Struggling with the loud ticking nosie

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DJ Hopper

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Its been just over a year now post my mitral valve replacement, and I still struggle with the nosie of the ticking. Please beleive me I am so much better health wise from the replacement surgery, that i find it really hard to be complaining about something that has given me a new life opportunity.
Firstly, I am 44 years old, add mitral valve replacement due to complications from hypotropic cardiomyopathy diagnosed in 2000. Had open heart surgery in July 2016 and have received a On-x 33mm valve replacement.
I am fit and healthy, go hiking and live a normal life, however struggling with the nosie of the ticking to an extent that it is affecting my day to day life.
Some will say, how loud can it be, well let me try and explain. I am a manager of a large business and during meetings my staff can here it, during conversations in my office, if in the bath room with my wife or in bed, while driving in the car people can hear it etc etc
But for me it is not just hearing the valve I can feel each beat, sometimes just in the heart, sometimes up into the back of my neck as the blood flows into my brain, like a maginfied pulse, it is really intense and constant.
The biggest problem is trying to go to sleep, or waking up during the night and trying to go back to sleep. So now I need sleeping tablets to get a consitant nights sleep, or having a couple of extra wines to make certain I go to sleep, which I don't want to do.
If I wake up, I just can't get rid of the nosie. Starting to drive me crazy, getting me down, really don't now what I can do, and I feel like an ungrateful person, which I am not, I feel like I have been given a mirical new chance of life.
I know I cannot do anything about it, but do any of you have any better ways of dealing with the nosie.
 

Agian

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33mm is a big one, but I suppose it's because it's mitral. I've got a ticker, but I've grown used to it. I have heard it can get some people down though. Are you self conscious of it because others can hear it? I've noticed when I'm sitting back, instead of leaning forward, or wearing thicker clothing it dulls it a bit. My lack of concern about what others think about me has gotten me in trouble, because I don't censor the words that come out of my mouth. I'm sure you'll be ok. Think of it as dropping beats. You've got rhythm now. Chin up lad.
 

ClickityClack

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Mine's aortic. I can identify with a little bit of what you're saying. Some people can hear mine, some can't (usually older folks). Of course I can always hear mine but it's background noise most of the day unless it's really quiet. The thing that bothers me is that I can hear it every time my heart skips a beat or beats early. That starts freaking me out and it seems like that makes my rhythm even more erratic.

My wife likes to sleep with a fan running for the noise. If she was away, I wouldn't bother in the past. Post surgery I find that it helps a lot with sleep.

Wish I could give you a better solution but I'm just trying to learn to live with mine too. I do know that I'll take the ticking over another surgery.
 

pellicle

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somehow my last post was listed as "unapproved" so I'll put it here again without the link ... see if that works

Hi

DJ Hopper;n878256 said:
Its been just over a year now post my mitral valve replacement, and I still struggle with the nosie of the ticking. Please beleive me I am so much better health wise from the replacement surgery, that i find it really hard to be complaining about something that has given me a new life opportunity.
no, I think complaining about this is a good thing in that it offers the opportunity to get it off your chest and discuss with others.


..., however struggling with the nosie of the ticking to an extent that it is affecting my day to day life.
Some will say, how loud can it be, well let me try and explain. I am a manager of a large business and during meetings my staff can here it, during conversations in my office, if in the bath room with my wife or in bed, while driving in the car people can hear it etc etc...But for me it is not just hearing the valve I can feel each beat, sometimes just in the heart, sometimes up into the back of my neck as the blood flows into my brain, like a maginfied pulse, it is really intense and constant.
understood ... me too ... the office or aparment toilet is often the best example of "bass reenforsement" ... and of course I've reported here often I "feel it" more so than hear it (such as riding a motorcycle with ear plugs in.

The biggest problem is trying to go to sleep, or waking up during the night and trying to go back to sleep. So now I need sleeping tablets to get a consitant nights sleep, or having a couple of extra wines to make certain I go to sleep, which I don't want to do.
agreed, I don't think that's a good strategy, I don't like taking medications which make me feel drowsy. They often take some time to wear off and impede my concentration (I work as a software developer) which isn't good either.


Starting to drive me crazy, getting me down, really don't now what I can do, and I feel like an ungrateful person, which I am not, I feel like I have been given a mirical new chance of life.
I know I cannot do anything about it, but do any of you have any better ways of dealing with the nosie.
Well that last sentence is sort of your problem (I underlined the bit).

Firstly let me say I'm a big fan of the view that almost everything that bothers one is attitudinal; sort of "how you choose to view it". When I first moved to a capital city I had a house near a railway line with hourly triains at night and much closer during busy times. It wasn't house rattling but it was very clear. I thought I would never get used to it ... then one day I was talking to someone at Uni and they asked about it and I realised I had not heard them for months. Why? Because I accepted it.

Its almost ironic that a once common treatment for sleeping issues was to get a metronome of ticking clock for people to actually get to sleep. This was something long familiar to me as we used to put an old wind up clock in with a new puppy to help it sleep. Usually it would snuggle around it.
From (a url I've removed now) :

We have included below (in the products list) the following CDs: Theta Metronome and Delta Metronome. Research using techniques known as biofeedback has shown that an external stimulus (such as a repetitive metronome tone) induces the brain to match the brain activity. This gives you the benefits of the frequency following response where the brain’s activity follows the metronome, moving you gradually down into an even deeper state. Try these CDs at home, when you are in a comfortable position, preferably lying down.. and re-train your brain to embrace the Theta and Delta rhythms
So perhaps part of the problem is that you focus on the sound as a disturbance, a sort of sufferance, something you deep down don't like, something you somehow resent? Dunno

Years ago when I started to learn about bio-feedback (physiological psychology subject at uni during my degree) I found that with a mechanism (often an electronic stethoscope) people could actually be calmer and better aware of their heart rate. Having direct knowledge of how their heart was and (importantly) if it was faster or slower than normal gave them a quick method of seeing if they were stressed.

Now I have one all the time. :)

I'd say that in the time since my mechanical was put in (Nov 2011) I've gone through a number phases from "focus on it" to "listen to it" to "occasionally aware of it".

I say give it time, make it part of who you are now and see what it can teach you; like I notice I'm wound up at work when I observe my heartbeat has elevated and become more pronounced (stronger sounding), its a sign of anxiety and perhaps frustration.

So be like the reed and bend with the wind and see what it can offer you, not attempt to fight it :)

Lastly I'll say that there is seldom a day go by when I don't notice my heart beat at some time, but its been years since that bothered me at all. Even when I wake up at night ... I used its rate to tell me if I'm agitated (which I may not have known earlier and just been "restless") and as a guide to bring me back to sleep.

Do a google search on how to use an old yoga technique to be aware of your heart beat in order to learn to slow it in meditation ... it'll be good for you :)

​​​​​​​Best Wishes
 

Paleowoman

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People who have to live with chronic pain are able to access counselling to help them cope with living with that pain, so I’m wondering if you might be able to access some sort of counselling to help you cope with living with this noise. I have super sensitive hearing so I have huge sympathies with your problem hearing your valve which also happens to be so loud that it is even easily heard by others - it is not your perception of the sound that is wrong, it is the fact that it really is very loud. This could be due to anatomical reasons which obviously can’t be changed. Please see a doctor and let them know that this is causing you huge problems and affecting your sleeping such that you need sleeping meds or alcohol.
 

Warrick

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DJ Hopper; said:
I understand exactly where you are coming from, I do not like the sound of my valve and now I think coming up to 2 years its the worst part of the whole experience, the only time I don't hear it is in the shower, however I do try and embrace the fact that if ticking is the worst thing then I've done alright.

If it's quiet its audible from a few meters away but its pretty rare that others hear it. I think I'm still in the "listen to it" phase :)

I took sleeping pills for a few months as well but I think they are just a sticking plaster on a crack in a brick

I purchased a white noise machine several weeks ago with the intention of having it running when I went to bed,

but I haven't used it yet partly because my wife objected and I think having it there as an option is some comfort in itself, so I think it's not as bad as I think it is :)
I find it thumps less if I lay on my front and I nod off that way, the times when I'm laying there for hours with the sound still happen occaisionally

I've read on other valve forums that people do find a big benefit from white noise machines so thats what I'd advise, perhaps you could have a radio on quietly? It worked for my kids when they were babies. I think the fan sounds like a good idea to try also.
My father who has a valve also has a wind up ticking clock beside his bed.

Nothing to do with the sound but as a mechanic the fact that the valve is made from the hardest manufactured substance in the world tickles me pink and I feel knowing this fact helps my acceptance greatly of the little blighter
 

DJ Hopper

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Townsville QLD, Australia
Pellicle you have hit a number of nails on the head, thank you!
Firstly I must fix a typo, it is 23mm not 33mm mitral valve, otherwise it would be a thumper!

This is the first time I have talked to any other person or people with the same valve or issues, or in any forrum, so bear with me.

I don't have any issues hearing my heart during the day, it gives me some comfort, I feel like I am at one with my heart, you can understand by listening to the rhythm of your heart, mainly different reactions you're body has to either stress, food types like chillies or species, to exercise and relaxing, from excitement to sorrow, the heart reacts differently to each one. I feel like I have a new sense, that's how much I focus on it, so yes you are so correct that I focus on it to much, and at the wrong time, while trying to relax.
It seems as though the more I try and relax, the more intense the beat/click becomes, radiating through my neck into my brain, and I think your right because I do feel like I fight it, don't want to because it is part me, but for some reason it feels like an imposter. So still in the "focus stage" i think, looking forward to the "listening to it" stage. This really makes sense to me thank you.
I have been able to do so many things post the surgery that I thought would be out of reach, so to me this little thumper is the best thing that has happen for me, so yes I need to continued to except and embrace it.

Thinking about some of your comments makes me feel like I monitor my heart to much. I have a had a fitbit for the last two years, a year leading up to my surgery while I was sick with hypotension etc, where I felt a level of comfort knowing the BPM at anytime, monitoring my sleep, seeing when I went into Afib etc. Now i use it regeliously monitoring the same things, mostly resting heart rate, as I feel this is a big factor in determining your wellbeing.

i will take you advise thank you.
 

DJ Hopper

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Agian ,

yes sorry about the 33mm, 23mm is the corrrect size. Your comments about being consous of the nosie brings back a memory about the post surgery appointment with my surgeon five weeks after, when my surgeon walked into the office saying "well it sounds like it is in sinus rhythm, that's a good sign. So it has always been a consous thing.
 

DJ Hopper

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Warrick
I am with you in the fact that, the ticking is totally acceptable for the quality of health it provides.
My wife always has the fan flat out so that doesn't help, I find the nosie/thump always over powers the fan, but maybe the white nosie is worth some investigation. Agreed laying on my front is easier to relax. I think I should read a book when I wake up early in the night or morning, because you know you wont get back to sleep, but you lay there just persisting to get back to sleep but your heart is thumping away, I just become more restless and ending up totally wake, but as pellicle has pointed out, I am in the focus stage.
 

almost_hectic

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Took me the first year to get used to mine. It's quieted down some now in year two. For the first year I had to fall asleep with some soft music playing so I wouldn't focus on the ticking. Now I hear it but don't listen to it.
 

Paul

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Well its 3:45 am so I know what you are talking about.


Its been 9 months since my mechanical aortic valve was installed, and I was told it would settle down and get quieter.....NOT!

I sleep with four pillows, one under my chin, over my head, hell any place just to shut the dam thing up. The worst is when I am over tired or crabby... im sure the dam thing is set on volume 11..lol.

I think the worst is when it skips or stops...I enjoy the moment of silence then ya kind of want it to start up again..lol.

Oh well such is life..friends of mine have cancer, parkinsons so clicking away doesnt seem so bad, im just disapointed in the result, it wasnt like the brocher.:Face-Angry:
 

pellicle

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Paul
Paul;n878372 said:
Well its 3:45 am so I know what you are talking about.
Its been 9 months since my mechanical aortic valve was installed, and I was told it would settle down and get quieter.....NOT!
I'm sorry the noise is still bothering you, but really, at 9 months out that's still relatively early days. If you consider that you may get 30 more years from that valve, you're barely 3% of the way down the path with that valve.

I'm going to first suggest you put your ear to a (preferably long) table and have someone tap the table at the other end. Notice how well you can hear that? No amount of pillows is going to muffle that because sound is conducted through the table and your head. Same with the valve.

What will happen over time though is that your body becomes familiar with this and you become increasingly unaware of it. However if you focus your anger on it it's rather like a kid picking the scab off a cut and it will never heal ... read some of my other posts on this topic if you like, but the short answer is in psychology: if you want it to happen it will {you just have to want to get used to it not to forever be angry about it}

I hope you find peace with it ... I have with mine.

Of course you could consider the alternatives ... (depending on your age) reoperations after reoperations and a gradual slashing of your strength and health ... me? I'll take the ticking thanks.

PS: I see you were 50 at surgery ... presumably your first. So at 50 the chances are you'd only need one redo surgery at 65 or 70 ... from which your recovery may have been fraught (and assuming antibiotics still are effective in the future). So perhaps a tissue prosthetic would have better suited your personality. Either way we can't go back in time (god knows I'd like to tweak a few things if I could) so the only thing is to go forward as best one can.

Best Wishes
 

almost_hectic

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Agian;n878380 said:
Paul, it doesn't have to be that way. I do empathise, but I don't notice it anymore.
I would consider a trained hypnotherapist.
Interesting suggestion. I was thinking the same, if hypnosis could make it so you seem to no longer hear it, just mentally block it out. I wonder if it's ever been done before?!
 

pellicle

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Paul

Paul;n878372 said:
I think the worst is when it skips or stops...I enjoy the moment of silence then ya kind of want it to start up again..lol.

Oh well such is life..friends of mine have cancer,
I meant to add (but have been busy working on rooves and mortocycles) that you shouldn't discount the influence of post surgical depression magnifying ypur feelings. I felt like 5hit after my last surgery, which was the first time to experience such things.

I agree with Agian that perhaps a good counsellor or therapist may be a good investment.


​​​​​​Best wishes
 

JLmatus

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I have an On-X mechanical valve, I look at the ticking sound this way. I would rather put up with a ticking sound than to have to face the alternative if this type of surgery was not available. Be thankful for your extended lease on life. It's all a matter of perspective.
 

ClickityClack

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DJ Hopper;n878278 said:
Hi ClickityClack,

Thanks for your advice, your name tells me you are a master of tick! Yes the skipped beats are stronger or feel more intense with the Mechanical valve.
Well I also design shutters for a living (for cameras and such, not houses) so it has a double meaning :)
 

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