I recently passed the four year anniversary of my heart valve surgery. Since I also had exercise-induced AFIB in the weeks before the surgery, I also got the Maze procedure, which meant this was not minimally invasive, instead I got a median sternotomy. But my surgeon, Dr. Vincent Gaudiani, did an excellent job. The details of that are all described here.
The major side effect I had in the first few months post-op was pericarditis, or an inflamed pericardium (the lining surrounding the heart). At first this caused water around the lungs (pleural effusion) which made breathing more difficult. That was cleared up after a few weeks by a stout dose of furosemide (also known by the brand name Lasix). But I had an ongoing issue of an abnormally high resting heart rate, which took almost a year to completely go away.
Now, four years on, I am completely asymptomatic. I just did a major round of tests with my cardiologist that confirmed I no longer have AFIB, and also do not have clogged coronary arteries.
Good to go! The anniversary really made me appreciate what I went through (with the help and support of many people), and how far I’ve come and how lucky I am it all turned out this way. I decided to do something special to celebrate. First, about a week ago I did I brisk 50 mile ride in the hills, which felt great. But I was looking for something even more special so have signed up for a century (100 mile bike ride) in October. I haven’t done one of those in forty years so this will hopefully show the old boy has still got it (in the stamina department at least). And it will be a fun tour of rural parts of the Sacramento Valley I’ve never seen.