Thank God I Had A
Proactive and Concerned Doctor.
For those AR members/contributors who are staunch, stick to the subject, nose to the grind stone, die hard Real Estate focused and driven this may be somewhat off topic and incongruous to you.
However, it's something that I really want to share with all the greatl friends and folks I've come to know over the many years I've had the opportunity to pass along my thoughts and ideas on this wonderful platform
I know this message will be helpful to a lot of folks and if I
can enlighten just one person and get
them at least thinking, if not moving, in the right direction I'll
consider this post a successful contribution.
SEVERE AORTIC VALVE STENOSIS aka "THE WIDOW MAKER" is a very serious and degenerative disease for which the ultimate cure is a NEW AORTIC VALVE REPLACEMENT.
The reason it's called the "WIDOW MAKER" is because of its predominantly "ASYMTOMATIC" nature meaning that unless you've been officially diagnosed and made aware of this condition and continue to go on about your ways you could become the victim of a fatal heart attack or stroke. The lucky ones with this condition will or can display various SYMPTOMS that should be discussed with your health care professionals immediately.
In my particular case it was definitely "ASYMTOMATIC". I literally had no idea I was even close to having this condition. Had it not been for a very attentive and proactive primary care physician and her years of experience, a thorough understanding and history of my medical background and a patient ear I could have just as easily become another victim and statistic and Janis another widow.
It all started with a routine physical exam whence my doctor
was checking out my heart and lungs with a stethoscope and
didn't like what she heard.
She told me she didn't like what she was hearing with the heart murmur I've had since attracting Scarlet Fever as an infant. So she insisted that I get in ASAP for an "ECHO CARDIOGRAM".
I arrived for the ECHO within days at 1:30pm last October, '14. By 4pm that evening my new and unbeknown Cardiologist called me personally on the phone and wanted to see me in his office first thing the next morning.
It wasn't a dire emergency but Kaiser protocol is such that quick and efficient communication between care givers and patients is their number one priority. My Cardiologist had a good one hour heart to heart with me (pun intended) and told me that albeit I didn't need to have the surgery ASAP it would have to be monitored about every 6 months to check on the size reduction of the valve along with other related symptoms.
After my May '15 follow up Janis and I decided to take matters into our own hands. What it all came down to was my comparatively young and healthy age of 70, current lifestyle (lots of surfing, walking and bicycle riding) and our extremely busy travel schedule; Especially out of the Country.
Truth be known you can live with this condition for a few years. However, it's a ticking time bomb. Every year you wait you're getting a year older, weaker and increasingly more vunerable and susceptible to other possibly exacerbated conditions and general aging realities. Bottom line? My window is quickly closing. The condition is irreversible yet treatable only by a surgically administered AORTIC VALVE REPLACEMENT.
But the really sobering, or should I say potential nightmare, is being somewhere far far away in a strange place possibly miles and hours or even days away from any qualified and experienced health care facilities coupled with the type of sanitary environment and experienced health care providers needed to help you through the entirety of the ordeal.
Janis and I have always preferred to deal proactively and electively as opposed to having to deal with very unpleasant possibly even fatal consequences. So upon our return in mid July from a trip out of the country and before departing on two more slated for the end of the year we decided to pull the trigger.
I had a month to physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually prepare for this procedure. I successfully completed all the required pre surgical lab studies and tests i.e. cat scan, carotid artery exam, EKG and finally the very necessary ANGIOGRAM that gives the surgical team a thorough overview of all your heart dynamics and just what they would be dealing with during the surgery.
But most importantly my family had adequate time to prepare as well. I didn't want to worry our 5 Children and 14 Grandchildren with a bunch of what ifs so we waited until all the info was in and a date was set to inform them.
Finally on August 18th, the surgery went off without a hitch. I was only in ICU for 1 day and in a hospital bed for 4. I'm now resting comfortably from the comforts and confines of my own humble abode, getting back into a good exercise regimen and am having a blast hugging my darling little grand kiddies, taking nice walks around my property and sleeping next to my warm and beautiful bride of 42 years.
So where am I going with all of this? I'm just reaching out and sharing with the many I care so much about what has thus far been a very positive ending to what could have been a very needless and tragic one.
None of us are getting any younger and unless something unusual happens none of us are getting outta here alive. But we can make pro active choices in our lives that can add quality to those diminishing and precious years that seem to be ticking by faster and faster everyday.
Oh, BTW a final note. This disease is not age discriminate.
Folks from 17 to 70 have lost their lives to this sneaky
So just because your young, fit, work out regularly and feel that sense of invincibility and immortality don't take anything for granted or leave anything to chance. Hold your heart in your own hands and think and act proactively. Don't be afraid to ask your health care provider to check out your heart anytime you visit his/her office. Don't be a victim.
Please feel free to share this with your family and friends or anyone you think may gain some value from it.
"Be the Captain of your
Ship and the Master of your Fate"