Had my first glitch on Friday night. Around midnight I awoke with very obvious atrial fibrillation. My heart was pounding and I could very definitely feel the fluttering beats. My blood pressure monitor showed blood pressure to be normal for me, in the range of 125/65. But my heart rate had shot up from its normal ~60 to 135!
I'm 200 miles away from my doc, so when I talked to him in the morning he said I was doing too much walking (I was up to about 2 miles in 30 minutes just 10 days after surgery). So I've slowed down and so has my heart.
Back home, second day and feeling great. I have such a detailed schedule of events and things to do for my recovery that I’ve started a spreadsheet for medicines (Lopressor, Tylenal, Lovaza, aspirin and Lipitor), breathing machine use, blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and weight. Also eye drop schedule for my post-cataract surgery.
What’s remarkable to me about this adventure is that it has been essentially pain free. The only time I feel any pain at all is when I inadvertently do something I’m not supposed to do, like start to get up by pushing with my hands, or raising my arms high overhead. The slight pain is like a quick reminder.
As I mentioned earlier, Dr. Luis Castro was my chief surgeon. Several surgeons and physician’s assistants from his office saw me several times a day as did Luis. He also emailed with me a few times a day.
I asked him why I had no pain. He said it probably was because his practice is to make a truly minimal incision — in my case less than three inches. And when he applies the retractors to spread the chest, he spreads it as little as possible, explaining that the team headed by him and Dr. Guardiani, focus on truly minimal surgery.
So, here I am, ready to take on the world. I fully anticipate that I won’t need to go into cardiac rehab, but will focus on walking as much as I can (if the snow waits a while) and then, when the docs say go for it, resume weight training.
As some of you know, three years ago, following a horrendous motorcycle crash, I dropped 55 pounds or so. Call it a crash diet. This time, no crash, but I’ve shed about 14 pounds and am down to a somewhat svelte 161.
[Turns out I lied. I weigh 167.5 pounds, so I only dropped about 8 pounds. Still feeling great without pain on my 7th day since surgery.]
All the numbers are good, I feel great and only bemoan the fact that the daily martini is a relished relic of the past.
I don’t plan to post to the blog anymore, unless something changes, but will be happy to answer emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember that name if you are planning a heart procedure. He removed my balky aortic valve on Wednesday and today, Friday I'm sitting here in my hospital room pain free! Magic hands, I think. All my measurements are perfect. Thanks, Luis
I'm all scrubbed and shaved and waiting for them to come get me for surgery. had a great night in hospital, eight hours sleep. Prep starts in one hour. Hopefully I'll blog tonight
Thanks to all for the good wishes,
Yesterday I had my second cataract surgery and today my ace ophthamologist, Dr. Jeffrey Caspar at UCDavis Medical Center, said I'm good to go. Everything checked out, healing nicely.
This means that i can keep both eyes on my heart surgeons. And my vision is great!
We had a nice visit to Monterey last weekend, attended a memorial ceremony and reception for our good friend Roger Parkes, who died much too young, but failed to take in CowBop at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Just ran out of gas. But we had dinner with Bruce and Pammy Forman, who headline CowBop, and that was great.
We will visit LA this weekend to say goodbye to daughter Meredith and her husband Matteo as they get ready to move to Dallas.
Then, it's off to Redwood City next Tuesday for surgery on Wednesday. Gulp!
Grateful to everyone who says it will be a walk in the park. Grateful, that is, to those who have had aortic valve replacement and say that. To the others, uh, I'll let you know next week. Hope you're right.
I have a date! Wednesday Sept 28, noon, at Sequoia Hospital, Redwood City, CA.
I feel very fortunate. California law requires two surgeons in the room for heart surgery, and I get Luis Castro and Vincent Guardiani. Both are extremely experienced, especially in aortic valve replacement. I will get a shiny new pig valve to replace my gummed-up valve.
Everything else looks clean, so I likely will not have any bypasses. The aorta is slightly enlarged, but my cardiologist, Donald St. Claire, Jr., and my surgeons do not anticipate having to replace any plumbing there.
I will have a mini-stenotic procedure with a 3-4-inch slice topside. They will seal the deal with wires, glue and part of a fender from a 1949 Ford.
Just to complicate things, I will have my second cataract operation on Monday, getting it out of the way so I can keep both eyes on my docs.
Thanks to messages here in my Guestbook, and a lot of messages from friends across the country, some of whom have recently had new aortic valves spliced in, I'm feeling very confident.
As one friend put it: "Castro and Gaudiani have done so many of these things they probably won't even notice you're in the room."
My wife, Judy, and our dog, Lily, will take in the Monterey Jazz Festival with me this weekend for a bit of pre-op R&R. I'll try to post from my hospital bed as soon as I'm awake.
Thanks to Kent Kersey for posting on my journal. Every little bit of encouragement is needed now.
On Wednesday (9/14/11) I will meet with my cardiologist, Dr. Donald St. Claire, Jr., to go over the details of my angiogram and echo-cardiogram, then walk a few paces down the hall to meet my candidate surgeon, Dr. Luis Castro.
I must confess that this point I'm having some misgivings that perhaps many of you have experienced. Maybe I should wait until next year? The year after?
I'm sure this uncertainty will be resolved in my meetings. But how? Will I have my aortic valve replaced by Thanksgiving? Will I have recovered sufficiently to escape our mountaintop home if deep snow arrives early?
I'll know a lot on Wednesday after the meetings. Or will I know nothing?
As "Al's Story" indicates, I've just had my second opinion and will soon be scheduled for surgery to replace my stenotic aortic valve. In a way, my journey began with Adam Pick, because someone gave me his book and I learned that my journey likely isn't as perilous as other adventures I have experienced. Stay tuned.