Diagnosed with Mitral Valve Regurgitation in May 2018, a few weeks after routine medical visit for something else entirely. A nurse practitioner asked me during a routine exam whether I knew I had a heart murmur. "No."
The NP is "an old cardiac nurse and I know murmurs." I wound up doing further exams, including an Echo during the next two weeks. I met with a cardiologist and he said my mitral valve is leaking and will require surgery sooner rather than later.
So I was shocked, to say the least. I have no symptoms. I"m 65 but considered "young" by the doctors, I guess. I visited the surgeon on his team at Mercy Hospital in STL. He wanted me to have a TEE, after which he thought the chance of repairing my valve was only 70% or so. Since he thought replacement was the route to go, he suggested waiting.
Even before hearing this, I had set in motion the process of getting a second opinion. I went to the Valve Clinic at Barnes Jewish/WashU Physicians, which is a large, teaching operation. Over a month period, I saw two of the Barnes surgeons, one a devotee of open chest and the other a minimally invasive specialist. I was not sure which route to select and trusted both surgeons. I ultimately decided on the minimal, with Dr. Ralph Damiano. He is more experienced and exuded utmost confidence. What really sold me was his telling me that if I wait for symptoms, I will be cutting 10 years off my life.
There may be a slight edge to minimally invasive in terms of recovery but it doesn't seem very large. I picked the surgeon and will go with the procedure he favors ...as long as the cardiac cath shows minimally invasive is appropriate for me.
I'm about three weeks from surgery and the time passes slowly sometimes. I have a lot of things keeping me busy. Just trying to make arrangements for the procedure, i.e, finding someone to cute the grass, lining up a recliner for use during recovery, getting things done at work so I'm not leaving a ton for colleagues to bail me out on.
It will be here before I know it. I plan to be ready.