Testing is at a stopping point. I am a Veteran and they are sending me to Duke University in Durham for the next steps. All of my information, test results and pictures of hopefully 'internal' body parts has been sent to Duke where a 20 plus member medical team reviews my case and between a couple rounds of Yahtzee determine what is next for me. I personally hope it happens sooner rather than later. I have a life to live and I am anxious to get on with it.
It started in October when I went in for my Annual physical. I am a Veteran and I go to the Veterans Hospital in Salem Virginia which I think is a great place.
My regular doctor was no longer there and I was assigned a new doctor. He was also new to the VA System. I really liked him and I got one of the most thorough exams I remember getting in my life.
After it was over he told me I had a heart murmur and he wanted to check it out further. Let's see if I can spell Echocardiogram. Yep that was next.
Nov 16, 2016 I found myself laying on my side, greased up with a crazy lady running what appeared to be a mouse all over my chest as if she were playing Pac-Man.
She turned on the volume and I remember the swishing sound. It sounded just like the old washing machine my mother had. You know, the one with the wringer and the two tubs of rinse water. It wasn't until later that I learned that swishing sound is not supposed to be a part of the Pac-Man game being played.
Next thing I knew, on Dec 7, 2016 I was being introduced to a Cardiologist who was not impressed with my Pac-Man performance. He told me very little because he didn't have many answers and actually had more questions than I did especially when I told him I did not have any symptoms, that I walked 3 miles a day and averaged 20 flights of stairs a day. So I was sent to MRI.
Jan 12, 2017 was the MRI and this is a 2 hour plus test that is designed to see how long I could hold my breath without my head exploding. It turned into a game for me to count and see if I could last longer than the machine and about the time I prepared to lose the next round.......God talked to me and said Great Mr Kirsch you are finished. The surprise in all of it was that God's voice was that of a female. For two days I took the time to appreciate the fact I could breathe easily and not have to stop to hold my breath.
Well, all the MRI did was create another list of questions. Yep the TEE exam was next! And I cannot begin to say or spell the name of that test. They put a camera down your throat to look at your heart. And I am convinced that each of these tests are designed to get your ready for the final surgery. Each one takes you to a new level. By that I mean, you think you are not going to be able to make it through the test, yet there are some wonderful smiles and free hands to hold while their other hands are quite busy doing things you cannot imagine....And when it's over. It wasn't so bad.
So as the stories and exams unfold we learn more and none of it is anything we really wanted to know, but that's life. Oh and now for what I learned from the TEE.
I started with a murmur and traded that for door #2. Door # 2 was Aortic stenosis (mild), with calcium build up. The TEE however said not only was the valve leaking a bit, but it was regurgitating as well, and quite a bit. And regurgitation, as you can imagine, is not a good thing. Remember the swish swish washing machine sound the second swish is not supposed to be there. So door #2 is what it is but keeps us in the race for the grand prize.
So, boys and girls, I bought myself a place in a room that must have had millions of dollars worth of equipment. They had the biggest flat screen I ever saw outside of a sports complex and I laid there as two people shaved off body hair I had spent a life time accumulating. Yes, I was about to under go the Cardio Cathorization experience and an experience it was.
I had to lay on a bed for two hours after and not move at which time the new news was presented. I had two heart arteries that were 90% blocked.
Until then I had no idea and if I had not gone through this process I might have never known until it was too late.
I thank my lucky stars for this new lifetime chapter and everything about it.