Wow, I can't believe it's been over a year since I had my surgery. Everything has been going very well. My scar has healed, my sternum has healed, my pacemaker has settled in. I developed a big allergic reaction to Warfarin/Coumadin, and was switched to Eliquix. That was fine with me because I then had no dietary restrictions. I haven't had any AFib or other problems in quite a while, and my cardiologist finally took me off all meds. My only problem now is my weight. I had lost quite a bit pre-surgery, but I've put it all back on now. This has caused me to be more short of breath again. I'm trying to get back into a regular exercise problem and adjust my diet again. Otherwise, life is good!
I hope all of you facing surgery in the future much success! For those of you who have already had surgery, I wish you continued good health! Do not sweat the little stuff. Appreciate the good things.
After 36 sessions of cardiac rehab, I am finally finished with all of my treatment following my AVR surgery. All in all, I feel pretty darn good! My stamina is getting back on track. There is no more pain. My scars have healed. Wow, what a journey this has been. I knew for over 15 years that I was going to have open heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve. Now that it is all over, the anxiety is gone and I sleep like a baby. In a way, I'm so glad I went through this journey. This has given me such a new outlook on life. It has brought closer to my husband. It has made me appreciate how precious life is. I am not going to worry about having surgery to replace my pacemaker in 7-10 years, and I'm not going to worry about a follow-up valve repair in 15-20 years.
To those of you who are facing surgery and/or recovering, you will get through this, and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I met with my cardiologist, and I'm on track with my recovery. When I walked into the office, I saw him down the hall. He came over, gave me a big grin and said "There she is!" That was really uplifting. I'm through 15 sessions of cardiac rehab, and feeling better all the time, but have to remember to keep hydrated, or it throws me into AFib or flutters. I'm up to 15 minutes at level 5 on the seated elliptical and 15 minutes at level 2.6 with a 1.0 incline on the treadmill. This is finally making me feel like I'm getting a great workout. I'm also enjoying the classroom sessions, which are helping me make better dietary choices. My pacemaker incision has finally healed all the way, and it's not giving me anymore problems. I've been having more pain at the top of my sternum, as it seems it's the last area to heal. But the swelling is finally going down. I just have to make sure not to lean over much as that can send a sharp pain into me and it swells up. All in all, I'm on the road to recovery and glad to be back!!
Best wishes to those of you who are in different stages of recovery, and to those of you who are still facing surgery. I just found out that a friend of mine is going to have emergency valve replacement/repair at any time now. I believe some type of infection has damaged her valve, so please keep Holli in your prayers as she faces this surgery. We all know we will survive and thrive!!!
I finally had my first cardiac rehab session, almost 8 weeks post surgery. The facility is awesome. One thing I didn't expect, though. Here I am at almost 60, and already going through cardiac issues which more of the elderly typically experience (or so I thought). I looked around at all of these older patients who were bright and cheery and just so happy to be there. This brought tears to my eyes and I had to step aside and pull myself together. The therapist assigned to me asked if I needed a hug. That was so sweet of her. A portable EKG was attached to me, and they took several readings throughout the session. They didn't see any a-fib, but did see atrial flutter. I had a great session and am looking forward to more - 3 times a week for 12 weeks.
I've been experiencing some scary symptoms since last night. I took my meds, laid down in the recliner to watch tv, then realized I couldn't see half of the screen. I started experiencing sparkly floating glitter, mostly in my right eye, that was affecting my vision. Then the splitting headache started. It started at the top of my head, and then took over my whole head. I grabbed my hand massager and moved it all over my scalp. It helped for a bit. Then I put an ice pack across my head, and this seemed to help a bit. But I suffered through this severe pain all night long. Everywhere the pillow touched my head, it hurt. This morning I got in the shower and let the hot water massage my head, and it helped quite a bit, but I still have the floating glitter in my right eye. I have no history of migraines, so this has really concerned me. Has anyone else experienced these types of symptoms?
I had my first visit with my cardiologist today since my surgery on 12/2. He looked at me and had a huge grin on his face - said he couldn't believe I looked so good after undergoing such a serious surgery!
Had some chest x-rays, and a pacemaker scan and EKG, which showed I have been in atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter for 19 days!!! I never could get my Coumadin level up since I had an allergic reaction to 5mg/day. The Doc took me off of that, prescribed Eloquis 5mg for 3 weeks, and then I will come back and have my heart shocked, which should bring it back in pace.
While he was reading my op notes, he mentioned that I had a porcine valve (instead of a bovine one) because the surgeon needed to put in a root combo stem 23 mm (instead of normal 21mm?). He explained that a bovine valve is constructed, and a porcine valve is already a valve. So I guess I'm not a cowgirl after all... Oh well, just glad to be alive!
I am still waiting for cardio rehab to call me back to schedule my sessions. Guess I'll have to stop in there to get that done.
All in all, it was a very good day!
My sternum incision glued, drainage tubes incision stitched, pacemaker (left shoulder) stitched two weeks post surgery. The swelling at the top of my incision is finally starting to go down.
A-Fib and Allergic Reaction to Warfarin (Coumadin)
Journal posted on January 5, 2016
I've had problems getting my Coumadin level up to 2-3/day. I started on 2mg./day. Then my level tested at 1.6. The next week the dosage was increased to alternating 2mg one day and 3mg the next. The following week my level tested at 1.6 again. My dosage was increased to 3mg/day. The following week it tested at 1.3, and again at 1.2. My surgeon increased my dosage to 5mg/day (starting last night). That sent me into an allergic reaction, both glands in my throat were swollen into balls, and my swallowing became difficult. I have many drug allergies but this was one of the stronger reactions I've had. I sure didn't want to go to the hospital for a Benadryl or Epinephrine shot. My bills are already going to be astronomical. I ended up taking shower and a Benadryl pill and laid down. The swelling in the left side of my throat eventually went down, and this morning the other side started to also. I called the nurse, and the surgeon ordered an EGK, which showed I have been in A-Fib (for how long, I don't know). The nurse will call me back this afternoon and let me know if I need to scan my pacemaker for them to review. This is very stressful......
I saw Dr. Tribble today for the first time since my surgery on 12/2. He is very pleased with my progress, took out the last stitches from the drainage tubes in my stomach, took me off the Lasix and Potassium, and told me to come back in 2 months! I will follow up with my cardiologist in mid-January and will have a chest x-ray and a check on my pacemaker. Things are looking up!
I lost 20 lbs. pre-surgery and 10 more lbs. post-surgery. You can sure see it in my face.
I FINALLY GOT OUT IN PUBLIC TODAY!
Journal posted on December 17, 2015
I am 15 days post bovine tissue valve replacement surgery. Had some problems with a heart block, and ended up having a pacemaker, which is also requiring Coumadin at this point. Also having some mild A fib the past few days. My pain level from cutting open my sternum, having a pacemaker put in, and the holes/scarring from the 3 big drainage holes in my stomach finally seems very manageable. The worst pain I've had is from my low back and neck after laying on the surgical table for how many hours. My neck is still giving me a fit, so I've been doing stretching exercises for it. I've had home health nursing and physical therapy care. Today I had a meeting with cardiac rehab to set up exercises and nutrition and health classes. The car ride wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but the heart pillow was helpful. They are so busy and won't start until after the beginning of the year. Otherwise, I am feeling better every day. My appetite is fairly good for small portions. I've lost 8 lbs. in the week since I got home. My energy level is increasing every day. Otherwise, I'm just going to rest as much as I can to let me wounds heal.
Prayers to all of you who have recently undergone surgery and also to those who are facing it in the coming days.
At long last I am home. What a journey that was. I felt like I got hit by 3 Mack trucks. My surgery was scheduled first thing 12/2, but my surgeon had a 6 hour emergency surgery repair instead. So I sat and waited in bed. I got called in about 3pm. Woke up about dinner time and couldn't move. Wow. The next few days were tense as my heart and my new valve didn't seem to be communicating, so on Sunday 12/6, a pacemaker was installed. I had to stay in ICU until Tuesday 12/8, and from there I was transferred to the step down unit. Continued problems with my Coumadin levels were monitored, and this morning I was discharged and will be able to sleep in my own bed tonight!!!
My thoughts have also been with my new moo buddy, Mindy Currence, who had a similar procedure on the same as me a mere 3 miles away in another hospital. One day we'll have to get together and compare notes!
All packed and ready to go! I even got a few hours of peaceful sleep last night, even though my husband didn't. My prayers go out to all of you who have undergone and will soon be undergoing similar surgeries. My soon to be moo buddy, Mindy Currence, is having surgery a mere 3 miles from me in another hospital at the same time this morning. I will see you all on the other side!!!
Saw my surgeon this morning. Had blood work done, chest xrays, EKG. Everything is good. I have to report to the Palmetto Heart Hospital here in Columbia, SC, at 6am on Wednesday, 12/2, for open heart surgery to repair my aortic valve, and surgery starts at 8am. I have chosen a bovine (cow) valve, and look forward to being a member of the Moo Club. It should take 3-4 hours. I will be in ICU for 2 days and expect to be in the hospital 4-7 days. I'll soon be on the other side!
After many years of waiting, my surgery has finally been scheduled for December 2nd. My last echo showed major changes, and my stamina and breathing was affected. I will have a two phase surgery, replacing the bottom of the stem and two of the 3 valves with bovine parts. Dr. Reid W. Tribble of Carolina Cardiac Surgery Associates will be performing the surgery at Palmetto Heart Hospital here in Columbia, SC. I have had my bloodwork done, and the heart cath result was great - no stents or bypasses needed. Now the real waiting begins.....
I had an echo last Friday, and was told the results were similar to the one I had 6 months ago with very little, if any, change. My husband and I met with my cardiac surgeon yesterday morning. He diagnosed me with severe aortic stenosis, but was very pleased with the results of the echo, and advised us that I could probably wait another year or two for the surgery, unless, of course, I started having any symptoms. Right now I'm still feeling great, even better since I can move forward with my life. I'll be checking back with my surgeon in 6 months. In the meantime, I'm following several of you who are going through this process now. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
One Month Until My Appointment with my Surgical Team
Journal posted on January 3, 2014
About 20 years ago my doctor told me I had a loud heart murmur. Just over 12 years ago I had a grand mal seizure and ended up in the hospital. There they determined the reason for my murmur. I have had it monitored every year with an echo. It looks like I'll be having my surgery soon. I'm scheduled to meet with my valve clinic staff at Palmetto Heart Hospital on February 4th. I'm so glad I found this site on facebook. Reading other people's journals is helping me prepare for my own surgery. I have such mixed emotions about this. On one hand, I have so much I want to get done before I am incapacitated post surgery. On the other hand, I just want to get it over with and get on with my life. This waiting is very stressful. I really don't feel like I have any symptoms at this time, but I also don't want to wait until the last minute and have it be an emergency situation.
About a dozen years ago I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, and was advised that it would eventually need to be repaired/replaced. Annual echos revealed that the time was nearing, and I initially thought it would be at the end of last year, then August of this year. I was still holding steady with no symptoms at that time, so it was postponed again until February of 2014. This extra time made me very thankful as I dealt with the death of my mother last year, administering her estate and trust, and on top of that I decided to open up my own vintage clothing and antique store in June of this year. I just couldn't put my life on hold... Now the time is nearing, and I am anxious to get it over with.