Caroline Smith Insane In The Membrane

First post: Nov 7, 2016 Latest post: Dec 10, 2017
Hello friends who have decided to zip over here and check out the craziness in my life!  I wanted to create a place that people could stay updated on what's happening with me and also allow me an outlet as I've found writing it down (or typing it out) is pretty good therapy.  

In September I was diagnosed with a Subvalvular Aortic Membrane - basically an obstruction below my aortic valve which is not allowing blood to pump through my heart as it should.  I have always had a heart murmur which has grown worse in the last few years.  While I've had previous echocardiograms, including a transesophogeal echocardiogram in 2006 (which is where they knock you out and run a camera down your throat to look at your heart.  Side note - the cardiologist on that one was absolutely amazed at how much propofol it took to knock me out.  I blame the 90's), no one diagnosed this until just a few months ago, so here I am.    I like to think of it as the hymen to my aortic valve.  Which, incidentally, my new cardiologist thinks is hilarious.  

As it turns out, this thing is pretty rare in adults.  So the good news, when I google it, not much comes up.  The bad news, when I google it, not much comes up.  Because of the rarity, not many surgeons in these parts perform this surgery.  So, on December 19th, I'll be loading up and heading to fabulous Rochester, Minnesota for open heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic.  (I'm more of a mustard gal, but whatevs.)

The plan is to excise the membrane, but there is also a possibility that the aortic valve will need to be replaced.  I am meeting with the Valve Clinic on December 20th to make preparations for that.  Which begs the question - mechanical or pig?  Mmmmm.  Bacon.  MMMM.   The surgeon will be making a game time decision when he is able to examine the valve and be prepared to replace it,  just in case.    From what the MRI looks like, it seems that the valve is okay, but he said it could be pretty damaged.  

The next few days are meeting with my surgeon,  a dude named Dr. Hartzell Schaff.  (    I prefer to call him Hartzy-poo and will probably do so while I am under the influence of heavy narcotics.  (Insert first prayer request for me - please, friends, pray that I do not call a world renowned Cardiothoracic surgeon Hartzy-Poo.)  Also, another solid chick named Dr. Conolloy ( who specializes in adult congenital bullshit things like I have and the rest of the team.  Surgery is scheduled for December 22nd.

I was able to have a phone conversation with Hartzy-Poo, so I have some understanding of what's going to go down.   I will have an open heart surgery scar - one that goes from the bottom of my throat, to the bottom of my sternum.  Sorry Sports Illustrated - my swimsuit modeling career may be over.  He will have to break my sternum, pry it open and go full on with a scalpel to my heart.  Which is why I chose the picture I did for my profile pic.  In a short time, I will have a giant scar in the middle of my chest.  Comforting.  Hartzy-Poo.   We've done a fair amount of stalking on old Hartzy - it doesn't appear that he's out boozing it up on the weekends according to his Facebook page.   Hmmm.  I wonder if I should friend him.  Duh!  OF COURSE I SHOULD!

The hospital stay is expected to be anywhere from 5-7 days.  So, yes, I will be spending Christmas at the Mayo Clinic.  Or, dead.  Because I am totally freaking out that it's lights out for me and I am going to die on the operating table.    I feel it worthy to note here - if you don't appreciate brutal honesty in what I'm feeling, don't bookmark this page.   But, back to me not dying.  Yes, Christmas at the Mayo Clinic.   Or dead.  Sorry.  Not dead.  Or dead.  Gah.  Make that stop!  

I am still putting the main plan together - drive or fly, where to stay, who to bring, what do I do with the kids, should Steve stay home and tend to the children, or should he be there with me?   The way it looks right now, my sister will be coming with me and staying through the entire time.  Which is awesome.   When you're in situations like this, complete helplessness and in need of an advocate, you need an asshole on your side.  And I don't know of a bigger and better asshole than my sister, Stacey.  I say that will love in my heart.  Well, the amount of love that can pass through my membrane and this faulty ticker.  

So, there you have it!  Stay tuned for additional updates and freak outs.  Also, stay tuned for ways that you can help.  I will be rallying the troops and I have a really good network of troops.  The best.    I anticipate needing the most help once I get home.  But I don't know.  All y'all mother fu%kers are going to be on speed dial.  Don't even think of dodging me.  I have a heart problem.  :)

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