01.24.23 pig heart

On Halloween 2022, a top cardiac surgeon informed me that I had a congenital heart defect that, untreated, would lead to my imminent death. Biscupid rather than triscupid, my valve was divided into two uneven parts rather than the balanced three-part design resembling a Mercedes hood ornament that was normal. This lack of balance had led to turbulence, which in turn resulted in clogging. My aortic heart valve was more than four fifths completely blocked.

My heart was enlarged with added muscle due to its working harder over the years. In the words of the surgeon, “The heart is an amazing organ that can compensate for such defects … until one day, it can’t.”

I needed open-heart surgery to replace the valve. Soon.

A family doctor a few weeks prior had noticed a clacking sound with her stethoscope and ordered an echocardiogram. The visit, by the way, was only to evaluate a blood pressure medication I was taking.

On October 30, I had no idea that I had a heart problem. Two weeks later, I underwent a diagnostic heart catheterization, and November 30 I underwent open heart surgery, where a pig valve replaced my own failing valve.

This experience changed my life, and not in simple, one-to-one ways. I suspect this journal will revisit the topic frequently. Today, I had a stress test at the hospital for baseline recovery results so that I can begin cardiac rehabilitation next week. As I write, I am still in the recovery phase, although I must say I kicked ass on the treadmill today. Tomorrow, I hope to write about the Owl.


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