I had my aortic valve replaced this past summer. I went with the mechanical and my root was at the time of surgery 4.2. The doctor did not touch it. I felt very confident with it. Good Luck!
I agree with you David...each time I talk with the cardo or have another test done...things change.
After my Heart Cath and TEE today, the cardiologist said my valve is working pristine, you need to talk with the surgeon. The surgeon is the one that wanted the TEE for a "better look" at the valve before replacement. Do I say replace it while your in there or let's wait 20 years. The cardo said it's the surgeon's call, not mine.
If you have time before your surgery you can fax your records to the Cleveland Clinic Heart Institute and get a 2nd opinion.
If you don't have time to do that you can go to the Cleveland Clinic website and email them a question regarding your situation. You should have a reply withing a day or two. Perhaps getting a third opinion would clarify things for you. Hope that helps.
My take on the situation is that I'd have everything fixed at once if it looks like there is something that may need attention down the line. But that's me and I'm prone to going to extremed, especially where my health is concerned (not that this is considered extreme).
I'm so jealous of your recliner. My husband wanted me to get one, but I just didn't want it hanging around the house when I was done with it. But they ARE really comfortable. We were looking at the electric ones as I could not easily operate the lever. I guess if it turns out I need one we can always rent one or buy one quickly.
What I want to know is HOW do we get out of bed after a sternotomy if we cannot use hands or arms. You're a young guy. You probably have rock hard abs. I don't. I'm thinking I can lie on a large towel and my husband can pull me up to a sitting position with the ends of the towel. Hmmmm, maybe.
It is so good to see seasoned pros here posting their experiences. Keep up the great work, everyone!
TEAM DAVE gear is sitll available and profits will be used by Dave to hold a recovery party when he is ready.
There is even a heart valve button without any text on it that would be applicable for anyone reading this blog who has had or is facing similar procedures.
Keep up the great work, Dave! Mental and physical preparation going into this will make your recovery easier. Please get yourself mentally ready to give all this worry and stress away, though, the minute you go for the procedure. From that point forward, your only business is rest, relaxation, and letting your body re-combobulate and get back to business in it's own time.
If your daughter can move the lever, you're good to go. And it's only a short time, but obviously, discovering that you can't recline when you need it most--on arriving home from hospital--is sobering. My problem was the lever was up against the end table, so nobody could get in there to move it for me, so we had to move the whole chair. I think I figured out how to move it without stress in about 10 days. Good luck, David. In a short while you'll be writing advice to other people on your own experience.
Enjoy your nap, and at the same time, figure out if the recliner is easy to move without using your arms. Does it have a lever or do you have to push on the arm of the chair? Or can it operate electrically. If it has a lever or requires pushing, practice ways to get it to move without using pressure from your arms. You won't be able to do that for a few weeks after surgery.
BTW, you're quite the writer.
We Live in Milwaukee and my husband had his Aortic Valve replaced 3/1. His was found on a physical at age 55 he had no symptoms he is very active. He was discharge on 3/6. He was pretty beat up as he said the first week at home but it is so amazing how each day and each week the improvement is amazing. It took a week at home for his appetite to improve. He's not one for fast food but what ever he is carving he had, I made sure he got it. He started cardiac rehab this past week and should be able to start driving on 3/22. I got him a wedge pillow so he was able to sleep in bed instead of the recliner and he used it for 2 weeks after surgery. We are still working on the coumadin to get it in the therapuetic level between 2-3 he is at 1.6. Good luck to you!
Hi David. God Speed on your surgery. I will have the same exact surgery on 5 April. Heart cath is this Monday and also a TEE. It's true what your doctor says about the aorta. My has grown from .47cm to over 5 cm since 2002 because of the BAV. I'll keep you in my prayers.
Hey Dave...The peanut gallery in Louisville is for once stumped on this one. But I guess the logic I would use is if you aorta is not enlarged why replace it? I know the whole genetic risk is there but still. I am partial to my original parts. Anyways glad to hear you are doing well. Hang in there buddy.
I too had a AVR and part of my aorta replaced. 8 weeks out and doing well. I agree, there was no reason to have to go back in a few years so got it all done at once. Listen to the doctors......they have "been there, done that". Best of luck!!
Glad to hear your dentist gave you a clean bill of health. I wore my TEAM DAVE shirt to my dentist this morning and they complimented the wisdom of having your dental health checked out before your surgery and wished more people thought of that.
Breathe deeply. Give yourself adequate time to sleep. Nourish your body with healthy fuel with which to make this journey. Drink plenty of water. Pray and ask others to pray for you as well.
I never had surgery until the day of my accident and when I woke up that day, I had no idea I'd be having surgery later that day, let alone 8 hours of surgery. The next batch of surgeries I had was while I was still basically unconscious. The next surgery I had was about 3 weeks later when I was still on really powerful narcotics. My next surgery was about 6 months later when I was finally off narcotics and back at home. When that one was approaching, I got really nervous and I was surprised, seeings how I had already had like 7 or 8 assorted surgeries in the previous year. However, I didn't know the first ones were coming, I barely registered the next ones, and I was still pretty snowed under for the third. This one was the first one for which I knew it was coming, but I still didn't even have to do much in the way of prep for it 'cause I was still under the care of the trauma team. My next surgery was about 4 months later and was still under the trauma team, and, although I also knew it was coming, I didn't have to do much to prepare since I was such a mess it didn't really matter. However, my (hopefully) final surgery that was just 4 months ago was ridiculously nerve-wracking for all the preparation I had to do in advance and all the tests I had to do and all the appointments I had to attend and just knowing it was coming for months in advance was horrible, despite that it was the simplest, least risky, procedure of all the ones I had ever had.
I guess when you're starting with a mangled, almost-dead person, they just do the surgery and who cares if you die because you probably were gonna anyhow. However, when you are starting out so healthy and vital and strong, they wanna take every precaution to keep you that way, and unfortunately, that requires all this testing and preparation, which gives you lots of time to get nervous.
Dave, these doctors are wizards. Human, but wizards, and God's got His Hand in the operating room as well. Trust in God and His Plan for you and all will be well. (And, if that doesn't work, your PCP can probably give you Xanex. LOL!)
Let's Go, TEAM DAVE members! Now is the time to rally and stock up on your TEAM DAVE gear, especially locals who will get a chance to visit him during his recovery. It will definitely make him smile to see the support and may make it easier for him to ask for help if he needs it.
Jim came home from the gym with his Team Dave button and news of what you are facing. Our family joins the many others who are 100% team Dave boosters!
Know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.Lynn B
Sounds like the folks you are working with are top-notch! That is fantastic and may help to set your mind at ease. I, too, cannot believe that hospital staff haven't even heard of that sketch. If not for having seen it themselves, I would think it's the kind of joke that gets mentioned at a hospital from time to time. What is wrong with people? Maybe they are too busy trying to save our lives to watch Monty Python. Well, good for us, I guess. Hang in there, Dave, and keep pluggin' away!
Dave...as much as I am sad that you have to go through this, I am also happy that you have been open and candid about it. Getting through something like this is not easy alone. I will be proud to become a part of Team Dave! I will keep you in my prayers for the power of prayer is like nothing else. God bless...~jackie tiegs
Dave - Thanks for taking the time to explain all of this to me. I was worried there for a while and glad to hear this is a routine routine. We'll be waiting to hear the good news after the operation and look forward to seeing you well and strong on the other side! Ophir and the gang.
Hey Dave, I hope the cath went well and you are taking it easy. As for the whole lifting thing it's a guideline. If you are in decent shape your body will let you know what's too much. Wishing you an easy weekend.
Hi Dave, We over here in Grafton are all thinking about you! Thank you for letting us know via fb and I signed up for the e-mail updates. We wish you all the best and I hear you about the decisions. It can be overwhelming. But your positive attitude is going to help you a lot in recovery. :-) Beth, Joern and Heidi
Sad to hear the news, but glad to see you are meeting this challenge with a positive spirit and seeking support. Our family will keep you in our prayers for a speedy recovery. Positive vibrations coming your way my friend. Be well.
Dave, your post about your lovely wife is just adorable! The two of you are lucky to have each other and I also believe you're deserving of each other 'cause luck only brings a couple together. Hard work keeps it together.
You don't need a corporate sponsor for the shirts. The members of Team Dave can buy them and they will be willing to. All we need is the design. If you've got a design in mind, let me know, or we'll work one up for ya.
On the topic of choices, this is an excerpt from the manuscript I wrote about my experiences:
*Sound, restful sleep OR bladder control.
*Sitting up painfully while vomiting OR lying down comfortably and choking.
*Keeping essential meds down OR relieving nausea by vomiting.
*Maintaining dignity and privacy by privately enduring maddening pain OR healing properly by asking everyone to massage my leg.
*Facilitating proper healing by heeding doctors' weight-bearing status restrictions OR Fending off bed sores by moving around a lot in bed.
*Risking the development of narcotic dependence OR raising blood pressure by suffering needlessly through pain.
*Dehydration OR Incontinence risk
*Malnutrition OR painful digestion
*Talking to my husband while crabby OR Failing to wish Jon a good night.
*Breaking down skin with strong adhesive tape that must be painfully removed daily OR Having wound dressings fall off, risking infection, pain, and, possibly another corrective skin surgery
*Babying and nursing my surgically-repaired elbow OR Using a back scratcher to provide nirvana-like relief to skin that's been laid-on now for a month.
*Reminding night shift to change my painful abdominal dressing OR Relaxing comfortably, inviting infection.
Seems these days I'm presented with a lot of choices where both options appeal and suck, both pretty equally, and yet, I must still choose.
Psych 101 calls these dilemmas, 'double approach-avoidance conflicts' which means that you are presented with two, mutually-exclusive options where each option has a great reason to pick it as well as a major detractor that would be an equally good reason not to pick it.
That kind of decision is the hardest to make and what many will do is to wait, hoping that somehow, the nature of the decision will magically change, leaving them with an easy decision to make between a clearly desirable option and a clearly undesirable option, which almost never happens.
What typically happens is that failure to choose will cause one of the options to disappear, leaving no choice but to accept both the good and bad outcomes associated with the remaining option.
People will sometimes let that happen to remove their sense of responsibility for the inevitable bad outcome associated with the remaining option, claiming they had no choice, that the outcome was thrust upon them, hiding the fact that there were other outcomes available that they let disappear.
In any event, when faced with such a conflict, I know that the psychologically-healthy response is to consider the positive and negative outcomes associated with each option, choose one, and graciously accept the positive outcomes as well as taking ownership of the bad outcomes, and letting go of regret-building fantasies of having made the other choice (woulda /coulda /shoulda).
Dave, you are facing your choices wisely, bravely, and meeting them head-on. That's the best anyone can do!
Sounds like you're doing just fine in the decision making department. My surgery is April 21 so I know what you're going through with all the decisions. My best wishes for all good things.
I finished chapter 8 of your book. This Journal is a pretty cool idea. Are you planning to donate your blood for the surgery? You don't want to weaken your immune system .
What does your doctor recommend?
How can I get two T-shirts? Your mom and I can wear them on the next trip to Illinois. We plan to brag about our son and the Packers.
Alright, Dave, let's get going with these T-Shirts. If you already have the design made up, e-mail it to me and I'll get going on having them made up. Or, maybe you already know of someone who will make 'em for you for free or cheap. In any event, there's nothing I need more than another t-shirt, so we have to get going on this. LOL!
I hope life is seeming sorta normal for you, despite what you've got coming up. I like what Randy said below. This blog was a great idea!
We're in the same neighborhood. I work in Madison. I had my first heart surgery back in 2005 when I was 36. They tried to repair my leaking aortic valve but it blew out again within two weeks. So I got to have another surgery in early 2006 and they replaced it with a mechanical valve.
I think you are wise going mechanical. No one needs to be going through these surgeries every few years. I was lucky to recover quickly. I was walking around a mall just six days after my second surgery.
Regarding coumadin, for me it has been no big deal. I test every six weeks and my levels stay in range very well. I don't watch what I eat at all. I also drink moderately and still lift weights, all with my cardiologist's blessing.
I believe there is a fair chance that a modern mechanical valve could last forty or even fifty years. Absolutely no guarantees but they haven't been around long enough for anyone to really know yet.
My advice is to just get it over with and get on with your life. I'm in better shape today than I ever have been. I hardly ever think about my surgery and I certainly don't feel like someone with a "heart condition".
I'm slammed today, Friday, and Saturday, gimme a call on Sunday. I do have opinions about blood thinners. I found them a complete pain in the butt. Very difficult to monitor / adjust / test / etc. Influenced by diet in weird, difficult to track ways, etc. Maybe people with long-term experience get used to it, but I absolutely hated it while I had to deal with it.
Holy Cow, Dave, Look at all the members of TEAM DAVE that are showing up! I'm so glad to see others who have had similar procedures chime in because they'll have your most useful information and be of the most help in calming anxieties you or your family members might have.
About the tests... In a litigious society, medical professionals have to cover their butts eight ways to Sunday, so they order a half-dozen tests prior to any planned surgery. It's a pain in the butt, mostly unneccessary, but in .2% of the cases, they do find something that would be really frickin' good to have known before the surgery. It's doubtful you'll be that .2%, but if it is you, you'll be pretty glad they put you through all the rigamarole.
When I came in as a trauma patient, there was no time for any sorts of tests or even consents, so they just did what they needed to do. Over a year later, when I was having a follow-up surgery, I was sent for a half-dozen various tests - bloodwork, heart test, I don't even remember what else, but I was thinking, "REALLY?" I just had like 18 hours of surgery over several months with none of these tests in advance and I seem to have done just fine, thank you. Oh well, they gotta do it, so just plod through and help them check off the boxes on their forms.
One thing I wasn't too excited about, though, was that every time I went into surgery, they had this (IMHO) really overly ridiculous process of making sure you really were who they thought you were and that they really knew where they were operating. You'd have someone come in with a paper and check the paper against your wristband and then ask you to verify your name and birthdate. Two minutes later, some other person would do that, too. Then the doctor would come in, verify it again, then sign his name, with a pen, on your body, where they were going to operate.
I was like, "Really?" "Did you just write your name on me?" "Are we in kindergarten?" There is no higher-tech way to verify you've got the right limb? So, after I realized that, I started to screw with them. Before I'd have a certain operation, I'd write on me with a pen, "Yes, Dr. Grant, this is the right elbow. I mean, it is my right elbow, but it's also the correct elbow, as in, the one I broke, as in, the one you gotta fix today. Do a good job and I'll see ya when I wake up..."
Six weeks later, when I finally got out of my dressing and my elbow brace, when I got to look at my elbow for the first time, written on my arm was, "Smart ass" LOL!!!
(You may or may not have playful docs like I had. I was at our County hospital, the one that treats all the indigent, illegals, incarcerated, and the very poor. I was taken there because it's the best trauma team in the city.)
As for the infection thing, yes, that is one of the bigger concerns. I discovered that many months after my surgeries, when I was already enjoying my visitors, hassling the nurses, and eating treats and reading e-mail and carrying on what I thought was a normal recovery, they were all still on pins and needles that I still might not make it because of the huge risk of infection that I had. (Now, I had a completely opened belly, where I had been cut open from below the bra line to below the bikini line, and they couldn't close it up, they had to just keep packing it and let it heal on it's own, and you will NOT have that) but in any case, infection is the big worry.
During your recovery time, it is absolutely okay to be a germ nazi. As much as you love your wife and kid, don't let 'em visit you if they've got strep throat or pink eye, or some other such infection that a healthy person can easily fight. Don't trade a few days for the rest of your life.
Now, my question for you is about the blood thinners. Is that something you'll have to take life-long because of a mechanical pump or is that only while you heal?
Just like you i am going to be undergoing heart surgery soon, mine is scheduled for Feb 14th 2011. I am nervous but at the same time happy that something can be done to give me better quality of life.
I have had a leaking mitral valve since birth, but only found this out in Aug 2010. So i have not had to much time to worry and stress.
I will be undergoing "Mitral Valve Replacement" - so good luck with your up and coming David.
By the way the dentist connection is, that you cannot have any infection present. Also if you are going on blood thinners after the op, it is risky to have dental work done because of the bleeding. I have just finished having all the tests done.
I popped on to see what was new and saw your posts. I am 38 and five months out from my AVR and doing great. I also opted for a mechanical valve and have had few if any side effects from the coumadin and I am admittedly a complete klutz. As my doctors have said manage the medicine according to your life and not the other way around.
They are making some pretty quick advances these days with valves and with blood thinnners so Dean is right to encourage you to ask questions.
Best of luck to you and if you ever need anything or have questions feel free to drop me a line.
Good decision to reschedule the trip to China, David. I'm glad your better half spoke up! This is a time to concentrate on you, your health and your family and not so much on the work side. I worked throughout my cancer treatment, but certainly took it easy and didn't push myself too hard. Work will be there when you are healed.
What's up my brother? This is a great site you found. I spoke with your better half about this the other night. I know that you will make the best decision for yourself when it comes to the tissue or mechanical version. You are a strong person and I know their will be many prayer's for you when the time comes. I look forward to a little jog around the neighborhood with you when recover.
Dave, I just had aortic valve replacement surgery with a ascending aorta repair on January 7th. I am recovering nicely and heading back to work part time next week just over two weeks post op. A couple things
-are they doing a minimally invasive procedure?? I would think so but was not sure.
-they are now feeding new valves via a catheter. Although still experimental they are hoping to go mainstream in the next few years. For this reason, their is a shift away from mechancial to tissue valves given this new procedure of the future. I am 49 and went tissue. You look like a young guy so perhaps they are recommending mechanical. I just don't like the thought of taking blood thinners.