What a relief it is to make a decision and go forward. We met with Dr Allan Stewart who is Director of AOrtic Valve Surgery at Columbia PResbyterian. He is confident, clearly has excellent doctor- patient rapport and sets you at ease about your decisions. For those of us who have AVR its not a question of whether or not but when. There is no alternative to solving the problem by repair or replacement. In my case the numbers indicate replacement. The choice of valve will be Dr Stewart's - either bovine or equine. He won't know until he starts the surgery which will be a better fit. Although we were aware of other procedures - apparently I am not a candidate for any of them. I am too healthy for the renal catheterization clinical trial and the Ross procedure is not a choice.
ALthough I had an appt for today with another highly regarded surgeon - Dr Leonard Gerardi at Cornell-Weill, since I had already done all the pre-op at Columbia PResbyterian and didn't feel I needed a second opinion that would not add anything new to the equation - I opted to go with Dr Stewart. I realize that when you do your research what you find is that,especially in NY there are several dozen surgeons who could perform this almost routine surgery. I am confident that we made a wise decision. Dr Stewart allayed my concern of "Sudden Death" by telling me that I've probably been at this stage for almost a year and he didn't believe anything dramatic would happen within the next few days. Thats a thought that has been with me since I had the catheterization. Not an easy one to shake.
My suggestion to anyone facing this type of surgery: Read Adam's book, have your family members read it too, make your decision and go with it. One other thing thats helpful. Use the internet - set up an email for those who will want to hear your status. Its much easier than speaking on the phone to describe it over and over again. Reach out to all those you care about and accept their good wishes and hugs. You can't help but feel your own mortality and there's no such thing as having too many people who care about you.
I'm actually concerned about my husband - my caregiver. He will probably need as much support as Me.
Yesterday we made an important decision as to choice of surgeon and hospital.
Today we made an even more important decision - should we have our dog stay with friends for the week or would she be more of a companion for Artie. Reluctantly he realized it would be easier not to have to worry about her during and after my surgery - so off she goes to the Berkshires. Our only concern is will our friends give her back?
Wed. Nov. 17, 2010 -Columbia Presbyterian Dr Allan Stewart
Journal posted on November 18, 2010
To some of you this email may be a surprise -
Last night Jessica and I accompanied our friends Roz and Len to see Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. An exilerating experience and certainly one that would get my mind off the following day......
Today an appointment with the heart surgeon to schedule open heart surgery next Monday. Life is certainly full of surprises and this was one. I'm one of the lucky ones (I hope) the procedure is almost routine if you can call an aortic valve replacement routine.
This has all come about quite suddenly - I expected to need a stent or angioplasty but to my surprise my cardiac catheterization showed no arterial disease - only a valve that needs to be replaced. So I will either have cow or horse traits soon since thats the kind of valve they use for my condition.
To each of you who either offered to or did provide information thank you - for your positive advice and
thoughts and friendship.
We're all taking this news quite well - Jessica - Jeff - Artie and I researched the doctors available and who was the best. Michael turned up the best contact. His friend is chief of PA's at the cardiac -thoracic unit at Co;umbia-PResb and Joe was able to get us an immediate appointment. Several names came up as tops and we are going with Dr Allan Stewart who is Director of Aortic valve surgery at Columbia Presbyterian. He is too darn young (41) and very cute. He's done about 400 of these surgeries in the last year and has even come up with a technique named after himself. The only thing that worries me is that he will be going to the Jet game on Sunday and if they lose.......
Apparently my recovery will be quite easy - 1-2 days in intensive care - 1 day in a step down room and then possibly home as early as Thanksgiving. The Rehab I will need will be to walk alot - so any one who wants to join us in New York to accompany me on the esplanade - please do so.
I'll probably be pretty tired for the first two - three weeks but then I can start to resume normal activities For me normal activity will be seeing all of you.
Email is the best way to contact me, Jessica or Artie for the next week or so.
One additional impression - I feel like Emily in Our Town - kind of an outer body experience - as if this is happening to someone else and I'm an observe - my friend Roz (a psychologist) says this is a way to compensate for stress but I'd rather think its really just not happening to me. I guess Monday morning reality will set in.
Jessica will let everyone know how things go Monday.