Sunday, August 19, 2012

Pulmonary Heart Valve Replacement 1 year out

May 31 2012 I realized the next day was the one year anniversary of my pulmonary heart valve replacement surgery.  It hit me a like a two by four to the back of my head.  Totally out of the blue. There was the line in the sand for healing.   I was told it would take a year to see the results from the surgery.  I was no where near where I anticipated being when I left the hospital.  My one year goal was to run a 5 K.  This was not possible.

So, I did what any rational 56 year old woman would do.  I asked my husband if he knew what tomorrow was.  He did what any man working months of OT would do.  He said Friday.

I packed a gym bag on my way out the door Friday am.  There was  a note left on the kitchen table saying I would be back on Sunday.  After work I headed to Crystal Falls.  Larry called at 9 pm and to find out where I was.  He thought there was some in-patient hospital testing to be done.  After I explained I was hiding out for the weekend he told me to do what I needed to do and was looking forward to my return on Sunday.

The weekend gave me an opportunity to think through why I had not met my goal.  It was because I had 3 cases of bronchitis since last Summer.  I tried to do too much and injured myself: hip bursitis, blisters, shin splints, knee strain, heal pain... Notice, none of these limitations had anything to do with my heart.  

 My Summer weekly activities include ~ 3 miles of walking a day.  1 - 2 weekly yoga classes and I joined one of the company volley ball teams.  I am limited with the volley ball because it is hard to gage the location of the ball wearing bifocals.  Now I know.  Again, these are the activities of a healthy person.

4th of July shut down time off was spent in Crystal Falls putting together a memory quilt for my daughter and her new husband (more about that in a later post).  No air conditioning.  90°F+ and humid.  My time was spent at the sewing machine and on the floor laying out what developed into 36 patches and ~ 90" X 90" textile art project.  This was the first time in my life I was hot and drippy and functional.  I was even able to plant all the transplants my sister filled the back seat of my car with.  (So far the deer have not deemed them worthy of browsing.)

The medical pros did not understand why I was not happy with my physical progress when I saw them for a 1 year check up.   The cardiologist was so thrilled he called in an additional Fellow to view my one year test results.  My EKG went from a bump with a small spike to a line with a razor sharp spike with each heart beat.  Such things of athletes.  

The right atrium expansion caused by overworking to keep the blood on the other side of the failed pulmonary valve had reduced by 50%.  Think expanded balloon and the result when air is let out.  It never returns to it's original size.  More reduction is anticipated.  The most reduction occurs during the first year post surgery. 

This is my last posting on this topic.  My hope it has given the people who have read it a perspective of what can be anticipated should they face this physical challenge.  

May God bless you with the care, skill and love I was surrounded with.

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