Hello fellow heart valve surgery survivors,
Tomorrow is my 2 year anniversary. I had aortic valve replacement on January 12, 2015.
I have not scheduled my 2 year checkup yet, but will feedback the results of that when known.
Best wishes for everyone,
Start of family communal Victory Garden this year. Late start due to rains. I will be planting Giant Sun Flowers this year and will share when ready. I'm at 15 months after AVR and just got excellent checkup. I'm getting ready to go back to regain FAA 3rd
1 Year Checkup
Journal posted on March 5, 2016
My 1 year checkup was a little late due to scheduling (AVR was Jan 12, 2015).
But I had a good checkup and echo cardiogram. Everything good and normal. Next checkup in 1 year.
Best wishes to all my fellow heart valve surgery patients.
A sun flower from my daughters flower garden, sun flower section - viewing this image is known to reduce blood pressure and mend damaged hearts! :)
Journal posted on August 19, 2015
Six month checkup that turned into seven month checkup due to time to get it scheduled.
- Excellent report, no problems
- heart & lungs sound normal
- no echo needed at this time
- no prescription medicines (other than 81 mg aspirin)
- next checkup in 6 months
I underwent AVR, full sternotomy on Jan 12th 2015.
Edwards Life Sciences Bovine 3300TFX valve
HISTORY since since surgery:
- ICU the first night, then step down room
- cardiac rehab phase I in hospital with walker & no walker
- released from hospital to home recovery Day 5
- initial home care with daughters & brother, 1st 1.5 weeks
- on my own after 1.5 weeks home
- Started cardiac rehab phase II at McKee Medical week 3 post op.
- no prescription medications after initial use of pain medicine
- graduated from Phase II cardiac rehab after 12 weeks 36 sessions with 91% improvement
- Started phase III cardiac rehab, 2 days/week at hospital, 3-4 days per week on my own
- At start of rehab, resting heart rate was high (90-100s?) but just now 50s (resting).
- Participated (won't say ran) in FireKracker 5K on July 4th
- In training to run in next 5K (maybe 10K?)
- Too may to list, enjoying them
- My left leg is still somewhat numb & not quite sure why. Current theorys, nerve damage of some kind due to ice in chest during surgery? OR compression during spreading of the sternum? OR something else. Still researching this. The right leg was a little numb at first but recovered fully. With no bypasses, nothing was done directly to left leg.
- Will probably have a 6 month checkup, echo sometime soon
- can now start working on my 3rd class medical with FAA so hopefully can fly my own plane again.
Completed (not necessarily ran) the Firecracker 5K this morning, Fort Collins, CO elevation 5000'+
Journal posted on June 28, 2015
I have been telling myself I wasn't going to post anything until my 6 month anniversary coming up; but this is worth mentioning.
With summer time and lots of rain, came a LOT of work on my little 12 acre place. I am finding I can work really hard ALL day and not get tired. A real POSITIVE PLUS statement for replacing that damaged Aortic valve. ++++++++++++++ bc
This is my journal entry for 5 months post op. for aortic valve replacement. On Jan 12, I had full sternotomy to replace my damaged aortic valve. Only the 1 valve need attention, arteries aortic root, other valves were OK. The replacement valve was an Edwards Life Sciences CARPENTIER-EDWARDS MAGNA EASE MODEL 3300TFX (bovine).
My current status is: I feel like I've recovered fully. The only residual indications of the operation are a visible scar (zipper), my left leg is still a little numb, and the lack of many problem indications I had before the operation. My blood pressure is good, heart rate is back down, murmur gone, strength and endurance coming back. I am not taking any prescription medicines, although I do take a few pills for self imposed programs of heart health, hair health, hypo serotonin, etc.
I completed & graduated from phase II cardiac rehab and am now participating in phase III. Recently I was able to climb my 50' wind generator tower several times to work on antennas with no problems. I've set up a home gym to supplement the hospital rehab and also use local bike/walk/hike trails.
If I can help others awaiting surgery or just starting on recovery in any way, feel free to contact me.
I am wishing the very best results for all of you. It's no fun but the rewards are great.
NEW HEART VALVE IS WORKING - See that new yagi antenna at the top of my wind generator tower (red dot). I put that up there. Up & down 50' tower twice with no problems or fatigue. The new aortic valve (approx. 5 months post op) sure is nice! Thank you Edw
For all you sun flower fans. Heart Surgery will bring you a "new day".
Four Months Post Op. AVR
Journal posted on May 9, 2015
Not too much going on, as my recovery continues without significant problems (knocking on wood):
- For physical recovery, I graduated from 36 sessions of phase 2 rehab, and have started first week of phase 3.
- I've added a recumbent bicycle to my home gym for use during inclement weather. Thinking of adding an elliptical as I've been using that in rehab at the hospital.
- I left a "special" thank you card for one of the women leading the phase 2 sessions (another sign my heart is fixed) AND did not get arrested when I returned for phase 3, so things are looking up. :)
- For emotional & mental recovery:
-- I made a trip to Texas for the weekend to visit my hangar at Spicewood Airport and attend the annual meeting. This was ta 800' elevation, so a check of things at low altitude.
-- I have several self imposed research projects underway in the areas of microbiology and neurochemistry. I wish I had enough time to go back to school and get a DSc; but have probably been out of school too long.
My best wishes for all the mothers recovering from and facing surgery on this mothers day weekend.
GRADUATION - 3 months, 12 days post op. AVR, completed & graduated 12 weeks, 36 sessions of Phase II cardiac rehab. - no problems, on to phase III. :)
Phase II Cardiac Rehab. Week 11 Completed
Journal posted on April 17, 2015
Post Op. AVR 14 weeks - Completed week 11 of cardiac rehab. - no problems:
- Next week is my last week of cardiac rehab, graduation on Friday
- Resting heart rate in morning at home has been dipping into the 50s
- Resting heart rate after cool down at rehab has been dipping into the 80s
- I've set up a home gym and have been matching exercise on off days, to transition to Phase III
- A little dismay over the posted bovine tissue aortic valve that only lasted 6.5 years.
- Continuing my research into microbiology/biochemistry so that hopefully I can get rid of the one prescribed medicine I'm taking.
Best wishes and hopes for my heart brothers & sisters.
Post Op. AVR 13 weeks - Just completed week 10 of cardiac rehab. - no problems:
- Woke up one morning to pulse ox of 99% SpO2 and 58 bpm heart rate, so the new valve is doing it's job. This at elevation 5090'.
- Got a treadmill for my home gym that is capable of doing the first 3 stages of the Bruce Protocol, which I will have to do to get my FAA medical back.
- Doing some research in micro biology & bio chemistry to address any additional problems.
- Got home test kits for total cholesterol HDL and triglycerides so I could more closely monitor results of new diet and exercise plans.
- Bought a bike rack so I can get some variety in biking trails.
- Still have a little numbness and pain in left leg (post op.)
- Planning to go for FAA 3rd class medical about August time frame.
Best wishes and hopes for my heart brothers & sisters.
Every morning I get up and as I move around my little house, I see objects that are new or slightly out of place; and I'm reminded of the wonderful time when my daughters brought me home from the hospital and stayed with me to take care of me. I might have been in pain and not able to move much then; but I got the BEST of care.
Cardiac Rehab - 7 weeks complete - They like to monitor your progress! :) :) :)
Week 9 - Post Op. - AVR
Journal posted on March 16, 2015
My journal postings are getting a little boring, so after this one, I'll probably increase periodicity to monthly or greater. I'm just continuing my recovery at 9 weeks post operation (January 12th) with no real problems to report.
- Completed 6 weeks of Phase II Cardiac Rehab. This is the half way mark for my program here. I moved up to 10 pound weights per arm last week and have managed to increase in strength & endurance each week.
- My heart rates seems to be coming down, both resting and working out. I've now seen 60s while resting at home and a similar recovery heart rate reduction in the rehab sessions.
- My right leg numbness is completely gone. However my left leg continues with a little numbness and pain. Not enough to really bother me. I still wish I understood the mechanism by which this is caused. The only theory I have so far is that when the rib cage is spread during surgery, it somehow compresses parts of the spinal column containing the neurons that connect to the upper legs. Then these must recover functionality. I've read that some muscle axons can extend several feet.
- Also perplexing is some variation in my O2 % in the blood (SPO2). It seems to vary low 90s to high 90s. But I feel fine, so guess I'll chalk that up to the measuring devices, or my skinny hands. :)
I wish to thank all my heart brothers & sisters for your constant support and also convey my hopes and best wishes for those waiting for an operation.
Tomorrow will be my 8 week anniversary of my operation for aortic valve replacement with a tissue (bovine) valve. Recovery is continuing without a lot of difficulty but I have a ways to go in some areas (weight, strength, conditioning).
- I've completed 5 weeks of Phase II Cardiac Rehab. after a shaky start (dehydration) and have been pushing to new limits every week. Sometimes I get in trouble with the staff and am told to 'pull back'. The limiting factor is the heart rate they don't want you to exceed.
- I'm starting to notice a reduction in my at-home at-rest heart rate. The past week that I have taken it, I seen low 60s as opposed to low 70s before. This is matched by my recovery heart rate in rehab. dropping to low 100s from low 110s. This I believe is a sign of the heart adapting to its new environment and matches what others have reported.
- Numbness and slight pain in my left leg lingers on, I wish I knew the mechanism by which leg malaise is caused by an operation up in your chest? Is there nerve damage somewhere caused by opening up the chest? It has been worse on the left side & the heart is more on the left side.
- Just for grins, I used the spirometer again. My lung capacity is coming back. Not quite what it used to be, but much better than right after the operation.
- I'm continuing to work on diet and exercise as key elements to full recovery. I've been adding additional (beyond rehab) exercise and am planning for Phase III cardiac rehab.
I am wishing the very best for my heart brothers & sisters awaiting surgery and for those working to recover from surgery. Wish I could do more.
So you are facing heart valve surgery? Buck up as good things are about to happen to you.
Soon you will be past the surgery and well on the road to recovery. Besides the obvious, there are many additional benefits of your surgery.
- You'll wake up to some of the nicest voices in the world. Whether it be a one of the dedicated nurses or some other love in your life, it will be one of the best voices you ever hear. In my case it was my youngest daughter Patty, saying "Hi Dad".
- You will be the recipient of a gift from Leonardo da Vinci & many others. As early as 1508, Leonardo worked at understanding blood flow in the aortic valve and closure dynamics of the valve operation; even to the extent of making small glass models of the valves. Beyond Leonardo, many, if not thousands, of dedicated medical doctors and laboratories have worked to make today's miracle heart repairs possible. Let's thank them.
- You may have gone through lots of tests leading up to your surgery decision. I did AND with my new heart valve, I now have good knowledge of the exact condition of my upper body, heart, arteries, etc. THAT is a good relaxing feeling to know that the problems have been fixed and you DO have a future that is not unknown.
- Because of all of the above I feel like I have a 'new life'. That is the time and energy bought for me by Leonardo, the surgeons, the anesthesiologists, the cardiologists, the doctors AND the nurses is very valuable and should be spent on valuable things and not wasted. So add attitude correction to one of the benefits.
- It brings loved ones together. For the first few nights at home, I had all three of my daughters staying with me. It turned out to be a slumber party. The 'girls' got into the 'fire water' We spent a lot of time with old memories and made some new ones. It is an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. After the daughters, my brother Rich from Austin took over and it was the 'boys turn'.
- I'm sure there are many more, so now add your unseen benefit here.....
I'm posting this a day early as I have morning sessions for cardiac rehab. Tomorrow will be my 7 week anniversary of my surgery for aortic valve replacement. Recovery continues without incident and I feel really good compared to before operation.
- I've completed 4 weeks of phase II cardiac rehab. On Friday of the past week, I could feel being stronger. I was able to attain the weeks goals set & more. There is one man in my class that is sort of my inspiration. He can do the full workout & then with 5 minute cool down, his heart rate is down to 50. Don't know if I'll ever get that far but it is a goal.
- The numbness and pain in my left leg has reduced significantly this past week. This gives me hope that it will ALL be gone eventually.
- My at-rest and recovery heart rates continues to be high. I don't know how much of this is post surgery side effect or my being out of shape. Looking at my data from before surgery I see at-rest at-home rates of 60-65. Last week I was at about 75, improving to 70 by the end of the week. So it looks like I need to continue working on my aerobic condition.
- Met with the dietitian on Wednesday to work on a good heart health diet. I added fish oil (1000 mg) to my daily pill group.
I'm very happy to see Jim Kelly-Evans, Lisa Repp, and many others past the surgery point and recovering. For those in the upcoming surgery list, please know that we are pulling for you.
Recovery continues with no known problems:
- Incision and drain tube holes almost healed. I'm using mederma & vitamin E oil.
- Completed 3rd week of Phase II cardiac rehab. Trying to push the limits a little.
- I've been driving for 2 weeks now. I've taken over shopping, errands, etc. from my daughters.
- Started attending lunches again with my techno friends, to keep mind exercised and working on projects.
- Continuing to work on rest-of-life goals in several areas, but common threads through all of them seem to be cardio-diet and exercise. This precious time that heart surgery has bought for me needs to be used carefully and wisely.
Much hope & good wishes goes out to Jim Kelly-Evans, Lisa Repp, & others who seem to be having a little rougher time.
Not sure if this is a milestone or not, but would like to post it in the way of encouragement for those awaiting surgery, I just passed my 1 month post op. anniversary for AVR.
I woke up this morning and my normally slightly pounding, racing heart was not there. My heart was quiet and at peace. It felt so good to just lay there and be peaceful. The heart felt like it did before my heart murmur developed.
So for everyone waiting, hang in there. Good things await you ! !
Today is my 4th week anniversary after aortic valve replacement. Things are still going fine:
- Started 2nd week of phase II cardiac rehab.
- Weight down 6 pounds over last couple of weeks.
- Very little pain, no pain pills during last week.
- Left leg still a little numb but fully functional.
- Will have 4 week follow up with surgeon and cardiologist this week.
Yesterday ( 3 week post op) I had my first Phase II Cardiac Rehab. session. I got dizzy which we decided was dehydration. So be sure to remember hydration before exercising.
Today I had a checkup with Dr. Flake, my GP and he said I was doing really well. Only thing he changed was the creme for a slight rash on right collar bone to cortisone . I had been using mederma. The actual incision stays on mederma.
Tonight I have an overnight O2 test. But I'm fairly sure I'm done with supplemental O2 as mine was 97% today on room air at the doctor office.
On Tuesday, I had my 2 week post-op. checkup and everything was fine.
My lungs were clear as I have been doing breathing exercises at home.
I got set up to start Phase II Cardiac Rehab. this coming Monday and expect to be released to drive on Feb. 10th.
I am mostly off of pain medications and only take 1 when absolutely needed.
So not much to report from me which I feel is good news in a way.
From the inside (of my body) I can tell I have a new heart and that it is adjusting to its new situation. I continue to feel very good.
So thanks to all of the excellent medical community we have and thanks to this forum for all of the support.
I had aortic valve replacement surgery January 12th (morning) and am now in home recovery. I really feel very good and am continuing to work on recovery. I'm using all 3 timing functions of cell phone for various reminders: count down timer every hour for breathing exercises, stop watch to show time since last pain pill and then daily alarms for scheduled medicines. Then of course the pedometer for setting goals and monitoring walking. At some point i'll start working on the incision/scar.
Is there besides the mederma for the incision? One posting i read indicted some other process like massage or dead skin removal?