I’ve waited a bit to write about this, because I need to talk to my family and friends first. It appears that I will need to have open heart surgery to repair my defective heart valves. I’m hoping to get some other opinions and information on less invasive types of surgery, but that appears to be what I know currently.
After I had the stress echocardiogram last week, that was the analysis the cardiologist (Dr. Yee) gave me about what he is seeing. His conclusion is that my heart valves, especially my mitral valve, are failing, and eventually I will have heart failure, possibly in the next two or three years. If I go in and get the valves repaired now, I have a prognosis of living a normal, long and healthy life. The sooner I get the procedure done, the better, because it will be a repair of the valves, rather than a replacement, and my heart will not enlarge to fight the valve failure.
After I get the TEE test that I wrote about earlier, the surgeon will be able to tell me whether I need the procedure next month, or if I can wait a bit longer, like six months. But Dr. Yee is saying that I will need surgery this year.
What’s interesting is that this is the reason some of my shoes don’t fit any more. My feet are swelling because my circulation is poor. It’s also the reason I haven’t been able to lose weight easily while exercising, because I’m just not able to burn enough calories before I get tired and out of breath. So this surgery could help me lose weight.
Obviously, if this is the surgery I need to have, it’s a pretty scary thing, because they crack open my chest and put me on a heart & lungs machine to circulate my blood while they stop my heart to work on it. After the surgery, I’ll be in intensive care for several days. The recovery time is significant and for a little while after I come home I’ll need someone with me to watch me 24 hours a day.
Stephanie is already making plans to move in for a while to be with me, which worries me a lot, because this is a huge burden to fall on one person. She will need to go home twice a day to feed her cat, and I’m hoping my family will help and support her if they can. I’m also very worried about the hospital not recognizing her as my spouse and letting her visit me, and I want to make sure that they know she is the number one person I want with me, along with mom.
The following links about open heart surgery are not from my hospital, but they do cover some basic information about what the surgery and recovery are like.
On the bright side, according to this page, I’ll be able to resume fishing after 6 weeks, and firing small caliber pistols after 2 months. Woo hoo!!
This link seems to have a lot of good information: from Brigham and women’s hospital