From "mild to moderate" aortic stenosis to We're not letting you leave here until it is fixed".This pertains to my heart disease journey only - if you take time to read my profile you'll read that it is only one more step in my journey I call life.
My name is Kim and ever since my first echocardiogram a few years ago, I was always told my aortic stenosis was mild to moderate and the only medication was one to lower my cholesterol. I had known I had a heart murmur - that was first discovered in the early 1980's but no one ever told me what that meant as far as what it could lead to. Several years after that murmur was first discovered, during an appointment with my primary care doc, he heard that murmur of course and referred me on to a cardiologist and ordered my first echo - at which time my aortic stenosis was first discovered and I started the med. I didn't bother with any more follow-up like I probably should have - I had the med and really at that time no one impressed upon me how important follow-up was. Then on 12/10/13, I got what should have been a clear wake-up call about what aortic stenosis really meant to me and how necessary follow-up was. At that time I was working in a hospital in the business office department - I suddenly felt sort of queasy, warm and clammy. I stood up, thinking a brief walk, some fresh air and a drink of water might help but I never made it away from my desk. Instead I ended up taking a nose-dive and blacked-out for a few seconds. After a ride by ambulance to the ER followed by an overnight stay in the hospital, there was no definitive diagnosis except for dehydration - an echo was done in the hospital but found no change in my aortic stenosis as well as no med changes. And after a day off plus the weekend, I went back to work. I also have a serious eye condition that was causing a lot of problems when I should have been having my follow-up echo a year later in December of 2014 so again, there has been no follow-up of my aortic stenosis - until December of 2016 - when it became unavoidable. By the way, that serious eye condition - it led to my disability retirement in 2015.
On December 15, 2016 I was out finishing up some Christmas shopping. Luckily I was at the check-out counter, just started to finish up taking care of my purchases when I suddenly became aware of a somewhat familiar feeling - except this time it was a cool and clammy feeling with the addition of not really being able to focus on what I was doing. Once again, my body took a nose-dive and the next thing I remember was one of the clerks talking to me while she propped me up in a sitting position. The other clerk behind the counter had called an ambulance. After some time in the ER, I was admitted to the hospital - NOT for an overnight stay as I first suspected. It turns out that my aortic stenosis which had been just mild to moderate had somehow escalated to what a doctor would tell me a couple days later - "We are not letting you leave until we fix this". "This" was my aortic valve which was replaced on 12/23/16. After 3 days in Critical Care and another day and a half in a regular room, I transferred to a Rehab Hospital after which I stayed with my sister for most of January. I was finally ready to move home on 1/31/17 where among other things, I am continuing with my Cardiac Rehab.