Living with a Mechanical Heart Valve: Click.Tick.Thump. Love It!

Support Group for Mechanical & Artificial Heart Valve Surgery & Using Warfarin

Met the surgeon now on the waiting list after been told its worse than before.

I'm having complex aortic arch repair with stent removal mechanical valve replacement and part of the descending aorta replaced!!
I met the surgeon Mr Mascaro at Birmingham QE and he says I have age on my side (28) and not to worry about statistics! But I am since its going to be a big job doing all that and I worry about waking with a tube in my throat in too much pain as I keep reading on the Internet :-(
Getting worried every time the postman comes now at the same time want it over so I can get on with my life and see my baby grow up x
I am wandering how long I could be in hospital for And how bad is it when you first wake up? Thanks everyone x

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First of all its hurts. It hurts like hell! Yes you will wake with a tube in your throat (most likely!) and in intensive care - probably 1-2 days. Hospital 2 weeks or so - until they get your INR stable. That's the down side. The good side is just how quickly you will recover! Takes up to 6 months for the pain of your chest crack to completely back off..sneezing laughing, COUGHING (NO!) hurts big time! Then it just gets better and better. :-) I hit 10 my year anniversary in April this year and apart from the inconvenience of warfarin its been a great ride!  Get it over and done with - waiting is the worse part! 



Hi Kerry

I had Aortic Value & Ascending Aorta replaced about 1.5years ago now, I’m 48yrs old. Graeme is right the waiting really is the hardest bit, stay positive and before you know it you will be on that road to recovery. I had a 6months wait.

I do not remember waking up or having the tube in my throat or being in pain, probably on too many drugs to feel the pain. I do remember the pain many days later though – yes it hurts but the painkillers definitely help. You soon find out how to be careful and find ways of limiting the pain i.e. don’t lift heavy things, get up from chairs & bed holding a ‘huggy’ (will explain in a minute) to your chest.

I was in Hospital for 8days.

Try to stay positive - I know easy to say but hard to do all the time. The way I used to look at it was it’s a ‘no brainer’ i.e. not having the operation was not an alternative to even contemplate. Start looking forward to when you are back at home recovering. Sort out some simple things to get ready for when you are back home. For example, I sorted out the following things; - bought a small kettle (little electric one from a camping shop) because for the first few weeks you will find even lifting a standard kettle with a little bit of water hurts & got a light weight mug & small glass for the same reason. Your chest will hurt if you lift things which are too heavy - for the first few weeks. Got Tomato soup, good ole Heinz, soup when you are ill is really good for you, it’s not just an old wives tale. My taste buds were not great for the first ~month. I found Tomato soup lovely though! - got some Lucozade energy drink, I found it useful when I was feeling a bit weak - got Car seatbelt retainers, useful to take the pressure of the chest. Practice getting up out of your chair without pushing yourself up with your arms, I’m glad I did practice this as it became second nature to do it before the Op, I know it sounds simple but it well hurt your chest if you push up with your arms. Practise how you would get up out of bed, I would hold my chest with what I called my Huggy, when I’m at the edge of the bed I used to rock on my back i.e. swing my legs up & down to get a bit of momentum going. My Huggy was a rolled up Towel (wrap tape around it top & bottom to secure it, make a round cylinder) although some people use a soft pillow. I pushed it against my chest every time I got up or down from a chair or bed or getting in/out of a car etc plus used it in the car in between my chest & the seatbelt. I used it for many weeks in the beginning, it was a great help to me. It sounds so simple but it really did help me - it protects your chest and stops you from using your arm/s to help you push yourself up etc, you really can't push up with your arms.

Hope this helps a bit.

I found this website so very useful - lots of lovely helpful people on it, don't be afraid to ask questions.

Best regards


Hi Kerry

You do have the age on your side. I had something similar done a year ago. Yes it hurts but you ll be fine. Yes tge tube scratch my throat too but is a small price to pay for a long happy life.
And yes statistics to be ignored . A year on I don't remember anything about the tube. I suggest stop reading stories on net will make you feel worst. Read trough posts on here and ask anything the forum users are amazing supporters . And yes it is very scary in did I was petrified but I had a very damaged aorta too very damaged and is been replaced with a plastic tube and my valve was bicuspid so been replace with a metallic one. And I m here a year on and strong back to work and going on Holliday !

And is true the younger you are the faster you recover.

All tge best
Kerry - as several people have said the waiting is the hardest bit. Everyone is different so everyone's experience is different as well. I had Aortic Valve replacement as well as replacement graft of the ascending aorta - just under two years ago. Woke up with a tube in my throat, several chest drains, multiple lines,but no pain - it was a little uncomfortable but never painful. Total time in hospital 5 days and then back at home.
Thank you all for your support and suggestions I will definately try a huggy and get some soup in you can't beat a nice tomato soup when you feel rough lol xx
I'm hoping I'm only off work for 3 months as money will be tight on statutory sick but that's all my job pays :-(
I can't wait to get it over with then I just be grateful to being awake (even with tubes drains and pain) and having a future ahead of me because while I'm waiting for this surgery I do wander if there is a future, stupid things like seeing my daughter walk And first least after the surgery all that worry can get lost lol xx
Thanks again for your support and its really good to meet people who have had similar to me I'm always talking about you all like Your my friends when I'm explaining to my family about others experiences x

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