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Ready for battle in 2020

  • 1.  Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-27-2019 16:37
    Hi all

    44yo extremely fit male from Adelaide, South Australia (played semi professional basketball and was still playing at a high level until a few months ago) 6'1 180lbs. 5 weeks ago I had an episode of Atrial Fibrillation out of nowhere .. 8 hours at 180 and had to be cardioverted via paddles in ER

    Follow up scans revealed PFO hole in heart (common) and bicuspid aortic valve (not so good) but unfortunately the valve has led to a 5.6cm ascending aortic aneurysm which requires fairly immediate open heart surgery .. initial consult is Jan 6th surgery I assume pretty soon after

    I have a 1 and 3 year old and am very scared for what all this means as it's a lot to process in the last week or so

    Hoping to find positive words and understanding community

    On Sotalol Beta Blockers whilst I wait for more news .. had Angio / CT Xmas Eve

    Obv aneurysm will need to be fixed and Bicuspid valve was slightly leaky and may need repair or replace .. concerned re those options and metal valve / warfarin etc

    Will do some more reading of the site but if anyone has been through similar let me know


    Tim Purgacz
    IT Analyst

  • 2.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-27-2019 16:59
    Sorry to hear about what you're going through. It's a lot to take in. I was diagnosed with a 5.1 cm aneurism in my ascending aorta that I will have surgery to fix next Friday the 3rd. Since your fit and healthy as I also am, you should have a successful surgery and recovery. You're doing the right thing by having the surgery to fix it. I'll pray for you to have a successful surgery and recovery. Surgery has come a long way in recent years.


  • 3.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-27-2019 17:31

    So sorry you are having to go through this.  I'm 22 days post surgery for aortic valve replacement and aneurysm repair.  There were a couple of rough days along the way , and sleeping is still challenging at times, but it is doable.  I did try to skimp on the pain meds on day three/four in the hospital which was a mistake.  Recommend that you get up and walk as soon, and as much as possible while in the hospital.  I was out of the hospital after five days, and mending at home now.  Just using occasional acetaminophen as needed for discomfort during the day, and one before bed.  Looking forward to cardiac rehab starting in a few weeks.  Happy to answer any questions you might have, and my thoughts are with you!


    Keith Binka

  • 4.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-27-2019 17:58

    I'm sorry to have to go through it as well. My aneurism is in the ascending aorta. Is that where yours was? How big was your aneurism before surgery? I'm 51 and in great health, so the doctor said I should do fine during the surgery and during recovery. At least I'm praying it goes well.They said they did want me to
    be up and walking the same day of surgery. Glad your recovery is going well. I'm sure they will also recommend cardiac rehab for me as well. I will be looking
    forward to getting back to my weight training again after 3 months post surgery.

    Scott Woodward
    QA Assistant
    Northrop Grumman
    San Ramon CA

  • 5.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-27-2019 20:36
    Hello Tim,
    Fear is normal, asking questions is good and helps to reduce some of the fear. You are very lucky to have had this identified early and you have your age and general health going for you. 
    Just remember to do all the things the medical staff tell you to do and do not get discouraged during the time you are recovering. You will feel as week as a kitten for a while, and that is normal. It will get better and you can return back to a normal life but it will take some time. 
    Everybody heals at a different rate and it is not a race. it is a journey to recovery.
    All of us in Mended Hearts have had our ups and downs. You are not alone with this. Be sure you go to cardiac rehab after your surgery, it will speed up your recovery.

    Take care
    Richard Short 
    Chapter 395

  • 6.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-28-2019 09:54

                  STAY POSITIVE!

                  I had open heart surgery at age 69 (valve repair and bypass) and am active and feel terrific (and grateful) eight years later.

                  You are young and strong and have a lot in your life going which should help your attitude and motivation. And you are used to taking care of yourself which will make any further adjustments you have to make in your lifestyle easier to manage.

    Bob Levin

    Berkeley, CA


    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  • 7.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-28-2019 16:43
    So scary! I am 58 and a former college tennis player. Still very active ran a mini marathon.  I had no idea but had bicuspid valve and a 4.2 cm aneurysm discovered due to a murmur.   Had both repaired this past July.  I was shocked and terrified when I found out.  Was in the hospital for about 5 days.  Anyway, when I read your note I was sitting here looking at the weather trying to decide am I going to run outside or on the treadmill.  I am back to normal but actually have better exercise tolerance ( my aortic stenosis from valve) had progressed so slowly I had no idea It was limiting me.  

    I know its scary but it's also scary to have these potential time bombs in our chest and its lucky that we found them before something really awful happened. 

    Best of luck and feel free to reach out if you have questions.  

  • 8.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-30-2019 14:57
    Hi Tim,

    You'll do great. Fear of the unknown is always the hardest part. The more you know the less scary it will be.

    I noticed you said you're already looking forward to get back to weight training in 3 months. I'm sure they have told you that this is when you "should" be able to start back up again but just one word of caution. You are going to heal at your own pace. I read all the pamphlets and brochures about recovery and was so very disappointed that I was not feeling back up to doing things the brochure said I would be able to do at 3 months. Even at 6 months. I stopped comparing my recovery to everyone else and discovered that I am unique in many ways and my body's healing process one of those ways that makes me unique. While getting support from others is so very important, I personally got tired of seeing all the pictures and stories of people that were "doing great" while I still felt horrible. They were not inspiring to me at all. Those stories and pictures were like a slap in the face to me. For me, when I stopped comparing myself to others, I became more accepting of where I was that hour ... that day ... that week.

    All this to say .... do not get discouraged. On those down days, just do what you're supposed to do and know that tomorrow is a new day in the hope that you'll be just a little bit better.

    Stay strong brother. You got this.

    Craig Ellis
    Bremerton WA

  • 9.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 12-31-2019 06:54
    Hi Tim,

    I just want to respond to tour comment about getting back to weight training.  As a serious, lifelong weight and bodyweight trainer, including through the weekend before my heart attack and emergency quintuple bypass surgery at age 67, and as a former gymnast and wrestler, I want to give you some insight about my own experience.

    I had no symptoms if coronary artery disease until I experienced the heart attack, and I had been doing a combination of bodyweight training (handstand pushups, pullups, dive bomber pushups, pistols) and weight training (dumbbell presses, weighted dips, deadlifts-all with serious weight).  If I wasn't the oldest guy at the gym, it was close, and I was accorded the treatment that senior citizens sometimes get, including being addressed by the younger guys as sir, to which I always responded that I was neither an officer nor my father and didn't warrant that title.

    The quintuple bypass surgery apparently went fine, but I contracted inhalation pneumonia right after the surgery and and a c diff superbug infection from all of the antibiotics I was being administered in an effort to save my life.  When I awoke and fully regained my mental faculties, I was stunned to learn that I had been in a medically induced coma for two weeks and had basically missed the month of February.  I also was so weak that I couldn't lift a knife or fork, let alone walk, and was fed by others for another week before being transferred to a rehab hospital.

    At rehab, I learned that somewhere along the line, I had lost the ability to lift my right arm much above waist level due, apparently, to "hypoxia of unknown origin."  Well, I wasn't going to let that defeat me.  I was determined to get back to weight training eventually, albeit at a lower heart healthier bodyweight than previously.

    After another three weeks in the rehab hospital (having previously spent three weeks in acute care(, I went home.  During that time, I had relearned how to walk and was again fully able to feed myself.  In fact, the rehab people thought that I had made remarkable progress, but I knew that I wasn't even close to being done.

    When I finally got home, I began rehab on an outpatient basis, which eventually included what for me was baby weight training.  I graduated rehab around the same time I was cleared by my thoracic surgeon and cardiologist to return to work and resume normal gym activities (around twelve weeks post-surgery).  I returned to the gym.

    In the beginning, I couldn't do a single pushup or pullup (having been a pullup champion in high school).  Very gradually, trained myself to do both and, eventually, the ability and strength to do handstand pushups.  My lifting also improved dramatically in the first tear after my surgery, but it really took off in my second year post-surgery.  I am now pound for pound at least as strong as I was pre-heart attack and I am now pushing 70 years of age.  I'm doing everything I did before and out-lifting many of the young guys, all the while mindful of my health history and maintaining a steady regimen of walking, cycling and healthy eating.

    The point is that I made it back and you can and will come back as well.  There are even websites out there for post-heart attack endurance and strength athletes that can give you inspiration during your recovery.  Join our club, brother.  There's a whole group of us that will be pulling for you and knowing that you can make it.  Recognize, though, that it will take time, but don't get discouraged.  As one of my favorite movie characters said, "what one man can do, another can do."  Keep repeating that and envisioning what you intend to accomplish as you rehab.

    Best of luck, brother.  I'm off to the gym.


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 10.  RE: Ready for battle in 2020

    Posted 01-07-2020 19:33
    I wish no one had to go through heart surgery. It's one of the hardest things I've endured. On the other hand I thank God for advanced medical knowledge and all the people who are involved. A couple tips to think about. If you have a reclining chair it is most comfortable to start with. Try not to use your hands very much. It's going to cause pain in your arms. Hug your pillow and rock to get really works! Everything goes very fast in the hospital and you may be overwhelmed.....don't feel bad for dozing off in the middle of a conversation. God bless. You got this.

    Carrie Kashani
    White Bear Lake MN