I just wanted to include a short update on my status as I approach May 8th, the one year anniversary of my mitral valve repair by Dr. Adams at Mt. Sinai.
I spent 5 days at Mt. Sinai Hospital and a couple extra days in NY. I had no complications or problems. My nurse, best friend, chauffeur and wife, Betsy drove me home to Richmond (it took about 8 hours) with me mostly snoozing in the back seat. She continued to take care of me, take walks with me and drive me everywhere during the restricted activities time including bi-weekly Coumadin checks to the lab and follow-up doctors' visits.
After 3 months I was off Coumadin and given the green light to resume jogging. My follow-up visits to my Richmond cardiologist and to Mt. Sinai all went perfectly.
Today, it is almost a distant memory and even the chest incision is not very noticeable. I am well and thank God for His wonderfully healing hands through the hands of Dr. Adams.
I wrote a letter of thanks and appreciation to Dr. Adams and his team. Not long after, in true David Adams style, I received a beautiful letter of thanks back from Dr. Adams. He is truly an incredibly gracious and humble person besides being a gifted healer!
I am able to do any physical activity, only temporarily limited by a bout of sciatica. Hopefully, I will be back to jogging soon.
I pray that all who receive this are well and enjoying the fruits of the healing hands of their capable surgeon.
I guess it is a good sign that I forgot to update the journal on my progress last week. I never want to take the incredible gift of successful open-heart surgery for granted. It's just that good things keep happening and it is easy to get used to them but I remain so blessed and thankful.
Cardiologist visit here in Richmond went very well with zero concerns from Dr. Zacharias. He encouraged me to keep up the jogging and he said my next appointment is in a year. Wow, did I say blessed? Yes, so very blessed.
Thank you all who have shared your journey of recovery along with mine.
I drove to Pelham, NY on Monday, June 11th and stayed with mom. She drove me to the train at 9:30 AM on Wednesday and by 10:30 I was at Mt. Sinai. They checked my lungs for any fluid build up, listened to my heart, performed an EKG, X-rayed my chest and answered all my questions. There were no concerns but prescribed a beta blocker temporarily to lower my heart rate which is high as a result of the surgery.
I will continue on Coumadin for another month as a precaution against any deep vein thrombosis (clots). I am now allowed to resume my favorite hobby, jogging! Yeah!
I went 3 miles today, Friday, the day after returning from NY to home here in Richmond. I feel great and still marvel in the miracle that I experienced through the skilled hands of my surgeon, Dr. David Adams. I am so blessed. I am grateful to God and will never forget the outpouring of love, prayers, get-well cards, phone calls and support from so many dear friends. I am humbled and honored by all of you. I often reflect on the past months since February 14th (yes, Valentine's Day) when my heart valve issue was first diagnosed as serious. How can I be grateful for what seemed to be such bad news? First and foremost, I know that God's plan was unfolding in my life. Second, I am now repaired and healthier than I was. Finally, it has made me appreciate my family, many friends, and God's gift of healing in a way that I never would have realized.
I've said it before, but I thank God for this trial and time of testing. I have seen the tremendous power of prayer, the value of suffering, the hand of God in all of it.
God be with each of you and thank you again for showing me your faith in God and sharing it with me.
Bob is going out twice a day for walks. We talked about heart rate and Karvonen formula, but decided that Percieved Excertion will work just fine. His heart is still healing and his perception of exertion will be enough right now. As long as he can walk and talk it'll be fine.
He has flashbacks about certain things and talks about them. It will be three weeks? Hard to believe. So good to hear about everyone's progress.
Bob is getting back into life. He is driving, walking daily, returning to volunteer activities, and plans to drive to NY alone for his 6 week check up. His doctor said it was fine to do so.
Now, I have to share where I am right now. I am in transition from being complete caretaker, driver, and having Bob here all the time, to him being more independent. It's not easy, as I changed my whole mindset for him, his surgery out-of-town, and aftercare. I'll get through it. I can get back to my life now I guess! Permission granted....
Dear Family and Friends,
Since I left Mt. Sinai, I have been walking each day and getting my Coumadin checked twice a week. They are now pleased that I have reached an IRN level of 2.2. This Coumadin is for 90 days as a precaution to prevent clots as I had some A-fib in the hospital after surgery.
Visited family physician yesterday who is monitoring my IRN level. It all went well. Next check for IRN is Tuesday.
Today's May 25th visit with cardiologist was great. He is pleased with the healing of my scar and did an EKG that was good with normal rhythm. He said my lungs are clear and that my mitral valve shows zero leakage.
Next appointment is 8/29.
Off to Mt. Sinai for post-op visit on 6/13, meanwhile, I walk daily, rest don't lift over 10 lbs., no driving 'til Tuesday and enjoy the great gift of a repaired mitral valve.
God bless each of you and remember our heroes this Memorial Day.
Bob is taking two one mile walks per day. He had his second blood test since we've been home. His blood had not thinned enough for the PA in NY. So, today it was a perfect, clinical, measurement and his PA was very happy. He will continue on C until told otherwise.
He has full lung function and is no longer out of breath walking up our 250 ft. driveway. He's not race walking, but hey!
His chest is healing really well too! He's enjoying food again too.
Bob took two walks today; one with Maggie and one alone. I had him bring his cell phone just in case. He walked about two miles total. He just turned to me as we were watching the Yankees, and said, "I feel great!" He is outside watering some grass right now.
I posted Dr. Adams hands photo on Facebook. I decided B/W was the best.
Weather still perfect here....
Unpacked and completed so much the past few days.
Bob is walking about a mile + a day. His blood is thin enough according to the PA at Dr. Adams office, Joel.
He is taking a nap every day around two p.m. He'll have an appointment with his cardiologist next Friday.
The weather has been perfect here in Virginia. Getting back to my normal walking routine has been a gift. Those 2.5 miles are mine, all mine!
Heard that Selma is back home. She had us laughing with her comments about the food at the hospital.
We are so very, very happy. We will be headed home, Virginia, tomorrow. Bob's staples were removed today and the issues with his blood can be resolved at home. His blood still needs to be thinner, but he will continue his Coumadin.
We will head out tomorrow from Pelham with mom in the front seat (will meet her daughter in Delaware) and Bob in the back seat to protect him from chest injury.
This is the last update for awhile!
Praise God for all His blessings and all of you...
Betsy and Bob
Make sure you know that the staff member, PA, at your surgeon's office knows your status before you leave the hospital, ie. any changes in 24 hrs.
There was no knowledge of his staples not being removed or some changes in blood values. Amazing, but true.
Bob had his first night since surgery in the hotel. He slept like a baby.
We took our time today and left at noon for a late breakfast, his first good meal since he went in.
We walked to the perfect cafe on York Ave, Timmy's. The walk back and forth was a total of a mile.
I have a picture of him at the restaurant, but cannot post.
We need to get Adam to upgrade the site to post pics inside journals, copy/paste!
Best to all,
You are my dear "Techy Wife", who besides that, is my nurse, body washer, masseuse, and hair dresser as well as number 1 communicator. You fed me, you sat with me every day, 6 days, if I can remember. You will now be my baggage carrier, chauffeur and I have not even dreamt of all the many other jobs you will take over. Garbage and recycling jobs, retrieving the paper, cleaning the house, letting me lean on you for my walks. The list goes on, but how do you love me, " I could never count the ways!" I will never be able to repay you. I bet you wouldn't mind of I tried. That 5 carat diamond might be a good start! (only kidding, I think). Or possibly a cruise around the world (I know you are not fond of cruises, thank The Lord). I just hope for both of our sakes that I don't have to be your nurse. It will be better for all of us if we can both stay well.
Enough rambling! Now to those many, many friends (you never realize you have that many). This is by far the best gift a man or woman could have. This part of the journey is the most incredible part. So many of us have to wait until a teal tragedy or death in the family. We have been so blessed to have this experience. I would not have missed this time for anything. I knew all along this was God's plan. Well, truthfully it took me a lot of my own praying and seeing all the love, prayers, concern and support from high school and college friends, youth and adults from church, Exxon
Mobil friends, K of C support, neighbors and so many friends and neighbors from the many places we lived. Even the folks from the many businesses we frequent, stepped up in so many ways. Who could imagine getting a call at home from our neighborhood Exxon dealer, Dan? So many times and experiences have brought me to tears of joy and brought me to my knees and up again to praise Him.
You will probably never know that just like me there are so many people who hold you in such esteem and favor,
Finally, I cried when the technician came in my room the other day, performed the echocardiogram, which in the past was always progressively worse with so much leakage and aryhtmia and to have her say there was zero leakage and a perfect repair.
Just a few hours ago was the final gift that we were given, x- ray clarification of clear lungs, perfect suturing and the gift of leaving the hospital on Sunday ( tomorrow, 5/13).
I told Dr. Adams that he is truly a gift from God and he said, "I truly believe that is why God gave me this gift, to share with those of us who need me." Keep dear Dr. Adams in your prayers, just as you have done for us.
Thank you does get there, but I have no other words. (Amazing for me to be speechless).
Love, love, love and blessings to each of you and those you love.
Bob just got word that he will be discharged tomorrow, Sunday.
Of course, nothing is certain in a patient's life, so we'll see what tomorrow brings.
I have requested the envelope that includes his ID and cash from the safe here, got a list of cabs to take us to the hotel, and washed his hair. He cannot take a shower as he still has the pacemaker and chest tube in. I think they may remove them today. We will walk around the halls a few times today.
Met Dr. Adams and Dr. Chan this morning. Got a great picture of the three of them and I asked if I could take a picture of Dr. Adams' hands. He obliged and it came out great. I have a thing about hands. I love Bob's hands. They are strong, but beautiful.
Sent from Betsy Spath's iPad 🇺🇸
H: 804 897 4759
C: 804 201 7199
Bob has just had another echo cardiogram. These are done in the room with a portable machine!
Amazing the progress they have made. We saw it live....
BOB HAS NO LEAKAGE AT ALL IN HIS VALVE!! From severe to zero.
A SUCCESSFUL SURGERY!
After a few tears of joy, we are thanking the Lord and all those who prayed and have been so supportive during this time.
Bob and Betsy
Bob continues to improve. His pain level is a "2" according to Bob. Yesterday he was using the self-medication-pain meds every 8 minutes. Today, not so. He is off of the self administered pump! All the tubes are gone but his chest tube.
He is going for physical therapy right now.
I brought his blanket, CD player, iPad, Tracphone and some other small items. Decided to MapMyWalk because I felt that it was longer than a mile to the hotel. Turned out it is 2.14, not 1 mile. That makes me very happy actually....thought my mind was playing tricks!
Dr. Adams dropped by at 9 last night for literally a few minutes. The nurses were amazed that he was on the floor. He is quite famous. I missed him of course.
Right now, Bob is talking to the nurse, Katherine. Turns out she graduated from Villanova, Bob's school!
I'll check in with you all tomorrow with a new video.
Betsy and Bob
Dear family and friends,
Well, Bob has done very well. He is doing so well that I made a video of him this morning. He includes a thank you for your thoughts and prayers. He is being sent to his room and out of ICU. He is ahead of most. Usually it is two or three days before you are sent to your room.
Keep in mind viewing the video, he was less than 24 hours out of surgery and has pain meds.
I want to thank you too, for your support. So far it has not been difficult because I have a husband who takes good care of himself and has a very positive state of mind!
I will send another note out tomorrow or the next day.
Betsy and Bob
Well, I finally got back to the room after being at Mt. Sinai from 8 in the a.m.
Got to tell him the good news and tell him how proud I was of him. He squeezed my hand.....
I got a hamburger then went up to the room and got in my nightgown.....at 7:00!!!!!
Quite a day....
Bob was Dr. Adams' first surgery today. Bob walked to the hospital, which was a great idea. He had to get here by 5:30 am. I scrubbed his back this morning. He had to wash his entire body with a antiseptic-saturated sponge. They requested he do that twice; last night and again this a.m. It's an extra precaution for keeping germs at bay. We had a good laugh about it actually.
It is 9:00 and just waiting....
12:20, still waiting...
2:12: Dr. called just now. Bob doing great and he has a repaired valve! He came off the heart lung machine very well.
I get to see him in an hour.
Prayers answered....thank you all.
I will fill you in on his progress tomorrow.
Sitting 5 feet from him. He is very peaceful. I may not be able to be here when he wakes up as it is getting late. Tomorrow he'll be better.
This is as good a time as any for me to try to express a few thoughts and many emotions.
I am alone sitting in my favorite leather chair. It is so quiet. Just the clock ticking faintly in the background. Maggie is keeping me company, lying on her favorite pillow, a gift from grandson, Daniel.
Betsy, you and I have just come back from 9 o'clock mass. You were there for me and prayed over me with the congregation as dear Fr. Don anointed me with Holy Oil. The Anointing of the Sick is a beautiful sacrament and a wonderful gift. I know that God is with me through this challenging time. He is my strength not only through this anointing, but through His people. He will not leave me alone. Every day, several times each day, He comes to me. So many lovely, moving e-mails, caring phone calls, and personal visits. I have never felt such love. I could not even imagine it. I feel so humble and blessed. It is so strong and overwhelming that I can not go to that place except a few minutes at a time. It is too beautiful!
Family, many relatives and so many friends (I never knew I had so many friends!). There are no words only tons of beautiful thoughts and feelings. So many people, many who do not even know each other, all united in prayer. One Body. You are His arms surrounding me. Thank you for your love and for sharing His Love with me and each other. What a blessing! What a gift.
Much love and gratitude to each of you and especially to you Betsy, who has brought us all together at this exceptional time.
Everything is in place. Bob is healthy and so ready. I have already started packing, trying to remember everything we will need. Love lists!
We will ask Dr. Adams if he can skip the post op visit if Bob is feeling great. Going down in the city would be a huge effort for Bob. We are leaving the city two days after his expected release. Whatever Dr. Adams thinks is best. I think he thinks we are down in the city the whole time. Venting....sorry. Looking forward to meeting Selma!
I thought there was no returning to Mt. Sinai after Bob's release, but just found out he has to go back about three days after his release. I had no clue. I thought we went home and he checked in with his cardiologist here in Va.
Also, I would like to know how often you get to see your husband while he is in the hospital?
I trust that I will get helpful information from you! Thank you!
Bob had his consultation with Dr. Adams today. His appointment was a few hours late, but it was worth the wait. He was so happy and excited on the phone just now. Dr. Adams is a great surgeon who has a lot in common with Bob, and was so comfortable with his plans for Bob's repair. He made Bob feel totally sure he'd made the right choice. Bob had all of his questions answered and more. I am so relieved that his experience was so positive. I could not go with Bob to NY because I was ill and frankly, I felt badly that I could not be there as a second set of ears, but I actually think that he was better off without me there!
Bob has thoroughly enjoyed his time with his mom and sisters while there. They are enjoying a Chinese meal together as I write!
Dr. Adams is from Durham, NC and has a very casual, but self-assured presence. Bob felt completely comfortable with him.
So, May 8th is the big day. We have all our questions answered and are as ready as we can be. His email is email@example.com if you want to send him a note.
Our love and gratitude for your many prayers,
Looks like I will not accompany Bob to NY for his meeting with Dr. Adams. He was sick last week and no matter how I washed my hands, took Airborne, I got something. So, unless there is an overnight cure, I will be staying home.
I remember reading Jim Smith's journal and thinking, how sad that Donna could not accompany him for his consult. Now I find myself in that same position! Who knew?
We will go to NY and Bob's consult soon. One of the questions I want to ask is: How long after Bob's release can we drive home to Va.?
I will drive of course.
If anyone can give us an idea, I would appreciate it.
Bob is keeping himself busy with a trip to our old home, Houston: Retirement party. He is still running, but not at a fast pace. HR around 120 BPM....
Looks like we will have a house full of guests for Easter. Then a visit from our daughter and two of her children the day after Easter! It's a good thing to keep active and involved.
On April 18, we will meet with Dr. Adams and get acclimated to the hospital and try to find a small grocery store, pharmacy and visit the Marriott too. I want to be able to buy some food other than restaurants while I am there for a week, and be able to get Bob's meds after the surgery.
A blessed Passover and Easter to all,
All the tests have been sent to New York. We have been following Jim Smith's journey and are so thankful he has generously shared his experience.
This is the period of time when we simply wait. Everything is in place. Reservations have been made, group email set up, consultation on the calendar along with the surgery.
I will continue to read Adam's book a second time.
Much better day today. Bob had a nice run. He always feels better after a run.
I have found an amazing amount of videos about Mitral Valve surgery on YouTube. Sat through a surgery and finally understand what Dr. Adams will attempt to do. Fascinating. Amazing. Awesome. Step by step. I had to stop it at one point because it was so graphic. Once I returned, it was easy to watch.
Thank goodness we have these videos to view. As a caretaker, I can finally grasp what will happen to Bob once I give him to Dr. Adams.
Reading the book a second time. I rushed through it the first time.
Thinking about a foam wedge for his sitting up after the surgery. We have a recliner, so he will have that to sit in.
I asked Bob today if he could have the surgery in a few days, would he?
"Yes." he said immediately.
The tension is high. I wish I had the right words for him. I wish I could do something to take it all away. Between the hassle of getting all the tests sent to us for Dr. Adams, getting taxes done, and just plain fear, it has not been a great couple of days. This is a journey that one must ultimately take alone. I can support Bob, that's all I can do....and pray.
Well, we are all set for May 8th if everything goes well. Bob has his consult with Dr. Adams in April. Bob called four different entities today to have his tests sent to us. We will then send them to NY.
It is hard to believe that one phone call would not be enough in 2012 to get his tests! Someone will create a business that gathers all these tests for the patient, puts them in a cloud online, have an access code, to make it easier for folks. Someone has surely thought of this!
Sent out an e-mail to the "group" I created. Family and friends have liked it so far.
I keep on running into people who had relatives with this same problem. They all had successful surgery and lived long lives. I think God is placing these daughters, wives and uncles in my path....