Monday, March 28, 2011

No Good Way To Find Out You Have Heart Valve Disease

Yellow Trumpetfish - Columbier Beach, St. Barths (click on the photo to enlarge it)

People have a wide range of experiences with valvular heart disease. Some people find out that they have a heart valve issue all of a sudden and need surgery ASAP. This can be very upsetting, to say the least. But for others, years and years can pass in between the initial diagnosis and eventual surgery. I'm in the category of knowing since childhood that I had an "innocent" heart murmur (is there such a thing?) It wasn't until age 55 that I had my first diagnostic echocardiogram (in the cardiologist's office) that was ordered before a routine colonoscopy. Then I found out that I had moderate aortic stenosis (calcification and narrowing of the aortic valve.) That didn't bother me much at the time. But four years later when I began to notice a loss of exercise tolerance I went to an advanced university heart center for an echoardiogram. Then I found out that I have a congenital aortic valve abnormality - a bicuspid aortic valve, with an aortic aneurysm (ballooning of the ascending aorta.) That shocked me more, especially when I learned from a surgeon that I wasn't "ripe" for surgery. Open heart surgery is serious business. They only do it when the risk of dying without the surgery outweighs the risk of the surgery itself.

It really bothers me that I have this congenital heart problem hanging over me and I can't get it fixed now. I'm an active guy and kind of a bull type, you know, push the car to get it started, shovel snow all the time, etc. So I want to stay healthy. But no, I have to wait until I get weaker and sicker. So I don't know what's worse, really: finding out all of a sudden that you need surgery ASAP, or lingering on coping with a slow progression of the disease for years and years, fighting to lead a normal life but you really can't, and not knowing when you might finally get the surgery you need, or keel over or blow a gasket first. There is no pleasant way for any of us with heart valve disease.


Dr. Ordon plastic surgeon said...

That is quite bugging if you have to wait for the situation to become worse for the treatment to start.But what else could you do...may be take some other opinions as well to be on the safer side.

DynaBaby said...

How about go to the E.R., thinking your getting anti-biotics, thinking in your mind the whole time you have a sinus infection or something no biggie like that. Worse your thinking is being scolded 4 being a smoker, & yada. Yada... This time you finally get to the E.R. is due 2 you finally can't sleep @ night, due to everytime you lay down you start to cough so hard and can't get it to stop, AS IN LITERALLY NO SLEEP NO REST, NO NOTHING BUT ALOT OF COUGHING & COUGHING. at, the E.R. you realize as the E.R. Dr. isn't giving ou the norm 4 scripts on a sinus infection or close to any other of the 6-8 times in your adult life you saw a Dr.. NO YOU HAVE TO GO TO THIS FLOOR, THEN 2 THIS DR. 2MORROW, HE OPENS THE DOOR & OINTS KITTY CORNER WHERE YOU GO NEXT ......... SO, BEGINS YOUR LIFE NOW AS A HEART PT. You can't work, all of sudden everything si so final, so unbelievably flipping like not your life you keep waking up & saying, Cause YOUR A 46 YR OLLD UNION MAN WHO HAS CHF. WHAT?????? I sympathize w/ you there on your ordeal, what I wrote is fact of my old man & this is our life now. He's lived past initial of 5 yr but the end is near & my life just started when I met him almost 4 & half yrs ago. But, ironicaly I noticed in first part of your storyl, you have always grown up knowing you had a minor heart murmur. Well, I found out I had a heart murmur from my otrho specialist, 1st time I saw him & he was doing a post op. Shocked me & really don't think 2 much of it - Mother had cancer & really life is hard enough & so unbelievably screwed in ways you couldnt ever think there was life that I don't even think to much of how close to the end my old man is - it just is what it is ......... You take care & remember "DREAM AS IF YOU'LL LIVE FOREVER & LIVE AS IF YOU'LL DIE TOMORROW".