Here is my story, I have worked in a hospital since I was 16 yrs old, and I have seen a lot!! So this yr, in January I thought I had the "crud", I was on a couple of antibiotics, which seemed to help at the time, and then it would come right back, I couldn't breathe at night, and I would get so short of breath it was crazy, and I thought it was due to old age (61) and a fat butt!! A few people at work would comment on me, are you feeling ok?? You are losing weight, etc. Finally a girl I used to work with convinced me to come to the office in May, May 5th to be exact, for a chest x-ray, and that is when my life changed forever, but thank goodness I listened to Susie...I was asked by my "now" doctor, have you ever been told you have a heart murmur- no, I want to get an EKG, which showed I have a left bundle branch block, which led to another appointment for a CT, and a cardiac echo, an ultrasound of my heart. He thought I had stage 5 liver cancer, which in all my yrs, had never heard of stage 5, which at that point you would pretty much be picking out your plot, but luckily the CT was negative, and it ended up being all heart related, the echo showed I was born without my bicuspid valve!! I couldn't quite grasp what that meant, but I was soon to find out! This led to a visit to the cardiologist, which is where I found out I was going to need open heart surgery, and the sooner the better, and I had to have a multitude of tests before that could happen. It started with a coronary angiogram, which all my "pipes" were clean, an MRI of my heart, a carotid ultrasound of my neck, and endoscopy, and a colonoscopy, which the colonoscopy showed I had a small polyp, which they did a biopsy on, and I found out I also have Celiac Sprue, which is a gluten allergy, and a visit to the dentist. Then a visit to the cardiovascular surgeon,oh my, and a decision of what kind of valve I would want ! What the heck?? My aorta was also enlarged, which made the decision easier, because if they had to fix my aorta I would need a mechanical valve. My husband and I had multiple melt downs before I ended up in surgery, I have never been so scared in my entire life, mainly because I have been a healthy girl up till this point.The nightmares before were pretty amazing, me waundering around the surgery room looking for Dr Grehan (my cardiovascular surgeon) and not being able to find him, being intubated and waking up with no one to help me, my chest splitting open when I came home and unable to find a phone or any phone numbers, CRAZY dreams! I think the worst part was going into surgery wondering if I would live through this ordeal, and the best part was waking up, and seeing all my loved ones, especially my husband, Everything I swore I would never have done, was done to me and more!! A foley catheter, a balloon pump, 2 chest tubes, a central line (IV in your neck), and my 6-7 inch incision from my surgery. Let the healing begin, I was extubated in about 15 minutes after surgery, thank goodness, one nightmare done!! Doing good until 2 days after surgery, they tried to shut off the temporary pacemaker and my heart took a dump, and I found out that I would also need a pacemaker/defibrillator, and I had a meltdown! My poor old heart wasn't working the way it was supposed to, I also found out that it wasn't that uncommon to have this happen with surgeries, and that many patients need a pacemaker. So on June 28th I was back in surgery for another 5 hrs, because I wasn't responding to the pacemaker the way I was supposed to, and I guess they even needed to "zap" me 3 times to get me going, but all ended up well, and on July 2nd I went home. I also went to the hospital that I work at, and I was so well taken care of, and everyone was so nice to me from start to finish with this whole process. Being home for 2 months was surreal, I hadn't been off for 2 months since before I started working, but your time is not your own, with the home health care nurse, coming over, trying to sleep constantly on your back, having to go to cardiac rehab 3 times a week, doctor appointments- YIKES! But I am here and doing well, I went back to work August 26th and I am working full time, on many medications, have my little box for Medtronics and my pacemaker in our bedroom, trying to get my INR stable, because now with my mechanical valve I have to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life, being a little nervous waiting for that pacemaker/defibrillator to go off and shock me, getting used to that beating of my mechanical valve, even my husband can hear in at night in bed!! It was a crazy process, and I am so lucky that I have done well, and I can't thank my doctor, my cardiologists, and my cardiovascular surgeon enough, without them I would not be here within the year or so....Kudos to all that have been involved with my and my issues!! Oh, I ended up with about 12 different diagnosis, which included, CHF, complete heart block, cardiomyopathy, bicuspid valve, aortic root repair, ect, guess I was pretty much a walking time bomb, thankfully where I work if I went down, I couldn't have been in a better place. Good luck to all who may need this surgery, it was a scary unknown process, and thank goodness you are able to read my story instead of my obituary !!