Updated: Apr 8
by Annie Bowler
I will have open heart surgery in early April to replace my bicuspid aortic valve, which is no longer pumping properly. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Castro, who is the same very talented surgeon who performed my first open heart surgery 11 years ago. That time he repaired an aneurysm on my aortic arch.
I inherited my funky, 2 leaflet aortic valve from my mom which she likely inherited from her father. They both died suddenly and young; we never knew the cause of their deaths, but we now believe they too had aneurysms, which are common with bicuspid valves.
I am grateful to live in a time when medical testing and such surgeries are possible!
My grandpa James was known for his kind and easy way. Sadly, he passed before I was born.
My siblings Nick, Mary and I (standing) "helping" my mom wash our dog Mom and I skiing in Sun Valley, Idaho
My mom was always kind; she was happy to listen no matter what and was quick to laugh. I was heartbroken when she died suddenly. I was just 25.
Ever since she passed, I’ve wished that I had asked my mom about many things. But I was a young, busy woman and I certainly didn’t expect her to die so young.
Genetics play such a huge roll in our lives; Some of our greatest talents and weaknesses are passed down from our parents. Those who have bicuspid aortic valves often develop aneurisms; it’s because they literally have softer heart tissue.
Kindness is also a genetically carried trait; I have always made friends easily. I care deeply. My kids tease me for crying during sappy movies. I am truly grateful I inherited both the best and most challenging traits from my wonderful mom and grandpa.
I am optimistic that I will get through surgery just fine and am excited to finally have a big, healthy valve. But facing such a surgery has given me pause. As the days click closer, I think constantly of all the people in my life; I want them to be certain of the depths of my love.
Having faced regret for much of my life about not asking my mom more questions, I have been trying to give John, my kids, my grandkids and those close to me the opportunity to talk, to ask their questions, just in case.
Placer County Writers Group Cafe Staff Kids and storyteller in the Cafe garden
Bicyclists enjoying the Cafe Patio Fun at Celebration of the Arts Some of our musician friends
I’ve been thinking often of the many wonderful people I known and loved- my family of course, my dear friends and extended family, and those I came to know through the Flower Farm- the families with their sparkling eyed kids, the musicians who brought lovely tunes, the bicyclists relishing their hard ride, the sweet couples enjoying a day in the gardens, people relaxing with their pups or a good book, and of course, the amazing Flower Farm staff who work so very hard. Each of you have enriched my life. I’m grateful for your friendship and look forward to seeing you soon.