Dear Readers, as you might remember I have been having tests over the past few months, following a persistent cough – I’ve had a CT scan and various ultrasounds, with an echocardiogram last Sunday. Everything has come back negative except one. The CT scan picked up that there was something ‘dodgy’ about my heart – there seemed to be fluid around the heart, and the aorta seemed to be dilated. None of these things exactly filled me with cheer, and the echocardiogram doctor seemed to think that there was definitely something amiss.
Although this hasn’t been confirmed yet, she thinks that what I have is a congenital heart defect – where in the diagram above it says ‘tricuspid valve’ (meaning ‘three leaves’), I only have a bicuspid valve. For the early part of life this usually causes no problems, but as you get older it can become less and less efficient, so the blood may leak, and the aorta grows to compensate. The only symptoms that I have are breathlessness, which I was putting down to two years of sedentary lockdown, and rather too many cakes (ahem). However, it might seem that the cakes are not to blame at all.
I am waiting for the echocardiogram report to make its leisurely way to my GP (hopefully next week) and then I am assuming that I’ll be sent off to a cardiologist, probably for yet more tests. There are no drugs for this condition, so depending on my overall health the most likely outcome is probably a valve replacement. The bad news is that this is a major operation, but the good (in fact great) news is that it’s been discovered, and that once I’ve recovered from the operation I’ll be as good as new.
It’s all been a bit of a shock, and of course there is lots of uncertainty at the moment, but if the past few years has taught me anything it’s that nothing is ever actually certain, and that we have to take each precious moment as it comes. So, I am letting you know just in case you have any experience of something like this (Mum and Dad had all sorts of heart problems but this was never picked up, although if it does turn out to be congenital one of them would have had it too), and also because I think it helps to share these things (and because you have been such a wonderful support through all sorts of shenanigans over the years).
I must say that my science studies are actually helping – I am so curious about what will happen next! I have spent more time in hospital on my own behalf in the past few months than in the whole of my previous 63 years, so it’s been quite an education, and it makes me realise how incredibly lucky I’ve been on the health front. I am 100% up for whatever happens next, so let’s see.