Natalie from Ukraine

Wednesday May 19, 2010 04:39:40 PM

This is Natalie - age 24 - she was operated on Thursday 13th of May - the fourth day - of the 8th Mission of ICHF to Kharkiv.

When I met her on Friday morning she slightly surprised me by speaking reasonably fluent English - she called me over in English - at this time she still had most of her tubes and wires in place - "Is my operation over, was I good?" - she was at this time less than 24 hours after her surgery "you have golden hands" she told me - a message I think to the whole team - she was hot and uncomfortable and I helped her sit up and sponged her back with a cold flannel -

She asked and I told her that today we would be taking out all her tubes - not to worry - and that she would have some medicine to make her a little sleepy and pain free while we did that , we did that - and she slept off the medication forma few hours - and then I took this photo..

Natalie is 24 years old- pictured with her sister Dina, 26., Natalie was born with an abnormal Aortic Valve which had become leaky and was in need of replacing. The defect had been diagnosed 2 weeks after birth - so Natalie knew she had a heart problem all her life - with this type of defect the usual plan is to wait as long as possible before any surgery - as the natural valve can still function well for many years. Natalie told me how in recent years she had become increasingly tired and sweaty and get a headache with any exertion- she also described how her hands and feet would swell up and she described them as "ugly" - she likes to swim, and d disco dancing 0 but cold not d this as much as she wanted to in recent years. When asked what she was most looking forward to in life now - she said (though her sister Dina who's English was better than Natalies' ) she wants to satisfy her soul, be pretty - get a husband and have children . Natalie - nd her sister both work as sales managers - which they described as "not hard work' meaning physically she could manage that type of work with her heart problem.

She has a yellow and red cat - likes reading, swimming in the Black sea - likes driving a car and wishes someday to drive a motor boat, a popular pastime on the black sea by Odesa.

Natalie was very tired at the time of this picture - she wanted to leave the ICU and go back to her room - because she could not sleep here - her oxygen tube had been recently taken off her and if her oxygen levels stayed OK I told her she would for sure be able to leave in the next hours or two - I also told her that - subject to her surgeon Olga ( the local chief cardiac surgeon) she would probably be able to go home on Monday. Natalie was very surprised at this - and I fllowed up by asking what she was most looking forward to when she got home - "Drinking lots of cold water-" she said (fluid restriction after cardiac surgery makes many patients feel very thirsty) - se then looked away from me - grimaced - I thought she was going to laugh bust she started crying , wiped her eyes - and said that the other thing she was most looking forward to was holding her mother, and her brother.