Coming from a 3X heart surgery, sternotomy each time I totally agree, respect and encourage getting other opinions. Age 39,45 and 59, respectfully having an Atrial Septal Defect repair, Mitral Valve Repair with eventual Mitral Valve Replacement. It is a BIG deal especially to someone who feels healthy and able to participate at the level that you describe. I wish you the best and if there is anything I can do for you let me know.
On your Feb 12th post you noted that you pitched 7 innings but I did not hear if you were standing 60 feet or 90 feet from homeplate. Ha ha! After your surgery, you may be able to go the whole nine and complete your first perfect game. Ha ha! Just wanted you to know I was thinking about you. Take care!
It is 19 days until my OHS. I feel the same way. My doctor said I shouldn't be working out with the trainer until I had surgery and advised me against taking a trip to Brazil. I have absolutely no symptoms.
My doctor convinced me that I needed the heart cath and surgery ASAP so I scheduled in Dec. Unfortunately the heart cath resulted in a blood clot in my right leg so surgery was postponed. Still no symptoms. I am still waiting so feel sure it wasn't as big of an emergency as indicated. Plus, I have to pay 3000 deductible for 2011 and 2012. Oh well, guess you can't take a chance with your health.
Good luck with your procedure. I think the anticipation is probably the worst part.
Jeff, i felt exactly the same. I was working out until a couple of days before my surgery. So many times it went though my head why me i feel fine but as someone else said in your journal there are warning signs which we chose to ignore. Looking back i know i wasnt right for a long time. Im 2 weeks post op and because we are fit going into this i have bounced backed quicker than i thought possible and so will you. It wasnt half as bad as i thought it would be and im surprised how good i feel. If i can go shopping at the mall and get my nails done - not bad eh?? (i know you wnt be wanting to those things!)
Hi Jeff. I completely agree with your recent journal post applauding Adam Pick for creating this online community of "valvers." I'm joining you in making a donation. It's totally out of character for me to do what I've done: start my online patient journal. (By way of example, I have steadfastly refused to join facebook, despite my family's repeated attempts to lure me in). I created my heart valve journal last week so that Donna, my wife, and I could easily communicate with family and friends before, during, and after my surgery. I did not expect that I'd make online connections with many new friends who are on a similar journey. And thanks to Mitch Friedman for connecting you and me. I hope to see you at Mt. Sinai in the interlude between your surgery and mine.
Peace and Blessings
Hi Jeff. My name is Jeff too. I never knew what was wrong with me. I found out i had aortic insufficiency in June and had surgery in August . I had some symptoms I never connected to my condition. You may too and not know it. The symptoms may be very subtle since you are very active and this helps keep you balanced so no one thing gets you down thus you feel like you have no symptoms but believe me you body has sent you signals. I don't really know you obviously but I think from a few posts I read you would be able to be in denial because you could still push super max and pitch 7 innings and get 5 hits so how could you possibly be sick. Even though you have known for 30 years you had a heart condition. They were there But as a dr you are realistic. What's the most common thing you hear from your patients? ". I didn't think it was anything". Or ". I thought it would go away on its own". Now dr Jeff it's time for you to be the patient. You have learned alot about how others have dealt with their illnesses and then surgery and recovery but when the time comes it will be all you. And take it from me. Being in great shape physically and mentally is the best thing you can do to get ready. Like preparing for a big race. Or you board exam. Just another big test. And I have posted my experience with pain post surgically was primarily due to the rearranging of my anatomy when they spread open your ribs for 5 hours. Terrible pain in the rib heads. Then the shoulders. Did alot of body work and Accupuncture and just now feeling better with the shoulders. But I tore my bicep tendon ( long head) curling 10 lbs last month. Go figure. Basically, it's a Beaych getting old. But it beats being dead. For sure. And one more thing. Don't walk towards the white light. And my ,02. Get the tissue valve and don't get the Ross unless you absolutely have to. Jeff Pheffer.
Jeff - I know exactly how you feel thinking about having surgery when you feel as if there is nothing wrong with you. Though I am quite a bit older than you, I was able to do anything physically I wanted to do but was told I needed to have mitral valve repair before it got to the point where my heart would be damaged w/o the surgery. I am now 4 weeks post op (I did have robotic surgery) and I am walking a mile a day on my treadmill and working out on my weight machine - although much easier than pre surgery. I feel well enough that I could do more but I don't want to push it. Point is, you will be back doing what you are doing now after your surgery and w/o the dread of future problems. Stay focussed on the positive and you will have all of this behind you before you know it.
As I'm sure you know, surgery in an asymptomatic patient is a difficult decision but you are doing the right thing. I was also asymptomatic before my mitral valve repair in June, and in excellent physical condition. I know it speeded up my recovery. I didn't have the struggle I have seen some patients report in these journals. I got my valve repired before any damage was done to my heart and I am very glad I didn't wait, even though I was told I could. Now it's done and I feel great!
I kind of understand how you feel. 2 years ago I had a Melanoma removed from my left tricep area. I felt fine, no pain, no discomfort. I was working out 6 days a week, working 5 days a week, traveling every other month, yet here I was, booking myself into the hospital to have life saving surgery---crazy!!
Dude, you are so fit and athletic now is the time. Your fitness may be masking symptoms. Wait until they appear and you may already have undergone cardiac remodeling enough to make a difference. Focus on the fact that you are giving your family the gift of you for many, many years to come. And - you are going to absolutely rule out there on the field! -- DVB
I thought I felt fine before surgery, but now think differently, because I feel better than ever. You will also. It just sucks that you have to go through a lot to get there. I feel confident that you will pass with flying colors. We are all here for you.
I totally understand how you feel. I had the same feelings at times, because I felt great, was in great shape and no symptoms. But I came to realize that it was a big advantage rather than a negative. Being in very good shape gives us a leg-up on taking on the surgery. Plus, it is extremely helpful in recovery.
Keep doing what you are doing and this bump in the road will be over before you it and you will again be mowing down those young whipper-snappers. I almost feel sorry for them. Chin music baby!!!
Your comments about feeling great and asymptomatic are thought provoking to me. I feel great! I have pretty much the same diagnosis you do. I will turn 57 tommorrow. I work out 4-5 days a week with either my trainer, swim laps, etc. It was very hard for me to cut back to 20 lb. weights though. I have more energy than my 20 year old daughter! I taught for 34 years until taking early retirement last June. I think the only thing I noticed is that when they put me on a beta blocker about 3 years ago to take pressure off the valve it seemed to make me a little more tired. I've been up to Mayo-Rochester and they say that my measurements for still ok.
I will be thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers. I will be following your before, during, and after surgery progress.
I hear you Jeff, loud and clear. I'm so sorry you have to be going though all this .... The truth is, and you know it, that your great physical condition, is your greatest asset going into the surgery. It will assure you a fast, unremarkable, complete recover.
Now let me review your baseball stats for a moment. You pitched 7 innings (never told us how many runs you gave up). Got on base 5 times (never saying you scored) and I for one want to know how old the other players were.
I can't pitch 7 innings and older than you but felt the same way. The surgeon said, hey a storm is coming your way...what are you going to do? Growing up in Illinois tornado alley, I knew the answer was not waiting it out. LOL. By fixing it now...you won't be a walking time bomb. You are in shape, young, healthy otherwise so best success is yours. I'm 54, did not work out, have RA and my recovery is going great. I was home alone at 2 weeks, driving at 4 weeks and walking 1 to 2 miles a day at 6 weeks. Plus, fear is gone because I am fixed/repaired. You will do great, Jeff!! Added bonus, you have all of us sending good thoughts and prayers your way!! Janis Kielbasa
Welcome to my world. Now as your friend, I have to say, lose that attitude pal. It will not serve you during recovery. Truthfully, what I found helped during the days you are in is this...now symptoms, but you know stuff is broken inside = amazing super human powers when you are fixed and through recovery. I mean we have to be better, stronger and faster if we get fixed and the limitations that we do not realize we have are gone. Rght????? At least that is what I am telling myself, will let you know if it is true, well after your surgery that is. For now, believe it, drink the Kool Aid and know your down time won't be so bad or so long.
Now go work out double for the both of us while I am in recovery and you have a few more weeks.
Jeff, I feel your pain! That is exactly how I feel. Sometimes, I also wish I had some major symptoms, would sure make this easier to accept. I know...I don't want symptoms, but this is like...how do I know I REALLY need to do this???? But...I guess we have to trust somebody, just wish it didn't have to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, lol.
Try not to think about it so much says Linda, the one who can't think of anything else!!
I know that you know the answer is: Have the surgery to make sure you don't get symptoms. Trust me, I do not have a physically demanding job and I'm physically exhausted at the end of the day. No fun. I can't even run far enough hanging on to my son's bike seat to help him get rid of the training wheels.
I'm looking for that to be OVER!! I'm going to run circles around everyone when this is over.
Please don't wish for symptoms!! However, I can completely understand your state of mind. I wouldn't want surgery without symptoms either.
Dr. Jeff, I'm very pleased to hear the decisions are made and the mental aspect of this is now in the rear view. I spent the better half of the day reading through all your posts and guestbook entries on your journal, which took me awhile and it just confirms several things for me. First, after meeting Carol at the last Knights meeting, Theresa and I are sure there is no one stronger to help you through your recovery and this process. We see it when your together and hear it in your posts, she is also very strong and will be fine. Second, the more I listen, the more I realize you are like a long lost brother to me and I find great comfort in how much we are alike. So, having said that, please put the scalpel down on surgery day and allow the surgeon to do the work.... Take a day off.... We love ya brother and I know you will be fine. I will be following throughout and we will miss you in Cancun.
I just wanted to wish you the best. You helped me through a painful episode in my life and I appreciate all that you have done for me. I guess we all need help at some time or another. Good luck with your surgery. I will be thinking about you. Take care!
Hey Jeff. This is just a pit-stop along the road of life to get the engine tuned up. 6 months down the road you'll be amazed how good you feel and how great an idea it was to get the work done! By the way, what have been your best research sources? Mine were: AHA/ACC Guidelines for management of valvular disease, Braunwald's Cardiology textbook, and various journal articles on therapies vs outcomes. -- DVB
The real challenge won't be the surgery, it will be the recovery. And the toughest part will no doubt be for Carole who has the wifely role of telling you when you're doing too much and need to stop. The Rictor family will be praying for you the whole way through!
HI, Jeff. Shirley and John Schultz here. We read all your posts and were amazed at all the decisions you have to make. Looks like you have your "eyes on the prize" and are well prepared. We also looked at the pictures of you and your lovely family. So much waiting for you and your quick recovery! Blessings from our house to yours, good luck and God bless. We're sure you will come through with flying colors! We'll keep reading your posts and your wife's posts to keep up with your progress. We're all pulling for a record quick recovery.
I just recently posted to Janis that I could not believe that I thought about my surgery in some way 24/7 and now 9 weeks later I never think about it if I am not on this site.
I live in a very close suburb to the city. I would be more than happy to do what ever you or your family might need when you are here. I can offer housing if you need it pre and post op.
I promise that the waiting is the worst part.
Well, now I feel better that I didn't have the luxury of all that research, research and research. I was vacationing in Lake Powell armed with nitro-glycerine tablets. After a boating a whole day on our own rented boat in and out of canyons, it hit. Trying to walk up the hill (I was climbing out of a canyon, after all) to the boathouse, I was popping tablets about every 100 yards.
Needless to say, I made it back to NY and went for an angiogram. The doctor would not let me go home. (He knew I never would have returned). I had my surgery the next day. No time to fret. No time to think about it. No second opinions. No time to become a "self-made surgeon." Wham, bam, thank you m'am. And the rest is history.
It's been 10 years and its still ticking. I won't say stop worrying (that's like saying don't be hungry) but rest assured that everything will be alright. These procedures are practically routine these days. And you have one of the best doctors working on you (the other one is at St. Francis) so just go on with your life. Why not put this journal on hiatus until after the big day?
You may not remember me but I am Carol's cousin Tanya from Baltimore. Carol and I used to spend summers together in WVA when we were younger or we visited the Haleski's when they lived in Boonsboro, MD. a long time ago. My parents are Mary and Vince Butta and we were all at your wedding at the Country Club in NY years ago.
I recently "liked" your practice's Facebook page and came across your Journal entry today.
I think that you are very courageous and I know things will work out for the best after the surgery. My husband Jerry and I live with my daughter Rebecca in Bel Air, Maryland so I wanted to let you know that when you go to New York for your surgery we are not that far away if you would need anything! I mean anything! I grew up with Carol and all of the Haleski's in Wheeling and I consider them all close family. So, again if you need anything at all please don't feel bad asking. That is what family is for!!
Much love, luck, and hugs to you and I will follow the rest of your journey through your journal.
Give my best to Carol and the rest of your beautiful family.
I know bro. I know. I'm completely consumed with this too. I find myself neglecting work and putting things off. I go from feeling good about everything to getting that pit in my stomach. I know there's no point in getting worked up but easier said.. We're both healthy guys and we have age and strength on our side with no comorbities. This will be ancient history soon and you'll do great I just know it. I'm going to Stelzer next week so I'll give him another good look-over for you and Carol.
Great idea Jeff, I will do the same! We know first hand how much Adam has done, for all of us really, and he doesn't hesitate to get involved in our search for experienced surgeons, readily uses his connections on our behalf.
BTW, have you heard from Mitch today? Wondering if he got to go home.Good luck on your visit with Dr. Accola on Friday.
I already made a donation, but I realize it was way too small an amount. If I was to calculate an amount by how much help and support I got, it would be a huge donation. I will surely donate again. Thanks for putting it out there.
Great Idea Jeff...I will also make a donation. The amount of information and support that this site gives is amazing. Thank you for the suggestion and hopefully the donations will let Adam know how much we all appreciate what he has done here.
Jeff - Great idea. What I have been able to get from this site can't be measured. It's true that I too find a bond with the folks on here. It is crazy but without this site I am not sure what I would be doing right now and how I would be feeling. I find myself checking the site all the time looking for the next update from my friends on here.
I too agree....a second opinion is the way to go...and like mom and dad said...a second opinion may give you some additional insight and more confidence..with your choosing.
I hold you in my prayers....
Just woke up and of course first thing I do is chek your journal and my emails. Was surprised to find that you have decided to get a second opinion. YEAH! Dad and I have been talking about that for sometime. Why not ? Great idea. Even if you stay with your decision for Ross.....a second opinion may give you some additional insight and more confidence that you have made the right decision for you.
As someone said to me during this process (I think it was John Lund or JH), information is power. Even if you choose to ignore that information, you still have the power. So, good for you getting a second opinion. I just don't see it is a bad idea. Good luck. -Mitch Friedman
Jeff, having worked in healthcare for almost 40 years (yes I'm old) I always tell everyone: ALWAYS get a second opinion....even if you ignore it...get it. If it bothers your doctor that you want another opinion, get another doctor. But, being a doctor yourself I know that you know all that. I have heard of Dr. Accola, I think through Adam's website. I'm guessing if he doesn't do the ROSS, and I don't know that he doesn't, you may well get a different opinion, but you know that too. It's really the same for all of us, we have to make decisions based on what other people tell us or write about, but when it comes time to decide for ourselves, we have to listen to that little voice inside of us. If you think of it, I have a question you might ask. I don't know if the valve used to replace your pulmonary valve would ever need to be replaced, but if it does, do they think they can also do that using the transcatheter approach, or is that only for aortic valve? I see that the valve used in the transcatheter approach has a stainless steel frame that is left in place. Would a person then need to be on Coumadin therapy? I can't find anything that addresses that particular point, but I think that would make a difference in deciding between mechanical and tissue for the initial replacement. The benefit of tissue is not having to be on Coumadin, but would you end up on it eventually anyway if future surgery was done using the transcatheter approach? Just curious, will talk with Dr. G. about it when I meet him in March, but it is interesting question I think,haven't heard anyone mention it before. Good luck with your visit with Dr. Accola. Keep us posted.
Getting closer...Linda Dixon