Most everybody knows I had open heart surgery at age 39 (5 years ago) to replace my mitral valve with a mechanical one. The official diagnosis was "mitral valve stenosis" and "mitral valve regurgitation".
The short and sweet explanation of that is this:
Mitral Valve Stenosis - arthritic and deformed valve.
Mitral Valve Regurgitation - leaky valve.
Living with a mechanical valve can be, err.. interesting. I tick. I tick loudly. I tick so loudly, that if it is quiet people can hear it. Which really is hilarious when you see people checking their watches because they think they are hearing that, when it is really me. I just sit there all innocent like, and smile.
Sometimes the ticking can be so loud inside my own head that I can't sleep. When you lay down and curl up on your side, with your ear pressed into the pillow... tick... tick... tick... After 5 years I should be used to it. It should, and most of the time does, comfort me. As long as I am ticking, I am still alive. But, some nights it actually keeps me awake. If I have a headache, the pounding in my head is made worse because of the ticking. There is not much you can do about it, but get up for awhile until you are tired enough you can sleep through the ticking.
Scott actually has been kept awake by the ticking. We now have a fan, that we keep on just for some background noise, to drown out the ticking. He is comforted by the ticking, as well. As long as I am ticking, he knows I am breathing! He no longer has to put his hand on my chest to check for a pulse!
We laugh hysterically when if I get excited over something, the ticking speeds up, just like a regular heart would. If I get scared, same thing... ticktickticktick...
So the next time you hear a ticking clock, imagine that in your chest. Imagine that ticking is your heartbeat. That is what it is like with a mechanical valve.
There are times we wish we would have gone with a pig valve. It would be quiet and I wouldn't have to take the Coumadin, so I could eat and drink what I want with no concern for "the levels". But, we went with the mechanical option so I hopefully won't have to have another replacement until I am much older, or this one fails. Pig valves only last about 10-15 years. Mechanical valves are supposed to last up to 25 years. We chose the best option, even if I do get on my own nerves sometimes.
All I can do is keep on ticking! Tick... tick... tick...