Tag Archives: heart valve

12 Weeks Post Op

There’s that.

Recovery update: 

Still hurts to cough and sneeze, but not as much. Laughing and singing also still hurt, but it’s greatly improved. Yesterday, I became aware of the fact that bumps in the road, when I’m not driving, no longer hurt! Hooray!

House update:

Selling side. We closed yesterday, so we are now officially renters. We are allowed to be here until September 26th.

Buying side. We saw around 20 houses (I probably lost track of the exact count).  House #19 looked really promising, but the night we went to see it, a rain storm knocked out power. Even seeing it in without electricity, we thought it was a strong possibility.

We set up another viewing for the next day along with house #20, that popped up as a new listing. Honestly, house 20 looked just ok online, so we figured might as well take a quick look at it in person before we go back to 19. We recruited my husband’s brother to join us because we wanted his opinion on 19 (and as the carpooling worked out, he saw 20 as well).

To our surprise, 20 was so much better in person than in pictures. It had a great layout and was more move in ready than 19. House 20 was also located in our preferred side town. By the middle of the day, house 20 became our new favorite.

We wasted little time and put together an offer on 20 by the end of the day.

Because of this market, we knew it they would probably get multiple offers. We were told they would be deciding at 7pm on Monday.

We didn’t hear anything yesterday so went to bed thinking “I bet they chose someone else’s offer and we are the ‘break up’ call they are putting off until the morning.”  To our surprise and delight, they accepted our offer!

So here we go… we are in the option period and if all goes well, we hope to close at the end of September, just in time for when we need to be out of our “Rental”.

2016 – the year that God continued to surprise us over and over and over again.

*Bonus Info* it’s a 4 bed, 2.5 bath! Just like I mentioned in my previous post, it’s what we really preferred. A little higher than our goal price, but we stayed in our reasonable range, just shy of our maximum.  And for what it’s worth, our maximum was determined by us, based on how much a month we want to pay/can afford per month for a monthly mortgage, NOT based on how much the banks would let us borrow.


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My heart valve

As I hinted in my last post, my valve will be tissue, from a cow (bovine).

Unlike what I imagined, I won’t be receiving an actual bovine valve. I think with pig (porcine) valves, they use the actual structure of the valve. If you didn’t know, pig hearts are very similar to human hearts in structure, size. and function.

Anyway, for a bovine valve, they will take the pericardial sack (the tissue that surrounds the heart), rather than the valve itself.

They will make a circle using a material called Dacron (the brand name for specific material that is part of the polyester family) and have 3 leaflets in the middle. The leaflets will be made from the cow tissue. The best visual example I’ve been told is it’s similar to the Mercedes Benz logo.

I mentioned last post one of the pros is that there are no life long meds. My surgeon did recommend that I take one baby aspirin everyday, but it’s so minimal, it basically falls in line with what cardiologists recommend anyway for an aspirin regiment. If I ever needed to pause for some other medical reason, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Other than that, I don’t care if these means I’ll be a cannibal, I’m not giving up steak or beef jerky!

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Heart Valves

Before we met with the surgeon last week, we were praying and trying to weigh the pros and cons of all the heart valve options available.

Here are the different types of valves we were aware of with their pros and cons.

  • Mechanical
    • Pro.
      • Infinite life span
    • Cons.
      • Audible (clicking sounds)
      • Blood thinners for the rest of one’s life
  • Tissue (human, cow, or pig)
    • Pros
      • Silent
      • Probably no lifelong medicines (including both blood thinners and anti-rejection meds)
    • Con
      • 10-15 year lifespan

We really didn’t want for me to take meds for the rest of my life… but the idea of another heart surgery in 10-15 years, that didn’t sit well either.

Much to our surprise and relief, it turns out we didn’t even get to choose. (Thank you Lord! Once again preparing the way when we didn’t even realize it.) The pulmonary valve is too low pressure for a mechanical valve to even be an option. Lower pressure means slower flow, which means higher chance of blood “sticking” to the valve. Plus, with my age, blood thinners means no future chance at having kids (birth defects) and at an early age – I’d have to be on guard against falls. A small fall hitting my head means nothing now. With blood thinners, a small fall could be life threatening.

“So Debra…” (you might be thinking) “…that one Con with tissue valves, that seems pretty major!”

Yes, and No. Yes – I would need a new valve assuming I live to a ripe old age and something else doesn’t kill me. Doing the math – maybe two additional valves in my life time.  So… heart surgery again?!?

Probably not. At least not Open Heart.

Once this valve is put in place, my heart will have a “landing pad” of sorts for a future replacement valve.  In all likelihood – that valve (a melody valve) would be put in through my leg! (Crazy right!?!) It would be a much less extreme surgery. And besides that – 10-15 years from now, medicine and technology will change a lot. I know that from experience. Ten to fifteen years ago, they weren’t sure if it would be a good idea for me to have kids. Well – clearly that changed. 🙂

In my next blog post, I’ll give you a little more detail on what valve I’m getting. Here’s a hint “Moooooo.”

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“Someday” is Now

I’ve been blogging about my heart history for the last few posts. You can read about when I was born, my open heart surgery at age 2, and how having a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) has affected my growing up years.

I’ve posted in the past about how pregnancy could effect my heart. It turns out, after I was able to carry two wonderful precious babies, my heart has in fact has some negative change.

First – because I can – here are some of my favorite pictures of my boys. I love them to bits!


The day my youngest (E) was born.



Are they not precious?! Both of these photos of the boys are from when we were still in the hospital. (Z on the left, E on the right)



Twins, two years apart. Z on the left – 5 days old. E on the right – 9 days old.



Love, love, love this!


Cankle to Ankle

These two pictures show just how dramatic the swelling in my leg was after my second child. Later, I was told that this is considered “symptomatic heart failure.” Which makes sense I guess, when you only lose .8 pounds after having a 7+ lb baby … something must be amiss.



From September 9th – it took this long for my leg to go back to normal.

All of this to say – yes – pregnancy had an impact on my heart. HOWEVER — and this is important — This is NOT the reason for what I’m about to say. It had an impact of timing, but it’s not the reason.

So on to the news:

“Someday” is Now.

Meaning: I’m getting a heart valve!

We met with the surgeon this week and I am currently scheduled for a Valve Implantation on May 17th. May 25th  (updated to reflect new surgery date)

[It’s not a valve replacement or repair, because I don’t have anything to replace or repair. 🙂 ]

We were able to ask a ton of questions and are feeling confident that this is a good decision and the timing is right. It is considered “non-emergency”.  That’s the entire reason my doctors have kept such a close eye on me all of my life – to figure out exactly when “now” should be. While not an emergency, it is necessary because at this stage, they expect my heart to return to “normal” size since the pumping function has not been compromised (yet).

Mostly, we are wanting everyone to know so that you can be praying.

Prayer requests:

*Peace of mind for both JJ and I (I’m feeling ok about actual surgery – being put out will be better than the c-sections. Recovery – not so much. I’m dreading that and looking forward to late summer when, hopefully, I will begin discover energy I didn’t even know was possible.)

*Clarity and discernment on when and how we explain to Z what’s going on. Thankfully, due to E arriving via c-section, he already knows that Hospitals & Doctors “Help people”

*Work for JJ now, so he will be able to take some time once it’s surgery and recovery time

*A good plane ticket price for my mom as she flying here for the surgery and some of my immediate recovery time

*That Insurance will cover everything. We expect it to – but – you never know.


*Great doctors that are experts in their field

*We finished our emergency fund – a few weeks before we learned this was what our spring contained


I’ll be continuing to do some blog posts regarding my heart and up coming surgery. I’ll answer some frequently asked questions and such. Also, when May 25th arrives – this blog (not facebook or twitter) will be the best place for updates.

Thanks for stopping by. I know I have friends and family all over the US and Canada, the world really. Since I already had an established blog – we thought this would be the best way to let every one know what’s going on.


Filed under baby, cardiology, work