Been meaning to write this awhile now. It seems like I had the surgery last week in the details that I remember and it seems like something that happened ten years ago. Everything has been going fantastically. My arrhythmias have disappeared. I have no physical restraints and life is good, starting my ninth season of hs basketball officiating. Advice from one year out: The big one for me if don't let them give you a Lasix shot post surgery without a bedpan close by. I thought I could jump out of bed on day 2 and run to pee, but my heart wasn't quite ready for that as I went into tachycardia. Adam if you read this, this website and book were so comforting and informative, many thanks!!
Awesome news today! My echocardiogram went as well as you could hope for. My ejection fraction shot up to a normal 60% (it was 45% the day of surgery). Did you see the word NORMAL? That is correct, I have made a full recovery. My heart size has continued to shrink and is now 5.8. Normal is 5.6. That is fantastic considering I was over 7 and wearing a defibrillator 18 months ago. I got to see my new heart valve at work on the screen. It is a beautiful thing.
Blood pressure spiked this morning from either lack of dinner last night, 5 hours of sleep, no working out for 6 days, off the diet in Charleston over the weekend and weight gain of about 5 pounds. I clean those up and things will really take off. I'm on a ton of BP meds, but Dr. Malanuk feels confident that if I can lose 40 lbs, then I can get off most of them.
Thanks everyone for the prayers and checking on me. It means more than you can imagine. Merry Christmas!!
Update for everyone: My blood pressure was really off the charts, Nov. 6-8 it would spike around 180/120. Clonidine is really helping and Dr. Malanuk has me back on Diovan and cutting out the Lisonopril. He also added an extra Norvasc in the morning. Four weeks later, bp at rehab was 110/74 and that night was 115/68. Feel like with the weight loss (7 lbs since 11/6) and new meds, we are now under control. Will keep monitoring and hopefully I can start coming off of the meds. Another strange occurrence is that I'm having small palpitations/flutters from mid-afternoon to evening. They go away when I do anything at all, but working at the computer they are noticeable. Dr. Malanuk put me on a 48 hour halter monitor and was to call me today if anything popped up. I received no call, so assuming it is part of recovery process and moving on.
Rehab is going splendidly. They started me slow, but after session #7 today, I'm finally breaking a sweat and getting sore. I go from 10 minutes on a bike to 5 minutes on the hand rowing machine to 12 minutes on the treadmill (3.5 mph with 1 degree of incline) to 3 minutes of steps. Heart rate goes from 65 to mid 90's. My rehab guy assures me that it is going to get much harder and I am ready for that.
I would say my energy has definitely increased and I'm only sleeping 6-7 hours before waking up as opposed to the 9-10 before the surgery.
After way too long, I'm going to post some synopsis from my stay at Duke and what I would do over prep wise. Friends and family, this may get a little technical and involved as I'm going to update for my HVS guys, so no hard feelings if you unfollow :).
Been bad about updating, but last week I had my follow up and had 35 staples removed. It was a great visit and they cleared me to come back to my cardiologist here in Columbia. I've tried to start rehab, but they won't be able to take me until 11/12. That is 6 wks after surgery. I'm going to try to find another place.
Things are going smoothly. Walked three miles this morning. Had to nap a little but feel great. Painfree. Probably back to work on Monday. Getting stiches out on 24 Oct. First order of biz will be documenting my hospital stay.
sorry everyone for lack of updates. hate using phone. everything is great! small afib after surgery days 2-4. medicine and no further issues. everything else has been great. will provide indepth recaps upcoming. Truly apologize for not updating. walked 3 miles & days post survery. went off all pain meds 5 days after although i did take one last night to relax.
Tom H- call me or email me about Duke. I cannot have been more pleased. 803 315-2572
i started fluid last night. Slept midnight to seven. Kirby got a good night sleep w my sister. Here at 7:30 to check vitals. bp up to 142/65. no liquids and I'm already thirsty. Nurse bringing medicine and family to be here at 8:00.
Kirby will take over now.
Checked in at 2:00 and went straight to my room. I'll stay here until surgery. Not a lot happening tonight. They ran a line and took my blood, bp, weight, temperature and my nightly coreg. Interviews and dinner is on the way. May take chest x-ray, but I'm pretty well in for the evening. I took a xanax when I got here and anxiety is minimal. They will give me another tonight.
I'll be the second guy in tomorrow, so surgery will probably run from 10-2. That is a strong estimate. Still need to pick a valve and they specifically want you to choose. I'm going cow valve because I want to avoid the needles to test coumadin and lower the risk of blood clots. So I'll see theseguys again in 10-15 yrs.
Still waiting on the nerves to kick in, but so far they haven't. Everyone else would tell you I'm tighter than a banjo string. So I'm anxious, but confident.
Wrapped up work and got our taxes finished. Going to read "the book" again this evening. Leaving for Durham tomorrow morning at 8:00 for noon arrival. Definitely going to pick out a great lunch spot. Check in is at two. Probably going to knock out a Xanax to take the edge off.
Thank you everyone for the phone calls, words and postings. I'm not a touchy feely guy, but hugs have tripled in value. Will post tomorrow.
I just sent a bunch of invitations and thought I would use this sight instead of caring bridge or Facebook. I will update here and have Kirby/Suanne do the same throughout the process. You can still call or email me or Kirby, but this is the avenue I'll use to relay bulk information. Oct 3rd is almost here.
I decided to do some research and here is what I suggest for anyone. It has brought me peace in this process and I'm confident that I am in the best situation for me.
1. I started with US News and World Report's listing of top Cardiac Hospitals. Cleveland Clinic is #1. I want to drive instead of fly and so found one that is close to me in Duke University. That is where my Dad had his double bypass in 1995 and heart attack in 1991. He is a spry 72 years old now who will be caring for me in this process. Definitely leader in the clubhouse.
Today I went to see my recommended surgeon, Dr. Travis at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery who is affiliated with my cardiologist at Lexington Cardiology. I wanted to do it as quick as possible. Unfortunately, I had not found this site nor had I really done any research, so I didn't have questions. Dr. Travis is a good guy and knowledgeable. He presented both sides of tissue vs. mechanical valves, told me why I wasn't a good candidate for the Ross Procedure. Basically, just let us know on the day of surgery and we can take care of it. I asked him what he would do as he is roughly my age. He told me he would go porcine valve as technology is such that in the future replacing it would not be as intensive and they are lasting longer. We scheduled for August 18th and left feeling ready for the next hurdle.
Saw my cardiologist, Dr. Malanuk here in Columbia SC for my "routine" 6 month check-up. He checks my vitals and does an echo to see how my Congestive Heart Failure is doing and to follow what he perceives is a bicuspid aortic valve. I have been "leaking" since he originally saw me in April 2012. (Weighting 293 with bp over 200/140 and EF of 20-25%). On this day he told me I was continue to improve going from EF of 45-50% to 50-55% today. But, there is a problem....
My valve had deteriorated much quicker than he anticipated and I'm now at the level that I need to have it fixed. He referred me to a surgeon in his group and said this is like changing a tire and you'll be in an excellent place. He told me at my age (43) that I needed the mechanical valve so I don't have to do this again. My wife, Kirby, is upset at this, but I was expecting this at some point, so lets deal with it and move on.