1/15/2013 4:24 PM
I was born in South Dakota in 1961 with tetralogy of Fallot. My first heart procedure, a BT Shunt, was at a ripe age of 18 months at the Variety Club Heart Hospital in Minneapolis. After that surgery by Dr. Varco, I got along as best I could until 1969 when we returned to Minneapolis to have the ToF repaired.
I remember as a young boy trying to be involved in baseball with my friends and squatting in the outfield because I had figured out that seemed to help with shortness of breath. The ToF repair went very well and in short order I was running, and playing much like a "normal" kid. I would see a cardiologist occasionally while I was growing up, but for the most part I had no heart related concerns.
Looking back I did make some poor choices related to heart health, but I am now working toward a healthier life. I let myself get over weight and went through a period of substance abuse, but generally the only reminder of my heart surgeries was one scar down my chest and another around my ribs under my right arm
At age 49 I began to have increasing exertional dyspnea, palpitations and some chest pain. I went to a cardiologist and was diagnosed with an ascending aortic aneurysm of about 5.75 cm, a minor pulmonary aneurysm and significant aortic valve regurgitation. In July of 2010 I had a mechanical aortic valve put in and both aneurysms repaired at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Within a few months of that surgery I also had a pacemaker implanted then an additional surgery to swap out the pacemaker for an ICD. I have recently begun some modifications in my lifestyle to alleviate symptoms of diastolic heart failure, and that seems to be going well.
I have been clean and sober for 19 plus years, and my healthy eating choices have gotten me on the road to a more healthy weight for my scarred and bruised ticker. (I use the term ticker literally as I believe I am the recipient of the loudest mechanical aortic valve available!)