How are you? I can't believe I just had my one year anniversary. I must say I was glad to put 2013 behind me as it was a very difficult year. I still struggle with fatigue on a regular basis. I was wondering how you are doing now?
How is life going for you these days? In what ways did cardio rehab help you? My cardiologist wants me to start rehab soon. Since I had many symptoms going into my surgery I wonder if I will still have some symptoms afterwards. I guess time will tell. But, it's so good to see that you are doing so well and back to work. That's great! Keep us posted!
Great to see you doing so well. Steve is right behind you with his recovery as well. It is amazing to be on this side of things and watching him become a new person everyday. Your support along the way has been so appreciated and I just wanted to thank you.
I waited 10 weeks before I started jogging again. As I recall, I got the go ahead a little earlier, but I did not feel like I was ready. At the risk of stating the obvious, check with your doctor for his guidance.
-Mitch Friedman, AVR and AAA repair 2/2/12
I could not agree with DVB more. No way you need to stay in bed.
I just had my 1 year anniversary this weekend. I was in good shape going into surgery, so was in good shape coming out. To me recovery was all about incremental growth in my excercise. Do as much as possible, while listenting to your body and giving it what it needs (mainly naps at your stage). I would take 2 walks a day and increase my distance slowly (I ignored my pace in the beginning). I also was napping twice a day in the beginning. Sometimes naps were only 20 minutes, sometimes much longer.
Once I hit a mile per walk, I increased both distance and pace slowly. Recovery is not linear. You do generally progress, but sometimes you take some side steps or backward steps along the way (usually the day after you did too much). On those days, just do what feels right. Use common sense, do what feels right, but progress slowly so you can feel out your body.
Your body (unless sick) heals better when it is moderately challenged physically. In my journal I have a researched entry about the benefits of exercise to healing (September 12, 2012). Basically there is the opportunity to heal about 40% faster, documented with numerous medical/scientific studies & experiments. Healing faster has three benefits: first you get better quicker (duh). The second is that there is less time for things to go wrong before you are all healed. Exercise promotes general health as well, so by getting it you reset your own baseline "health" to a new, higher level. That's good too, so that's a net triple benefit overall from just these effects.
Advice to 'rest' is, in my view, well meaning but off-base (though I am not a medical doctor, so consider these remarks as talking points for a conversation with your MD). Rest is 'passive' healing. Research over many, many decades shows that 'active' healing (ie moderate exercise) is better for surgery patients.
So in my case, immediately after surgery I started walking and doing arm exercises. Even a few sit-ups with my foot hooked in the bed frame. My hospital routine was: sleep, walk, sleep, walk, eat, sleep, walk, etc. Not much else to do there. Clocked miles before they sent me home. Then at home, repeat with ever longer walks. You can pretty safely increase your length/intensity by 5% per day. If your body complains that you overdid, you'll know and you can back off. It will be a little complaint because you only overdid it a little. Low risk. Of course, you should discuss your plan with your doctor.
Those signals of slight physical stress invoke biochemical healing pathways that evolved over billions of years because they allowed your ancestors to survive better and have more offspring. What a fantastic gift!
Glad to read that you were able to get out and enjoy life. I was told to 'rest' also. I took that to mean I needed to listen to my body. If I felt tired, I needed to sit down or take a nap. I do not think they want you just sitting in a chair at home. It is still important to stimulate the mind and soul.
I recommend cardio rehab, which is exercise with adult supervision. :-) Well, medical supervision really, to keep you working out in that happy place between under and overworking your heart. I started rehab five weeks post op, right after getting cardioverted back into normal rhythm. In the meantime, walk every day. Start slowly each time, warm up for five minutes, and cool off for five minutes at the end. I learned that in cardio rehab. It's for some very important medical reason that I can't remember. Hey, they fixed my heart, not my memory! In the meantime give your heart some love and don't overdo. As my cardiologist says, never worry about your heart, it will last your entire life!
P.S. Watching your kids have fun is very good for the heart.
You are probably having some arrhythmia issues. Hopefully, they will go away, but they don't always. I had my surgery over 15 months ago, and I am still dealing with daily palpitations and some afib "runs". Nothing dangerous, but very annoying.
Alex, I can't really answer your question. I never had an Electrocardiogram done after surgery, however I wore an external monitor until the day of discharge. They monitored me at the nurses station in the step down unit. Were you told when to follow up with your cardiologist at home? When I was released from CCF I was instructed to see my primary care physician within a week and my cardiologist in 3 weeks. I didn't have any irregularities that I am aware of. I don't really know the difference (if any) between the monitor and a full out ECG. Glad to hear you are back home and on your way to full recovery. The time will really fly by. Hope you get these issues worked out. I was terrified that I would develop Afib and have to go on Coumadin anyway (main reason for choosing tissue valve vs. mechanical), but thankfully I didn't. Have finally gotten completely off of the metoprolol. Take it easy and enjoy the time with your family.
Linda THE Tiger, aka Linda Dixon
Congrats to you on making it through Alex! The steps to full recovery start out very small for sure but,you're on your way now.Don't expect to much too soon.Let it happen naturally and listen closley to what your body is telling you...
All my best,
Al Zebal AVR,maze 1/17/13 🌄
Glad to hear your surgery went real good and its all over. Now you can really say that the worse part was the waiting. Any way welcome to the other side of the mountain. It is such a wonderful trip on down. Here is to a speedy recovery. Just listen to your body, everyday will be better than the last one. Good luck to you.
Linda H and Elsie AVR 9/19/12
I hope Duke is treating you well and surgery went as expected. We may be getting snow on Friday. By then you should be feeling well enough to get a chuckle out of the local panic of an inch of snow. Be kind -- we don't see the white stuff very often and it is a major event when we do!! Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Hi Alex, thinking of you tonight and just wanted to tell you that you and your surgical team will be in my prayers tomorrow. You will be fine, honestly. You are truly going through the worst part now. I know, I know...I said "bull" too, but it's the truth! Hope you have someone to "update" us, looking forward to hearing you've climbed to the top and sliding down the other side thinking "I shaved my legs for this?" LOL, I know you're a guy, but you can ask your wife, she'll know! God bless!
Linda THE Tiger, aka Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12.
Praying for you Alex...for peace, comfort success and recovery. We are receiving your updates so that we can be there with you all along the way. I found that everyday I need a little encouragement so I wanted to touch base again to offer you the same.
Just got the great news that I'm going home tomorrow. Yahooo!Everything went extremely well for me.I Just had my first shower since last Tuesday.AWESOME!Get your mind in a good place my friend and let the pros do their thing. Think positive,stay positive.
Best of luck Alex,
I just had surgery on 12-15-12. For me, it was very uneventful. Full body shave by three nurses, then some excellent anesthetic and Voila, the surgery was over. It was more stressful for my wife and child. Focus on your loved ones and you'll have less time to worry about the surgery. Please read my journal for some tips in hospital preparation and start planning for your recovery, which starts really soon. Best of luck to you and your family and try not to stress. It does not help you or your loved ones.
Alex, good luck to you. I had a AVR two weeks ago this monday. I have been home for a week. I am improving very fast. Be positive, I know it is so scarey but keep seeing yourself on the other side of this. You will be fine, I am beginning to think the biggest challenge is once you get home. Being patient and allowing yourself to heal. I will say a prayer for you and your family.
My name is Michelle. Im 42 and having MVR repair on thursday. My husband and I landed here in Cleveland today. You Are Not Alone! I am an RN. I have worked heart transplant and now am pre/post surgical nurse. We know too much and its scary stuff. Logically, I know I should do fine. But it doesnt matter, its still scary. We are young and strong. I remind mysrlf of the 80 something year olds that go through these crazy surgeries and are ok. You are in my thoughts and prayers. There is a lot of support I have found on here. Stay positive and I too shall follow my own advice!!
Love and prayers to you and your family.
Thanks for posting an entry. It must be so hard getting to that point of actually leaving your home to head to the airport and then to the medical center. Take a deep breath and try to focus on this being the best decision that you are making for yourself and for your loved ones.
You are being supported by your loved ones and all of us who understand your journey...a very difficult one. Alex, keep taking those steps until you are on the other side...You are almost there...keep going...we are all behind you 100% of the way. I look forward to hearing all about it when you are on the other side. Let's keep fighting! We have a lot to live for man!
Hi Alex, You are so ready and my thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. All of your feelings are so normal. We all went thru the very same thing. We wouldn't normal if we didn't. You will come out of surgery and say Wow waiting was the worse part of all this process. Then you will find how time will fly when you are coming down this mountain. It is so wonderful. See you there and Good luck and Gods speed.
Linda H and Elsie AVR 9/19/12
Just wanted to send you a note letting you know that we are thinking about you for your upcoming surgery. I know it's a hard decision to make but it will be worth it. The part I keep focusing on is my new life after my surgery. I know you will do great! I look forward to hearing how everything went!
Let's keep our chins up, our spirits high and our hearts in God's hands.
I chose the mechanical because I believe it will last longer than a tissue valve. The down side is that I have to take Coumadin every day. I also have to visit the doctor to have my blood checked once a month. No big deal. A little prick to the finger, takes about 10 minutes. I don't even notice the ticking any more.
Hello Alex. Thanks for posting in the journal. I too had aortic regurgitation and had my valve replaced on June 3, 2011. Time will go fast and before long you will not remember the pain. I'll keep reading and watching for your posts. Take a look at mine and I can try to answer any questions about my surgery.
I can relate to the 'haze'. Everyone means well when they give you words of encouragement, but I am sure they have no idea about your own internal personal journey. The time prior to surgery was definitely the hardest part of my journey and the surgery itself was the hardest part for my family and friends. Think of your journey as a spring. Right now you are compressing the spring when you feel down, nervous, and stressed. Once you are in surgery and get to the recovery room, the spring releases and bounces back to where it should be.
The best part of my journey have been my brains ability to forget and put the hardest times behind me. I am sure yours will do the same.
It sounds like your wife is a wonderful woman! I am here to support you and look forward to hearing more as you experience your journey.
I have a St. Jude mechanical valve (aortic) I chose the valve because I did not want to plan on a 2nd surgery at 70 yrs. old. I was 56 (now 57). At your age I might have considered a tissue valve. The technology is improving rapidly and you will still be young if the valve needs to be replaced. I have to say, though, my valve works silently. No one is able to hear the expected "tick, tick" that I was warned about.. So not all valves are noisey...and the coumadin has been workable. So-regardless of which valve you choose-you'll be fine!
Hi Alex,My name is Al and like you ,I have a bad aortic valve.Like you,The decision is driving me crazy.I' m a young 62 and cannot make up my mind on which way to go.Coincidently,my last day of work was today also.My surgery is 11/17 and, at this time my thoughts are for a mechanical one. "One and done" sounds good to me.Doc says I can wait till the very last minute to decide and I probably will.I will also have a procedure to correct my a-fib at the same time.They say 80-90 success rate on that one.like you,Coumadin does scare me a bit.
I've decided to see a physic/ fortune teller and see what I can learn from that.Best of luck to you,Alex and hope you find your answers soon.
Please know you are not alone. We are all in this together feeling scared, sad and anxious. Your feelings are real and normal. It sounds like you have a great wife who will be by your side every step of the way. We are here also to support you in prayers and well wishes all along the way!
ALex I to feel like I am walking around in a haze. My surgery is next friday and today I am at work thinking this time next week I will be on the operating table. I am so scared and cry on & off everyday day. I wish you all the best and lets get this done together!!!
Alex - thanks for the note on my journal. Good luck on your journey. You will get through this!!
Picking the valve was really the hardest thing for me. Could go mechanical and not have to worry about it again. But I would be on Coumadin for life. I heard that was a big deal. I have small children and like to rough house.
My doctor said I could realistically expect 15 to 20 years. I took that span and with the fact that avr are in the early stages of being done with a catheter now. In 15 to 20 years that will be the norm.
Still it was a tough decision and I went right up to the day before the surgery. In the end I was at peace with it.
I would recommend you read Chuck Holmgreen's journal. He is our age and went mechanical and that is working great for him.
Let me know if you have any other questions I will be more than happy to share what I know.
I just read your last journal entry. Since we are about the same age, I am also going back and forth on tissue vs. mechanical. It's a hard decision to make because both options have their pluses and minuses. I will defintely be asking my MD why he believes a mechanical valve is preferred vs. tissue if repair in my case if repair is not possible. I want to go in knowing that I explored every option and understand what the long term ramifications are going to be. Keep us posted!
Hey Alex, You are being completely normal being scared. I told people if I wasnt scared I would not be normal. But I did do a lot of praying and it worked and helped. But on the other side of this working in the OR probably doesnt help as you see a lot. On the best side of all this is you most likely know more than a lot of us so dont worry you will be fine. Good luck to you and I will keep you in my prayers. You have some good hospitals there, as I am from Denver. Keep us all posted.
Linda H and Elsie AVR 9/19/12
Alex, I'm sure all the doctors at Duke are excellant. My cardiologist sent my file to the department and Dr. Milana offered to take my case. He usually handles the very complicated surgeries, such as heart transplants! I had aortic stenosis and no other side issues such as clogged arteries, high BP, diabetic, etc. Like I said...I shared the floor (and my surgeon) with a heart transplant patient. I got to meet him several weeks later at our follow-up appointments. How lucky we are to be living in the 21st century!
I understand where you are at. My surgery is coming up real soon as well. My wife and I both have fears but also expectations for a better quality of life for me. My wife told me to keep fighting all the way through. I plan on doing just that. I would love to hear how you do after your procedure.
Alex, I hope that some of this will be helpful. First, it is completely normal to have the jitters at this stage. You wouldn't be sane if you were not a bit nervous as this is a major life event. But you have done everything possible to minimize the risks of the surgery - which are actually pretty minimal these days anyway. Writing posts to get out your concerns is a great way to help yourself through these next few weeks and in your recovery. This time of waiting is really hard. Harder than the surgery I think.
Being a nurse - and I am betting a really great one too - you know that there are some amazing people in the field. My bet is that the hardest part for you is going to be to let yourself be the patient and not second guess their processes, requests and actions. On that front I would just encourage you to let them know you are fearful and that being on the receiving side is hard. Do your best to relax and let them care for you. Out of the MANY people who gave me care, only one was really frustrating. And she still did her job. She just stuck out because all the others were SO great. And she never did anything wrong. Mainly she just had a bad attitude and I imagine she had personal issues she was working on. So I asked questions and delayed her if she wanted to do something that seemed odd until someone else came by i could ask, and otherwise just focused on my recovery and ignored her attitude. The stay in the hospital is typically short. After you leave the hospital you are going to be really focused on your recovery, pacing yourself as your stamina returns, and caring for your incision, nutrition, etc. and sleep, sleep, sleep.
Don't worry too much if you don't sleep well right now. That is normal too. Just try to relax and remind yourself that this is a one time thing for you but the surgeon and others do this many many times each week.
Sometimes they cannot tell if an aneurism needs immediate attention until they get in and see it. So that decision may be one that you won't have to make. If it needs immediate attention then it will get done at the same time.
The decision on the valve was really hard for me too. I am 59 which is a little young for a bio valve. I initially thought I would go with the mechanical. But when I spoke to the surgeon and looked at some stats, I decided the risks of the Coumadin regimen were more than the risks of having this surgery again in the future for me. Especially as they're quickly developing ways to do the second replacement via a stint process. There is no perfect decision either way. I knew I would start out great on Coumadin and then eventually get lax. I do that with almost every health regimen I have ever had to follow. So ultimately the bio valve was going to be the safer option for me.
No matter what you decide the important thing is just to live every day after surgery with as much joy as possible - and that has little to do with the type of valve you choose.
You are going to do great! Sherry Bradford. AVR 10/23/2012
Welcome to NC. My AVR was at Duke by Dr. Milano. Everything went very well. My surgery was delayed a couple of days, tho, so my doctor could perform a heart transplant! Yes, they are very good at what they do! You will be well taken care of. The nurse staff is excellant but I found the food to be lacking. Fortunately, you likely won't have a big appetite for a couple of days. I look forward to reading your post surgery updates and I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
My thoughts are definitely with you. It was very hard during the weeks leading up to my surgery. At 3 weeks out, I was still in the read anything and everything about the disorder and surgery. At about 1 week out, I became much calmer and no longer preoccupied myself with worry rather I made myself busy with work and family obligations. Either choice will be the right one for you since they are both excellent choices. I was scared of the blood thinner option and asked for the tissue valve replacement, if it could not be repaired. My hopes are that when the repair finally fails, they will have the technology to replace or repair it less invasively. If it is still invasive, I figure my quality of life, as I know it, will be worth OHS in 20 years. I did not want to live my life scared of what may happen if I was on blood thinners. This is a very personal decision and based on each individual.
Alex - I'm from VA and first noticed Duke univ heart capabilities based on their top 10 ranking in US. I believe Duke was ranked #7. A little research showed Glower was the man for AVR at Duke. Probably a state of the art program since its a large research facility.