an anatomical heart with waves coming out of the mitral and temporal valves, and the aorta, and sweeping a woman away who has an LVAD

Pretty Lady Chronicles: Riding the Wave (Part 1)

Editor's note: This is part 1 of a series. Be sure to check out part 2!

My life constantly feels like a well-scripted story full of dramatic twists that often seem too far-fetched to be true. I imagine others thinking all of these things can't be happening to one person. Some of it clearly has to be slightly exaggerated.

If only this was the case. Instead, it's my reality. This most recent chronicle left me feeling numb.

Inhaling

A recent echocardiogram revealed that I have a moderately leaking mitral valve. When I initially received this news, I was fine. You see, I had experienced three internal defibrillator shocks in the three months prior. The latter two were the result of afib; or atrial fibrillation.

An interrogation of my internal defibrillator would reveal several runs of afib. This was new for me and I refused to accept I just have a bum heart. I wanted to find out what specifically was causing this. Being my own best advocate, I was on my way to getting an echocardiogram. 

An echocardiogram is a test that uses ultrasound to show how your heart muscle and valves are working. Be careful what you ask for. That echocardiogram turned out to be Pandora's box, drowning me from the "deep end!"

The deep end

With the initial analysis complete, I was scheduled to meet with the valve replacement team. The topic of discussion was the need for a TAVR; or transcatheter aortic valve replacement.

I was unaware that I had been symptomatic. My swollen abdomen wasn't just where I retained fluid. Instead, a swollen abdomen has been associated with heart valve disease. Gaining a better understanding of how each of my heart valves works in connection with my LVAD, I was optimistic the TAVR would be an aide in my road to recovery. I was ready!

I met with an Interventional Cardiologist and the Chief Cardiovascular Surgeon. The I.C. began to draw a visual of my heart while explaining that not only is my mitral valve moderately leaking, there is a severe aortic leak and severe tricuspid leak. This just got complex, and I can not swim! This must be what White Masked is referencing in "Astronaut In The Ocean." I turned numb and felt like I was drowning.

Exhaling

My eyes are filling up, and combining my mask with this news just made my breathing shallow. I tell myself to calm down. I look at the whiteboard and realize three of my four heart valves are leaking, and I'm WALKING around! I say that out loud, and I'm quickly told "It's your LVAD." They even seemed amazed at how great I looked.

Besides a few symptoms I feel good, and recently rejoined the gym. Honestly, I still receive side-eye looks when accessing handicapped parking. Three of my four heart valves are leaking, and I'm out here living life! Thank God for technology, and my LVAD! I take a deep breath, and prepare to ride this wave!

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