UPDATE July 23, 6:30 p.m. – After a great first night (photo below), Ann had a rough day two, which is pretty normal. Her medical team said day two is usually the worst and it will get better from here on out. There is some inflammation around her heart that is making it difficult and uncomfortable to take a deep breath. She was given a medication to treat the issue and hopefully the issue will resolve in a day or two. Her surgical sites are sore today but seem to be healing well. She is up walking and eating well. This afternoon, she was discharged from the hospital.
Just as we were about to leave when Rochester and the Mayo Clinic Campus were in a tornado warning. So, we waited in the interior hallways for the storm to pass and then made our way to the hotel across the street.
Thank you all so much for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers. We all feel so loved and encouraged and we’re glad you’re on the journey with us.
UPDATE July 23, 9:20 a.m. – Ann had a good night and is on the road to recovery. The plan is for her to be discharged from the hospital later this afternoon. We will go to the hotel and she will rest there for a few days (under our daughter, Meghan, the nurse’s watchful eye) before we head back to Nebraska.
UPDATE July 22 3:35 p.m. – Ann is in recovery and is doing well. We are waiting to meet with the doctor.
UPDATE July 22 1:52 p.m. – Ann has been in the procedure room for a bit now, and is doing well.
UPDATE July 22, 7:30 a.m. – Ann’s report time is 8:15 a.m. today and her surgery is expected to begin this morning. We’ll keep you updated here.
The internet is an interesting place. Over the past few years, we’ve gotten to know so many of you online. You’ve come along on our road trips across the Midwest and our travels to Italy and the Caribbean, and you’ve stuck with us as we tried new things and embarked on a healthier lifestyle.
We’ve found meaningful connections here and we’re grateful for every one of you. If being home for almost two years during the pandemic taught us anything – it is that internet friends are real friends.
On a personal note
We’re sharing with you, our friends, a little bit about what’s going on in our personal lives, outside of travel, new restaurants, and upcoming cruises. I (Ann) am having heart surgery Friday, July 22, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Almost nine years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic heart condition that impacted my heart’s electrical system. As part of my treatment, doctors implanted a pacemaker and implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in my chest in case my heart rate slowed or stopped.
In 2020, I had another surgery to remove and replace one of the leads (small wires from the device to my heart) that was not functioning properly. After that procedure, I developed tricuspid valve regurgitation which has continued to progress to be moderate to severe regurgitation.
About tricuspid valve regurgitation
I don’t have many symptoms other than fatigue and swelling in my lower extremities. However, over time, severe tricuspid valve regurgitation can cause pressure to rise in the right lower chamber (ventricle). The right ventricle can expand and weaken, leading to heart failure.
So, next week, I will return to Rochester where a surgeon will remove my ICD lead, in hopes of improving the function of the tricuspid valve. There’s also the possibility the condition of the valve could stay the same or even get worse. If that happens, additional surgery may be required to repair the valve; not having a wire running through the valve would make that surgery less complicated.
The good news is that In the nine years since my ICD was implanted as a precaution, that part of my device has not been needed. Because of this, my care team is confident we can remove at least the ICD wire and not replace it this time. The procedure to remove the lead is a delicate one that carries some risks. But I’m in good hands at Mayo Clinic with some of the best and most experienced physicians anywhere in the world.
The day of my surgery in Rochester
Both Steve and our daughter, Meghan, (who now lives in Rochester where she is a cardiac ICU at Mayo Clinic) will be there with me. Meghan was able to get the day off of work, so she and Steve will wait together at Saint Marys Hospital. If everything goes well, I will be able to leave the hospital the next day and spend for a few days in a hotel nearby before returning to Nebraska for my recovery. I’ll follow up with my amazing local cardiologist, as well.
As always, we will appreciate your positive thoughts, encouraging words, and thoughtful prayers. If you are a praying person, please feel free to add us to your prayer chain, church bulletin, or quiet time if you’d like.
Your prayers are appreciated
Below are a few specific things for which we invite you to join us in praying. You can print this list HERE.
- For Ann’s care team and surgeons, including Drs. Espinosa, and Friedman, the nurses, anesthesiologists, and others
- That Ann and her family and friends would approach the procedure day with a sense of peace and calm
- For Ann’s veins to stand out so the IVs start on the first try (this is almost always a tricky one)
- That all of the goals of the surgery will be met in a way that is easier than anticipated
- That the laser would pass through Ann’s blood vessels smoothly and that it would cut precisely
- For Meghan and Steve as they wait during the procedure; that they would be filled with patience, calm, and certain knowledge that God is in control
- That the outcome of the surgery would exceed all expectations; that the tricuspid valve would return to normal function
- That recovery and healing would be quick and reasonably pain-free
- That in all of this God would be glorified and His works and faithfulness would be seen and known
As we prepare for my surgery
As we prepare this week for my surgery, we’re going to be spending less time on our blog and social media in order to quiet our minds and prepare our thoughts. We’re using this time to visit with friends and family, enjoy meals at home, and just relax. I’m even going to get in a round of golf with my high school teammates before we leave next week. (That’s me in the bottom left with my teammates in 1985.)
In an effort to reduce our risks for other illnesses (like Covid that is reemerging in many places) we are avoiding crowded spaces and being extra careful. We’ll leave for Rochester early next week. I have a few days of pre-op tests and appointments. My surgery will be sometime Friday, July 22. We’ll find out the exact time of the procedure the night before. I’ll likely be in the operating room for several hours and Steve will post something on social media when I’m back in a room.
Thank you in advance for your support and prayers
Know that I am forever grateful for your prayers and encouragement. Admittedly, I’m a little nervous about this procedure and the risks involved. But I’ve been leaning into my faith in God and remembering these words from Philippians 4:6-7 and Romans 5:3-5
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Romans 5:3-5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
With gratitude always,