Radiation Leads To Endocarditis And Aortic Valve Replacement For Jennifer’s Husband

By Adam Pick on July 13, 2008

Thanks to the wonderful patients, caregivers, nurses, cardiologists and surgeons who write me, I continue to learn many interesting and helpful details about heart valve surgery. That said, I often take those emails and post them in this blog for you to review as well.

Recently, Jennifer wrote me about the health challenges of her husband. In her note, Jennifer shared her thoughts about the harmful impacts of radiation pills on heart valve function due to infection.

Dear Adam,

Good morning! I received your heart valve surgery book I ordered from you on Saturday afternoon. Needless to say by Saturday night, I had finished reading it.

A quick brief rundown of our situation… Back in March, 2008, my husband took radiation pills to kill an overactive thyroid. A week after he took the pills, he became extremely sick with a high fever, chills, etc.

It seemed to get better. But, over time, the symptoms never went away. It was like clockwork. Every evening, my husband would get chills, sweats, low grade fever, aches, pains, just plain misery. This went on for 2 months.


Bacterial Endocarditis - Heart Valve Infection Disease


We went back-and-forth to the doctor over 11 times. Everyone blamed his body for adjusting to the thyroid medicine. The doctors ran blood tests and continued to tell us that his white blood count was fine – with no sign of infection. We felt like we were going crazy. We continued to call and complain. Finally we saw another general practitioner because our physician was not in the office. The new doctors was a little old man, nice as can be.

Unlike our other doctors, the new doctor noticed tiny, reddish spots that would come-and-go on my husband’s hands. He immediately ordered a blood culture. The next day, my husband was admitted into the hospital with a bacteria infection.

The test proved that the infection had attacked his heart (endocarditis) and destroyed an already abnormal bicuspid aortic valve. (FYI, my husband was born with a heart murmur).

This was only 2 weeks ago and now we are faced with an uphill battle. What we thought was just a routine flu or body adjusting to medication has turned into open heart surgery and an aortic valve replacement. This is the beginning of the road for us. Time is a factor for us but surgery cannot be done until his pick line is taken out and the IV antibiotics are finished on July 10th.

I know this is a long email, but the point is that your book and the information given, the websites you referenced, everything about it made me, as a wife of a patient, feel that we are not alone. The strength I was given only makes me stronger for him. The tears have been shed but we are going to move forward.

Again thanks for the input and showing that there is a silver lining on every cloud I hope we find our to as you did. As you say, we are going to “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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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 HeartValveSurgery.com 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.

Leslie Lafayette says on July 14th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Jennifer, I hope all is going well for you and your husband and that he is “turning the corner” on his endocarditis. It’s so frustrating to go to the doctor again and again when you KNOW something is wrong. This happens all too often. Good luck with the valve replacement surgery – I am a mitral valve repair survivor and thriver 🙂 My surgery was in January of this year – open heart, on the bypass and robotic and it went well. If you are looking at different surgeons and are near Los Angeles, Dr. Richard Shemin was my valve surgeon and is head of cardiothoracic surgery at UCLA. I hope you’ll keep us informed of how things go. You and your husband are in my prayers.
Lil (Leslie)

mercyturan says on August 11th, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Jenniffer, it is now August 11 almost a month since the time you gave for your husband’s surgery. I am the mother of a 37 year old who had a Ross Procedure (double heart valve replacement and transplant) March 5, 2008, successfully I should say, in spite of some initial bleeding complications.

I want to reassure you that one of the geatest things Adam’s book and blog have done for us is that we NEVER FELT ALONE! And we still never do. We have a strong faith base, so we knew not to let the feeling of being along creep into our already difficult situation. Adam made it possible for us to see how many more people shared our problem and yet how many more had survived the same surgery and were living their lives as well if not better than before.

We had a wonderful connection to several people we “met” on the site and I have really not the correct words to express how their support, their notes, their encouragement, made a big difference on how we faced the difficult hours. We actually knew of people who had gone throught this before, and those very people were thinking and praying for us right then and there. What a powerful, uplifting feeling!

Later on, in April, when John was already feeling much improved, we were able to do the same for a young man who was faced with the same problem and surgery as your husband did. Unknowingly, we became the same stronghold for another, as we exchanged encouraging notes, information about the hospital (it was the same hospital) little nooks and crannies where one could find a quiet restful place there, a place to check emails, a positive comment about the caring staff, the surgeon, a prayer. This, I thought, along with the great pool of information in the book and on the site was what we needed to do for others as well.

I sincerely wish the best recovery for your husband, despite what will seem like the almost insurmountable goals of recovery. Keep coming back and finding hope and encouragment from all us who have been there before. Blessings. Mercy

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