A Journey to Heart Surgery
Donald Bullington’s journey to heart surgery was just that—a journey.
It started four years prior as he prepared for double knee surgery. When testing revealed a potential heart problem, Donald was referred to a cardiologist, who discovered an enlarged aorta and leaking aortic valve.
Ultimately, Scottsdale Healthcare cardiac surgeon Rajeev Kathuria, MD was consulted. Dr. Kathuria advised that one knee be operated on at a time, and that Donald have a CT scan every six months. If Donald’s heart enlarged to a certain size, surgery was advised.
For several years, the CT scans showed no changes. But when a scan revealed that the aorta had started to enlarge, Dr. Kathuria was consulted and recommended surgery.
“Even though my wife and I were apprehensive, Dr. Kathuria’s assurance and explanation of what the surgery entailed made us feel confident about the success of the surgery,” says Donald.
His surgery—which involved replacing his leaking aortic valve with a pig valve—was set for Feb. 13. “It’s kind of ironic; getting a mended heart the day before Valentine’s Day,” Donald says.
Surgery went well, with Donald grateful that his two daughters and son each spent a week helping with his recovery.
“Recovery was slow at first and I found my heart-shaped red pillow (given to patients by Scottsdale Healthcare to hold when sneezing or coughing) became my best friend. On one occasion, I had to sneeze. Not once, but three times! That I remember,” says Donald.
Thankful for prior research that has helped advance heart surgery, Donald also is grateful for heart surgery seminars that he attended. Seeing other people with similar health problems and successful solutions being offered was helpful, he says.
“So was being confident in your physician and yourself, and having knowledge about your procedure” Donald adds.
Today, he’s grateful for the expertise of Dr. Kathuria and others—expertise that enables him to chuckle at the picture of a pink pig drawn for him by his twin grandsons.
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