Adam's Heart Valve Surgery Blog – Page 55

The ‘Other Side’ Of Patient & Caregiver Fear

By Adam Pick on May 18, 2009

I receive many each day about heart valve surgery, from both patients and caregivers. Unfortunately, many of these emails begin with opening statements like:

  • “Hi Adam – I am scared out of my mind right now, I was just diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis…”
  • “Hi Adam – After monitoring my my mitral prolapse for 10 years, I need surgery. Needless to say I’m a wreck…”
  • “Help Adam! My husband is going in for aortic valve replacement tomorrow. I can’t sleep I’m so scared…”

As you can tell, fear is the fundamental emotion expressed in these types of emails.

In the past, we have talked about fear on many occasions. We have turned it into an acronym as F.E.A.R. or Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real. And, I have posted clinical research to illustrate how to dispel your fear of heart surgery.

This morning, I read a wonderful quote from best-selling author, John Roger, that addresses this very common issue among patients and caregivers. Here is the quote:

You may be surprised to learn that negative conditions can actually lead to a positive place.
On the other side of loneliness is a beautiful place called solitude.
On the other side of rejection is the simply powerful place of acceptance.

I loved how this quote could be directly applied to the negative condition of fear. I even thought about how we could add one more line to this quote about heart valve surgery. It might read like this:

On the other side of heart surgery fear is courage, strength and, among all things, healthy hearts.

If you are fearful about an upcoming surgery or if you are struggling through your recovery, please remember that the odds are with you.  As my mom said to me, “You can turn a heart valve lemon into heart valve lemonade.”

Keep on tickin!
Adam

Off-Topic: At 5 Weeks, Baby Ethan Is Yummy!

By Adam Pick on May 12, 2009

Thank you for all the wonderful notes regarding the birth of our son, Ethan.

Robyn (my wife) and I wanted to give you a quick update… Ethan is doing great!!! On Saturday, Ethan entered his fifth week of life. And, on Sunday, we celebrated Robyn’s first Mother’s Day.

As Ethan is our first child, we have quickly learned how wonderful it is to be parents. Yes, Robyn and I are very tired. Yes, we’re pee’d on regularly. Yes, he’s pooped on us. And… Yes, I’ve had the joy of “spit-up” splattering the side of my face several times. But, all it takes is one look from Ethan and all that discomfort becomes comfortable.

Here are some of the latest pictures we’ve taken of our little man.

 

 
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“How Long Were You In The Intensive Care Unit After Heart Surgery?” Asks Cindy

By Adam Pick on May 9, 2009

Cindy, from Illinois, just asked me a fantastic question about heart valve surgery and the intensive care unit (ICU).

Her email reads, “Adam – The time is finally here. After suffering from aortic stenosis for the past twelve months, I’m going in for heart valve replacement next week. Yes, I’m nervous. Yes, I’m anxious. Anyways, I have a question for you about the ICU. How long were you (and other patients) in the intensive care unit? I want to know what to expect and I want to make sure my family knows what to expect. Thanks, Cindy.”

To start, I want to acknowledge Cindy for asking an excellent question. In my opinion, expectation management is critical for patients and their caregivers. That said, I’d like to publicly say, “Great job Cindy!”

 


Me (Adam) In The Intensive Care Unit

 

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“Is Constipation After Heart Surgery Normal?” Asks Dahlia

By Adam Pick on May 6, 2009

I just received a very important question from Dahlia about constipation and heart surgery.

She writes, “Adam – I’m quite embarrassed to be writing you about this but I just had mitral valve replacement surgery due to prolapse and leaky mitral valve. It’s been two weeks since my surgery and I’m incredibly constipated. Is constipation after heart surgery normal? Do you have any advice? Thanks, Dahlia”

 

 

Dahlia has ab-sooooooo-lutely nothing to be embarrassed about. So you know, it is very common for patients to experience constipation… And, it can be quite dangerous.

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“Do All Heart Valve Surgery Patients Go To Cardiac Rehab?” Asks Eva

By Adam Pick on May 4, 2009

In response to a recent blog titled, “Do I Have Cardiac Depression?”, I just received a follow-up question from Eva. She writes, “Adam: Does every heart valve surgery patient go to cardiac rehabilitation?”

Specific to the recovery from heart surgery, I believe this is a great question for both patients (and their caregivers) to consider. That said, I asked this exact question to 75+ heart surgery patients, during a recent survey, to evaluate whether-or-not cardiac rehab was common among recovering heart surgery patients.

As you can see below, my research indicates that only 51% of patients surveyed did participate in a cardiac rehab program. So you know, I have a problem with that statistic. In my opinion, that survey result is wayyyyyyyyyy tooooooooo low.

 

 

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Mitral Regurgitation Forces Malaysian Sultan Into Heart Valve Repair Surgery

By Adam Pick on May 4, 2009

The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, is in stable condition after a 10-hour open-heart surgery on Saturday at the Stanford University Medical Centre in Palo Alto, California.

The sultan’s private aide, Kelvin Ong, said in statement here today that Sultan Sharafuddin, 63, was now recovering in the Intensive Care Unit of the medical centre after undergoing repair of a leaking valve for “mitral regurgitation”.

 

 Sharafuddin Idris Shah – Malaysian Sultan & Heart Valve Patient

 

He said mitral valve regurgitation (leaking heart valve) surgery was recommended when a person’s ejection fraction — a measurement of the heart’s efficiency — dropped below 60 per cent and/or the left ventricle was larger than 40mm at rest. The ejection fraction could be used to estimate the function of the left ventricle, which pumps blood to the rest of the body, he said.

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“What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Heart Valve Problems?” Asks Donna

By Adam Pick on April 26, 2009

I just received an interesting email from Donna about the signs and symptoms of heart valve problems.

Donna writes, “Adam – I was diagnosed with moderate mitral regurgitation over five years ago. Since then, I have annual check-ups to make sure the valve doesn’t get any worse. The strange part is that I’ve had no symptoms since diagnosis. Yesterday, however, I lost my breath while walking up a hill during my weekly hike. As I’m 63-years young, I’m curious to know if this is a sign or symptom that my heart valve problem is getting worse. Any thoughts? Donna”

 

 

Like Donna, I was primarily asymptomatic prior to my double heart valve surgery. I only experienced one symptom related to my problematic heart valve disorder. That said, it is critical for all patients to continuously monitor their heart valve problems through annual echocardiograms. While heart valve problems can be identified via stethoscopes, the echocardiogram is the medical standard for evaluating valve disease over time.

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After Bicuspid Valve Replacement And Root Repair, It’s Softball Season For Kevin

By Adam Pick on April 25, 2009

Anyone interested in a patient success story that smells of 100% inspiration?

If so, read this wonderful story about Kevin Hains which addresses soooooooo many patient issues specific to heart valve surgery. Here is what Kevin wrote to me:

Adam,

I am 39-years old and had aortic valve replacement and aortic root repair surgery on October 27, 2008. I had a heavily calcified bicuspid valve.

Due to my age, I opted for a mechanical valve. My adjustment to Coumadin has been very smooth.  It is amazing what the body will endure!  After surgery, I spent 2 1/2 months in Cardiac Rehab and I have been at the gym four to five days a week since.  I am in law enforcement, am an active athlete and have played sports my entire life.

 

Kevin Hains - Heart Valve Surgery Patient Whe Enjoys Softball
Kevin Hains – Heart Valve Surgery Patient

 
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“Close To My Heart” Project Looking For Female Heart Surgery Patients

By Adam Pick on April 25, 2009

I just received this very unique request from Angelica Hoyos. Is anyone interested?

Here is what Angelica writes, “I am a photographer in Los Angeles and I am currently working on a project which consists of creating artistic portraits of women who have had heart surgery under the age of 40.  The purpose of the project is to leave women feeling that the scar on their chest is nothing to be ashamed about. I am working in collaboration with the American Heart Association.”

If you would like to learn more, please call Angelica at 954.665.3850, or visit http://soclosetomyheart.wordpress.com.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

How Does Blood Flow Through The Heart?

By Adam Pick on April 24, 2009

Have you ever wondered how blood flows through the heart and body?

Have you ever wondered how your heart valves help manage the flow of blood through your heart?

If so, click the play button on this educational video to learn (i) how blood flows through the heart and (ii) how each heart valve (aortic valve, mitral valve, tricuspid valve and pulmonary valve) ensure the flow of blood in one direction through the body.  Please remember to have the sound on your computer turned on.

 

 

To learn more about the topics referenced in this video, please click the hyperlinks below:

I hope you enjoyed this video about blood flow through the heart.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

After Valve Surgery, Infection And Coma, Steve Hits 175 Miles Per Hour… Once Again!

By Adam Pick on April 22, 2009

I’ve said it before and I will say it again…

There is nothing better than turning on my computer, opening my email inbox and reading an inspirational, patient success story from one of my readers. This morning, I learned about Steve’s recovery from heart valve replacement surgery which was complicated by an infection and six days in a coma.

 


Steve Returns To Racing After Heart Valve Replacement

 

Here is what Steve writes:

Hi Adam – I do not know whether this will actually get to you but thank you for your book and blog. I received a homograft aortic valve in early 2006 due to a post-Hurricane Katrina contracted infection. I am from New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Heart Surgery, Pregnancy, Labor And Baby Delivery… Can You Help Shannon?

By Adam Pick on April 22, 2009

I recently received a very interesting email from Shannon about heart surgery, pregnancy, labor and baby delivery. In her note to me, Shannon asks for help from other patients about delivering a baby after heart valve surgery. Can you help her?

 

 

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Off-Topic: A Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers

By Adam Pick on April 22, 2009

Every once-in-a-while I receive a forwarded email that resets my focus on life.

Earlier today, my sister, Monica, sent me an email titled, “A Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers”. Given the nature of this website, I found the fundamental message of this story to be very appropriate for those dealing with the stress of heart valve surgery.

So, without further ado, I offer you “A Mayonnaise Jar & Two Beers”:

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

 

 

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

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Does A Heart Valve Heal Itself?

By Adam Pick on April 22, 2009

Kenny writes to me, “Hi Adam – My grandma needs open heart surgery, according to my parents. They tell me she has mitral regurgitation and it’s really bad. I’m curious to know, “Can a heart valve heal itself?”.  What do you think? Kenny”

I really wish a simple and emphatic ‘Yes!’ would answer Kenny’s question. It would be sooooooooo incredibly wonderful if a heart valve could heal itself – like a cold or a broken bone.

 

 

Unfortunately, heart valves do not tend to heal themselves. It is true that some infants born with heart murmurs will eventually grow out of the murmur as the heart matures. But, in all of my research, I have yet to hear, read or see a patient story in which a valvular disorder (e.g. aortic valve stenosis, aortic regurgitation, mitral valve regurgitation) naturally heals by itself.

Some might suggest that the use of stem cells could offer a natural process in which a human heart valve can heal itself. However, from my research, that would require a stem cell valve cloning and an open heart procedure to replace the valve. In my opinion, that process doesn’t really sound like a situation in which a human heart valve heals itself.

I hope this helps Kenny (and perhaps you) learn more about the question, “Does a heart valve heal itself?”

Keep on tickin!
Adam

"Do You Have Before-And-After Pictures Of Your Chest?" Asks Jake

By Adam Pick on April 15, 2009

I just received an interesting email from Jake.

He writes, “Adam – I’m 57 and going in for mitral valve repair next week due to mitral prolapse. It’s going to be an open heart surgery. I’m curious, do you have any pictures of your chest before-and-after surgery? I’m not really a pretty boy, I just want to know what to expect when I wake up. Thanks, Jake”

In my opinion, Jake is asking the right type of questions as he prepares for surgery. As I learned, expectation management is critical for both patients and caregivers throughout the surgical process – especially the recovery. That said, I just searched my picture albums for Jake.

Ding! Ding! Ding! I found some!!!

Below, you can see the impact of open heart surgery on my chest. The amazing part? You can barely even tell that I had a median sternotomy. But, you can tell that I have gained a few pounds over the years.

 

 

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Heart Trivia: How Many Times Will Your Heart Beat During Your Life?

By Adam Pick on April 15, 2009

Time for a fun, multiple choice question about your heart’s anatomy! Here it is…

“How many times will the human heart beat during the average lifetime of 66 years?”

  • A. 5 million times
  • B. 200 million times
  • C. 1 billion times
  • D. 2.5 billion times
  • E. 5 billion times.

The answer to the question is below the beating heart animation. Scroll down to find out whether you are right or wrong.

D. 2.5 billion times

I hope you enjoyed this quick little game of heart trivia.

Keep on tickin!
Adam

“Vitamins After Heart Surgery?” Asks Mario

By Adam Pick on April 15, 2009

Mario just wrote to me, “Hey Adam, my name is Mario Luera (age: 33) and I had aortic valve replacement in October, 2008. I am recovering well and just finished my cardiac rehab. I’m about to start on a workout program. My question to you is what type of vitamins/ supplements are you taking and what to stay away from? My cardiologist told me to just take a multivitamin everyday. Thanks for your time! Mario”

As I previously wrote in “Do Vitamins Combat Fatigue After Heart Surgery”, I really struggled with energy issues following my double, heart valve replacement. I was exhausted all the time.

 

Karen Raden – My Nutritionist

 

So, I contacted a highly-regarded nutritionist, Karen Raden, to help enhance my energy level. After a blood test and consultation, Karen suggested three specific vitamins and supplements to reduce my fatigue.

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Off-Topic: Stop… And Smell My Roses

By Adam Pick on April 15, 2009

Following heart valve surgery, I learned to slowwwwwww down.

However, given my career and my goals, this wasn’t easy. In fact, at times, it was downright miserable.

One hobby I picked up to help me “slow down” was gardening… More specifically, roses.

Although I’m still learning lots about how to properly grow roses, I’m having the time of my life now that the Spring season is here. Here you can see some of my early bloomers.

 

 

Here’s another one:

 

 

I took this picture earlier today:
 

 

And, the last one:
 

 

Remember… Slow down… Take it easy… And, of course, “Stop to smell the roses!”

Keep on tickin!
Adam

After Double Heart Valve Surgery And Aortic Root Repair, Jonathan Smiles In Traffic

By Adam Pick on April 11, 2009

Talk about an incredible, patient attitude towards heart valve surgery? I thought all of you might appreciate reading about Jonathan Abramson… Here is Jonathan’s story:

Hi Adam,

I am 29 years old and just had my second heart surgery.  I was born with a congenital diseased aorta. Growing up, this never affected my lifestyle.  I was always a very active person and played sports in high school. After college in 2002, I had a mechanical aortic valve replacement. Everything was fine, until a few years later when a routine echo discovered a 5.7cm aortic aneurysm that was partially caused by my initial mechanical valve being too small for my body.

 

Jonathan Abramson After Heart Valve Surgery Recovery
Jonathan Abramson – Double Heart Valve Surgery Patient

 

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Introducing… Ethan Bradley Pick

By Adam Pick on April 8, 2009

You may have noticed that my blog postings about heart valve surgery have stopped over the past five days.

Well… There is a good, 7.6 pound reason for that!

My son, Ethan Bradley Pick, was born Saturday at 5:29am. Ethan is the first child for Robyn, my wife, and me. Needless to say, we are rapidly adjusting to the parenting role – an outpouring of love and appreciation for every little thing he does including burps, wiggles, hiccups, stretches, coos, yawns, poops, toots… I could go on and on and on. So far, the lack of sleep is an easy trade-off for the love we have for our little boy.

 

Ethan Bradley Pick As A Baby
Ethan Bradley Pick – Born April 4, 2009

 

Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful support during our pregnancy. As we consider all of you an extended part of our family, I have attached a few pictures which capture Ethan’s entry into this world.

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