March 01, 2013

Happy heart day to Rik

Today is the eleventh anniversary of Rik's open heart surgery.

Rik was born with an abnormally narrow aortic valve. It was diagnosed when he was only a few days old. Throughout his childhood, Rik had many tests to determine how well his heart functioned. He remembers being told before one exam that he had to hold very still, because he was about to receive "astronaut training." (W                                       hat nine-year-old wouldn't want to cooperate with that in mind!)

Rik's doctors told him that by the time he was 40, he'd need to have that aortic valve replaced. In the meantime, he lived a normal life growing up in Montreal. The only sport he was forbidden from playing was football, and those of you who've seen him skate know he's a wizard on the ice.

Eleven years ago, Rik was diagnosed with a hernia. As part of the prep, he had to undergo some heart tests. Lo and behold, the valve was finally narrow enough that it needed replacement. No, it couldn't wait until the end of the school year -- it had to be done NOW.

March 1, 2002 was a scary day for our family. Of course, there was also a lot of joking about how long it would take the orderly to shave his hairy chest. The procedure took many hours while Rik's parents and I waited. Our friends C & M brought Shabbat dinner for us to eat. As I recall, we only received one notification from the OR, when he had been taken off the heart-lung machine. Once the surgery was over and Rik was in the ICU, we were able to visit him for a few minutes each hour. But the next morning, when we returned, he was sitting up and eating oatmeal for breakfast!

Rik had a good recovery and he is more active than ever. He still out-skates everyone else and our friends' kids have fun chasing him around the ice rink. The titanium valve is in good shape and if I lean on his chest, I can hear it ticking away.

1 comment:

  1. bjohanna7:52 PM

    Glad you had good medical care as a child. Glad Seattle doctors knew when it was time. Glad the surgery went well. Glad we know you.