Victor Hyman (on the right in the yellow t-shirt)
Victor Hyman Heart Valve Disease Story
Thursday 20th June 2019
Victor Hyman was completely unaware of his heart valve disease. Whilst on holiday in Turkey in 1994, he was visited by a local doctor for an upset stomach. While his stomach was fine, he was surprised to find out in fact he had a problem with his heart as the doctor had detected a murmur after listening to his heart with a stethoscope.
Victor was later treated for mitral regurgitation, but while the disease never caused him any inconvenience, it was a later bout of endocarditis that made Victor realise things were more serious than they seemed. Victor had been working in a successful delicatessen in Manchester and had known Heart Valve Voice’s CEO Wil Woan for nearly fifteen years but neither knew of their valve disease connection. After learning about the work of Heart Valve Voice, Victor decided to share his story.
Whilst on holiday, the tummy bug was dismissed by a visiting doctor but it quickly developed into a somewhat bizarre exchange with the barman acting as translator and Jane, Victor's medically trained wife, on hand to make sense of the diagnosis. The group worked together to discover from a diligent doctor and his stethoscope examination that Victor had a heart murmur. This was the first Victor had heard of a heart murmur and he made sure to visit the cardiologist as soon as he got home thanks to an immediate referral from his GP.
He was on the treadmill at the cardiologist’s within 12 hours of landing back at Manchester airport. Following a series of tests Victor was diagnosed with mitral regurgitation. His condition at the time was fairly mild and he was asymptomatic, meaning he had no symptoms, so his cardiologist decided to monitor his condition and he was prescribed medication for a period of about 5 years.
At this point, Victor didn't put too much thought into his valve disease as it wasn't causing any issues in his every day life and he was also being monitored. "I was being monitored for a number of years and I remember wondering on the last check up that I should really find out about what may become of this problem," recalls Victor. "When lo and behold , the consultant starts to speak of a window of opportunity to effect a change as the valve was getting worse.” Victor asked his wife to accompany him to help explain what was discussed with the cardiologist and to help with his decision about treatment.
On the advice of the cardiologist Victor decided to go ahead with surgery. The surgeon discussed treatment with Victor and answered all of his queries. The surgeon remarked that it was refreshing to be asked questions and Victor really felt that he was a part of the decision making process. They decided that he was to have a repair and thankfully the procedure was successful.
Victor took three months off work to recover. After his return to the busy delicatessen, he kept himself busy, not needing, he felt, any changes to his lifestyle.
That was until 2014, after having been discharged over 5 years before from annual echo checks Victor came down with what he thought was a bad throat infection. A visit to a local A&E couldn't get his temperature down with normal flu type medicine and a subsequent out of hours GP visit concluded that it might be best to admit Victor for further tests as his temperature started to spike. A visit to Wythenshawe Hospital 36 hours later provided Victor with a diagnosis which saved his life. Victor was diagnosed with Endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart's inner lining or endocardium that is commonly caused by bacteria.
The Endocarditis made Victor very ill and he was in and out of consciousness, while in the hospital. Luckily it was caught early enough and the care he received in hospital was ‘top notch’ according to Victor. While he was in recovery in the ward, Jane made a point of ensuring that he took notes and asked questions at every available opportunity should anything like this happen again.
After the endocarditis was under control, a transesophageal echocardiogram (TOE) revealed that this infection had colonised the repaired valve and subsequently destroyed it. Once again, Victor and Jane met with the surgeon who discussed with them his new options. They came to the decision that Victor should receive an artificial valve, giving Victor the responsibility of maintaining a warfarin regime. After another successful treatment, it was six months of recovery before Victor went back to full time employment and to full health.
"In many ways I took my valve disease for granted because I felt so good after my treatment, but since my endocarditis, I'm much more aware of the fact that i need to look after myself,” said Victor. “I have so many people to thank for helping me, including my amazing wife, who made me get myself checked out and the brilliant NHS team who saved my life and gave me a quality recovery and who I am eternally grateful to. Without my wife's interference I'd be dead and without a miraculously swift diagnosis I'd be even deader…"
As for his valve disease, he goes for annual check ups, gets antibiotic cover when visiting the dentist or having his teeth cleaned with the dental hygienist and regularly maintains his warfarin regime. Victor stays active by going for walks, gardening, studying and learning his favourite ancient language of Sanskrit. He has also recently retired after 23 years service. He came to the conclusion to retire in early 2019 and he feels ready to end on a high note.
“I've known Victor for some time now, and it wasn't until recently that I found out that he had been treated for heart valve disease" says Wil "Victor is always so full of life and an excellent example of someone who hasn't let the disease stop him from doing the things he wants in life. He is also a great spokesperson for how important after care treatment is and that patients should be aware of the risks of endocarditis.”
We are glad you are back to good health and hope you continue to feel great Victor.