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November 28 is my "Valversary"!
Today is Judy's first birthday! (Judy is my St. Jude mechanical mitral valve).
It’s hard to believe that a whole year has gone by since my (hopefully last!) valve surgery. From the anticipation of the surgery itself in the weeks leading up to it to the rollercoaster ride of recovery, I’m feeling happy and blessed to be alive!
I’ll be honest, though: It hasn’t been an easy year. I had a complication the night of surgery that landed me back in the operating room. My husband Mike had already left for the evening, and my friend Stacey was with me, thank God! She noticed that I was a little short of breath and was turning gray. What my surgeon led me to believe was a small bleed in my heart and some clotting, I later learned, turned out to be much more serious; and without Stacey, the cardiac nurses, my surgeon, and the Lord’s hand in all this, I likely would not be posting this valversary story today. I remember joking with the nurses as they wheeled me back in and put the hairnet on me that they were putting on my “party hat.” Wheee! Still, I had an amazing team of nurses who all looked out for me from the CICU to Tele.
I posted in my blog a while back my experience with crushing post-op depression, and yes, while it hit me late and hard, fumbling my way back to myself again taught me so much: to learn to listen to my body, to rest, to be good to myself, and to be grateful for my life, because life is short.
One of my students recently asked me why I’m so positive and happy. I told her simply: “Because when you face a life-and-death situation, you learn not to take everything so seriously. Life is too short for nonsense.”
Am I always happy? Of course not! This most recent valve journey was long, arduous, painful, and rough. I still have bad days. But as I hear in quiet moments the tick of Judy as she keeps rhythm with every heartbeat, I’m reminded that life is a gift and that simple things, for me, are the best things.
Next year my valversary will fall on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve thought about the fact that my first two valve surgeries were in June—June 16, 2006 and June 6, 2016 respectively, so why was valve surgery #3 in November, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving? Maybe it's to remind me to be thankful and enjoy ThanksLIVING! (Mike came up with that).
AmbassadorC, November 28, 2018 7:06pm EST
Happy Vakversarey Ambassador DN❣️ What a beautiful post to share with the HV community. We all need a reminder every now and then about truly how short life is and what a blessing it is that we have a second, some even a third chance at living. I love your reflection of THANKSliving. An attitude of gratitude is so key to changing the way we look at life. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm and sharing your encouragement with this community. Here’s to continued heart health and experiencing more of life’s precious moments❤️ Keep on fighting with heart ❣️
X❤️ Ambassador C
Suzette, November 28, 2018 10:35pm EST
Happy Valversary to you and Judy!💖 I love that you named your valve!
You have an amazing attitude and outlook on life. Thank you for being an inspiration!💞☺️
AmbassadorMR, December 1, 2018 1:40pm EST
DN (that sounds so formal Deb),
I agree completely with Christine's sentiments as you celebrate your one-year valversary. I too celebrate what I call my "re-birthday" every November 7th. My sixth year joyful event just passed. I wish you and "Judy" many, many more years of healthy living together and hope that any and all complications are addressed and no longer an issue.
We as heart valve disease survivors have so much to be thankful for. I too try to keep life and living in a different and better perspective in light of the second chance that we have all been granted. I celebrate with you Deb!
Yours In Heart Health,
AmbassadorDN, December 9, 2018 2:20pm EST
Thanks, all! Sorry for the late reply! I've been buried in work and finally have two seconds to breathe, haha! I feel so fortunate and blessed to be part of an AMAZING heart valve team and I hope to see you all soon!