Linda Kapala – My Valve Surgery
Hi folks, my name is Linda. I am 69 and have both a family history (on my dad’s side) and a personal history of heart problems. I taught for 27 years, 7 years in Canada and 20 years in Ventura, California. As a child I was identified first as having a heart murmur and then later told that I had mitral valve prolapse and might someday need to have my valve fixed. In 2012-13, problems began to appear with high blood pressure and then in the spring of 2014, I was scheduled for an angiogram. I remember being in the operating room, and at one point I asked the doctor if the scope was in and he said yes. He swung around a large big screen TV and showed me my valve and provided some explanation. I thought I would feel discomfort in my heart, but the heart is a muscle and does not have nerves. That was a relief. As I watched the valve, which looked like a leaf, I commented that it looked like it was falling off. The doctor chuckled and said, “Exactly and that is why we need to go in and see what condition it is in and if we can reattach it or need to replace it before it falls off.”
I had surgery in August of that year (2014) and had a medical leave but gratefully was able to return to work. Stellar medical staff supported me through this surgery and the love of family and friends was also important to my recovery.
After my surgery, an incredible team of recovery room cardiac nurses monitored me until I was able to be moved to the cardiac floor. The next few days were a blur as I was hooked up to various monitors and IV bags. There were also frequent chest x-rays during this time. I joked with my family that I probably had a radioactive glow. The staff waste no time in getting you mobile and making sure you have a bowel movement before discharge. They also address various things that can help you such as holding a pillow against my chest, incision card, using a walker, paying attention to your diet and much more. Upon discharge, my husband took me home and I was very sensitive to car acceleration and going around curves. It was somewhat stressful for both of us. I’m thankful to live in an era of amazing medical care and advances.
I look forward to sharing more of my story in future blogs where I will talk about recovery at home, cardio rehab and returning to work and more.