It has been two years since I had my faulty Aortic Valve replaced during Open Heart Surgery. A lot has transpired and changed in my life since that time. The operation has put things into perspective and caused me to make some major life choices.
I retired from a job I loved after 27 years at the same company and we sold our home and put everything into storage. My life partner, Catherine and I became nomads and we have been running all over the world. Since my operation I have run 12 marathons. I ran my 64th marathon last month in Prague, Czech Republic, and have completed a race in 21 different countries.
Health wise, I feel great and very satisfied with my decision to have my valve replaced with a mechanical one. The daily dose of Warfarin and the weekly testing of my blood has become pretty routine for me. I use Cardiac Remote Services to help monitor my International Normalized Ratio, (INR) and have only had one mishap where I ran out of testing strips while in Europe. I was able to go to a nearby hospital in Madrid and they did the testing for me.
I really don’t think about that part of my life, back then, since I am much too busy living life to the fullest. The operation has taught me that we truly don’t know how long we have on this earth. Both my parents lived long and productive lives but that does not mean I can expect the same.
I no longer take life for granted and try to inspire until I expire.
The only thing that I have noticed is that I do bruise easily and that is what I was told before the operation since I will be on Warfarin for the rest of my life. I can bump into something one day and see the bruise the next. It really is no big deal since that all heal rather quickly.
My problem was noticed on a routine flight physical that I was getting as a pilot two years prior to the operation since I had no other symptoms and it first presented itself as a heart murmur. I remember wondering, why me. Was it hereditary or something I might have done to cause the leaky valve. I ran into someone that does a lot of work with athletes and she mentioned that it is not uncommon for people that participate in a lot of endurance sports to get a heart murmur since the valve does not have to work as hard, most of the time. You can say it gets lazy.
Whatever the reason may be, I am very grateful for the great work of the team at the Cleveland Clinic in general and my surgeon, Doctor Gosta Pettersson, M.D., Ph.D, in particular. The heart-valve-surgery.com website was also a great benefit and thanks once again to Adam Pick for putting it all together. The ability to post ones thoughts before and after the surgery was very therapeutic and reading the writings of others, my heart brothers and sisters, on the subject was extremely helpful.
Here is quote that I do live by.
Hunter Thompson wrote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”