So you've been diagnosed with a heart valve issue ...

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pellicle

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Probably you're in shock or some sort of frenzied tail spin.

You've found this site and hopefully this post, so that's good.

Now first up the outcomes are good and while there will be some discomfort the one thing that gets ignored by the medical system is the psychology involved. This is because Surgeons are not good psychologists (for a bunch of reasons) and neither are most Cardiologists.

So this post is my attempt to bring to your mind that everything is about adjustment to change and managing that is paramount.

We go through many changes from childhood through school years and into the beginnings of adult life. Most of these changes were forced upon us, but as children we are pre-designed to be looking for growth and learning about the world. Somehow that shuts down (which is a sad thing) and we cease to be learning about "what is" and begin learning about how to be competitive in "what we know is".

I'd first like to share some words which are nearly 2000 year old :
1637097061461.png

(Marcus Aurelius)

So with that as my guiding principle I will say that the first point is spot on. Indeed being anxious is a state which comes from needing to do something but not knowing how to do that. The reality is that if you're diagnosed already than what you "need to do" is already done. The cookies are now in the oven and you just have to wait till they're baked and then properly cooled before you can enjoy one.

Similarly with this diagnosis, you are now in the oven (or as we call it the waiting room) and the work is actually already in progress.

The second point is to fix your eyes on what you need to do, which is to be a good patient. Listen to what is being said, and try to understand it. Then with that as the starting point research what those things mean, or better yet, ask here to help with that research. Going blindly and in ignorance to Google is probably the worst thing you can do. Good research is guided, either by your own experience or by a more experienced mentor / teacher.

There will be people (surgeons and cardiologists) with vested interests and personal biases come along. You need to change your view from "they are gods" to "they are consultants and contractors" and work with them to find what you need. Don't be afraid to sack a contractor you don't feel good about working with.

Surgery is not what you need to do, that is what the surgeon does. Learning about life after surgery and how that is influenced by what you choose is what you need to focus on.

You should be thinking in terms of the rest of your life. I have seen here often that people can't see past the fog of "surgery" ... in truth that's because you don't know about it. What you do know about is your life and how long you can expect to live (which starts with how old you are now), how active you are (how active you perhaps should be).

Let me quote from this article

Despite the marked improvements in prosthetic valve design and surgical procedures over the past decades, valve replacement does not provide a definitive cure to the patient. Instead, native valve disease is traded for “prosthetic valve disease,” and the outcome of patients undergoing valve replacement is affected by prosthetic valve hemodynamics, durability, and thrombogenicity. Nonetheless, many of the prosthesis-related complications can be prevented or their impact minimized through optimal prosthesis selection in the individual patient and careful medical management and follow-up after implantation.​

those two bolded points are key here:
  • you are not cured you have a surgery to replace something that will kill you with something that can be managed
  • selection of the valve is what you now have to participate in (back to Marcus's second point)

You will hear and read a lot about different options, its important to not reach a conclusion before you have begun the search and before you understand.

I would hope that this site and the people here can offer by our experiences insights into what choices you need to make to be best served for the rest of your life.

Stop thinking about the surgery, and think of the rest of your life and what you want for that. Think of your family and the people who love you and depend on you.

Best Wishes
 
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carolinemc

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I was born with the aortic valve birth defect, and heart murmur. Back in the dark ages of mid 1960's, they thought I was twins, due to hearting a double heartbeat. When I was born, no twin. And was diagnosed with a heart murmur with a defective aortic valve. They monitored me for years and did a repair in the aortic valve in 1973 age 8. Years later I got the valve replaced and it was a St. Jude's aortic leaflet valve. And here I am today. The aortic valve still clicking, have a heart beat problem that is being monitored, on warafarin and still here. Never feared the future.
 

perrybucsdad

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Great write up @pellicle! One thing I will add, which comes after the surgery. Listen to the nurses. They are there to help you, and although they may not have had the surgery done to them, they know what is best for you and your recovery. Trust me, they want to help you and will help you.

Second thing, you need to accept that you will not be able to be 100% for some time. You need to let people help you, you need to listen to the limitations the doctors and nurses give you, and you need to allow your body to heal. You just went through something quite invasive and your body needs to recover. Give it time, and be patient (that was the hardest thing for me... patience).
 
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d333gs

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France
Aortic valve replacement: I was born with a bicuspid valve. I will get my date tomorrow when I go in for the preliminary tests. I am mentally ready and actually want to get it over and start the recovery process.

Probably what concerns me the most is pain control in France: I have been under twice for severed bicep tendon reattachment by screw in the bone and the pain was horrible both times: Restretching the tendon was the killer. Os I have a bit of an idea of what to expect from the sternum and deep breathing.

But what I am curious about the healing process of the heart. I am guessing, because it is tissue, it will heal in about the same time as the chest skin incision????

The other thing I am curious about is the condition of the lungs: Why the blowing exercises VS inhaling exercises? Besides being flattened during the operation, do they receive any other trama?

Thanks
 

d333gs

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related Link: Heart Healing After Valve Surgery - How Long?

" More common, the lungs that have been subjected to years of fluid overload will take time to heal. " Thats interesting.
I think I am going into this in good shape.........I will find out more tomorrow.........but I had been feeling super and riding cross-country 27 k ,4 to 5 times a week. It is bizarre that as my numbers climbed , the more I could do physically........my valve size number is now 65 ? And that got my cardiologist push for surgery.
 
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pellicle

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Good Morning

Probably what concerns me the most is pain control in France: I have been under twice for severed bicep tendon reattachment by screw in the bone and the pain was horrible both times: Restretching the tendon was the killer.
Happily this is more or less a simple bone injury. Nothing like what you've reported above. I broke the bone in my hand that the finger knuckle pivots on, and to set that two guys had to work to set it. That was painful, more so than heart surgery.

Also I understood that some feeling needs to be left in the muscle to allow them to not tear the muscle


But what I am curious about the healing process of the heart. I am guessing, because it is tissue, it will heal in about the same time as the chest skin incision????
The heart tissue is not touched, it is very sensitive. The stitching of the new valve to the site of the old one is of course fragile until endothelial cells regrow, then it's like ivy creeping over a house, you can't pull it off.

The other thing I am curious about is the condition of the lungs: Why the blowing exercises VS inhaling exercises? Besides being flattened during the operation, do they receive any other trama?
No, but being deflated is dangerous enough. Think mucus lined sticky bag. The longer it is before you push air into every crevice the more complications can arise.

Treat this seriously and do those breathing exercises.

Best Wishes
 

perrybucsdad

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I will say, the day after the surgery, I felt like a VW Bus had hit me. Day two, I felt like a moped hit me, etc.

For me the complication I had was one of my lungs collapsed (pneumothorax). I didn't even notice it, but they had to insert a tube into my side and apply suction over a period of days to reinflate it and allow the hole to heal. That actually was the thing that caused me the most pain (the darn tube) as I think they had it in too far and each time I would inhale, my lungs would brush up against the tube (or something did) and I had to be given pain meds to deal with it. The heart surgery itself was not that bad. My sternum hurt, but it was tolerable. Just try not to laugh!! I remember watching a funny movie with my wife, and she had left the room and I could not reach the remote to turn it off when it got to a hysterical scene, and I thought I was going to die from laughing as that made my sternum hurt like a bugger. :ROFLMAO:
 
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