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A note from Tom on his status:
To review, I had an episode of atrial fibrillation (“A-Fib”) in November and spent three days in the hospital, undergoing a TEE (Transesophageal Echocardiogram) and a Cardiac Reversion (shock treatment). Those got me back into a proper heart rhythm. After leaving the hospital, an additional TEE and an angiogram were performed with my local cardiologist to better determine the cause of the A-Fib and to plan for treatment. These tests confirmed that I have a very leaky mitral valve. It had been leaking for some time and was being monitored annually. This leaking – “regurgitation” – allows the blood to be pumped back where it came from rather than being expelled properly into the ventricle chamber. It makes the heart inefficient and the extra work load on the atrium sometimes leads to the A-Fib. The tests also showed that my right coronary artery – the one that has seven stents in it, inserted between 2001 and 2006 – was still open but had a narrowing just above the stented area. Lastly, they also determined that my aortic valve was also leaking, but not as bad as the other valve. I went to a cardiac surgeon recommended by Dr. Rizik, my cardiologist, and the surgeon recommended open heart surgery to address all three problems. He recommended replacing both valves and doing a bypass around the stented artery.
On the advice of friends in the medical profession, Pam and I wanted to get a second opinion. We, with the help of Wade McBride (our Cardiology Electrophysicist friend in Texas), arranged for some tests and a consultation at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Pam and I flew there commercially on Wednesday, February 15, had the tests done on Thursday, met with a cardiologist and then with a surgeon on Friday, and flew home Saturday. The size of the “campus,” the efficiency of the scheduling, their experience in valve repair and replacement, and the friendliness of the staff at Mayo were all most impressive and definitely gave us a “warm, fuzzy” feeling about the entire endeavor. We decided to do the surgery there.
Mayo called on Feb 21st, to arrange my schedule. They want to conduct their own angiogram– heart catheterization – with the emphasis on determining the extent of the aortic valve leakage, so as to decide whether they will or will not replace that valve during the procedure. That will be done on Monday, March 13, and the open heart surgery will be performed on Tuesday, the 14th. The surgeon, Dr. Said, will also perform a “maze procedure.” This is a cutting and freezing of some extraneous electric passages between the upper and lower heart chambers that should decrease the chance of future A-Fib episodes. A part of that procedure also involves removing the “atrial appendage,” an apparently unnecessary attachment to the atrium that is often the source of blood clots. I will be in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for probably two days, then another three or four in the hospital. I will have some follow-ups with them the next week and then we hope to return to Arizona within a couple of weeks, maybe in the week of March 26th. We are told that the total recovery process following the “sternotomy” is typically at least eight weeks. I will be doing cardiac rehab at a Scottsdale hospital and cannot drive for the first month or so. Yuck!
I plan on getting to enjoy many more years of good health with my wonderful wife, family, and friends. You all mean so very, very, much to me and I appreciate the love and support you provide so freely. Your prayers are always deeply desired and appreciated.