Joanne Grillo

First post: Jul 29, 2019 Latest post: Jul 5, 2021
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

It's a little overwhelming to put these words down, so bear with me if this is brief for now. On July 29, my mom Joanne Grillo will be going in for open heart surgery to replace and repair two valves that are failing. I don't want to give too much background story here, but I do want to make sure anyone who visits is up to speed. Joanne doesn't like to make a big fuss about her health, so many of you may not be aware that she had a major heart failure about two years ago. She spent several days in the hospital trying to get her heart out of Afib (Afibrilation--irregular heart beat). At the time, they determined that the afib was caused by the mitral valve in her heart, which was leaking.  They were able to get her heart back into a regular rhythm and have been monitoring her for further treatment. About two months ago her condition started to worsen and they had her come in for imaging in preparation for a procedure called "The Watchman" and discovered that her heart was deteriorating rapidly. Her Tricuspid valve is also failing and approximately 50% of her blood was regurgitating backwards. The deterioration meant that less invasive procedures were no longer an option and she is now looking at open heart surgery on Monday, July 29.

On Saturday, July 20, she went into the hospital again to treat edema caused by her failing valves and has been on high doses of diuretics in order to prepare her body for surgery. The good news is that they were able to successfully bring down her swelling and performed her pre-operation angiogram to check the condition of her veins and arteries. The results were better than expected. Everything looks beautiful except for the two deteriorating valves! 

Mom is home now in great spirits and we are enjoying a few days together as family before the big surgery. Mom's sister Betty and honorary sister Verne rushed from Oregon to Colorado in order to be with her and be her advocate while in the hospital so my arrival here today felt particularly celebratory. It will be sad to see them leave on the 26th. I will stay with mom as support until the 14th or so, with Betty arriving again shortly after mom is scheduled to get out of the hospital and staying for a few weeks as well.

Advances in medicine are amazing, and open heart surgery has improved so much over the years, but any surgery involves risk and it is going to be a long road to recovery, possibly months. I will be keeping a journal here for people to keep updated. Mom hasn't even had surgery yet and I am already spending so much time keeping people up to date that I can't keep up properly. Please feel free to visit this site regularly and I will do my best to write journal entries with each new development so that mom can focus on healing. We are in good shape for now, but if we need any kind of help, we will reach out. There's no way for me to know all the people in Joanne's various lives, so if you're receiving this, please feel free to share the link with others who care about her. Also, please feel free to leave messages here too and I will share them with her!