Thursday, April 1, 2010

Check Up

This week has been a whirlwind week for us!

Monday morning my friend Meredith came over to visit for about an hour. She left around 11:30 and my mom reminded to call my Dallas Cardiologist (Dr. B) to try to get a check up. Even though I had my surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, they were the first to tell me that they still want me to see my current cardiologist for any follow up appointments. We were very thankful to hear this, as it's obviously not that easy to get to Cleveland for a checkup!

Anyway, back on track. I called on Friday to try to get an appointment but never heard back, so I tried again on Monday. I called around 12. The first appointment they offered me was Monday at 3. Had they told me about it on Friday we definitely would have taken it, but it was just too short of notice. The next appointment available was for Tuesday morning at 10. I quickly said yes and then we hit the ground running.

My mom and I quickly packed an overnight back and were able to leave Abilene by 1:30. (This is very much so a miracle if you know how long it typically takes us to pack!) I booked us a room at the old faithful LQ so that we would not have to leave super early on Tuesday and make the trip back in forth in one day. I feel good most days, but we knew that would have been too much.

If there's anything you should know about my mom {other than she looks like my sister ;) } it's that she loves her Starbucks Chai Tea Lattes. Loves them so much that she made friends in high places and buys the chai concentrate so that she can make her own drinks at home. {People, if you live in a town with a Starbucks, I doubt you will be able to make friends in high places to buy stuff directly from them. It helps that she lives an hour from the closest Starbucks} She debated taking a chai for Tuesday morning, but I convinced her we could find a Starbucks close to the doctor's office.

We loaded up our bags and hit the road. Now, if you haven't experience riding in the back seat while your mom chauffeurs you around, it's quite the experience. Especially when you're 25 and she has to open and close the car door for you every time! I'm sure we were a sight to see! On the way there we were talking about what sounded good for dinner and we both agreed that Olive Garden would be great, but we'd wait and see what was close to the hotel.

I'm serving as a backseat driver/TOM TOM. Based off of my directions we know we're within 2 miles of the hotel. All of a sudden my mom goes, "Abby! There's an Olive Garden!" We are amazed and thankful at how close it is. We keep driving and all of a sudden she says, "Abby! There's a Starbucks!" We were amazed to say the least. I booked the hotel based off of how nice it looked and we ended up having everything we needed within 2 miles of us! We certainly felt God's blessing on us!

My mom and I were both nervous about seeing my cardiologist again as we feel like we cheated on her by going up to Cleveland. We talked through what we were going to say to her (basically our excuse of why we went somewhere else!!) several times so that we were prepared. I can fully admit that I was going to take the backseat and let my mom do all of the talking if it came up!

The appointment could not have gone any better. She never asked or even hinted towards why we went to Cleveland. She only had positive things to say about both my cardiologist and surgeon from the Cleveland Clinic. She read over the operative report and explained everything to us, which we were very thankful for. Dr. Pettersson was fantastic, but sometimes his Swedish accent made it hard to understand what he was saying.

Dr. B was able to pull up a picture on the Internet of the valve they used in my surgery. My mom and I were SHOCKED to see it. She had always picture more of a thick material (like your tonsils) that opened and closed like a door. I pictured more of a thick cylinder with the valve in the middle of it (so that during surgery they would also replace part of your artery, not just the valve.)

Well folks, here is what my new valve looks like:

Yeah... probably not what you were expecting either, huh? The white rim you see is flexible metal stent that has been wrapped in some type of material. The valve is stretched over the three peaks. Here is a video that shows how the valve works:

Biocor Valve Durability Animation from hybrid medical animation on Vimeo.

If you can't get the video to play in the blog, you can go to this link to see it:

We are in awe of the valve. Right now this type of valve is lasting around 20 years in the aortic valve and mitral valve replacements. This is extremely good news for me, because Dr. B explained that the pulmonary valve has much less wear and tear on it than the aortic and mitral valves. We are believing that this valve will last me a loooooong time! If/When I do have to have another valve replacement, they will be able to put the new valve in through a heart cath procedure. Dr. B showed us a video of this too, but I haven't been able to find it. I'm definitely going to keep looking!

The best news we received at the appointment was that I no longer have a heart murmur when my valve closes! This is the first time that I have ever heard a doctor say this to me! I still have very pronounced one when the valve opens, but this is a common thing after surgery. All in all it was a great appointment. We walked out of the office in very high spirits and we couldn't help but think back to that horrible day in September, when we walked out of the same office devastated by the news she told us. We had no idea what all we would face in the coming months, but I am now so thankful for that appointment because it did lead us to where we are today. The sweet feeling of walking out of the doctor's office with a healthy report was only enhanced by the sadness we had previously experienced.

It was a quick trip that wiped me out, yet we are so thankful for the good report it brought. I'll go back at the end of April to be released for activities and to start a cardiac rehab program. We're already looking forward to another great report!



  1. That video is SO COOL!! Glad you had a good appt. Looking forward to seeing you soon. DOn't tell your mom, but, um, the practicing of piano has, um, not been happening so much in her absence . . . but in my defense, we're not the only ones who've been lapsing!! :) Love you!

  2. Sooooooo thankful for a healthy check-up! And that video is wicked cool. So amazing to see what's helping your heart!

  3. I'm constantly amazed at how well you're doing Abby, you're awesome!
    indian classified site


Thanks for commenting- I love hearing from readers!