The big day is slipping into view; I'm scheduled for left/right cardiac catheterization tomorrow, to be followed (soon, I hope) by valve replacement surgery. Because of my age and the level of my infirmity, I'm pretty sure I'll be entering the bionic age with a mechanical valve, which will (at least until I get used to it) remind me constantly of its presence, by tick, tick, ticking away.
The sound is supposed to be reassuring rather than annoying (according to most of those who have one and report on it in the Valve Replacement Forum) and thus is much better, as they say, than the alternative. For some really cool pictures of valves and other heart-parts, see my post on the Cabinet, "A Brief History of the Heart: In Pictures," and for the saga of my previous adventures along these lines, see my December 2008 post, "Cardi-ology" here on the Farm.
Since aortic valve replacement is turning out to be the celebrity surgery du jour (with Barbara Bush, Robin Williams and Astros third-baseman Aaron Boone joining the ranks just last month), it seems to be more common than most people think. Other valves need replacing, too (mitral and pulmonary to name two), often because of congenital malformations, damage through rheumatic fever, and stenosis due to age and other factors. Anyone interested in the subject should go to the Mayo Clinic's page on Heart Disease and on aortic valve stenosis. Another valuable source is the American Heart Association, which also has a page on heart valves in general, with further information on each one. The aforementioned Valve Replacement Forum has a wealth of information and first-hand accounts by folks who have undergone a variety of procedures. I joined a couple of months ago, and there just aren't words to say how valuable the information and support has been.
So the upshot is that I probably won't be blogging for a bit, at least until I'm out of ICU, and unless they give me more time than I want between the cath and surgery. According to the numbers on sitemeter, some folks actually read this thing, so to those who do, I have one question: y'all gonna be here when I wake up?
Sorry; that was yet another lame Firefly fan-joke--a line from Mal Reynolds at the end of "Out of Gas." I do sincerely hope that I'm not. Out of gas, that is. And just in case one or two geeky science fiction references aren't enough, here are a couple more:
See you on the other side (as they say on the VR Forum), after assimilation . . . . on the way to becoming a proto-Cylon. I won't be running in slow motion like the Bionic Woman, I'll be walking. Slowly. But at least I won't be getting speeding tickets while suffering from angina. (That story is on the Cabinet, says she in shameless self-promotion--again.)
When I began this blog, I had in mind a focus on hearth, heart, and home--although I don't think I meant it quite so literally. But thanks for reading, and wish me luck.
Image credit: Diagram of heart valves, from Grey's Anatomy via Wikimedia Commons.