What’s Up With The Surgery?

Why, that’s nice that you asked, let me tell you. Way back in the early years, like 1992, Dad found out that he had a bicuspid valve in his heart. It’s most likely a congenital issue, and it means that one of the valves had two parts instead of the normal three. This occurs in about 2% of the general population (including famous folks like Barbara Bush, Arnold, and Robin Williams).

When someone has this, it causes the heart to work harder to get the blood through that valve since it isn’t as efficient as it should be. His condition has been monitored closely since it’s discovery, and about two months ago a test reviled that it was in fact time to get it replaced. It was a good thing that Dad was able to live with the bicuspid valve for as long as he did because most patients will have to have another surgery later in life to replace the new valve – it only has a life in the range of 20 years, and as such, Dad will likely have to have another surgery then.

So this wasn’t an emergency, it wasn’t due to poor dieting or poor exercise…it was something that just happened and needed repair. The decision timeline was short, but that was his decision…why wait any longer than needed? So it was decided, and the surgery happened on Monday.

It took about 6.5 hours total, and included several hours on a heart/lung bypass machine. Dr. Nene performed the procedure and was extremely happy with how it went, and with the results: he now has a bovine valve doing the job. He spend Monday night in the ICU – which is required for all open-heart patients – and then most of the day Tuesday as well. On Tuesday night, he was doing well enough to move to the Cardiac Care floor to complete his hospital stay. Oh, Monday night he stood up and Tuesday he walked across the room!!!!

He has done exceptionally well with the recovery so far: walking all over the place, doing some stairs, and maintaining his energy levels. So well in fact, that Dr. Nene signed his discharge paperwork yesterday morning. Even though those were signed, the decision was jointly made between my Dad and the nurses that one more night wouldn’t hurt anything, so he stayed last night. An average open-heart patient will spend between 5-7 days in the hospital (post op), and Dad was out of there in 5 total (with the option to have left yesterday).

Next up: home and recovery. Dad was discharged this morning and is resting comfortably at home. There is about 4-6 weeks of moderated effort ahead, and then still some therapy after that for a while…but expect to find him back on the e-mail and computer soon. The prognosis is for a full recovery, and to even better health than pre-surgery.

My Grandparents and Uncle came out to Colorado to be here for the surgery and to help with the recovery. It has been a real blessing to have family around for support and I know that Dad couldn’t have made it this far this quick without them being around.

So that’s the news from here and the reason for the reduced postings this week. As everything returns to close-to-normal, so will the updates. Thanks for all of the support and prayers….


  1. Rebecca Coyle says:

    Glad to hear everything went well and best wishes to your dad for a smooth recovery!

  2. Andrew Wessman says:

    Pass along my best wishes to your dad.
    That bad valve didn’t seem to slow him down backpacking…

  3. michael Z says:

    Glad to see he is doing well and we will contiue to keep him in our prayers..hopefully Ezra keeps him busy!

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