For many years I had been aware of mitral stenosis and had annual echos to monitor valve changes. As I got more sick the difficulty to breathe and to have energy for much of anything became more obvious. I knew I needed a valve job, but cardiologist didn't agree ... said it was too early..... until one day when a new doctor came into town and ordered a stress test WITH CONTRAST!!! That was just what I needed. He watched what was happening and said 'You are going to feel SO much better when you get this fixed!' Finally, a heart doctor realizing what I was feeling. He was able to see that my valve nearly closed whenever I exercised. I was so encouraged! The struggle that followed was to get insurance to allow an out of state hospital to do the valve replacement. A wonderful advocate at the insurance company worked on my behalf to make things work, and now the surgery is 1 1/2 years behind me.