatory because of the Dressler's syndrome, so I think I'll treat it with heat compression. I'll call the cardiologist's office tomorrow and let them know about in case they think I need to do something else to treat it.
Been kind of tired the last 4 days or so, but I've been walking well and the spirometer numbers are coming up better now. Haven't been sleeping well at night, but been making up with a good nap during the day.
Overall not feeling bad at all, but not great. I think I've just become more of a wuss in my older age.
Either that, or I was always in such a drunken state all the time, I never noticed not feeling well or having any pains. Mom drank all my liquor while she was here. How am I supposed to afford to restock my bar? Alcohol costs a lot of money.
Thanks for dropping by today Brian to watch some baseball and football, and thanks for bringing cookies and ice cream. It's a good thing I'm walking a lot, or they might have to open me up for heart bypass soon!
Still continuing roller coaster recovery, but the highs and lows are little less extreme right now.
So, 2 weeks ago I got Dressler's Syndrome (some fluid build up around the heart) and started taking Naproxin as an anti-inflammatory. They gave me Dilaudid while I was in the emergency room, and I felt like I had a hangover for a few days after that. Then I had a few days where I felt GREAT (last entry), and walked a lot and a bit harder. Then the last several days felt a bit more tired, a little light headed, and slightly nauseous with some angina (chest pain--not sternum).
Last week my cardiologist was out of the office and my regular doctor was on jury duty, so I wasn't able to follow up last week with a doctor's visit after my trip to the emergency room.
So, yesterday I was able to go to the cardiologist's office and a Nurse Practitioner saw me. I told her about my symptoms and she ordered an EKG. I told my roommate who had driven me there that if the cardiologist returns with the Nurse Practitioner, that something's wrong. Sure enough, first person through the door is the cardiologist followed by the Nurse Practitioner. Cardiologist was concerned because my EKG wasn't the same as before and examined me. He ordered an ultrasound and they gave me Nitroglycerin for my chest pain. He didn't think it was arterial because my angiogram hadn't shown any significant blockage, so he thought it might be more fluid around the heart. The ultrasound didn't really show any fluid or anything that looked wrong, so the Nurse Practitioner gave me a prescription for Nitroglycerin and told me to take it if I have angina and to contact them if it gets worse. So, ultimately they couldn't really tell me what caused the angina with the light-headedness, tiredness and nausea. I did get some more angina in the evening and took a nitro pill.
I slept really well last night (finally), and woke up less tired than yesterday. I didn't get any angina today. Each time I tried to walk today, it started raining after a lap or two, so it wasn't until this evening I got some good walking in. So, I'm feeling better, but I'm not feeling great like I did Saturday and Sunday.
Still not taking any pain meds. No sternum pain, so no problem coughing or sneezing, so the sternum is healing nicely.
Brian came by Sunday to catch some football and baseball on TV. I was taking a nap when he got here, and he woke me up when he took my pulse to make sure I was still alive. Had some nice Tamales that he brought over and we watched the Dodger game for a bit on Sunday and we laughed that Dallas' quarterback Tony Romo choked yet again as per usual last week when he was having a great game and threw it away at the end.
My little brother Sam just had hip surgery Monday and went home today, so Mom's got two son's recovering from surgery. She's probably hitting the bottle pretty hard about now.
The Nurse Practioner did tell me I was OK to drive as long as I wasn't taking any pain meds and was mindful of how I felt before getting behind the wheel. So, that was good news. I can drive again. Woohoo!
Went to taco Tuesday with some of my neighbor's yesterday evening, and I had a margarita, so that was the first alcohol I've had since August. I'm still on the roller coaster train of recovery, but I'm off the wagon! :)
Good luck to everybody in recovery and those getting ready for surgery.
Last couple of days have been really good. LOTS of walking. Feeling less bloated. Ate better yesterday than I have in a while. Good nap during the day. Good burping, farting and pooping, so things are moving through well.
No chest pain, so I'm not taking any pain meds, not even Tylenol. Usually sleep in bed with a bunch of pillows propping me up, and then nap in the recliner, but yesterday I napped in bed, and seemed to sleep better.
Thanks Dave for bringing food by with some nice company, and Brian for dropping in and walking with me and watching some of the baseball playoffs.
Mom's back at her home now and starting to sober up. Her stay here was the longest drinking binge she's ever been on. I have no more alcohol in my house.
My neihgbors all loved my mom, so it's a good thing she's a happy drunk and not an angry drunk.
Time for me to get off this infernal machine and go for a walk.
Today was 3 week anniversary of OHS (added some photos, too)
Journal posted on October 2, 2013
My roommate Dan and I took my Mom to the airport at 5:30 this morning. She didn't fly out until 3:00 PM, but we just couldn't wait any longer to get her out of the house. (I kid, I kid. I love Mom!) She called this evening and said she got home fine. I was feeling much better today, so Mom was relieved that she left and I was feeling better. Thanks for all the help and for putting up with me, Mom. The neighbors miss you already. The medical marijuana store and the liquor store miss you more.
Didn't eat much today, but I did walk a good amount, so that seemed to help feel less bloated.
Thanks for swinging by today Dave and dropping off some DVDs to watch, and for planning on dropping by Friday with some food. You're one of the GOOD Canadians. :)
After I went to the hospital for Dressler's Syndrome (a form of Pericarditis) at the end of last week, it's been some rough days since then. I think some of that has been because of meds. I felt like I had hangover for several days after they gave me Dilaudid at the Emergency Room. Nauseous, bloated/full feeling in my belly, so didn't eat much. My head was fuzzy. I felt wiped-out a lot of the time. A few days, my eyelids just felt so heavy, it was hard to keep them open. One day I had a weird, piercing head ache that lasted a good part of the morning. My neighbor has been complaining of allergies. I've been sneezing several times a day, so I may have developed some allergies in my older age that I hadn't noticed before.
The good part is my chest scar is healing great. My sternum hardly hurts. I can sneeze without needing my chest pillow, and coughing doesn't hurt too bad. I've stopped taking Vicodin and only take a Tylenol just every once in a while.
I sleep in my bed at night, propped up with a bunch of pillows, so I do sleep a bit on my side and I sleep pretty well, but not a FULL night so far. I usually have a nap during the day.
I wish I could get rid of this bloated/full feeling I have all the time, so I can eat more. I'm pooping, farting and burping well, so everything is moving through as it should.
Cardiologist is out all this week, and my regular doctor has jury duty, so it's been hard to try and get in to see a doctor to follow up after my trip to the emergency room.
Called the heart surgeon's office to ask about when I can drive, and they said I shouldn't drive for 90 days after surgery. What the hell? They also said I should be riding in the back seat because of air bags. At least they didn't mention anything about riding in a child's seat.
Been more emotional, and get easily aggravated and frustrated since surgery. Had to get a new blood pressure cuff yesterday because mine accidently broke when I smashed it against the floor when it wasn't working right. I was just so frustrated about how badly I was feeling compared to the beginning of last week before the Dressler's Syndrome. My roommate reminded me this morning that it hasn't even been three weeks since my operation, but it gets frustrating when you're doing so well and something comes along to knock the winds out of your sails so completely. Hopefully today will be better compared to the last several days.
Mom flies out tomorrow, so I'll be stuck here at the house since I'm not supposed to drive for 90 days after surgery. I've read in these journals several other patients who got the OK to drive after 4 weeks post op. I'll have to see if my regular doc or cardiologist will give me the OK in a week or two.
It's not my fault, but I had been lead astray. The doctors had told me I had a bicuspid aortic valve, and that was not true. The heart surgeon told me that once he got in there, I did have a tricuspid aortic valve, it was just SO calcified that two leaflets were stuck together and the valve was acting like a bicuspid aortic valve. I am embarrassed that I mislead you all, and now I'll have to change "My Story" part of the journal. I'm not sure that there is a way to change the "My Diagnosis" part, so if not, it may still say Bicuspid aortic valve even though that was not the case. Again, I apologize and hope the heart valve community can forgive me for what was ultimately not my fault, because I had been given the wrong information. Goes to show that you never know EXACTLY what they are going to find until they open you up.
Just now had my FIRST SNEEZE as i was typing the above. Came on unexpected and the heart pillow was downsatirs. Thankfully I had taken a Vicodin this morning, so it wasn't so bad. I was able to stifle the second sneeze. Earlier this week I was able to stifle sneezes three different times by grabbing my nose and rubbing. I hadn't had any Vicodin for the better part of those days, so that could have been really bad. One day was when my friend Shannon was driving us to and from the doctor's office. My Vicodin had worn off and I was having a bit of a tough time that day. i think she would have seen me crying like a baby if I hadn't been able to stifle my sneeze then. Vicodin saved my life today.
Feeling SO much better today than I did two days ago with the Dressler's Syndrome and Dilaudud incident. Still have the slight bit of a hangover feel, but hopefully some more sleep will get rid of that. Only slept a little less than 6 hours last night, so hopefully can get in a nice nap sometime today. Spirometer numbers are starting to get better.
My sister Lori and her husband are coming up to visit today since Mom flies out on Wednesday. So, looking forward to a nice visit with them.
Speaking of nice visits--- thanks for dropping by again yesterday angel Brian with some more food. And thanks for working out that knot in my back yesterday. It saved my life. Masseuse Tanya will be by today with her healing hands to work out the rest of those knots in my back. Looking forward to that. And thanks Dave for the DVD's you dropped off for me to watch. I hope none of those labeled "documentaries" are pornos, because i would be really embarrassed when Mom and i sit down to watch BLUE PLANET and it turns out to be a different type of "blue" film.
I've only had a few days where I don't have a BLOATED feeling, so I'm looking forward to when that feeling goes away. I've been burping, farting and pooping well, so I don't think anything is backed up.
Hopefully as I'm able to walk more and more, that will help. Not eating a lot because of the bloated feeling, so at least I'm not gaining weight now that I've shed all the water weight from the surgery.
Thanks for the cards and letters friends and family, and thanks everybody who has signed my guestbook.
Good luck to everybody in recovery and those getting ready for surgery.
Yesterday I woke up and couldn't really catch my breath. SUPER EXTREMELY TIRED and WIPED-OUT. Felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Pain in my left side under my rib cage wouldn't let me take a deep breath. Spirometer numbers were terrible. Tried to walk a little, but had to stop like 6 o7 times to catch my breath just for trip to end of block and back. Felt so bloated I only ate one small yogurt all day. Called the cardiologist. At 6pm he returned my call and told me to go the the hospital to make sure it's not a blood clot in the lung. I guess it wasn't a pulled muscle in my side after all.
A number of tests later they said it was Dressler's Syndrome .It's inflammation. A form of pericarditus. I had some liquid around the pericardium of the heart and lung.
Hadn't had any vicodin since 2:30 pm so they gave me Dilaudid. Worst pain med EVER. I had a small turkey sandwich at the hospital. Threw it all up driving home. Today I feel like I'm getting over a hangover.
They prescribed some sort of NSAID and told me to follow up with cardiologist. Cardiologist is out today and next week, and since it's Friday they are pretty booked as for as seeing another cardiologist, so I called my primary physician and I'm waiting to hear from him.
Don't feel too bad pain-wise, but this hangover feeling sucks.
My friend Shannon took me and Mom to the heart surgeon's office yesterday and he said I was "solid" and looked really good. I only took one vicodin early in the day, so it got a bit rough later in the day. Thanks for the ride Shannon.
Today Brian's wife Joni took Mom and I to my regular doc and my cardiologist. Both gave me the thumbs up and said I was doing really well. Brian picked us up from the cardiologist's office for the ride home. Thanks Joni and Brian for the rides, and thanks Cheryl for almost being able to give us a ride except for your kid getting sick and throwing a wrench in the plans.
I slept in the recliner until 1:30 AM last night and then moved to the bed. I slept better in bed, but I pulled a muscle in my side when I was arranging the pillows. Because of the vicodin, I didn't know I hurt myself until this morning. Now I've got another pain I didn't need. It hurts to breath in deep because of it, so that REALLY sucks.
So the good news, the doctors all said I was doing great and healing really well. The bad news, I pulled a muscle and can't breath deep. Spiromiter numbers really suck right now. Memory sucks right now and concentration problems. Have to retype half of everything on the computer because of misspellings, so may have to lay off the journal for a bit.
Felt WIPED-OUT all day yesterday. Also, bloated feeling, cramps in my back, chills. Not sure if i over did it the day before or if it's from cutting way back on vicodin (or both).
Incision pain is fine except for when I cough and use the spirometer.
Slept in bed last night for the first time. That went really well until 6:00AM. Couldn't fall back to sleep although I felt really tired. Maybe I'll be able to nap well today.
Lapses in concentration makes it hard to type without misspelling words all over the place.
Got an appointment with heart surgeon today. Need to write down all questions I have because memory and concentration suck right now.
One good thing. Weighed 189.8 lbs this morning. Less than the day I went in for surgery.
Good luck to all going into surgery this week and keep healing those of you on the recovery train with me. Although, my train is feeling a bit more like a roller coaster. Recovery is definitely not a linear progression.
P.S. Thanks for dropping by yesterday Brian and bringing chocolate pie. :)
I weighed 191lbs. today which is what I weighed the day of my surgery, And that's even with eating chocolate birthday cake just about every day. Woohoo!
Had too much liquid yesterday for awhile, so I felt pretty bloated most of the day, and didn't eat as much. Didn't have a bowel movement the day before, but had two yesterday, and the first was big enough I had to use the plunger after flushing. Had some good farting yesterday, too. When I sleep, I wake up every two hours to pee like clockwork.
Knots are coming back, so gotta call the masseuse again today. Chest pain is minimal, so going for long stretches without pain meds. Only time chest really hurts is coughing or going for a new record on the spirometer. Hitting 2000 ml pretty consistent and 2250 ml several times a day. New goal is 2500 ml and I think I should be able to get there this week.
My friend Shannon is driving Mom and I to heart surgeon's office tomorrow, and I see cardiologist and regular doc on Wednesday (my two week anniversary of OHS).
Surprised how emotional I can get somedays, especially when I get frustrated. Poor Mom's had to be patient with the patient. But, some of the frustration has been caused by Mom as well, so she's also been the source for causing angry outbursts a few times. She's great at giving me plenty of advice about what she thinks I need to do to get healthy, but she won't do what she needs to keep herself healthy. Gonna have to drag her to a doctor I think. Too bad I can't have alcohol, because that woman's going to drive me to drink. (Which is about the only place she'll drive out here in L.A.)
Time for my morning walk. When I get back, I'll need to sit down and make some notes so I can write out some good advice for patients heading into surgery this week. So, there may be another journal entry later today for heart patients.
Thanks everybody for your continued support. I read all the guestbook entries and check out all the other patient's new journal entries, so just because I haven't responded, doesn't mean I haven't been keeping up. Getting more energy every day, so should be able to spend more time on this infernal machine soon.
So wiped out from the previous night's lack of sleep, I made up for it last night with nearly eight hours of sleep!!
YAY!!!!!!! Good start to today.
Sorry to hear about Tony (another valve surgery patient) needing another surgery because of infection. Thankfully he's a young guy (33) so he should bounce back pretty quick to play with his new baby boy. Good luck Tony. Soldier on!!
Glad Nathan (Higgy) made it back home to play with his boys, too.
Debbie J. Things will be great. Focus on the positive. I'm down to 195.4 lbs. I've lost about 9 lbs in 4 days and I'm eating more than usual (including chocolate cake). Gotta love that.
Looking forward to a massage today from my friend and masseuse, Tanja. Woohoo!
Time for the first walk of the day, so I'm off to start my day.
P.S. JJ, Mom won't let me post any poop pictures, sorry.
I just checked and I have nearly 6 pages of guestbook entries I need to respond to!! Hopefully tomorrow I'll have enough energy and enough alone time to get after it.
Today my sister Lori, journal updater when I was I.R.(In Recovery in the hospital) and her husband came up for a nice visit. Her husband Lou saved my life by working out one of the knots in my back. My friend Tanja is a masseuse and will be coming by tomorrow to get after me with her healing hands and get the rest of the knots out. (And no, she does not work at the Oriental Massage parlor I joked about before.)
Angel Brian stopped by for a brief visit on the way home from work. And we had a great visit with a TRUE ANGEL sent from above in my hour of need, my neigbor Sally. Sally had this same procedure last year came by and dropped off some yummy healing food and accompanied Mom and I on a walk back to her place and a nice visit. She had some great advice and Mom jut loves talkng with her. She has a nice gazebo behind her house she lets Mom and I sit in to view the valley area below us.
I had a horrible night sleeping last night. Not because of pain; just couldn't sleep. Two nice bowel movements and several good farts today made up for the overall tiredness from lack of sleep and back cramps, so I'm counting this as another good day physically. So, I'm signing off this infernal machine now and try and get a better nights rest.
Stop signing my guestbook you bastards! I need to catch up.
Love you all.
P.S. Thanks for the phone call yesterday Kelly, Hiphipahula. I may have to bother you for a ride to the doctor's office on Tuesday because it's downtown and there is no way in hell we will get Mom to drive in downtown L.A. If I get a volunteer driver closer to me, I'll let you know. Love ya, babe--GROG
Mom drove me to run a few errands in town. The scariest five mile trip I've ever traveled.
Between my "backseat driving" and complaining about how she was driving, she may never drive me to town again.
Yesterday I only took 1 vicodin each time I was scheduled to take my pain meds and even went past times a few times because I didn't have much pain. Back cramps were worse than chest incision pain, and still had a bloated feeling all day, so didn't eat as much yesterday. Had a rough bout for an hour and a half last night and went back to two vicodins to sleep mainly because of back pain. The chest pain kicks in when I cough. Nice hot shower helped immensely. So, got a good, hard 5 and a half hours of sleep last night and a good two hour nap today.
Good bowel movement, but not big because I haven't been eating much because of the bloated feeling. Drinking BOOST protein drinks to get more protein, and added protein powder to banana, peanut butter, chocolate smoothie I made for breakfast yesterday to help with the healing.
Felt really good an had a really good day today.
Angel Brian showed up with more food and good company. Brought some more chocolate cake---my fave. I may not get back to the 191 pounds I was when I've lost all this water weight I gained, but I did manage to lose another pound today.
Getting more energy every day, so I may have enough energy soon to be on the computer long enough tomorrow to respond to some guestbook posts. Thanks everybody, I do check them every day as well as new journal entries by fellow patients.
Tired now, and it's past time for vicodin, so no time to write anything funny. Getting off this infernal machine now.
Sleep. My new best friend. Plus, one week anniversary.
Journal posted on September 18, 2013
(Yesterday's entry was after 12:00AM, so that's why tonight's entry is also Sept. 18.)
Today is my ONE WEEK anniversary. I was in ICU just after surgery at this time last week. Not fun at all. I will write a journal entry later describing my surgery and my stay at the hospital. Got lots of good advice too for those getting ready for surgery and for your hospital stay. Quick tip: the opening of the hospital gown goes in the back, not in the front. Who knew?
Last night I SLEPT well!!!!! (compared to how few hours I've been getting lately.) And, today had a two hour nap in the afternoon!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just had to find a good sleeping position in the recliner that kept my legs up high enough to get the swelling down, and my upper body sitting up enough where I could breath without the sleep apnea--non-breathing problem waking me every time I was about to drift off to sleep. So sleep and I kissed and made up and actually spent a good night together. I am having more muscle cramps in my upper back today from this more upright position, though. I might need more potassium too to help with the cramping. Mom's got NO hand strength for massaging, but every little bit helped. My friend Mary visited and dug in with her elbows a bit, and helped a bunch too.
Met a few neighbors while on a walk this evening with Mom, and they were amazed how well I looked and how well I was doing. My neighbor Sally who had this operation a year ago thought I looked incredible for only being a week out of surgery. She's bringing some food by for me day after tomorrow (including some chocolate cake---YAY!!)
Had a nice visit this evening from one of my bestest friends, Mary who brought me a nice card and some beautiful flowers she arranged. My "Tiki" friends Eric and Manuel stopped by too with a great homemade card that Eric had a bunch of my tiki friends sign. He also carved a sponge for my sponge baths to look like my own personal tiki mug I made and drink from. And he made a jar full of Jelly Beans that if you mix them in the right amount taste like a tiki drink called The Pain Killer. MUY, muy awesome! Also got some great advice from my friend Dr. AJ (thanks AJ!) and had a nice phone visit with my friend Rory, Wildsville Man. Had a nice phone call with my buddy Adrian, and my neighbor Kirsten called to let me know she's just around the corner and is available to help most mornings. Mom is scared to drive out here in L. A., so Kirsten may end up regretting her offer to drive us around.
Started taking one Vicodin instead of two when it's time to take my pain meds, and the pain's been manageable, so Mom the Vicodin Nazi was happy.
Still having some bloated feelings, so haven't eaten as much today, but it's better today than yesterday. Threw in a stool softener with my BP meds I take in the morning, and that helped move things along a little better today. So pooping was good, but could use a bit more burping and farting.
COUGHING IS THE WORST!!! Especially if you start coughing before you take your pain meds. It's hard to hug the heart pillow strong enough against my chest, so I found that if I lean against something to press the pillow into the chest, it helps a lot.
Using the hell out of the spirometer.
I weighed 198.4 today, so weight still coming off, and blood pressure looks really good.
Today was a really good day.
The escort service called today and said they may have to close up shop if i don't heal soon, and Bambi the stripper emailed that she's short on rent money. The bars are having to have drink specials every night because they are overstocked with booze without me there. Somebody told me the Oriental Massage place is having 2 for 1 specials because business is so slow.
Father Flannigan called to see why I'm not at confessional every morning as usual.
Almost falling asleep and waking myself up gasping for breath is the WORST!
Talked to a friend of mine who is an ER Doc and asked her about over the counter sleep products. When I described my sleeping problems, she says it sounds like I have sleep apnea. I have a little brother who has this and has to sleep with a mask that helps him breathe, so it wouldn't be surprising if I have it too.
I slept sitting up last night without my legs raised and had a lot swelling today. Was able to fall asleep for an hour this afternoon laying on my back in the recliner with my legs up, but Mom said I snored really loudly and had a few interrupted snores to catch my breath. I usually sleep on my sides, so this hell. Hopefully can lose some pounds and get to where I can sleep on my back again.
Started back on my regular medications today, and one is a diuretic. I weighed 204.2 at 3:00 AM and this evening I'm at 200.2. I was 191 the morning of my surgery.
Coughing is the worst. Hope I don't sneeze, it would kill me. Mom is Vicodin Nazi and won't let me have any before 4 hours between doses.
Feeling bloated and full is the worst. I can eat when I have room in my belly. Burping, farting and pooping is all I look forward to all day.
Poor Mom. She's a great help, patient, and puts up with me complaining about how she does everything and how SLOW she does everything. I think it's role reversal from when I was a teenager.
Getting off this machine now. Too tired to be funny and to write longer entry.
Ernie A.S. (My friend Stan suggested the ending initials should stand for "After Successful Surgery"---only one S, thank you.)
P.S. Brian Sheesely and my roommate Dan are angels sent from above.
Also, posted a photo of my new zipper in the photo section.
Got home about 3pm today. Totally wiped out. Tough last two days. Can't sleep well because I breathe too shallow and and wake myself up trying to breathe. Using the hell out of the spirometer. Think it might be from sleeping position and usually around time for pain meds.
Laxative is one of God's greatest creations.
I'll be saying the opposite in several months when
my Dr. will want me to do my first colonoscopy now
that I'm 50.
Ernie will be staying through Sunday at the hospital. He was given the option of going home, but he felt it was better if he stayed overnight once more. So, he should be going home on Monday.(He told me to be serious this time, so no jokes.)
first BM on 9/14 at 3am. Second BM today at 10am. Bathed and brushed teeth. Sitting in a chair using my spirometer (for lungs). No P.T. yet. All tubes out. Second chest tube out this morning. thanks for the well wishes, cards, calls, etc. Good visits from Dan Bond, Mom (all day), Steven and Julia, Ron Hughart, Lance Kramer, Lori and Ryuichi. Feeling the love from friends and family.
bright and early Saturday morning and visiting Ern. he is off all tubes and grumbling about pain. we knew where he was by following the coughing. he's trying to keep his airway clear. We checked out the zipper on the chest. it looked really nice and neat. not as scary as our Dad1s open heart surgery in the 80's.
morning walk was good waved hands and wiggled butt at nurses as he cruised the halls. afternoon not as good. got the shivers and dizziness for a while. i think it was from the nurses rebuffing his passes.he denies this and says "it was a bad afternoon." in all seriousness, recovery is coming along but Ernie being Ernie wishes everything was smooth sailing.
He speaks! I talked to Ernie (by phone) today and, knowing he is doped up, used my cunning and slyly pried his journal password from him! I have taken over (bwahaahaa). He and Toro are getting along with each other but that bull has really gored his chest and left a sore scar! In all seriousness though, Ernie is speaking, walking around the room some, and making pathetic passes at the nurses. He is out of ICU and in a private room now. Everything is going well. Mom says he should be walking the hall tomorrow.
No time to answer guestbook. Thanks everybody for the love.
More Chest-xray mess up today because of MPTF health center, so hospital said they can use x-rays from last time I was in there a couple of weeks ago.
Gotta shave off my beard!!! That sucks. They're going to shave me from the neck down to the ankles. May need to get anesthesia first----that may be the most traumatic part of this surgery.
Gotta shower now with my pre-op soap and see how well I can sleep. No time for nap today, so may sleep pretty well. I hope the buses are running early enough in the morning to get a ride to the hospital, or may have to hitch hike.
Thanks everybody that called today, and all the emails and guestbook signings here on this journal. Thanks for birthday lunch today James and Stan and the others who went to the wrong place. Thanks for dropping by Brian, and my neighbors who came by for a little pre-op prayer. Love you all.
Off now to shave the beard, shower and hit the sack.
I'm not worried about the surgery itself, I'm confident the heart surgeon, Dr. Robert Gottner will do a great job. The only thing I'm worried about is if I've recovered completely from this cold and if it will hamper my recovery from heart surgery. It would be nice going in knowing I'm 100% healthy and feeling confident. I don't feel bad, but I still have a post nasal drip that makes me cough and still need naps. I had a post nasal drip before I caught the cold, and even asked the heart surgeon about it when I had the initial meeting with him. And, I didn't realize I had a cold at first because it just felt like my post nasal drip was getting a bit worse.
The Motion Picture Television Fund health center did my blood test and chest x-rays last Thursday. They never called me to pick up the copy of my x-rays for the hospital. So, yesterday, after getting home from the hospital for the pre-op meeting there's a message from MPTF saying they mislabeled my chest x-rays and I need to come in and redo them. I went back in for x-rays and i told the tech guy that I don't remember the previous tech guy even having me put on the lead shield over the pelvis! I hope this isn't a bad omen. I went home and decided to take a nap, and it was a little bit after 4pm. My Mom woke me up at 8 pm and I was sleeping HARD. That makes worried, too. I don't know that I should be this worn out prior to surgery. I have to talk to the surgical coordinator about the chest x-rays today, so I'll express my concerns while I have her on the phone.
My friend Squid (Dave) called this morning to wish me well for surgery, and said since I will have a machine pumping my blood while my heart is stopped, I really will be a "heartless bastard" during that time. Thanks Dave.
I'm not sure if anybody will be posting for me while I'm under-the-knife, but I guess they'll have to post as Ernie I.S. (in surgery) or Ernie I.R. (in recovery) until I can start posting again as Ernie A.S. (After surgery) ONE S BRIAN!!
Eileen, the surgical coordinator went over the procedure yesterday and showed us where I'll be staying for ICU and recovery while in the hospital. Mom wanted to know about staying overnight with me while I'm in ICU, so she tells Eileen "ERNIE wants to know if I can spend the night with him in ICU?" What?!! I guess Mom decided it was time to try and embarrass Ernie by making it sound like "baby needs his momma." I asked her later why she said I WANTED TO KNOW if she could stay overnight and she said "it was a slip of the tongue". Sure. Embarrass me some more Mom and there are going to be PLENTY more stories about Mom's drunken antics in this journal.
Looking forward to a nice lunch with some friends today, and dammit, I'm going to have a nice big chocolaty dessert.
Love you all and appreciate your thoughts, prayers, well wishes and the great advice from previous valve patients. And, thanks again Adam Pick for this website and your book.
A marathon of guestbook replies. Holy mackerel! Everybody did a mass guestbook signing and i had to bust my butt to reply. Are you guys trying to kill me or what? You know I only type with two fingers, right? I'm not kidding.
Went to the doctor's office yesterday for yet another pre-op blood test and chest x-rays. Saw my regular doctor and told him i was worried I won't get over this damned cold in time, so he perscribed for me a 3 day ass-kicking antibiotich, so hopefully that'll burn out any bugs I got left over. Still taking naps every day, too. I don't think I've been drinking enough water, so pounded some H2O yesterday, and it seemed to help.
I 'll go in Monday to the hospital and meet with the pre-op nurse, get a blood type and screen test, and meet with the surgical coordinator Eileen who will go over the procedure and show me around. Hopefully THIS time I will get the green light for go on Wednesday.
Poor Mom, once she leaves here, then she'll fly to Tennessee where my brother Sam will be having hip surgery in October. We're her only two kids who are bald, so maybe all that extra testosterone makes us fall apart quicker.
Thanks Brian for stopping by yesterday and bringing food.
Now I need to go take a nap. All this typing has wiped me out.
All of a sudden I had a million people sign my guestbook yesterday. Did this website send out an email saying I was dying or something? I appreciate everybody stopping in and leaving me a note. Love you guys and gals!
Today is a week away from surgery, and I can't believe I'm STILL fighting the last of this damned cold! It's dug in and hanging on like a starving tick! Got me worried that if I can't kick it completely this week, they might have to postpone again. The LAST thing I want to happen. I was supposed to be recovering from surgery by now, not stil recovering from a cold!
Thanks for the call today Kelly Hiphipahula. Love ya babe. (Where;s my mug? :) )
Liking my power recliner a lot. I hope I don't overuse it and break it before surgery. It's definitely a one person chair. One person plus a hooker, it's pretty wobbly, and two hookers is definitely out of the question. I guess I'll save money. It's already paying for itself!
I accompany Mom on some walks down to the end of the street. You can see some little league fields and some riding stables down the hill from us and Mom likes to see if anybody is out riding dressage. My neighbor Sally who had open heart surgery last year lives at the end of the street. She came out and was taking her husband to the hospital, he'd been stung by a bee and was allergic. (He'd already given himself a shot withe an epi pen). Later as we were sitting there a super-aggressive bee came after me like I'd slept with his wife or shot his dog---he was pissed. I managed to swat him out of the air before he got me, but he was really damned persistent. May be some Africanized bees down around there somewhere. Going to have make sure Mom doesn't go down there and get attacked. She moves so slow she'd never make it to safety. They have to use a calendar instead of a stopwatch to time her in a foot race.
It's 12:15 am and I've gotta get to bed. I'll have to do some quick replies to a crapload of guestbook signings in the morning. I appreciate all your thoughts, well-wishes, and prayers. Love you all.
Sounds like the other recent heart patients are doing well and getting ready to go home and recover, and those already home, recovering are doing well too. So that's great news and very encouraging. You guys rock!
Picked up a little power recliner this weekend and tested it out yesterday. Managed to get a good nap without spilling much beer, and it didn't short out, so that's good. It's parked right in front of the big screen TV. If I could combine it with a commode, I'd never have to get out of it. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to do a lot of walking to help recuperate from heart surgery, so maybe it is better that I'll have to get up to use the bathroom.
Hopefully this week will be the last of this cold. I'm feeling much better now, although sometimes it's hard to tell if it's the cold or a hangover that's making me feel bad. They told me to drink lots of liquids and get lots of rest. So, I figured if I drink a whole bunch of beer and pass out, I'm pretty much following the doctor's orders.
My friend Brian and his lovely family, wife Joni and daughters Samantha and Jenna, came by for a nice visit yesterday. They brought some yummy Italian food and we had a nice dinner and visited for a bit. I let Mom out of her cage and she really enjoyed the company. When I first met Brian in 1990, he and Joni weren't married yet .Now, several years later his oldest daughter graduates from high school this year and Brian and I can remember back when we first worked together, were (more than) a few pounds lighter, and had hair. So, thank you Brian, Joni, Samantha, and Jenna for coming by to visit and bringing food.
We went down and visited my sister Lori and husband Lou on Saturday. They bought us dinner as well, so Mom had two days in a row where she got to eat real food and not the Purina Dog Chow and stale beer I've been feeding her.
9 days until surgery, so I'm avoiding going out to places with crowds, so sorry to all friends at the bars and strip clubs. I'll see ya'll after surgery. If you see my heart surgeon there, don't get him drunk before my surgery. Just give him enough alcohol to get his hands sturdy.
Good luck to those of you going into surgery this week (Rebecca, Cindy, Aubrey) and those who are recovering. Sorry I'm not in there this week with you like I thought I would be. Starting my countdown all over again.
Get well quickly Nathan so you can get back to those kiddies. You know, they grow so quickly nowadays, they'll be teenagers when you get back. Be sure and take a gift back from California for those kids. Probably not pot, even though that's most likely the easiest thing to get out here in California.
Don't worry Higgy about writing about pooping and blue urine like Renee. The more information for other patients, the better. You just wait until I write about my experiences pooping and urinating blue pee! Heck, I'm tempted to write about my pooping experiences now, and I haven't even had surgery yet. I was pretty proud of yesterday's bowel movement. I posted a photo but Mom made me take it down. Yogurt and fiber REALLY do help keep you regular.
Took a LOoooooooong nap today. This is a pretty tough cold bug I'm fighting. It's probably going to be an easier recovery from heart surgery than from this damned cold!
I'm glad the union let a lot of my friends and co-workers know about what's going on with me. Hope you guys enjoy my journal. And, I'll need a job after I recover, so keep your eyes out for me. :)
Once again, good luck heart patients, and speedy recovery.
P.S. Got the card from you Tim that says not to open 'til after surgery. Got me worried what I might find inside. You know it's going to hurt like hell to laugh, don't you?
Went to the hospital this morning for chest x-ray, got more blood drawn, and did some pulmonary function stuff. Met with the pre-admission nurse to go over medical history, medicines, etc. and she was concerned about me still having a cough and the sniffles. The heart surgeon was there doing surgery that day, so I met with him later. He wanted to make sure I was 100% healthy before surgery, so the NEW date for open heart surgery for me is SEPTEMBER 11, the day before my 50th birthday. I feel bad that Mom's going to have to stay out here longer now. So there goes my liquor supply. But at least I have more time to find a recliner.
Thanks Renee for all your advice. Good to see you posting again, blue urine and all. :)
Thanks Brian, Gavin, and Ron for your calls today checking up on me.
Mom found my stash of alcohol here at the house and got blitzed, so couldn't go to the bar because I had to stay at the house and make sure Mom didn't trash the place like a rock star at a hotel.
I still haven't shaken this cold completely yet. I took a nap this afternoon and felt more wiped-out after I woke up than before I took the nap. Felt like I needed a nap to recover from the nap. Still have sniffles and a cough. I'm going in tomorrow morning to meet with the surgical coordinator Eileen, and have chest x-ray and pulmonary test. Heart surgeon's office said Eileen will determine if we'll need to postpone surgery or not because of this damned cold. Son-of-a....
Tried applying online for short term disability over the weekend, but kept getting an error message, so I guess I'll have to call the number provided to apply. If it's not one thing, it's another. Oh well, gotta roll with the punches and take things as they're thrown at you.
Thanks for coming by and visiting today Brian and bringing lunch. I'm glad you got to meet Mom before she got into the alcohol.
Feeling better today, so I think I'm getting over the cold.I might swing by the Tonga Hut (tiki bar in North Hollywood) tomorrow night to support some friends joining the Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard.(You have a year to finish all 78 drinks from the drink book THE GROG LOG.) Maybe alcohol will kill off the last of that darned cold bug. I was thinking about taking Mom to meet some of my friends, but she can be such an angry drunk and I'm not sure I can keep her from drinking too much and starting a brawl.
Today I drug Mom around shopping for some stuff I'll need for recovery and looked a bit for recliners. I thought I found a perfect power recliner for me, but the guy said they have to order them and they usually take 1 to 2 months to come in. I ran off and left the address at home for Rent a Center, so didn't make it over there to see what they had.
Good seeing you and Suzy today Adam---my friend Adam, not Pick.(He and his wife also went to Oasis and came back with a cold.) Thanks for helping with the legal stuff (trust and will). Like you said, I won't need it. But, I don't know... I'm REALLY attracted to SHINY things, and if something goes wrong and I "see the light" it may be hard to get me come back away from the light. I warned the heart surgeon about this, and he said if they have trouble getting the heart going again after shocking it, they put the electric probes against the testicles and one zap usually does the trick. I don't care how much anesthesia I have, I think I'd still be able to yell some pretty colorful words. I'm hoping they only have to zap my heart.
I just have to survive 4 more days to get life-saving heart valve surgery. Thankfully Mom doesn't cook anymore, so I'm safe there. She's a bit intimidated about driving in L.A., so I'm safe as long as I can keep her out from behind the wheel. I've been able to store all the booze in the house where she can't get to it, so she hasn't done anything yet to make my blood pressure go up and pop a blood vessel. She hasn't met very many of my friends, so she hasn't broken out the baby pictures or done anything to embarrass me to death yet. I think I'm more worried about surviving Mom than I am heart surgery. (I kid, I kid! I love my mother.)
Came back from San Diego this weekend and promptly got sick. I thought it was just post-nasal drip the first few days, but felt pretty wiped-out today, and realized it was a cold. Hopefully I can kick it over the weekend, and I won't have to postpone surgery.
Sister's family came up today and we went and had a birthday lunch for my niece before she heads back out-of-state to study for her masters. Had plenty of dead cow at lunch. Not sure if it was my donor or not, but it was good.
Went on a walk with mom and she got to experience some of the steep hills in my neighborhood. I kicked her 78 year old butt walking today, but she may be calling me "old man" as I'm trying to shuffle down the street in a couple of weeks.
Was cleaning house yesterday and had spilled a little water on the linoleum by the front door. I was carrying a container of dirty water to dump outside and stepped on the wet patch and I went down HARD. Somehow I didn't break my neck, but I jammed my little toe pretty good. I was barefooted. (OK, I was naked---I was reliving my days when I worked at a company as a male stripper and cleaned women's houses in the buff.) Last night the toe was all swollen and looked like it was going to turn pretty black and blue, but I iced it pretty well and it doesn't look so bad this morning. I don't think it's broken, but yesterday I wasn't so sure. I spilled dirty water all over the linoleum when I went down, but thankfully, I hadn't mopped there yet, so at least THAT worked out.
Mom should be in the air by now flying out here, and I'll pick her up at the airport this afternoon. That's either good news or a warning, for you people out here in L.A. (I kid, I kid!)
Still need to buy or rent a recliner. Something I can do with my mother this weekend.
Good luck to those patients who have or are having surgery this week. And, heal quickly those who are recovering. I'm right behind you. 6 more days and I'll have my bicuspid erotic heart valve replaced. Since I'm getting a bovine valve, will that mean I'll be more horny?
If you're not getting email notification of new journal entries, check your SPAM FOLDER in your email. If it's in there, mark it as "not spam" so your spam filter doesn't keep sending it to your spam folder.
If you want to see photos from this weekend, here's a link for photos posted on Tiki Central message forum. I posted photos on page 24 and 25 in the thread. Look for posts by GROG.
It's Monday and in less than 10 days I'm heading to the veterinarian's office and Dr. Fred E. Krueger is gonna slice me open and put in some cow parts. Hey,I'm already bullheaded and have a pair of calves, so might as well keep with the cow motif.
I grew up on a ranch in Texas, but NOW I will REALLY be a cow/boy. I'm glad my name's not Patrick. I wouldn't want my nickname to be Cow Patty. Maybe I can meet with other heart patients out here in Cowifornia who have bovine valves and we can become a herd. I don't watch much basketball. And even though I live in Los Angeles, I'm still more of a SPURS fan than a Lakers fan. After I get my bovine valve will I become a die-hard Chicago fan? If I lift weights and put on a little bit of muscle, will people tell me I'm starting to look beefy? When we go somewhere, will people always want me to drive because I'll be the most qualified to steer? Will I pick on people and be considered a bully? I better quit these puns, they're becoming udderly ridiculous. Besides, I could keep milking this until the cows came home.
My hangover today tells me I had a fun weekend in San Diego although it's mostly a drunken blur. I know I really enjoyed seeing my fellow California artists and their better halves. Buzzy, Thor, Kenny, Tiki Diablo, Notch, Suzy, Bosko, Doug Horne, Stacey, Crazy Al, Meiko, Bowana Dave, Tiki Tony, Eric and Manuel, Big Toe and etc., etc. Great to see artists and friends who traveled from afar to get there. Ron and Mickee, Jon, Henrick, John Mulder, Dan and Wendy, Kitty Chow and Fisherman, and etc. Always a pleasure seeing my regular tiki peeps, Rumpus Roomers, and Tonga Hut regulars. And great seeing all the San Diego friends, Matt Reese, Monkeyman and Roxanne, Treg, Tiki Ano, Meiko, Zaya, etc. I wish I had more time to visit with everybody, and especially Rick and Amy who put me up for the weekend.
Enjoyed getting to hang out with Nick at the Tiki Magazine table and the contributing artists like Jon Paul and Kari that swung by. And especially enjoyed spending a good part of the weekend visiting with DEREK.
Had a blast hanging with Derek, Marina, and Tony at their book signing table. Marina (the fire eating mermaid) is such a fun, beautiful, and sexy lady. I'll have to tell the doctors and nurses when I get surgery that I spilled colored dye on myself to explain why parts of my body are permanently blue.
I'm glad I got to see my sister and her family on the way back to L.A. I forgot to remind Lori to send me Mom's flight info so I know when to pick her up.
Took a while to write this, so now it's already Tuesday and I'm a day closer to valve surgery. I got confirmation from insurance yesterday that I'm approved for open heart surgery. Gotta get blood work and EKG on Aug. 23rd, and gotta go in Aug. 26th for chest X-ray, test for pulmonary function, and meet with the coordinator to go over what the procedure will be on the day of the surgery. Now I just have to make sure I don't die or get killed before Aug. 28th. That's easier said than done. This is Los Angeles.
Off to San Diego tomorrow for Tiki Oasis. If I live through this weekend, then comparatively, open heart surgery should be a cake walk.
I read one journal on here where I guy got an incentive spirometer and started practicing with it before surgery. He had read online about a study with patients who were more susceptible to pneumonia who used it before surgery and it was successful in reducing the number of incidents of pneumonia compared to the at risk patients who didn't use it prior to surgery. I had walking pneumonia in high school and dread getting pneumonia, so I did the same thing and bought an incentive spirometer off of Amazon and started practicing with it a bit. Hope it helps. It makes me cough.
Might stop by Orange County Sunday on the way back from San Diego and see sister and bro-inlaw and hopefully niece if she's not visiting with friends or out selling Coke. (Hey, a kid's gotta pay for college somehow.) Personally I prefer Pepsi, but to each his own.
Open heart surgery two weeks from today!! Hope my heart surgeon, Freddy Krueger is sober and well rested by then.
Got a list of things I want and need to get done before surgery. Naps are not on the list, but keep getting priority when they come up (just about every day),which is slowing things down getting the list of things completed. Some things on the list I need to get done before Mom gets here, but some we can do together when she's here like shop for pillows and comfy clothes, like sweats. I've already got a blood pressure cuff, but I do need a good thermometer. Preferably one that doesn't go into orifices in the southern hemisphere. And, I think I'll look into renting a recliner rather than buying one.
I've been wondering--- after I get my bovine heart valve, the next time I need surgery, will I have to go to veterinarian or a butcher? Will I want to paint the house red and install a hay loft? Will I need to stay away from China Shops? Will I have a strange attraction to red cloth? When I hear music, will I always think it needs more cowbell?
Thanks everybody who's reading my journal and keeping up with what's happening. Thanks for all the well-wishes and concern for me. Those of you who have told me they enjoy my journal, I'm glad I've been able to make you smile or laugh. I'm trying to keep a real positive attitude and a good sense-of-humor like my father had. Love you all and appreciate you very much.
My RE-BIRTHDAY is my niece's birthday. August 28 at 7am. at Provodence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank with Dr. Robert J. Gottner doing the slicing and dicing. Replacing the bicuspid aortic valve with a bovine valve, and possibly the aorta with a Dacron tube. I hope they remember to order the parts BEFORE they crack me open. This IS Los Angeles, so you can't go to the hospital without getting some procedures done. I went for the package deal: Aortic valve replacement, tummy tuck, Botox injections, butt lift, and breast enlargement. I told them I didn't really want the breast enlargement, but they said I can't change from what's on the menu. I think double D's are a little much for my frame, and C is a bit small, so I think I'm going with a solid D cup.
With my new bovine valve, "Toro" it will be a merging of man and beast. When people say I'm full of bull, I'll be able to say, "Why yes, yes I am." Gonna hear plenty of cow jokes, I'm sure.
My sister Lori already got my Mom's ticket to fly out here on the 22nd. I may have to ask the doctor if I can start the pain medication early. (I kid! I Kid!) Love you MOM! (Maybe the doctor will be OK with some Valium.)
I should have gotten my heart surgery scheduled 6 months from now, because it's so close to my original birthday. I don't know that I'll be able to get two
celebrations. It's like having your birthday near Christmas. You don't get as many presents.
Got a list of things I need to get done before surgery, so gotta get off this infernal machine and get some
Also, good luck and prayers to Jeff, Renee, Christine, and Christine with their surgeries tomorrow.
Worst BRAIN FREEZE ever!!!!! Made a banana smoothie earlier today and drank it too quickly.
After I came to, I called the heart surgeon's office to check and see if they got my dental clearance. Yes, they have, but now they need to get ahold of the heart surgeon to talk to him about scheduling a date for the surgery. They said they'd page him and he'd return their call if he wasn't in surgery. More likely he's on the golf course or drunk at a strip club (you know how these heart surgeons are).
The good news is, the repair shop got a new bumper and repainted it, so my car is almost done, and hopefully I can pick it up tomorrow. So, I'm still waiting for a date to fix my heart, but at least my rear is fixed.
I've got my heart valve decided upon. I think I'll call it "Toro". I'll be "strong like bull" afterwards.
Some people thought I should get an Equine (horse) valve because I could be even more of a stud than I already am. But, with all the testosterone I already have, that would just be way over the top. You wouldn't give The Hulk steroids or Brad Pitt pheromones.
I talked to my primary physician, and he's never met the heart surgeon, but he has three patients who have been operated on by him. And, except for a few surgical instruments left in them and the wrong heart valve replaced in one, they're mostly doing well. So, my primary physician approved of him. I think the cardiologist called while I was on the phone with my primary doc, but he's the one who originally consulted with this heart surgeon, so I'm sure he's probably fine with him. Besides, after checking out so many heart surgeons online, and getting recommendations and opinions, I realized that Heart Surgeons are a-dime-a-dozen. It's not like Brain Surgery. I don't need an IT Technician to fix my computer, I just need a competent plumber to fix my pump, and I'm sure this guy's fine. Besides, he's bald like me. We share a common bond. Also, he answered all the questions right in the Lightning/Bonus round, and that was the most important part. So, I've got a heart surgeon.
As for a date-----
This weeks out. Especially after the drinking bend I went on this weekend. I don't remember how I got home, but it certainly wasn't the first time I woke up on my front porch covered in vomit and urine. And, if this heart valve surgery is succesful, I can look forward to many more mornings like that.
The heart surgeon is out all next week. His wife caught him yet again with another woman, and he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown, so he just needed to get away for awhile.
There's an event I like to go to every year in the summer down in San Diego (no it's not another gay pride event. That was San Francisco and we already did that). It's called Tiki Oasis and I have friends coming from far away like Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Arizona, Texas, and etc. I don't want to miss that because I only get to see them once a year or so depending upon whether they make it out each year for this event. So that week's out.
My niece is in town the week after that, and i don't want my sister and her husband to miss their time visiting with her while she's here and I don't know that my niece would care to see me in the hospital half naked and all hooked up to drain tubes and monitors. So that week is out.
Which leaves the last week in August. My good friend Brian reminded me not to make it August 30th, so maybe sometime earlier in the week depending upon the heart surgeon's schedule. So, I think we've got narrowed down to several days in the last week of August.
I'll try to keep this short, since some of posts are pretty long.
Types of valves to pick from: pork, cow, horse, cadaver, and mechanical.
I grew up on a ranch in Texas and dealt with most the donor animals.
I didn't want a pork valve because Porkchop, the pig I showed in 4-H tried to bite me a few times, I've gotten a few tickets I don't think I deserved, and my friend Joseph who's a highway patrolman bluffs a lot when we play poker, so I don't trust pigs.
I liked the cows-- I placed well with them in 4-H. They were docile and you feed 'em and they were happy. Our Jerseys produced some nice, rich milk for the best homemade icecream ever. And a few of them even tasted really good with some barbeque sauce.
Didn't ride much, been stepped on a few times, never got kicked, but got bitten a few times, and got bucked off once and landed on my head (which explains a lot). I had to shovel A LOT of horse cr@p over the years, so no damned horse valve!
I've seen enough horror films where the person is haunted or cursed by a body part transplanted from a dead body, so no cadaver valves.
You've gotta take blood thinners the rest of your life with a mechanical valve, so you can't be as active so you don't bleed to death from a minor cut. I don't want to have a big old steak dinner the night before, and then have a massive bowel movement the next day and next thing you know I'm on the news, "Man Found Dead on Toilet in California from a FATAL Case of Hemorrhoids". I don't want to die with my pants around my ankles and a bloody rear end.
So, BESSY gets the call. Hand me her heart valve, put the rest on the grill, and pass the barbeque sauce!
(I indent my paragraphs, but when I post, the website gets rid of the indentions, so sorry if it's been a bit harder to read. I'll just make a space instead of an indention)
I took a notebook with me with questions I had prepared for the Heart Surgeon and to take notes if I needed because my memory's so bad. I don't get enough oxygenated blood going to the brain because of the decreased blood flow caused by the narrowing of the opening of my aortic valve. (See, I told you I was going to use that excuse) :D. The doctor did really well not to roll his eyes, but I think I could hear the gears screeching in his head as he held back the urge.
I had two sets of questions. The first set were questions specific to me and the results of the CT scan he had ordered the day of the angiogram. The second set were for the Heart Surgeons in general, as I was prepared to interview several before picking one. Some of the answers from the first set of questions pretty much covered some of the questions in the second set.
I won't go over all the questions and answers from the first set, but the results of the CT scan were:
I've gotta have my aortic valve replaced, which we already knew, and my numbers are right on the border for needing the aorta replaced. He said I have POST-STENOTIC AORTIC DILATATION. (He knew some big words, so that was a good sign.) So, he won't know for sure whether or not they need to replace the aorta until he opens up my chest and gets a good look at it and feels the thickness of the walls. They'd replace it with a Dacron tube, and right now it doesn't really look like I'll need the aortic root replaced.
Questions specific to me were concerns about: weak blood vessel in my nostril causing nose bleeds that may affect tubes/breathing, If I was more susceptible to pneumonia because I'd had walking pneumonia in high school, sinus drip, and acid reflux affecting tubes/breathing, my weight/health/age affecting outcome/recovery, my BP and heart beat getting pretty low and slow when I've been under anesthesia previously.
We discussed types of valves, recovery time (in the hospital and out), meds, nausea, pain, incision, any more tests needed prior to surgery (none other than blood test), they do a TEE during surgery. And, we discussed possible complications. He said, "Well, first off, you could die." I wished he'd given it to me straight
rather than candy-coating it like that, but I got the gist of what he was trying to say. Some of the other complications on the short list included: bleeding, needing a transfusion, 2nd look, kidney/liver failure,stroke, prolonged intubation, etc. So, overall it sounded to me like mainly minor things I needn't worry too much about.
I asked him about where our relationship is heading. He said basically this initial consult is our first date. Our second date will be the day of the surgery, where they'll knock me out and he'll have his way with me. About a month after surgery, if I'm recovering as well as expected, it'll be our last date and he'll break it off gently. It'll be a really quick and passionate relationship, but hopefully my heart will be stronger because of it.
The second set of questions were for Heart Surgeons in general, and I got a number of these questions from this site. Many of these questions were answered in the first set (such as types of valves/preference, pain meds, nausea, recovery time, Dr. follow-up, and etc), so I won't repeat those.
Do you perform this operation regularly? Number of times a year?
Success rate and record regarding complications.
Types of procedures, (like the Ross.)
Future of valve surgery/use of transcatheter approach.
Office locations/ease of contact.
Where will the surgery be performed.
I did forget to ask about the follow-up team/nursing staff, and I forgot to ask whether he will use wires or a plate to close my sternum.
I asked him if there was any pertinent information we didn't go over, or questions I should have asked, but he said I covered all the big ones. I asked him if he was willing to do the Lightning Round/Bonus Questions, and he was willing to give it a go.
Ginger or Mary Anne? Mary Anne--check.
Betty or Wilma (Flintstone). Betty---check.
Superman or Spider-Man. Spider-man---check.
Captain Kirk or Picard? Kirk---check.
Boxers or briefs? He got that answer right, also.
He got all the bonus questions right, but he could have gotten BONUS, bonus points if he'd said---date Ginger and mary Mary Anne. Betty was the correct answer, so no extra bonus points there. Spider-man was my favorite Superhero when I read comics as a teen, so he got that right, but he could have gotten "Cool" points if he'd said BATMAN, because Batman has no real super powers but he battles, super-villains beating them with cunning, and specialized weapons. There's no wrong answer with Kirk or Picard, but he said he was old-school and had to go with Kirk, and that was a good answer. Now boxers or briefs, he got that right because he preferred the same type that I wear, but he could have gotten points taken away if he'd said he goes "cammando". I don't think I'd want him leaning over, operating on me with Mr. Happy flapping in the breeze.
I liked him. He's from the mid-west originally like me and still has a good mid-west vibe about him.
I asked him about other Heart Surgeons and named off a number of them on my list and he said they were all good competent heart surgeons and he didn't have anything bad to say about any of them. I liked that he showed respect for his peers, and basically his competition.
He said we can schedule surgery when I want. He'll be out-of-town week after next, but he'll be available after that. If I go with him and prepare for surgery rather than spending a bunch of time interviewing more heart surgeons, I think we could be having surgery coming up here in August sometime. I'll check with my family's schedule, and see if my GP and cardiologist are good with him as my heart surgeon, and if everything is a go I think August will be the month for joining the Zipper Club.
Oooo, this is getting REAL!
Now I'm going to have to get off this machine and go change my underwear, but tomorrow I'll post about what type of valve I've decided on and how I came about my decision. There's mechanical valve, pork valve, bovine valve, and horse valve to chose from.
Yesterday's report (which you probably didn't get until today, because it was almost midnight when I posted it) was pretty typical of California traffic. It seems like the worse you drive, the easier it is to get a driver's license out here. I dropped off my car yesterday morning for the bumper to be repaired and that was from being rear-ended in stopped traffic! I didn't see the kid (25 yr old or so) until after he he hit my car, but he was probabaly texting on his phone (which is illegal in California) and rolled into me because it was a really low-impact hit. Half the time I was at the collision-repair was spent signing and dating paperwork.
I took off to the surgeon's office a bit early, but I realized a couple of blocks from the house I forgot the CD with the CT scan and had to head back and get it.
Unfortunately the surgeon's office is downtown Los Angeles and I HATE driving downtown and I'm on my motorcycle because my car's in the shop getting the bumper repaired. I made it to the place easily and quickly, so I thought i was pretty much on-time.
There was construction all around the buildings, so it was difficult to figure out which building it was and where to park. But, since I was on my motorcycle, parking was free, so that was good. I wear a heavy leather motorcycle jacket for protection which is plenty cool driving on the highway but can get pretty darned hot driving slowly on surface streets, plus it was a warm day.
There was so much construction, it was hard to see an entrance for the building, so I crossed the street to the first entrance across from the parking structure. The guy at the info desk said the building was next door and that I should take the path to the left, up the stairs and enter the building there. So, I take the path, go past a doorway, and up the stairs to a building entrance. The lady there says to go back down the stairs, to the previous doorway. So, when I enter THAT door, it's a stairwell and the surgeon's office is on the sixth floor. By the time I get to the surgeon's office, my heart is pounding, I'm sweating, and I'm now I'm almost thirty minutes late to my appointment. I thought the doctor was going to have to operate on me right there in his office.
They weighed me, took my blood pressure which was higher than normal (imagine that), and gave me as many papers to sign, date and initial, as I had at the collision-repair place. Thankfully they brought me some water before the doctor arrived for the consult or I might have been passed-out by the time he got to me.
Doctor's offices always have certificates they've earned on the walls. His said he graduated from a junior college with an associates degree in Animal Husbandry, so that meant he got a much higher education than I ever got, so I had a pretty good feeling about him. I had met him in the hospital after the angiogram, but I was still foggy from anesthesia, but I remembered he made a good impression on me then while I was still susceptible and easily influenced.
He entered the room, pretended to remember me, and called me by my wrong name. It reminded me of my mother, so I immediately liked him. After the hot weather, climbing all the stairs outside and in the building, and my heart just about to pound out of my chest, at that moment he seemed like the perfect heart surgeon and I was ready for him to operate on me right then and there. Thankfully I was able to recover and finally get clear-headed enough to go over the results of the CT scan and ask him a bunch of questions I had prepared and written in a notebook.
After 25 years of doing surgery, and answering the same questions a million times from all the patients he's ever operated on, I pretty much asked him all those same questions, but I added some he hadn't heard before to help me size him up. He was patient, and answered all the questions pretty straightforward, and even answered the "Lightning Round/Bonus Questions" I had prepared.
This journal entry is getting pretty long, and he told me I should take it easy and not do anything too physically taxing, so I'll take this up tomorrow and go over the questions I asked the heart surgeon then. I may have exaggerated some of this story (like the doctor's diploma---he actually had a Bachelor's degree in Animal Husbandry, not an Associates degree), but the climbing the stairs and heart pounding stuff is all true.
Typing this pretty much wiped me out, so I've gotta go lay down and take a nap now, but I'll finish up the heart surgeon's story tomorrow.
Yesterday I went to the Hospital where I had the angiogram done and I got a copy of my CT scan to take with me today to see the heart surgeon.
While at the hospital I had a nice visit with my friend Tanya who was kicked in the head by her horse a couple of weeks ago. She's waiting to get a piece fabricated to replace the bone on the side of her head that was crushed from the kick. Except for the weird little helmet she has to wear to protect the hole in the side of her skull, she looks and sounds really good. This is probably the hospital I will have my surgery in, and she told me the food here is MUCH better than the hospital she was transferred from. There was a really cute nurse at the desk when I left. Good food, and cute nurses---- definitely the hospital I'm going to pick for my surgery.
Then, as I'm riding home on my motorcycle, I'm changing lanes coming up on my exit, and some idiot in an SUV speeding on the highway nearly runs over me from behind when he quickly changes lanes into the lane I was veering into as I was changing lanes. I have to quickly swerve back into the lane I was coming from so the idiot doesn't hit me. Then after he passes, and just as I change lanes, the idiot slams on his brakes in front of me and I have to brake hard to keep from running into him. Thank God motorcycles weigh so little, because they can stop much faster than a car. Mr. Idiot even starts to swerve into the shoulder, taking away my safest route around him if I had to swerve to miss him.
Damned LA traffic! I'm gonna get killed before I even have chance to get life-saving heart valve surgery!
I had a good interview/consult with the heart surgeon today. We met at Hooters restaurant for dinner and beer and he even picked up the check. So, that pretty much settled it---I knew this was the heart surgeon for me, and no need to look anywhere else. I'm pretty well sloshed right now, so I'll have to hit the sack, but tomorrow I'll tell you all about the heart surgeon interview when I've sobered up.
In 1984 Ronald Reagan declared July national Ice cream Month and the third Sunday of July is National Ice Cream Day. So I'm going to be sure and perform my civic duty today and have some ice cream. Guilt free.
Thank you everybody for your support and concern I've received.
More heart valve news later when I have any news---probably after Tuesday. Stay positive and keep smiling .
My friend Tammy signed my guestbook, and she asked , "Are we getting old or what?" And this was my response:
You know, it's funny how that happens. I'm considering this operation a re-birth!
There's Ernie B.S. (Before Surgery) and there is going to be Ernie A.S.(After Surgery)....hmm... maybe I should make that Ernie P.S. (Post-Surgery). People might be tempted to add an extra "S" to the Ernie A.S.
----Ernie B.S. (Hmm... not so sure B.S. are the best initials to use either)"
I turn 50 in September. Maybe I should schedule my surgery for that day, then my Birthday can be my "Rebirth Day". Hopefully, after I recover from surgery I will "feel like a new man". I know I won't LOOK like one---unless I start dying my beard. Maybe I will live another 50 years! I guess I'll have to get baptized again, too. I can be reborn and rebirthed.
Moving ahead towards surgery:
Picking up a copy of my ct scan today to to take with the copy of my echo to interview possible heart surgeons. I have an appointment Tuesday to see the the first heart surgeon I met in the hospital who ordered the ct scan. I'm also dropping off my car that day to get my bumper repaired---not at the same place. He's a thoracic surgeon. He repairs stuff in the upper body, not the rear.
Posted a pic in "My Photos" of a card my friend Tim drew and painted and sent to me. He's a fellow animation artist I worked with in Texas. He and his wife are two of the most awesome people I know, and by the caliber of my friends and loved ones, that's saying a lot.
Seems like I'm blasting forward at a snail's pace, but it's probably for the best (hopefully). I guess it's better to be slow and diligent, make sure to cross-the-eyes and dot the tease, and make sure all bases are covered.
First for the bitching:
I contacted the bank that has my home loan to transfer my title into my Revocable Trust, and the ess-oh-beez told me I'd have to re-finance to put it into the trust. These are the same A-holes that when I tried to to re-finance last year they said it would take 45 to 60 days to finish the refinance process. They drug their feet, didn't answer emails, made excuses, etc, until 5 months later they still hadn't closed the loan and the project I was on was ending. So, the project ends and the bank tells me I'm no longer qualified to re-finance because I'm no longer employed! (I'm in the entertainment field, and most of the time jobs are project to project). The banks screwed us over, so government bailed them out so they can figure out more ways to screw us over.
I went to my regular bank today, talked to the home loan officer there, and he gave me the number of a place that will transfer my Mortgage Title into my trust, but it's going to cost me about $200. Son-uv-a.....
I returned a call to the insurance company to get my bumper repaired from when I got hit the other day, and I just got an answering machine and nobody returned my call today. So, I'm still waiting to get my rear repaired. The car is running fine, but now the stupid "check engine" light came on! What the hail?!
Now for the cardiologist visit:
I told him I didn't really remember the heart catheterization itself, but he told me I was still conscious and talking during the procedure. I asked him if I said anything embarrassing while under anesthesia. He said no, but I wasn't sure if I believed him. So, I explained to him that if I said anything about modeling for some photos in college, I was young and needed the money, and the photographer assured me they were "art" photos, and that they would only be used for an art project. I heard he became a lead photographer for PLAYGIRL magazine.
Cardiologist wants to wean me off some of my blood pressure drugs so my blood pressure doesn't get too low during surgery and recovery. So, he reduced one of my meds. He checked my bruising and swelling; said I bled pretty good to get a bruise like that, and was OK with the size of the swelling. He said, besides getting the aortic valve replacement I may need a tube put in to reinforce part of my heart. Damitall! You take your car in to change the brake pads, and they talk you into getting new shock absorbers!
We discussed a list of Heart Surgeons who I've researched a little bit on the internet, and he got me a copy of my echocardiogram to take with me when I meet with heart surgeons as I try to pick one for my surgery.
First on the list is to set up an appointment to meet with the heart surgeon my cardiologist consulted with when I had my angiogram. I was still pretty foggy-headed when I met him the first time when I was in the hospital and was recovering from my heart catheterization. I'll go over the results of my catscan with him and get a copy to take with me to interview other possible heart surgeons. I'm going to contact my insurance and see which ones are "in-the- system" to get as much covered by insurance as possible.
Cardiologist wanted to see me in a month, so my next cardiologist appointment is August 30th. (Not sure if he's expecting that to be pre-surgery or post-surgery)
The conclusion on the Echo report:
"Abnormal study consistent with severe aortic
stenosis. Left ventricular systolic function is normal. Left ventricular hypertrophy present. Otherwise normal trans-thoracic 2D echocardiogram, Doppler and color flow."
It's funny how things can happen too slow and too fast at the same time. I can't wait for this to be over and done with, but I hope I have enough time to get everything done I need to do to prepare for it.
Hopefully after Wednesday's meeting with the cardiologist I'll have a better idea of a supposed time frame for my operation. I need to make a list of questions I need to ask, so I don't forget anything. Because of the decreased size of the aortic valve opening, my heart isn't as efficient at pumping enough oxygenated blood to my brain, so only two or three of my remaining five brain cells are ever firing at one time. (Hey THAT'S a valid excuse!)
The bruise in the groin from the angiogram is getting darker, and it's hard to tell, but I think the swelling in the puncture area has gone down a very small bit. It looks much worse than it feels, but thankfully most of it is within my bikini line, so it's not very noticeable.
My friend Mike works at a Hospital and sent me this message: "Looks like you are doing good, I'm glad. We know that this upcoming surgery is going to be a pain in the butt but looks like you have lots of support and it will all be done soon."-----PAIN IN THE BUTT?! I thought they went through your sternum. I guess I'll have to research this procedure better. Maybe that's a new trans-catheter approach he's talking about. I think I'd rather have the chest scar.
Taking it easy today. Went to bed last night at 12:30am and woke at 7am. Then I took a nap from 10am to 2pm, so got lots of rest.
Still got swelling in the groin area, but it doesn't hurt except when it has pressure applied to it. Bruising is about the same, maybe a little darker in places. Looks like I got a tattooed by Jackson Pollock.
The streets in my neighborhood are all steep hills except for the street right in front of my house. I wanted to get out of the house, so last night I did a "dry run" to walk the street to see just how flat it is, because I will be walking it A LOT when I'm recuperating from my surgery. I ran into a neighbor, Sally, who was walking back and forth on the street. She said she had the same operation a year ago and that she feels great now. She assured me it will be fine and told me to let her know when I have the operation and she will bring food by to help in the healing process. Nice to know I have a fellow Zipper Club member right down the street.
Saw a couple of hawks soaring behind my house today. That always makes me happy.
I talked to the cardiologist on the phone yesterday, and asked him about the amount of bruising around the bandage, and he said that was to be expected. He said I should feel a "pea-sized lump" under the skin, but I told him I hadn't removed the bandage yet. That evening when I took the bandage off and washed the area, the bruising UNDER the bandage was less than I expected. But, it felt like there was a significantly larger than pea-sized bulge under the skin, which made me worried. Thinking it's better safe than sorry, I called the hospital where I got the heart catherization and talked to an ER nurse. I told her I had a swelling in my groin area and she called me a pervert. When I explained that I'd had an angiogram the previous day and described the size of the swelling, she said it was normal.
There was a small bit of soreness yesterday, but totally tolerable; I didn't even think about using my "safe word". Today there was no soreness at all except when I pressed on it to check the size of the swelling. The swelling hasn't gone down too much, but since it's not sore I'm thinking (and hoping) it's OK.
The cardiologist had said I should come in next week or the week after for a follow up. So, hopefully next week they will be able to fit me in and he can check out the swelling if it's still there by then. He said I shouldn't do anything strenuous for a week---now THAT's my kind of cardiologist!
I put a pic in the photo section of my bruised groin. I Photoshopped it onto the Farnese Herculese statue as that was the only photo on the internet that came closest to matching my physique.
Bruising looks about the same this morning, so I'm not so worried.
I was reading the instructions on what to do and not to do this morning. I'm supposed to take it easy today, and that's one of the things I do best, so that should be an easy task. No bending, straining, or lifting heavy objects. (I already broke those rules by getting my butt out of bed and taking a dump.) No alcohol or
cigarettes. (I guess I should have read the instructions BEFORE breakfast.) The instructions say I can't drive for 24 hours, and I'm supposed to increase my fluid intake today. My roommate just left, so I'm stuck here at the house alone and I've only got a six pack of beer left. That'll only last 'til noon, so how the heck am I supposed to increase my fluid intake today? There's a number of other instructions, like watching for bleeding/oozing at the puncture sight, watching for temperature greater than 101 degrees,etc, but I'm too drunk right now to really care.
I had some thickening inside the heart, that's the reason they did the catscan to see if they need to stick a tube in there to keep a good amount of blood flow. I'll get those results later this week.
I think they released me from the hospital a little bit early yesterday when I was asking about getting a sponge bath from any of their candystrippers. Usually hospitals wheel you out in a wheel chair, but I guess the policy at this particular hospital is to have a couple of big, burly interns drag you out and dump you on the sidewalk. Lori drove me home without crashing. I think there was a higher risk of me dying from being driven home by Lori than there was from the angiogram, so I was happy to get home safe.
Thanks Lori for coming up and staying with me, and thanks Mom, Sharon, and Brian for the calls this morning checking up on me.
Don't know if I slept through my alarm or if it needs new batteries, but I checked and it was set properly. Thankfully my roommate knocked on my door and got me going, so he dropped me off at the hospital pretty much on time.
Great nurses all around made it an easy ordeal.
Sedation seemed to make things move along faster during the procedure. I felt like I was pretty clear-headed during the procedure but it seemed like it went by so quickly I don't remember much about it, but I do remember the cardiologist saying things looked good.( I think the $100 tip helped.) No bad arterial blockage, so they don't need to do a bypass or stents. Yay.
Did a lot of drifting in and out of sleep in the "short stay"
area where they monitored me. Kept snoring and waking myself up, so I never really fell into a deep sleep. Never had any pain.
My cardiologist sent a heart surgeon by who ordered a cat scan of my chest and an echo of my carotid arteries, which we did that day. He answered a number of questions, and he had a nice bedside manner. I liked him, and will definitely consider him for my surgery.
My sister Lori was there, and she read about a 100 pages of the book she brought with her. She drove me home and stayed with me until my roommate showed up from work. I sat and watched TV at home, but mostly drifted in and out of sleep. My roommmate got home and told my sister that's pretty much how I normally watch TV. Asleep.
Looks like I have a good amount of bruising in my groin (they actually put the catheter in your groin, not your leg like I said earlier). I'm not sure how much bruising I should expect, if it gets too much bigger by morning I may call the cardiologists office to see if I need to get it checked out.
The cardiologist wants me to meet some lady named Angie O' Graham tomorrow (my friend, Ron's joke).
Blood test last Monday, and a chest X-ray today to get ready for the date with Angie tomorrow. It's a first date, so I probably don't need condoms, but maybe I should take some just in case I get lucky.
Sorry Mom. (She thinks the humor is too blue) Sharon---edit this before you take a copy over to Mom to read!
I didn't get bitten by any irradiated spiders when I got my x-ray today, so I didn't get any special spider powers. I'm still just a mild-mannered caveman living in a modern world.
I'll let ya'll know the results of the date with Angie O' Graham tomorrow.
The BIGGEST question I get asked most often is......
Journal posted on July 9, 2013
"When is your heart surgery?"
Everybody asks me this and the answer is ---Don't know yet.
First I gotta have the angiogram Thursday to figure out if anything else needs fixing.
The Angiogram--- they're going to cut a hole in my leg and run a catheter up into my heart to release a high contrast dye to look and see if there's any blockage or anything else they need to fix when they crack open my chest for the valve replacement. The cardiologist will do the angiogram. I'll make sure to smell his breath to make sure I don't smell any hint of alcohol. I'm going to try and not insult him in any way before the procedure, but I'll probably be nervous, and sometimes when you're nervous you say things before your brain kicks in. A little joke to lighten the situation is totally misconstrued or inappropriate...maybe I should tip him ahead of time just in case. (Any other patients reading this, is a $100 a good tip?)
Then I need to get a heart surgeon who can fix what all they find that needs fixing. So, my schedule will depend in part on his schedule. We'll have to discuss what type of procedure and valve he suggests. I'm not sure how good he needs to be---hell it ain't BRAIN sugery! Hopefully I can find a trustworthy surgeon who will do what I want come the time of the surgery.
The hospital tells the surgeon, "We're overstocked on pork valves. Push the PIG!" I end up deciding on the bovine valve. I wake up in recovery and have a sudden urge to root around in the mud and have a craving for truffles. I ask the surgeon, "You did give me the cow valve, right?" His eyes dart suspiciously back and forth. "Uh... yeah. Bovine valve.... yep, that's what you got. " And he leaves the room abruptly.
Not the surgeon I'm looking for.
On a more serious note... my friend Adam (not Adam Pick) is a lawyer and drew up a Revocable Trust and it's been notarized. Now I just have to transfer the big crap I own such as my house in there.
** Note to patients thinking about making a Trust--- your 401K and IRA don't go into the trust. You should already have a benifactor assigned if you already have a 401K and/or IRA. You usually don't put autos in there either because they decline in value so quickly.
We still need to make out a Pour-over Will to cover the smaller crap I own that didn't go into the Trust.
(Like the autos). Hopefully none of that will need to be used for a good loooooong while, but better be ready just in case. Gotta plan for the worst case scenario.
I was going to leave everything to my favorite stripper, but then I found out Bambi recently married some rich 95 year old guy with one foot in the grave and she's got a deadbeat Boyfriend who plays in a rock band, so I decided I should probably leave my stuff to my Mom and siblings since I don't have a dog or a cat I want to leave my entire estate to.
(back to a more serious note) I'm on Unemployment right now, so I'll have to find out from the cardiologist when I should file for short term disability. One of the requirements for collecting Unemployment is that you are available to work. If I'm recovering from open heart surgery, i won't be available to work, so I'll need to file for short term disability. You can do that online. (This info and the Trust info is more for other people who may read this journal in preparation for their own open heart surgery).
I had an interview for a job that went real well a couple of weeks ago. The job would start in October. Right now I'm worried whether or not I'll be able to have the surgery soon enough to be recovered well enough to take the job in October. Timing is a bitch!
My car got hit on the way to the job interview, so now I have to get my rear end fixed as well as my heart.
Gonna fix my broken heart--starting with angiogram July11th
Journal posted on July 9, 2013
I'm 49 year old male with a bicuspid aortic heart valve and bald. One condition can be treated, the other is beyond repair.
Went to see a cardiologist 5 or 6 years ago about high blood pressure and a heart murmur. They did a TEE and said I had a bicuspid aortic heart valve. That's like going to a mechanic to fix your clutch and they tell you, that you need a new transmission. Bastards. He said they did an echo cardiogram by sticking it down my throat and looking at my heart from inside. However, when I woke up, my butt was pretty sore. I think they may have taken the long route to get there.
3 or 4 years ago after a regular echo cardiogram the cardiologist said the valve was starting to fail and that I'd need open heart surgery in less than 10 years. The echo cardiogram the next year indicated it was failing faster than thought and the cardiologist said I'd need to replace the bicuspid aortic valve in 5 or 6 years, which would've put me in my early to mid 50s.
The cardiologist got a job out of state and moved away. (Maybe I shouldn't have slept with his wife,) And so, I didn't have a cardiologist for about a year and a half or two. After my reputation died down a bit, I got a new cardiologist in May. This last echo indicated it's high time to replace my valve. It's at 0.65cm with 130 pressure gradient. Wasn't sure what those numbers meant, so the cardiologist showed me a video of an echo cardiogram of a good aortic valve and then the video of my bicuspid aortic valve. He said, " See how well this one opens and closes, and see how cr*ppy yours is? That's not good. What the hell were you thinking?" and he slapped me against the back of my head. I would have been mad, but it reminded me of my seventh grade football coach.
I've got an angiogram scheduled for this Thursday, July11th, so they can check for any blockages or anything else they may need to fix while they're under- the-hood to repair the aortic valve. My new
cardiologist is going to perform the angiogram, and I haven't met his wife, so I'm thinking (and hoping) the procedure goes well. I'm also hoping that they only find that I need the valve replaced and not bypass surgery, too. A friend of mine who's a perfusionist (runs the heart/lung machine) in Texas told me that bypass patients often say the pain in their leg from where they harvested the vein for the bypass is more painful than their chest. I'd rather just be recovering from valve replacement, than valve replacement AND bypass surgery.
I read Adam's book and I've been reading some journals on here to get an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for the coming surgery, so thank you fellow heart surgery patients for sharing your info and experiences. It's a hell of an initiation we have to go through to join the "ZIPPER CLUB. " Hopefully I won't have to say, "Thank you sir, may I have another." And, hopefully I won't have to perform the secret handshake until after I've recovered from the soreness.
I've had a number of emotions thinking about the upcoming open heart surgery. For a bit ,the first and foremost emotion was FEAR. Thankfully I've stopped pooping myself, and only pee myself now and then, and not too often in public. I try to look forward to a time after the surgery when I've recovered and can jog on the treadmill more than a minute and a half before I have to walk because my chest hurts too much, which is how I am now. I've been reading heart valve journals, watching videos, researching types of valves, getting some opinions, and hearing from friends who have had relatives or friends that have gone through open heart surgery, so I'm feeling much better about it now. It's gotta be done, and it's gonna be done, so I just have to roll with the punches and hopefully come up swinging on the other side.
I'm writing too much and spending too much time on this infernal machine, so I better sign off now.
P.S. There may be some exaggeration in my writing, but don't worry, no animals were harmed in the making (well, unless I opt for a cow or pig valve instead of a man-made valve, then Porky or Bessy may have to make a sacrifice)