Today my cardiologist called with the results of my echo from last week. Due to my high heart rate of 85 resting and 90-105 while up and moving, he thought it best to take a look at things and also confirm that there is no fluid around my heart causing this. He also did some blood work (thyroid check and CBC), and everything came back completely normal. My cardiologist told me today that my heart looks great, no leak (which was “a torrent of blood prior to surgery”), no extra beats (I had an unreal amount of extra beats per day) and no murmur. My heart looks perfect and I smiled ear to ear and told him what great news that was! I am in awe of what my surgeon was able to accomplish! I am finally feeling like myself and am happy! SO happy.
My symptoms lately (14 weeks out) include some dizziness (very little, especially less when I rest and hydrate), ocular migraines every couple of days, some exhaustion, and every once in awhile I feel a little bit sore inside. The muscle in my right chest area is still a little sore at times also. I’ve been told all of this is completely normal. Both my cardiologist as well as my family doctor told me to plan about 6 months until I’m really back to my old self. I’m being patient and am seeing progress week by week. I believe my heart rate will lower as I continue to heal over the next few months. I think it’s still a little angry from the surgery 😉 Overall, I feel great and I am still thanking God every day for another beautiful day!
My last journal post was June 20th, just a few days after surgery. I haven't been on this website since and coming back now just reading what I wrote on the 20th makes me a little teary-eyed. Yesterday marked 12 weeks post surgery and I don't even know where to begin. Heart surgery changes you. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done emotionally, physically, and mentally. I kept saying the waiting is torture and everyone told me it was the hardest part. If I'm being completely honest, the recovery is pretty damn hard as well. I went from being a very active working mom to feeling like a baby giraffe on brand new legs.
Someone also told me recovery is full of ups and downs and that was/is completely accurate. I'd feel a little better one day then the pain would hit me like a ton of bricks. (Yes, everyone is different! This is just my story). I am not someone who handles heavy pain medication well so I basically came home from heart surgery on day 5 only taking Tylenol. Anything else made me so lightheaded, dizzy, vomiting, hallucinating, just awful side effects. Every day I walked. Just down the hall and back in our house...going outside and walking in this heat triggered vertigo that took weeks to settle down. I have two new best friends - rest and hydration. Without them I am completely exhausted and a little dizzy.
At my follow-up appointment with the surgeon (about 6 weeks post-op), he took me off the Coumadin which felt like Christmas. I now take a chewable aspirin once per day and 25mg Metoprolol twice per day. My heart rate is higher than my cardiologist would like so we are working on figuring out the reason why. I still have some occasional pain from my incisions or muscle pain but it's completely bearable now. By 6pm I need to rest and take it easy for the night and if I don't my body will be very upset with me! I've lost patience and positivity more than once throughout this journey but I have persevered. As my cardiologist put it, I was hit by a truck in the middle of a pandemic, that's a lot to handle.
My cardiologist told me at my first check up that my valve repair was successful, I no longer have a murmur, and the palpitations are GONE (and I had so many extra beats per day that I'm embarrassed to say!) I cried during that whole appointment...I just wanted (needed) to know that the surgery was worth it, that it worked. It was all so hard, but turns out it was "absolutely, positively worth it" per my cardiologist. I had another appointment just last week and he said "your future is bright!" which made me teary-eyed (again!) and it still does now! That being said, I will be nervous every single time I get an echo or EKG.
My husband is a super hero. I quite literally don't know what I would have done without his support, positivity, and PATIENCE. Every time I cried or looked at him and said I can't, he smiled and said YES YOU CAN. And with his help, I did. It may have been getting out of bed, or walking, whatever it was that felt so overwhelming, he got me through it. My parents took care of me when my husband went back to work. Again, without them, I just don't know how I would have done it. We had friends dropping meals and sending texts to check in constantly. I feel so blessed to have had such a great support system. I feel even more blessed to have survived heart surgery. There hasn't been a day that has gone by since that I haven't thanked God for another beautiful day.
I will never take for granted the ease in which I can take a deep breath, pain free! Because boy did a deep breath hurt after surgery! Or how thankful I am for the woman who wheeled me down to the coumadin clinic for my first blood draw. Adam Pick and everyone on this website who have posted and helped me without even knowing it, or those who have commented on my few posts and helped me to stay strong before surgery. The nurse in ICU who rubbed my leg when I woke up and said "you did it" - and I then looked at my husband and said "I did it". I haven't forgotten anyone, as they have all touched my life in such an important way.
I didn't want to write this - and I realize it's a jumbled mess of thoughts - but I wanted to pay it forward. I have been using this website for almost 14 years I hope my jumbled mess of thoughts will help even just one person realize that YES, you can do it. YES, it's tough! BUT SO ARE YOU. We are Heart Warriors.
I couldn't wait to type those words. I did it and what a journey it has been. Wow. I am waiting to be discharged now so over the next few days I will share more. Thank you for all the support and kind words. It still blows my mind that I just had heart surgery. I’m officially on the other side! And to celebrate, a nap sounds wonderful 😊
This morning I went for my pre-op appointment as well as my TEE. It was a very early and busy morning. I had a chest X-ray, blood work, MRSA swab, EKG, and TEE. (I was out for the TEE so it was fine. My throat is slightly sore now). I had my Covid test late last week. On paper I’m ready to go! I’m still nervous but definitely know that I am in good hands. I know I’ve said this plenty of times but I really am ready to be on the recovery side! Bring on the physical challenge of recovery and let’s leave this mental stress of waiting behind. I can’t wait to post saying I DID IT! ❤️
I got some wonderful news this morning and want to share just in case it may affect others with upcoming surgeries. Indiana lifted some of their restrictions and as of this week (my surgery is next Tuesday) we are allowed 1 visitor! It has to be the same visitor that joins me for the pre-op appt (TEE is that same day). My husband will be able to come the day of surgery, wait in the waiting room, see me in ICU, and stay until 6pm that evening. Then, each day I'm in the hospital, he's allowed to visit me from 1-6pm. I realize these aren't the normal visiting hours but it feels like Christmas and I couldn't be happier. I hope that others who have surgeries coming up will also have some of the restrictions lifted as well. Praying this happens for others!
13 days and counting! I cannot wait to be on the other side of this. The mental strain of waiting for heart surgery is really taking it's toll. I've never been so up and down in my life - one minute strong and positive and the next minute terrified. It's tough! My friend set up a meal train for myself and my family for after surgery and I'm humbled and overwhelmed by the love and support! My TEE is finally scheduled for June 15 at 6:30 in the morning. My pre-op and bloodwork are that same afternoon. Surgery is the 16th. Still need to schedule a Covid test, but they are supposed to call me. I'm still praying my husband is able to join me however I am aware that it is not looking like a possibility. Maybe just the day of surgery - I would be happy with that over not at all.
It's surreal to see my picture in the "Upcoming Surgeries" list!
Today is our 14th wedding anniversary! I can't wait to celebrate many, many more with my repaired heart!
I'm a new member and would like to share my story...
Journal posted on May 6, 2020
I was diagnosed with a heart murmur then mitral valve prolapse in my early twenties while living in Pittsburgh. I am 39 now, otherwise healthy, married with 2 kids ages 10 and 12, living in Indiana.
Over the past 14 years, my regurgitation was mild then became eventually moderate with occasional symptoms such as palpitations, shortness of breath, some chest pain. Fast forward to this past fall (Sept. 2019) and the regurgitation became severe, symptoms the same but more frequent. Overall, I usually feel great. During my appointment in September, my cardiologist suggested I do research on Dr. Heimansohn (an excellent surgeon who does these surgeries almost daily) and that we should do another echo in 6 months. In March I already knew the news before he said the words...time for surgery. I've watched enough of my own echocardiograms to know these last few were different. Since then, I have been back and forth emotionally. One minute feeling strong and brave, the next a complete mess. Telling friends helped as I could feel their support, love, and prayers giving me strength.
This morning, my husband and I met with my cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Heimansohn. I felt nauseous the entire 1 hour drive to the appointment and quite dizzy for the duration of our conversation with him. However, my husband and I left that consultation feeling so much better about everything. He eased our minds and informed us in such a way that I feel like I actually CAN handle this now. It will be OK.
My surgery will be mid-June with a TEE, bloodwork, covid-19 test, and 10 days of quarantine beforehand. My husband (or anyone for that matter) will not be able to join me before or after surgery unless something changes. I'm hoping and praying for change in the next 6 weeks because as if this isn't overwhelming enough, going at it alone sounds terrifying.
My surgery will be minimally invasive mitral valve repair. I will still take a beta blocker for about a month afterwards as well as a blood thinner. I've been on a beta blocker since my early twenties and would love to be done with them but we're playing it by ear.
This website has been there for me for 14 years. When I was first diagnosed (and scared) I found this website and would read the patient news feed and know that it's going to be ok! Here I am now adding my own story. I thought about continuing to just look on and not join this community but what sense does that make? After all, maybe I can help just one person in their journey the way that so many have helped me. Thank you to every person brave enough to share their story. It's taken me a month from the time I found out that I needed surgery until now to get to the point of sharing on here! This makes it very real. Thank you to Adam for creating this space for all of us!