Like Lori, I had almost the identical procedure David will require last May at the Cleveland Clinic at age 49. I had and AVR replacement with a tissue valve, aortic root replacement and first 3 inches of my ascending aorta replaced with a dacron sheith to repair an anuerysm. My surgery required a median sternotomy. For me the tissue valve fit my lifestyle, and I think the next procedure in 15 +/- years will be easier.
To start, get and read Adam's book. It is a roadmap for what all the surgery and recovery will be like. Everyone's experience is different, and albeit a complication or two, mine was easier than what Adam depicts.
Go into surgery with a positive attitude, get your butt out of bed early and often, practice your breathing exercises early and often and manage your pain. Listen to your doctors and staff and you should do fine.
As far as recovery, everyone is a little different, but I was back at work after 5 weeks, and playing golf at nine weeks fully mobile and pain free.
I wish you the best of luck over the next few weeks..
I was in the same situation as you with the need to have my aortic valve replaced and have an aortic aneurysm repaired with the Dacron.
I did choose to have a tissue valve rather than a mechanical valve. As you will hear over and over again, by the time we will need to have it replaced, hopefully there will be an improved technique that will allow it to be done through the groin.
My surgery was on January 13th, tomorrow I will be looking at being out 7 weeks!
I had no symptoms, healthy and feeling great prior to surgery. I have spent the past 7 weeks recovering from the surgery that I chose to have done before it became an emergency. I had only known for 3 years that "some day" I would need to have surgery.
If you want, read through my journal to follow my story. Feel free to ask any questions as there are many people who want to help you get through this!!!
This site is great as is Adam's book which I am still rereading as I recover!!