The Heart Of The Matter
Four weeks ago, I had surgery to repair a leaking Mitral Valve in my heart. The symptoms I was experiencing was shortness of breath and tightness in my head when I would overexert myself….mostly at work.
I went to my PCP who referred me to a Cardiologist. After performing tests and ultra sounds, and a Catheter (I forget the medical term for the procedure) was used to get a closer look at the heart. It was this procedure that confirmed his diagnosis.
From here, I had an appointment with the surgeon who talked to me about the surgery and the two types that can be performed. The first is the conventional where they open the chest and ribs to access the heart. The second is less evasive where an incision is made above the right breast and the heart is accessed that way. It is less painful and recovery time is faster by about two weeks (4 weeks instead of 6-8 weeks).
I also had to decide on the type of valve I wanted if the valve had to be replaced. Once they go in and see that the valve has to be replaced, they need to know ahead of time if it will be mechanical or synthetic. Mechanical would mean blood thinners for the rest of my life and synthetic would mean I would have to do this again in about 10-15 years.
After my appointment with the surgeon that day, I went home and pulled up some video on the procedure and watched about five of them involving both techniques and the different valves used for the replacement and also how the repair is done. I called the surgeons office to inform them of my choice the next day which was the less evasive and also for the mechanical valve if a replacement was required.
So I waited to get on schedule for the procedure I chose…and waited. I would call the office to see if I was on schedule and was told they were waiting for equipment. Last month I decided to ask if I opted for the conventional surgery, when would I be able to get on schedule. They called me back that day and gave me three dates, all in March. I chose the earliest available which was the 18th.
So now it’s 4 weeks since the operation and I’m feeling better with each new day. I was discharged from the hospital a day early because I was doing so well. I had to use this heart for standing and for coughing, holding it tight against my chest.
Hospital staff and some co-workers signed it for me. This pillow was really a life saver early on. I don’t use it now, but while in the hospital and after coming home, it was my companion. My first sneeze happened a few days after I got home and it came out of nowhere. My pillow was within reach but I didn’t have time to grab it…that was an intense moment and yes it hurt. I am practically pain free right now….I can handle a sneeze.
I forgot to mention, after waking in my room the first thing that came out of my mouth “was the valve repaired or replaced?” I was told it was repaired, to my delight.
My discharge papers had instructions and some arm exercises that I needed to do. As far as walking, instead of keeping track of the distance, I was to keep track of the time I walk and increase that each week. I can do a 20 minute brisk walk with no problem.
I see my Cardiologist in a few days and I’m really hoping to get the all clear to return to work. I know I still have a lot of healing to do and I’m conscious of my limitations.
I know it sounds crazy, but I’m bored.