Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Episode 2.2: A Visit With the Cardiologist

This morning we had our big meeting with Dr. Musselman to discuss the new diagnosis of 'mitral regurgitation' and what to do about it.

He said that when Dad first complained about shortness of breath, which was last fall, by his notes, he could hear a heart murmur, which was the first sign of leakiness. Last week the murmur had changed considerably which was why he ordered the TEE test on Monday.

The test revealed several things.
  • The aortic valve which was replaced several years ago is working fine.
  • The quality of the left ventricle muscle has declined.
  • The leaking of the left mitral valve is severe.
What that means is that the left ventricle muscle is pumping but the valve is letting the blood pour back into the chamber. It requires multiple contractions to move the amount of blood that should be moved with one contraction.

There are several ways that medication can help mitigate the situation. He has added those medications and Dad said they seem to be helping.

The other treatment is surgical. Sometimes the valve can be repaired and sometimes it has to be replaced.

Without treatment, the condition gradually (or rapidly) deteriorates into congestive heart failure, heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Musselman indicated that he feels that surgery is possible and that a return to Dad's present level of health is possible. He recommended Dr. Platt, who did Dad's previous surgery, and said that he would provide information and details to him. We are to meet with Musselman again after meeting with Platt. And that was that.

Dr. Platt's office contacted Dad the same day and the appointment was set for Thurs, Feb 12 at 2:30.

We all remember Dr. Platt to be a formidable presence who doesn't mince words. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say. I was struck by the difference in opinion between the Doctor with whom I spoke Monday and Dr Musselman today. She was so pessimistic and Musselman seemed optimistic. I wonder if he is just letting Platt play the role of the bad cop and deliver the harsh news. We'll see.

I approach surgery with great trepidation. Surgery is discussed with a cavalier and commonplace attitude, like it is no big deal. But major surgery is a huge trauma. Dad doesn't remember how hard his recovery was three and a half years ago, but I think we do. It was extremely hard for him and it took a long time for him to fully recover to the point where he could really live by himself. I have my doubts.

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