Three years ago today my heart was stopped and the surgeons were doing wizardry in my chest cavity. It still somewhat freaks me out.
We, as humans, tend to believe we are what we feel and think. Fact is: we are mired in sacks of flesh, slosh, organs, muscles and bones. Take that away and what happens to all the fine ideals and quintessential perceptions? They don't get far.
For anyone else who has had mechanical valves installed and wants to compare notes: yeah, they make one heck of racket. My chest sounds like a clock ticking inside a cabinet, which you might call a grandfather clock, but I call a grandmother clock since I'm a woman. The tick has a pitch like a porcelain castanet. Since I have two valves--one that opens, one that closes--I get two clicks per minute. I've had to get used to what sounds like very rapid beating of the heart. Sometimes it annoys me. It is so INCESSANT. I'm trying to read and I have this constant click, click, click, click, click, click, click... I tell it to shut up. Except I don't want that either.
In terms of cardiac fitness--again, for anyone else who's going to have or has had the surgery--I think I'm doing all right. I walk approx 2 hrs/day at a reasonably brisk pace. Ideally I'd like to go swimming but I don't like the aggressive swimmers in the community pool, the upheaval of swimsuits, bathing caps, chlorine stink, wet towels. I had thought I might start jogging after the surgery but the beta blockers don't allow that. In the summer I cycle.
I continue to be grateful I live at a time when the technology has been developed to help people like myself, and in a country where medicare extends to all and I did not have to pay for the hospitalization, the surgery nor the fancy porcelain castanets.