Wednesday, March 28, 2012


The one word that swiftly fell out of the mouth of my surgeon when Christos asked him how he felt about my surgery and recovery.

Christos took the day off and we traveled down to Mayo for my surgical follow-up with Dr. Dearani. I wish he'd let me call him Joe. Maybe he would if I asked him. He did argue back when I riled him about not wearing purple today and admitted that he was wearing purple on the day of surgery. He does not lack bedside manner or a sense of humor, this brilliant man.

Let me back up. The drive down was pretty. Much prettier than it was for my trips in October and in February. The rolling farm hills of Minnesota were starting to green and the farmers were out cleaning their crops. One of these days we'll take CT with us so he can see all the tractors along the way.

At lunch Christos spotted two of my ICU nurses and after his insistence I followed him over to their table to say hi. Their sweet faces were so familiar, but my time there is still such a blur. Their names are Ann and Jody, just so we don't forget.

I had a sundae for lunch. Because I'm a big girl and I can. And because I had a nervous tummy and nothing else sounded good.

Before my appointment we strolled the halls of unit 5 and peeked in my room. We didn't recognize any of the nursing staff but it was surreal to be back there and to see the ward how everyone else sees it. Sure I saw it while I was out on my daily walks but it was different this time. It was a reminder that the last time I walked that hall it was at a much slower pace and that I've come a long way in a short amount of time.

Dearani was his usual calm and confident self. We hit him with countless questions and he answered each one professionally and with ease. He seemed very proud of himself for the success of my surgery, and we made sure to show our appreciation for his passion and commitment to Ebstein's patients.
Things to note:
  • My X-ray showed that my sternum is healed and the size of my heart is "normal". You read that right. Pre-surgery my heart was moderate-to-severely enlarged.
  • He's happy with how my incision has healed and reminded me to keep it covered for at least the first year.
  • He explained that in order to keep the incision low they had to stretch the higher part of my chest skin up to get easier access to the bone. Which clarified why I've been experiencing some discomfort in that area. It is scar tissue under the skin.
  • He said I could be jogging now if I want. My rehab nurse is working on this and is putting me on the elliptical machine on Friday.
  • I'm still on weight restrictions until at least week 6.
  • I'm cleared to drive and I even made a brief trip to Target by myself yesterday. I drove the Honda. It's a manual. Driving wasn't painful nor uncomfortable, however the motion of turning the wheel and shifting gears was strange and I can completely understand now why that limitation is necessary.
  • When I asked him if he was teaching his surgical technique to anyone, he explained that EA is unlike any other congenital heart defect because the defect is specific to each individual and in some cases is hard to diagnose because of this. Whereas other congenital heart defects are more identifiable. So until a surgeon opens up a patient and sees what they are dealing with, they don't know exactly how it will be repaired. I understood this answer as though repairing the tricuspid valve is an art that can't be taught. One more reason that I'm thankful he was my surgeon. He admitted that he's passionate about the tricuspid valve.
When we parted ways we thanked him for fixing me up and after graciously accepting our appreciation he threw in a comment about me being "the poster child."

In in order of importance my response was "Awesome!" with a cheerleader clap followed by blushing cheeks.

It was a really good day and I'm relieved the outcome and his response to the surgery and my recovery was positive. I told him that I hope to never see him again.


  1. What great news Mandy! This post brought tears to my eyes, you are amazing. And so is dr dears i. Joe - he totally looked like a joe :). Keep it up girl - you are a strong woman that I love and admire so much!

  2. My phone tried to autocorrect dr dearani's name ...

  3. Glad for the update and you are doing well!

  4. This brought tears of joy to my eyes. You.are.Awesome.

  5. Wow! You have waited a long time to have the word 'normal' describe your heart. It makes me think of all the many things we take for granted that were born with 'normal' hearts and how we should appreciate small things - like walking up the steps without running out of breath. Just so thankful that you can now enjoy a new level of heart function and life like you never could before surgery.
    You are an amazing and strong woman and you prove it over and over. I am very lucky and proud to have you as a friend, please know that we and so many others are cheering for you and your continued recovery.
    Love, Jen