On December 10, 2010 I had a heart cath to check for blockages before my aortic valve replacement surgery. No blockages were discovered. While I was waiting to be dismissed from the hospital, both my cardiologist and potential heart surgeon entered the recovery room to discuss the surgery for aortic valve replacement. The cardiologist had already suggested that I have the surgery within 3 months. I had been diagnosed by with Aortic valve stenosis for over 2 years. I had recently been upgraded to “severe” approximately 6 months earlier. The surgeon had an opening for the 28th of December. I told the surgeon on the 10th to “pencil me in” on the 28th. The surgeon, cardiologist, and my wife all had a good laugh. The heart cath showed that my aortic valve was the size of the end of a pencil. The surgeon informed me at my 5 week check up that my aortic valve was one of the worst he has ever seen. I am truly blessed.
The surgeon wanted me to decide if I wanted a mechanical valve or a bovine valve. After much thought, research, and prayer I went with a Bovine valve (see previous journal entry). After much research concerning my surgeon, I just knew he was the surgeon for my operation. I was confident in my surgeon and cardiologist.
I had open heart surgery on the 28th of December. When replacing my aortic valve, my heart surgeon noticed an aneurysm in my aorta that was also repaired. I got two for the price of one. If I had delayed my surgery any longer the aneurysm would have probably killed me before my aortic valve. My surgery lasted around 3 hours. Made good progress in the cardiac recovery care unit, no problems with breathing tube, etc., the worst experience was the removal of the drain tube. The removal brought tears to my eyes.
I was moved and made good progress on Wednesday and part of the day Thursday. Thursday night after eating, the nurse came into my room and asked how I was feeling. My heart monitor was inconsistent. The next thing I knew I woke up with 7 people standing around because I coded. Passed out again and woke up with 12 people standing around. Now this was a weird feeling. I thought, where am I, what am I doing here, what is wrong? I soon realized I was having major problems. The doctors put the electrical shock tabs on my chest and I was shocked numerous times to keep my heart beating. The decision was made to install a temporary pace maker. This was done while I was awake, not the most pleasant experience that I have ever had and I spent the night in intensive care. The next day a permanent pace maker was implanted. I was released to go home on the first of January late that afternoon.
I came back to the cardiologist on the 6th of January for a device check on my pacemaker. I was feeling bad that day and passed out at the doctor’s office. I was admitted to the hospital due to dehydration. The fluid pills totally dehydrated my body.
Since that time I have been recovering at home and was released by both the cardiologist and surgeon to return to work on February 3rd. I had a 5 week recovery period. I am only scheduled to see the cardiologist in 6 months, and I am off of blood thinners.
I read before the surgery that you can plan on a couple of setbacks. I definitely had my two. My wife was truly a great care giver and I am eternally grateful for her care and love. I had two great doctors and was truly blessed by God.
Five weeks since surgery, back at work and driving
Journal posted on February 4, 2011
Had quite a roller coaster ride, but back at work. Just wanted to make a quick note that everything is great and getting stronger every day. Must sit down when I have time and write a complete story of the past 5 weeks. God is good. thanks for the prayers.
Surgery is set for Tuesday December 28th. Went today and completed all my pre-op work. No internet access at home so, I will let you know how it went long after the surgery. See ya'll next time with a new valve. Thanks to everyone for their input, thoughts, and prayers.
Bovine Valve vs. Mechanical(Pros and Cons):
• Give up Physical Job or Activity:
• I want to be able to work on Tree Farm, yard, etc.
• Go Deer Hunting/perhaps fishing one day
• Football officiating maybe?
• Do all this without my wife worrying about me bleeding to death.
• I can hurt myself somewhat quite often…….
• 1 of 100 on cumiden can have stroke/bleeding
• Chance of stroke less with tissue vs. mechanical
• Monthly blood test
• Cost of medicine/forget to take medicine
• Bleeding while shaving, etc
• Major accident: friend's mother on cumiden that bleed to death.
• Future Elective Surgeries/Dental work
• Past History of Ulcer
-Fellow worker had mechanical valve (16years) still had replacement done.
• Probably gets a trip to Vegas is he “sells” 5 mechanical valves:
• I really think the cardiologist is ok with any decision I make (I was unsure before Secretary call today).
• He was “stand backish” during Surgeons visit, but walked in on the conversation.
• Did not communicate strong opinion back to me via secretary. She stated it was up to the surgeon to discuss questions, etc.
• Stating in initial visit that the “Surgery was not a big deal”…( so therefore I can do it twice)
• Gave me choice
• If it happened to him……. His choice is bovine. He would go through the Surgery twice, no question.
• His face, when discussing that the cardiologist had talked about Mechanical exclusively.
• Video from Hospital, about his parents.
• Cleveland Clinic, in 2009 performed 1,613 aortic replacement procedures, 85% were biological
• Study on biologic valves show, in 40 year old, these valves have a 50% chance of lasting 15 years or longer without decline in function. (I am a little older so that might be a small plus?)
• In discussion on internet, Dr. Gillivov, Cleveland clinic, states that “advances in preservation of tissue valves where they could last 20 years, some do, but count of 10-15 years”; in conversation with 65 year old man, that is replacing valve after 10 years: leaves the option open for Mechanical valve at that age of 65.
-My overall health forward (quit my vices):
-Future surgical procedures for an easy fix, or future of biologic valves longevity.
- Fellow Worker stated “Put a God made valve in”
• Does not have to be replaced: Maybe…………..
• Get Mechanical the 2nd time, if advancements are made in blood thinner/valve
• Some clicking sound