1st March 2021
I’d never planned to climb Everest, not this way. For me Everest represents one of the greatest physical and mental challenges of all time. I never planned to climb this mountain but I feel it represents what I’ve been going through in the past year and what I’m about to go through in the next 6 months.
No, I don’t think its an exageration. Both are massive challenges, mentally and physically demanding and…life threatening.
This was me on 1st March 2021 when I was devastated to be informed that my leaky Mitral Valve had deteriorated through Lockdown to a ‘severe’ category which required open heart surgery.
Disbelief? Heartbreak? Sadness? No word to really describe my feelings on 1st March 2021
20th September 2021
“You have your head buried in the sand Anita!” said my Cardiac Consultant from Wythenshawe North West Heart Centre. She then arranged for me to meet my prospective Surgeon, Prof Venkateswaran, to help me get a grip of the situation which I found myself in.
It was a very nerve racking day but thankfully my sister, who was on here way up North in her Campervan, managed to come with me to ‘hold my hand’. I also thought it was good to have a second opinion on what I shoud do.
In the morning of the meeting I practiced one of my resiliency building exercises. On this day it was to go swimming.
My prospective Heart Surgeon explained how my Mitral Valve was severely leaking and that it was only a matter of time before I developed Atrial Fibrilation which could demage the heart long term. The Left Atrium was already slightly dilated. I have a moderate leak in the Aortic valve. Planning to replace the Aortic with a tissue valve and repair the Mitral placing a ring to keep it in place. St Jude epic porcine valve.
15 October 2021 – Pre Op
Every surgical procedure needs a Pre-Op when blood samples and swabs are taken and a Covid test is administered. They really aren’t particularly stressful – apart from being part of the process. This was a little pre-op before my pre surgery surgical procedures.
17th October 2021
In this rather sombre clip I reflect upon my heart valve history from first diagnosis and through Lockdown
It’s been a tough 18 months. The last time that they did the echo cardiogram in 2020 it was moderate and then earlier this year in February March it got worse. They told me it was severe.
I didn’t think I had any any symptoms at the time. I thought any health issues were all associated with my lifestyle during lockdown and the additional pressures of tranferring and running a business online.
I was first diagnosed 11 years ago, just before I left Dubai for good after spending 35 years working as an Expat in various countries. Initially the news was devasting and I wasn’t aware that it was so common.
With the development of Facebook, and the birth of Groups on almost anything of interest or importance, I’m now part of a Heart Valve Surgery group that has over 13K active members. I’ve learnt so much from people around the world and feel strengthened by the support given to everyone.
18th October 2021 – Pre Heart Surgery Procedures
On Monday 18th October I had a TOE — Trans Oesophageal Echocardiogram — it was an internal echocardiogram where they numbed the back of my throat and asked me to swallow a rather large camera probe, then I was injected with a sedative which made me feel sleepy but not unconscious. This procedure enables the doctor to look at the heart from the oesophagus or gullet which sits very close behind the back of the heart. Whilst the procedure was not pleasant, the doctor/professor who did it was extremely nice and made me feel comfortable.
My second procedure – the cardiac catheterisation coronary angiography took place under local anaesthetic. They froze the skin at my wrist and inserted a flexible tube into the circulation. The tube was guided to the heart by the doctor and I couldn’t feel anything apart from a little bit of pressure when they inserted the dye to look at my heart chambers. I did experience bruising some time later (see photo).
Both procedures are considered routine, safe procedures with over 5,000 being carried out each year. Like most medical procedures, the tests are associated with a small risk of complication.
19th October 2021 – Day 2 of Surgical Procedures
Tuesday 19th October waiting for my Angiogram
Summary of what turned out to be a very challenging day
The second procedure, the Angiography, which was supposed to take place in the afternoon of 18th October was postponed until the following morning. They’d kept me waiting from midday to 5pm on 18th before I was told it was postponed until the followng day.
Then after my Angiography on the 19th I was told I’d be able to leave around lunch time but instead of being discharged as promised, they kept me in until past 7pm, until I’d had a meeting with the doctor on duty. By that time, I’d certainly had enough of the hospital noisy and restrictive environment.
4th November 2021 – Main Surgery Pre Op Notice
From the time of my pre surgery surgical procedures on 18th and 19th October to when I finally received a date for my Pre Op 16 days later was a very a difficult time for me. I was under the impression that the Pre Op was followed almost immedately by surgery and so I became almost bearably anxious. I had been warned by my Heart Friends on Facebook that the waiting was the worst part of the whole experience. Every step which took me closer towards my surgery was so hard to take…
13th December 2021
Very scary! I was proactive and called the Hospital pushing for a date for surgery. However, I was informed that my hyper tension could prevent me being considered for the surgery! They still couldn’t give me a date for my surgery!
In order to get me through the surgery I started taking blood pressure medication. These seemed to take effect almost immediately.
I’d been very busy at home stocking up my freezers with healthy food and decorating my spareroom in case of visitors whilst convalescing. I also made sure that I maintained my fitness by doing easy workouts at the gym and swimming most mornings. I also took regular massage to help manage my stress levels.
14th December 21
I got a voice message from the Hospital asking me to call back to choose the date for my surgery. Panicking that I wasn’t ready and still had so much to do – not to mentiony Tax Return!
I called back but was asked to leave a message. Bummer. Again…waiting…
I had to wait until 16th to be told that my surgery would be on the 21st December.
17th Dec 2021
As I had to check in to the Hospital on Monday 20th Dec, the latest I could do a Covid test swab was on Saturday lunch time 18th December. So this was my last day of freedom.
19th December 2021
Socially isolating – also a bit screwed up about the date!
20th December 21
Check In Delayed.
I was due to check in at 2pm today, 20th December and when I got the call asking me to stay at home until I got the all clear to check in I just crumbled……wait? How long? A few hours or a few days?
20th December 21
Checked into Wythenshawe Hospital
Checked into Wythenshawe Hospital at about 4pm. It was a big relief knowing that there was now nothing I could do. Too late to change my mine. Time to go with the flow…
21st December 2021
I found the waiting all day to be very hard. My brain, mind and body seemed totally stressed out – in a fight or fligh mode. If I hadn’t be born with the ability to reason, I would definitely have run a mile!
I forced myself to listen to some meditation music on my iPhone. I hadn’t eaten since my toast and tea at 10pm the night before but I wasn’t feeling hungry. Probably for the fear which shuts down our digestive processes but also for the quite tasty energy drinks they woke me up to take at 6am on surgery day. I could definitely done with drinking some water tho. I hadn’t had any since 10pm the day before.
22nd December 2021
THE DAY AFTER I SHOULD HAVE HAD SURGERY
Although when I was told I was being sent home without my surgery I was so very relieved, it did hit me later – in the middle of that night – when I realised how mentally battered and bruised I felt.
New Date for Open Heart Surgery:
I knew I wouldn’t get admitted back to hospital before the New Year. I was told they would call me when they had a space available. I hadn’t heard from them so on 5th January I plucked up a massive amount of courage and called them. I was told all the Cardiac nurses were busy and someone would call me back…..but they didn’t. I called them again on Friday 7th January, I was put on hold, but did finally get my date:
Thursday 13th January 2022!