It works so well I almost forget it came close to failing 7 years ago.
Seven years ago today a gaggle of surgeons and other masked men and women hooked me up to a machine that, like a modern-day vampire, sucked all my blood and ran it through a pump so they could crack open my chest and rebuild my heart.
Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But consider the alternative. My aortic valve was shutting down and refusing to pump my blood normally. If I didn’t have it fixed, I’d have ended up like my Aunt Nellie. She dropped dead on the way home from the supermarket carrying two bags of groceries, but we never knew why. When I got my diagnosis, I figured out what must have killed her. It runs in my family, these wonky valves.
I’ve written about heart disease and heart-healthy lifestyles, but my dysfunctional valve was a disaster waiting to happen from the time I was born.
Three years before my surgery, my cardiologist said I’d probably escape the operating table because, though I’d had aortic stenosis for many years, it never got any worse. I’d done a marathon, climbed mountains, and basically forgotten about it after I got the news in my fifties. It never hampered my life. Until it did.
I didn’t have the usual symptoms, blackouts, chest pain or severe shortness of breath. I just blamed my fatigue on my age and not working out enough, my episodes of dizziness on some medication for another problem. I’d been a medical secretary once, so that was almost as good as a doctor, right? I self-diagnosed myself for a years, almost into the grave.
I’ve written elsewhere how by a stroke of medical luck I was hustled off to open-heart surgery that saved my life. Left to my own devices, I’d be dead and gone by now.
But I’m not. I’m here, with a rebuilt aortic valve and a plug in an aneurism I didn’t know I had. Seven years later, having celebrated birthdays, holidays, washed untold dishes, watched sunsets and fireworks, and written 55 books. If I hadn’t had that big surgery, I wouldn’t be on Medium, discovering a new voice when I thought I knew everything about writing.
So a shout out to Dr. Vincent Gaudiani his crew at California Pacific Medical Center, and my terrific cardiologist, Dr. Stephen Blumlein who has safeguarded my health all these years.
We hear a lot of complaints about the medical profession. They give conflicting opinions and make you wait long hours in their waiting rooms. But I want to talk up the lives they save, especially mine.
Seven years strong. I didn’t get a crystal ball as a going-away present when I left the hospital, so I don’t know how much longer I have on this earth. But I’m so grateful to the docs and nurses who got me through my surgery.
I haven’t set the world on first in the past seven years, but they’ve been precious to me. I had more time with my sister and life-long friend Wendy before they passed on before me. I’ve counted so many laughs with my daughter.
We wrote a book together, which, while it may not be a best-seller yet, is one of the proudest achievements of my life. I’ve had extra time with the people I love and I’ve made new friends, many of them here on Medium. I told my little nephew that I have a pig valve in my heart and sometimes it makes me go Oink Oink. I’d hate to think I would have missed his laugh over that one.
So happy birthday to my rebuilt heart. Hope we’re still rocking in another seven years.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve been writing since my heart surgery.
How I Wrote 30 Books After Heart Surgery At Age 72
I Stopped Worrying About The Wrong Things
From One Potty Mouth to Another, You Do You, Crissy Teigan
Let’s hear it for filthy-mouthed women
I’m an editor and writer on Medium with Top Writer status in Writing, Psychology, This Happened to Me, Food and Cooking. I’m also an editor for the publication, Rogues Gallery. I’ve published 55 titles on Amazon and edit fiction and nonfiction for private clients. If you’d like to hire me as your editor, please contact me here. If you’d like to read more of my stories and tips for success on Medium, click here to sign up for my newsletter. I’ll make sure you don’t miss a word. Thank you for reading.