This topic contains 27 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Brittany Foster 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #17413
     Brittany Foster 
    Keymaster

    Hello everyone !
    I would first like to say a HUGE thank you to Colleen and all of those who have helped by responding and checking in with our posts on the forums. These forums would not be successful without the support and kindness that we all give one another.

    It has really impacted my life to see the outpouring of support and get well wishes that were sent my way. So far, I have had such amazing results with the surgery that I had. For those who do not know, I was born with a rare congenital heart defect that was recently found a few months ago because it was compressing my esophagus and I couldn’t eat anything by mouth. I was born with a vascular ring called a circumflex aortic arch. Basically the top part of my heart that delivers blood flow to my body (the aorta) was compressing and encircling my esophagus, trachea, and even was compressing my PULMONARY ARTERY!

    During the surgery they divided my vascular ring, moved my aorta back towards my spine (mine is positioned incorrectly because normally the aorta runs in front of the trachea). The doctors also moved my esophagus and re positioned it, helped to widen my trachea and relieved pressure off the pulmonary artery. I am happy to say that I am eating AND (major bonus that I wasn’t expecting) BREATHING better!!! Prior to surgery when I had compression on my esophagus and pulmonary artery, my oxygen levels without oxygen would drop to 78. NOW, just 2 weeks post op they only drop to 88!!

    I am really hoping that with proper rehab and therapies post op I will be able to be off oxygen. It really is an unexpected dream come true but as always with any rare defect, it is in my best interest to remain cautiously optimistic.

    Thank you all for the kindness, prayers, and well wishes. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to get me through this surgery and of course the amazing surgeons I was blessed to have working on me and reconstructing my anatomy in a way I didn’t even think was possible. It is remarkable what surgeons can do!

  • #17415
     Colleen Steele 
    Keymaster

    Welcome back Brittany! You have been missed and everyone has been so concerned. You had quite an intense surgery with intense results. The bonus of being able to breath better is amazing! I am so happy for you. I know recovery is never easy so we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. It is so good to hear from you! You have touched so many lives here and in return we all want you to have the improved health and happiness that you deserve!

    • #17416
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much Colleen, it means so much to me to have a great group of people supporting me through all of this. I’m sure I will need all the support I can get and all the encouragement. It is what pushes me forward! As many of us know, it never ends with the surgery, that’s only the beginning of a lot of hard work towards recovery!

  • #17433
     Jen Cueva 
    Participant

    Brittany, what have you been eating?
    Sorry , I know we talked about this prior to surgery and you were looking forward to it ! I thought you drinking water was awesome so fast! Send me the snack list, are you ready for Mac-n-cheese yet ? 👍🏼

    I am in awe at your strength, I’m not even sure how you functioned prior to surgery with that pressing on your pulmonary artery! That increase in ventilation, ( such an awesome and surprising result) I know has to feel better to you and I know with more therapy and time you’ll get where you want to be!

    You had such a difficult surgery, I know you’re happy just to be past the surgery part and post surgery. Your improvement in breathing and you eating is definitely a huge step already from when you went in!

    I know we have been discussing mental health here prior to your surgery, can I ask how you’re doing mentally with all of this ? I’m sure it’s exciting and overwhelming at the sane time.

    I’m thankful for you and your medical team, I wish you all the positive thoughts and prayers as you continue to recover. We are here for you , just as you’ve been here and such a huge support to myself and so many others in the forums.

    • #17442
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much, Jen. I am able to eat some more solid food thankfully ! By “solid food” I mean things like pasta, mashed potatoes, soup, and YES mac and cheese hahaha ! Annie’s Mac and cheese is my absolute favorite. I love the shells kind or the ones that look like bunnies LOL for some reason it DEFINITELY tastes different than the elbow kind. Am I right!? hahaha!!!

      You are right that the surgery has definitely taken a huge toll on my physical health and mental health. There’s a lot of great and positive feelings of relief, but also negative feelings of feeling lost to care for so long, feeling robbed because I was told so many times in the hospital, “how did they let it get this bad?” and honestly, I don’t have an answer for that to them. I just can remain thankful for what I have NOW and I find myself getting caught up with these thoughts and then having to direct myself more to the here and now. Thankfully almost a decade of therapy has helped me with re-rooting my thought process.

      • #17469
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Those “ solid “ foods sound yummy ! All of those carbs are my fave comfort foods, lol 😂 Too funny about the bunnies tasting better , I used to love Oreos and I always say the holiday ones , either Halloween orange or Christmas red cream fillings always taste better! Hehe

        I can’t even begin to imagine the mental overload and exhaustion you must be dealing with! You’ve done an awesome job mentally with all you’ve been through already! Thanks to you , I saw my therapist for the very first time today . It was more beneficial than I thought , once I got over the initial anxiety of just going and getting started. Thank you for being so open and sharing your experiences.

        I definitely need the info still to send you something .

        Hugs and prayers that everyday you’ll get one step closer to your goals! I’m hoping those yummy carbs you are eating will help you gain some of your strength and weight.

      • #17510
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Thank you so much, Jen!!! This group means the world to me and I couldn’t have “pushed through it” without everyone having my back! I agree about the holiday Oreos by the way hahahaha!!! The Halloween orange filling DEFINITELY tastes different than the plain ones.

        On a GREAT NOTE: I’m so glad that you took the leap and went to see a therapist. Honestly, seeing my therapist makes my weeks so much better. I remember initially feeling so nervous and scared to even start going. I was once someone who got anxiety about TAKING anxiety meds LOL! But luckily that part is behind me! I hope that your first session went well and I know you will start to see the benefits of going and being open to talking about things. Always here for you too if you ever need to chat. 🙂

      • #17513
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Yes, Brittany!, you GET it…those holiday Oreos are so much better! Hehe

        Yes, I was definitely having an anxiety and nervous about going but she was so sweet and I’ll see her again Tuesday ! So that in itself is a positive, as I wasn’t sure what to expect and if she would be a good fit for me. I did research quite a bit once we were discussing how well your therapy helps. Thank you and as always you’re a huge inspiration! Hugs, prayers, and positive vibes continue as you recover .

      • #17519
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Jen,
        I’m glad that she seems like a good fit for you. It took me a little to trust my therapist and start opening up to her. But she helped me through more than just my health conditions and helped me to become a better advocate for myself and give myself the same care and compassion I give to others. I’m definitely still a work in progress but I feel like everyone is!

      • #17526
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        Thanks Brittany, I feel like we will be a good match. I did know I wasn’t as relaxed as I should be but I figured with time that’s natural.

        Yes, we are all definitely a work in progress. It’s funny you mention giving yourself the care and compassion as you give others, she said something to me along those lines, something I’m going to be working on . I have 14 years of PH life plus everyday life to catch her up on, hehe may take forever …

      • #17532
         Brittany Foster 
        Keymaster

        Can’t wait to hear more about it , Jen! I know it will get so much easier to talk about and will be a huge relief when you start talking about the difficult topics that are often hard to discuss, even in forums like this. I have learned so much about myself and my strengths in therapy and I know you will too .

  • #17434
     Randolph Reynolds 
    Participant

    Brittany,
    What a blessing! Your post op report begs the question of how you managed to keep going? Along with PAH this would make me wonder how many odd things can contribute to the disease? In any case welcome back and best wishes.

    • #17443
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      My thoughts exactly Randolph !! I honestly do NOT know how I kept going, I think what really pushed me forward was the knowledge in the back of my mind that SOMETHING was going to get fixed and done. At first, I only thought this would be them fixing the esophagus. It was a complete and unexpected surprise for the benefits of the breathing. Your are SO RIGHT that there can be so many other things that contribute to this disease that MAY very well be able to be “fixed” or at least surgically corrected and helped!

  • #17481
     Anthony Collins 
    Participant

    I really am SO HAPPY for you, Brittany. Being in a distant part of the world, I have never met you, of course, but when I opened your report-back this morning I genuinely felt a rush of joy and gratitude. I hope that the intervention will continue to be life-changing and bestow upon you a very long life.

    • #17511
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much Anthony ! I appreciate your kindness more than you know. It was such a long and difficult road the last few months but I’m glad to be on the other side of it all and now working on myself, getting my strength back both physically and mentally.

  • #17482
     V.R. Peterson 
    Participant

    Brittany, I’m so happy to see you back and doing as well as you are. Modern medicine truly is a miracle. 💖

    • #17512
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      It really is! I’m so beyond blessed for the surgeons that I had and for their innovative surgery that changed my life in more ways than I could ever imagine.

  • #17537
     Sherry Berry 
    Participant

    I am so glad your surgery went well and you’re back. God bless you. So happy that you had great results.

    Sherry Berry

    • #17542
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much for your support, Sherry! I’m so glad things went as well as they did. Still in shock over how much got done during this surgery. Reading the op reports was very surreal and hard to take in all that they found and did but I’m certainly extremely grateful for it all or else I would NOT be here today. I made it through more than I thought was physically possible. The body does NOT want to quit, that’s for sure!

  • #17569
     Carol Volckmann 
    Participant

    Dear Brittney
    Reading over all your up dates of your surgery – I am in awe, truly your surgery was more than amazing it is almost magical! You,dear person are one very special woman – your openness your courage your strength and your voice not only has helped so many, YOU have done it, YOU have made sure to be your own advocate and you have been willing to reach out to others for support. Brittney thank you for being such s guiding light for so many.

    I am so glad your therapy has and is a really good support and an affirmation that you are taking care of yourself.

    Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. I think of each of us being like a tree- all those limbs snd branches represent all those people and things in our lives we feel a responsibility for. We are the root system of that tree – we need to first take care of that root system (ourselves) then we are able to reach out to others and we will also grow healthier.

    You are an inspiration. There is so much love out there for you. I wish you all good things as you continue to grow stronger through your recovery. Sending you gentle hugs filled with ❤
    Carol

    • #17574
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Carol,
      I can’t even begin to tell you how much your support and positive spirit means to me! It is messages like this that help me push through the harder days. As I’m sure you know there are just so many ups and downs with any type of recovery. Having a safe space like this to talk to others so openly and getting the responses that I get makes a world of difference in my life. I feel lucky every day to be surrounded by such great support and words of wisdom from our members.

      The tree analogy really makes so much sense ! It’s so true that we have to take care of ourselves in order to grow (mentally and physically) I make sure to work on both of these parts of myself and when I’m feeling better (as I luckily have been after this surgery) it makes it easier to WANT to take care of myself and improve each day. I am very grateful and feel blessed.

  • #17575
     Colleen Steele 
    Keymaster

    Carol, your words to Brittany are beautiful, especially the tree analogy! Brittany, you are adored here at the PH Forums and I think one of the many reasons is because you always find just the right words to help others and make them feel better. You take your experiences, both the good and the bad, and use them to help others. It takes a strong person to be able to do that! Your openness and honesty does not go unnoticed. I am truly so happy for you that the surgery has given you hope for better health in more ways than expected. Recovery is never easy and I am sure you are going through a lot. You have been such a huge support system here and now your PHriend’s want to return the favor. We are here for you!

    • #17576
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Definitely have been feeling so loved by all my PH-riends here and the PH community 🙂 Having such support is amazing and a great feeling. So grateful!

      • #17589
         Jen Cueva 
        Participant

        @brittany-foster, you ARE sooo loved ! ❤️🤗
        So happy for you , don’t forget to send the info for snacks .

  • #17628
     Rockefeline Denis 
    Participant

    Welcome back Brittany. It feels so good reading the great news. Your post gives hope. I am not as afraid of the disease as I used to.
    Best wishes.

    • #17630
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you so much for the welcome message! I’m glad that this can give you some hope in better days ahead. I know that it’s not always easy, and believe me I have had my share of struggles already with this recovery and I’m still far away from the halfway point. In 6 weeks it will be the halfway mark for recovery. Recovering from this type of surgery and gaining some of my functions back (especially with eating) can take up to a few months. It’s frustrating when the days seem to go by pretty slowly, but I’m trying to stay as busy as possible and staying motivated helps me both physically and mentally.

  • #17631
     Carol Volckmann 
    Participant

    Brittney, you have already gone through so much even prior to your surgery. Your whole immune system has to get stronger, your whole body and mind need to heal and that is going to take time. When you think being able to be half way there in six weeks is AMAZING! Reach out any time if those little nasty critters “impatience,or frustration or anxious” just tell them “I got this!” or … if someone tells you they cannot believe your recovery is taking so long, tell them the same thing and that you are doing just fine!
    Lots of hugs,
    Carol

    • #17634
       Brittany Foster 
      Keymaster

      Thank you Carol. I LOOK soooo much better than I did before surgery. But as we know all too well, looks can be very deceiving. Yesterday I experienced a lot of dizziness and got a little nervous with some of my symptoms I was having. But then I realized the things that this surgery DID fix and that does not include all of my other chronic coniditons that I was dealing with prior to surgery. I feel like my body needs the proper time to heal from this and a lot of my focus is put on that right now. As we all know, this disease as well as many others that are CHRONIC are life long and require medications and care for LIFE. I feel like that is something that is hard for others to understand especially family members who are just like “you had the surgery, now you are cured.” … I’m “repaired”, not cured by any stretch of the imagination. It can be hard for others to understand that. I’m so grateful to have a group like this who DOES GET IT! Thank you for always reaching out and providing me with the words of encouragement that I need.

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