Whirlwind of Changes

by Jacquelyn Lepore
(Moreno Valley, CA USA)

On November 11, 2011, my world was changed forever. I had gone early in October for yearly women's exam. In passing my doctor asked if anything unusual had occurred. I mentioned that during the triple digit heat, I had nearly fainted three times. I associated it with the rising heat, racing from one class to another classroom, and leaving a really cool room. I knew I was morbidly obese (100 pounds overweight), but I always had low blood pressure and while I overate I didn't eat totally unhealthy foods. I realized that for years my "mitral valve murmur" diagnosed as mitral valve prolapse on an echo in 1981 had been an excuse for slowing down when I had "chest pain." I told the doctor it was just my typical reaction to rushing and heat. She listened to my heart valve and decided that I needed a stress test with echocardiogram. I waited to November 11 to have the test. I kept hearing "A.S." and another doctor came in and asked a few questions, looked at another view or two and said "cancel the stress test" and announced that I would need a valve replacement. I assumed the mitral and he said, no it is the aortic valve. So I said, could it wait til school was out for summer, then for spring break and finally for winter break after each time he said NO. He told me he would see me in less than a week for a consultation prior to surgery. At that visit I was walked to the surgery side and told I would have a visit the next week the department head. All of the time, I kept telling them that I have an HMO and need permission to see these consults. But miraculously every time I had clearance. The visit on November 23 resulted in the an angiogram on December 5, and another visit with the surgeon on December 7. I was told I would have pre-op on December 14 and surgery on December 15. I accepted every thing and made the plans I needed to so that my students would have their finals covered by a substitute. On December 15th, I had a mechanical valve replacement. I came home on Monday, December 19th and continue to heal.

Advice I can give to others is pray for the best and expect it. I know it is difficult the first few days, but I am already feeling better. I am walking around the block and eating a heart healthy diet 50 gram Lo Fat, 2000 mgm LoSodium, and 200mg LoCholestrol.

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