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Happy Valvesary to me! I can't believe it has been almost a year since I got my brand spanking new mechanical aortic heart valve. Last May, I had open heart surgery. I did have aortic stenosis, a condition I had from birth. This is a disease where the aortic valve has two leaves as opposed to the normal three, and over time the valve closes up. Not the best situation one can find themselves in. I had surgery in my early teens where a balloon was used through a catheter to open the valve. At that time it was called a balloon dilatation. It did the trick for a few years.
Then, on my 18th birthday, I had my first open heart surgery to repair the aortic valve, open it up again and clean some of the gunk that collected on it over the years. So, that was the first time I had my chest cracked open.
That repair job lasted until I was 45. Not too bad, really. It was a bit longer than they stated it would probably last, and I am happy that I went as long as I did without having surgery.
But, then last year, things changed. The valve closed up and calcified. I became extremely tired, spending much of my time in bed, until eventually I started to feel quite lightheaded and almost passed out. That was a sure sign that, yup, it was time for surgery. I don't know exactly how long I had been sick for. I just remember life being quite a struggle, needing to sleep a lot, running out of breath easily, and just generally being lethargic.
So, I had surgery. There wasn't a whole lot of choice in the matter. I just needed it. So, I had it. I suppose because it was my second time around, it just didn't seem as scary as it had the first time. That's not to say I loved it. Oh no, I did not. I would have preferred not to have open heart surgery. But, again, it wasn't an option.
It really is quite amazing to me what they are able to accomplish these days. And by they, I guess I mean doctors. Or the entire medical field, I suppose. The fact that I can have my chest opened up, be hooked up to a machine that acts as a beating heart while they cut open my actual heart and put in a mechanical valve to replace a tissue valve, then patch me all up and I can live through this is quite the amazing feat, I must say. But, I'm glad it's something that they are able to do. Otherwise, I would be... Dead. And, I must say I prefer not being dead. So, thank you to whoever figured out that you can chop a person open and keep them alive while you fix them up. It was a good discovery.
I'm also quite amazed at the fact that there are people out there who have seen the INSIDE of my body. That blows me away. I've never seen the inside of my body. So, the realization that there are others who have is rather fascinating. If it was under any other conditions than medical ones, it would be very disturbing, now that I think of it. Thankfully, it has only been trained professionals who have seen my innards.
Not only that, there are people out there who have had my living, beating heart in their hands. Can you believe that? It's hard to believe. I've never touched my own heart. But, others have! Wow. Again, it's fascinating to think about because it was a doctor. If it was just some dude, it would be terribly disturbing.
So, now, I have a brand new mechanical valve in my chest. And at the end of May it will have been in there, doing its work, for a full year. Apparently, according to a Facebook group that I belong to, the event is called a Valversary! Boy do I dislike that term. But, you know what, I'm going to use it anyway. Why not, eh? It is something to celebrate, really. I'm still alive. I'm healthy, ish. I made it through this life experience without too much trauma. I think I deserve a pat on the back from me. Happy Valversary to myself!