I was 79 and overweight. Surely, I thought, this was why I was less and less able to do even the simplest of things, like getting dressed in the morning, without getting more and more out of breath! I had always been active, but like many, I was accepting what I thought was the inevitable.
I already knew I had mild aortic stenosis, but I hadn’t believed that it would progress so quickly: My cardiologist had told me it could be 20 years before I needed a new heart valve. But, there I was, sitting in the coffee shop while my family enjoyed museums and other attractions on our vacation.
My diagnosis was a blow, since my mother had succumbed to aortic stenosis at age 93. And, as my symptoms progressed, and my cardiologist continued to suggest active monitoring, I knew it was time for a second opinion. The second set of doctors told me the time was now! Why wait until my heart was damaged before fixing it?
I was terrified of open heart surgery, so was delighted to learn that I might be a candidate for Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which could deliver my new valve through an artery. I wouldn’t have to have my chest cracked, and that was important to me.
The day after my procedure I was released from the hospital. On the way home, we pulled into a rest stop for refreshments, and my daughters caught me on video dancing. I was a Facebook hit!
I’m glad we didn’t just sit and wait for that “one year before we need to do anything.” I’m glad I advocated for myself. Thanks to my new heart valve I’m back to my old “young” self. Whew!