I've now passed the 6 month post-surgery milestone with only minor health setbacks, none of which were heart related but never the less, knocked back my fitness and strangely, my morale.
During my self-managed rehab, I revisited walks and activities which were difficult or impossible, prior to receiving my new aortic valve. It was an enormous boost to morale and self-esteem to have physical evidence that I was mended and my exercise capacity restored. Additionally, I could now eat and exercise which meant cafe stops or pub walks were enjoyable again.
So fitness restored, there was one hill walk in the Brecon Beacons where I was a DNF - Did Not Finish - on the last two occasions, prior to surgery. Angina symptoms made it difficult to walk the steep hills, so I had the disappointment of walking back to base, slowly and alone - a graphic and depressing reminder of my stenosis and declining physical condition.
Fast forward 6 months and I'm delighted to report that the relentless 3.5 mile constant uphill walk has been completed in glorious weather this weekend. Not quickly, but with no discomfort and with only normal breathlessness and rapid recovery. So a celebratory picnic in the Welsh sunshine on the summit with close friends. Result!
So my point? Just celebrating the wonder of medical science and restorative heart surgery. But also showing that despite the fear of the unknown and the debilitating period, immediately after surgery, there's every possibility that your previous quality of life will be restored.
It worked for me, for which I will be eternally grateful. There's every chance it could work for you too, so have faith and hang on in there. Oh and good luck!