LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
I had one pre-op meeting with my surgeon before the diagnosis was confirmed and surgery was scheduled.
On March 21, 2007, my family pushed me into the hospital; I was in a wheel chair at that point, and I was prepped for surgery.
It’s weird going in to a surgery that you’re not sure you’ll come out of. People don’t want to say it, but they’re not sure if this is goodbye and it shows on their faces. When I was wheeled away from my family, I saw my dad cry for the second time in my life.
Before the anesthesiologist put me under, I made the entire surgical room stop what they were doing and say a prayer for me. I don’t know who prayed, but it seemed like they had just said “amen” when everything started to fade to black. I don’t remember much after that.
And just like that, I was awake. I was disoriented, I couldn’t see and I had a breathing tube down my throat, but I was alive and my family was right there with me.
When I finally came to my senses and started realizing what was going on, I noticed a ticking sound. I looked all over the room and didn’t see any clocks; I asked one of the nurses if they heard it. She smiled and said that ticking was a good thing, it was my new aortic valve and, as long as I heard it, that meant I was still alive.
It took a while to get used to the ticking. It kept me up at night sometimes, but I did eventually get used to it. It’s part of who I am. A ticking heart is a small price to pay to still be alive.