Jessica's Story

KCVI patient Jessica.

I was born with pulmonary stenosis, which caused reduced blood flow in my heart. I had two operations shortly after I was born to repair it. Then when I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with tachycardia and had an ablation to fix my heart's rhythm.

I was fine for about two decades and then a couple years ago, suffered a grand mal seizure and was rushed to OHSU, where I learned that I was having issues with my heart again: My pulmonary valve was leaky. I would need open heart surgery to replace it. We worked with OHSU's neurology team to try and explain the seizure, and it was thought to primarily be caused by the stress of my existing heart condition on my overall health.

Dr. Craig Broberg and Dr. Ashok Muralidaran were my doctors: They were phenomenal. Just amazing, and very kind. I had a great staff, too; everybody was really good. After open heart surgery, you are—understandably—in a lot of pain. But they all made sure to make me as comfortable as possible. My family and I felt well-taken care of, like we were in good hands.

Honestly, the worst part after surgery was sleeping, because you can't move your torso a lot if you've had this kind of surgery. A big sneeze once almost brought me to tears. I'm a side and stomach sleeper, and sleeping on my back was hard to do. A body pillow helped!

Recovery is going well. It's been a year since my surgery, and I feel wonderful. Patty Woods is my usual heart specialist at OHSU, and I see her regularly for follow-ups. I'm trying to keep myself and my heart in shape. I'm a runner, and I run every single day. I was so happy a few months after surgery when I got the go ahead to start running: I cried! I love it. I have friends who got into running, because they told me, if I could do it, then they could, too.

I am incredibly grateful to have been helped at OHSU, and I thank every single person on my team. The staff treated us like family, which helped make the recovery process easier. If it weren't for them, it would be rough. It's awesome. I feel very happy to be back to me.