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Sabauer, December 29,  2018  12:32am EST

2 mechanical valves

Hi I am a 53 year old female who received a mechanical aortic valve on Sept 25th. 4 days into my recovery they discover that my mitral valve was accidentally damaged during my surgery. On Oct 4 they took me back to surgery and put in a mechanical mitral valve. My body is having a hard time getting my endurance back. I was in ICU for 3 weeks and couldn't walk at all for about 5 weeks. My body went through a lot in a very short time. I would like to hear from anyone who also has 2 mechanical valves if possible. How do you deal with your new normal?

7 Replies
  • AHAASAKatie
    AHAASAKatie, December 29,  2018  7:06am EST

    Good morning, I am so sorry to read this!  You have been through so much and we are glad to be here to support you through this journey. We have a very strong Heart Valve patient community and I am sure many of our members will share their experiences over the next few days. I can provide the Heart Valve patient education information for you. Please know that we are here for you, best Katie 

  • Suzette
    Suzette, December 29,  2018  10:40am EST


    You have endured so much in such a short amount of time. That takes a huge toll on you physically and emotionally.

    While I wish I had more sound advice, I know the members of this community will have a lot of wisdom to offer!

    I'll be thinking of you and wish you the best on your recovery journey.💖

  • AmbassadorDN
    AmbassadorDN, December 29,  2018  1:15pm EST

    Welcome, Sabauer!

    I can empathize on some level with you when the unexpected happens. I’ve had three heart valve surgeries between the ages of 30 and 42; the most recent involved a complication as well. While I don’t have two mechanical valves, I have one mechanical in the mitral position that was implanted last November 2017, and I’m still fumbling my way back to a “new” normal.

    First, are you doing any cardiac rehab? Recovering can be an up-and-down process, and I know how easy it is to be frustrated when you feel as if you aren’t making much headway in your recovery. Be patient, listen to your body. You WILL get there; it just takes time. Also, how are you managing your INR? Are you self-monitoring or going to a Coumadin Clinic? I know that being on Coumadin can present its own challenges as you have to balance your dose with the amount of Vitamin K you consume.

    Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and ask any specific questions you may have. While each of us has a different “valve journey,” we are all united in the process of having surgery and “climbing back down the mountain.”

    To Heart and Soul Health,

    Debra (Ambassador DN)

  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC, December 29,  2018  2:24pm EST
    ucm_460247-1.pdf (2).

    Welcome Sabuer,

    You have come to the right place and will find that you are among a community of heart valve warriors of all kinds.  My fellow Ambassador DN provided you with a great framework to begin with in terms of reseraching cardiac rehab as well as the management of the INR.  Katie also provided you with a wonderful educational reource that the AHA provides and I would encourage you to explore the various areas that can help you with your recovery journey. There are PDF's that include a milestone recovery tracker that might be helpful.  For me, I share with you the repair of the mitral valve, however, not mechanically such as yourself.  That said, I can relate to your inquiry as to the amount of "time" it takes to bounce back and wonder why you are not returning to your "new normal".  My road to recovery presented many speed bumps along the way such as having to have 3 cardio versions due to an extremly high heart rate of anywhere north of 160 to 180 bpm while at rest, as well as cardiac catheteric abalation all within 4 months of OHS. This was very challenging both mentally and physically as I was struggling with how can all of this be when I thought I was going in to get my heart "fixed" and now coming out with all sorts of "side issues?"  I also was delayed in starting cardiac rehab due to atrial flutter / fib which was causing those high heart rates, which was a real disappointment to me, seeing that I was looking forward to jump starting into a physical fitness routine. The one takeaway that I can provide you with is that every "body" is different in terms of recovery.  Try not to get frustrated with the amount of time it is taking for you to adjust to your "new normal".  I know it is easier said than done, but I never understood why no one could give me a definitive answer as to "how long" it will take for me to return to work, return to my day to day activities, etc.  I now know why, everyone presents differently.

    I wish you the best in heart health as you continue to recover.  I would also like to share with you a blog post that I shared with the community re: my new normal.  Please feel free to reach out to us at any time, as we welcome you with heart!

    Keep on fighting with heart!

    Ambassador C

  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC, December 29,  2018  2:27pm EST
    IMG_0173.PNG (1).

    Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal?

    Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal?  August 2016

    I recently celebrated my three year anniversary from open heart surgery for a mitral valve repair on June 13th.  In many ways, it feels like a second birthday.  A time to celebrate, a time for reflection and a time to appreciate all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me during this journey.  Yesterday, I completed my "maintenance check up" and I could not help but pause and reflect upon the many obstacles that I have overcome in my first year of recovery. There were many speed bumps on the road to recovery and I felt as if they were road blocks at times.  I look back and think to myself, how did I get through all of this?  The answer:  To Adapt and Overcome.  

    While it may sound quite simple, it can be quite challenging.  As I reflect upon the beginning of my journey, I had to "adapt" when  life threw me a curve ball and I was told that  it was time to have open heart surgery to repair a leaking valve.  Life doesn't always go as we plan. We have a choice, we can either ignore the issue and hope that it goes away, or adapt and overcome

    The best laid plans for my recovery, didn't go as I had thought.  I had prepared, researched and prepared some more, researched and prepared.  I had many lists and checked them twice, even three times.  What was not on my list is what would become my "new normal".  As I hit the various speed bumps upon my road to recovery (fluid around my heart, atrial flutter, irregular heartbeat resulting in 3 cardioversions,  atrial fibrillation and a catheter ablation) within 4 months of open heart surgery, my recovery plan did not allow for flexibility.  I thought I would have this surgery, go through the healing process and be "fixed".  I quickly needed to learn how to "overcome" these obstacles. Swelling, weight gain, rapid heart beats, restricted diet, bouts of lightheadnesses, fatigue and low blood pressure just to name a few, are what became my new "normal" at various times during my recovery. These were tough pills to swallow at first. 

    I am happy to report that the outcome of my "maintenance check up" yesterday was a positive one.  While my valve has been repaired, I still feel occasional palpitations, and at times lightheadnesses but my heart is beating as strong as ever.  My blood pressure tends to run low, but I am alive and kicking.  I am no longer restricted by rapid heart beats, even though I still get PVC's.  I am able to kick box 3-4 times a week and I keep fighting with heart. My research and checklists have allowed me to pay it forward and help make someone else's journey a little easier.  This has become my "new normal" and I continue to "kick out" heart disease one beat at a time.  

    What is your new normal?  How have you adapted and overcome? 

  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC, December 29,  2018  2:34pm EST

    I do not believe that the PDF that I attached in the previous post came through, so here is the link to the recovery milestone chart that I referred to earlier. This can be a super helpful tool to use in charting your progress and bringing with you to your follow up cardio appointments. As another side note, I kept a spiral bound notebook of all my symptoms I expereienced, and the associaited activity I was perfmoing at that moment. I found that the more information that I provided to my cardio, the better off he was in assessing the timing of the abalation.  I hope this helps. 

    Post surgery milestones

  • AmbassadorB
    AmbassadorB, December 29,  2018  2:45pm EST

    Hi Sabauer,

    First of all; Happy New Year!   We have alot to be thankful for, We're Here!,  And, looking forward to a new year that will bring a healthy, much improved quality of living, and some HAPPY Times!   Like you, Debra (Ambassador DN), and a number of other outstanding fellow Heart Valve Friends, we are all looking forward to a continued Better Quality of Life in 2019!    Be confident!  You will enjoy an improved quality of life in 2019 !   

    Debra touched on the most important "medicine" -  Cardiac Rehab.   The finest program to begin your complete recovery status, is regular participation in Cardiac Rehab.  The exercises and physical activity that you will undego, monitored by experienced professional medical personnel, is the way to proceed toward an excellent quality of life.   Your strength, mental attitude, endurance and support will realize  huge improvement as a result of  your participation.  Do it !

    It's been 4 years since my last major surgery, a TAVR procedure that provided me with a new Edwards Aortic Heart Valve.   I  completed Cardiac Rehab and have continued with a strong physical exercise program  that has continued to give me an excellent quality of life.     Katie has suggested that you take advantage of the Heart Valve Information that is available, and I strongly second that idea. 

    Happy New Year!

    Bernie     Ambassador B

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