We’re back…News on test results…What does the future hold?…Four days and counting…

An ornate mirror in the master bedroom of the riad in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Yesterday, when I returned three hours after the cardiology appointment after I had another echocardiogram, the third in a year, I couldn’t bring myself to write the post. I needed to talk to Tom, devise a plan, and get to work on implementing a plan to ease our minds.

No, the results were not good. The status of my mitral and tricuspid valves had worsened progressively in the three echocardiograms I had in the past year. The state of the valves progressed from “moderate” to “severe” in less than a year, indicating that I need surgery, according to the cardiologist, the second such cardiologist making this diagnosis since November 2023.

My hope would have been that I could have the easy repair done through the groin with a few devices, but I am not a candidate for that procedure based on my prior open heart surgery in February 2019. Here we go again, another open heart surgery which, last time, took me a year to recover.

I had plenty of time to prepare myself for this eventuality and wasn’t shocked when the doctor told me yesterday that it was too risky to wait. Sure, I might get lucky, and it wouldn’t get worse. But leaving it, when it doesn’t heal by itself, would put an end to our ability to travel again and could result in a fatal heart attack or severe damage to my heart from which there would be no coming back.

At this point, my heart is healthy. However, the valves pumping blood through my system have caused serious regurgitation. Most seniors have some degree of regurgitation, a normal aspect of aging, but mine is far beyond that safe zone.

Even if we didn’t travel, there are too many risks to either ignore or postpone this scenario. I could have a fatal heart attack wherever we may be at any given time. I’ve thought about my age at 76; maybe my life expectancy isn’t very long anyway. Living with this and worrying about it is not my style. I want to be active and able to tackle whatever we do in whatever upcoming years we may have left.

I have faced this reality over the past year since I was diagnosed with Afib (the bad valves are causing the Afib) and researched options if I did need surgery as to where I’d have it done. Ultimately, I chose the Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Mark Gillinov, the top valve surgeon in the US, if not worldwide.

The question would be, could I get a timely appointment with him in Cleveland, Ohio, to address this situation? Yesterday, after Tom and I had discussed the problem at length, I decided I’d get to work to get an appointment with Dr. Gillinov, knowing he’s booked months in advance.

The process has started. This morning, we headed to the UPS store to make copies and mail all the documents I’ve gathered and questions I’ve answered according to their requests on a comprehensive checklist. Once he receives the documents and reviews my situation, he’ll determine when he can see me and when the surgery is likely to occur. After a lengthy conversation, his assistant Tina assured me yesterday that July might be the soonest I can get in.

That’s only three months away. If I started having bad symptoms, they’d get me in sooner on an emergency basis. The symptoms are being tired and having swollen legs and ankles. I have neither of these symptoms now. They can occur in a day or gradually over time.

Here’s our plan. We will continue to travel in the US to see family, starting in four days when we depart Lake Las Vegas. When we hear from Dr. Gillinov, we’ll drop everything and head to Cleveland, Ohio. It could be in a month or, as mentioned above, in three months, most likely not later.

Last night, I called Louise to tell her we are postponing our trip to Marloth Park after I have been cleared to travel on the long flight and feel well enough to tackle it. I told her to hang on to our deposit. As always, she was always wonderful and supportive. The house on Ratel will be waiting for us once we know when we can get there.

As travelers, it’s easy for us to find a place in Cleveland where we’ll stay for the surgery and subsequent recovery. Also, the clinic has accommodations for reasonable rents, and it would be comforting to be close to the hospital after this extensive surgery.

How do I feel? I’m ok, not depressed or feeling hopeless at all. I’m anxious to get this over with, but I will enjoy our family members and friends during our travels in the US in the interim. Tom is always supportive and will do everything he can to help me during this process.

I know we’ll lose many of our readers over the next six months, and I fully understand your reluctance to continue reading our posts until we’re on the move again. Please start checking back with the news of when we’ll return to Africa.

For those of you who will continue to read our posts through all this mundane news, I will continue to do a daily post and update you on the surgery dates, during which I may not post for about two weeks.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. I guess it’s time to start packing.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, March 28, 2014:

Today, we’re posting the 17 mirrors in Dar Aicha, Marrakesh, Morocco, which we believe may enhance the appearance of the narrow sizes of some of the rooms surrounding the central courtyard. For more photos, please click here.

Comments and responses We’re back…News on test results…What does the future hold?…Four days and counting…

  1. Karen Cameron Reply

    Wishing you the very best recovery course and successful operation. Your attitude is the best and very inspiring. Sending hugs and prayers.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Karen, thanks you so much for your kind words and support. It means the world to us both.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  2. Debra Killion Reply

    Jess, my prayers are with you. My friend, who is 71 just had this surgery and was off on a cruise in Europe 3 weeks later. You are in good shape and I’m sure you will have a great outcome. Keep on with your positive attitude!
    Debbie Killion

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Debbie, I imagine your friend had a minimally invasive heart surgery. The doctors don’t approve flying or traveling for three months until the sternum is fully healed. Too risky. Thanks for writing and your kind comments.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  3. Tanis Reply

    Jess, you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please be assured that there a lot of standing behind you.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Tanis, you are so thoughtful to take the time to write and offer your thoughts and prayers.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  4. Thelma May Reply

    Praying for you Jessica and for Tom. I know this is a difficult time for you. I will be here with you daily to see you through this. Take care and please know I will be praying and thinking of you.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Thelma May, you are always so kind and thoughtful. Thank you for the prayers and positive thoughts.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  5. Joanette Reply

    So sorry you have this anag on your plans. But you have an excellent attitude and the helps a lot with any heath issue. Praying for you.

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Joanette, whenever I think of you, I think of those delieicous chocolate muffins you brought to me while we were sick with Covid-19 while in Minnesota. How thoughtful you are. Thanks for your love and prayers.

      Jess & Tom

  6. Kim Roberts Reply

    Hi Jess, Sorry to hear your latest news.
    Wishing you the best health and hope you can get a speedy resolution.
    Best wishes to Tom as well.
    Take care

    Kim xx

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Kim, thank you for your thoughtful wishes. May you both be happy and healthy and able to continue cruising!

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Kim, your warmth and kindness are always appreciated by both of us. Continue to enjoy your travels.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  7. Janice Portukalian Reply

    from redding, ca
    I have tears in my eyes – i will pray fo you speedy appt. I think when they review it – it will be.
    The Cleveland concet hall and symphony are brfeath taking – i hope beforesuery you can go.
    i enjoy your posts, wish i could gedt back to journaling on my computer.
    Happy Resurection Day – Christ is risen and gives us new lifew in him.
    janice 530-605-0564
    ps. did you watch yoursedlves on GL

    • worldwide-admin Post authorReply

      Janice, thank you for your prayers and well wishes. Unfortunately, we won’t have time to go sightseeing in Cleveland but thanks for the suggestions. Yes, we watched ourselves on GL. It was fun. Happy Easter to you as well.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

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