Living with aortic regurgitation and stenosis is basically a daily pain in the ass. I’m considered “symptomatic”. Which is a simple way of saying that I feel like hell. I used to be able to run, hike, climb stairs. I remember climbing Eagle Tower in Wisconsin, which consists of like a million stairs, and being just fine. Nowadays, going up my basement stairs makes me winded. I can’t run, I get short of breath when I talk, and sleeping flat on my back – forget about it! Every time I see a set of stairs, my heart goes “oh crap, not again!”. I get palpitations… it’s just downright uncomfortable.
I had a TEE done back in 2009 – back then I could still walk around the block with my dog and breathe somewhat normally. After that terrible TEE experience (being drugged and having an echo device shoved down your throat is NOT a fun time) – I took a brief doctor hiatus and figured I’d just deal with the symptoms and be fine.
Until it got bad enough where I was sick of dealing with it, and now here we are.
I had my stress echo done about a week ago.
I survived about 8 minutes on the treadmill, got up to a fast walk at 3.5mph – and had my heart cranking at 195bpm with arrhythmia when the technician decided it was time to stop. It took about 20 minutes of laying down for my heart rate to go back down around 100bpm (Which is a normal resting heart rate for me)
My resting heart rate usually hangs out around the 90’s, if I’m moving around a little, it’s 100 or more. Simple activities like doing laundry put my heart rate around 135.
If you looked at me, you wouldn’t think that I have this condition. I weight about 108 pounds, and my blood pressure is actually on the low end.
I have my next Cardiologist appointment on monday to discuss the results of my echo (like it needs discussion, the verdict is already in – my heart sucks!).
I already know that the only way to fix it and get rid of symptoms is to have my aortic valve replaced. I still don’t want anything to do with valve replacement surgery, but it’s in my future so I have to just deal with it.
For now, I’m learning to land closer to the hangar when I’m skydiving – the jumping part is just fine on my heart, it’s the walk back to the hangar with all that gear on that’s a killer! I tackle stairs one at a time, and I throw the ball for my dog from the couch while I watch Heroes.
Ideal? No. Tolerable? Yes.
We’ll see what the prognosis looks like on Monday!