Mended Hearts Open Forum

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  • 1.  New and nervous

    Posted 12-09-2022 08:26

    I am 55 and was diagnosed in October with aortic valve stenosis. Surgery date is Jan 12th, for valve replacement with a mechanical valve.
    I am mostly over my denial of the diagnosis.

    Most of my concerns are about how things will go once i am home. Sleeping, dressing, getting around etc. i will have some extra family help the first week… will i need that help longer than that? 

    i know it is different for everyone. Just trying to get some idea of what to expect.
    oh and can you really hear the valve working?!?!

    i appreciate any feedback.

    samantha harriman
    claims reviewer
    moddleboro MA

  • 2.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-10-2022 12:29

    Hi, Samantha.
    Hugs to you as you mull over and accept this new, not so pleasant diagnosis. The good news is that with modern health technology, you will live a long full life after surgery. I was around your age when initially diagnosed. For me, I needed help for about a month. I returned to work ( mainly office work/ Exec Asst) at week 10 …. But it was a little much, so I went part time for a few weeks. 
    A reclining chair ( NOT WITH THE MANUAL LEVER ) was where I spent a lot of my time between walks. You won't be able to do certain things with your arms as you recover in the early weeks home. Stay hydrated and use your pain meds! I highly recommend Adam Pick's book, it's chalk-full of practical information!!

    Kind regards and prayers,
    Debi :)

    Debi Ries
    San Diego, Ca
    AVR / Open Surgery 2011/ TAAA 4.2 cm / Afib

  • 3.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-10-2022 12:52
    Hi Samantha,

    It's normal to feel nervous or apprehensive about any surgery. If this helps, I'm 63 and just had mitral valve repair 8 weeks ago but I had no complications and returned to work full time after one month. I have no restrictions other than lifting up to 20 pounds. You will probably not need much help after surgery with the exception of maybe shopping and cleaning. Time is your best friend and by week six you won't even realize you had surgery. 

    Best regards,

  • 4.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-10-2022 14:02
    Hi Samantha,

    I have never had a valve replacement, but I have had open heart surgery in the form of coronary artery bypass graft surgery and can tell you something about post surgery recovery.  I'll leave the valve folks to respond to tour valve questions.

    The short answer is that you likely will require some family/friend assistance for longer than a week.  If you are indeed having your valve replaced through open heart surgery, the recovery is gradual and will take some time.  While you may be past the pain for the most part in a week's time, you will still be pretty weak, needing to gradually regain your fitness level through walking and cardio rehab and also needing to take frequent naps as your body heals from the trauma it has experienced.  

    You will also need to observe so-called sternal protocols for a month or two until cleared by your surgeon, e.g. no lifting more than 5-10 pounds, not stretching your arms overhead (as in reaching for items in a kitchen cabinet), not getting behind the wheel of a car to, for example, but groceries.  

    I think you get the picture.  If you can arrange for someone to stay with you an extra week or two, that would be ideal, but if you can enlist a friend or two to check in and help with groceries or other needs, that could be helpful. The good news, though, is that you will steadily heal, and within a couple of months you likely will feel close to your old self, although full recovery from open heart surgery can take up to a year.

    Good luck and please keep us posted.

    Best regards,


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 5.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-10-2022 14:09



    In February 22, I had my second OHS with an aortic valve replacement and replacing my ascending aorta.  I was in the hospital a week and they wanted someone with me at home at all times for a week.  After that, I was ok on my own with some assistance for meals, etc.  The hospital will get you up walking as soon as you are out of ICU, and they wanted me to do stairs for discharge, so I expect they will make sure you are able to get around when you are discharged.  I feel like I did pretty well at home.  My brother and sister sat with me when my wife had to work and they were surprised at how well I was doing during that first week.  I am 58 years old and I recovered quickly.  Good luck to you.  The surgeons have this down like riding a bike.





  • 6.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-11-2022 23:37
    Hi Samantha, It may be easier to over prepare as opposed to under prepare regarding home care.  I would plan to have someone with you for two weeks depending on how you progress.....keeping in mind your initial restricted arm movement.  By week three you will have a good sense of your strength and navigation and can determine your need of assistance.   Once you enter a cardiac rehab program your healing will improve significantly.  

    Wish I could give you my experience with a mechanical valve but I opted for the bovine valve.

    All the  best on January 12th.  kat

    Kat Edwards

  • 7.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 12-23-2022 08:06
    I am 55 and was diagnosed in October with aortic valve stenosis. Surgery date is Jan 12th, for valve replacement with a mechanical valve.
    I am mostly over my denial of the diagnosis.

    Hello Samantha, 
    I know what you mean about being in denial. I was 11 when I was diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis and the course of my life changed. It was not until 24 that I was told the time had come to replace my valve. I was super freaked out about what life was going to be after surgery. To be honest, I contemplated much more than life after surgery and I was pretty good at scaring myself silly. I am now 59 and have had to valve replaced three times. I would love to write that life has been a tiptoe through the tulips since my first surgery but I believe in keeping things real. Recovery from the the surgery was probably the easiest part of my experience (the first), the mental health part was much more challenging. I am glad to read you will have family around and for the first week. I would say if you can get some additional help for another week this will be helpful to you and your recovery. Some folks heal fast and are very mobile and other the recovery may be a bit slower, so to have the option additional help can be a good thing. 

    When I am quiet I can her my valve open and close, or when I am swimming under water I can feel and hear the valve open and close. One of the biggest challenges I faced was after surgery, I became very heart sensitive. After surgery I could feel every beat and when my heart was out of beat (PVCs) these used to freak me out. I had to learn to live with the new beat or the fact that I am now very in touch with every beat. Most people, I believe are not in tuned with their heartbeats or spend little time thinking about the beats, but not me lol. The great news is, valve surgery saved my life and has allowed me to live a reasonably happy, useful, and purposeful life. I have taken my Pig and Cows places no Pig or Cow should ever go. I do my best to take care of my physical and mental health regarding my heart and I am learning to be at peace with the body my creator gave me. I have come to believe, every heart struggle has found purpose in using my heart stories to help others who might struggling with their new heart narratives. Please fill free to reach out with more questions. My life is an open book.  

    David Apilado Sr.
    Vallejo California

  • 8.  RE: New and nervous

    Posted 01-11-2023 13:21
    IMO, I believe we are all different for recovery. The 3rd open heart was different then the 4th (pulmonary valve replacemnt) for me. At 35yrs of age I healed slower than most 75-80yr old's. The key to any recovery is making sure you stick with the physical therapy which will make you stronger. I am looking at a heart cath tomorrow and then a decision on tricuspid valve repair or replacement afterwards for open heart #5. I have put it in the hands of the cardiac team and someone much higher than all of us.

    Prayers to you and your surgery and know you have joined the many heart champs that have faced an incredible battle and won it!​

    MARK Buttell