About Me (In My Own Words)
I am a very active 66 year old male (Just turned 66 2 weeks ago) who found out in early October that I have severe Aortic Regurgitation. That sucks!
Let me briefly tell you my Heart Valve Story and how I came to realize that something wrong was going on with my heart....specifically my heart valve.
This past March I had my right knee replaced at Duke Regional Hospital in Durham. (I live 25 minutes from Duke in Chapel Hill and prefer Duke Physicians over UNC Physicians plus I am a Duke Fan)
Enough about that!
I am a very active guy who “spins” at my health club 5-6 times per week and have been doing that now for many years! Well after my knee surgery in March I was “chomping at the bit” to get back spinning as quickly as possible so I blasted through Knee Rehab in record time and rehabed my new right knee with great success and was back spinning in 4 weeks.
At this time I was also walking a lot in my neighborhood and would occasionally get some “shortness of breath” but I shrugged it off to indigestion or perhaps acid reflux.
Fast forward....I was getting concerned that perhaps something was not right and I told my wife in July that I was going to see a Cardiologist and I did. I saw my first Cardiologist in Naples, Florida where we have a small seasonal home that we go to several times per year. Let me preface right here that I have been on a mild blood pressure medicine for about 10 years and it was time for me to renew or have another Cardiologist perhaps change my medication or increase it. Upon his examination he immediately said “you have a heart murmur” and I suggest we do an ECHO since you have never had one.
The ECHO was done on 7/31/2018 and he said I’ll let you know the results in several weeks as he was leaving the country for vacation and I and my wife were heading back to NC.
On August 19th.....I got a call from his PA and she said I have mild to severe Aortic Regurgitation and I should seek out a Cardiologist in my area of NC since I live in NC most of the time.
Well fast forward again....I got a Duke Cardiologist and had another ECHO done. The Regurgitation was severe and we immediately put together a game plan. He highly recommended Dr. Jeffrey Gaca, Heart Surgeon at Duke who does 300+ heart valve surgeries a year.
We also concurred on doing a Cardio Catherization asap; which I had done on 11/1/2018. He also wanted to get a CT Chest Scan done and so I had that done too!
On Monday, November 19th my wife Heather and I saw Dr. Gaca to hear the news and get the timeline because I now knew that HEART VALVE REPLACEMENT Surgery was in my immediate future,
THANK GOD my Cardio CATHERIZATION was clear and I had NO coronary blockages.
We scheduled my minimally invasive MINI-THORACOTOMY (Port Access Approach) using a biological bovine valve for Tuesday, 1/15/2019 @ Duke Hospital. I get admitted the day before on Monday, 1/14/2019.
I probably would have had the surgery scheduled sooner but we have a “Family Holiday Trip” planned for 12/28 - 1/4/2019 and Dr. Gaca gave us the “green light” that I could wait till after the trip to have the surgery.
So that’s my heart valve story and I am getting very anxious already as I know 1/15/2019 will be here in a blink of an eye.
My current symptoms are occasional shortness of breath as well as occasional heart flutters or palpitations. I have scaled back my spinning and am only doing that 2-3 times per week. The Surgeon said I could still do the spinning but not get to carried away.
As I mentioned before I am a very active person and spent 30 years running 10K’s and Half Marathons and that’s why my right knee was replaced. I don’t run anymore.
So here I am seeking guidance, wisdom, courage, hope, support from this Great Heart Valve Forum.
In my wildest dreams I didn’t think this would happen to me.....but it did!
Let me hear from those who have gone before me and especially those who have had a Mini-Thoracotomy (Port Access Approach)
I’ll post my picture soon!
John from Chapel Hill, North Carolina
More Info About Me & My Heart
More About Me
I am from:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
My surgery date is:
January 15, 2019
I was diagnosed with:
Bicuspid Aortic Valve
My surgery was:
Aortic Valve Replacement
My surgeon is:
Dr. Jeffrey Gaca
My hospital is:
Duke Hospital - Durham, NC