This will be a fairly long explanation but I’ll try and keep as brief as possible. My husband had a valve replacement and then got a blood infection which destroyed the valve, he then had a a TAVR which seemed to be succesful and much shorter recovery than open heart. Within months after this he started experiencing strokes – they were initially small and came out of nowhere but each one, of course, caused an injury to his brain. I kept telling the doctors at our hospital in NC that I believed the strokes were somehow caused by the valve but they kept insisting it was not – he was put on blood thinners but he kept having strokes. He had one that caused some memory loss so they put him on Eliquis thinking that would solve the issue. In April he had a massive stroke (his 6th in total) and initially had complete paralysis on his left side – they were going to do surgery to remove the clot but then he started being able to move again so they put him in ICU. He could not get the strong blood thinner as he was already on blood thinners so they just watched him. They did tests (as they had done for his previous strokes) and insisted it was not the valve and when I asked what I should do since there was obviously a problem, they told me to just watch him. At that point I told them I was taking him to Mayo and got an appt in MN 10 days after. Mayo saved my husband’s life – Dr. Scharf told me nobody should have this many strokes without a physical cause and he felt it was the valve. They did the same tests as the hospital in NC and I believe a couple of extra ones and found that blood was forming behind the valve, causing clots and, in turn, causing the strokes. Dr. Pochettino (my angel) did a 12 hour surgery to remove everything the hospital in NC had done and replaced it with a mechanical heart – it was a successful surgery but his cognitive issues were horrible at first. He couldn’t remember much of anything, was talking nonsense and had a vacant stare which was frightening – they said some of it was what they call ICU dementia and he would get better. Bottom line is that when we returned to NC in mid-May, I immediately got him into speech therapy for his cognitive issues – it’s been slow and he still has pretty severe memory issues but it has improved. He is working 3 days a week with a helper to make sure he doesn’t make any mistakes. My question is, what do I expect for the future? I have been grieving the loss of our normal life but I’m thrilled my husband is alive. I don’t know how long the cognitive therapy continues to improve his cognition and since he’s a realtor, he doesn’t make any money until he does a sale so we are living on my salary which is a little scary. He’s in his 50’s and is still very fatigued from everything he has gone through. Can anyone tell me if there is hope or should I just accept what is and try to move on.
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