Apologies that I have been gone, but there wasn't too much to report.
On 1/24 the surgery took place, the surgery went flawless but they found a little growth in the aorta. During the AVR they took it off and patched it up, I was told the surgery was about 6hrs long - I wouldn't know, I was out!
I remember waking up, eyes still closed and groggy. I knew I was intubated but I felt like I couldn't breathe. I remember tearing up, and heard nurses around me asking me to breathe normally, I couldn't. After some struggle, they ended up taking it off. Shortly after, I slowly opened my eyes, looked around in the CICU and realized where I was. The nurse stepped in, introduced herself and said I would be getting up out of the bed shortly. (I was like WTF) It was a good thing, one of the caregivers came and helped me up, and got me into the chair.
I felt okay, but I had wires all over my body. The nurse asked me if I needed anything, I said WATER, AND LOTS OF IT! She laughed and brought be some.
Shortly after, my wife came in and caught me eating and drinking. She was pleasantly surprised how well I was doing. During the course of the next 48hrs, I became stronger and better and eventually got up when I pleased.
I was unhappy staying in the CICU, but the step-down unit had no space for me to be at. So I had a longer than normal stay in the CICU. The CICU drove me nuts, lots of sounds, no privacy (at least at my hospital) and very high strung qualified nurses demanding me to walk. (lol)
At the step down unit, during ladder part of my hospital stay the room was gorgeous. I had my own room, bathroom, shower (not that I used it) and TV! It took some time for my coagulation levels to level out, I was high one day - low the other. But eventually they released me to go home. This was one of the best things to happen to me - next to marring my wife. But it felt so good to get the orders to go... home.
Once the orders got there, I was walking out with hospital gown and all. The charge nurse said I was nuts and wanted to get a wheelchair (and wait longer) - but I was too stubborn and walked out. (I had to take few breaks though, the hospital is huge)
The next few weeks were tough, it took allot to get up and I couldn't sleep on my side nor stomach. After some time, things began to be normal. I started to visit the coumadin clinic and started eating greens and hamburgers - my INR levels were all over the place. It took some time and some lovenox shots but i eventually stabilized.
Nowadays, things have been great. I eat/drink and enjoy life as I please. My INR levels are good, I see the coumadin clinic once a month, and my last checkup from my cardio was good.
I turned to this site and 'valvereplacement.org' to help me through this whole (crazy) process. For those of you who are about to go through this just remember the hardest part is waiting for surgery.
Sorry for the rant, just wanted to give my update! I'll update this again soon.
And it officially begins... the story and start of AVR
Journal posted on January 22, 2013
Mid last year I was diagnosed with a murmur, and decided to check it out with a cardiologist. Being 33 years old, I thought nothing of it as I felt no symptoms.
Through a series of tests, nuclear, stress test, EKG and echo's I was finally diagnosed with moderate aortic stenosis, regurg and a enlarged heart. A week before my official diagnosis, to my dismay, I had a deep cleaning done at a local dentist. Late last year I developed flu like symptoms, but thought nothing of it.
A few weeks went by, and my symptoms were still there. (chills, slight fever, cold sweats, loss of appetite) I decided to call my cardiologist during the second week asking if I possibly had endocarditis. He insisted it was not, so in turn I thought nothing of it. The next week I was feeling better, my symptoms were going away and I felt generally better.
Then the 4th week it all came back, I called my cardio this time insisting that I had endocarditis and I told him I was going to check myself in to the ER. He again insisted not to, and instead, to get a blood culture done (x2 in both arms) at a local clinic. I said why not, got my blood test, and the next day received the unfortunate call. The nurse called and said I was right, and I would have to be checked in to a local hospital for at least a few days to remove the infection. The same day, they reserved a bed, and I checked myself in.
The next few days there was lots of activity; blood being drawn every morning, lots of various antiobiotics, and EKG's.
After the second day, they found the strain of the virus (strepmitis) and the day after I tested negative for endocarditis from my blood cultures.
The good news was I tested negative, but there was also bad news. The infection developed vegetation on my valve which was pretty large, the doctors insisted I do surgery then (mid december) to avoid the complications of stroke. I decided to wait, and go through the course of antibiotics. The othe bad thing was because of my infection my valve got worse - possibly severe aortic stenosis.
They (the hospital) wasn't too happy about my decision to go home, but eventually, after 4nights, they eventually released me with a PICC line in my arm to administer my own antibiotics every 24 hours. I finished the 4week antibiotics course a few weeks ago. During these past weeks, I started looking for surgeons, and started learning more about the procedure.
I narrowed my surgeons down to Dr. Starnes USC and Dr. Laks UCLA.
I interviewed both, but in the end went with Dr. Laks from UCLA. You cant go wrong with both of them, they are both great if you're looking for surgeons locally. (folks fly to them for surgeries)
My surgery is scheduled for 1/24 (this thursday) and decided to go for a ON-X mechanical valve. The main reason I went mechanical is because of hopes of no reop in the future.
Both the surgeons and my cardio say the risk of anything 'bad' happening is relatively low. Still at this point, I am worried about pretty much everything out there. I am really looking at bouncing back to my normal life with my wife, these past two months I have learned entirely too much about the heart. :)
My advice to those that are about to go through surgery - don't read too much. (I should of took my own advice)