Hi, my name is Liz Burroughs and I live in Newport News, Virginia. I'm a very private person so I wasn't sure if I wanted to join the heart valve community and tell my story. During these past few weeks I've realized that I don't want to go through this without people who know and understand what I'm going through.
I was told that I had a heart murmur when I went for my college physical in Michigan many years ago. After that I saw a cardiologist and had an echo done at the hospital. I'm not even sure what the outcome of that was except that I felt it was nothing to worry about. I went on with my life, graduating from college & graduate school, and I didn't give it another thought.
Throughout my twenties I lived a normal life and didn't even think about my heart. I moved to North Carolina & then to Virginia. Occasionally when I would go for a physical the doctor would mention my heart murmur. I wasn't concerned & I didn't go to a cardiologist at that time.
In my early thirties my doctor suggested that I see a cardiologist & referred me to Dr. Derrick Ridley. Around that time I had just gotten married & I now had a stepson and stepdaughter. I went back to Dr. Ridley when I got pregnant with my son & I've been going there once or twice a year for over 20 years now. Dr. Ridley was the one who diagnosed me with ventricular ectopy, mitral valve prolapse, & mitral regurgitation. I would go every year for an EKG & echo and sometimes a Holter monitor. I never had any symptoms but I did have PVC's that have gotten worse over the years. I was put on Metoprolol to help with that. My mitral regurgitation has gone from moderate, to moderate to severe, & now to severe. I never, however, thought that I would ever have to have surgery.
Earlier this year I was going on a weekend cruise & had to carry my small suitcase up two flights of stairs. When I got to the top my heart was racing & I could hardly breathe. I would have laid right down on the floor but I didn't want to make a scene. When I told Dr. Ridley about this episode he scheduled me for a stress test, Holter monitor, and a TEE. The results of the TEE showed severe mitral regurgitation which included several jets suggesting incomplete coaptation. The prolapse was similar on both sides. My left atrium was mildly enlarged. The doctor recommended a surgical consult for mitral valve repair. Dr. Ridley referred me to Dr. Gorav Ailawadi, surgical director of the UVA Advanced Cardiac Valve Center. Almost forty years (hard to believe!) after being told that I had a heart murmur my time has come. I have to get my mitral valve repaired.
I drove to Charlottesville on September 3 to get a CT scan and meet with Dr. Ailawadi for a surgical consult. I was especially interested in the minimally invasive mitral valve repair. I was happy to discover that Dr. Ailawadi and his team at UVA are leaders in the field of minimally invasive valve repair. When I looked at my list of possible surgeons, Dr. Ailawadi was at the top of my list. I was very impressed with Dr. Ailawadi & his staff. My plan was to put the surgery off until early next year, after my son's college graduation in December. Dr. Ailawadi suggested that it would be better for me to get the surgery done sooner rather than later.
I had my cardiac cath done on September 16th by Dr. Ridley. My surgery is now scheduled for October 26th, 2015.
Now that the surgery is scheduled I'm having a lot of doubts. I feel fine & I'm not having any symptoms (except for that one incident). Am I rushing into this too quickly? Am I doing the right thing? I'm trying not to let my fears get the best of me but I am afraid. I would appreciate any words of advice/encouragement that you have for me.
Update: I had my mini mitral valve repair surgery on 10/26/2015. My surgery was a success! My surgeon was able to repair my valve; no mechanical valve needed.