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  • Writer's pictureTina Marie


By Tina Marie Marsden - September 3, 2021

Somewhat blindsided, I didn't expect to hear I had three leaking heart valves, that I may need three separate procedures to repair each valve, or that depending on the severity of damage to each valve, a heart transplant may be my only option. This life chronicle had me feeling numb, lost in space, and completely out of place like an astronaut in the ocean.

As my eyes began to dry up, I continued the conversation with this new extension of my medical team. However, before we can determine a plan of action additional testing is needed. For me, that's a TEE.


The American Heart Association outlines these quick facts in reference to having a TEE:1

  • TEE stands for transesophageal echocardiography.

  • Sounds waves take pictures of your heart and its surroundings to determine how well it's functioning.

  • It's often used when an echocardiogram isn't sufficient.

Although the TEE images will provide a better visual of my heart to help determine the best course of action, what does that mean for me? To be honest, at this point, I’m unable to fully process what’s going on. How can I? There’s no definitive plan until the TEE takes place.

Riding the wave

It was explained to me that the two severely leaking valves may be a side-effect of long-term LVAD therapy. I've had an LVAD for nine and a half years now. During a recent conversation, a friend reminded me that every journey is uniquely complicated.

In my case, my valves do not open as nature intended. As a result, calcium build-up created an opening or leak. We’re all still learning as LVAD therapy continues to advance. This part makes the LVAD community pretty unique in my eyes. I consider us all trailblazers, and this chronicle is a necessity in and of itself.

I had an in-depth conversation with the valve program nurse. As I put the gym on pause, I joked about my slimmer waist having to wait. We talked about riding the wave, and the purpose in pain. For me, I’m hopeful the data being collected in my case can be used to benefit others in the future.

Although there's a lot to process, that's just it: "it is what it is."  Blindsided or not, you get to the point that you realize no matter what comes your way, I got this. With each obstacle, my balancing seems to get a little better. I’m beginning to enjoy this wave a little more.

The plan before action

The TEE is scheduled, the gym is a no, so back to the waist trainers I go.  Although I don’t know what the future holds, the TEE is my plan before the action. In the meantime, living goes on (with

I’m thankful, blessed, breathing, exhaling, and enjoying the water. The valve program nurse helped me breathe, and I'm no longer drowning. I still can't swim, but I've always been able to float. I'm just gonna ride this wave.

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