Why I am here

LondonAndy

VR.org Supporter
Joined
Aug 1, 2015
Messages
339
Location
London, UK
I am not new to the forum, but am glad it is here and think it worth saying why I visit and make the occasional contribution.

Despite a complication requiring a pacemaker to be inserted, I generally feel my aortic valve surgery 5 years ago (in September 2014 when I was age 48 and a lot) went well and I have not had any significant issues. More about what led to surgery later, but my recovery was smooth and surprisingly pain free, and I continue to work full time, pending my numbers coming up on the lottery.

People may come here because they are facing valve surgery and understandably scared, or have a particular issue they are trying to find an answer to, so newcomers to the forum may get a distorted impression of life afterwards with more problems discussed than "good news" stories, though of course there are notable exceptions such as Bob's throwdowns!

So I come here to keep an eye on the issues some people have faced, and what factors I might need to consider in my own life. You can see from the message counts how generous some people are with their knowledge and experience, and whilst few (if any?) are medical experts there is a wealth of practical experience. Yes, we must be careful not to blindly believe someone's assertion, but knowledge is power, and researching our conditions is important if we are to have meaningful conversations with doctors and cardiologists, challenging them as they help us make decisions about OUR lives. Not all of them seem to have always distinguished themselves as far as some forumites are concerned.

I also come here to post positive messages about life on Warfarin, as there seems to be an awful amount of disinformation out there. We each have our own priorities in life, and mine was to try and avoid any future open heart surgery - there is no doubt it is a major trauma for the body, and going through it again when one is 7 to 15 years older and weaker, with scar tissue around the heart for a surgeon to contend with, seems a bad idea to me. Yes, new developments are coming, but some have been talked of for a very long time and are still not routine. And yes, I am male so don't have to think about things like pregnancy, and I seem to respond to medications well/as intended.

So for me a mechanical valve made sense, but this means keeping a good eye on my "INR" and making sure the dose I take is correct. Too high and there is a risk of hemorrhage, too low and a risk of stroke. The fact that it is possible to manage this with a hand-held meter we can use at home (or wherever) with a finger-prick of blood once a week gives freedom from most clinic visits and better quality outcome - see http://bit.ly/NICEreport for some amateur notes on the UK regulator's findings, coincidentally also in September 2014 when I had my surgery, and a link to their full report.

My surgery was for aortic stenosis. My surgeon indicated that the combination of insulin injections (I am a type 1 diabetic) and statins can cause calcification, blocking the valve. My symptoms started suddenly, with shortness of breath after walking only 200 - 300m - almost as if someone had flicked a switch. Why one valve is affected more than others they didn't know.

So my thanks to fellow forumites for their wealth of comments and questions - I have learnt a lot. If you are facing this issue in your future, then I am sure you will learn a lot too.
 

Astro

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Messages
47
Location
Adelaide, Australia
Thank you LondonAndy. It is encouraging to hear your journey. I agree that we probably see a distorted view on these forums so some balance is welcomed.
 

FredW

Premium Level User
Joined
Dec 16, 2015
Messages
248
Location
Rochester Mills, PA
Well said, LL. We do have a tendency to focus on what is said and ignore what is not said.

Pellicle, I like your comment: “There are many things I would not have found out about by staying in my shell.” The shell is comfortable, but knowledge is most always outside of it.
 
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