another chance, again.
A bit over 13 years ago, I was on my way towards having bariatric surgery. It was a choice I made to try and improve my health. Gastric bypass was a surgery that had been done for decades at this point, and there was really never a moment I was concerned about the surgery. I knew there were some risks, there always is. But I also fully believed that had I not taken those steps, I wouldn’t be here today. I got another chance. During the months leading up to, and the recovery from Bariatric surgery, I was never really concerned. Never worried. I knew everything would be fine. It had to be, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Backing up a bit, I was also born with a heart murmur from aortic valve. I was told I “grew out of it”. I believe it’s called an innocent murmur. They don’t seem to be related to congenital heart defects and usually resolve by adulthood. However, throughout my adulthood, every so often a doctor would detect a slight murmur. Typically, they would order an ultrasound, I would get checked, and despite whatever other health issues I had, there was never any further concern. It came up again as I prepared for bariatric surgery, and again, there didn’t seem to be any need for further actions.
Last fall I started seeing a new primary care physician, and well, the murmur showed up. Given my age, and that it had been over a decade since the last check, they suggested I get an ultrasound. “Sure”. I mean, I’d already been through this a few other times over the years. No biggie.
Or so I thought.
The results came back and my PCP wanted me to see a cardiologist. Ok, I’m thinking maybe there’s some sort of medication I will need, or maybe the talk about losing some weight, etc. I heard from them on Tuesday, and they said they had an opening for Thursday morning if I was available. It should have been a clue, but I think I told myself that they just had a cancelation or something and that’s why it was this quick.
So yesterday, I go in, they do a brief EKG, the cardiologist comes in and I start hearing words like replacement and arterial vs open. Honestly, despite what I think was a lot of nodding on my part as he talked, when the doc asked if I had any questions, the only thing I could think of was…
“So bottom line here, we’re talking surgery?”.
It’s been 48hours and I’m still processing this. They need to get insurance approval, then I’ll be scheduled for an angiogram, and there are other things that likely have to be done as well. Reviewing some of the documentation from the echo, there’s some question as to if I may have a bicuspid valve (apparently it was difficult to get a clear image of the area), and there seems to be some “severe aortic stenosis”. Basically, the valve is hardening and not closing properly. The main thing I’m trying to keep in mind is there so far, there seems to be no issues with the heart muscle itself.
I have more questions than answers at this point. I don’t know how the surgery will be done, when it’s going to happen (other than probably before the end of March), what my recovery timeline will look like. And I think that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mechanical replacement vs organic have their own pros and cons I’ll need to take into account. I need to do a living will. Heck, I should do a regular will. I also know I should have even more questions, but I’m not even sure what to ask about at this point.
Bariatric surgery was a choice I made. This is not something I would choose if I had that option. But I don’t. Which is going to make the next few months very different from what I went through with the last major surgery I had. The one thing I can do is focus on the fact that, like my bariatric surgery, this is about my health. About my future. About ensuring I have one, resting easy in believing it will work out the way it’s supposed to, and looking forward to another chance, again.