Checking into Hospital this afternoon, the time has arrived! Planning on dropping the kids off to school, having a nice lunch out with my wife, then head over to the Hospital for check-in. My 6-year old daughter wrote an adorable 'bed time story' for me to take to the Hospital. It tells the story of King Regan who was about to have "cutting open chest" surgery and that he was nervous. Also how his Queen Rebecca would need help while King Regan was in the Hospital & that they would all come to visit. Brought a big smile to my face. I think I have reached that 'zone' now where I just want to get in there & get it all over and done with! All the best for those also going in over the next few days. Thoughts & prayers are with you all!
I've noticed a few people on this site have spoken about guided imagery, visualisation, etc. & how it has helped them throughout their journey. Can anyone make any last minute recommendations for me of any particular apps, sound tracks, websites etc.? I've utilised mindfulness in the past with some success, so thought it would be worth a shot to help these pre-op nerves!
Predictably, this last week flew by. I'm now on the slippery slope to surgery. Just noticed my name popped up on the upcoming surgery list as well so it is very real now. Had my pre-admission clinic the other day which was uneventful. Found out I am first on the list for the day which I'm very glad to hear, definitely didn't want to sit around waiting all morning for my time to come up!! The usual case manager was on leave and they had a fill in who wasn't accustomed of what they usually go through at the clinic. Thank goodness for this website as this has prepared me much better than what I got there. Chatted to a few soon to be 'zipper club' colleagues at work today who gave me a good rundown on what to expect. Both had different experiences so it was good to hear the good and the not so good. Just riding out the last few days of work, trying to stay calm & not get too distracted. The 'unwanted gift' is definitely out of the spare room now though & staring me in the face!!
Time predictably flying, keeping busy at work wrapping things up & getting ready to handover. The surgery is like an 'unwanted gift' that you stick in the spare room. You remember it's there, but happy to ignore it for now. Sooner or later that unwanted gift is going to creep out of the spare room and smack you in the face! Trying to stay positive though and focus on all the good things that will come out of this. We have a public holiday long weekend coming up with all the footy finals on so no doubt I'll be '1 week' away before I know it. Pre-admission clinic booked for next Tuesday so I think that will be the moment when all this truly sinks in!
I think I am still in a state of shock, but after my consult today I am booked in for surgery for Thursday October 13th. Well that all happened in a hurry!!
My wife and I arrived to be greeted by Donna the PA. My first thoughts were "I hope she is as good as Donna from 'Suits'...been watching that TV show too much!! We also met a lovely elderly couple who were waiting with us. She was 78y.o. and 6 weeks out of OHS and boy she looked good...I honestly thought it was her husband who had had the surgery before we started chatting to them! She re-assured us that our surgeon was fantastic and even showed us her scar & how good it looked! Then we met Emily, my surgeon, who confidently told me that she was a little shocked that no-one had seriously discussed the big 'S' word with me until now given the size of my aneurysm and valve inefficiency. Firstly she explained my CT results (I.e. Aortic root looks ok, aortic arch looks ok, just need to take out everything in-between + replace the valve). Unfortunately I am not a candidate for valve repair, so we then had a discussion of mechanical vs animal! I went in thinking mechanical due to its durability. However, surprisingly I've walked out thinking animal (bovine) after the surgeon explained a few complications/risks associated with warfarin & some cases she has seen. On the flip side I am too 'young' which makes the animal valve an issue obviously as well. I will have to make sure I am ok with another OHS in 10-15 years & then TAVR options after that. The prospect of my life getting back to nearly normal was a quite convincing argument on the animal valve side though. My wife asked the surgeon, if it was your partner in this situation, what would you tell them. "Bovine valve" was her immediate answer!
So let the whirlwind begin. I know I am very fortunate to have an awesome family to support me through the next few months. I'm surprisingly calm at the moment but also feel like I might freak out any second now. On the positive side, I'll have a new heart for Christmas!!!
"Has anyone ever told you you have a heart murmur?"
9 months ago, those 10 words left my world turned upside down. I was a fit and active 39 year old guy. I regularly played squash, went to the gym, and tried to keep up with my young family. Some unexpected chest tightness led me to an ED where all the tests were clear. However, the doctor wanted me to have a precautionary ECHO just to check out the murmur she was hearing. So the next day we headed back into the Hospital for the ECHO.
The next day, surrounded by medical students & the Sonographer, an innocent sounding murmur turned into a Bicuspid Aortic Valve with moderate leakage and an Aortic Aneurysm measuring 5.3cm. I didn't even know what the repercussions of a Bicuspid Valve were, so the Sonographer kindly explained it all to me and quietly suggested I should be organising to see a Cardiologist fairly soon.
The next week, the final verdict was delivered by my Cardiologist. The bad news, the aneurysm was his major concern. The good news, the moderate leakage was not so much of a worry for now. For now he wanted to play it conservatively and monitor for any changes. He asked me to return in 3 months & sent me off for a CT scan to check on the ECHO results. The penny dropped as I walked out of his office that day. This was real! This would change my life forever! So the journey began.
3 months later, my follow up appointment showed everything was exactly the same, so I was given another 6 month reprieve.
6 months after that, one week ago, my follow up tests now show that my aortic valve has now progressed to borderline severe leakage with an unchanged aneurysm diameter. To the best of my knowledge I am asymptomatic, though who knows what normal is having lived with this all my life. So next week I'm off for my first appointment with the Surgeon. Having mixed feelings right now about whether I want this to be delayed as long as possible. Or do I want this ticking time bomb in my chest fixed up now! Starting to prepare a list of questions for the appointment. thank you to all on this website as it has been incredibly helpful in preparing me for the inevitable.