1/8/2013 4:20 PM
My first heart surgery was for coarctation of the aorta at age 2. For many years after that I followed up with my pediatric cardiologist and was always given a clean bill of health. At age 25 I ran the Chicago marathon. Around age 30 I stopped going to see the cardiologist (my bad decision).
At age 36, I started to feel fatigued after the smallest efforts. I was traveling abroad in Buenos Aires when the fatigue really started to hamper my trip. Upon return I started having difficulty breathing. At the ER I was shocked to learn I was in congestive heart failure.
Lots of tests and doctors appointments later I was on my way to Mayo in Rochester where I was diagnosed with Shone’s Syndrome and subsequently had open heart surgery. They replaced my mitral valve and aortic valve with mechanical valves. They also repaired a sinus of valsalva aneurysm. I was in the hospital for 6 days. I returned to work 18 days after heart surgery.
I completed cardiac rehabilitation and currently run 12-15 miles a week. Because I have mechanical valves I will be on Coumadin for the rest of my life. I currently test myself every 2-3 weeks with a home test, and the results are submitted to my cardiologist.
About 6 months after surgery I had a “cardiac event”. My heart started to race and would not slow back down. I went to the ER and they clocked my heart rate at 254 beats per minute and I was still conscious! They tried slowing it with adenosine, but that didn’t work so they had to cardiovert me (paddles/electricity). That was a pretty scary experience.
I was in the hospital a whopping 6 days after that! Thankfully the EP study concluded no pacemaker just yet. As a result I take metropolol daily in addition to the Coumadin. It took a long while to get used to the metropolol. It’s been 18 months since my second heart surgery. I am still on metropolol, but haven’t had any more “cardiac events”. I like sharing my story with others and hearing about others’ experiences. I am grateful to have found the ACHA.