Heart Needs Fixing

I finally saw my cardiologist and received my MRI results. I think the stress of it all just hit me the morning I saw Dr. D. I live in denial with what’s going on for the most part. I feel “normal,” so I can’t quite believe that I have a serious heart problem. But as soon as I saw Dr. D. and he started talking about surgery, it all became too real. It hit me like a tonne of bricks and I completely panicked in his office- felt faint, nauseous, and dizzy. Not fun.

He told me that I definitely have an Atrial Septal Defect. The right side of my heart is strained and dilated, so that would explain why I’ve been having chest pain when I exercise. My inferior vena cava and pulmonary artery are also dilated. He said that I definitely do need to get it repaired. He estimated that I would have had maybe two years before there was serious damage done, and then it could have been too late to repair it with surgery. That’s scary. On one hand I feel so blessed that this was found! But on the other hand I’m scared of surgery. I’m trying to just focus on the blessed part.

He sent my file to the surgeons at Royal Columbian Hospital, and they will decide what kind of surgery it will be. They often repair the defect with a catheter procedure, which is minimally invasive, but he didn’t know if I’d be a candidate for that or not. The other option is open heart surgery, on bypass, the whole nine yards. That is what I’m scared of, for obvious reasons. It’s a major surgery and I’ve never had surgery before- never even broken a bone. I got a referral to my cardiac surgeon today, Dr. L., and of course I Googled him. From what I found, it looks like the bulk of what he does is open heart procedures, which makes me think I was referred to him because that’s what I need.

My appointment isn’t until March 7th, so I’m back to the waiting game. I’m staying positive though, focusing on gratitude that this defect was found and that I have an access to amazing health care. Vancouver does have world class surgeons and world class facilitates. I’m grateful to live here. Also, I’m still running. I get tired a lot, and can’t breathe very well when I run, but if I don’t push myself too hard, I don’t get chest pain very often.  I run with gratitude knowing that if I need open heart surgery, my running will have to be put on hold for quite awhile. I can run now though, so I’m taking advantage of it and appreciating each step.

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