I've crossed the line into severe and need to make a decision

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Chuck C

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Dec 5, 2020
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Man, I'm a whiny SOB. Just realized I should get a local shop to do my winter/summer tire swap, too.
Yeah, definitely don't temp yourself to lift a heavy tire. Best to plan for that one ahead of time. It's time to swallow the pride a little and be willing to ask for help. I even asked my wife to carry my laundry basket to the laundry room for me. 😦 I got over it and got better 🤣
 

Michael O

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Jun 22, 2021
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113
Hi Michael
You're not whiny. Your question is very legitimate and we all want to know what the hell we are getting into. Your body will let you know when you can do things......and you will be able to do, pretty much, all you do now. I remember digging a post-hole, for a rural mailbox, with a manual post-hole digger about 10 weeks after my surgery.......just to prove I could.......I survived but I do recall having a sore back and ribs for a while. I like the advice I was given several decades ago......"You can only eat this elephant one bite at a time".
Best quotes from my PT during a very long shoulder surgery recovery:
"Slow is fast"
"There's no medals for valor"
 

Michael O

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Jun 22, 2021
Messages
113
Some updates/thoughts.

Surgery is Monday, and I wanted to comment on the Bio/Mechanical valve decision. Up until earlier this week, I was 100% sold on mechanical, on the grounds that I'm 56 and fewer surgeries during a lifetime is better than more surgeries. Things have changed a bit, and I'm leaning bio.

Based on all the CT scans and imaging that they've done, the whole rest of the heart is in great shape. (Somehow. Given all of the bourbon and donuts I've consumed in my lifetime, it's incredible to me that my heart problems are a complete genetic fluke.) My surgeon moved from encouraging a mechanical valve to saying "it's a judgement call"

Here's the big things. I'm going to need a hip replacement and extensive shoulder surgery, possibly a full replacement, sometime in the next 2-5 years. There's no question that those get a lot less complicated if I'm not on warfarin. Osteoarthritis has been becoming more of an issue for me, and day-to-day pain management on warfarin is trickier - aspirin and ibuprofen have to be managed carefully, and for me, effective dosages of Tylenol push past recommended max dosages.

So, yeah, I've been all on board with the "not sure why a young person would get a bio valve" rubric, but have changed my mind.

All of that is a long version of what I read constantly on these boards - the valve technology decision doesn't exist in a bubble around the few hours it takes to complete the surgery. Circumstances about the rest of your life should be taken into consideration - everything from your family history of stroke to whether your job is likely to interfere with your ability to manage your INR. They're all factors that need to be looked at with clear eyes.

Thanks to all on these boards who have offered advice and encouragement.
 

Chuck C

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Dec 5, 2020
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1,304
Surgery is Monday, and I wanted to comment on the Bio/Mechanical valve decision.
Best of luck Michael! Please keep us posted and look forward to every step of the recovery process. We all have a few bumps in the road, but there is something fulfilling about each daily victory during the recovery process. Before you know it, you will be back to the gym taking on the young guys :)
 

slipkid

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Jun 12, 2014
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353
Location
Schwenksville, PA, USA
Some updates/thoughts.

Surgery is Monday, and I wanted to comment on the Bio/Mechanical valve decision. Up until earlier this week, I was 100% sold on mechanical, on the grounds that I'm 56 and fewer surgeries during a lifetime is better than more surgeries. Things have changed a bit, and I'm leaning bio.

Based on all the CT scans and imaging that they've done, the whole rest of the heart is in great shape. (Somehow. Given all of the bourbon and donuts I've consumed in my lifetime, it's incredible to me that my heart problems are a complete genetic fluke.) My surgeon moved from encouraging a mechanical valve to saying "it's a judgement call"

Here's the big things. I'm going to need a hip replacement and extensive shoulder surgery, possibly a full replacement, sometime in the next 2-5 years. There's no question that those get a lot less complicated if I'm not on warfarin. Osteoarthritis has been becoming more of an issue for me, and day-to-day pain management on warfarin is trickier - aspirin and ibuprofen have to be managed carefully, and for me, effective dosages of Tylenol push past recommended max dosages.

So, yeah, I've been all on board with the "not sure why a young person would get a bio valve" rubric, but have changed my mind.

All of that is a long version of what I read constantly on these boards - the valve technology decision doesn't exist in a bubble around the few hours it takes to complete the surgery. Circumstances about the rest of your life should be taken into consideration - everything from your family history of stroke to whether your job is likely to interfere with your ability to manage your INR. They're all factors that need to be looked at with clear eyes.

Thanks to all on these boards who have offered advice and encouragement.
Best of luck to you on Monday! Don't sweat it!!! That is ez for me say being the worry-wart that I am, and that I got "lucky" in that I had a heart attack and was dying and had emergency OHS with no advance time for decision making or fretting about it at all, it just happened and all I could do was just go along for the ride.

But if you take anything from this board you'll see a lot of people who have come through this with flying colors, of all ages, sex, physical health, backgrounds, different surgeons or hospitals used etc. If we can get through it so can you.

Make sure you read some posts up here (if not already in this thread) that deal with advice for the hospital stay and what you'll need for when you get home.

#1 thing I wish I had was a nice recliner at home post-surgery because sleeping in a regular bed was absolute torture for me and virtually impossible to get comfortable in at all.
 

Chuck C

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#1 thing I wish I had was a nice recliner at home post-surgery because sleeping in a regular bed was absolute torture for me and virtually impossible to get comfortable in at all.
I was fortunate to have one of those couches that has a built in recliner. I spent a lot of time chilling there in recovery. Also, about 6 years ago I bought a sleep number bed. They were running a promotion at the time and I was able to get the hydraulic elevation feature for head and feet for next to nothing. I used it once during those 6 years, and realized that I didn't care for it. Well, I can say that I was sure glad for the hydraulic feature when I came home from the hospital- it was like having my own personal hospital bed. The sleep number feature that allows you to adjust the firmness of the mattress really was nice also. I found that setting the mattress firmness to a very soft setting really helped.
 

Michael O

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Jun 22, 2021
Messages
113
Thanks to all for your good wishes.

Surgery has been completed and I'm back home. Surgery was somewhat uneventful. They used a 27 mm porcine valve [edit: Correction - it was a bovine valve], indicating that the size would make it likely that I can use TAVR for the (probably) 2 subsequent replacements needed before I die. No additional repairs to the aorta were needed, but a "substantial" hole in the patent foramen ovale was repaired.

Nothing else specific to add, although I'll be happy to provide details on the experience, care, pharma, whatever if anyone wants.
 
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Chuck C

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Dec 5, 2020
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Thanks to all for your good wishes.

Surgery has been completed and I'm back home. Surgery was somewhat uneventful. They used a 27 mm porcine valve, indicating that the size would make it likely that I can use TAVR for the (probably) 2 subsequent replacements needed before I die. No additional repairs to the aorta were needed, but a "substantial" hole in the patent foramen ovale was repaired.

Nothing else specific to add, although I'll be happy to provide details on the experience, care, pharma, whatever if anyone wants.
Welcome to the other side Michael! I'm glad that they were able to fit you with such a large valve and that the operation was uneventful.
 

Chuck C

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Dec 5, 2020
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8 month post surgery update; Climbing the mountain with Dennis

Things have been really going good since my surgery back in March. At this point, it is hard to imagine that I had OHS 8 months ago. For several months now I have felt totally normal.

Last month it was my pleasure to introduce my friend Dennis to Mt. Monserate. I met Dennis through this forum a couple months before his valve surgery. He is now in recovery from surgery and doing great. At the time we climbed the mountain together, he was 14 weeks out from surgery. He did amazing! Good job Dennis! Mt Monserate is a good challenge as it is a 1.6 mile hike straight up, at an average 14% grade, with a total elevation gain of 1,200ft.

Anyway, for anyone who stumbles across this thread, please know that if you are facing valve surgery you will be back to climbing mountains, or whatever your thing is, in no time at all. Recovery can be very rewarding.

Mt Monserate.jpg
 

pellicle

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Recovery can be very rewarding.
personally I can say that having lost health and fought to get it back a few times I value it a lot more than many (say the smoking, tatt covered illiterate dickheads that a friend of mine helps fill out their parole forms).

They say you don't truly appreciate something until it is taken from you. We live in a wonderful world where science and the ingenuity of humans has allowed us all to get a second (or third) chance.

Love it
 

Redone

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Sep 1, 2021
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Boston, Massachusetts
8 month post surgery update; Climbing the mountain with Dennis

Things have been really going good since my surgery back in March. At this point, it is hard to imagine that I had OHS 8 months ago. For several months now I have felt totally normal.

Last month it was my pleasure to introduce my friend Dennis to Mt. Monserate. I met Dennis through this forum a couple months before his valve surgery. He is now in recovery from surgery and doing great. At the time we climbed the mountain together, he was 14 weeks out from surgery. He did amazing! Good job Dennis! Mt Monserate is a good challenge as it is a 1.6 mile hike straight up, at an average 14% grade, with a total elevation gain of 1,200ft.

Anyway, for anyone who stumbles across this thread, please know that if you are facing valve surgery you will be back to climbing mountains, or whatever your thing is, in no time at all. Recovery can be very rewarding.

View attachment 888242
Oh this is so awesome! Yes, I want to be back climbing mountains as soon as possible! Thank you for this piece of encouragement as I go in for surgery tomorrow 🙏🏻
 

Chuck C

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Super! Are you doing things BETTER than you did before? Climbing faster etc
I'm not yet back up to my pre-surgery climb rate. That will take awhile.

I discovered the mountain about 10 months before my surgery and got hooked to the point where I was climbing it 4 to 5 times per week. I used it to help try to peak my fitness level heading into surgery. Also, I did not experience symptoms from my aortic stenosis, so after climbing it several months in a row, my times really started to drop, as I would time myself occasionally and always tried to better my previous best.

So, to get back to those times, I expect that I'll need to climb it consistently for months again. That will be a challenge, as my routine is now changed. I now take my mom to the gym every day so that she can swim, while I use the cardio equipment. She has dementia, so it is a priority for me to help make sure that she gets her daily exercise, as it is one of the most important things to slowing the progression of the disease. Now, you would think that doing an hour of stair climber or elliptical at the gym would help prepare me for the mountain to get my times low again, and to some extent it does help, but I find that there is only so much crossover. To improve my times on the mountain, there is no substitute other than climbing the mountain and I've only managed to climb it twice in the past 4 months. But, I have set some goals regarding my climbing time, so I will probably try to figure a way to start working more climbs into my schedule- plus it is just such a blast to climb it.
 

Chuck C

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Oh this is so awesome! Yes, I want to be back climbing mountains as soon as possible! Thank you for this piece of encouragement as I go in for surgery tomorrow 🙏🏻
Best of luck with your surgery! I know you'll do great!

As soon as you feel well enough in recovery, please give us an update as to how you are doing. :)
 

pellicle

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Chuck, allow me to use this to answer an aspect of @d333gs 's question
I'm not yet back up to my pre-surgery climb rate. That will take awhile.
So, d33gs, a lot depends on where you were when you had surgery. Lets go back to my surgery in 1992.

When it was clear that I'd need surgery I was already "well down the path" of needing it and already feeling the losses in my capacity. I was however in the last part of preparing for examinations for the completion of my diploma in electrical engineering. This was a "career change" for me and I was very serious about my achievement of this goal. I struck a deal with the surgeon who also understood these things and had known me since I was 10 (I was 28 then) and we agreed that I would contact the hospital as soon as my last exam was completed.

By that time I could not walk up the hill to my house (long and steep admittedly) from the shops at the bottom of the hill. Within a week or so of being home I was walking up that hill faster than I had in the year or so before that. Yes I still felt like crap post but post surgery in the normal ways but it was clear that a restriction had been lifted - in a big way.

Eventually I was riding a bicycle about 30km in times that rivalled anyone I was pacing over sections of that course. This includes people younger and clearly fitter looking than me on specialised bikes.

Listen to your body, train to your personal limits (well, and that means a bit below them, because training is not competition) and do so with sincerity.

Best Wishes
 

Denjun

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Mar 30, 2021
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8
Location
Southern California
8 month post surgery update; Climbing the mountain with Dennis

Things have been really going good since my surgery back in March. At this point, it is hard to imagine that I had OHS 8 months ago. For several months now I have felt totally normal.

Last month it was my pleasure to introduce my friend Dennis to Mt. Monserate. I met Dennis through this forum a couple months before his valve surgery. He is now in recovery from surgery and doing great. At the time we climbed the mountain together, he was 14 weeks out from surgery. He did amazing! Good job Dennis! Mt Monserate is a good challenge as it is a 1.6 mile hike straight up, at an average 14% grade, with a total elevation gain of 1,200ft.

Anyway, for anyone who stumbles across this thread, please know that if you are facing valve surgery you will be back to climbing mountains, or whatever your thing is, in no time at all. Recovery can be very rewarding.

View attachment 888242
Thanks Chuck. I had a great time hiking up Mt. Monserate with you as that was one of my goals during my cardio rehab treatment post op. I’m ready for another trek to the top with you in January or February. Perhaps others on this forum may want to join us? As I recall, round trip was about 2 hours, excellent cardio workout! Can’t wait. Coming up at 6 month post AVR at the end of this month and I feeling great! Dennis
 
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