Female Heart Valve Ambassador 7.

Christine Rekash

At a routine physical, Christine's physician detected a heart murmur. Upon being referred to a specialist, she was told she had mitral valve prolapse. Upon close monitoring and a watchful eye of her cardiologist through routine testing, she developed a leaking mitral valve. The conditioned had worsened, causing her heart to become enlarged as it worked harder...

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  • Fiorengina
    Fiorengina,
    Hi Christine, I only have access to part of your atory, but it seems similar to my recent diagnosis. I am reaching out becuase I feel scared and lost, and dont know what to expect for the future. I thought connecting without someome like yourself might help me cope. As of now, I'm super anxious and having trouble putting this new information in a way that I feel comfortable.
  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC,
    Good evening Foirengina. Welcome to the support network! Thank you for reaching out as I remember all too well the feelings that you are experiencing upon diagnosis. Would you like me to share with you my full story? This may help you cope with your diagnosis as I provided tips and tricks in the articles.
  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC,
    Here is a re-post for you as well that I think may assist you with your journey. Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal? Adapt and Overcome - What is your New Normal? 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?
  • Krystal
    Krystal,
    I just has a CABGx2 in 2015 and now I am going to have to have an aortic valve placed in open heart surgery in the next 3 to six months for stage 4 aortic valve regurge. I am pretty nervous and trying to be cool about it around the family. I have been more anxious about the surgery but now really worried about what my life will be like afterwards. Everyone says, "oh, it will be so much better once you get your valve, you won't be short of breath all the time". But you know, I don't really know what to expect. I know it takes at least 3 months to recoup after the surgery, because I just did that. But will the valve fix things that much? The whole thing of not knowing is scary.
  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC,
    Good evening Krystal - Welcome to the support network. We are each other's strength for the journey ahead. While I can certainly relate to all of what you are concerned with, please do not feel you are alone. What I have found on my journey is that every "body" is different in terms of thier recovery. I had a VERY HARD time trying to understand why I could not get a definite answer on when can I return to work, how long until,I'm back to "Normal" again? Based on my post operative complications, I now understand why. For me, I had to endure 3 cardio versions and 1 cardiac Cather ablation before it took al,it's a year and a half for me to feel "normal" again. Again, this is based on my journey and every body is different. This is not to alarm you at all, but to be realistic in your expectations of yourself. Please feel free to check out the educational resources on the AHA website that may also provide you with references to ease your anxiety. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/HeartValveProblemsandDisease/Understanding-Your-Heart-Valve-Treatment-Options_UCM_450784_Article.jsp#. I found that the more educated I was going into surgery, the better I would feel about having the procedure done. While having O H S is a risk, the greater risk for me, was doing nothing, ignoring the problem and not taking the recommendation of getting my valve repaired. While I ran into a few speed bumps post op - looking back, my heart is beating as strong as ever, and I have adjusted to my "new normal" . I'm alive and "kicking" one heart beat at time. Best of luck to you in your upcoming surgery. Keep fighting with heart! https://supportnetwork.heart.org/blog-news/christine-rekash-wagner-my-journey-operation-backward-blood-part-1/ https://supportnetwork.heart.org/blog-news/christine-rekash-wagner-my-journey-operation-backward-blood-part-2/ https://supportnetwork.heart.org/blog-news/christine-rekash-wagner-my-journey-operation-backward-blood-part-3/ Christine
  • angelab
    angelab,
    Christine, Thank you for sharing your story and your practical tips for women preparing for heart surgery. I am scheduled for mitral valve repair two weeks from today and am grateful to have stumbled upon your positive words regarding your experience. I am 50, and my surgery will be minimally invasive (a description which I find rather amusing). I wondered if you have come across anyone on this site, or elsewhere, who has been through the MICS, rather than traditional sternotomy. I would love to hear about the MICS experience and recovery. Thanks again!
  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC,
    Good evening Angelab! Welcome to the support network! I am so greatful that you have come across my tips and tricks to help prepare you for your upcoming surgery. My suggestion would be that you post a question re the minimally invasive procedure on the heart valve disease section. My very best wishes for a successful surgery and recovery. Please feel free to reach out and let us know how you are doing! Keep on fighting with heart.
  • nathpt
    nathpt,
    Thank you Christine Rekash for sharing your story and support.
  • User63680
    User63680,

    Christine, You were such a help to me before my surgery and I am hoping you have some advice for me now.  It has been 1 1/2 years since my Mitral valve replacement.  I have done everything the doctor's told me to do.  However, I am still extremely tired. It is almost as bad as before the replacement.  I get waves of nausea several times a day where I go from fine to about to be sick.  They seem to occur only when I am active, not when I am just sitting reading or watching TV. Exertion other than walking exhausts me as does lifting anything.  I go to my cardiologist again next week but I get the feeling they don't believe me.  I am wondering if anyone else has a similar experience.  I can not believe this is how the rest of my life will be. I appreciate your time. 

  • AmbassadorC
    AmbassadorC,

    User63680 - Good morning, 

    Thank you for reaching out. I’m so sorry for not seeing this earlier and I’m hopeful that this will reach you before your doctor appointment. My first suggestion is to be your own Advocate and don’t let the feeling of the medical professionals not believe you. Give them as much data as possible surrounding your events. Secondly, I would raise the issue of asking for an echo or stress test to see what may be going on upon exertion. Third, has there been any change in medications? There’s a possibility that if there was, this could be a side effect. Most importantly, try not to panic that this will be the be all end all moving forward. One heartbeat at time to uncover each layer of what may be the underlying issue. 

    Best of luck to you and please let me know how the appointment went. 

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