2 YEARS SINCE AVR WITH BOVINE TISSUE VALVE AND ALL IS WELL!!
First, I want to thank everyone who helped with my journey.
Dr. King, my PCP who set me up for a stress test - finally, after I insisted.
My Echo Tech who knew I had a problem within a couple minutes.
Dr. Travis Wilson who explained my condition to me and sent me for further tests and set me up with an awesome surgeon.
Dr. Stephen Bailey, my awesome Surgeon who was both good and fast, making my recovery quicker
My awesome wife Barb, who was supportive throughout while giving me plenty of space.
Anyway, I'm doing very well. Absolutely no symptoms or pain or discomfort. I'm pretty active, so I still get out of breath when hiking up a steep hill, but I recover very quickly - probably more so than 5 years ago before I was symptomatic.
I've been pretty good about keeping my weight down, exercising and eating right. However, I have to admit that I've slipped in all three categories a lot since this past summer. That's what New Years Resolutions are for!
I went on a 10 day 100+ mile backpacking trip at altitude with the boy scouts this past summer and felt great throughout the trip. This trip was the primary reason on went with the tissue valve instead of the mechanical valve. I wanted to be as normal as possible for this trip - even if it meant I'd have to repeat surgery some day. I'm 56 years old now, so I suspect that some day I'll need a replacement, but I honestly don't think about it much.
So, to all of you who are awaiting surgery or in the early stages of recovery, Enjoy the journey! I wouldn't wish it on anybody, but I have to say that it's a life experience that I'm really glad I went through.
One Year Anniversary of Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery!
Journal posted on December 5, 2016
Hello Heart Valve Patients!
One year ago yesterday I went into the hospital a 5am for my Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery. The year went so fast and I feel so great now that I can barely remember the pain or discomfort.
For those who are getting ready for surgery, please relax and say your prayers. At least for me, the whole experience was much easier than I thought it would be. The ICU wasn't too bad and the recovery slow but very steady and much easier than I had expected.
My advice to everyone waiting to go in to surgery or just starting recovery: Stay positive and maintain a healthy diet. Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. Stand up straight and hold your chest out. Take advantage of the time off and relax a bit - read those books you've been setting aside, watch movies you've always wanted to see, but make sure you get out and walk.
This may sound strange, but you've actually been given a gift (assuming that all goes well) in that you get to experience something that very few people get to experience. Not that I'd wish it on anyone, but at least for me, it was a very interesting life experience.
It was one year ago today that I went in for a stress test to try to figure out what was wrong with me. Why was I getting so out of breath every time I exerted myself - even going up stairs? Why did I almost pass out two times over the last six months after exerting myself. Why was I so out of shape and tired.
Well, it didn't take long to find out. After only five minutes of looking, the Echo Technician knew that something was wrong and asked if I had had an Echo Cardiogram before. I said, yes 5 years ago but all was normal. She left the room to see the doctor and came back to tell me that they would complete the Echo, but not do a stress test. Eventually, the doctor came in to tell me that I had severe aortic stenosis and needed valve replacement surgery as soon as possible.
Well, I was a shocked to say the least, but actually relieved to know that there was a cure for the problems that I was having. After a few more tests, the surgeon, Dr. Stephen Bailey, determined that I needed to have a full sternum incision to have my valve replaced plus a single by-pass. We picked a date, Dec 4, and I just had to decide between a mechanical valve and a bovine tissue valve.
To make a long story short, I decided on the bovine tissue valve and my surgery and recovery went great without any complications.
So, for all of you who are awaiting surgery, I'm a good case of how well things can go. Ten months after surgery, I'm back to 100% - I would say 110% compared to where I was three years ago. No more pain, no more discomfort, no restrictions. I know I'm one of the lucky ones - and I thank God for that - but I want everyone to know that there is life on the other side.
So, for all of you getting ready for surgery or just coming out from the other side, get active as soon as you can. Walk, walk, walk. Do your breathing and other exercises, hold your chest out, remain positive, take the time off to relax a little, but be as active as you can be.
Has anyone ever gotten a good answer on what actually causes the Aortic Valve Stenosis? I had a murmer my whole life but didn't become symptomatic until I was about 52 years old. In fact, I had an ultrasound at about 48 years old and was given a clean bill of health. I'm just curious if there are lifestyle issues that could have triggered the stenosis. For example: Second hand cigarette smoke? Not taking antibiotics when going to the dentist? I have a nice new tissue valve that is working wonderfully and I want it to last as long as possible.
6 Month Anniversary and Feeling better than I have in years
Journal posted on June 4, 2016
Today is my six month anniversary of my AVR surgery. I'm feeling great and have no more pain in my chest. Pull ups still hurt so I don't do them but am able to do most other exercises. And I have much more endurance than I had a year ago or even three years ago before I was symptomatic.
Had a dream the other night that I had to have surgery again and have two valves replaced. Strange.
To all of you who are getting ready for surgery, don't worry And remember that everyday after surgery you will keep feeling better.
I posted on my actual anniversary date which was Friday, March 4, but it didn't post. User error I'm sure.
All is going well - I feel blessed to have
done so well. I've been back to work for six weeks now and I'm walking as much as I can. I put in over 11 miles today!! And I have very little pain left - more like discomfort. Still not doing pull ups or push ups but that has more to do with an old shoulder injury that I'm still trying to recover from.
This might sound strange, and I wouldn't wish this condition on anyone, but this has been a really interesting experience and I'm actually glad I went through it. And not just because I feel so much better than I did a year ago.
So, I hope this post helps those getting ready for AVR surgery.
I have been truly blessed! I'm almost embarrassed to write because I see that a lot of people are struggling, but I guess it's best to give others hope.
Everything is going very well. I'm walking either by myself or with members of my recovery team an average of 2.5 miles per day with some days as much as four miles. I still have pain around the incision and in my ribs, but it's manageable with on aspirin or Ibuprofen twice a day. And finally I've been sleeping well since I started drinking a glass of heart healthy red wine each night. I can't say that I'm super motivated to do a lot, but it is Christmas, after all.
So, Merry Christmas to All and keep recovering!
Went to the mall for a few hours yesterday then went to church today. It felt good to get out and about both days. Having less and less pain each day, but I have to admit that it's still annoying. Been very happy to read and watch tv - not much desire to do paper and computer work, but I'm taking care of the critical stuff (like my disability case $$). Also going for a nice walk everyday. GOD has been very good to me!
About 45 hours post op and doing quite well. Go in and out of mild nausea, but not too bad. I'm walking a good amount and using the breath incentivisor as much as I can remember. There's a chance that I'll get all the remaining tubes out tomorrow and be discharged. I'm hoping that will be the case, but mentally prepared either way. It was great having my mom here for the first four days, but she's heading for sunny Florida tomorrow morning. Had four guys from my "Huddle Group" Bible Study stop by last night, which was great - thank you guys!
To all you who are having surgery soon, stay positive and my prayers are with you. And to all of you who are post op, please keep the updates coming.
This is Barb posting for Gregg...
Gregg is out of surgery! All went well. We are waiting to see him and start day 1 of recovery😀 Thank you all for the kind thoughts and prayers. He will be posting soon!
God willing, one week from now I will be out of surgery and on the road to recovery. I'm feeling very positive about everything. No anxiety, almost done getting all of my personal and business affairs in order, comfortable with my valve decision.
I'm ready to go!
I'm feeling blessed to have found this website and have found great comfort in reading all your journals. My prayers go out to all of you.
Pre-Op appt, Valve Decision, Met well known OHS patient
Journal posted on November 17, 2015
I've been enjoying reading about everyone's successes over the last few weeks and seeing how the group supports each other through the struggles. So much prayer - it's inspiring.
Had my final pre-op appointment today. All is well for my Dec 4 Surgery. It can't come soon enough. I'm excited but not anxious - no anxiety.
I made my final decision to go with an Edwards Bovine Tissue Valve. I was trying to convince myself that mechanical was the best way to go, but kept coming back to the tissue valve. About a week ago I decided that it would take some stunning new information to move me away from tissue, but it never came. Today was my self imposed DECISION DAY. I'm happy with it and feel very free.
I met Merril Hoge today. He is a former Steeler and Bear running back from the late 80's and 90's and now a commentator for ESPN. More importantly he is just six weeks post op from Open Heart Surgery for an anuerism. He had the full Sternotomy and he looks fantastic. He is back to work and gave a great speech at our high school on leadership and meeting goals. I couldn't believe he was only 6 weeks post op. What an inspiration.
My prayers are with all of you who have surgeries coming soon or are in recovery.
Barb, Maddy, and Bosco - my recovery team. Getting in shape for lots of walking.
Journal posted on October 21, 2015
On Oct 15th, I had my heart cath to see if I had any blockage. Pretty routine, I guess, but they had to go through my groin in order to look at everything. Anyway, I do have one blockage, so that means I need to have a full sternotomy and a single bypass. A bit disappointing, but no big deal.