One year ago today, a woman I never met before shaved my body. I know, not the visual you were looking for. Today I am celebrating the one-year anniversary of my open-heart surgery. I had a Vega valve in a Lamborghini body and it couldn’t keep up. I needed a rebuild.
I went in the hospital and the surgeon did what they do. He split me open, cracked my sternum and found, in his words, the largest heart he had ever seen. What do ya think of that, haters? *Sticks tongue out making raspberry sound* I do have a heart and a giant one at that.
Well, it turns out a swollen, muscle-bound heart is bad. My heart had increased in size to compensate for the crappy, inefficient way my heart was pumping. The leaky valve made it grow so it move a higher capacity of blood. The killer(pun) part is this makes the valve leak more. That means my heart was on par for an appearance next to old-school Arnold Swartzeneggar at the Mr. Olimpia contest. It was getting beefy.
During surgery is where my heart really got beefy. I had a replacement aortic valve put in that was made from cow. My kids call me beef jerky now. It was a moooooooving experience. Suddenly I have an inexplicable urge to eat grass and poop in the yard. Ok, enough with the cheesy cow jokes, there’s a blog at steak. break
These costly little cow doo-dads come in a kit with four sizes. Dr. House or Casa, since we’re in South America, explained the need for custom fitting because the aorta is stretched from this condition. He said 10% of the time he uses the size 21, 70% he uses the 23 and 20% he uses the 25.
My heart had ballooned to such a degree that Dr. Kildare tried the 27 and it fell into the aorta instead of capping it. That was as large as he had available. Any larger would need to be special ordered and seeing as they had my heart stopped and my lungs duct-taped to my kidneys, we needed to get on with it.
Doc Holiday did what was necessary. He pleated my aorta. Yep, just like you did with your jeans back in high-school. It was fold, tuck, sew. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have a doctor with cable TV. Clearly he had seen reruns of Macguyver to be able to pull of that bit of junkyard jerry-rigging.
As a side note there was no chewing gum or paper clips used in the repair of my heart.
I was advised after surgery of my heart’s enormity. Macguyver told me it would take 6 months to a year for my heart to shrink back to its normal size. He said it may take that long to even show substantial progress. As is customary I had several studies at the five day post-surgery mark.
That same afternoon the Dr came in person to tell me of the results. Apparently my heart had already reduced its size to within the normal range in only five days. The surgeon came to witness to me that this was a miracle. He excitedly grabbed the nurse, not that way, to show her the results and told her to tell the others, as well.
It has been a bumpy road to recovery. I no longer have the excuses that I did just a few months out. I have to get off my butt now and be intentional (my wife loves that word) about my fitness to regain that Lamborghini body back.
Here are a few of the blogs I posted about my experience: