I am a 77 year old male in pretty good physical shape. I have about 12 lawns that I care for every summer and workout on the tread mill during the colder months.
My valve story began in 1966 when I took a physical prior to being assigned duty in the Philippines. The young doctor said he could hear a "functional murmur" after exercise. I thought he was nuts, so while carrying my medical records to my new assignment, I pulled that page out of my records and trashed. That was the end of my murmur. It wasn't even discovered during my retirement physical in 1979.
My family doctor began hearing it in the 1990's. Since that time it progressed to the point that I was sent to see a cardiologist in 2012. At that time, it wasn't serious enough to operate on. I was left with the dilemma by the time I would be serious enough for an operation. I would too old.
I have been seeing a cardiologist every six months since and having echograms once a year. I've been able to do most anything I want to, but have to pace myself. I can walk at three miles per hour, but tire quickly if I try the tread mill at 3.5 mph.
For the past six months I've noticed several changes. As long as I stay busy, I'm fine, but when I sit down in my recliner, I'm out in a flash. I've also started having these "light-headed" and double-vision spells. They only last for less than 30 seconds, but have become more frequent (several times a day).
After my echogram in September, I was referred to cardio surgeon. My aortic valve has progressed considerably in the last six months. The valve should be nearly one inch in diameter. It is now smaller than my little finger. I'm told that my ventricle is beginning to enlarge.
I've been through a battery of tests and am now on the waiting list for Femoral Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). I'm expected to have it done sometime in December.
I've watched several YouTube videos on the TAVR. I'm comfortable with what is about to happen. As with any major surgery, there are risks. I probably don't worry as much as most because I've learned as much as I can about the procedure and what to expect. My family is taken care of should the worse happen. And most of all, I tend to look at the brighter side of things.
The next step is to receive my scheduled date.
12/7/2017 - Things have happened pretty fast. I received my appointment. I was scheduled to check in on 12/4 and have surgery on 12/5. It happened on schedule. Surgery was supposed to start at 12 noon. They were running ahead of schedule and by 10:45 I was under. Surgery took about 45 minutes. Later the doctor said everything went perfect, one of the easiest ones they have done. Me? When I woke up, I felt the same as I did before I went into surgery. Absolutely no pain. The nurse raised my bed every hour until I was in the upright position. I got right out of bed, put on my robe and made 1 lap around the ward's hallway (about 1/20 mile). I could feel a little pressure where they went into my femoral arteries. Other than that, I felt pretty much normal.
During the night, they ran an EKG, took blood, and did an Echogram. The young lady fell in love with my new aortic valve.
About 9am the PA for Dr Hermiller came in and said I was clear to go home.
It is now the next day. I'm walking on the treadmill at about 2 mph for 15 minutes at a time. I feel good. I feel so good that I have to suppress the urge to overdo. I'm on 10 lb weight restriction and no driving for one month.
I plan on giving the medical community a 25 year report on the heart valve. Oh yes, I learned something while talking to one of the nurses. If anything does go wrong with this valve, they now have the ability to insert one more valve inside this one. Fantastic!
12/15/2017 - Today is day 10 post-op. By day 7, I was walking on the treadmill at 3.0 MPH. Blood pressure averaging 130/60 and pulse 80-90 BPM after exercise. Before surgery, my pulse reached 115- 120 and I felt short of air. The last two days have been spent seeing the doctors. My family doctor said to slow down because my incision area was still swollen. He said the exercise was keeping it swollen. My regular cardiologist told me yesterday that everything was fine. I did develop a thrombosis of a vein in my right forearm. He is having me put on an ace bandage and ice to force blood down other veins.
Hence, I have been vegetating for the past three days. The ice and ace bandage are working. the swollen vein is starting to go down. Starting tomorrow, I'll be getting back on schedule.
Oh, the heart valve? It is doing great! No murmur. They plan on releasing me to drive on 12/27/2017. Also, I should be taken of weight limitations at the same time. On 1/4/2018 they will be starting me on cardiac rehabilitation. I can't figure out for what. I'll be glad when I'm released because I've fallen behind on things I need to do. My son just had a furnace installed and I need to disconnect all the electrical baseboard heaters, chase in the ductwork and build a room for the furnace. I'm looking forward to getting back to work. I feel like I'm ready now, but don't want to take a chance anything going wrong.