In January 2016, I went to the ER on an unrelated medical issue. Among many tests, they did an EKG and said: "Did you know it's abnormal?" What started out as a simple diagnosis of left bundle branch block quickly spiraled into something much more serious.
Long story short, I spent a full week in the hospital getting tests. A TEE and heart cath were done, and then I learned the extent of my troubles: severe mitral regurgitation plus secondary issues (mild to moderate aorta leakage too).
The timing was lousy (not that it's ever good!) I had just been offered, and accepted, a terrific job out of state that was paying for the move and we were due to move in about a month. Had a house to sell and tons to do. The fact there was a reason for my major fatigue was both reassuring and yet frustrating. My heart broke when I had to decline the new job.
The grim diagnosis knocked me down for a while. I spent most of the spring/summer avoiding thinking about the inevitable. I didn't have symptoms beyond the fatigue, was still walking a brisk mile most days and even aced the stress test at the cardiologist.
Late summer saw a swift, marked decline in my health. Suddenly just walking from the car to my office left me out of breath. Shortness of breath led to sleeping sitting mostly upright. Fluid pooled in my lungs if I laid down for any length of time. The wheezing/rattling in my lungs was scary.
During my hospital stint, I saw about four different cardiologists. All named the same local surgeon as "the best" here. I saw him and he agreed that I need surgery, however, he does only sternotomy and mostly replacement, while everything I read points to repair being preferable whenever possible.
When I told my cardiologist I was looking at Cleveland Clinic based on their rep/rankings, she was cautious. She said she had referred patients there before and never gotten a response. BLUF: If they won't respond to a doctor, what chance does little ol' me have to get in?
That's when my husband went on an all-out mission to find an optimal alternative. We had Adam Pick's book, but he also spoke to Adam personally and got the personal intro needed to "grease the skids."
My records went up to the Cleveland Clinic for eval (Oct 2016), but in the meantime we also saw Dr. Clifton Lewis in Birmingham at Adam's recommendation.
That sealed the deal.
More Info About Me & My Heart
More About Me
I am from:
My surgery date is:
December 5, 2016
I was diagnosed with:
My surgery was:
Aortic Valve Replacement
Mitral Valve Replacement