Not So YOUNG, a Little WILD and Valversary THREE.

12 04 2018

 

Each year as April 8th approaches I look forward to going to the hospital and taking tests.  My goal is to pass tests and  by pass the surgeon. And by that I do not mean not bypass surgery, I mean do not have a reason to see the surgeon.  By heart I have the day’s routine down. Quick Cat Scan and off to Ultra Sound. Let me give a shout out to Ben at Penn Medicine for the “extra touch” of music videos.  Seriously watching Coldplay and then turning my head to see the ultrasound monitor showing my valve open and closing to the beat of Adventure of a Lifetime was  paradise. Really was cool.

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Once my tests are complete, I sit in a room in my surgeons office.  And although I know I feel great and that I exercised and trained hard this year to make my heart my strongest muscle, I sit and stare at the door in hopes Dr. Bavaria does not walk in.  Seeing him in his blue blazer over his scrubs would mean something isn’t pumping right, or he’s about to tell me the words I fear to hear one day that  it’s getting close to valve replacement time.  Knowing that this day will come and my aortic valve will need to replaced again is what drives me to take care of myself.  I am determined to walk in and walk out upright.  (Tissue /bioprosthetic valves have an average lifespan of  10 to 20 years) 

But lucky for me, GOD the name I like to call my surgeon, did not enter the room. I passed my tests, hit the elevator button, hit Schuylkill Expressway  and of course hit the gym for a long sweaty heart-pumping workout.  Another year down and time to train again for the life I so appreciate.  Diet and Exercise… if a doctor could write it on a prescription pad it would be the most prescribed medicine. Because people love to medicate then prevent. Gym floor or hospital floor?  Why would anybody choose the later.  While I have learned that my genes and cells  have come preprogramed for me at birth and that although I might do my best to live a healthy life style, I can’t out run, out lift or out program what unfortunate I was dealt with. What I can do is to be  physically and mentally strong to deal with anything that should be thrown my way.   A healthy heart BEATS a sick one.   So I workout like my life depends on it, cause it does.

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THREE YEARS  AGO , 5 DAYS POST OPP PEDDLING FOR MY OWN HEART.

THIS YEAR I PEDDLED FOR LITTLE HEARTS AT THE PHILLY SPIN-IN

I couldn’t of thought of a better way to celebrate my 3 year Valversary than to be one of the instructors at the Philly Spin-In for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.   Words cannot begin to tell you how appreciative I was to be a part of this event to raise money, awareness and a cure for congenital heart defects. To hear the stories, see the signs, see all the teams spinning and feel the love for all the heart warriors is a day I’ll remember and one that makes me feel blessed. The fund will run till the end of April so please donate cause little hearts need to grow up to be big hearts. You can donate at: Philly Spin In

It’s been another heart full year.

Hope

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Open My Heart Now Baby – Day 16 Post Op.

25 04 2015
DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood  flowing.

DAY 16 POST OP Pumping little pink weights and getting the blood flowing.

It’s been 16 day’s since my open heart surgery.  In these past  16 days I learned some things. That I have an amazing support system of friends and relatives, that I don’t like sitting in the back seat of the car and that Kevin Bacon has nothing on Dr. Bavaria when it comes to six degrees of separation.  It seems like everyday someone emails me or tells me that Dr. Bavaria did their father’s surgery, their mom mom’s valve replacement or they’ve worked with him, for him, or think he’s god. I think he’s god too.

DAY 1 -  Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this picture. Wow

DAY 1 – Post op ICU hours after surgery. Today is the first time I have seen this photo.

It was kinda neat in an eerie and peculiar way to have a nurse stop by my room to tell me she watched my surgery and how 4 fellows, who are doctors doing their fellowship, pulled the wires that were holding my sternum closed while one fellow wired, sewed and glued me shut. Her words: “It was so cool. They literally leaned  back with their body weight and pulled on the wires while one fellow closed you up.”  I’d actually like to see my video. My post op report came in the mail today and I learned I was cross clamped for 160 minutes and on bypass for 217 minutes. Technically dead for a large part of my 6 hour surgery.  Body temperature lowered and then brought back to life by reconnecting my heart.  My father with his disposable flip phone took a picture of me in the ICU and sent it today.  My emotions vary looking at this picture, but mainly I’m thinking that I couldn’t imagine seeing one of my kids like this.  In the 16 days since surgery I’ve made some progress.   And although you would look at me and never know I just had major surgery I am dealing with  daily killer headaches, went  AFib two days ago and I get dizzy and light headed if I get up  too fast. I have noticed I am burping a lot but am totally blaming that on the pig valve, lol. I am not craving bacon, have not regained my love of coffee and peanut butter yet but chocolate still makes everything better.

Over the years I have often got asked while working out what I was training for? My response always was on the likes of “My next birthday”  but my usual response was “life”.  I just didn’t know I was actually training for open heart surgery. My abs made sitting up on day two without assistance easier, my thunder thighs from spinning made getting off the toilet easier and  my glutes from squatting made getting out of bed a tad less difficult.

I have eased back to work teaching spin off the bike, giving orders for TREAD & SHRED class and training a couple of clients who know I am not picking up their weights, demonstrating spiderman push-ups and by no means jumping rope with them.  I love, love, love  jumping rope.   I seriously cannot sit and watch any more daytime TV because it has convinced me that this is why America is full of overweight lazy people. Honestly all of my silly shows on Bravo that I am addicted to seem like rocket science compared to the amount of talk shows, Judge shows and game shows on TV.   I’ll take any Housewives shows over the annoying ladies on the View, Kathy Lee Gifford who gave me a migraine, and I will say it…… watching Kelly Ripa is like watching a puppet with a hand up its ass. Oh, and  “Let’s Make a Deal.” ….. How about” Let’s get a job”, “Let’s Volunteer”  or “let’s go workout.” ” I’ll take the box marked LIFE that Carol Merril is standing in  front of Monty.”

I have been told I look great.  People can’t believe I had open heart surgery, that I should be home resting, taking time off. I have even been told that I should look into going on disability. Are you serious?  Disability? What’s my disability?  I wake up everyday and I have a pulse, and I say “thank you.”  The only disability is a bad attitude and the belief that you are owed something in life.   I have a choice to make everyday…. to be mad about what I went through or to move forward and be happy that each day I am stronger than the day before. I am a lucky girl.  Hallelujah brother that my girls will come home from college in the next few weeks and will see me looking like their normal mom, tell me my scar is gross and ask me if we can we go to the mall.   If I have one thing to say is that life is good and yes I love Madonna.

Please follow my fitness blog and now my journey after open heart surgery. To read the original pre-op post Fit, Fifty & WTF go to hopenagy.wordpress.com and scroll to 4/7/2015

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Fit, Fifty & Feeling WTF ( Wonderful, Thankful & Freakin’ Relieved)

17 04 2015

FullSizeRender  Post Op Day 5 

Alive, thankful and on the road to recovery. Surgery took about 6 hours last Wednesday April 8th, 2015.  Exactly one week ago I laid in the ICU, opened my eyes, thought “thank god I’m alive” and then felt a two by four in my throat. The ventilator.  I’ve seen it on TV medical shows, heard other peoples stories of it, was told to be prepared for it and yet I still lost it.  Yes, if my arms weren’t strapped down I would have pulled it out of my mouth. “I can’t breathe” and the words are not coming out. The nurse standing on the other side of the large glass wall can’t hear me. “I can’t breathe”, banging my restricted arms and hands against the sides of the bed in a quick knocking like manner trying to get attention. “I can’t breathe, get this out of my throat.” All I hear is “Honey calm down, relax, it will be out in a few HOURS.”  And like I have also seen in scary movies, I am now playing the part of the person being lowered into the ground , dirt being shoveled on top of my grave…… I’m being buried alive.  But at this moment in my life it felt real and not like a movie. THIS is what I will remember most from my surgery, not the chest pain, headaches and nausea, but the ventilator freaking me out. Not that I didn’t expect to be awake, but I am sure many share with me this fear when having any kind of surgery where anesthesia is used.  Especially one where they tell you they are going to unplug your heart. Which is a great reason to get your ducks in a row, isn’t it?  My ducks were in a row, but unlike prior surgeries in my adult life this time I didn’t leave “the envelope” with letters addressed to my kids. I just couldn’t write them. Just the thought made me cry.  Instead, right before getting wheeled away to surgery I told my tatooed boyfriend “make sure they finish college and No Tattoos!”

I ended up not having a bicuspid valve but a badly deformed tricuspid valve. Option one: repair was out!  Option two: tissue valve was in. “Oink Oink”, I have a new pig valve.  The decision on which tissue valve the surgeon used, cow or pig, was based on what fit me best. Dr. Bavaria explained to my family that he prefered pig valves for athletes. I still think they are lying to me when they said he called me an athlete, lol.  Did he say gym rat, weekend warrior, daughter of parents who worked full time as a child and was told she can not play sports or she would have to find her own rides? Oh and no one tell my new friends on the Facebook group page  Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease (BAVD) that I am now a poser.   The valve was a tri-leaflet. The leak in my valve was caused by a prolapsed leaflet and tears in the valve leaflets themselves, which are called fenestrations.   That was the result of the heart being enlarged and the blood trying to get out. Dr. Bavaria explained to my family that it was spraying like a hose in different directions.

I was was moved out of I.C.U. less than 24 hours after surgery to a room on Silver 10, one of the many cardiac floors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.   I was told that I would wake up with things like that horrible ventilator, wires connected to the inside of my heart, drainage lines as long as knitting needles under my incision,  I.V. lines in both arms, and a line in my neck.  So like a puppy waiting for a treat, when a white coat appeared every day in my room  I knew something was coming out.  And one by one and day by day they did.  Ready to roll, I took to the hallways to walk and that is when I was immediatelt humbled. Heading towards me, moving faster than I was,  dressed in the same team uniform, white and blue gown, front pocket to hold a heart rate monitor, with wires dangling from everywhere,  I am passed by a 90 year old man. Really? WTF?  I give the typical head nod I use when a fellow mountain biker passes me and that’s when I notice….he’s cheating, he has a walker, that’s not legal!  Get his bib number!!!  Being the competitve person that I am, and hearing that he is on day 14 post op and I day 1 post op , I took a deep breath….and relaxed a little. I left the hospital on Monday, 5 days after my surgery with my new medal: a 10 inch scar down my chest with a bump at the top that looks like a nose of one of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. This I am being assured, will go down over time.   The absolute best feeling was coming home to my own house, taking a long hot shower, and crawling into my own bed. No more sounds of beeps and bells, and no one waking me up to check my vitals the second I doze off.  Other than dealing with some insane pressure headaches I am good. My daily walks around my neighborhood are getting a little longer each day. Breathing better each day. And getting my ball up higher and holding it longer each day on my spirometer. That same spirometer that I would wave in my dads face when I visited him after his heart surgeries. “Did you suck today Dad?” is now  “Hope did you suck today” Crazy how things change when we least expect it.  Crazy how hard that spiromoter is. FullSizeRender copy                                                                Being initiated into the Zipper club by my dad. 

Each morning we wake up and we have a choice to pick our attitude for the day.  It’s a daily decision we make. Am I going to be miserable or am I going to be motivated?  This surgery leaves me not in pain but with the joy of knowing how lucky I am to have the life that I do.  The gift of fitness is what allowed me to get to 51 without dying, and it is now giving me a much easier recovery.   And if anyone thought I didn’t shut up before about being heathy, then look out.  I am on fire.  Just the fact that the nurses told me the average person stays 14 days in the hospital for my surgery freaked me out. You make life altering choices each day and yet people take better care of their yards than their bodies. Yes I saw the eyes as I walked the halls of the hosital.  Looks of sympathy from visitors and from other patients. But what they didn’t know is one, don’t feel sorry for me, and two, I’m  looking at you thinking that you probably need my business card!  I’m in pain from not working out. I am dying that I can’t go lift and just sweat my ass off. The luxury of being able to workout I treasure daily as do so many other people. Just ask someone whose lost that opportunity.  It’s my life. It’s your life. It’s your choice.

I am up for air, breathing and look out, this gal is on fire……..but let me sit down for a second, I just got a little dizzy.

*The pre-op blog posted the day before my surgery FIT,FIFTY & WTF can be found at hopenagy.wordpress.com and scroll to prior post or at: https://hopenagy.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/fit-fifty-w-t-f/

 

Shout out to the N.A.’s, N.P’s, and the lovely gals on Silverstein 10 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who took care of me, listened to me complain “my head hurts” and my nurse Jenny from Utah who let me interagate her about her life and explain that people from Philly are not ALL angry we just look that way and by gosh gave me the biggest compliment of my life when she said “the other nurses think you’re in your thirties”.  “STFU Really?” Really!!!

IMG_8176Post op Day 6 – writting my lattest blog, having my Starbucks and staring at the piles of medical bills only these are pre surgery. 

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