Steve Hultay Heart Surgery Recovery
As some of you may already know, my husband, Steve, suffers from a heart condition. He was initially having cough, chest pain, and fatigue issues that he shrugged off but it didn’t go away and was worsening. In early 2018, Steve’s primary doctor heard a strong heart murmur and referred him to a pulmonologist and cardiologist. He was told by the pulmonologist he may have asthma but the medicines weren’t working and his health started to deteriorate. When he heard Steve’s heart murmur, he recommended a cardiologist who then began a series of tests to determine the cause.
After having an electrocardiogram, ultrasound echo, and nuclear stress test, it was determined that Steve had Mitral Valve Prolapse with Severe Regurgitation. What this means is that Steve’s mitral valve isn’t closing and blood is leaking or flowing backwards.
On August 10, 2018, Steve had two invasive procedures at the hospital: cardiac catheterization & echo (TEE). These tests determined that Steve needs life saving open heart surgery to repair/replace his mitral valve. The doctor said that it needs to be taken care of right away -- no longer than 2 months.
Since then, we have gone through the process of finding a surgeon. The first surgeon recommended did not take his insurance. The kindness shown by the owner of Circle BMW (where Steve works) touched our hearts immensely. He made a few phone calls to see if the first surgeon would take his insurance. Unfortunately, we were told that we would still incur a large bill not realizing that the owner of Circle BMW had arranged differently. Since time is of the essence, we proceeded with the 2nd recommended surgeon who is located farther away in Newark, NJ. http://mjr.barnabasheart.org/
Valve repair or replacement surgery is done in an operating room under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision in the breastbone (sternum), called a median sternotomy, to open the chest and gain access to the heart.
To repair or replace the valve, the heart must be stopped temporarily. While the heart is stopped, a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass machine) functions like the heart and lungs, circulating blood and providing oxygen to the body. Fluids, nutrients, and medications may be added to the blood while it passes through the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. The procedure generally lasts between two and four hours.
Steve is approaching the maximum out of pocket expense and deductible on his health insurance but it has been a financial struggle to meet all the co-payments, medicines, time off work, etc. as he is our sole income provider.
Steve will be going on disability through his work. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of time to receive the first payment and they do not calculate the commission Steve brings home which is the majority of his income. This is going to make it nearly impossible to keep up with household bills, future co-payments, medicines, and so on.
Steve and I are extremely grateful for the help from his mother, Karen, as she has been driving us to appointments & relieving a majority of the stress of this situation. Steve's sister, Tracy, and her family have also been a great support helping out with house repairs. Thank you!
Steve’s surgery will be on Thursday, September 13, 2018.
This is where we need your help. The recovery time can vary from patient to patient but is expected to be between 6-8 weeks.
It would be a huge relief for Steve to be able to focus on the surgery and recovering instead of worrying how to pay for all the medical bills and living expenses. We estimate that in order to get caught up on household bills, pay current ones, meet co-payments, and medicine that Steve would need $10,000. This is an estimate and I will update as time progresses to give a more accurate figure. Right now there are too many unknowns.
On a selfish level, I need Steve to be around for a very long time. In 2014, I met Steve on Facebook and he was my rock every day (for 3 months) when I had to go to an infusion center for IV treatment for late stage lyme disease. Once I was well enough, I flew to New Jersey and knew he was my soul mate. We married on November 10, 2015. Steve makes me a better person and I want to be able to be his rock now.
Here is my favorite picture of me and Steve:
Please consider helping Steve with his open heart surgery and recovery. We would be forever grateful.
You can help by:
- Donating any amount to “Steve’s Open Heart Surgery” GoFundMe.
- Sharing this on Facebook and other social media outlets like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Prayers are welcome!
Thank you in advance for your love and support.
Katie (Felsing) Hultay
Steve called me this morning letting me know that he is going to be at the hospital a few more days. This was really bad news! His liver enzymes are too high and they are still trying to figure out the source of his infection. Steve's tooth has been hurting so that may be a clue.
It's been really difficult for Steve being in the hospital so long. It's been difficult for me not having him at home. He begged the nurses to see if I could stay with him overnight until he is discharged. We asked earlier in the week and they said NO. But this time, they asked management and they said YES! They said we could take short trips to the courtyard too.
Now rushing to pack and Tracy, Steve's sister, has agreed to feed our 5 cats (2 are rescues that need homes). Thank you, Tracy!!
Time to sign off and go cheer up Steve. :)
Thanks everyone for your support!
Visited Steve today with his mom. We keep hoping every day they will say he can come home...but not today. :(
His blood thinner level was *almost* in range at 2.3. It needs to be between 2.5 - 3.5. And his latest blood draw showed that he may have an infection so he is getting thoroughly tested. The last thing they want to do is discharge him with an infection and have him come back for more surgery. He's been through so much already with the double surgery (repair and then replacement). Most patients leave within 2-5 days but Steve is an overachiever. I think today makes Day 9.
It's difficult for Steve to feel confined like this. Yesterday he was frustrated and did 15 laps in the hallway. Today he didn't do any because it really wore him out. It's hard for him to sleep at night with all the beeping noises and nurses poking and prodding. I keep trying to give him encouraging words but I know right now that things just suck for him.
So, I'll say it again...
Hopefully tomorrow will bring good news with the blood thinner levels and tests for infection & he will be able to come home.
I miss him at being at home. It feels empty & quiet.
Please keep praying for Steve...and if you'd like, comment below to give him some encouraging words. He reads them and I know they help. You don't have to donate in order to leave a comment.
Thanks everyone for your continued support.
9/19/2018 - I saw Steve this afternoon with his mom and niece. Before seeing Steve, he told me about how all the tubes were removed -- everything except for two wires in his heart that they could not remove due to worry that he may bleed. He said that he could not believe the amount of bruising. I asked him if he would show me in the bathroom when I arrived. At the end of this post, you will see photos. It's going to take some time for him to heal from all of this. I feel so bad for him because he isn't one to slow down. :(
Steve wasn't in the greatest mood when we arrived but it eventually turned around. Having his mom & niece there really helped. He also told a few corny jokes...which happens to be my favorite kind (he knows lol) and a smile on his face returned.
We were hoping that he would be able to come home today but his blood thinner levels are still too low. So, another day or two. Luckily, he has the all-clear to walk on his own to the bathroom or the hallway. There is a walker in the hallway to make it more comfortable.
I'll be visiting Steve in the morning with his sister Tracy. Hopefully we will be told he will be coming home. If not, we will hang out with Steve, watch some tv, and tell more corny jokes. Laughter is great medicine!
We are so grateful for every donation, prayer, and share and hope that the word continues to get out about Steve's open heart surgery recovery. Thank you!
Today I visited Steve in the ICU with his mom and Aunt Linda (his sister and niece visited later in the day). We got to see him go on his 2nd walk with Cardiac Rehab which means that he is now OUT of ICU and now in the Cardiac Step-Down Unit. His new room is so big and nice compared to the cardiac critical care unit. Yippie! :)
He was pretty wiped out after the walk which is completely normal at this stage. Baby steps.
Steve will be able to come home once they get his blood thinner levels in the correct range. Maybe 1-3 days? Hopefully one!
Thank you everyone for your continued support.
It means the world to us.