|BJ Sanders at Machu Picchu|
7,970 feet above sea level
My dear friend, BJ, recently shared the story of her path to surgery
after 10 years of watching and waiting.
I have been privileged to walk along with her
|BJ, Arlys, Carrie Mettler (l to r)|
I love this picture from a BAF
Conference a few years ago!
Both of these ladies are pictures
of health, and expert at throwing
curve balls at their doctors!
BJ was still experiencing episodes of chest pain, and had made plans to come to LA for a consult (prepared to stay for surgery) when I received the following:
|BJ's ascending aneurysm|
For years BJ shared the message of Hope with others.
Now Hope kept her company after surgery!
Never Trust a Bicuspid!
Dr. Raissi's patients generally look very good after surgery, even in ICU, but I did not quite like my first glimpse of BJ's face. It wasn't long before I knew why, as she threw that first curve. Bright red blood came pouring from her drain tubes! She chose the right time to do this, with her surgeon standing right there to expertly catch it. What would be next?
I had been afraid of problems with BJ's lungs. Some years before, she had been injured during a surgical procedure on her shoulder, resulting in paralysis on one side of her diaphragm. As I drove those miles to the hospital, I tried not to think of the horror stories about respirators and infection.
So what did I find on arrival? Another curve ball! BJ was sitting up, breathing on her own. As long as I have memory, I will never forget that moment. This was one to be thankful for!
|Dr Raissi with BJ in ICU|
Seconds before they were to put that tube in, BJ somehow turned a corner! Later, Dr. Raissi told us he could see in BJ's eyes that she was better, despite her "numbers", and asked them to wait. Somehow, in that moment physician and patient understood each other, and BJ dodged the respirator! An indescribable moment.
When we compare memories now, BJ remembers me being there that day, holding her hand. I remember vividly how happy she was to see me walk in. I also remember her saying how tough it had been that morning. "It was so hard to breathe...."
Who Are these Complex BAVers?There are variations in those with BAV, and I believe BJ is one of the more complicated. Perhaps what she has deserves its own name, beyond BAV disease, but no one has such a name. The rods that keep her spine straight, her flexible joints, those difficult pregnancies, volatile blood pressure... all tell us her body is special. It concerns me that all these factors may not be taken into consideration in those with BAV. Someday, perhaps, that will change. For now, BJ received the individualized care that her very special body needed.
- Arlys Velebir