06 June 2014

How many PhDs can I fit into one post?

I didn't mention it before, but my braces were removed about a month ago. It's amazing the difference.

Before (September 2012)

After (April 2014) I have to say, all in all I'm pretty happy with the result. Besides having straight teeth, I can actually fit dental floss between my teeth, which is a huge improvement. My dentist is really excited about how well my teeth straightened up and now we're going to begin work on some minor cosmetic dentistry, mostly involving evening out my bite and whitening my teeth, particularly one that has yellowed after a root canal many years ago.


In other news, my heart is broken.

No, really. It’s true. Literally.

I have mitral valve prolapse, which is a fancy way of saying one of my heart valves is deformed and doesn’t do its job. It regurgitates blood in the wrong direction, so my heart has to work twice as hard to pump my blood in the right direction, so that it can flow where I need it to. You know, like my lungs and my arms and legs.

I’ve known about this condition for 3 1/2 years, but it’s likely I was born with my heart this way and never knew it. In fact, it appears to be a hereditary anomaly. I went to the emergency room one night with a ruptured ovarian cyst and the P.A. on duty noticed a murmur. I thought, “I have a murmur? What does that even mean?”

I told my doc about it at my next regular appointment a few months later and she decided to run a bunch of tests, bloodwork and an echocardiogram. That’s another fancy word that means ‘ultrasound for looking at your heart.’ The results came back and suddenly I was a heart patient.

It was easy at first. I was told everything was fine and I could do everything as I normally do. I was told I’d need to have an echocardiogram once a year so that it could be monitored, but that it was unlikely to get any worse.

But a couple of months ago, after my last echocardiogram, I found out it had become worse.

Now I have a cardiologist and I have to travel 1,000 miles to see him. Distances are big in Alaska and my doc is in Anchorage. I met my cardiologist for the first time last month and he ran more tests. He took more blood, ordered another echocardiogram, and ran an EKG. He listened to my heart and told me it was “moderately severe.” I thought, “‘Moderately severe?’ What does that even mean?”

He told me I needed to come back for a transesophageal echocardiogram, which is a really fancy way of saying he wants to get an ultrasound of my heart from inside my esophagus. Stephen and I just came back from Anchorage yesterday. The doc said I’m going to need surgery within the next five years, but it would most likely happen within the next 6 months. He told me that I’m a really good candidate for my valve to be repaired. This is good, because replacement valves don’t last very long and may require blood thinners for the rest of my life.

He's referring me to one of the best heart surgeons in the country, who happens to be in Spokane, WA. He said this surgeon is a specialist in robotic heart surgeries and that I won’t need my whole chest cut open, just three to five small scars, where portals will be made under my arm. Recovery time should be under 2 weeks.

I googled this surgeon and read everything I could find. He seems like a good surgeon. He has a whole list of degrees and certifications. He graduated from Harvard. He gets good reviews on the internet.

Then I found this video:

I think I’m going to be ok. I think I’m in good hands and that I’m a relatively low risk patient, regarding overall health. Sometimes I get palpitations or pressure in my chest and I worry, but mostly, I think I'm going to be just fine. I have good doctors and good support. Best of all, I have Stephen, and he's going to do his best to make sure I'm ok no matter what. ❤

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  1. congrats on the teeth and good luck with the ticker. maybe I'll see you in WA...

  2. I had the robotic heart surgery about 7 years ago to repair a hole in my heart. Something they randomly found that I had most likely had since birth. Its a little scary to see your doctor sitting behind a large piece of glass OUTSIDE of the operating room lol. I had some redneck FL doctor and I lived so I'm sure you will do great. I personally don't feel like scars are a big deal since I have a zillion of them but this was the only surgery I had that you actually can't even see the scars. Feel free to email me (FloridaLish@gmail.com) if you have any questions. Hope all goes well. Please post or email me and let me know how it goes :)