Holy cow. Today is my two year anniversary for my aortic valve replacement and aneurysm repair.
Hard to believe.
Members of this site were so supportive and helpful along the way, and reading everyone's stories gave me inspiration along my own journey.
Today, all is well. The valve is functioning perfectly. I can do anything and everything I want to do.
Thanks to Adam, the members of this forum, my family, my friends and God.
As always, happy to chat with any of you that may need some words of support and/or encouragement.
We can do this!
We are blessed to have this site. Thank you, Adam.
We are blessed to have our skilled surgeons, our under-appreciated anesthesiologist team, and, of course, our angels...the nurses.
And we are blessed to have each other.
Just some chill time after another long day...LOL...
One year anniversary...holy cow!
Journal posted on February 6, 2018
One year ago today, right about this time in the late afternoon, I was being wheeled out of 7+ hours of surgery to replace my bicuspid aortic valve and repair my aortic aneurysms.
The picture of me in the ICU after surgery wasn't shared with me for a few months. When I saw that picture, I understood why. Holy crap. All those tubes!
While my recovery wasn't flawless (I developed some a-flutter two months post-surgery...had a cardioversion and then an ablation), I am currently doing great. Four months post-ablation and no return of the a-flutter (knock on wood). I'm feeling great...exercising normally...loving and appreciating life like never before.
I even have days when I don't even think about my heart surgery one year ago!
Life is good and I am blessed.
I thank God...my two incredible daughters...and my awesome friends...for being with me during this journey.
And, of course, I want to thank Adam for developing and maintaining this site. The stories I read here and the people I communicated with, both pre and post surgery, really did make the world of difference to me.
I’m just about 8 months post AVR and aneurysm repair and...well...still doing pretty darn good.
Quick update: after my trip to Peru, I had a consult with an electrophysiologist who wanted me to go off the amlodipine to see if my a-flutter would come back. I did...and as she had predicted, my a-flutter returned. Intermittent. But it was definitely back. So, two days ago, I returned to the UC Davis Medical Center for an a-flutter ablation.
My nerves were pretty shattered as I was prepped by the nurses, and when the anesthesiologist said he was going to use a general anesthesia, I was really upset...since I had originally been told I’d be under ‘conscious sedation’ like I had been for my angiogram and my cardioversion. He had a good explanation for why he wanted to use general anesthesia...so I agreed.
According to the electrophysiologist, she was able to induce the flutter and ablate the area successfully. Thankfully, the recovery from the general anesthesia was so much easier than I expected...my femoral veins did not bleed...and I was able to be released some 12 hours after admission.
I’m feeling fine today and, according to my trusted Kardia IPhone EKG monitor (still love that thing!), my normal sinus rhythm restored.
I hope this takes care of it.
According to the electrophysiologist, there’s a chance that full blown a-fib may surface...at which point I’ll need another ablation to deal with that. But I’m hoping this is the end of scarring and messing with my poor, tortured heart.
I read with great interest and reflection John Schutte’s post from 9/30. Wow...did that one resonate! I encourage all recovering patients to read it and think about it. Yes...our live’s have changed post surgery. I wonder if there will ever be a day in my life that I don’t ‘think’ about my heart. Probably not. But like John so eloquently says, gratitude trumps all. And if thinking about my heart every day, however so briefly, is the price to pay for more time on this wonderful journey called life, I’ll deal with it. I, like John, am forever grateful for the medical advances we have made...for the miracle of life...and for the blessings of friends and family.
Before my AVR/aneurysm repair just five months ago, I had scheduled a trip to Peru.
After my post-surgery follow-up, and 12 sessions of aggressive cardio rehab, I was cleared to go on the trip by my cardiologist and my surgeon.
My wonderful daughters called this my "Victory Tour" since, just five months ago, they were both in the cardio ICU when I was wheeled in, still asleep, having undergone a 7 hour surgery.
Happy to say the trip was awesome. From Cusco to Machu Picchu, and then trekking in the Amazon, my new bovine valve, whom we have fondly named "Bessie", functioned perfectly. I felt great. And clocked in some 50 miles of walking at 8000+ feet in elevation.
When I arrived back at the airport, my daughters greeted me with a "Victory Tour" sign, which included an anatomically-accurate heart with a gold tricuspid aortic valve where Bessie now lives...
Too funny. But for all those going through this journey...it will get better!
Since my cardioversion over a month ago (dang...I didn't realize it was that long ago until I saw the date on my last post...time flies!), I have been in normal sinus rhythm. I now have four sessions of cardio rehab under my belt and my heartbeat is still normal. I am exercising at a moderate level...doing well...and having a good post-workout recovery. Nurses are monitoring with an EKG during the entire session, so it's helping to build up my confidence, for sure! It's really nice to have the Kardia IPhone monitor here at the house so I can check my rhythm right at home!
Had my TEE and cardioversion today. Wasn't bad at all.
My doctor was delayed, so the waiting was probably the worst part of the day.
After my throat was numbed, they administered the sedative and from then on, I remember nothing. My daughter (the nursing student) was there the entire time and said my eyes were open and it looked like I was awake during the TEE...but I recall nothing! LOL. I guess that sedative cocktail really works. She said the imaging during the TEE of the heart was remarkable. Once they confirmed there were no blood clots, they gave me the shock. One conduction pad on my chest. One on my back. No paddles like in the movies. "Clear". Bam. Shocked.
My daughter was surprised at how reactive I was. She said my torso jumped a bit off the bed, and my legs crossed mid-air.
Check of the EKG after the first shock showed normal sinus rhythm. Yeah!
They moved me into a recovery room (I don't remember that trip at all) and about two hours later, I was drinking orange juice and being discharged.
So far, my handy-dandy Kardia EKG monitor for the IPhone is, indeed, confirming the normal sinus rythym...so I think its accuracy is pretty darn good.
Now I just hope that the shock treatment holds. I don't need to do that again...
Very slight pain in my throat from the tube...like a localized sore throat when you have post-nasal drip. Not bad at all....
My atrial flutter is still present. No symptoms, but need to get myself back in to sinus rhythm.
New med cocktail does not appear to be working...although BP and HR are right in line. Plan is to have a TEE/cardioversion in a week if the meds don't fix things.
Anyone with experience going through this procedure? I'm thinking it's a cake-walk compared to what I've been through...but figured I ask the forum.
Thanks for any insights!
Eight weeks post-surgery-atrial fluttering with NO symptoms
Journal posted on April 1, 2017
I've had a few episodes of high heart rate (120-130) that wouldn't calm down, even with rest. BP has been decently controlled. It happened again the first morning of my scheduled cardio rehab on Wednesday. The RN in the rehab clinic took an EKG...
"Atrial flutter. We can't do any exercise. Your cardiologist wants to you to go the ER".
What????? You've got to be kidding.
I feel fine! I've felt fine for weeks! I have never felt anything pounding in my chest. I can't even feel my heart beating! My ONLY pain has been a little tightness and soreness around the sternotomy...and that goes away almost immediately.
Anyway, I head to the ER, they take a couple of EKGs during my stay, and, indeed, I'm in atrial flutter all day. It is probably something that's been happening in the past...
What's so scary is that I have absolutely no symptoms. Sure...if the heart rate goes over 100, thats's not normal. But I FEEL just fine. Focused. Energetic. No dizziness. No palpitations in my chest. Absolutely nothing.
They up my metoprolol by 50% (1.5 25 mg pills twice a day instead of 1 25 mg pill twice a day) and send me home with instruction to follow-up with my cardiologist.
I leave the ER very frustrated and concerned that I can't tell if I am in sinus rythym (normal) or atrial flutter.
"There must be an app for that".
Come to find out, there is!
AliveCor has a hand-held EGK pad called the Kardia that can differentiate between normal sinus rhythm and atrial a fib! It appears to be quite accurate. It has been approved by the FDA. And it only costs $99.00.
You can buy it on Amazon. For me, I can now know if my heart is in atrial flutter or not. As of today, it's still happening off and on. I see my cardiologist on Monday, and I'm sure we will have some med adjustments/additions to get this under control. But it is nice to know that I can self-test at home.
So...there you have it.
No symptoms, yet my heart is still quite unhappy and upset after 8 weeks.
And I found a pretty nifty device that helps answer my question...
"Am in in regular sinus rythym or is something going on?"
Hope this helps.
Now...for those of you on the recovery side of this journey...
Have you had this issue (a fib/flutter weeks after surgery)?
What kind of treatment did you get?
How long did is last?
Best to all...and prayers to all of those having upcoming surgeries this week.
I am five weeks post surgery tomorrow. Thought I'd better post again!
I have had an incredible weekend taking care of tasks and 'life'...
As I said to my daughters today , if this is as good as it gets (I know I will continue to heal and get better and stronger!), I'm a happy camper.
My week in the ICU and step-down unit is now pretty-much a blur. It already seems "so long ago"...
For those of you waiting for surgery...It's not as bad as you fear! God...family...friends...will get you through it! I'm having a very happy, positive day!
Well, tomorrow is exactly one month post-surgery. In many ways, it already seems so long ago...
Discomfort in the chest is still present all the time. As I've tried to explain it to others, it's like you are laying on your back and someone puts 20 pounds of weight directly on your sternum. It's not an acute "pain", per se...but a lingering, ongoing pressure that never goes away. Of course, if I cough, or sneeze, or laugh...the sensation changes abruptly...it becomes a sharp pain, no doubt...but the sharp pain is very short lived.
My scapula is also flaring up with a bit of pain...I think it's postural, so I'm trying to be more cognizant of keeping my shoulders pulled back a bit (the pressure sensation in the chest area seems to make me prone to slouching).
Last week, I went into my office (desk job) three times...primarily to pay bills and process receivables. Driving was a little scary...found myself being overly defensive and cautious...but very liberating, as well. Fortunately, I can drive to and from work on surface streets...
I had my first visit with my clinical cardiologist since my surgery at three and a half weeks post-surgery. He did an EKG...looked good...and listened carefully to my heart. All sounded good. I have a post-surgery CT scan coming up in the next two weeks that should be more telling. Hopefully, all the news will be good.
The only real 'change' that I've noticed in the last few days, aside from the scapula pain discussed above, is some pain at the skin level where my scar is on my chest. Despite the silky-smooth polyester undershirts (which I still highly recommend), the skin is feeling more and more sensitive to touch as it heals. Just another interesting transition as the healing process continues.
Other than that...I'm off my pain meds at the 2 am dosing, so I am now able to sleep through the night without that nasty wake-up alarm for the 2 am dosing.
Energy level improving bit by bit, every day...
And forever thankful for the love and support from family and friends.
Blessings to all on this site who are 'in the waiting room' and, of course, to those who have had their surgery and are on the road to recovery.
I was under anesthesia. My lungs were collapsed. A machine was oxygenating my blood supply. They had intentionally stopped my heart from beating. And Dr. Young and his team was replacing my calcified aortic valve with Bessie, my new cow's valve, and sewing in a Dacron sheath that would 'become' my new aortic root.
Somewhere along the way, they stopped the machine completely for about 10 minutes, after lowering my body temperature to 68 degrees...literally putting my body into suspended animation...so they could debride some undiscovered calcification in my aorta to suture in the new Dacron sheath that would eventually carry my oxygenated blood out of my heart and back into my body, giving me the gift of life that I, for sure, have probably not been grateful enough for.
Two weeks later, I can look back on those days...now weeks...post surgery and literally call them memories. That's a nice consolation prize, for sure.
I decided to journal today for a couple of reasons:
First off, I am officially 2 weeks post surgery. Feeling ok. Still controlling pain with Tylenol and trying to push myself just a little bit farther with each and every day.
Second, I was honored to have a visit last night from two of my closest friends - and I realize just how important family and close friends are to each and every one of us...
And third, I remembered another "tidbits" of a comfort item during my stay at the hospital that I figure I'd throw out there.
As to the comfort items: soft, luxurious toilet paper and your own baby wipes!
Ah...Seriously, ask one of your family members to bring a roll of your favorite toilet paper with them to the hospital and a pack of baby wipes. In my experience, I was constipated for about four days (totally normal). Having a BM is an important part of the post-surgery recovery checklist. After being discharged from the newly remodeled, beautiful Cardio ICU room that I was in for four days post-surgery, I was put into a shared room in one of the oldest wings of the hospital. My "roommate", who had also had open heart surgery, also had to have dialysis every other day or so...so I got to experience the constant dishwasher sounds of the portable dialysis machine, right on the other side of my curtain, for hour after hour after hour while he had this lifesaving treatment.
When his dialysis was completed for the day, our shared bathroom was an icky mess, in my mind's eye. I went in there once...and then vowed to myself...never again.
What this meant as a work-around was pretty neat. My daughters and I had found a bathroom on the floor...just outside the confines of the recovery suites. So to pee, I was able to use the bedside container in my room (they want you to use that anyway, since they are closely monitoring your urine output). But to go #2, I'd get up out of bed...walk down the rows of recovery rooms...go out into the common hallway...and enter what I came to lovingly call my Lu-Lu Land....a clean, spacious bathroom!
Any my prize for all of this Herculean effort? Baby wipes and soft, luxurious toilet tissue.
Trust me folks, compared to the stuff they had at the UC Davis Med Center, this toilet tissue was luxury embodied.
So the point of this whole story is simple: make the best of what you have, even if it means abandoning the easy (my shared bathroom) and getting creative (walking out the door to my Lu-Lu Land). And, along the way, give yourself a treat. For me, Charmin toilet tissue filled the bill.
Ah...to finally be learning life's more nuanced lessons.
12 days post surgery...and pondering gifts of thanks...
Journal posted on February 18, 2017
It's been 12 days since my surgery, and it feels like I've been in this debilitated state forever. Pain control is still fine with Tylenol every 6 hours, but I still can't get over the almost immediate sense of exhaustion with even the slightest chore.
My daughters are here to help keep things on an even keel, and for their assistance I am forever grateful.
I am getting outside and waking around the property every day. I realize how important working on my mobility and endurance is, and I'm committed to bettering myself just a little bit, every single day.
We've collectively been pondering gifts for the healthcare professionals involved in my surgery and recovery.
Gift baskets delivered to the CT ICU unit and CT recovery units are a no-brained.
Thinking something similar for Dr. Young's residents/support PAs...
Anyone have better ideas?
What about something for Dr. Young, himself...?
Anyone come up with something great to give their surgeon?
Goodies, gadgets and post-op visit with surgeon's staff...
Journal posted on February 15, 2017
It was a long day getting back and forth from the surgeon's office for my post-surgical x-ray, labs and office visit...but after 5 hours total back and forth, our trip was a success and all were pleased at my progress. If all goes well, I will never be meeting with Dr. Young and his staff again.
As I left his clinical office, it was a very weird feeling. These people...from Charley, his surgical coordinator...to Svatlana, one of his wonderful nurses...to Teresa, the PA with the ever-smiling face...are all such an integral, forever part of my life's journey...I will never forget them. Yet, they will forget me soon...
and that's ok...
they have so many others to help.
GOD BLESS THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS AT EACH AND EVERY LEVEL that assist us through this journey!!!
Now, on to some goodies I've found indispensable...at least to me.
1. The memory foam wedge cushion for my bed. A god-send in getting a good night's sleep.
The best $35 you'll ever spend.
2. Silky-smooth undershirts. These have never snagged on stitches or steri-strips. A necessary undergarment while the scars of surgery are healing.
Buy a size up for comfort!
3. Easy on/off shirts. What's simpler than a front-zip shirt....?
4. Easy on/off compression sock...to get the lower extremity blood flowing!
5. A very comfortable, portable back support with arms to use anywhere.
During my post-recovery, I'm using each and every one of these products every day.
Just some insights...your results may vary!
Enjoy, and God bless.
First full day back home was wonderful. I slept pretty well...awakened only by my daughter at 2:00 a.m. for my dosage of Tylenol. The morning was slow and steady...eggs for breakfast, some fresh coffee...and as the sun approached high-noon, I found myself driven to take out the lounge chair and soak in the restorative powers of sunlight for an hour. It felt incredible!
An afternoon visit from the home healthcare nurse revealed my INR levels were still low (I am temporarily on warfarin due to episodes of A-fib post surgery), but everything else checked out good. A quiet afternoon watching TV...an early dinner...more meds...then, by 8 p.m., I was exhausted. This was the highest level of exhaustion I've felt so far...it was almost overwhelming.
So I went to bed...
Last night was the first night I'd tried using my wedge pillow for upper body support. I had bought the pillow months prior, not knowing I'd be having OHS, and had discontinued using it because it put a little too much pressure on my mid-back musculature.
Well, it has now proven to be a God-send! I slipped in and out of bed with ease, and found that laying with my head raised up just a little bit made a world of difference when coughing bouts come up while laying in bed. I don't really feel the same mid-back pain I had months ago when I tried the pillow...I supposed it's because now, I'm on pain medication and the minor muscle pain I felt in my back pre-surgery is masked by the discomfort (not pain) in my chest post-surgery.
There are a couple of other goodies and gadgets that I'm finding very helpful...I will post those later today for everyone's consideration.
Today's a big day...a five trek (in total) back to the Med Center for x-rays...then a visit with Dr. Young for a post-release exam which will be, if all goes well, the last time I see him.
It should be a long, emotional and exhausting day,
The ride from the hospital back to my home is an hour long trek.
The first 30 minutes are congested freeways with people everywhere. But after 30 minutes, you cut off the freeway and enter the wonderland of open fields...oak trees...cows...and nature's beauty. My youngest daughter drove me home, while the oldest took a detour to the market for food and supplies. As we neared my house, the sobbing began. As we turned down the private road leading into my house, the tears escalated. By the time we stopped the car in the driveway, it was full on sobbing...of happiness and gratitude.
We settled into the house while my youngest daughter and ex-wife took my SUV up to the vet clinic where my beloved dogs had been boarded since 2/5. They texted us when they were five minutes from house, and when I saw the headlights approaching the house, the sobbing began again.
The reunion with the dogs was interesting...me sobbing...the dogs trying to jump and nuzzle with me...my daughters intervening like NFL linebackers. It was quite a scene. After ten minutes, things finally settled down and no one, including myself, was worse for the wear.
Real food for dinner was a treat. Laying down in my own bed was like heaven. Waking up today in my own home...total ecstasy.
A home cooked breakfast...
fresh brewed coffee...
life seems almost normal again.
Cleared for discharge exactly seven days post surgery.
Last night's Ambien really did the trick and I got two sessions of restorative sleep...!
Wish I had asked for something to help the sleep sooner.
Just a note for others to learn from.
Now waiting for all the paperwork to clear so I can get out of here.
The doctors have been incredible.
They let my youngest daughter, who's one semester away from finishing nursing school, remove my staples. She will never forget that moment!
God bless everyone.
I will continue to follow you all...and post my recovery experiences accordingly.
Another positive day of recovery.
Enjoyed time with my two wonderful daughters, who are going above and beyond...
Big complaint is lack of quality sleep.
Pain is not keeping me awake...I still feel like it is controlled well with Tylenol. I just can't get into a restorative sleep phase. Doctor has order Ambien tonight. I am hoping it works.
Emotions are raw and overloaded. When my daughters told me about Dr. Young coming out after a 7 hour surgery...telling them about the complexity and positive outcome of the surgery, and he giving my daughters and my ex-wife, who is still a valued and cherished friend, a big group hug, I broke down.
How can I ever thank Dr. Young?
What would that moment have been like for my family and friends if it hadn't gone well? I was completely overwhelmed.
I warned the girls this "emotional Dad" may be the new norm. They laughed.
Maybe "emotional Dad" will turn out to be a good thing...a better man...
We will just have to wait and see.
God bless everyone here...your families...your friends...
And to each and every health care practitioner who touches you during this journey.
Another day of r&r here in the recovery room. I am still able to control the pain well and, while the doctors are happy with my progress, they are still 'balancing' the body chemistries. Today, my calcium levels were low, so two bags of IV calcium were infused.
The real pain in my lungs went away when the drainage tubes were removed...that was on day three. Slowly over the last few days, more and more tubes have been removed...I now only have one peripheral line in my right hand and the pacer wires that are still attached to my heart. They hope to remove the pacer wires tomorrow....and then it's SHOWER TIME!
Once they get my chemistry balanced, it's time to go home. They anticipate that will be Monday...so seven days, admission to discharge.
I had my surgery on Monday. As I said goodbye to my kids, I broke down crying. The fear was simply overwhelming.
Today is Friday and I've been released from the ICU...now in a recovery room.
Happy to say the pain is not nearly as bad as I thought...although, full disclosure, the helplessness and inconvenience of not being able to get up...feeling groggy from all the drugs...and feeling bloated from the water retention...those are worse than the pain.
I seem to be able to control my pain with 1000 mg of Tylenol...so my head is clearing from the brain fog caused by the Norco.
Up and ambulating 4+ times a day. Sleep. And get out of here as fast as I can.
I have told my friends that I don't want to talk about my surgery. But for those of you on the forum...following this journey...feel free to ask questions. I will be honest.
Well, the Tower of Power concert was both incredible and epic. Our seats were the best I've ever had at any concert (4 rows back from the stage...so we were hearing the musician's on stage monitors more than the speakers projecting out into the venue...what a difference!) and my prior coordination with the band's agent and road manager culminated in Emilio Castillo (leader of the band) wishing my friend, Kent, a Happy 60th Birthday as they began their encore song..."Your Still a Young Man". It was an epic end to an incredible concert.
I woke up on Saturday morning (two days before surgery) in beautiful Lake Tahoe, realizing how alive and happy I was feeling...
You see, I have never had any symptoms from the bad valve and the resulting aneurysms, and as I laid in bed, I pondered the thought - why not just cancel the surgery and just live my life fully until I just drop dead from the dreaded "catastrophic cardiac event" ?
I mean, statistics would suggest that when it's 'my time', the cardiac event caused by valve failure or a rupture of an aneurysm will be acute and immediate...the only unknown would be when will it happen. That unknown seemed like a much better option than the unknown of my surgical outcome and the post-op pain, discomfort and restriction.
This was the first time my mind had ever taken me down this road...and for a few minutes, I was seriously considering this as a viable option. However, about ten minutes in to thought-processing this new-found "logic", I realized one thing. Since I had no control over when the 'event' might occur, I was placing the lives of others at risk. If my event occurred while driving, for example, I could kill someone else in the process. That realization, alone, allowed me to discard the thought almost instantaneously...so it was back to the surgery option.
So here I sit on Sunday, 24 hours away from surgery. I will spend the day with my dogs...appreciating all that I have...
I will dine with close friends and family...get to bed early...hopefully calm my racing mind to a point where I can get some sleep....and wake up tomorrow morning at 3 a.m. for an in-house shower with antiseptic soap and a pre-dawn car ride to the hospital for a 5 a.m. check in.
I have spent the past week doing research...reading...and talking to folks who've had OHS...
Thought I'd share what I've heard/learned for those waiting for their surgery day.
First off, the book, "Coping with Heart Surgery and Bypassing Depression" by Cohan/Pimm/Jude is excellent. Cheap to buy on Amazon, and a book that patients should read twice...and family members should read, too. Can't say enough about the information this book has to offer!
In talking with three folks who've had OHS...the following snippets of insights were most memorable to me:
1. Before they put you under, remind yourself..."when I wake up, there will be a tube in my throat". One person I talked to said this was the ONE thing she wished her doctor had warned her about...because when she woke up in the ICU, she panicked because she was intubated. I thought that nugget was an interesting one.
2. Be prepared for an "weird" sensation of instability in your chest after surgery...during the healing process of your sternum. One male patient I talked to said that was the one thing he wasn't prepared for...the sensation of instability/shifting in his sternum while his chest healed. He said it was just a very odd, disturbing feeling...so he told me to be mentally prepared for it.
3. Get off the opioids as quickly as possible. One person I talked with got addicted. Not because of the pain he was experiencing post-surgery, but because the opioids just made him feel so good...so invincible, I think, was the word he used. It was a long, hard process to beat the addiction...and in hindsight, he'd wished he'd actively weaned himself off the opioids early on, controlling the pain with less detrimental medications. Taking a page from one of our forum member's posts, I'm gonna try like hell to control my pain post-discharge with over the counter meds...and/or non-opioid prescriptions. I know how important it is to "...stay ahead of the pain...", so I won't let it get away from me...
but I do plan to be proactive in my weaning off the opioids.
Those were the three big take-aways from this week's research and discussions.
I will take them all to heart...no pun intended.
Yesterday was my pre-op visit with my surgeon and his PA. The day prior, I'd had all of my lab work done and a chest x-ray. All came back clear.
The pre-op visit was good.
I appreciate the calmness of my surgeon's demeanor. For him, it's all in a day's work...
Discussion about the surgery...the prep, the procedure and the recovery, both at the hospital and once I get home, was all fairly repetitive to the things I've learned and read from others on this site and on ValveReplacement.org. I feel like my participation in the forums here and on ValveReplacement has given me a great insight as to what I can expect! Thanks to all for their sharing.
My anxiety levels are definitely heightening as I get closer to my surgery date. I discussed this with my GP today, and asked him for a prescription for Ativan, as another heart surgery patient I have been talking to felt that drug was very beneficial to him. My GP strongly dissuaded me from taking that drug...he said the current research is showing marked, almost immediate, detrimental effects from taking Ativan. He tries to avoid it like the plague. For the record, he's a great doctor, and I trust his judgment completely...so I backed off on that one. He did suggest, and prescribed, Atarax, as an aid in sleeping. I took my first one last night...and slept very well...waking up relaxed and refreshed! For me, the Atarax completely did the trick! It was a great call by my GP. Just something to think about...
Today will be my last day at the office. When I leave this afternoon, I will put the phones on "auto answer"...advance my desk calendar to 2/20 (two weeks post-surgery...the day I am targeting for my first short visit back to the office)...turn off the lights and lock the door behind me.
Tomorrow I head up to Lake Tahoe with some close friends to attend the Tower of Power concert (favorite band of my life...first time I saw them perform was in 1972...45 years ago!). Then a birthday celebration for a friend on Saturday. A down day on Sunday...and arrival at the hospital at 5:00 a.m. on Monday morning for the big day.
Hello to all. I have never been a participant on an internet forum before...but after finding and reading this forum, I decided it was time to take the plunge!
A little about me:
58 years old professional. Desk job during the day, but active otherwise. Traveler. Adventurer.
I consider myself to be fairly fit - I took a 35 mile trek in the Andes in 2015 with my two incredible daughters and recently returned from gorilla trekking in Uganda.
My bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) was first discovered in my mid 40's when my heart murmur was detected for the first time. "Watch and wait" for the last 12 years. Now, the calcification of the valve (I'm at .8 cm2 surface area) and aneurysms (4.5-4.7) at both the root and the ascending aorta require corrective surgery.
I am going to have the Bentall procedure...replacing the valve and the affected aorta.
I have never had surgery before, and since my mom died during 'elective' surgery to correct an abdominal aneurysm, this whole ordeal has me scared.
But I know it needs to be done...so life goes on.
I plan to document this adventure here...in this thread...in the hopes that others after me might gain some insight.
After it was determined that surgery was necessary, I found myself struggling with the tissue vs. mechanical dilemma. After research and discussion with a family member who is a cardiologist, I've decided on tissue...cow tissue, to be exact. Managing daily doses of warfarin was not something I was too keen on. And while I realize I may have to do this once (or twice) again in my lifetime, based on the functional life of my bovine valve, I am banking on the future...that when my bovine valve needs replacing, they can do it with a much less invasive procedure other than OHS. So fingers crossed as to the future of valve replacement surgery!
I had an angiogram done last week to look at my coronary arteries. Two of them have 40% obstruction...the rest are wide open and clear. This is not enough obstruction to require bypass surgery, so those will simply be watched over the coming years and, I suppose, stented in the future if the obstruction continues a point of intervention.
Last week, about three weeks before surgery day, I had a contrast CT scan so my surgeon could get a detailed picture of 'what's going on inside'.
My surgery is scheduled for 2/6/17...
my pre-surgical consult with my surgeon and his PA is on 2/1/17.
Anyway, that's the situation in a nutshell.
I will continue to post to this thread...and add my own experiences, thoughts, opinions...as I get to...through...and after my surgery.