My cardiologist’s words still ring in my head: “your Mitral Valve Prolapse has become flail, and you’ll need Mitral Valve Repair via open heart surgery. That took my breath away. But, just two months after surgery, my husband and I flew to Las Vegas to celebrate my recovery.
Once I decided to have Dr. David Adams and Dr. Ahmed El-Eshmawi perform the surgery, I was still nervous but confident. Three physicians, and a friend of 40 years, who’s a hospital CEO, all were quick to say the same thing: Adams and his team are the best.
It started with a consultation. It wasn’t rushed or overwhelming. Clearly their expertise was evident. But they were kind, concerned and respectful listeners who answered our lengthy list of questions and concerns thoroughly, and easy to understand. One in particular nagged at me: Was there a less invasive approach? Dr. Adams assured us that the success rate, patient longevity and recovery are all better when breaking the sternum to access the heart rather than pursuing other approaches. After all, he added, if he had to repair the engine of a car, he wouldn’t go in through the trunk. Made sense to us, as did all explanations.
I visited Cardiac Rehabilitation before my surgery. I wanted to understand what the 36 sessions post-surgery entailed. I asked what I could do before surgery, to facilitate my recuperation and ultimate good recovery. The reply was to walk. And walk. And walk. Excellent exercise. So I did……..an average of 10,000 steps/day.
Additionally, I learned from other patients. I did a lot of squats, using a 15lb Kettle Bell so that I could build lower body strength. I knew I’d have limited use of my upper body for at least the first month, so to propel myself, particularly getting up from sitting, I got my legs stronger. That made a HUGE difference.
A couple weeks before the surgery, I spent a few hours at the hospital understanding what was to happen the day of my surgery, completing forms and having preoperative tests. I met with members of various departments; the absolute standouts were the nurse who was with me the entire time and an especially kind cardiac anesthesiologist who listened to my concerns.
Finally, the big day. Surgery. I had the pleasure of meeting another cardiac anesthesiologist, Dr. Ronald Kahn. He was so genuinely kind, caring and considerate in easing my concerns from start to finish, and afterwards, that to this day, I can’t even say his name without tearing up. After surgery, the Cardiac ICU Team were incredible. Their attentiveness --- to everything --- was really impressive. Also noteworthy and surprising: I was not in any pain. Uncomfortable, yes. But no pain.
As days progressed, I felt better and better. And crossed-off mini daily goals to walk a little more and regain strength. Going to Vegas soon after surgery was one milestone. Completing all 36 Cardiac Rehab sessions four months after surgery was another. I accomplished 24 before Vegas!
Thanks to Dr. Adams, Dr. El-Eshmawi, Dr. Kahn and all Cardiac teams, I’m looking forward to many more. There aren’t enough thanks for all these medical professionals who genuinely cared about, and contributed to my health, comfort and ultimate fantastic recovery.
And last, but not least, an immense thank you goes to Dr. Chartaroon Rimsukcharoenchai, who placed the incision with consideration, thoughtfulness and sensitivity. She wanted me to be able to wear a shirt such that my incision looked like part of my cleavage, and not a stand-out scar.