A note about honoring the animals whose valves we now have...
It’s been just about four months now since my OHS to replace my mitral valve & repair the tricuspid. Aside from some residual A-fib (that I still expect to resolve completely), recovery has gone very well. I'm learning how true it is that recovery can be a long process -- when I overdo, I feel it. But the good news is, I feel good enough to overdo sometimes!
Until the day of surgery, it was unknown whether my mitral valve could be repaired. Turns out, it had to be replaced, and I later learned that my Medtronic tissue valve came from a pig.
The first time I ever heard of heart valve replacement was many years ago, when Jane Goodall spoke of her mother's valve being replaced with a pig valve, and adding that she would always have a special love for pigs because of that.
My own history with pigs never factored in the possibility that I might one day receive a pig valve myself. In 1965, when I was 14, I met two pigs on a small farm. I saw their delight as I scratched behind their ears, and realized they were so much like my dog at home. I became a vegetarian that very day, though I had never met or talked to a vegetarian before. But that didn't matter … to this day, 54 years later, I don't eat animal flesh of any kind.
Over the years, I collected little statues of pigs and cows (I also have a fondness for cows). Some of the pig statues have wings... little pig angels. Throughout the decades, I never knew that one day, a pig would enable me to live a better quality, and probably a longer life. That pig's sacrifice wasn't voluntary or the knowing kind, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be mindful of God's creature whose valve is now in my body.
I try to remember to say daily prayers of thanks to God, to the pigs and to the cows, and beseech God to somehow make life better for these animals in the world. Many of them suffer terribly at human hands.
It occurred to me there should be some way for those of us who have had the good fortune to receive a bovine or porcine valve to best show our appreciation. It seems only right that we do something to honor these animals in some small way.
There are farm sanctuaries where cows and pigs have been rescued from dreadful situations to live out their lives in safety, loved and protected. These sanctuaries always need donations.
Please consider donating to a farm sanctuary as a way to give thanks for the sacrifice these animals made in order to improve and save the lives of us humans.
The other kind of “open heart surgery” is only performed by God, and it's always elective.
Please open your hearts and give to a farm sanctuary.
God bless you all! "The righteous man careth for the life of his beast.” ~ Proverbs 12:10
Just an update and hopefully some reassurance and encouragement. I'm just shy of 7 weeks post-OHS to replace my mitral valve and repair the tricuspid. This morning, I mowed my (small) back yard in Florida, and it felt so great to be able to do that again. (I'm 67, and looking forward to being able to get up on the roof of my house again to clear limbs and leaves, too! But that'll be awhile yet...)
During recovery, I have definitely experienced some times of feeling discouraged (as I had been forewarned to expect), but these are diminishing as recovery continues.
For those who, like me, developed A-Fib after surgery, please don't be discouraged if it's not gone by six weeks (as I had read it usually is). When I saw my cardiologist 5 weeks and 1 day post-surgery, I expressed my concern, saying A-Fib didn't have much longer to pack its bags and leave, if it was going to. He assured me that it can take up to three months for A-fib to completely go away.
So, please keep that in mind if you continue to deal with A-fib longer than six weeks. I have noticed that it's coming-and-going more now.... on May 9th, my 24-hour Holter monitor showed A-fib 100% of the time, but the EKG at my cardiologist's on May 29th didn't show any A-fib at all. (Though it's still showing up, but I expect it's on the way out for good.)
So, stay positive and be encouraged if the timelines for various aspects of recovery don't necessarily jibe with what you've read is typical!
I continue to hold you all in prayer, for complete success with your upcoming surgeries and ongoing recoveries. God bless!
I had my 3-week follow-up appointment at the surgeon's office yesterday, where I saw his nurse practitioner. I was so glad to hear I can now raise my arms overhead, can lift 3 additional pounds (8 now!), can stop wearing the elastic support hose, stop wearing the stupid sports bra to sleep, can sleep on my side again.... Little things that amount to a big step forward!
Speaking of steps, being an elevator-phobe, I was thrilled that I could walk up the one flight of stairs to the surgeon's office with ease!
My incision is healing great & there has been relatively little pain so I was able to stop the pain meds pretty soon after coming home. I am so thankful recovery is going so well. (I did experience some trouble with sleeplessness, especially the first week at home.) I thank God my sister was able to travel to be with me for the surgery and my first few weeks at home. My heartfelt prayers are with those who have no one.
I'm disappointed to have developed A-fib, but I know it's very common and am trusting it will go away within a few weeks, as is usually the case. It's no surprise when a heart has been manhandled & gone through so much, it has some kind of reaction & can need time to recover from it all.
My prayers continue for everyone here awaiting & recovering from surgery. I'm so deeply grateful for the prayers & support of the good people on this site.
Home from the hospital on Monday 4/29! Surgery on 4/23 went well, thank God. The mitral valve had to be replaced, tricuspid repaired. Some relatively minor issues: three days postop, I required two units of blood, and for a time it was thought I may need a pacemaker ("cardiac block," which resolved. ) Still some asymptomatic "half block" which should also resolve as the heart recovers from the ordeal & I expect it will, God willing. Soon out of surgery, I also had the relatively rare experience of a dreadful "anesthesia nightmare" ("nightmare is too mild a word) which left me screaming and thrashing --- 6 people had to restrain me & I'm little more than 100 pounds. My poor sister and niece were horrified... I can remember hearing them speak to me, but was unfortunately too imprisoned by the terrifying nightmare (a memory I also unfortunately kept) to find it of comfort. Aside from that, the whole experience in hospital was relatively comfortable, the nurses were all wonderful, truly angels.
First night at home, I had some trouble sleeping, though i slept quite well in the hospital. No doubt I was just wired from a very eventful day. Home health nurse will come today to remove the last of the bandage coverings (Prevena) and my incision will be exposed for the first time. One step & one day at a time, full recovery is on the way. I am so thankful to have the surgery & hospitalization behind me. Many thanks for your prayers and encouragement along the way. You all remain in my prayers & I'll continue to report my progress. God bless!
A week from right now, my open heart surgery will be in progress to fix two valves (mitral and tricuspid), and "Leaky and Squeaky" will become "Snappy and Flappy." (Humor helps to offset the anxiety.) As I've noted has been the case for others, my eagerness to get it over with now exceeds the dread! I'm not much for social media, but will definitely post updates on my road to recovery.
God has been making a way where there seemed to be no way in several situations leading up to my surgery. I know how powerful prayer is, so would be very grateful for your prayers on my behalf. Please know, you are all in mine.
I've just scheduled my consultation appointment with the surgeon (for mitral valve surgery... repair or replace unknown, but probably replace, I'm told), for 3/11/2019. I would really appreciate suggestions for the best questions to ask him... I want to go as prepared as possible! Thanks so much.