Just about at the time that this photo was taken of me and Cole back in 2006 is when I went to see a cardiologist about my blood pressure. During an FAA physical in the spring of 2006 it was noted by that FAA doctor that my blood pressure had begun to creep ever so slightly upward, and that this doctor had heard a murmur while listening to my heart. He advised me to go to my primary doctor and get it checked out. This also coincided with me leaving Denver and moving back to my hometown of Fresno, CA.
Once that I got moved in and established back in Fresno I sought out a cardiologist, Dr. John Nelson, who had saved my brother’s life after having a massive heart attack a few years previous to this time. So once I got into to see Dr. Nelson he began to delved into why my BP (blood pressure) was creeping up, and what was the origins of my murmur.
Through the Summer and into the Fall of 2006 my doctor set me up for several tests, one of which he wanted me to do was and angiogram. I immediately squashed that idea because I did not want that on my medical record to go with high blood pressure and I was also diagnosed as a borderline diabetic. My health appeared to be taking a tumble and I didn’t want the FAA to ground me because of these early heath warnings.
So Dr. Nelson began his best impression of Monty Hall! We bantered back and forth trying to make a deal about different types of tests he thought would be beneficial in nailing down my particular issues. After much discussion he asked me if I would agree to do a 64 Slice. He said that at that time it was a very cutting edge test. Unfortunately, he informed me that more than likely my insurance would not pay for it. I asked him what it entailed? With a name like 64 Slice it sure sounded very invasive to me and my guard was already way up!
He informed me that it was a type a CAT scan, and he thought that it may help in nailing down the origins of my heart murmur. It would enable him to see my heart with a much higher resolution. He said to be me, “if I can get you in for free will you do it”? “You will have to go to San Francisco to get this done”. Long story short, within a couple of weeks I was driving up to SF to have my 64 Slice!
After reviewing the results of the 64 Slice, Dr. Nelson noted that there appears to be an issue with my aortic valve and he had just one more suggestion. He wanted me to submit to a TEE. I asked him what the heck was a TEE? He informed me that it was a trans esophageal echogram. There was an idea that my aortic valve was bicuspid, two leaflets, versus the normal tricuspid or three leaflets. I was informed that the aortic valve lies right next to the esophagus and they (the doctors) can have a real good look to see if my aortic valve was bicuspid or not from the TEE.
After accomplishing the TEE is was proven that I have an abnormal aortic valve, bicuspid. It was something that I was born with, but took 55 years for it to rear its ugly head! At that time Dr. Nelson informed me that, in time, I would have to have my aortic valve replaced. So it was decided that my cardiologist was going to keep a close watch on my bicuspid aortic valve.
For the next four years everything seemed to remained status quo. My aortic valve regurgitation, aka murmur, remained in check and did not grow any more severe. My heart appeared to be operating perfectly normal, with that one exception of a murmur.
For those not family or close friends, and are not familiar to what happened that night, you must read the above link to understand what a traumatic event can have on your heart!
Stay tuned for Part 2!
TIL NEXT TIME, KEEP THE SHINY SIDE UP!