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
Sorry for the late update. It's been a busy time with the transition from hospital to home.
Steve saw a home nurse twice a week until he was discharged yesterday. He was also discharged from the surgeon after our followup appointment on Oct. 8th. That is all good news!
Steve goes to LabCorp on Thursdays to get his blood drawn and we are still trying to get the levels correct as they have been running on the low end of the scale. Tomorrow, Steve has his 2nd cardiologist appointment (after surgery) and we will ask him for an updated timeline of when he will be able to drive and go back to work. Steve is having a very difficult time feeling trapped at home. It doesn't help that his wife is a pretty crappy driver ( lol)! But I do my best...that's all one can ask, right?
The cardiologist also put in an order for Steve to get a device that will allow him to check his INR levels at home. It is very similar to a diabetes glucose machine. So, cross your fingers that insurance will cover it all because we've been told it is an expensive gizmo.
Speaking of insurance...bills are arriving in the mail and it isn't pretty. It's frustrating to think that a surgery can be pre-approved but if a doctor that is 'out of network' is utilized during the surgery...we are required to pay. It doesn't seem fair so I need to look into how to make sure we aren't stuck with an enormous bill. Hopefully soon, I will be able to update our goal to a more accurate figure.
For those of you in the paranormal that know Steve, please feel free to send him a facebook message (or comment here) and ask him to do some live videos or skype ghost box sessions. Today I worked on his computer trying to get his headset & microphones in working order. We have to keep him busy while he heals! :)
Each and every one of you that have donated, commented, shared, prayed, etc has meant so much to us. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts!
Great News!! Steve finally came home last night after 13 days in the hospital!
And today is his 45th BIRTHDAY!
Steve's mom & niece came over today with gifts from the family. Steve is smiling from ear to ear!
Tomorrow is my birthday and having him home is the best present I could ask for. :)
Steve now has 6-8 weeks of recovery time. He is doing very well and my biggest task will be making sure he doesn't overdo it. He isn't one to sit still. I have to remind him that the heart can't be put in a cast or brace, so he needs to take short breaks between activity to ensure proper healing.
Tomorrow I am taking him to a lab to check his INR levels. That's to check the blood thinner medication (Coumadin) he will be taking for the rest of his life. It has to be in a certain range to prevent bleeding or clotting. We are hoping to get a home device in the future where he will be able to check himself. It will be awhile before that can happen...so until then, we will go to a lab once a week.
On Friday, Steve has an appointment with the cardiologist and on Oct 4th with the surgeon. We will be very busy but so grateful he is back home and he can tell he is breathing better.
Thank you everyone for your support with donations, sharing the gofundme link, and prayers!
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.