It has been 14 months since my surgery. I feel Great! In fact, I went to my family doctor last week and he took me off the blood pressure medicine. I see him again in three months and if my blood pressure remains under control, he is going my to start weaning me off the metoprolol. Very good news indeed! I reflect and thank God every day that he sustained me through my surgery and all the complications I encountered. I am humbled by His grace and mercy and just knowing who is in charge helped me to stay calm. Another change of events for me is that I've taken a six month hiatus from retirement. The company I retired from asked me if I would commit to helping for six months to be the interim Inside Sales Manager to help with some transition going on and training new employees. This is my third week back and I'm surprised at how well it is going. Everyone was glad to see me and it's been fun reconnecting with many of my customers. Again, I say to those awaiting surgery, it is no picnic in the park but the odds are in your favor and the doctors know what to do IF something doesn't go as planned. God bless everyone on this web site. It has really helped me in this journey.
May 31, 2017 (one year ago today) I had open heart surgery. I’ve always called it a journey. For me, it has been. I was under the impression that I’d have this surgery, recover quickly and then be much better in about three months. That wasn’t meant to be. That’s why I call it a journey. But through it all, somehow, I knew I’d be ok in the end. I know my faith in God helped. And my trust in my doctors as well. In fact, the whole process of second opinions let me to a new cardiologist (whom we love) and a brilliant surgeon (who saved my life). They were both very upbeat even when I was scared of what was happening. In the end, they figured it all out. My initial surgery, one year ago, was for an aortic valve replacement to treat my severe stenosis; an ascending aortic aneurysm replacement because I had an aneurysm that was 5.4 cm; and a Hemiaortic arch replacement. The surgery lasted seven hours! I had a myriad of complications and you can read my journals if you’d like to know more about them. But this journey has humbled me in so many ways. I was touched by the number of visitors who came to see me in the hospital and at home. I was touched by all the texts and calls of people telling me they were praying for me. I was touched by the love and compassion my husband showed me. God only knows! I knew he was a wonderful husband and he didn’t have to prove anything to me. I love him dearly. But, the kind and gentle way he cared for me…..I’ll never forget how much love he showed in his selfless actions. I am truly blessed with the cream of the crop! One year later, how do I feel? I feel great! We walk consistently 2-3 miles a day (except for Sunday – our day of rest). We ride bicycles – and I’ve not fallen anymore! I have the strength back in my legs. Lesson for others – don’t try to do too much too soon. I don’t get winded even when walking up hills and when we go to the rec center, I even jog some. I’d jog more but my knees hurt! The entire process was an eye opener and I certainly know more about the heart now than I did a year ago. I can’t express how happy it feels to be well again. I guess, I really wasn’t ever well – being born with a bicuspid valve and then getting rheumatic fever at a young age. But I feel well now and I’m so excited about it! For those of you who are scheduled for surgery or who will have to have it someday, I would tell you that it is totally worth it. Yes, I went to hell and back more than once, but as I mentioned, my trust in God and confidence that the doctors would figure it out, helped me to stay calm even during scary ambulance rides and ER visits. And I even feel like I went to heaven and back as well. There was one time I did get scared in the ER and when I bottomed out, I had such peace and joy, just for a few seconds before I came to. Whatever happened, I said to myself, “No matter what happens, I’m going to be ok. Even if I die, I’ll be just fine.” That incident did get the attention of at least a dozen people all crammed in the little ER room and they were putting the paddle pads on my chest – but then I woke up – just like that. Then while we were waiting on a room to be assigned, different doctors would just come in the room in ER and look at me. I didn’t know I was so popular! It brings to mind Psalm 23, Verse 4 – “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” At any rate, this journey has a happy destination. I’m so thankful and grateful. I’m overwhelmed. God is good! My best wishes to all my heart valve brothers and sisters (as Civita says – the class of 2017). You all helped me so much with encouraging words this past year. Now we can help others. That’s what it’s all about. Love and prayers to everyone!
Today, I had a 6 month visit to my cardiologist. I couldn't be more pleased with the news! He said that I am "completely healed"! He reduced my Metoprolol to 12.5 mg 2x a day. Also, if I can drop about 15 pounds, I can probably get off my BP medicine as well. So, I have a great incentive to eat better (and less)! LOL! And I don't have to go back for another checkup for 8 months.
To those who haven't had surgery yet, let this be a testament that you can get through this. Is it scary? YES! But as so many have said, our minds can make us imagine the most horrible outcomes. Even with all my complications, the end result is a positive one. Trust in your doctors but also trust in God.
Thanks again to all those who provided me with supoort and encouragement.
This is me playing my Mom's baritone ukulele. She passed away in 2014 (nine months after my Dad). They both played in a ukulele band. 😃
Six and Sixty
Journal posted on December 4, 2017
Well, it has been six months since my surgery and on Dec 1st, I turned 60! I'm feeling great. My husband took me to Amish Country in Holmes County, Ohio for the weekend. Friday night we went on a Journey to Bethlehem which was quite interesting. It was kind of like a scavenger hunt that took us from a church where we registered for the census; to a busy marketplace; to the Inn which had no vacancies; to seeing angels and shepherds; to meeting with King Herod and finally to an Amish farm where we sang carols in the barn and then saw a live nativity. It was so much fun. There were hundreds of people doing this and it was very well organized. At the Amish home, we were treated to coffee, hot chocolate and homemade treats. All free of charge! What a time! The almost full moon made it extra special. So I was able to do all the walking on this excursion both up and down hills with minimal shortness of breath. I'm feeling very well and feel like I'm at about 95% recovered. It's just hard to say, as you all know, if and when we are fully recovered. All I know is that I feel so much better and have so much more energy. This heart surgery journey has been just that -- a journey -- through many things - the pre-testing, the surgery itself, complications, learning all about everything, being encouraged by family and friends and everyone on this site -- to name just a few. I'm so thankful for my team of doctors who took very good care of me and never gave up finding out what was wrong so we could fix it. It was truly a team - from our cardiologist to our surgeon and all the way to the infectious disease doctor who insisted that they drain the fluid from around my lungs. I'm so glad that everything is going so well. Thanks for all of you who have been an encouragement to me along the way.
It has been 19 weeks today since my surgery. The road has been rough but I'm feeling great now! My surgery was May 31 and I had to be re-admitted four times to the hospital. I spent a total of 24 days in the hospital. As my husband keeps saying, "This was no picnic in the park." And I'd have to agree with him. I feel that we've been to "Hades" and back more than once. On my second re-admission, only God knows how close I was to going home...However, things have improved dramatically! We've made two trips, one to Gatlinburg, TN in September and one this past weekend to Chicago. I did great. We also played 9 holes of golf in September. I did fine (health-wise) buy not do fine on my score! The next few days, my chest muscles were sore but it felt good to get out and play. From the last group of blood work done, my cholesterol was 135! I'm really seeing benefits of healthy eating. When all this started, it was over 200. Today, when I saw my PCP for routine checkup, my BP was 124/60 and my heart-rate was 59. We've been walking every day but Sunday (our day of rest) and we took one bike ride. I overdid it on the bike ride and at the end, lost all strength in my legs and fell off the bike on our busy street. Thank God the cars all stopped for me! I need to remember - like so many others have learned - that my recovery will take time. All that time in the hospital took the strength out of my legs. My PCP said it will come back but probably more slowly than I'd like to see.
At any rate, I'm feeling great! Finally!
To all those recovering, keep it up and don't lose faith. You'll make it! I had my doubts during all the complications, but I did make it!
To all those anticipating surgery, I know the waiting is horrible and our minds always imagine the worst things. But, I'm living proof that even if you have complications, the doctors know what to do and will make you better. As hard as it is, try not to worry.
I'm thankful for all the prayers that went up for me. I know there were tons and tons of people who prayed for me and I appreciate it so much.
This site has been most helpful to both me and my husband. Thanks to all of you who have encouraged us along the way.
With a ton of setbacks behind me, I finally feel like I've "turned a corner" in my recovery. Since my last hospital stay, I've felt really good. We went to see the cardiologist yesterday and it was a great visit! He took me off the Multaq (Afib medicine) completely. He is keeping me on the Metoprolol for ~ 6 months because it helps to keep my hear rate down and also helps prevent Afib or Aflutter. My lungs sounded clear! I'm on no restrictions! He checked out my sternum and said I was ready for golf if I so desired. My blood pressure was up (as it has been when I check it at home) so he put me on a small does of BP medicine. We are going on a trip next week to Gatlinburg, TN so we are very excited for that. This will be our first true taste of retirement. Our summer was pretty much shot due to all the complications.
That being said, I don't want anyone who is getting ready for surgery to be scared. Even though I had a lot of complications, I was not the norm. Most people don't have this many complications. Why God chose me for them, we may never know until we reach the other side, but I know this... He was with me every step of the way! And he will be for you. And if you do have a setback, the doctors know what to do. They are working for you.
This site has been a great help to my husband, Rick and I and we'll continue to read it and post updates as necessary. Thanks to all who have encouraged me along this journey. My best to all of you.
Since my last post, I developed a nagging dry cough so I called the cardiologist (because it was a new symptom). I was told that there was a "bug" going around and to see my primary care physician. BTW, this was true, I knew several people who had a nagging cough. My primary care physician put me on an antibiotic. Two weeks later, I went back with the same cough that didn't get better and got another round of antibiotics. When it still persisted, I left a message for the cardiologist to see if he could start getting me off these drugs because I was convinced the Amiodarone was contributing to it. That was last Friday afternoon so naturally, I didn't hear back from him before the weekend. So on Sunday, I coughed horribly all afternoon. It was non stop. My husband took my temperature and I had a fever so he decided we needed to, once again, go to ER. When I arrived, they immediately took me in and did an EKG which was ok. They took my temperature again and it was 101.5. They were convinced I had an infection. They did order a CT scan and chest X-ray which showed the pleural effusion had gotten larger than from the last tests. So, I was admitted. My surgeon came and saw me and said he didn't see that there was anything wrong as in a complication from the surgery. They called my cardiologist and by the morning, I was off the Amiodarone. They started me on a newer drug called Multaq which has fewer side effects. They ran tons of blood work and tests to "find the infection". They did another Echo which showed the pleural effusion but everything else was great - as far a the heart goes. When the cardiologist on call came in n Tuesday, he agreed to lower my Metoprolol dose from 100mg 2x a day to 50 mg 2x a day. I asked this because my heart rate was in the 50's. In fact, on Monday morning, I refused to take the 100 mg dose. On Monday, a lung doctor saw me and ordered an ultrasound of my lung so they can actually measure how much fluid is there. Some people were saying it wasn't much, others were saying it was. They estimated between .675 - .725 of a liter of fluid. That's more than a bottle of water. On Tuesday, the Infectious Disease doctor came in and said she was going to ask them to drain the fluid so she could have it cultured. Tuesday afternoon, they performed the procedure to drain and he got 1/2 liter of fluid from it. He said it looked clear with no infection. The Infectious Disease doctor came in Wednesday morning and said the same thing and that she would release me that day - which she did. They never did find an infection but just because one has a fever, doesn't mean they have an infection. During this stay, I had three doctors who said to me, "You need to talk to your cardiologist about getting you off the Amiodarone so I'm glad he did. Another thing that happened was that on Tuesday night, the nurse was going to give me my Metoprolol but my heart rate was 58. Her instructions were to call the doctor before giving it to me if it was below 60. So the doctor lowered it to 25 mg dose 2x a day. The Infectious Disease doctor concluded that this was all from inflammation due to the surgery and put me on 2 aspirin a day. Other drugs interact with the Multaq so aspirin was the only thing they could give me to help reduce inflammation. I am now able to take in a deep breath without coughing. I still have cough from time to time but attribute it to the inflammation. So, for now, all is well again! Thanks to those on the site who have shared the issues they had with the medicines we are given. It helped me quite a bit.
Today marks 8 weeks since my initial surgery. I've had a lot of serbacks but feel things are now on the right track. My recent echo showed a small amount of fluid around the heart and a larger amount around my lungs. As a precaution, my cardiologist ordered a chest x-ray. He called the next day and said it was nothing to worry about, just residual fluid from the surgery. He said we are leaving medications as they are and for me to call if I have any unusual symptoms. This week, I've felt better than I have since the surgery. We've been mall walking every day (too hot and humid here in Ohio to walk outdoors) and I've not gotten winded at all. My husband was amazed at how briskly I was able to walk. This is the first I've felt this good since the surgery. It was a long road but I do feel I'm on the way to a full recovery. Thanks to everyone who has given me encouraging words!
Today marks six weeks since my OHS. I've had so many ups a and downs but I feel good today! The fluid around my heart which caused the arithymias was a major setback having to have a 2nd surgery. But while most are talking about cardiac rehab, my cardiologist wants me to take it easy for six weeks. No exertion. He said my body has been through so much that it needs to heal. But he's confident that the "incidents" are over and will wean me off the amiodarone over the next few months and lower the metropolol dose as well. I have an echo scheduled for Tuesday to make sure there is no more fluid buildup and that everything looks good. My heart sounds really good and strong so the surgery was a success. I go back to see him in mid September. I'm so thankful to finally feel like I'm in recovery mode now.
I had another attack of Aflutter late Friday/early Saturday that landed me in the ER and hospital. My heart was racing in the 130s. I was admitted and they gave me more medicine to help me convert to normal sinus rythym. I did so late last night and my heart rate was steady in the high 60s to low 70s. I've just been released and we're hoping this is the last time. We are going to discuss a cardiac ablation with our cardiologist when we go see him this week. It's something to consider because I am so symptomatic to these aflutter attacks.
They did the surgery Monday, June 19th early in the morning. The surgeon drained nearly one liter of fluid from around my heart. He also performed a pericardial window procedure. They shocked my heart back into sinus rhythm. The chest tube was left in until Thursday morning and after another chest x-ray I was released Thursday afternoon. Each day since returning home, I've felt better. No more Afib attacks. Today we took a walk around the neighborhood and I felt really great. I wasn't winded but I am tired tonight. I believe that each day will now get better. Getting home health care for now. I'm thankful for the doctors who figured out what the problem was. I'm thankful for my cardiologist who figured it all out. I'm also thankful for our surgeon who did the pericardial window and drainage. He's also the best. All the nurses and aides...I had great care and because I was in the hospital so long - 20 days - we got to know them. I am very blessed and fortunate to have such a wonderful husband who was there every day with me. He encouraged me and was my advocate. He has been my rock and with his help, I feel confident I'll recover quickly from the setbacks we had to face. I give thanks to God for holding my hand through this trial.
Two days after my last post I had another setback. I was rushed again to ER and readmitted. Another bad Afib. My doctor said I'm very symptomatic to Afib and my body can't take it. My heart rate raced and BP plummeted. They gave me medicine in ER which caused a bad reaction and I completely passed out. They did a chest xray in ER. So they scheduled a cardioconversion. My heart continued to race in the 130s all Tuesday night. When my cardiologist saw me and how bad I looked he compared the ER xray from ER to my initial post op xray he realized there was fluid buildup around my heart and lungs. So the did an echo to be sure. The echo confirmed the fluid buildup. So, they cancelled the cardioversion because they now believe the Afib (wbich is now in aflutter )was triggered by the fluid buildup. On Monday, I will have to undergo another surgery to drain off the fluid. If that in itself doesn't get ba k into regular so us rythym, then they will shock my back into rythym. Surgery is scheduled for early Monday morning. I'm ready for all these complications to go away so I get I to the healing process.
It's been a while since I posted. My surgery was very successful but I had a major setback with Afib and had to be rehospotalized for 3 more days. That's under control now and I've been home since Friday afternoon. Many thanks to this site which gave me the courage to go through with the surgery. I won't deny I was scared. I'm getting home health care - an RN, physical therapy and occupational therapy. This for my own piece of mind if nothing else. My setback was scary. It's hard to know what is normal for me and what is abnormal for me. The idea of taking the neck travel pillow was great! It really helped. I'm out of Afib hopefully for good and working on getting back my energy and strength. All my best to those with upcoming surgeries. I'll be praying for you all.
Hi everyone. I have been chosen by my wife to be her ambassador for her heart valve journal. Therefore let me begin by saying my wife's surgery went very well. Our brilliant surgeon, Dr Pavlina,told us that he only had to replace the aortic valve, and the ascending aorta. Dr Pavlina also told us the exciting news that there was NO aneurysm as previously thought, Praise God. The only minor tetnacality was my wife's breathing tube. Each time they attempted to remove the tube, my wife could not breath on her own. This was attempted several times through the day and night with no result. Reason being is that my wife would go in and out of conciousness, therefore not realizing that she wasn't breathing. So the old saying, if first you don't succeed, they finally succeeded at 4:30 this morning. So to sum up this story, my wife has successfully crossed over the river Jordan into the Promised Land. Rose and I would like to personally thank each as amazed everyone, for your prayears, all the many posts, and all the kind encouraging words. One thing I
was amazed about this website was, how many people, both young and old have heart problems.
Well, tonight we have to check into the hospital for the early morning surgery. We've been getting things ready. We went to the library today to get some books for me to read when I'm home. And we'll finish packing the bag soon. It seems like we have waited forever. What a process from the time I had my routine Echo in March to now! I've been reflecting on on when I had rheumatic fever at age six. I remember it like it was yesterday. I don't remember much about anything else at that age but I do remember being very sick. And once, during that time, I awoke to see a nurse all dressed in white sitting on the edge of my bed. She never spoke to me - just nodded a nod that I felt communicated to me that I will be OK. Years later, when I was in my 40's, I asked my Dad about the nurse they had for me. It was then I found out that they had no nurse! When I told him what I saw, he simply stated, "It must have been your guardian angel." So I take comfort in all this. I believe that heaven has been bombarded for one Rose Madura and that I will come through this surgery just fine and will recover with no complications. And, my guardian angel will be there in the operating room with me. Thanks to everyone for their encouraging words. I'll post as soon as possible after the surgery.
I just got a call from the surgeon's office and he has had several emergencies so we have to postpone the surgery until Wednesday, May 31, 2017. As many on this site have had similar things happen, I guess you understand the roller coaster of emotions right now.
Today I finalized the rest of the pre-op tests. I had the cartoid ultrasound and yet more blood work! They asked if I had donated blood lately. I told them, "Only to the hospital!" They also did a urine sample to make sure I don't have any infections. We watched a video about what to expect and a nurse was there to give final instructions and to answer any and all of our questions.
In one week from today, I check into the hospital at 8 pm. The surgery is early on Thursday morning. They are saying this surgery should last up to 7 hours because of the three things required. We are very confident in this hospital and in our very talented surgeon. The RN said we "won the lottery" in getting this "brilliant" surgeon.
I've decided to name my new parts with names. I'll share more with that later after the surgery.
We covet the prayers of family and friends during this time.
So we received a call today and scheduled the next available surgery with Dr. Pavlina. It is not until Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 7:15 am. It will be done at Kettering Medical Center at their Benjamin and Marian Schuster Heart Hospital. I'll have to check in the night before. Prior to all this, the hospital will be calling me to set me up for a series of routine heart tests that must be completed prior to the surgery. These will be done as an outpatient - just like the CT scan was (which I had yesterday). They said if there was a cancellation, which happens from time to time, they will call and get me in sooner. On the other side of the coin, if Dr Pavlina has an emergency, there is a chance it could be postponed.
We also have changed our minds from a mechanical valve to a tissue valve. The decision was grueling because of my age, we're on the cusp of recommendations going either way. But the tissues valves can last up to 20 years now and if I were to need a new one, I could go with the TAVR procedure at that time. Then, I won't have to be on blood thinners and all the complications that you can have when on them. We feel very confident with our decision.
We're anxious in both a good way (getting it done) and a nervous way (fear of the unknown). But we are very confident in the surgery itself and the surgeon.
We visited the surgeon today. He is ordering a CT scan to be scheduled and then the surgery. (No date yet on either). There is more than just the valve issue. In addition to replacing the aortic valve, my aorta itself needs to be replaced because it is also damaged. This will be done with a dacron sleeve. And he must also repair the aneurysm on the aortic root. He won't know if he can actually repair that until he sees it during the surgery. If he can't repair it, it will also need replaced. The CT scan will help him get a better visual of everything. I'm waiting for them to call me to schedule everything. More news to follow once it becomes available.
I'm so thankful for all my family and friends who have wished me well, whether on this site, by texting, calling or in person. I am blessed to have such a wonderful support group. I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers coming my way. I'm also very appreciative that I was able to retire early and take care of myself. I almost hit the 40 year mark - just 2 months shy of it. All the prayers will help Rick and I to get through this. We are anxious to visit the surgeon, Dr. Pavlina, next Monday - a week away. From there, we'll schedule the surgery. Thanks to everyone for your support.
I'm having some swelling and discomfort at the site, I called the doctor on call today and he said as long as it wasn't spreading, to just put warm compress on it and call my regular cardiologist wo did the procedure on Monday. They used the MynxGrip Vascular Closure Device to seal the entry site so I wonder if I'm having some sort of reaction to this. I don't have a fever and it doesn't look infected at all. I had the cath on Wednesday - this is Saturday - still pain, discomfort and swelling. Has anyone else had this sort of issue? How long did it take to go away?
I had rheumatic fever as a child (back in the 1960's) and as a result, my aortic valve was damaged. The doctors back then told my parents that I'd eventually need open heart surgery but not to worry - by that time, they will be doing them every day. They were correct. I've had to have annual check ups with a cardiologist. The electrocardiograms began several years ago and in 2014, the results started to get worse. This year, the echo showed significant stenosis - much worse than last year. I had planned to retire on June 23, 2017 and asked my cardiologist if I could put off the surgery until after I retired. He advised against it. So, I retired early (on April 14, 2017) and am preparing for valve replacement surgery. I have a heart catheterization tomorrow. We'll post more news as information becomes available.