Welcome to my Heart 2 Heart Series featuring existential reflections of the narratives of my heart stories and those of my children and how these stories impact me, my wife, family & friends. Glad you have joined me on this introspective journey.
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If you have been following my blog you know that I am under going open heart surgery on January 31, 2023. Or at least that is when the procedure is “scheduled“. Having experienced two open heart surgeries, my first time under the knife in 1971 and my daughter’s experience in 2002, I know that ‘scheduled‘ and ‘actual‘ are two completely different realities. None the less, the third go-round with open heart surgery is scheduled and the count-down clock is ticking.
I am an optimistic creature. I am a dreamer at heart. I believe in the underdog and love a great come from behind victory. I relish David and Goliath stories when a protagonist rises above all odds to win the battle and claim victory.
I am, as Shakespeare once penned, a lunatic, lover and poet.
I am a hopeless romantic who believes in the million to one odds and bets them every time.
Now, open heart surgery for a valve replacement is “risky” yet survival rates are high. So, I am not worried about making it through the surgery even though my daughter, Dakota, did not survive her open heart surgery in 2002. That narrative presents a host of other existential crises for me which will be explored in this series of posts pre and post op.
My real concern is when can I get back to the life I used to know? So it is the recovery and the time that I will need to recover that make me the most concerned. And to be honest, the weekend before the surgery will be tough as well. The anticipation of the procedure and the launch of the recovery will drive an eagerness in me that I know all to well. I will want to “get his show on the road” and am working on structuring my last weekend and concluding my counseling duties so that I can focus on ramping up for the actual event and recovery.
The recovery may be a bit of a pain in the ass for me as I am a hyper-active person, to say the least. I like to be up, moving around the aircraft and doing things. I do not do well just laying around “resting“. I do not do well on beach vacations where one sits under an umbrella, reads and sleeps for days on end. I can do it for a couple of hours and then I am out in the water, floating with a drink in hand, walking the beach, parasailing and having fun.
In the summer of 2022 I started to develop symptoms: shortness of breath, upper chest pain, bloating, rapid weight gain and higher blood pressures. These symptoms were never more apparent than when I toured the southeast with my wife and daughter. Hiking in The Great Smokey Mountains, Congaree and Mammoth Cave National Parks was a chore and very difficult as well as frustrating at times. I hated that my body would not allow me to enjoy the parks the way I wanted, to keep up and to have to ‘sit out’ an event because I was fatigued or felt like shit. Upon my return, my doc ordered an echo which led to a STAT EKG which led to a diagnosis of A-Fib. Water weight continued to climb and I was referred to a specialist cardiologist who is certified in congenital heart defects AND adults.
Post an initial meeting, I was hospitalized and underwent another echo, cardiac catheterization and cardio conversion, during which they shocked my heart back into sinus rhythm. For more on that narrative, check out this post.
Post my hospitalization in October of 2022, I felt amazing and can not imaging how amazing will become really amazing when I have a fully functioning heart again post a pulmonary valve replacement, closure of the VSD and MAZE procedure to ensure A-Fib does not return because I am not going through that shit again (my favorite Chief Brody line in Jaws 2 – as good as “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”).
I can not wait to regain my youthful vigor and hike national parks with my family this summer. We are planning trips in 2023 to both Canadian and US National Parks.
I can not wait to be able to lecture and teach on stage at a conference or event without feeling winded. I can get quite animated when I speak and present. In May and June was getting light headed and winded when I would lecture, speak and present so I had to stop, which sucked. I can’t wait to build successful programs again, hit the road and lecture, speak and present in 2023.
I was also getting winded creating podcasts and videos and also had to stop those activities. I plan to resume my media production duties and scheduled post my recovery and am already in development for additional content for my YouTube Channel and Podcast (Marauder Radio – Pirate Radio for Mental Wellness) Home.
I have family in Vegas, Seattle, Denver and Orlando and plan to once again resume my travels to spend quality time with them and that quality time is taking on a whole new meaning as I am fixing stuff that has impacted the quality of my life for the past year.
I am pumped.
I have plenty of dreams and plans in development. From walking my dogs without having to stop twice, to hiking in beautiful places, to lecturing, to producing media to traveling and being as active as I possibly can be.
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My Open Heart Surgery