Kevin Hey: My Post Surgery Story

Published On: 23 December 2015Categories: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Mitral Valve, Patient Stories

In the final entry of the trio, we hear how Kevin managed during his recovery and post-treatment pathway. After 18 years of living with mitral valve disease, how was life with a valve replacement?

My operation lasted for about seven hours and I was now lying peacefully in the cardiac intensive care unit. I had no pain, all my body parts seemed to be in place and I couldn’t hear any clicking of an artificial valve. I had tubing and wires attached through various holes, and the only thing missing to complete the image of Frankenstein was a bolt through my neck. I heard the news that my mitral valve had been successfully repaired with a mixture of joy and relief.

After less than a day in intensive care, I was deemed well enough to be transferred to one of the general cardiac wards. The day after arriving on the ward I was invited to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom and back. The distance was not far, but on my return, I felt like a true Olympian.

Nutrition and exercise are considered really important elements of the post-recovery regime but in addition, I had to receive some physiotherapy for one of my lungs which had not reflated fully after surgery. Thankfully, the remainder of my recovery was uneventful and thus there was no need for me to be seen by the surgeon other than just a couple of times. I was examined on a daily basis by one of his registrars and at one point, the consultant anaesthetist popped along to say ‘hello’. By the third day after surgery, the registrars were discussing the possibility of discharging me, and so the physiotherapists were summoned to take me for some tests to determine my ability and safety in walking and climbing a flight of stairs. I passed with flying colours.

Five days after surgery, I was discharged from the ward and returned home. I felt very relieved. I was tired and still breathless, but had been ‘repaired’. For a week, the local district nurse came daily to check on progress and dress my wounds. Within a fortnight after surgery I was walking a mile up-hill into town and a few weeks after that I had returned to driving. Now almost a year later, at the age of 58, I am like a new man.

There is no denying that heart valve surgery is a big operation and that the prospect of undergoing this type of procedure can be worrying. Equally, there is no denying that cardiac surgery in relative terms is exceedingly safe and the outcomes are excellent. In my experience, the surgeons and teams are all immensely skilled and approachable – so take heart, for you really will be in the very best of hands.

Kevin Hey: My Treatment Options Story
Margaret Willcock's Story

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