On 10th August each year I have an extra birthday.

I am 12 now…

I started counting again after my 4th open heart surgery in 2000, at Prince Charles hospital in Brisbane.
I owe my life to God (He had ample opportunity to take me home) and the very skilled hands of Dr Bruce Garlick… (Which followed on from the excellent medical care of Dr Wayne Stafford.)
As well as his great team including Dr Hart…yes really.
All the other theatre staff, ICU staff and ward nurses,
physios and specialist doctors called in.

I had also prepared myself as much as possible. Positive visualisation, positive thinking, weight loss etc.

All of these people, and more, who cared for me, and motivated me.

Thanks to all my visitors and those that sent cards, flowers and made thoughtful caring gestures. I seem to recall huge choc dipped strawberries, a bag of mandarins, a beautiful single daffodil and much more. An apple to ensure I would return home and a bowl of hand-made paper stars…to invoke chinese good fortune.

Dr Garlick replaced the mitral valve, which had been replaced twice before. The 1st, a  pigs valve had cracked after 9 years and this one split ( I seem to recall?)

This time an artificial valve was inserted and also the same brand for the aortic valve, thus ending my long-term joke about the only thing incompetent about me was my aortic valve, I had been diagnosed with AI way back when they found the Mitral Stenosis. Some 30 years ago.

My new valves tick. Or rather they click as they open and close, metal on metal. It took me some 2 years to not hear them, though 6 months is usual. I get migraines from repetitive sound so I’d been worried about that. When I travel I can go through the screening processes okay. However if the plane is quiet or the engines not yet running, I worry that the passenger next to me might hear me ticking. It is quite audible to people close to me. So I talk to them, as truly the last thing you want to hear these days when you are on a plane is something ticking…let alone someone.

Rheumatic fever as a child is what caused the damage, and though it remained undiagnosed until I was pregnant with my 1st child, the affects were present right thought my childhood and teen years. The damage is physical for sure, but has a huge impact emotionally. It also effected my entire family, and can impact others around a patient.

It had taken my wonderful mother and I decades until we resolved the spin-off issues from my illnesses.
Meningitis at 6 months had added to the pressures and general health damage.

Thus I delight in being 12!!!  I can truly say I am young at heart.

I have some medically directed limitations: 1.no bunging jumping (hmm like I’d want to )
2. No deep-sea diving…can probably live without that.

I am generally very well. I have learnt the fine art of
health maintainance and resting. I have learnt to apply wisdom about pushing beyond my known limits and when not to.

I still loathe being cotton-wooled, or hovered over, fussed about and silent whispering with ‘knowing’ looks. My committment to self management is high. And yes, I confess I have been known to argue with Drs or ignore their advice. We usually talk it through.
Several Doctors and their wonderful staff, have assisted me in on going medical management, also the staff of the clinics I have attended. .

I have many dear and special friends who keep in touch, act as cheer squads, give me space or render me active care and support in times of so-much-less illness.  You all know who you are and I love you dearly.

Meet my Surgeon.

Dr Bruce Garlick, MBBS

(1st Hons.), FRACS.

Bruce Garlick has been practising as a consultant cardiac surgeon, since completing his training in 1998. He graduated from the University of Queensland in 1987 with first class honours. Bruce undertook general surgical training at Royal Brisbane Hospital (FRACS) before commencing cardiothoracic surgery training at The Prince Charles Hospital.

In 1997 Bruce relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, where Bruce completed his cardiothoracic training. He spent 18 months as a Fellow of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Bruce spent a further 3 months at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England as a Fellow in Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Bruce specialises in adult cardiac surgery, with the bulk of his work being involved with coronary revascularization and valve surgery.

thanks Bruce

I am now a speaker for Queensland’s Heart Foundation.

Learn, or Donate here. 

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