Today I had the surgery consult with the second doctor, which is the one that I had initially chosen as my first choice. I have a couple friends in the valve research/clinical trials sector, and they both recommended Dr C. Additionally, my uncle's friend had minimally invasive valve repair last summer, and had a great experience with Dr C.
Today I arrived at the office, and I was given the same paperwork I've filled out several times before. They weighed and took my blood pressure (113/72!!) and took me back. I first met with the PA while Dr C looked over my echocardiogram and other information. Lori was really great. She had an excellent bedside manner and was very informative and engaging.
Eventually Dr C came in and we had a great conversation with him. We kept getting sidetracked because he enjoys photography as well (though he's a Nikon guy. *sigh*) He impressed me with his knowledge and number of surgeries he does. He agreed with Surgeon #1 that the sternectomy route was the better way to go since I'll most likely need both my mitral and my tricuspid valves replaced. He said he's only aware of one doctor in the country that does both through the side of the chest. He's observed that surgery and feels like he could do it, but he hasn't done it. If I wanted, I could be his first. I politely declined. I'll go old school for this. I told him that my first priority is to have a good repair that will perform well and last a long time, and I'd rather have him start off in the center than decide to switch to that after a while. My only concern with the sternectomy is that the scar be straight. He genuinely offered to let me draw the incision line. I think I may take him up on that!!!
We scheduled the surgery for five days from today. I have been taking fish oil supplements, and it turns out they act a bit as a blood thinner, so I have to be off of those before he can operate. I will arrive at the hospital on Sunday morning. They'll do all kinds of pre-op stuff, and then I'll go into surgery Monday morning. They said it'll take approximately 5 hours to do the repairs.
I have to admit that as this has drawn on, my anxiety has ratcheted up, and I probably have been drinking a bit more than I should. I called my cardiologist and asked for her to prescribe something for that, so I picked up that prescription today. It's not Xanax, and I'm a little disappointed, because I've been interested to see what that's like.
After we met with the surgeon, we were able to say a quick hello to an old high school friend who happens to be a cardiac PA, as well as one of my hiking friends who also works on the clinical side at IMC heart institute. He had really great advice, insights and food for thought. While I am a good candidate for repair, I need to consider what I'd want for replacement if I can't be repaired. Do I want a pig/cow valve (more organic, no blood thinners, but doesn't last as long) or mechanical (probably last forever, but a lifetime of blood thinners and accompanying risks). It's definitely something to think about.