At this moment, my daughter is driving from San Diego, California to Rio Rico, Arizona. She'll stop for the night on her way to visit her youngest son, a high school teacher in Tempe, AZ. Tomorrow she'll continue down to Rio Rico to take me to the Tucson Heart Hospital for the angiogram that will finally diagnose my heart's condition.
When I saw my cardiologist on December 8th, he was adamant that I needed an aorta valve replacement and a mitral valve repair. Then, during later phone calls he seemed to back off on that diagnosis. It's been very hard not knowing if I'll be back home tomorrow night, or getting prepped for surgery on Tuesday.
After the angiogram, I'll post the diagnosis, and we'll go from there.
I'm not at all nervous about either outcome of the angiogram. Adam's book and all the Journals my co-heart-patients and their spouses have posted have truly reassured me.
And I'm VERY grateful to my family and friends who've sent me encouragements.
About a month ago, after 60+ years with mitral valve regurgitation, which slowed my every activity, I was taking a snooze on my bed in the late afternoon, and suddenly I became wide awake with an urgent "message" in my head, saying: "It's time to have my heart taken care of."
Immediately, I called for an appointment with my cardiologist. It had been a year since I'd seen him.
While waiting for the appointment, I seemed to be urged to look for information about condition and found Adam Pick's book and ordered it. I read it from cover to cover, then took it with me to my appointment.
On December 8, 2009, I went for my appointment and my cardiologist did the usual prefunctory listening to my heart, then said he was concerned that I'd gained weight, and should do aerobics. He didn't seem concerned about anything else and said he'd have a tech do an echocardiogram and he'd take a look at it. He turned to go, then saw Adam's book beside me and said, "Hmmm, I see you're already reading up on heart conditions."
When the technician was through with the echogram, he called my doctor in to review it, and the first thing the tech said to the doctor was, "Here is the dead area."
Up to that moment I was calm, but hearing that comment, my brain turned off, as I continued to watch them review the screen.
When they were through, my doctor turned to me and said, "I want to schedule your surgery next month.
That didn't surprise me, but of course I asked what was going on.
He said that not only did I have a regurgitating mitral valve, but I needed an aorta valve replacement on the left ventricle. (I'm not sure I'm saying it right...but it's close.) During that conversation he said they would do an angiogram one day, and then do the surgery the following day...and he'd call me with dates to do this.
A few days later, he called to confirm the date of the angiogram to diagnose exactly what was going on, and sounded less urgent about it all, which confused me. Like a
dope, I didn't pin him down by reminding him of our prior conversation when he seemed to think there WAS urgency.
So, at this moment I don't know what is going to happen, and feel confused. Maybe between my appointment and the later phone conversation, he forgot the details of that appointment.
If one is EVER confused about contradictions I recommend you pin down the facts even if you feel timid about reminding the doctor of prior statements which seem contradictory. Take the bull by the horns. It's your body, your life and your sense of assurance that you have all the facts. Doctors have many patients, and even one week later he/she will not remember the exact details of prior conversations and conclusions. You have to remind them. It's only fair to them too.
Meanwhile, I'm making my will (a living trust, ON-LINE), and packing my bag with all the little hints Adam Pick offered in his book. I already ordered and received the "Incision Shield"; bought earplugs and a the best pair of extra soft eye shades made by Brookstone (they're on line too).
And, I'm looking forward to feeling alive and being active for the first time in 50 years. For all those years I struggled to hold down a job, be a wife and mother of two, and be exhausted all the time and never knowing why I wasn't like everybody else. No one understood why I didn't like taking part in all the usual activities people get involved in. Now I can hardly wait to get through this and enjoy a new life at 74.