I'm 66 years old and never had a serious health issue until last fall, when my regular doctor -- in my "Welcome to Medicare checkup" -- heard a heart murmur. He referred me to a cardiologist who diagnosed severe mitral regurgitation. My only symptom was occasional fatigue, which I chalked up to getting older.
The cardiologists monitored my condition for six months, and at my next checkup, they recommended surgery. I got a second opinion and scheduled the surgery as soon as I could, which was July 30.
I've been recovering for the past month and am feeling pretty good. I walk 1-2 miles every day and will start cardiac rehab on Sept. 7. I'm looking forward to that and plan to take it as far as I can. I've always been fit and want to be and feel the best I can. I had my first post-op checkup with the surgery team last week, and they say I'm doing great. They gave me the go-ahead to drive and use my arms more beginning Monday, which will be four weeks. But I'm going to wait another couple of weeks to give my sternum more time to mend. I live in downtown Chicago, so I don't drive much anyway.
I still feel some tightness in my chest when I take a deep breath, but I assume that's part of the healing process. I still use my incentive spirometer, and that seems to help, as does walking. The recovery process is slow, so you don't see daily or even weekly improvement. But I do see it over time.
I'm grateful for the care I received and continue to receive at Northwestern. I'm planning a trip to Ireland next spring. The diagnosis and operation delayed my retirement plans, but I'm going to jump start my plans very soon. Life is good!