May 20th, 2003 is a day I will never forget. If you remember (or not if you are new don't worry it'll be posted in a sec) last year I posted about my valve replacement from a different aspect which you can read here: (literally here b/c I don't know how to link back to it)
Five years ago today something life changing took place. No we didn't start dating, and we didn't get engaged today (Please we had only been dating 3 months!!!) The 3 months part is very important though. I had to have my aortic valve replaced. While that is HUGE to go through, the most awesome part... Kevin.I had a lot of thought about what would happen after only 3 months. He was such a wonderful trooper and really helped me through so much. There are many of our family and friends that were there as well. I think the day that Kevin drove me home Sunday May 25th I knew he was the one for me and I was the one for him. Just the simple way he took care of me, and was there on all of his days off just taking care of me, and when the inevitable post surgery breakdown came, he was there. Today is the anniversary of a week long of moments that made me realize just how much I loved Kevin. I believe it was the 23rd when I told him. One part that I don't even know if he knows I know (he will now I guess) The day after surgery he stopped by my mom's work and was very concerned if I was going to be okay, which after a little white lie and a lot of conivincing they finally let him see me the night before which was not exactly my best night. I am glad that he was able to talk to her and that she was able to comfort him.Kevin is one of the greatest people I have ever met and I love him with all my heart, stitches and all! I am glad that Adam invited, okay forced him to come to the party I was hosting for a friend, it definitely changed my life forever.
This year though I am going to talk about donation. Now I'm not going to preach to you or cite a bunch of articles and sites that you should read or even force you to change your mind. If you wanna be selfish, you go right ahead. I am going to tell you how it changed my life directly.
In August of 2001 I had a physical for work and was found to have a murmur, which was new. My primary care doctor had never heard it before and could definitely hear it then. He sent me for an echo where I was found to have a "small aortic leak" that was going be "no big deal" until I was much older. My cardiologist told me to simply have an echo every other year and not to worry. So fast forward to December of 2002. I am working in surgery and feeling not quite right. I black out for a second and then eventually pass out where I don't remember getting from one spot to the other. I'd been noticing that it was getting harder to run and I was super tired but didn't think entirely too much about it.
After passing out I make a visit to a new cardiologist, as my original one moved away. Turned out to be a good thing once he read my history and what not he felt I needed a little more investigation. He was thinking I was having arrhytmias though. So a couple of tests later proved that theory wrong. While I was getting one of the tests attached they were trialing a new echo machine and had no patients so since it was almost time for mine they went ahead and did it early. This is the beginning of the end...
They found a very large leak in my aortic valve (all of my other valves leak as well, just not as bad) that needed to be confirmed by a transesophageal echo (TEE) which was awful! Once confirmed they scheduled a cardiac cath and took measurements and found that not only was I feeling they symptoms my heart was starting to show some as well. I was referred to a surgeon and went to his office to discuss my options.
Now if you know anyone else with an aortic valve replacement they probably have a mechanical or bovine valve. These however are not good options for young patients and so I was going to need a human valve.
My surgery was scheduled within two weeks of this appointment... note just 5 months after having symptoms. I suppose I was lucky they were able to find a valve that was about the same age as me and the same size. I suppose that donor wasn't so lucky. I only know that the donor was young when he died and he had a wonderful family who donated his organs and tissue.
Many people think that if their organs aren't "up to par" or they have a certain disease or are receiving meds they cannot donate. This is not the case. Donated tissue is used in many many ways, one of them... heart valves.
My family and then boyfriend (now husband of 4 wonderful years) all became donors shortly after my surgery. I am grateful for that. I am also a donor even though no one would ever be able to use my live heart, part of it may help someone else. Just becoming a donor is not enough, you have to tell your family as they will be the ones making the decision. It could save lives, I know it saved mine.
I know I only have tissue, not living organs which require antirejection drugs. I had an immediate need but didn't have to wait like many people on the lists. It could be a lot worse for me and it is a lot worse for others. If you are not organ donor just take the time to consider it, it could save many lives. That is all I ask on this anniversary of my gift of life, which greatly improved my quality of life.