Last year, I learned I had severe mitral valve regurgitation and would need surgery to repair it. My cardiologist said that while I could live with the problem for a while, the only way it would get better is if it got fixed. He also noted that since I was in good health, this was a good time for me to have the surgery, because I would have a faster and better recovery. He suggested that I go to Dr. Didier Loulmet at NYU Langone Medical Center. He explained that Dr. Loulmet wouldn’t crack open my chest, but instead does robotic surgery, which would just involve a few little snips between my ribs.
When I went to Dr. Loulmet’s office with my husband, he showed me a picture of my heart. He explained how the blood was going the wrong way, and that it wouldn’t be a major thing to repair it. I probably should have been more upset about the whole situation than I was, but Dr. Loulmet was so very reassuring and competent, and there were so many good things written about him on the Web, that I thought, “Okay, let’s do this.” I definitely didn’t want my chest cracked open, and if it had been that kind of surgery I would have thought much longer and harder before going ahead. But the robotic approach, with the small incisions between the ribs, made it much more doable. Dr. Loulmet said that with the robotic procedure I’d be in and out of the hospital in about five days, and wouldn’t be in any significant pain.
I had the surgery in late January, 2012. I checked in on Monday, the surgery was Tuesday, and I left the hospital on Saturday. So basically, everything that Dr. Loulmet said would happen, did. When I came to, I was weak but I wasn’t hurting, and I didn’t take any painkillers. I was able to eat normally and walk around the halls right from the start. Everyone in the hospital was incredibly nice and very friendly. If you rang for someone, they’d be right there.
When Dr. Loulmet came by my room Saturday morning, I said, “I think I’m ready to go home.” He signed me out, and that was it. I could basically do anything I wanted to, personally, once I got home. During my first week I was able to walk to the corner and then around the block. By the second week I was much more active, and didn’t have any problem going up and down the steps in my apartment. I never had to take a sleeping pill, and though I still have a little tenderness if I touch the incisions on my right side, the discomfort is very minimal. I hadn’t felt that badly before the procedure, but I feel I’ll be much more energetic now that my valve is repaired. I always worked out at the gym regularly, and when I went back recently, I could do more on the exercise bike than I could before my operation, even though it’s just two months since the surgery.
As a hospital experience and surgery go, there was nothing bad about it. Something in my heart was broken and it got fixed, with very little trauma to my body. I’m absolutely comfortable recommending Dr. Loulmet and the NYU Langone robotic surgery program to anyone who needs mitral valve repair surgery.