Monday, July 30, 2007
The Journey - Prologue
Several years ago, R was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve. It is a congenital birth defect with the potential of being hereditary, though no one else in his family has it. The big problem with this valve is that it leaks. Now, I'm not a doctor or a nurse, so please pardon my non-medical terminology. Due to this leak, the heart must re-pump out what's leaked back in then pump the new stuff as well. This causes strain on the heart, obviously. Upon diagnosis, the leakage was considered moderate.

Annually, R undergoes a stress test to further monitor his condition. This year (about 6 weeks ago, though it seems like years), the stress test results indicated that not enough oxygen was getting to his heart. This could have been due to blockage and/or the valve. From here, R underwent a cardiac catherization, also known as cardiac angiography. This requires sedation, though no general anesthesia. (I spelled anesthesia correctly the first time, I really should be a damn nurse!) The results of this test indicated clear coronary arteries, but what was now listed as severe insufficiency with the valve, requiring replacement - and be quick about it. The right coronary artery was, in fact, not clear, but I'll save that for the surgery portion of the story. Next stop on our journey is an appointment with the cardio-thoracic surgeon.

You know how normally if you get sent to a specialist, you have to wait weeks and weeks for an appointment? I overheard the nurse at the cardiologist's trying to get us an appointment for the same day. Yeah. That's when I started to panic a little. We saw the surgeon a few days later (he only has office hours once a week, in surgery every other day.) Dr. M was everything I needed him to be. And more. Seriously. He was kind, funny, arrogant (but in a good way), and normal. He has a presence about him that just oozes confidence. He looks you in the eye when he speaks to you and he makes you feel like you are the only person in the room. Simply, I adore him. Sort of important when you're basically giving him your husband's heart to play with, right? We discussed R's case, talked about valve options and the pros and cons of each option. R went into the appointment with one option in mind, but in the end, we decided to go with Dr. M's preference. Dr. M explained how this option, the porcine aortic valve with root, was the most conducive to the life R wants to lead - active, healthy, athletic. He told us if we wanted another opinion, he would recommend we get it, though we were not in a position to wait more than 6-8 weeks for the surgery, regardless of whom the surgeon was. R's condition was truly dire and the consequences were such that I can't even bear to write them.

In the end, we were both more than pleased with Dr. M. The agreement we had going in was if either of us had any reservations at all about the surgeon, his personality, his knowledge, his ability, his hairstyle, his shoes, anything - then we choose another surgeon. This was, really, going to be the beginning of our new life - version 2.0 if you will. We had to both be comfortable with the surgeon. We were, so the surgery was scheduled. We requested the first available opening. That happened to be July 19, R's birthday. It is also the birthday of his Aunt and a very close family friend - so we agreed and hoped the good Karma would lend a hand.

coming next.....Surgery Day

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3 Comments:

Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I love that you're doing this - it gives us background AND helps you process.

Anonymous Organic Mama said...

Being mindful of life version 2.0, with all the possibility of vastly improved health is a blessing. This is such a vital story to tell and I thank you for sharing!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're wonderful for doing this. Thanks for allowing us a look into your lives during such an emotional time. I pray that Roy continues to heal and I hope you can find some healing in what you are doing here.

Leann

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