I can tell you as a survivor of robotic mitral valve repair (Dec 2010) that although the operation is a marathon, and all of the pre-op tests are a real pain in the butt, however, you will be fine. Thoughts were my biggest obstacle and not the surgery.
I too remember getting the call from the hospital with my surgery date, followed by a large packet of information about my surgery, test dates, etc. I remember getting really freaked out; angry, upset, crying, generally acting out. My husband could not understand how upset and anxious I became after having been so calm. It took about a week for me to regain my composure. I think this is a somewhat normal response. In retrospect, I should have just taken a Xanax right after that phone call. But I didn't. So here we all are. Positive affirmations!!!!
Darren, the anxiety of getting that call on a firm date hit me hard initially. It just seemed so real at that moment. Then something set in that overcame the anxiety. That was the relief in knowing i was finally going to get this over with and start living again. I got a great vibe on this date Darren. Its a Friday, same day as my surgery. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers buddy. Dean
Hey, Darren. Great, now you gotta a T (Table) time, its a gonna happen time. You know tons of us out here are gonna be sending positive vibes your way. I'll be checking back for status entries. BTW, although the doc paid serious attention to my question about "pump head" sydrome and we will watch for symptoms, when I asked him to tell my wife it explains why I didn't think about her birthday and our 44th anniversay, it didn't work and now I guess I gotta buy stuff, maybe even take her out for dinner. Be good, be safe guy....barry
Darren - I will be one day before you - April 7th. I am sure you are as anxious as I am this week. I wish you the best and I look forward to us comparing recovery journals when we are thru this. Take Care,
I was shocked to hear how soon your surgery is. I figured I'd be done before you and be able to tell you all about it. Since my surgery is April 21, I'll be looking to you for information about your experience.
I know exactly what you are talking about and what you are feeling. As they say, been there, done that. And I also dislike it when people make well meaning, but predictions they can't possibly know anything about. People always mean well I'm sure, but what they don't understand is that to make statements like "you will be alright," "stop worrying," and whatever . . . is to diminish what WE are feeling and going through.
As for the perfusionist and anesthesiologist - well, as you know, it takes a whole team of medical professionals for heart surgery. I come from a family of medical people - doctors and nurses. And my aunt, a nurse, was an O.R. nurse part of the heart surgery team (before she had her own heart surgery many many years ago). Perhaps you can feel better knowing that ALL the medical professionals who assist during heart surgery are the best of the best. They are a team used to working together to accomplish the very best outcomes. No heart surgeon is going to risk his patient in the hands of another medical professional who is not the best at what he/she does. I hope that helps.
My uncle was an anesthesiologist and he used to tell me all about how it works. Believe me, they take their jobs very seriously. I have been through two previous major surgeries. I am a seriously big chicken with anxiety issues and I have always come through the surgery and anesthesia very well with no after effects from the anesthesia. I always make a point of talking very frankly the anesthesiologist and telling him what I want (not to feel nauseous and mostly - to wake up without brain damage). I have found that it really helps to develop a good rapport with the anesthesiologist. When I had surgery in Mexico I awoke in the recovery room with my anesthesiologist leaning over the bed holding me and stroking my hair. I know that's a bit unusual in the U.S., but hey, it was Mexico and they're very touchy feely. My point is - befriend the anesthesiologist - and all the medical professionals and they will go the extra mile for you.
Of course no one can guarantee our outcomes, but the statistics are with us, Darren. I take solace in hearing about all the people who have gone through this with successful outcomes and minimal problems.
You are very close to getting this whole thing behind you and I wish you every possible success.
It's clear you thought you this philosophy very carefully. As one who has been through life-saving surgeries of major proportions twice (one giant kidney tumor, one heart valve) I can attest to their life-changing consequences. As one of the women in Adam's book wrote, (not a quote, just general memory) "I worried about dying during the surgery, but not having the surgery was a more sure way of dying, so why not take the chance and have the surgery?" That's a more direct attitude, if not philosophy.
Being about twice your age, I look at things differently. I see news accounts of famous people dying who are at or around my age. I go to reunions and find that people I went to school wich are gone. I emailed my cousin last month, and her email bounced. She had died since the last time we exchanged emails. None of them died of heart valve problems. Perhaps one looks at life and death differently when one is old enough to be referred to as "elderly" as I am. Each day is precious, but it's also a race against time. Silly thoughts come to mind such as, "Will I be able to get all these quilts made in the years (unknown duration) I have left? Or even, "I'm having such a good time since I retired, but I have to be realistic. After all, I can't expect to live 72 MORE years! There are so many things I'd like to do, ways I'd like to help other people, how can I fit them all in?
One problem those of you in Canada have is that you have to wait so long for surgery that you have time to think and examine every little aspect of the procedure and its aftermath. Here, we seldom have to wait more than a week unless we purposely choose a surgeon that is overbooked and voluntarily, in that choice, make our wait longer. I met my surgeon on Tuesday and was operated on that Friday. He gave me an option to do it the next week, but I figured that waiting would only make it worse. He is a great surgeon. Is he "Known as the BEST?" --no, not really, but if the nurses in that hospital need thoracic or heart surgery, they choose him, not the famous doctors. In my book, that's a powerful recommendation.
I didn't give any thought to the heart-bypass machine. I was rather in a state of "let's get this over with" and my reaction upon first waking up in the ICU was "Wow. I'm alive." That was the most powerful think I needed to know.
Best of luck when your surgery actually occurs.
Been thinking about you, Darren. You have an amazing way with word expressions. Looks like you are on track. Great job, Guy. Thanks to you, at my Wed appointment with the cardiologist, believe I'll be asking to get my head checked to see if the time on calcium channel blockers or on the heart lung machine has made an impact. In the mean time I already told my wife the reason I had not thought at all about her birthday Thursday or our 44th wedding anniversay Saturday is obviously because I'm a pump head. She doesn't buy it....damn...now I gotta go buy stuff. May all go well for you these next few days while you wait and may all go well for you when THE DAY comes....Barry on the mtn in NM
The place is Cedar Crest, New Mexico, elevation above 7000 ft, so it does get cold in the Winter, but really nice and warm, but not too hot, in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. May that call come soon and may this whole chapter of life soon be history. Best to you. ....Barry
Although I'm trying now, unsuccessfully, to ween myself from the journal, I can say it has been also a valuable tool for me. I see you have made some good new friends here. Keep up the good journal. Adam Pick points out in his book (it is a good read) the journal helps to keep your support team, your friends, relatives, co-workers, etc., informed, and we need to do that. I'm gonna tell you that one day you will wake up from your surgery, maybe the nurse will ask you how you feel. Maybe you'll will say like I think I said, "like shit", although my wife says I used my full vocabulary, even so, before you know it, its all history. My anesthesiology friend told me they have drugs so I wouldn't remember anytihng, including, in my case, Cleveland winter. He say this thing called versed does wonders. He is exactly right. I thanked him today and told him anesthesiologists ROCK. I'm speaking from having the valve job done just last March 11th. Apparently, having a reasonable fitness level really speeds the recovery. What a beautiful place where you have to continue living. It was a lot of years ago, I suppose about 1979, when we were living in Northern Quebec, when we got to be tourist campers at PEI...two of the kids got sick from something at the beach and we even got to experience an ER somewhere on PEI where the kids received excellent care. Good place where you are. Good luck, good fortune to you. One more thing. A lady named Ellen Charnley had her atrial septum rebuilt last March 2010. Eight months later she completed Ironman Arizona. She wrote out her experiences in a very recently published book. If you are interested, google her name and get the book. The book described so well the whole procedure, when I had my valve job, I fully understood what was happening, the whole time, and, almost unbelievable to me, I went into the OR and onto the "table" with complete calm and confidence. Ever since last November 22nd when I learned I had this issue and needed this valve job, I kept wondering when I would "lose it". I knew it would hit me and just kept wondering when and how hard I would lose it. Yep, Ellen's book was a help to moi. ...Barry Stone from a mountain in New Mexico.
Hi Darren, the pleasure of talking to you was really all mine. I had a person who called me prior to my surgery and it was the best anti-anxiety medicine anyone could take. It put me totally at ease !! I want to "pay it forward" and I am glad I could help you out the way I was helped out.
Glad to hear that talking to Dean helped. I think it is so helpful when we can actually talk to someone who has been through it or when someone posts details and explanations. It's also interesting the different phases (fear, anger, acceptance) we go through after learning that we need surgery. Any news on the date for your surgery?
Hey Darren....is that your pen name or otherwise? I think both you and I are publishable after all this is over. Did you know that Pete is praying for me just 'cause he likes me? That's what he said. Maybe it's my writing.
As for the Xanax thing, I have the same take as you. I use Ativan but make sure I'm at or past my pain threshold before I take it, at least in theory. Practising pain I cal it. One's ability to wean off it the moment you use it keeps it effective. Of late I've slid a little, using maybe up to 1 mg for a period of days but am constantly working the weaning angle and am down to 0.5 every other day.
A monthly subscription would usually last me for six months, then I was off it for a year, but before Christmas I just knew it wasn't gonna work to be a hero, so now I'm crankin' it down and heading for zero if I'm able. I use 2 mg nightly of Clonazepam for sleep, but a lot of that is addiction due to a serious burn out a little more than 2 years ago, followed promptly by my acute cardiac stenosis prognosis and the chronic fatigue recovery from the burn out.
So I’ve been juggling three retooling projects simultaneously, got the chronic fatigue and deep fry under control with proper over the counter stuff plus have been on disability for the last 2 ½ at 80% full salary but no tax, so no financial stress and endless time to rest except you gotta push it on the holistic side or you’re goin’ down the well.
I haven’t tried to meet you and raise you here, just got rollin’. All the best to you. Sounds like you got the goods to take this on and come out still swinging. My thots and prayers are with you.
Paul (some people call me thumper….a little heavy on the God stuff on my page)
your words are wonderful and inspiring.-I also use xanax as needed. As soon as I heard I would need the surgery, I got a refill on my Rx.
I have fought cancer and now open heart surgery-the world holds big things for us-sometimes we have to fight to stay and receive them.
It is almost 2 months for me and i thank G-d every day.
Live, Laugh, Love
Susan in NJ
Well . . . you seem to have handled the tests very well. I have not had my cath. yet and live in fear of it, but your explanation of it really helps, plus, I expect to be asleep.
I totally get the Xanax thing. If it weren't for Xanax when I first learned I needed heart surgery I don't know what I would have done. I told my internist either she gave me the prescription or I'd be on the next plane to Mexico and bring a bag full home (I used to live there so I know how it works). Like you, I took 1/4 of a pill during the day when needed - usually once a day and 1/2 at bedtime. I no long need it during the day, but am still taking it to sleep. I don't think there is a person out there who would criticize our use of this invaluable medication at this time. And if they do - who cares. If they want to worry about drug addiction they can go talk to Charlie Sheen.
One thing . . . open heart surgery does not refer to the opening of the sternum. It refers to the opening of the pericardium, the sac that contains the heart. The pericardium must always be opened to work on heart valves.
I need to have a sternotomy because the leaflet of my valve is very difficult to get to. I don't like the idea, but like the idea of heart surgery in general, one gets used to the fact that what is - is. They can usually do this through a smaller openeing - 3-4." My philosophy about the approach is to allow the surgeon to use whatever method will give him the ability to do his best work. I mean, we don't want to tie one of their hands behind their backs.
I have found that as time goes by I become more and more resigned to the fact that this (heart surgery) has to happen and more and more calm.... with the help of my therapist and CDs. lol. I suspect that you will get to that point also.
Hang in there, Darren. It looks like you may end up having your surgery before me, so I'll be following your progress. One more thing . . .TAKE YOUR XANAX!!!!!
Darren - You may be the coward of Canada - but I am the coward of Connecticut. I will say it gets easier every day thru friends, education and seeing the successful outcomes on this site. THANK YOU ADAM PICK!. Here is hoping we find strength and courage. My surgery is April 7th. When is yours?
Holy cow! Have they taken to torturing patients with caths in Canada? Mine was done upstairs in the cardiologist's suites. Just me and the cardio team with my husband waiting in a nice quiet area with the coffee machine bubbling away. The procedure was done by the cardiologist himself, and he talked through the entire process, mostly to the team. The room was very cold, but I was thoroughly covered. I don't know what they used to numb the area, but I never felt the needle and was in a sort of daze as the whole procedure went through. They put in an IV before they started which I think had some happy juice in it. (They pretty much do that for every procedure at our hospital--got a hangnail, here's some happy juice.)
The absolute worst part, as you said, is having to lie on your back for what seems like centuries. Here they've got it down to about 2 hours, but I remember when my late husband had his cath in 1990, he had to lie on his back for 8 hours with sandbags on his groin. He thought he'd go insane.
I'm a wimp. The two hours I lay there was enough to make me beg for mercy, and of course, the "news" after that was enough to make the whole thing dim when I was assured that YES, you do need surgery and right away.
Darren, I do think that men have more difficulty with the cath than women do, probably due to, as you mention, the important parts being right there on the surface whereas in women they're buried deep under layers of muscle and fat. My son, who is only 52, had a panic attack which was misdiagnosed as a heart attack. They did a cath on him, and he suffered for days with the pain in his groin and leg. Fortunately they told him, "you have the arteries and heart of a 13 year old" which made him wonder which poor kid was running around with 52 year old heart and arteries. :-)
I eagerly await the next chapter in the story.
Pete, Yes, I occasionally do get those kind of chest pains - like a very tiny electrical shock, thin stabbing like with a needle. I am clueless! With our valve problems I can't see why we wouldn't have some kind of chest pain.
Yes, your description of watching a documentary makes sense to me. That's how I've been feeling lately. I think I've used up all my anxiety energy. I really wasn't aware of how things worked in Canada. No opinion. Don't know if that's good or bad.
I tried to reply to your post earlier, but the HVJ wouldn't let me. I figured I'd been kicked off or defriended - like on Facebook. I tend often to be too outspoken for most people so I just figured I did it again.
As for pete PETE- PETE - PETE - I said it before and I'll say it again . . .WTF!!!!! Are you kidding or what? Your humor is beginning to elude me. Suck a lemon???? huh? This is not an angry comment. I'm laughing, but I just don't get it.
Nice to hear you are getting control of your fear. There's a plus side to those of us who've had major surgery and major tests before--we've gotten used to them.
Now you're a pro and you can go around bragging about "my last procedure" (or does that right get reserved for us septuagenerians?)
We're wimps in the states and usually get put to sleep for these procedures, so we lose our bragging rights for these tests.
The cardio-catherization is a piece of cake compared to what you described for the TEE. The worst part is when you have to lie still on your back after it's over for a couple of hours.
Very best of luck to you and hope they don't keep you on the waiting list too long.
I'm surprised you made it through the TEE unscathed. My throat was sore for a week after the test. But I was in bad shape at the time - hospitalized with endocarditis - and a jumpy cardiologist telling me I needed surgery right away - lost 25 lbs in a month, and I'm a slim guy.
Me thinks your wife was holding your hand all the while - who's the real wimp now, eh?
And you dear Ruth , you, you American woman ! - go suck a lemon! :.))
Darren, thanks for the journal entry. Glad my story can be of help to you. When you are done breezing through all this, you will look back and wonder.....why all the worry?? I'm very serious.....you will wonder why all the worry.
By the way, I had my cath done fully awake. They gave me a little drip in my IV that was equivalent to about a 2 beer buzz just to relax me a bit. The cath is totally painless and took about 20 minutes. The worst part is the pain in the groin feeling for the first week or so afterwards. You will fly through it !!
I disagree with Pete, the TEE is nothing. Of course, I insisted on being asleep and the doctor cooperated. First you gargle with some gloppy numbing stuff until they tell you to swallow it. You do that twice. It numbs your throat. I was asleep before they insterted the tube and opened my eyes just as they were removing it. The whole thing only takes about 20 minutes max and there are no after effects. So please take it from a world class neurotic baby, this one is nothing to worry about.
I have not had my chath. yet, but will also insist on being asleep for that one. From all the journals I have read everyone says this is no big deal either and most people are asleep.
I don't know how things work in Canada, but remember, you have rights. Just tell them what YOU want. And here is a hint . . . tell them you suffer from an anxiety disorder and have panic attacks. The minute they hear that they will agree to put you to sleep. Worked for me.
I hope you are beginning to get hold of your anxiety now. If not, I think you will after your tests are done. Best of luck.
Thinking of you! You will accept all this! And you will come through it stronger than ever before! When I start to panic I sit down breathe deeply and count to 10! Don't fight the panic let it pass over you! Your emotions are sure to be in turmoil!! Chin up x
To put your mind at ease...in addition to following Ruth's suggestions. The cardiac catherization, sounds scarier than it is. Usually they give you a mild sedative so that you're sort of floating through it. The worst part of it is when you have to lie on your back AFTER the procedure while they put pressure on the incision. If you're prone to backaches, ask them to give you a painkiller to get through that. In other words, anticipate where you might need a bit of help and ask in advance. The good part is that the "on the back" part of it is much shorter than it used to be. Once it was 8 hours. Now it's about 2 hours. I believe in painkillers, not in being heroic.
Keep writing your journal. It's therapeutic.
Well, you're sounding better. smile. Thank you for not taking offense at my directness. That's how I am and I know some people do get offended. Yes, we are neighbors, arent' we? Well, after we both get through this, you will shall have to visit. I've always wanted to see PEI and you can come sailing with us. So there's a plan to look forward to.
Researching things on the internet is good and bad, Darren. I was an investigative reporter and that's what i had to do. But you have to know WHERE to look for information because there is a lot of garbage out there. Researching is a very good thing. Just stay on the big heart hospital websites.
A blood clot/stroke is always a risk with any kind of heart valve problem, but statistics show that it's pretty unlikely. Take your baby aspirin every day to address your worry. Then forget about it.
I knew I had a valve problem since my late 20's, but it was mild and I was told they "rarely" get worse. Well, mine did. When I was recently told my cardiologist that I would need heart surgery I couldn't believe it. I sat on the exam table completely frozen. My husband looked like he would faint because he knows how excitable I am. "Are you kidding," I said. "No way." So off to have the TEE done.
Being a type A personality, normally anxious and extremely excitable the idea of the TEE freaked me out. I am a BIG baby. It is really nothing to be freaked out about, but if you're like me . . . well, you get the point. I told the doctor doing the TEE that I suffer from panic attacks and needed to be put to sleep or I would surely panic. That did it! She immediately called in the anesthesiologist (instead of the usual nurse anesthethist) and he kept me asleep during the procedure. If you think you're going to be nerous - TELL THEM you want to be put to sleep.
My TEE showed moderatly-severe regurgitation of the mitral valve - and it was the really difficult leaflet to fix - the anterior leaflet. The cardiologist in Maine said it couldn't be repaired and had to be replaced. I went to the Cleveland Clinic and was told there is an 80-85% chance that it can be repaired. That's where I will have my surger on April 21.
As for the various stages. Yep, I went through all of them. The anger was preetty bad. One day I stood up, started crying and screaming and throwing things around the house. My husband was shocked, to say the least. I screamed every obscenity I could think of - and made some up. Then I took a Xanax and went to sleep.... ordered my CDs, bought books, joined the Heart Valve journals and started to meditate.
My anger is now gone and I guess I'm in the stage of acceptance. But, like you, I frequently awaken from sleep overcome with panic. I am practicing "mindfulness" (living in the moment, breathing, etc).... so before getting up I do some deep breathing and do something to distract my thoughts - put on the TV and watch something totally stupid or put on my earphones and listen to one of my cds. After brushing my teeth I take a isty bitsy piece of Xanax and get on with my day. I also take 0.2 mg. Xanax at bedtime (or I can't sleep).
Your friend's advice sounds right on. You've got a pretty wife and kids and you obviously have lots to live for. Try to remember how difficult this is for them as well as you. I feel very sad when I see how troubled my husband looks from all this. Not only is he worried, but he has to contend with my anxiety, fear, outbursts, crying and moods. It really takes its toll on our spouses. So I am trying to behave for HIS sake and because I know that if I let myself get involved with my anxiety I will spiral downward.
So . . . TAKE THE XANAX as needed. It really does help. And remember, while we're in this anxious state, every little thing bothers us and becomes an enormous obstacle. People like us need to learn how to walk around or away from the obstacle rather than engaging with it - because engaging with it will only elevate our stress levels.
I think by next week you will see yourself calming down and starting to accept this and, like me, eventually, looking forward to having it all done and feeling better and not having to worry about it anymore.
I do hope you will get at least one CD because they really do work.
Peggy Huddleston, Preparing for Surgery, Heal Faster
Anxiety & Panic Attacks
I presume you have Adam Pick's book. If not, you should get it and read it and I think you will feel a lot better about things after reading it.
I'm here to support you - and you me. We will get through this. Everyone else does! Some of us are just a little more tightly wound than others (ha ha). Be kind to yourself and do continue seeing your therapist. It take a while for therapy to work. It's not an instant fix.
Darren, Dean here again. In addition to valve replacement, my surgery also included an annoryesm repair just below the valve. Added about 12 minutes to the surgery and did not increase risk. In fact, my surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic said the mortality rate for a healthy 50 year old for this surgery is less than .25 percent!! Basically everybody gets thru it !!
Even with the repair they did minimally invasive surgery. I had three surgeons in Phoenix tell me they could not minimally invasive and that it's experimental. Ha!! Cleveland is number 1 in the USA and have been doing minimally invasive for over 15 years. Basically the rest of the world is lagging.
Darren, one piece of advice for you: actively seek out opposing viewpoints on surgical procedure and valve choice. If one surgeon says something is experimental don't assume it is. If one surgeon says go mechanical don't assume that is the right choice for you. You
will learn so much by seeking out opposing opinions.
For us younger guys this procedure is not that rough. But do your homework and make the right decisions for you. Dean
You have had a lot to handle, but you are hanging in there and handling it. You are getting some help along the way, which is great. We can't and shouldn't do all of this alone. It sounds like you have a wonderful family, too. We have a great support system here on this journal site, as you have learned.
I had a TEE in 2006 to diagnose my bicuspid aortic valve. It wasn't bad. The worst part was the medicine to numb my throat. Just be sure to exhale hard while they spray it. The meds they gave to me put me to sleep so I didn't remember any of it. There was no pain. They basically did an ultrasound from inside in order to get a better picture of the aortic valve.
I had my heart cath on Feb. 11. That wasn't bad at all. I think I dozed through it. I was able to eat lunch as soon as they would let me sit up enough, which was probably about 2 hours after the procedure. Other than my upper thigh area being sore from the pressure they put on it to keep it from bleeding right after the procedure, I had no discomfort. I just had to avoid lifting more than 5 pounds for 48 hours and was off work for another day beyond that (since I work with students who are in wheelchairs).
I pray and believe that all will go well for you with these procedures. It will be nice to have them behind you and to have some more information.
I will have my surgery on Feb. 25. I was told by my surgeon that there is a very good chance he can repair my AV. If he cannot, he recommended replacing it with a tissue valve. He said he was not convinced that the mechanical valves will last as long as they say, and he felt avoiding blood thinners was best. (I am 54.) He said that by the time I may need to have the valve replaced, if I have to have one this time, the technique to replace aortic valves through a catheter in an artery would be perfected. On the 25th, he will also replace a section of my aorta that had enlarged and formed an aneurysm. It sounds like my prognosis is very good. I have read many posts from people here on HVJ who have had similar surgeries and have come through very well. You, also, have much reason to be optimistic. I know that it is difficult dealing with all of this. Not knowing everything and having difficulties with certain doctors makes it tough. It sounds like you have found a couple of good doctors. I wish you all of the best! Try not to get too discouraged. We are all in the together, so to speak. We are here to support one another.
Darren, I was freaked out to. Biscusip aortic vavle was my issue too. Open heart surgery ?? Are you kidding ?? I am only 50 and very fit. No way !!
Yes way .
Here is the bright side. I had my surgery 5 weeks ago at the cleveland clinic. They did minimally invasive surgery which requires a 4 inch incision instead of 8. Must faster recovery. No reason you can't have the same surgery. I spent 4 days there and then flew home (arizona). Went back to work two weeks post op. Two weeks !! Not 8 weeks like I see a lot on these blogs. Today, already feel pretty much back to normal. Someone has been feeding you horror stories.
The pain ?? They got great drugs for that and today, I take nothing. I quit taking the percoset when I left the hospital and went to asprin.
Blood thinners?? Hell no. I went with a bovine cow valve. I take NOTHING !! And 15 to 20 years from now when this valve wears out ?? They are already today feeding valves through catheders and a beating heart. You go home the next day. Imagine what they will be doing 15 to 20 years from now. A mechancial valve does not make a lot of sense with this new technology coming (in my opinion).
You will blow through this and think.....what the hell was I worrying about. That is what I think every day.
If you can't get your family doctor to talk to you about this and/or prescribe antidepressants, I read in Consumer Reports that St. John's Wort does help somewhat.
Also...ahem...and not to sound facetious, chocolate! Especially dark chocolate. What the heck, when facing life threatening decisions, a little chocolate here and there can't hurt. In my opinion, I'd rather gain a few pounds than be depressed. But then I'm what's considered "old" and not so worried about whether I have an extra inch or two around my waist. Jeff Foxworthy, the Blue Collar comedian says as we get older, all the fat from our derrieres slides around to the front of our bodies and settles in our pot bellies. Any excuse in a crisis!
Ironically, you know what people in the USA do when they can't get Rx through their doctors? They order them through Canada! Oh, right, that's usually for Viagra! :-)
Just trrying to inject a little levity in here to cheer you up.
If worse comes to worse, take a vacation to Orlando, Florida and suddenly "need" one of our ER's. Florida Hospital South is the best. Maybe the doctors here will beg Canada to let them do the surgery in Orlando right away so you don't have to sit there and worry. They have a great heart center here at Florida Hospital and you can get a tan while you recuperate! And even though we're having our coldest winter in 100 years, it's still warmer than PEI (I think).
Just trying to be creative about solving your problem! What the heck. That's what we're here for--to encourage, to cheer up, to think up new solutions. To get your mind off scary stuff.
Anyway, I think the chocolate is worth a try!!!!!
Try to smile. Watch Kung Fu Panda. It's really cute and you won't think about your health while you watch it.
A grandmother who can't help but try to give grandmotherly advice.
I also have a bicuspid aortic valve that I was born with. I recently had surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. I am 43. I had a full sternotomy. I also have high blood pressure which requires 3 different meds to control. I have been through numerous meds to find the ones that can control it best.
I can confidetly say that my surgery was worth it. Yes I have a scar down my chest and it was a challenging experience to endure but I now feel great! It has only been 4 months since my surgery and I am back to most of my normal activities including walking 2 miles a day.
Every one responds to their diagnosis differently. I certainly went through some dark nights while I was waiting for the day of my surgery to come. I certainly had enormous amounts of anxiety as well.
In my opinion, it was all worth it.
Putting your emotions and feelings out there, good or bad, is healthy. At least you know where stand.
Should you choose to have surgery, I wish you all the best. Even if you choose not to, I still wish you all the best.
Well, if you read my journal you will see that I too suffer from extreme anxiety and have had difficulty dealing with. On April 21 I will need surgery on the anterior leaflet of my mitral valve, which is a more difficult fix than the posterior leaflet. We're are not yet sure if it can be repaired, but it looks like an 80-85% change that it can be repaired.
Where to start: First of all, I would strongly recommend that you not use phrases like "crack my chest open." Those words stick in one's subsconscious and keep the anxiety going. My anxiety level has been off the charts. But even during that I (intellectually) realize that many thousands of people go through this every year and survive it very well and go on to lead normal lives. So the odds are with us. Go to a place like the Cleveland Clinic Heart website and look at the statistics for valve surgery and you will how commonplace they are and how enormously successful they are. I think that might help you. The mortality rate is LESS THAN 1%!!! I think arming yourself with a lot of good, qualified information from professionals will help calm your fears.
As for valve replacement; I'm really not sure if aortic valves can be repaired and if so, I'm not sure they're doing them in Canada. Again, I would suggest that you research your options (animal valve vs mechanical valve). Personally, if my valve cannot be repaired, I will opt for an animal valve even thought I realize it would need to be replaced again in my lifetime (I am 64). Again, I don't know what options they give you in Canada.I know that in the U.S. you are given the option of animal or mechanical valve. But look into it and insist on getting what you want.
As for being on blood thinners with a mechanical valve, yes that's true. But if you must get a mechanical valve and take blood thinners isn't that just a little better than the alternative . . . of DYING??? Ok, so you have to give up racing. But you will be ALIVE.
Regarding your anxiety. I've been there and I continu to be there and am doing a ton of work to cope with it. I was seeing three different therapists. I am now down to one therapist once a week who does something called EMDR (look it up) as well as talk therapy. This has been working VERY well for me. There is no stigma about seeing a therapist. I have also purchased two pre-surgery CDs (Peggy Huddleston's "Preparing for Surgery," and Belleruth Naparstek's "Successful Surgery," "Pain," and Anxiety and Panic Attacks." They are marvelous! You can find them on Amazon.com and on healthjourneys.com website. I suggest you get them and listen to them twice a day until you calm down.
I am also taking Xanax. I saw a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic on Jan. 18th and he wants me to take it regularly until my surgery. He said I will not become addicted to the small doses I am taking in that period of time. If I take it for a few days I am ok for about a week. Then I need to take it again when the anxiety returns. I take it every night in order to sleep. So you have a choice here. Take it and help your anxiety or don't take it and suffer. Antidepressants (SSRIs) are another excellent choice.
I hear a little bit of stubborn on your part. You could only get 15 minutes with your doctor so you said "don't bother." What's that about? You need medication and 15 minutes should be enough time to get a prescription.
As Susan said, open heart surgery is not, I repeat, NOT a death sentance. It is an absolute medical miracle. My 80 year old aunt had open heart surgery more than 50 years ago and she has not had one little problem and is in perfect health. Medicine has progressed incredibly since then.
As anxious as I am (and believe me, I am ANXIOUS by nature) I am looking forward to my surgery because I am tired of feeling so crappy all the time and look forward to getting back to a normal life. I don't want a valve replacement, but if they can't repair it, I'll live with a valve replacement and be glad I'm not dead.
I have found the people on this journal very supportive, but in the end, we need to take charge of our own lives. So sit down now and make yourself a plan;
Learn to meditate. Yes, I said MEDITATE!
Get some relaxation, pre-surg. CDs.
Go see your doctor and get a prescription.
TAKE the prescription.
Have positive talks with yourself (affirmations)
I am peaceful, I am calm, I will get through this with the minimun of pain, etc.
See your therapist regularly.
Talk as much as you need to and.....
IT'S OK TO CRY!!!!!! Yes, men do cry.
Practice some deep, slow breathing. It works. Inhale while saying "I am peaceful."
Exhale while saying "I am calm."
Remember, you mind believes whatever you tell it. If you tell it calm things, it will be calm.
Darren, I have literally been a basket case, but I have learned to calm down. Sure I have bad days and I had one only recently. But by using the techniques I mentioned I manage to get it under control. And when I can't, I take some Xanax.
I hope a little of this helps a little and I wish you peace.
then go to your local hospital emergency ward - the interns there are generally sharper -
GPs in clinics get kinda rusty after a while.
example: My GP took 6 weeks to figure out I had endocarditis a couple of years ago - she had to call her buddies at the hospital to get clued in - never bothered to look at my heart condition dossier - go figure... I could have died according to my cardiologist.
think like a boxer , you won't last unless you can take it and dish it.
don't let yourself become overwrought with your condition/desease; you may want consider anti-depressants for a while to bring the anxiety to manageable level, at least until this is done with - the wait can be long - um, in Canada..
you look otherwise healthy, and your not that old, so don't to scared.
Open heart surgery is a miracle to be welcomed, not a sentence to be doomed. I am 4 weeks out of surgery and almost back to normal. I am in awe every day with how the body continues to heal.
You HAVE a great life-one worth continuing-think of your loved ones- they DESERVE to have you around. I often look at my wonderful husband and all he has done to stand by me. The least I could do was endure some pain for a few days to ensure I could be there for him.
The doctors and hospitals all understand what we are going thru- they see it every day. These wonderful people do their jobs everyday and give us all longer lives.
It is so worth it to see what this journey called life has next for us.
I know you were having a bad day- we all do- but you will feel so much stronger as a person for having done this
LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE FOR A LONG TIME
Oh, Gosh, Darren:
I know it's scary, but it isn't all that bad. Look at all of us who made it through fine. I'm 71 and have one kidney, artifical knees, and I'm diabetic. Four days after surgery I switched to Tylenol for daytime pain and a less potent painkiller, Vicodin for nights. Medical science is advancing so fast that even if you go with a tissue valve, like a bovine valve (like I have) which lasts 20 years, by the time you need another one they'll be doing all this with a catheter like they do heart stents.
Have you asked your doctor about SSRI antidepressants? They don't make you tired or addicted. They make a big difference and don't make you zonky. A lot of people with peripheral neuropathy and fibromyalgia also take them to help with the pain. At various times in a stressful life (like having my late husband have a nervous breakdown and go completely bonkers, starting a business only to lose it and everything I owned, and almost dying with a giant tumor on my kidney) I've taken either Zoloft or Cymbalta. They helped a great deal. Please do talk to your doctor about them. And if the doctor says "talking is a better way to go" tell that doctor you can talk AND take an antidepressant at the same time. Xanax is not an antidepressant. It's a depressant, a tranquilizer.
Please don't give up. Having a bad heart valve is not a death sentence. It's a chance to give your body a new lease on life. Hang in there.
While I have had a slightly different diagnoses (severe mitral valve regurgetation) I can relate well to the river of information overflow, so, my thought to you is to process what is absolutley necessary and to discard the rest. Be confident that all of this process stuff we all have had to endure will lead you to a successfull outcome.