Terry Johnson’s Story - Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day

Reader Story

Terry Johnson’s Story

I always thought heart surgery was for all those much older than me. I’m not overweight and am very active. But that all changed one afternoon while helping my son clean up at his house from a hurricane. I was carrying debris and just couldn’t catch my breath. After sitting down for a few minutes thinking “its part of getting older” it became evident that something was way wrong. I had difficulty breathing, dizzy, very light headed, and my heart rate was extreme. I went to the ER and after much testing it was determined that my aortic valve had only two of the three flaps working, and the other two were weak. I was given my options and chose a bovine valve to be done in open heart surgery. My recovery was slow for some reason, as I never regained my stamina. I had an excellent team of physicians, but at one and a half years it was discovered that my heart valve was defective and I would need to have it replaced again. I was shocked as I was told and had thought I was done with this for at least 8-12 years and now it starts over. My cardiologist told me I could have the new one done via TAVR which I was relieved to hear and had done this past August. Now at 5 months into the new one I feel so much better than I ever did with the original valve. I am so grateful that God has spared me and gifted so many to be able to produce and place in those in need a device like this. Did I recognize the signs originally? No, because I had the “it must be my age” or “it could never happen to me” that is too common among men as well as women. My recommendation to all is to listen to those who have lived it and heed the signs today. And guys, listen to your wife since she knows you best and wants the best for you. Your tomorrow is counting on it.