Well, it's been just over two years since my surgery. Everything is going well. I did battle some palpitations due to a medicine adjustment but that has settled down. I don't notice the ticking anymore. I have gained some weight but I'm working on that. Thankful for my wife and kids. Thankful for my new valve. Thankful for my time here.
Today marks the eighteen month anniversary of my AVR surgery. While there have been some minor complications along the way, the journey has been amazing. Not amazing in away that I want to go through it again. But amazing in how my body has recovered and healed. Sometimes I forget about my valve but I am reminded by the scar staring back at me every morning. The slight tick is barely noticeable and I have found the medication routine to be much more annoying. Having my blood checked is not that big of a deal. It took a few revisions to my warfarin dosage before my INR stabilized. I have no regrets. I am happy with my mechanical valve and the results of my surgery.
Today marks the one year anniversary of my AVR. It has been a year filled with many emotions. I am thankful that my INR has stabilized. I am still trying to get my BP medicines figured out. The last change caused some palpitations. That truly scared me. I am so thankful for my wife. She has been there through all of this. I love you dear.
Yesterday was the six month anniversary of my aortic valve replacement. I couldn't be happier with the results. I have no pain or side effects from the surgery. My blood pressure is good. My cholesterol is good. My INR is under control. I wish you all the best and a Merry Christmas!
Well, it's been about eighteen weeks since my surgery and I feel great. The biggest problem I have is remembering to take my medicine. Hunting season began here in Ohio a few weeks ago and it felt great to get out there. I was a little concerned about how I was going to get a deer out of the woods an how my heart would react. I'm happy to say I was able to put it to the test last week and had no problems. Thanks again to all my friends, family, and fellow heart valve patients. A special thanks to my wife. I will never forget how you were always there for me. I love you. Still tickin....
Tomorrow marks the 8 week anniversary of my aortic valve replacement. I couldn't be happier with the results. The seatbelt doesn't irritate my scar, my endurance is coming back, and I don't have any muscle pain. To celebrate, I'll go back to work. The cardiac rehab has helped me get ready as there will be a lot of walking and stairs. I am becoming used to the ticking and it's more of an awareness than a nuisance. Blood pressure is still a little high and my INR bounces up and down. My surgeon says I won't have any restrictions. Loving life...
Yesterday I visited the cardiologist. Everything looks good. He indicated that once I am healed, I will not have any restrictions. I am very aware of how fortunate I am. I'm still trying to get my blood thinners figured out but overall, I'm doing well. My back feels much better and my knee is healing. Thanks to all for your encouragement.
Well, it's been three weeks since the surgery. Overall, I feel pretty good. I was supposed to start cardiac rehab yesterday but I woke up with a swollen left knee. Not sure why but it sure does hurt. Looks like I will be on the sidelines for a few days. The incision looks good and only bothers me when the seat belt rubs it. We are still trying to get the coumadin levels right. This may take a while. It feels like a lifetime ago since I was at OSU. Looking forward to getting my energy levels back to normal and all the soreness worked out. More later.
Waking up at home is a world of difference than waking up in the hospital! Last night I was able to sleep through the night for the first time. I am still sleeping on the couch but at least I don't bother June if I toss and turn. She is still taking care of me but will have to go back to work on Thursday. I'm sure going to miss her. I start rehab on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to getting my energy levels back. I still have some shoulder/back pain but it is improving. After I sit or lay for awhile, I have some pain near the incision but it feels more like a muscle than the cut in the skin. I know it has been said before, even in Adam's book, but the fear was the worst part. Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes.
It's been ten days since the operation. The operation went well with Dr. Crestanello spending the first two hours trying to repair the valve. After letting it function for thirty minutes, he decided that it required replacement. The entire operation lasted approximately five hours. When I came to, I still had the breathing tube in. I communicated with my wife via pad and pen.
The worst part of the next seven days was the back and shoulder pain. There was very little I could do to improve the condition. I could sleep on my side for a while but that caused other pain. My vision was also very blurry for the next few days. The drain tubes came out easily as did the catheter. The only bad part about the drain tubes was that sometimes they would touch a nerve or something and the pain was intense. After all that, it was then just a waiting game while they tried to get my blood thinner dosage right. When they say that you don't get any rest in the hospital, they aren't exaggerating. I was exhausted. I was being poked or prodded every two hours.
It is very easy to become depressed in the hospital. It was a constant reminder that I was sick. It kept me worried. Seeing the other patients, those that didn't hav someone there for them, made me sad. It's hard enough to face the surgery but to do so alone is unimaginable.
So now I am home, taking pills from ten different bottles. I still have back pain and spasms. I sleep most of the night, waking up about 2am because of my back pain. I have a slight tick sound that serves as a reminder to what I have been through. It is also reassuring to hear every morning.
One week ago today I was preparing for the surgery. Actually, I had about 4 hours of sleep left before I left for the hospital. My how things have changed since then. I can't tell you how thankful I am for June. She has been right there by my side this whole week. Right now, she is sleeping in what I am sure is a very uncomfortable pull out bed. One can easily become depressed staying in a hospital. Without her this experience would have been much more difficult. She did it all without a single complaint. She handed me water when I was thirsty. Rubbed my back when it was sore. Washed my hair every day. Made sure I did my breathing excersices. I must have done something very good to deserve someone like her. Love you June. Thanks to all of you that have posted or followed along. Today was re first day that I have felt good enough to post and I will catch up with all of you soon. The doctors and staff here at OSU are wonderful. My two biggest hurdles have been the blood thinners and back pain. I can't wait to get home and on something comfortable to sleep on.
Still in the hospital anxiously waiting for his blood levels to get where they need to be! Saturday when they started the blood thinner he was taking 5 mg and was at 1.5, every other day they increase the amount and he is now taking 10 mg and he is at 1.7 but it still is not high enough to go home. He is pretty much off the pain medicine for his surgery discomfort (except at night). They just started giving him ibuprofin every 4 hours for his back and neck aches. Boy what a difference that has made - we should have asked for that a couple days ago. He is back to his normal self! Keep your fingers crossed that we can leave tomorrow!
Jon was taken off the oxygen today and his resting level stayed in the mid 90's. He was so glad to get rid of that hose! We have made several trips around the floor and several trips to the bathroom. He had a little bit of a reaction to the iv potassium which caused his arm to hurt with pressure. The nurse said some people get a burning sensation when it is put in their iv so she stopped it and gave him pills instead.
I have been reading up on the sings of depression that is common after this type of surgery - if anyone has any suggestions please let us know. Jon has been doing great and come so far I would hate for that to set in.
I stopped short on my last post. No time to spell check or finish my thoughts! Jon's mom brought Jacob and Casey up to see him. While he rested and I attended a Discharge class with my daughter they made him a get well soon sign for his room. I took the kids on a walk to a nearby park - they seemed to have a good time watching the ducks and baby ducks. We stayed there longer than I planned but they were enjoying themselves so much and it gave me a little time to explain some of the things their dad is going thru and will need to keep an eye on. When we got back he was out for his second walk of the day and doing great! I know it really tires him out as to be expected. I cannot even imagine the pain he is going thru. When I see that look in his eyes the mom in me just wants to gather him up in my arms and make it all better!
He is still on oxygen. They have tried several times to get him off of it but his level drops too low and they put it back on. He was on line today checking on some of his journal friends and reading the guest posts so keep them coming!
Saturday June 4th - 48 hours since the surgery began
Journal posted on June 4, 2011
Today started just as early as yesterday! Up at 6am. They did another eng because his levels were varying. Not real sure what that means but the first time they said they also mentioned it was a sign of a heart attack so naturally we both started worrying. Turns out the doctor said everything was fine both times. They do want him to watch his fluids today to get back down to pre-op weight. Jon had been drinking lots over the past 24 hours mainly because he was thirsty but also
because he did not want the cathetor put back in! They removed the tubes this morning. What a relief! Twice last night he had severe knife like pain when they were lowering him. Hopefully since the tubes were removed there will be no more of that kind of pain. He still doesn't mind getting out of bed but when being put back into bed he experiences the most pain. The nurses keep telling him the more he does it the easier it will be. He looks at me with this "yeah right" sarcastic look when they tell him that! He has made the comment several times that he so much more tired than he expected. While he naps I either read, take a nawalk - lucky for me the area where the hospital is located is very safe, the weather has been great and I brought my headphones
They had Jon up and sitting in a chair at 6 am this morning. He didn't complain of the pain getting up but laying back down sure seems to bother him. The second time they had him up at lunch time they had him walk down the hall. The girl that was walking was a jabberbox and full of energy! She said he walked about 150 feet and did really good for his first time out. I think between the walk, bath, breathing exercises and being up and down several times this morning it really wore him out and he slept off and on most of the afternoon. He has been able to keep down food. He wanted a pizza but I talked him into a peanut butter sandwich and pears which was a mistake. The peanut butter was too thick and he couldn't swallow it very
well. Just had his first round of visitors other than his family. Several friends from work visited and flowers
were delivered earlier. He's taking a nap now. Each
time he wakes he is up longer and seems more alert.
We were allowed to see Jon around 3:00. His aunts and uncle were able to talk to him before they had to go back to Indiana, although he didn't open his eyes he did squeeze their hands. His mom stopped back in to see him before she and Jason left to go back to our house. He did wake up a lot more and was glad it was a replacement for the long term benefit. After a few hand written conversations they started preparing him to remove the breathing tube. I knew he was feeling ok when he asked if the nurse would wipe his eyes. She explained that during surgery they put lubricant in his eyes to keep them from drying out. He motioned for me to get his pen and paper and wrote WD-40?!
They removed his breathing tube about 6:00. One of the first things he said was he was hungry and thirsty. He did his breathing exercizes and coughed which wore him out so he is taking a little nap!
Keep him in your thoughts! Next stop - recovery! Not quite sure what to expect. I hope it is as easy as removing the breathing tube but I highly doubt it.
The doctor came to see us about 1:40 to let us know Jon is doing good. He first tried to repair the valve and felt very good about the pressures but after observing it for 30 minutes he felt long term the best option was to replace the valve. Jon will be glad, the doctor was able to complete the surgery with only a 5" incision. He has read so much and thinks the smaller the incision hopefully the easier the recovery. They will be taking him to his room soon. OSU has rooms that transition from recovery to ICU to the stepdown so the patient doesn't have to move. We should be able to see him around 3:00. Looking forward to seeing him!
Jon's procedure started at 9:21 this morning. Around 10:40 they called to say he was doing fine. Then around 11:45 one of the OR nurses called and said Jon was doing fine but the doctor had decided at that point that the mechanical valve replacement was necessary.
We were up at 4 am to get ready and at the hospital by 6. I was surprised Jon got any sleep but he said he slept for about four hours. Jon is holding up well on the outside but I know he is having a hard time. His mom Sandy, brother Jason and his friend Kim, three aunts Pam, Lisa and Alice and her huband Ed are all here for support. We were all able to visit with him in pre-op. They took him back to get ready for the surgery around 8:00 am. They explained that they will try to repair the valve first but if the doctor is not satisfied that a repair will be sufficient they will move on to complete the replacement. I will keep posting his progress as the day goes on.
Tonight is my last night before the surgery. We had steaks and baked potatoes. We will follow up with chocolate cake in a bit. I have been receiving lots of well wishes via text and facebook. My mom and kids are here. So is my wife and two step kids. My brother is due later. It's nice to have them all here. To be honest I'm very nervous and it's getting worse. I hope I can sleep tonight. I'll be up at 4am to be at the hospital by 6 am. My wife, June, will be updating the journal for the next few days. I really need to thank June. I know it's difficult for her. She has been great through all of this. I would have been a mess without her. I am gonna be very dependent on her the next few weeks. I love you. To all of you with pending surgeries, stay positive. Talk to you soon.
I had my pre-op testing today. Nothing too terrible. Now all I have to do is wait. Still trying to get my BP down. It's been in the high 130's over 60. My Narvasc is now at 10mg. We have started working on all the items I'm gonna need after the surgery. I really looking forward to getting back to a normal life. Everything feels like it's on hold. I'm gaining a lot of strengh from all the positive outcomes on here. Thanks to all for your thoughts and prayers.
I received approval from my dentist on Friday. I am still trying to get my blood pressure down so in addition to the 100 mg of Cozaar I am now taking 5 mg of Norvasc. BP is now about 140/57 so I am hoping it continues to drop over the next week. I purchased a home BP checker so that I can monitor it daily. May 20th I head to OSU for my pre-op clinic. While I am still very nervous about the surgery I have accepted it. My family and friends have been great. I cant imagine going through this without their support. My mother is making the 12 hour drive from South Carolina to be there for my surgery. My brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins are all driving 3+ hours from Indiana just to be there for me. I cannot express how much that means to me. I love them all....
Today I met my surgeon. I was happy to find he has completed over 500 of these surgeries. I was hoping for minimally invasive surgery but he explained that it was not a good choice for me. My surgery is scheduled for June 2. I have chosen to go with a mechanical valve. I am not excited about the initial surgery so if I can minimize the chance of a second surgery I am going to. The fact that I will take blood thinners for the rest of my life is a bummer. My lifestyle will allow for this though. I suppose that if I did a lot of dirt bike riding or if my job was dangerous I would consider a tissue valve. I am a little concerned that the clicking may drive me crazy but I think I can manage through that too. The doctor did indicate that there is a slim chance that he can repair the valve. I have mixed feelings about this as well. Odds are that it will wear out within 15 years just like the tissue valve. Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers. Stay tuned....
Tomorrow I meet my surgeon. I am really looking forward to this visit. I have so many questions to ask him. He is Dr. Crestanello from Ohio State University's Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital. I really am hoping for the minimally invasive procedure.
I am so ready to speak with the surgeon. I think I have read every article on the internet related to valve replacement. I also started to watch a video of the surgery...bad move. I am suffering from information overload and stress. So much to think about.
As soon as I returned from the honeymoon I began scheduling more tests. The first was a transesophageal echocardiogram. This sounds way worse than it is. Basically, I went to sleep, they ran the transducer into my esophagus to get better pictures than the standard echo, and I was done. Slight sore throat was the worst of this one. Next came the heart catheter. This one had me nervous. However, once it was over, I realized that it was nothing to be afraid of. The worst part for me was getting the entry point of the artery to seal. I ended up spending the night due to this leaking a couple of times. The good news? No additional blockages or valve problems. Now I am hoping for the minimally invasive procedure. I have an appointment on May 3 with the surgeon. I hope to be able to schedule the procedure then. The stress is starting to get to me....
We were married on April 5. We had a small ceremony with close friends and family. The next day we were off to Hawaii. Blue ocean, beach front hotel, beautiful wife...What else do I need right? The one thing I was missing was peace of mind. The aortic insufficiency is always on my mind. Will this be my last day? Should I be doing this? How a I going to tell my kids?
After the murmur was detected, the first echocardiogram was scheduled. This was a pain free test and when it was over...the nurse couldnt give me results. So I met my doctor the next. Its kind of a blurr but I remember terms like aortic insufficiency, ejection fraction, and regurgitation. He indicated surgery would be required. This all happened less than a week before my wedding...
I remember going into my new family doctor for a physical thinking "they are gonna tell me my blood pressure and cholesterol are high". The nurse asked me if I was having any problems, if I smoked, if had diabetes, etc....I proudly answered "no" to every question. After a quick blood pressure check she indicated my blood pressure was high. I think it was in the 165/60 range. The doctor went through the normal routine and then asked the question that would cause me to question my future, " has anyone ever told you that you have a murmur?"