Let’s start of with a little background on how this all began. When I was a child, my pediatrician heard a heart murmur in my chest. He referred me to a specialist, and after some imaging, I was diagnosed with Bicuspid Aortic Valve (BAV). I went back every 4 years for checkups and until recently I was always told that I would be over 50 years old when I would need surgery, if I needed it at all. I’ve been secretly hoping for advances in human organ teleportation technologies, but alas we are many years off on that one. I lived my life with little anxiety about it. I went to college and got a job. I moved to California from New Jersey and got different jobs. I became a teacher and finally got health insurance. I went back to the cardiologist, who told me that my heart condition got worse and that I would need surgery in 2-5 years.

That was 2011. I kept doing my thing. I continued to rock climb as hard as I could. I love bouldering and sport climbing. More to come on that soon. I bought a new road bike (Cannondale Supersix) and rode hard. I tend to push myself. I went back to my Doctor every 6 months and my stomach would be in a twist until I heard from her after each echocardiogram. Each time, everything remained stable. Until last month. I received a CT scan for the first time. CT scans are better at revealing Aortic Aneurysms than echocardiograms. The scan revealed that I have a 4.6 cm Ascending Aortic Aneurysm. This is commonly associated with BAV, or can exist by itself. When a person with BAV also has a Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm, it is usually time to operate. Too many risks at once. I met with a surgeon to see what he thought. He told me that it was up to me, but if it were him, he would get it ASAP.   This is a video of me when I found out that I needed Heart Surgery:                                                                 

So here I am. The wheels are in motion. Things are happening. This is actually going to happen. It is no longer a dark thundercloud in the distance. The surgery will happen soon. The thing that I have been wishing away will be coming, soon. SOON.


My surgeon told me to keep my heart rate down in the meantime. I bought a heart rate monitor and intend to continue exercise to my heart’s content. It will be a challenge to rock climb and attack big hills on my bike while keeping my BPM under 150. I’ve been using a cool app called Digifit, which is highly customizable. I can do this. After the surgery, I will climb hard again.  I will not allow this to change my lifestyle. Soon I will post my goals and intentions.

What’s on the horizon? I have to get to the dentist to clear my mouth of any possible cavities (mouth bacteria can infect the heart valves under stress before & after surgery). I am continuing my exercise routine with some caution. A new school year is coming soon. I gotta start planning!

I hope you join me for this ride.

15 thoughts on “OH NOOOOO!

  1. Matt

    Good luck with all this Tõn. There’s plenty of people back east that will be keeping you in their thoughts.


  2. Michael Racadio

    That was amazing! The clips really brought the blog to life. I will keep you in my thoughts!

    1. Anthony DiLemme Post author

      Thanks Mary, and sorry to hear that. I’ll be sure to exercise with caution with diligent use of my heart rate monitor.

  3. dad

    great job…by the time surgery comes you’ll be ready to do it on yourself. during your recuperation you should start your great novel. my hero.

  4. Carolina

    Best wishes for you, Anthony! I know it must be scary and I think that keeping this blog is a really good way to let go of some of that fear! Congratulations on taking charge of your situation!

  5. Auntie Joanie and Uncle Ralph

    Anthony, we’ll be rooting for you next month and we know you’ll do well, especially since you’re in such great shape. There’s a candle burning here for you and we look forward to seeing you on you next trip east.
    Love and peace,
    Auntie Joanie and Uncle Ralph

  6. memckee19

    Hi Anthony,

    I just found your blog, and I have read all of your posts. You are a great writer and I have really enjoyed your blog.

    Congratulations on overcoming TWO OHS! Wow, I hope it’s smooth sailing from here for you. My son is 6 months old and has a BAV he has mild AS and mild AR. He has a slight murmur. Anyway, his ped cardiologist says he is doing great and try not to worry… hah!

    Your blog has been very inspiring to me. My husband is an avid outdoorsman and we pictured our son Leif maybe following in his Dad’s footsteps. He may be a bookworm like me, but then again it’s nice to know he could be a little thrill seeker like you and my husband.

    Thank you for putting your story out there.

  7. Pingback: The Story of My Heart | Anthony's Heart Valve Replacement Saga

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