Both my husband and I received good news when we saw our wonderful cardiologist recently.

In August, I'll be celebrating my “6th birthday” thanks to God, prayers of friends, our wise cardiologist, and the surgeon he chose. The day before our yearly exams in 2013, our cardiologist's nurse called and asked if it would be possible to come a couple of hours early. She said he’d like for me to have an echocardiogram. That caused no concern. I'd had one years before, and no problems surfaced. When he saw the results, he said he’d suggest a catheterization. He thought I might need a stent. That didn't raise any red flags either.

After the catheterization, I knew the minute he came into the room with the report that he was not bringing good news. He always had been so positive during appointments, and we'd leave his office on cloud nine. Even though my mother had passed away at 67 due to a massive coronary attack and my older brother died of a heart attack at age 57, I still wasn’t worried. The cardiologist said he would arrange surgery with an excellent vascular surgeon.

In less than a week, he had scheduled an appointment with the surgeon. In case there were unforeseen problems, I decided there were some major jobs that had been neglected and needed to be undertaken. One was carrying rocks from the backyard to the front of the house. To save time, two buckets were used to move them. By the time I had the important appointment with the surgeon, I was in such pain he said he couldn't do anything until he had our orthopedic back doctor's opinion. That same day our orthopedic doctor had his assistant do some testing. With these pictures, he did discover I had a slight fracture in my spine that was new. But he also noticed I’d had two sometime in the past, and they had healed with no doctor appointments. That’s when the orthopedist assured the heart doctor that surgery would be safe. That meant it could be on Aug. 7, the originally-scheduled date.

The surgery was lengthy. By the end of the day, the surgeon had replaced the aorta valve, inserted two stents, and reconstructed the upper heart to avoid atrial fibrillation, if at all possible, in the future.

Originally, the surgeon said I’d be home in a week. What he didn’t anticipate was my needing the ventilator three times during the week after the surgery. That problem was the reason I took a six-week vacation away from home. Somehow the cardiologist knew everything would end well, and it certainly did.

A few weeks later, 42 pages of medical expenses arrived in the mail. I was shocked at the cost and completely happy to discover our insurance and Medicare covered all the expenses.

Fortunately, friends didn’t have time for questions before surgery. Those who later remarked, “I don’t know why you went through this at your age” are discovering these have been the best years of our lives.