I think I should start by addressing a logical question many of you may have: why is someone who has been a vegetarian for more than three decades having open heart surgery? The short answer, to borrow from Lady Gaga, is that I was born that way. I have a valve – the mitral valve in the heart –that needs repair or replacement. I got a diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse more than 20years ago and was periodically monitored because it is something you can live with unless the valve deteriorates. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I had a bad echocardiogram. A while ago aerobic exercise (bike riding uphill, for example) started getting a little harder to do but when I asked my doctor about it she correctly pointed out that I was getting old.
Other than occasional shortness of breath on exertion, I have been well, which makes me a very good candidate for surgery. Delightfully enough, medical people are now calling me young. My cardiac surgeon told me that I was fortunate to have a conversation about what to do about my heart while I was sitting in his office and not on a gurney in the ER. The thinking in cardiology these days is to intervene before a lot of symptoms show, because one can get fairly sick quickly and head toward heart failure. At this stage it’s easier to fix. It’s also a common procedure.
Fixing it does mean major surgery. I haven’t even had minor surgery (unless oral surgery counts) so what is routine to people in cardiology means something a bit more disruptive to me. The surgery is Friday, June 17; I expect to be in the hospital (Presence Mercy in Aurora) 4-5 days. If you are wondering what I might need, here’s a list:
Please pray or send good wishes if prayer is not your thing;dark chocolate-covered good wishes are especially desirable and in fact heart-healthy.
I might need some driving during the month I can’t drive, or companionship walking around my neighborhood and environs (paths along the beautiful Fox River) as I recover.
Send New Yorker cartoons or jokes.
Check this Caring Bridge account for updates. Bill will write when I can’t. I am planning to write my way to recovery.
If you have read this far, you must really love me. As Jesus said (John 15:15), I call you friends. I love you all too and thank you for the good wishes I’ve already begun receiving and for the way you have enriched my wonderful life.