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.

17 thoughts on “Heart-felt

  1. gertloveday

    Oh Dear. I am so sorry to hear that. We never know what life has in store for us. But you seem to be strong and healthy so should make a quick recovery. There’s often a sense of relief in actually knowing what is causing symptoms.

  2. John

    Sorry to read this but such conditions can indeed be successfully treated. I ha a heart attack in 2015 followed by a major operation to provide a quadruple bypass. Am now as fit as a fiddle. Full recovery took about six months.. So if you do need ai get op. it could give you many more years of active life.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      That is really good to hear, John – I am very optimistic! My mother had heart failure in her later years, so I would like to avoid that if at all possible.

  3. Anne Guy

    Oh dear so sorry to read this but now it’s been identified it sounds like it can be treated…hope all goes well for you.

  4. Christine Burns

    I can also make positive comment about heart surgery as I had a triple bypass 12 years ago. It really helps if you are otherwise in good health as I was.

  5. Jennifer Taylor

    All the very, very best. As someone has already said these conditions can be successfully treated. As you so rightfully say, we have “to take each precious moment as it comes”.

  6. Jay

    How marvellous that it’s been picked up and they can do these ops so routinely these days! Yes, of course it’s a very big op and it’s daunting, but hey, they can fix you, which is cause for celebration (after you’ve had a little wobble)! I really hope it all goes well/smoothly for you and that you get it done fast so you don’t have to wait and worry. Good luck!

  7. Rosie

    This must absolutely be a shock for you and your husband and friends. What a good thing it’s been discovered though and that there’s a pathway to resolve it. I hope you can find some pleasant and relaxing things to do to de- stress in the meantime.

  8. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    Thank you for telling us your story. I may have mentioned that my wife has a chronic cough and the doctors don’t really seem to be certain about what it is. COPD was mentioned. But the breathlessness sounds familiar. (I always read these posts out to her in case recognises similar symptoms).

  9. thirlsmith

    Dear Bugwoman, so sorry to hear about your heart condition. It sounds like you are approaching it in the best possible way, but as someone has said, do allow yourself a little wobble from time to time. I shall say a prayer for quick, easy and successful treatment. My father had a valve replacement (he’d had a murmur all his life) and lived many more good years afterwards. May I also say how much I enjoy your blog, even if I hardly ever have time to comment. It is a constant refreshment to me! And I have exactly the same trouble deciding on my favourite flower or family. The pea family is certainly a front-runner! Best wishes, Wildflowerhunter

  10. Kathleen

    I’m sorry to read about your health problems and can understand how daunting that potential surgery must be. But as you have said, at least you know about it and this is something that can be fixed. My very best wishes for the future.


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