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Got my surgery date Feb 15, 2018.

I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, moderate regurgitation and aortic stenosis. It has been monitored every 10-12 months of my life. I was never "cleared" by my heart doc to play sports in grammar school or high school. Even though i was not allowed to play sports in school growing up, I have always been active with golf, dirtbikes, bicycles etc. In 2010 I started weight lifting class instead of gym class in high school. Shortly after in 2011/early 2012 my regular heart checkups started to change and my doc told me to immediately quit weight lifting. My ascending aorta had started expanding during this time (aortic aneurysm). It jumped from 3.7cm - 4.2cm and held steady at 4.6/4.7cm for the past few years. Knowing my risk and given condition I kept up with my annual checkups from that time on. Usually the doctor would call me a schedule an appointment to come in around month 11 or 12 since the last checkup.

Nov 2017 (16 months since my last visit) thought it was weird i haven't got a call so i called and scheduled an appointment. I did my regular ultrasound, ekg, and MRA. This time was different, this time i was at 5.3cm ascending aortic aneurysm. That was not only a drastic change in that short of a time period, but was also past the threshold in which my doctor felt comfortable monitoring it. It was now time for action instead of monitoring. So Dec 2017 I got my date for Feb 15, 2018. I will be having my ascending aorta and aortic arch replaced. Since that requires open heart surgery my doctor decided to go ahead and change out my bicuspid aortic valve at the same time with a mechanical valve (not sure on kind yet).

So here I am 23 years old. Only surgery I have every had is to get my wisdom teeth out. I am not looking forward to the surgery next month or the recovery. I have a very supportive family and an amazing wife to take care of me. The suspense/ waiting is terrible. I have had a very short amount of time to process what is going to happen and this website has helped alot.

thank you!
 

DJM 18

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It must be difficult to deal with this issues at 23 but you should be very proud of the fact that you have been so proactive about your care. There are great people in this forum that can give you guidance and perhaps even perspective on what is the right choice of valve. But most importantly, the people on this forum provide tremendous inspiration given that they have all gone on to lead beautiful lives.

Good luck to you with your surgery and recovery.
 

dornole

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Jan 5, 2014
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Minnesota, US
Good luck buddy! You're young and strong and that should help tremendously in your recovery! Wishing you a great outcome - and emotional steadiness till then. I'd recommend seeking out senior-age people outside your family (at church? work?) for emotional comfort pre-surgery. I have found their experience and calm helpful vs. younger folks who can only say "OMG!!! OMG!!" Older folks know that "stuff" happens to everyone and I find that comforting. Hugs to you!
 

dick0236

Eat the elephant one bite at a time
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Guest;n881200 said:
Got my surgery date Feb 15, 2018..........

............So here I am 23 years old. Only surgery I have every had is to get my wisdom teeth out. I am not looking forward to the surgery next month or the recovery. I have a very supportive family and an amazing wife to take care of me. The suspense/ waiting is terrible. I have had a very short amount of time to process what is going to happen and this website has helped alot.
It's a "bummer" to get the news that we need OHS, young or old, but especially when we're young. In my case the surgery has more than doubled my "life expectancy" from age 40 to age 82......and counting!!! BTW, my "one and only" OHS at age 31 is still the only "real surgery" (excluding outpatient eye cataracts) I've ever had. For me, it has required very little "real" change in my life and lifestyle......and I hope that is true for you as well. Educating yourself, pre and post surgery, will help you accept the condition.......and successfully live with it.
 

honeybunny

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Outside Houston, Texas.
One thing that helped with my pre-surgery jitters was acknowledging that without surgery I’d probably be dead within a year. That, and knowing that there were people with terminal conditions that would gladly trade places with me. Of course I’m also considerably older than you so my perspective would be different.

As said above, good for you for keeping a close eye on things. I’m sending positive thoughts your way for peace of mind, a successful surgery, and a speedy recovery.
 

DJM 18

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costa rica
And one thing that could help is if you focus on others. Your loved ones are also anxious for you and sometimes it is harder than being the actual patient. Those hours, I can only imagine, will be the longest of their life. They will then need your guidance so they can best support you through your recovery.
 

JLmatus

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May 25, 2017
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Wilkes Barre, PA
OHS is scary, but the good thing about it is that it is really fairly routine now. You are young and strong. It sounds like you're in pretty good shape. You'll do well. Once the surgery is over you'll be better than ever. Also, having a supportive family is very important. So you have that going for you too.

I wish you the best of luck and hope you have a quick and easy recovery. Keep looking at this site for pre and post surgery information. It has been and still is a big help to me.
 

DDT77

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Dec 9, 2017
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NC, USA
Scary, but damned glad to be alive in this day and age. Is it good to have options.

Had Ross procedure age 20 (BAV insufficiency), back in undergrad 3 weeks later. Chose due to active lifestyle.

Fast forward almost twenty years: Also had ascending aorta with hemiarch (and Aortic Valve) replaced three weeks ago. Chose On-X so to not go through it again (hopefully), so lifetime of Warfarin ensues... 'elective' surgery of this magnitude sucks, but emergency surgery after dissection would be worse.

Recovery is never as fast as one wants, but be patient, it takes time for the body to deal with trauma of surgery, and the mind to deal with it as well. Don't be shy with pain meds, young nerves are more 'alive' than old guy nerves. Sternal incision of twenty years ago had pain with every cough, sneeze, etc, this time, most i can say is some discomfort.

Push yourself to walk soon after surgery, you will be surprised how soon you can, and the benefits are immense when 'rebooting' your systems from being shut down during surgery.

Waiting for it is worst part.

You have more capability than you anticipate having, you will have an enhanced view of yourself and wife after this.

PM me if you wish...
 

ZachL

New member
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
4
Location
Modesto, CA
Thank you everyone for the kind words and advise!

I found out I will be getting the St. Jude Medical heart valve from the surgeon the other day. Just got my dental clearance for surgery. Only have one more appointment before the pre-op appointment and the surgery. Its starting to get real... but i would rather have a short waiting period than a longer one.
 

tom in MO

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Jan 17, 2012
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MO USA
I have a St. Jude mechanical as well. My surgeon and cardio both like it's proven track record. My INR range is 2-2.5, it was dropped from 2-3 about 5 years ago. I've dropped low on two occasions and have had one surgery w/o the need to bridge. My cardio says the St. Jude is a robust valve and can take low INR levels w/o a high risk. Good Luck Zach.
 

DachsieMom

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Joined
Mar 3, 2015
Messages
268
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CT
I have St Jude, too (Valve conduit). So far, so good. Range is 2.3-2.7 (surgeon wanted 1.8-2.2 but cardio prefers higher). I also take aspirin.
 

ottagal

VR.org Supporter
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ZachL,
Thinking of you and wishing you all the best moving forward...
Soon enough, you will be able to focus on recovery and get on with your life. :)
 

ZachL

New member
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
4
Location
Modesto, CA
Little update...

Surgery went great on February 15, 2018. I was home 7 days later. 9 weeks post-op today and im back at work. Recovery was a lot easier/ quicker than i expected. INR levels have been between 2.5-2.7 which is between the 2-3 range they want.

Turns out after all the tests, the artery wall was in worse condition than anticipated and the surgeon made the decision to remove all of the ascending aorta including the root. Instead of replacing the valve and the artery separate without removing the root. In the end its all done and im ticking away. The last two days are my first days without any sort of pain meds (i have been taking Tylenol for the last month)
 

Seaton

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May 13, 2015
Messages
285
Location
London, UK
Well done, Zach. That’s inspiring to read.
I wish you a continuing good recovery and a big best for the days ahead.
 

pellicle

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Nov 4, 2012
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6,166
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Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
ZachL;n883037 said:
Little update...

Surgery went great on February 15, 2018.
... I In the end its all done and im ticking away. The last two days are my first days without any sort of pain meds (i have been taking Tylenol for the last month)
Glad its done and dusted. Like Dick says above, now it's just a matter of getting back your routines and you'll be set.

Best Wishes
 
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