So okay I'm coming up on my 2 year anniversary October 4th...and now I'm sitting on our new boat getting prepared for a one year sabbatical sailing journey. M y heart feels fine and I've been working hard in the Florida sun...the new porcine aortic valve ticking along. I can say I'm truly blessed not to have had any complications and post surgery concerns. My surgery was a bit difficult as at the end the doc was not too pleased that my heart would not stop 'bleeding' which added 90 minutes to the procedure which when on for nearly 8 hours. Go figure after all of that a very good recovery and back to normal and even maybe beyond normal. This year I turn 60 and feel fine. You can follow our adventures on the Facebook page sailing Caribbean style.
27 weeks (190 days) So I'm back to work now about a couple of weeks. Its not that I could have not been working but I had to secure a position :-) The surgery was a resounding success and I've made steady recovery ever since. I went to rehab for a few weeks but then ran into some insurance issues. All that is resolved now and I okay. Still taking about for medications that will fall off in about a year. I think there was one point about 20 weeks that I really felt I could do anything, to be honest I've not been pushing it too much. The LOML Beth has been a total angel supporting my recovery and being there for me. I also lost a bit of weight due to the fact that I stopped eating wheat. While I was in the hospital Beth checked out a book called Wheat Belly, we've been wheat free ever since and have not missed it one bit. I lost 44 lbs so far...and its easy! In any case this is my update and I hope things continue to go well for me.
Its been 11 weeks and I feel fine. I'm walking each day and feeling great. I tried the cardio-rehab for a couple of weeks and was encouraged with the heart monitoring, blood pressure etc. Mr surgeon Dr Kevin Miller advised me that by the end of the year i should be doing about anything I want to. I feel as if my strength is improving each day. I see now the biggest set back has been my overall physical conditioning, my muscles are weaker without my near daily workouts which I'm starting up soon. While I was in the hospital I was able to read a book Beth checked out of the hospital library. Tho book I called Wheat Belly...its written as a discussion of the lack of benefits of eating wheat. Beth and I decided to try this idea...no more wheat. I've been amazed the first five weeks or so I dropped 25 lbs, feel great and despite not eating wheat I'm never hungry, and don't have any cravings for what uses to be all my favorites. I eat more veggies and fruit and have a more steady feeling during the day. My exercise is easier than ever, no pain, shortness of breath or any symptoms at all. My chest muscles get tight once in a while, but every aspect if my health is good. My 8 and a quarter inch long scar is fading fast my drain tube wounds are nearly invisible now. I must say all the apprehension and worry about this surgery now seems all for not. Merry Christmas to all.
Its been a full 10 days since I was in the middle of an 8 hour surgery which turned out to be sightly complicated with a 3x CABG. It was determined as a result of my pre-surgical cath lab that 3 right arterial occlusions each 40-60 blocked should be bypassed. This is a straight forward procedure but did add some time. My surgeon uses laproscopic techniques to harvest leg veins so that wound was minimal and has not been a problem. my other wounds, the sternotomy and drainage ports are healing very well. I'm feeling great I can walk stairs and have good energy awake at 6-7am and up till 10. The few symptoms I'm having might be related to the post-op meds I'm on...all new to me. My surgeon believes in a year of metoprolo tartrate 50mg 2x day, alsdo Plavix 75mg, Lipitor 20mg, and Cozaar 25mg. I'm also taking Lasix 20mg and potassium chloride, only for 7 days. I can say it does seem as if my surgery has gone well, I have the Medtronic freestyle tissue valve with full aortic root and a dacron aorta which looks like a 27mm diameter vacuum cleaner hose. So far the ole heart now dubbed Wilbur has been ticking away like a clock, ole squeaky is for now retired!
This is Beth, updating the community on my beloved Tom... After nearly 8 hours in surgery, Tom is resting relatively comfortably with a reported pain level of 3 (thx to the dilotid). His surgical team of 11were WONDERFUL. I really appreciated how one of the surgical nurses would call me every 1.5 - 2 hours just to give me a status update. Thank God the surgery went smoothly. All in all, Tom received a major overhaul, a CABG, a quadruple. I'll let Tom explain to you further in a future update, as he is much better equipped for that. The only "problem" with the whole surgery was when his heart seeped blood a little longer than expected which caused a slight delay in stitching him back up. The doctor rectified this by administering extra blood and platelets. As I write this, sitting in the ICU room beside him, I am so happy that we got through the "big day", the day we've been dreading. I know there will be challenges ahead but it sure feels good to have the surgery in our rear view mirror. Thank you to everyone who offered well wishes and prayers. We felt all the love and I'm sure it helped.
I met with my surgeons office on Thursday and had a good physical and talk with his PA who has been doing this for many years. My doctor was in an all day surgery and that actually pleases me. I have looked at the idea that the more surgeries your doctor does and his hospital see's the better off you are are, after all if he's 'practicing' the more practice the better. :-) I am set now with the type of valve I'm getting and with my idea that technology will continue to advance I've selected the Medtronic Freestyle valve, which includes an integral aortic root and seems to have good durability. In any case we shall see on Tuesday.
I still do not have a specific surgery date (AVR) but suffice to say it is SOON! Last week my cardiologist had blood drawn and it seemed every test imaginable was run...the summary is that it all looks good! Friday I am scheduled for a cath lab to take a closer look at my aortic valve and get some measurements. Cath labs are a big deal but the technology is straight forward and aside for a possible overnight stay in the hospital this should be easy. I'm curious if anyone else had to experience a 'cath-lab' before valve replacement surgery?
I have thought about writing this post for some time and each with each successive thought I have felt great trepidation to do so. I believe placing my words here makes the reality of the situation all too real and the prospects of successful outcome are now a part of my everyday life. Since I've known the love-of-my-life it brings foward how much I desire to have a long and full life. Many years ago while attending school to secure my doctorate in Applied Physics I was intrigued with the prospect of becoming Medical Doctor and after much study I achieved that goal. I have never however been part and parcel to the treatment of a patient rather having more interest in the diagnostic aspects of medicine and the development of devices that would directly and positively impact patients, many in the cardiovascular surgical field. My diverse background has worked well for me over the years and especially with clinical trials of new innovative, designs and the development of new devices. The many levels of knowledge this field demands has been taxing and challenging. I have taken a few side trips into other worlds such as environmental monitoring, developing instruments to measure sub-part-per-million levels of pollutants and system analysis for the government. All that said my desire to help people endure the various medical therapies made possible and practical with new devices has been my first and best pursuit. So now comes the irony I get to participate as a patient with my surgeon likely utilizing many of the devices I developed over the years. In some time in the near future I will undergo surgery to replace by bicuspid aortic valve which was always on a path to be replaced since birth. As part of this surgery I will also have my aorta replaced as it has become damaged by the increased workload it has endured with the valve failing, or as recent theory suggests is simply part of the same physiological mechanism that causes the vale to fail. As many of you might know this is a very significant surgery...and the very thought of all the complications possible his quite sobering. I am also so very grateful that my sweet Beth has been here for me, she has come with me to each appointment starting last August, I can only hope to love her forever in a long life. I'm not a great social media person but I imagined I would share this if you ever wonder or need to think about what will or will not happen to such a patient…this time ME.