Kevin Hey: My Treatment Options Story

Published On: 16 December 2015Categories: Minimally Invasive Surgery, Mitral Valve, Patient Stories

After living with mitral valve disease for 18 years, Kevin was treated at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre. This is the second of three posts about Kevin’s experience. In this entry, he writes in detail about his experience of the preparation process before surgery.

I had to undergo a couple of final tests, and the week before the operation I attended a last consultation, this time at the Cardiac Centre in Blackpool. I had another long chat with the consultant and we agreed that in the first instance, he would attempt to repair my mitral valve, but that if this was not possible, then I would receive a prosthetic, mechanical replacement. The surgeon was very optimistic that he would be able to do a repair. In addition, I was cautioned that the operation may have to be undertaken via open heart surgery – in other words I could still end up being a member of the ‘Zipper Club’.

Strangely, the thing that worried me most about the operation was the thought that after undertaking all the surgery they wouldn’t be able to get my heart re-started. I consoled myself with one other thought – I wouldn’t know anything about it. I mention this not to be morbid but as an example of the myriad of thoughts and fears that race through the mind when one is facing surgery of a serious kind.

Minimally invasive surgery requires assembling a team that is very highly specialised, and whilst waiting for my procedure, I became worried about having the procedure my minimal access. Here, I must praise the consultant’s secretary who was absolutely superb in listening to my concerns and acting as an ‘honest broker’ in conveying my thoughts to the surgeon. The surgeon arranged to see me specifically to discuss the issue. This was another fine example of the openness, honesty and sincerity of the team. The surgeon gave me the figures and the facts, and I asked for 24 hours to mull things over.

The admission procedure for elective surgery at Lancashire Cardiac Centre is that you present at the admissions ward on the day of surgery at 7am in the morning. I arranged for a close friend to drive me to the hospital with the instruction that if I began babbling that ‘I’ve changed my mind’, he was to keep driving and deliver me to the hospital regardless. Thankfully, I wasn’t as nervous as expected and so on Tuesday, 4 November I toddled into the ward reception in a relatively calm and serene state.

I was made welcome and taken to a cubicle where I was invited to shave my chest and abdomen, and then to shower twice, applying special gel. A short while later, my assigned ward-nurse went through the formalities once more with me. Then, and much to my surprise and delight, the surgeon and anaesthetist came to see me too. They looked confident, spoke reassuringly and smiled. I immediately felt at ease once again and about thirty minutes after they had left, the porters came to take me to theatre.

In no time at all I was being wheeled into the theatre suite. The ward-nurse handed me over to the theatre nurse telling her: ‘Here’s Kevin, and he’s come to have his heart fixed’. The theatre nurse re-checked my details and then we went into the theatre we went. I was aware of a lot of people in the room and they at once began preparing me for the procedure. I’m sure a lot happened but I cannot tell you what, when or why. The last thing I remember is the consultant anaesthetist placing a strip on my forehead that would monitor my brain activity during the operation – then I went to sleep. And so I became the 200th patient to undergo mitral valve repair via keyhole surgery, performed by Joseph Zacharias at the Lancashire Cardiac Centre.

Kevin Hey: My Diagnosis Story
Kevin Hey: My Post Surgery Story

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