Wednesday, July 18, 2018

murmurs of the heart

So, I have this heart murmur. I'd like to blame it on Donalinski Trumpavitch, our Russian President, but Dr. O. found it a few years ago. He didn't like it from the first time he heard it but it was this year that he sent me to a cardiologist after a very unpleasant hour long exam  by a very nice woman where she pressed something against my chest and back very violently and took pictures. I don't remember what the exam is called but it took two days to get all the gook off my body that she put there to press her little evil device against me.

I would have thought a cardiologist would be brusk and all business and short with me. Nothing further from the truth. Dr. F., about 6'4" and thin, with short grey hair and glasses, couldn't have been friendlier and more forth-coming or spent more time talking with me and explaining what he was seeing.

My aortic valve, the one that the heart pumps blood out of to go and make my whole body work, is getting a little stiff. (I think they call it a murmur since they hear it through their stethoscopes as a faint little sound.)

My heart has to work harder to get the blood through the valve since the valve is stiffening up. Happens with age.

My murmur is on the cusp between normal and compromised. It's no where near the third stage of severe.

He told me over and over than there is nothing to worry about and nothing to do for 4-6 years. I'll get tested every year and at some point he might want to replace the valve.

They don't do that in open-heart surgery any more but go through the artery and push the new valve into the old until the old collapses and the new takes over.

One night in the hospital. No recovery time.

The problem, he told me in great detail, is that there is no pain as a symptom. The symptoms are things people expect as they age: not as much energy, listlessness, exhausting easily. So people don't know the problem isn't age, it's the aortic valve hardening up.

The replacement method is new (5 years) in the US and very successful. They've been dong it in Europe for a dozen years. But even a dozen years isn't long enough for research to tell them how long the new valves last. But by the time I need one (if I don't get hit by lightening or have a stroke about the President) the research will be much more advanced, as will the method.

I never thought talking to a cardiologist would be a reassuring and joyful thing. But it was.

Just goes to show you....well, I don't know exactly what it goes to show you, but something....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.