My Heart Story by Julie

Julie, a long-time client of ICS, underwent open heart surgery earlier this year. She wants to share her story not only with people who are going through a similar health crisis, but also anyone who is struggling with a major challenge in their life.

My Heart Story
By Julie

As I’m Writing My Heart Story I have mixed emotions of being choked up along with exhaustion, overwhelmed, reminded of what I went through, relieved that now I’m healthy! 

I’m thankful to my family and friends for being so supportive, especially my mom, who drove me to all appointments, my dad for recognizing I was actually sick ,and my brother and sister and niece for being there and reassuring me I’ll be ok. I’m also appreciative to Kaiser Cardiology Department, especially Dr. Allison and Dr. Vicken, who was the surgeon who saved my life and the last person I remember seeing when I had my surgery.

I’m also thankful to the staff at Cedars Fine Art Studios for allowing me to vent and checking in with me during this tough time. I’ll never forget my last day at Cedars. I was mentally not there as I had been during the 90 days leading up to surgery.

I’m glad that I had a wonderful medical team who were able to guide my family and me as we geared up for an unknown journey to where it had a thrilling outcome!

My Story
I was scared out of my mind when learning of the overwhelming, emotional journey I was about to encounter.

I’ll never forget when my dad said to me, "you’ve lost a lot of weight." This was the eye-opener that I was sick.

Friday, July 28th, I had an echo done, after which I saw my cardiologist, Dr Allison, who asked me if I was feeling ok. She listened to my my heart and said, "I’d like to propose a mitral valve repair", due to symptoms I was having. 

I had to wear a portable heart monitor for two weeks. The news of what was to happen didn’t hit until I got the monitor on. it felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on me. I started crying when I realized that I’d actually be having open heart surgery.

We found out that the reason I was so skinny was that my heart was sick and wasn’t pumping right. My heart was pumping only 49%.

For the next two months, I had many doctor appointments and tests, and I felt as if I was In a very dark hole and was depressed most of the time. I began going on “magical trips” in my mind to get off reality. 

My family was so supportive. I’ll never forget my brother telling me as I was hugging him, “you’ll be ok.”

As the weeks went by, I had horrible pain in my chest due to the fact that my heart was working so hard. I sometimes had problems catching my breath. 

The date, Monday, October 2, 7am, came and the last person I remember seeing was Dr. Vicken, who told my parents that things went well! When my parents heard it was a success, my mom cried for both of us. 

After several months, I feel so much better and have gained weight, the pain is gone and my energy is back! The only therapy I have now is pumping my heart and doing weight work ( since I was unable to lift anything over 8 pounds). 

Even though I didn’t want to have the surgery, I’m glad no body listened to me. I’m glad that I had it done.