Karen's Story: A Positive Attitude Makes All the Difference

Karen relaxing in her backyard

Karen relaxing in her backyard

After reviewing my echocardiogram in Oct. 2011, my cardiologist felt it was time to consider aortic valve replacement. Tears flowed freely. I was over 80 and anxious about such a procedure.

I interviewed a cardiac surgeon recommended by my cardiologist but was encouraged to get a second opinion. Good advice. And that was who I chose.

He was very thorough in explaining exactly what he would be doing to replace the aortic valve. Yes, he had operated on patients over 80!

He would make a small opening in the sternum. Would I like a pig or a cow valve? I left it up to him. I had read that if you chose a mechanical valve you'd likely be taking a blood thinner the rest of your life. And with the animal tissue valve, you could survive at least ten years.

I was in the hospital only four days with my new cow valve.

Recovery went well. My son flew to town to be with me during and just after the surgery. A great comfort to me.

My caregiver stayed with me for three weeks. Then my children took turns coming to town to be with me. Having the support of family and friends was a tremendous help during the recovery.

Then it was time for cardiac rehab. It continues to be my fitness club. Exercise is so important. The staff monitors me before and after exercise, recommending which equipment is best for me.

I have continued to travel and enjoy life. I have a positive attitude and a sense of humor and am grateful for each day. What more can I ask for at 88?

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