Larry's Heart Valve Journal

Joined August 26, 2016

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My Story

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    I am from: Dublin, Ireland
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    My surgery date is: September 22, 2017
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    I was diagnosed with: Aortic Regurgitation
    Aortic Stenosis
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    My surgery was: Aortic Valve Replacement
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    My surgeon is: Dr. Lars Nolke
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    My hospital is: Blackrock Clinic, Dublin, Ireland

In my own words:

Nearly two years ago following an echocardiogram, I was told that I had problems with my aortic valve. I am 54 years old and always remember from my earliest days being told that I had a heart murmur, that many people had them and that it wasn't anything to necessarily worry about. I've always suffered from chest infections, but those aside, have always enjoyed good health. I lived in America for five years from 2001-2006, and each time I moved house and saw a new primary care physician, they would hear the murmur during our initial meeting and invariably send me for further tests. However, no serious problems were ever discovered.

I returned to Ireland at the end of 2006 and all was generally well health-wise (apart from chest infections!) until about two years ago when one evening, I was walking up a slight incline to my house. I got a pain in my upper chest and thought I wouldn't make it to the front door! When I got in the door, I sat down for about 10 minutes and the pain passed, so I went to bed. The next morning, I wasn't feeling 100%, but didn't have anymore pain. But thankfully, I called a couple who are very close friends of mine, and told them what had happened. As he is a cardio thoracic surgeon, it was arranged for me to see a cardiologist immediately, and undergo some tests. The following morning I was scheduled to see the cardiologist,following an echocardiogram and a stress test. Long story short, after the echo was completed, the stress test was cancelled and I was told to go straight to cardiologist's office. My friend's wife accompanied me and helped calm me down.

The cardiologist took my blood pressure, which at that point, had gone way North, then sat me down and went through the results of the echo with me. He explained that my aortic valve had narrowed and wasn't closing properly. The good news was that it didn't require immediate surgery, but with medication, would be monitored, and I might never need surgery.

However, about three months ago, I started to become very breathless when going upstairs. I was also getting short of breath after walking for only about 15 minutes. Sometimes this was accompanied by slight chest pain, and the feeling that I was very lightheaded and about to faint. I was also experiencing palpitations in bed at night as I was falling asleep.

I went back to the cardiologist, had another echo and cardiac MRI. And it was determined that my valve had got to the point where it should be replaced.

I'm so thankful to God that one of my best friends is a cardio thoracic surgeon whom I trust and who is going to replace my aortic valve tomorrow. Of course, I'm a little nervous and will probably be more so tonight, but at this point I just want it all to be over. Please God, there will be no complications during the surgery. I'm praying for my friend and his team, and anyone who may be preparing for heart surgery.
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