I had been sick for years, but the last few months before my surgery I was literally drowning in my own blood every night. I would lay down to sleep, and wake up coughing, because my lungs were filling with blood. The doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me except what they called "moderate stenosis and moderate regurgitation".
I went to the doctor a few weeks before the OHS and was diagnosed with asthma. I was given a couple different inhalers and told to use these at night when I couldn't breathe. Nobody knew that the inhalers sped up my heart rate, which in turn made the blood fill up my lungs faster, making it harder to breathe than it originally was.
I went back one day after a particularly bad night, and was given a epinephrine injection. That was a curse and a gift at the same time. I came home feeling like a jitterbug and not quite right at all. After a few hours I couldn't breathe at all, and was turning purple so my husband Scott called the paramedics. I was rushed to the hospital and after 2 very long weeks of every kind of test you can think of, my cardiologist suggested one last thing to check. They had a new kind of camera that you swallow and it shows the backside of your heart. I aced that test, and afterwards was informed my mitral valve wasn't working at all. Open heart surgery was necessary as soon as possible to replace it.
I have never seen my husband so relieved. He had lived with a sick wife for so many years, and had been looking for answers for so long and we finally had one. Grateful doesn't begin to describe how we felt that day.
We met with the cardiac surgeon, scheduled surgery, and began to prepare. Let me just say, nothing quite prepares you for OHS. The pain, is almost unbelievable. Your arms are mostly useless, you can't lay flat because you can't move properly to get back up, you can feel your sternum shifting around even though it is wired together, so many things you can't do.
I came through that with flying colors, had my wires removed after one year, because I am on the small side, and they were starting to begin to poke through my skin. I have never been better. I have to take Warfarin, a blood thinner to keep clots from forming in my mechanical valve, which does limit what you can and can't eat, drink and what medications you can take.
That experience is one that I now celebrate, because without it, I would not be here today. I would be dead. I am so grateful to the people who performed my surgery, the people who helped me during my recovery, the people who helped me during cardiac rehab and especially my family. July 10, is now my "second birthday". I was given a second chance at life that day, almost three years ago, and will forever be grateful for it.