Aortic Valve Replacement- meet the su... - British Heart Fou...

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Aortic Valve Replacement- meet the surgeon 👩‍⚕️

Cottagegardener
Cottagegardener

Exactly 1 week ago I met my surgeon. I really nice lady who put me at ease and explained everything I needed to know about Aortic Valve Replacement and after some discussion we decided upon opting for a bovine tissue valve.

I attended the appointment with my husband who’s been a great support since this all began. He’s been quite anxious about this situation I find myself in and so it was important that he was also able to ask my surgeon questions too.

When the appointment letter arrived my stomach churned. Most of the time I’m quite sensible about having surgery but every now and again that niggly little worry worm gets into my head...............

I’m actually away on holiday as I type. I had a phone call from the hospital today asking me come in for a CT Scan, I’m also waiting for an appointment with the Anaesthetist to arrive. My surgeon wants to operate in August. I know this surgery will help and I’m so so grateful but I can’t help feeling a little bit apprehensive. Ive read so many blogs from people in the same situation and I think most feel a bit like me. So today I’m a wimp but hopefully tomorrow I’ll be Mrs Sensible again. 🌸

20 Replies
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Glad it went well and hope you're now having a great holiday! Good luck with everything. Though you are still in waiting limbo it's great you now have some clarity at least and can start planning and sorting everything out. Nic x

Cheers Nic

I know you and your family have been there so you know exactly how we feel

Many thanks for you support 🌸

Hi, I can understand how your feeling it's normal to worry about having any operation , remember the surgeon has preformed many many of this type of operation . You will be fine and soon on the mend. I think a lot of people on this site will soon be along to reassure you as they have the same operation and came out the other side fit and well. Best wishes x

Thanks plumb - I think the phone call from the hospital spooked me yesterday and generally I do try to be positive but I guess it was just one of those days. 🌸

Oh my word I could have written your email - I experienced exactly the same emotions! In fact most people who read it will feel the same. I had aortic valve replacement with a bovine valve in March this year. My surgeon signed me off six weeks after surgery and my life has now returned to normal. Yes, it’s a big operation but I was astounded at the care and level of expertise I found before, during and after my op. It’s a daunting prospect and we all experience fear but stay positive and acknowledge you’ve taken the first step towards a better life. Believe me there are a lot of us around who’ve been through this op and like you I was very lucky to have caring husband who was with me every step of the way - it really does help. I wish I had found this forum before my surgery , so do keep coming back it’s enormously helpful if you’ve got any concerns . August isn’t too long to wait - I had mine quickly too - it will soon be in the past. Good luck and stay positive.

Thank you so much for you kind and very supportive words. Comforting to know I’m not alone. This is a great website, sensible and very caring 🌸

It helps to know some of what to expect. I had my Mitral valve replaced 26 years ago, and my father his Aortic valve 32 years ago, and the technician who did my echo said he had seen patients with the valve still working after 40 years, and the new valves of today are even better! I refused to watch videos of the operation. I told the doctors that whatever they agreed with my wife, I agree to. This follows our marriage rule that the least involved and calmest spouse takes the decision. I was ill before the op, so ill, I had come to terms with death. I remember praying: I want to live to see my children grow up. During the recovery I remember waking a little and asking myself the question: am I in heaven, or am I still on earth? How can I know? Well, in heaven there is no pain, so can I feel pain? I systematically mentally searched all my body parts and found pain, then I sighed almost with regret.

My problems were trivial -- leg cramp! My wife knew I had a problem and alerted staff in intensive care. Many say that the worst moment is in recovery when you gag. But, this is a sign of progress!!! I remember hearing a kindly nurse say "relax" and next time I woke a little, the problem was not there.

What I did not expect in recovery, once on the ward, was the shoulder cramps. They pass. They are normal, and not dangerous, so, are not frightening. For the first three nights back on the ward the night staff came round around 2am and all of us suffering this way were, in turn, invited to stand up, in a bucket of warm water. Then they gave me an all over wash. I still remember how pleasant that was. Then, with new sheets and padding, I slept a few more hours.

Regarding pain. We all have a pain threshold. Nurses told me it varies enormously and has nothing to do with courage etc so is nothing to do with being macho or ashamed about. I was told I could refuse pain killers during the day if I wanted, but that for the first few nights I should have the humility to accept a pain killer. Good advice.

Many can testify that this is a marvelous operation.

Hello Cottagegardener. Being apprehensive is quite normal. I had a new aortic valve plus bypasses in 2005 when I was 57...and I'm still here! If I'd been given a choice at the time, I would have opted for a bovine valve. Mine is metal and that means I have to take warfarin to keep my blood thin. You won't have to do that. My operation was in February. In June that year, we had a beach holiday in Costa Blanca. I was skipping around like a spring lamb. The operation will make you feel so much better. Best wishes. Sussexflyer.

Thanks for your reply Sussexflyer. It’s great to know you are keeping well and that you felt so good on your holiday following surgery. I want to feel like that too!

K R

🌸

Hello Cottagegardener. I forgot to mention something. I was advised prior to surgery to step up my fluid (water) intake. 2 litres a day. It helps to wash out the anaesthetic or so they said. Also, and I don't want to alarm you in any way, I felt weepy when I got home. Apparently it's not unusual. The main thing is to follow and do everything that your therapy team tell you. You'll be given appointments for cardiac rehab exercises. They'll be gentle at first so don't worry but stick to it and if you're offered it, continue with other cardiac patients. You won't regret it. It's kept me going for 14 years!

Keep in touch. x

Thank you Sussexflyer, you’re an angel 😇

I vaguely remember reading something about water intake, thank you for reminding me. I have the odd weepy day now so I expect that will be the order of the day after the op too. It’s good to get this emotional stuff out of your system. 🌸

Cheers ILowe 🌸

I've had a valve repair which made a tremendous difference to my life and it will to yours.

Thanks Lanc2 ! So many folk say the same as you. My ‘symptoms’ have sort of become the norm for me. I had an excuse in my head for everything, chest pain, breathlessness etc. I so want to walk at pace and talk at the same time!

Keep well!

Kind regards 🌸

I had my aortic valve and 3 bypass surgery on 16 May and all my wounds (leg and chest) are fully healed. Surgeon was Richard Warwick in Stoke hospital, a gent and a much praised surgeon.

Back home 6 days after the operation.

No problems

That’s wonderful news Ticktock and good to know your wounds have healed quickly. My op will be carried out at Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital. Just out of interest what type of valve did you opt for?

Thanks and good wishes 🌸

The animal type, not metal. Use Apple Watch 4 to track heartbeats and exercise, everything normal.

Gradual improvement each week in reducing painkiller need, none for a month now.

Slept at least 8 hours since arriving home plus an hour or two during the day

Surgeon fantastic, reputation and bedside manners. Seen him for a review and he says I don’t need to see him again.

Result!

Getting back to original fitness level is a long task, still get very tired just doing gentle walking but this was predicted.

Thanks Ticktock- I was just curious re the valve- brilliant that you’re off the painkillers- I hate taking tablets especially painkillers (they don’t help the constitution if you know what I mean 😳🤣) I’m so jealous of your sleeping pattern, I don’t sleep at all well these days. The heat doesn’t help (we’ve been babysitting in London since Thursday and it’s like being in an oven!) and of course pre op you tend to wake up in the night thinking of what is to come and feeling your heart race.

Keep up the good work re your fitness Ticktock - everyone on here says it pays dividends and as the old saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ I’ll be looking to you and other post op people to encourage me to get on the road to good recovery after my op.

Enjoy this beautiful day 🌸⭐️🌸

There’s no point saying don’t worry most of us do. I think the waiting is worse then when you’re in the hospital you just give yourself up to them. My AVR was 33 years ago. I didn’t have a choice then as to which valve I should have. They said as I was only in early thirties it will be a mechanical valve. I recovered really well and quite quickly back to normal. I had a mitral valve repair nearly 20 years ago and not so good. Got a bad infection which was bad luck. I would recommend a pull on bra with no wires and a cushion to put under car seat belt for a few weeks. Wishing you all the best for August 👍

Hi Suzy thank you for your reply. What bad luck to get an infection after your first op went so well - must have been very miserable for you at the time.

I read lots of posts re this topic and the majority say the waiting is almost worse than the op itself ☹️

Thank you also for the tips at the end of your reply - very useful! ⭐️🌸

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