Well, I followed up with my surgeon just 20 days out of AVR surgery. He has given me clearence to drive, lift 20 lbs, do light cardio at my gym, ride my bike (when the weather is cooler) and possibly start lightly into work.
My PT/INR has been steady and today should be the last visit from the home nurse.
I feel great and have been sleeping in my bed instead of the recliner. I will see my cardiologist in about 2 weeks. He will decide if I need cardiac rehab. I wouldn't complain if he told me to go, but I am already walking 45 mins at a time, and today plan on using the stationary bike at my gym.
All in all, I am amazed at the present state of technology available to heart patients. For all of my new friends here at the Heart Valve Journal (Especially Jon, Jim, Bill, Kent, Matt, Sheila, William and Barry) Please keep me posted. You are all wonderful people and we share a bond that only we heart valve patients understand. I thank you for your support from the bottom of my (healthy) heart :)
To all of my friends and family whom have supported me through thick and thin, I love you all very much. Slowly but surely... I am back!
I would like to thank my mother-in-law Donna for everything she has done. We could not have possibly done this without her! She stayed with me and cared for me during my early stages of recovery, so that Laura could work and also rest. Love you mom!
I also wanted to thank my lovely wife Laura. I promised you sweetie that I wasn't going anywhere. Now we have more precious time together :) Same team as always my love!
It has been 13 days since my surgery, and I feel wonderful! I am walking alot, and have been reducing the pain meds. My INR (blood thinner level) is at a good level so far. It is amazing to me how fast time has flown by.
I truelly wish to thank everyone again for all of your kind prayers, thoughts and support.
This is Laura writing again. We waited all day yesterday for test results with no news and no idea what was going on. It is a very tense feeling wondering if there is an infection brewing in a new heart valve. Finally at 4 PM the surgeon arrived to check on Jeff. He asked why is Jeff still here? I told him that we had been told they were waiting for the pathology report. He checked Jeff out, and was furious to learn that the orders he had given to the hospital staff to have the cardio wires removed and to discharge Jeff from the hospital had not been followed. In case you are wondering what these wires are, they are basically wires that the surgeon puts in place that are in direct contact with the heart and fed through the skin. It looks a little bit like a set of tiny jumper cables laying on the skin.
Back to the story now...I really like our surgeon, this man can get stuff done fast. He removed the wires himself, chewed out some nursing staff, and got the ball rolling with pathology.
Jeff escaped to the outside world late last night. First order of business was to get home to the new recliner we bought for his recovery. Once he was comfortable, I ran out to the pharmacy to get his medicine, and several unanticipated supplies to take care of his incisions. My mom was here to help out and watch over Jeff while I went to the store. Thanks mom for all you have done. Thanks to all of the support from friends both old and new. We could not have done this without you.
This is Laura writing again. If there is one thing that I have learned, it is that recovery does not happen on a schedule. At one moment things seem great, then a setback or two to overcome before moving forward again. Jeff's recovery has been moving along nicely, but we got some news back from pathology that there may be an infection either in his heart or blood stream. As a result, they are keeping him for more tests and antibiotics. I am glad they are so thorough here at the hospital and check for everything that could go wrong and head it off at the pass.
The people with the carts and Oxygen were slowing Jeff down, so they cut him loose. He has a free hall pass now to move around at will. No more tubes, no more oxygen, no more potty room escorts...Life is good!
This is Laura , Jeff's wife writing again. Jeff is simply too tired to write tonight.
Jeff has a really busy day today. He was up 3 times for cardiac rehab, which consists of a lap around the cardiac unit. It was sort of funny when he did his first lap, the therapist asked if he wanted to go around again. Jeff turned to her, and without hestitation, said he was fine to walk as long as she was up for it . He also got to take a shower for the first time since surgery, which he says felt amazing. His appetite is off, and most food tastes bland to him. The only thing he seems to like right now is ginger ale, fruit cups and jello. I am sure in time his tastebuds will recover, but for now he thinks everything tastes terrible.
Thank you everyone for all of the visits, cards, texts and journal postings. Jeff really is lifted up by the encouraging words of his friends and family. He says that having the journal has made all the difference in the world to him, and has connected him with others who are experiencing the same things as he is. He finds great comfort in this.
I personally am amazed at how fast the body can bounce back after such an invasive procedure. To think that less than 60 hours ago Jeff was in open heart surgery on a heart lung bypass machine is frankly mind boggling. To go from that to doing laps around the unit and taking a shower in that time span is just really amazing.
Jeff says he can hear the ticking of his valve at all times, but finds it reassuring to know the valve is in there working. I have not heard the valve at all, except for when I put my ear on his chest to see if I could hear it. I too found it reassuring, since the last few months the sound was more like a washing machine swooshing than a heart beat. To hear a heart beating strong with a soft ticking sound is so much better.
The other stuff you wanted to know, but were afraid to ask..
Journal posted on July 1, 2011
Jeff has asked that I post more about his surgery.
When the surgeon got a good look at his heart and aorta, the choice was clear. He needed to have his aortic root replaced as well as his aortic valve. Both portions were made of the same material from ON-X. He was in surgery over 5 hours, and on bypass for over 4 hours.
When I spoke with the surgeon right after surgery he told me that he was really surprised when he saw the valve. Apparantly, there was a large piece of calcified valve tissue that had broken away from the valve and was hanging on by a tiny thread, right in the high pressure stream created by the failing valve. If the tiny thread of tissue had given way, the mass of calcified tissue would have caused a sudden, massive, and fatal stroke. The Surgeon stated that he had never seen anything like it, and that Jeff had definitely made the right decision not to delay his surgery, even though he was asymptomatic. The Dr kept emphasizing how very lucky Jeff was that the tissue did not break loose. He said that Jeff must have had a guardian angel watching over him, because it was so amazing that the tissue was still attached by that tiny thread.
I think I know of at least 2 very special angels watching over Jeff, and I am very greatful. Thank you Laura & Jack. Thanks to god for putting him in the right place at the right time to save his life.
Jeff has graduated to the CV Step Down Unit. Part of the graduation "ceremony" is to have the patient walk from their ICU bed to the room as far as they can. For those of you who know Jeff personally, you will probably not be surprised to learn that he walked almost all of the way there. He always gives 200% to anything he is working on, and this is no exception.
He is very tired from the surgery, ICU stay, physical therapy, and walking.
Kudos to the exeptional staff here at Christ Hospital. I could not be more impressed with them.
Jeff has been out of surgery for about 24 hours now. He is still in the ICU and progressing nicely.
His spirits are good as is usual for him. He is honestly one of the most positive and happiest people I have ever known. No matter what life throws at Jeff he finds a way over around or through it. His amazing spirit and energy shine through as he pushes his way through the pain and does everything the staff asks him to do. He has already been up twice today on his feet doing his physical therapy.
I have read every guestbook response out loud to Jeff. He really appreciates all of the wonderful prayers, wishes and support of his friends both old and new.
It's 4:15 am and we are just getting ready to head out the door to the hospital. Time for the On-X valve! My wife Laura and my Daughter Savannah will take over the journal from here. In the words of Buzz Lightyear... "Too Infinity, and Beyond"!
I had an excellent vacation with my family last week! I love you all so much!
To all of my friends, I want to thank you for your support and caring words. I have had a lifetime of great times and experiences with you. If you feel the need to cry, then make the tears be of joy. I am not going anywhere and plan to continue our friendship for many years to come!
To all of my Law Enforcement and S.W.A.T. compadres, thanks for having my back all those years. Please know that I will always have your back as well. "Loyalty Above All Else Except Honor"
To Jon F, Jim D, William K, Matt F and all of my brothers and sisters on the Heart Valve Journal, we all have a special bond and I appreciate our friendships. I am here for you 24/7
Laura will be taking over the journal entries starting tomorrow. She will try to keep everyone informed. If you need to call or text her, her number is (513)382-2709
Met with the Anesthesiologist today, a few xrays, ekg and blood work. Everything is set for the 30th.
This week I plan to take a little trip with my family to my home town in Temperance, MI (near Toledo). We will go to my neice Jamie's wedding and then hangout at the Erie Islands. Plan to enjoy my family & friends, the beach and do a little Walleye fishing.
I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day. I also wanted to thank Adam for his book and this exceptional website for myself and my Heart Valve Journal brothers and sisters. The friendships made here, and the information and moral support are priceless! All of you are making this easier for me, along with my awesome family, friends and the worlds BEST wife (I Love You So Much )!
Tomorrow is pre-op testing at 9:30am. Then a little family vacation to my home town and the Erie Islands before surgery on June 30th.
It looks like my surgery is finally on the books for Christ Hospital at 7:30am on June 30th. Despite being a little nervous, I will be glad to get this over with. I feel like that llama in one of my kids movies from years back. The one where they are on a raft about to be sucked over the falls and the llama says,"Big waterfall... sharp rocks?Bring it on!"
So last week the wisdom teeth came out. Monday the 13th at 9am, scheduled for a root canal, gross scaling and and a temporary crown. They are going to sedate me and do it all at one time. Then I will be good to go for AVR surgery anytime from June 24th or after.
I am still asymptomatic, and will be glad to be done waiting for the surgery. My beautiful wife is holding up alright, but I can see her stress level building up. I do my best to keep her laughing.
To my new AVR replacement friends (Dan, Jon, Jim, Matt and countless others) thank you for your support and prayers. I am here for you and support you 200%!
Stay Strong My Brothers & Sisters and... Keep On Ticking
May 5, 2011 - The Day The Earth Stood Still For Me
Journal posted on May 29, 2011
There are a lot of dates I will never forget. February 28, 1964 - my birthday, August 1, 1981 - MTV's first broadcast, September 11, 2011 - Taliban Attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, December 14, 1993 - My Daughter Savannah was born, May 25, 1995 My Son Jacob was born, May 15, 2009 - My Wife Laura and I were married, May 19, 2009 I entered war torn Kabul, Afghanistan as a security contractor on a government mission. June 22, 2009 I re-entered the United States - home at last.
But the date that seemed to stop all time and space was May 5, 2011... I was on a routine follow up with my cardiologist. I had been doing these frequently since I was sixteen years old. Back then, they followed up on a heart murmur that was so quiet that only a few doctors had noticed it. It was determined that I had a bicuspid aortic valve. So now, 31 years later, my cardiologist was reading my echocardiogram and tells me, “The stenosis in your valve has progressed allot in the past two years (from 2.0 to 4.1) and is exerting dangerous pressures in your aorta. The valve has to come out".
Time Out! Rewind! Wait... What? Um, doc this is the part where you were supposed to say that everything looks fine as usual and you will see me in another 6 months. The shock of what he had said had me reeling. My wife was due for Lasik eye surgery in two days, she was nervous enough already. How in the hell was I supposed to drop this bomb on her?
How could this be? I have been riding my mountain bike 8 miles at a pop, and at a good pace. I have been losing some weight (still a lot more to go). Holy S@#), am I going to die? Now?
I spoke with my cardiologist some more. He assured me that aside from my aortic valve being bad, that I was strong and healthy. Three days later I had a heart catheterization. My arteries and capillaries were in great shape with no blockages. Pressures were taken inside the chambers of my heart. All was well, within the exception of stenosis in my aortic valve.
I met with the surgeon and discussed my options. It was decided that I would finish up some long overdue dental work before scheduling my surgery. It looks as though the heart surgery itself might occur after June 24th (oh great, that’s my niece Jamie’s wedding).
I will keep everyone posted with updates as quickly as I can.