Archives for posts with tag: sternotomy

Why, yes … yes she has!

You know at gatherings, when people haven’t seen each other for a few years, generally some speculation ensues. Real or fake?  A lift or good genes? And in the most severe cases, who is that stranger?!

The Bionic Women (and friend)

Well, with great pride, the three of us pictured at our 30th high school reunion can state without a doubt, we definitely had some “work” done. Some serious work. From left to right: heart attack from spontaneous coronary artery dissection, repaired with double bypass surgery; an acoustic neuroma, successfully removed through brain surgery; and open heart surgery to graft an aortic aneurysm and perform a mechanical valve replacement. (No health issues for our lap man — he’s just a very funny accessory!)

It wasn’t by design, but we saved the shop talk until the very last. As people said good-byes and drifted out the door of the heartwarming gathering we’d enjoyed, the three of us found ourselves together. Like a last minute huddle, reliving the not-so-great highlights of our years since high school and gearing up for the time until our next reunion. By way of illness, we share a language and awareness you only gain through experience. We are well, at least for the moment, and that is truly all each of us ask. Because as we learned the hard way at an early age, things can always get worse. But day by day, they can get better too.

Thirty years have passed. It was enlivening to realize that within each of us, our 18-year-old selves still flourish. The bikini days may be gone, but I’m much happier being bionic!

[Correction: A Dose of Reality regrets our misstatement that “the bikini days” are over. Rock it, girl!]



“… you can still wear a pretty blouse.”

These words were spoken by a gentleman cardiologist on a mind-bending afternoon at the Cardiovascular Technology Conference. To me, they generalize the lack of understanding many women experience as heart patients.

It all began with male and female cardiologists. In several different presentations, the speakers made reference to the idea that off-pump bypass was preferable for “a better cosmetic result.”

Back it up. Are they saying what I think they’re saying? That all we women-folk care about is a plunging neckline?

I reprogrammed my ears and tried again. Nope. The remaining speakers expressed the same concept. Off-pump or beating heart bypass offered the benefit of superior cosmetic result. No mention of reduced pain, stress, and potential complications during recovery.

Not a single cardiologist or surgeon mentioned improved PHYSICAL outcomes. It was all cosmetic.

Later, when a cardiologist attending the conference stopped at the WomenHeart information booth, I brought the topic up. It was so interesting, I suggested, that the speakers viewed women’s sole concerns as superficial, not physical. I explained I’d had bypass and ended up with two additional surgeries to complete a sternal closure because of complications.

He gestured to the scar peeking out of my neckline and said, “Well, it looks good.”

I attempted to drive my point home: “But think of the extra recovery time, not to mention medical expense and anguish, involved with a sternotomy.” I added it was surprising not one single doctor had mentioned these benefits to off-pump in the earlier talks.

My query fell on deaf ears. “Well, you can still wear a pretty blouse.”