Guest Patient Blog: Jim Bonk 30 Days After Heart Valve Surgery

By Adam Pick on December 10, 2007

I will be the first to tell you that I never expected this website would grow so quickly. Over the past year, I have met so many wonderful patients, caregivers, doctors and nurses from around the world.

It turns out that we all have several things in common… But, we have come together to share, to learn and to help each other through heart valve surgery.

Several times a week, I receive emails from patients that have read my book and are now in recovery. Their stories are inspiring and touching. Recently, I met Jim Bonk, a certified public accountant from San Diego, California who had aortic valve and root replacement. Jim’s latest email to me provided a special glimpse into patient-life 30 days after aortic valve and root replacement.


Jim Bonk - 30 Days After Heart Valve Surgery


I thought you might like to hear Jim’s thoughts. So, with Jim’s permission, I have posted his comments in our first-ever “Guest Patient Blog”. (You can see a picture above of Jim and his wife of twenty-one years, Jeanne.)


Email From Jim Bonk

Adam –

What a good feeling to be alive! I am doing okay so far. This is absolutely no fun but others have endured other ills much more than me. Mine could be fixed and I am thankful for that. It has now been 30 days since surgery and I am slowly getting better and stronger.

There are a few minor things but the major items are behind me. I am tired after heart surgery and my heartbeat is adjusting to the increased oxygen so it beats to its own drummer, speeding up and slowing down at will. It is worst when it wakes me up in the middle of the night and all I hear is the clicking in double time. I am told by the surgeon and cardiologist that this not unusual and should even out in about 3 months.

I nap about 3 hours during the day. Taking a shower and shaving is a major event. I was just cleared to drive following my heart surgery. I still have to have blood tests every other day for the blood thinners (used to be everyday). My arm looks like a Heroin addict right now between the bruising (the blood thinner makes me bruise easier) and needle marks. I have had no blood thinner issues so far and my dosage has been consistent. I was told by the doctors that it was really not that big of a deal anymore; that’s why I decided on the artificial valve. Plus, I am told that my artificial valve and the replacement of the aortic root is all one unit so there is one less splice for the surgeon to deal with. Like everything else, doctors all have their own opinion on this issue.

I have a little pain from the main vertical incision (closed) when I move different ways and both of the smaller lung drain horizontal incisions are slowly closing. When I get up, I usually also get light headed for a about 15 seconds. Overall, I would say the recovery is a much slower process than I had hoped for but it is getting better each week; I am certainly not complaining. I have family and friends that are all very helpful in keeping me cheered up.

I hope to start the cardiac rehab process for my surgery next week or the week after that depending on the insurance timing. It is hard to walk very far right now – much worse than before the surgery but I am told that will change over time. It will be nice for a professional to guide me on the physical recovery so that I do not stop short of my limits.

I am yet to feel any of the marvelous effects of a 100% healthy heart but optimistic about each coming day.

Thank you for asking and supporting me on this recovery!



By the way, if you would like to share your story, please email me or leave a comment below.

Keep on tickin!

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

gary says on December 11th, 2007 at 8:12 pm

hi adam,
i dont mind if you put this on your site.
First of all, thanks again for sending me your book. it’s very insightful.

I’ve known for a few years that my bicuspic aortic valve and root will need to be replaced andI;ve been very “practical” and “matter of fact” about it. I has a cardiac catherization a couple of weeks ago, and some follow up studies. My right coronary artery has two more blockages (I had two drug eluding stents put in the same artery a few years ago) And, the aoritc valve regurgitation, is significant. I am going for a consult with Dr. Craig Smith at NY Presbyterian (Columbia University medical Center) next week. Well, yesterday, my cardiologist had a conversation with dr. smith, and told him about my history. I asked my cardiologist what Dr. Smiths initial thoughts were. He told me that it looks like I will need the surgery soon. well, now that it really looks like it should happen soon, that “practical” , “matter of fact” confidence I had, is turning to doubt, a little dispair, maybe depression, etc etc. does anyone on your site have any comments as to how to truly prepare for such a big, life changing event. How does someone prepare for it? any advice , reading material, comments from you or other patients? by the way, Jim’s comments were very good to hear.


Anne McCormick says on January 13th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

I too have had been watching my biscuspic valve but suddenly, the end of November, things went south and I had trouble walking fast and when I saw the cardiologist he scheduled catherization . It was so bad that they kept me in the hospital after the catherization until I could get on the schedule for surgery which was the 4 days later. All I can say is – give in to it and keep our sense of humor. It IS scary but you have no choice. You will get it replaced or die, so as long as you have a good dr. and good hospital that is all you can do. It is up to them to do their jobs. I am 4 weeks post op and am trying to get my heart beat steady but otherwise ok. My brother & sister had already gone through the same thing. My surgeon said he has done 4,000 of these surgeries. All this being said it is still scary but again the alternative is not acceptable. Hang in there and think about whether or not you will get a tatoo over the scar.

Anthony Huskey says on January 8th, 2013 at 4:33 pm

suffered a disceting aorta anerysm of ascending aorta in 1994-had aorta replaced and they repaired my valve—10/30/13 had ascending aorta-aortic valve- and aortic root replaced-St.Lukes Houston (the best) 10 weeks out,still get winded easily,–delt w/ a-fib (got shocked twice) think it’s time to retire

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