"...My first reaction....was: disbelief, denial, anger...."

Benjamin – Thank you for the web site and your book Barefoot in November. My sister Claire came across your web site last week and ordered your book for me which I received yesterday.  
I stayed up last evening to read your account of your surgery and post-op recovery.

Amazing how similar our stories are and the feelings I am experiencing of late. Just a few weeks ago, during my annual physical, an abnormality was noted by my primary care physician during a routine EKG test. His office set-up an appointment with a cardiologist here in Kansas City.  Sure enough, they discovered an aneurysm in the ascending aorta.  The ironic part of this is that the only reason I showed up for the cardiologist appointment? -- I felt an obligation to  for my family doctor who made the appointment for me. Otherwise, procrastination would have taken over and I would have gotten to it whenever. Which on my end, would have been – never.

How in the world could this be happening? It was surreal to think that without any pre-existing symptoms, I would have to have open heart surgery. I am 58 years old, fit, eat well, not-smoker. I have run numerous marathons, triathlons, etc… Workout on regular basis and have recently dropped body fat to 10%. Feeling great. This is a joke right?  Not so much.

My first reaction, similar to yours as noted in your book, was: disbelief, denial, anger.  Following a very informative & insightful consultation with Dr. Gregory Muehlebach, University of Kansas Hospital in KC, I am becoming more accepting of reality. Fact is, I have this condition and am taking action to rectify it in the near future. We have set surgery date for Wednesday May 7, 2014. I am very grateful that several folks referred me to Dr. Muehlebach. He’s top shelf.

I’m struggling with the emotional side of things including the time away from the office plus having to go to the bench for several weeks/months. Good news is, I’ll have several of my children coming into Kansas City for the surgery and recovery period, along with my siblings. Plus, the folks at work are very supportive and we’ll have a few weeks to get organized prior to surgery date in early May.

Very much appreciate you making the effort to create, and keep this web site active. It has been a terrific source of information, inspiration, and knowledge. Most importantly, it has allowed me to realize that I am not alone in this situation and many guys like me have gone through this situation and are alive today because they opted for surgery versus waiting.

I may not be ready to do 26.2 miles post-op on my one year anniversary. May settle for a 10K as a goal this October and consider that a major victory.

Rich Mcardle
Kansas City

Dr. Allan S. Stewart has Joined Mount Sinai Hospital

Dear Readers,
I frequently receive inquiries about my heart surgeon Dr. Allan S. Stewart. He left New York-Presbyterian last fall, and is now heading up the Aortic Surgery and Valve Center at Mount Sinai Hospital. He's a Professor, a Surgeon, and an Innovator who has published approximately 30 peer-reviewed research publications. He was one of three surgeons who operated on President Bill Clinton, and is frequently called upon for challenging surgeries. His surgical reputation precedes him, but it's his larger than life character that separates him from his peers. In a world chock full of doctors that are going through the motions and talk "at you" not "with you", Stewart is the extraordinary exception. You may reach him at Mount Sinai hospital. As a former patient, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
Benjamin J. Carey

Dr. Allan S. Stewart
1190 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Tel: 212-659-6807

I was diagnosed to have an ascending aortic aneurysm (5.2 cm wide)

"...Thanks for the website and book! It helped during the dark moments..."  
-V-P Larivaara  


I’m a 37 –year old male from Finland. Last September 2013 I was diagnosed to have an ascending aortic aneurysm (5.2 cm wide) just two days prior I was supposed to run a marathon. What a shock it was  but afterwards it seems like stroke of luck! I could have been one of those who fall down dead without ever knowing what hit them.

 "...I could have been one of those who fall down dead without ever knowing what hit them..."

I did not have symptoms of any kind. I was in the best shape of my life having started excercising about two years prior (then having been overweight). I have a genetic blood pressure problem but it had already been controlled with medication for 10 years.

They performed me a David’s procedure at the University Hospital of St Luc in Belgium (by Professor Gebrine El Khoury) on January 8 th and everything went great. My recovery was rapid. After having returned back home to Finland I went jogging after six weeks of the surgery (very slow and very short distance) and mainly excercised by walking. Other than having a slight fever for couple of weeks after the surgery I have not faced any problems. At first I of course could not walk long distances etc. without getting tired but I mean that I never had eg. arrhythmia.

In May I went for my first longer distance (30 km, roughly 20 miles) trail run between two hills and it was awesome! That inspired me to train a bit harder and during the summer I run about 40+ miles/week. Two weeks ago October 5th I run a 50 mile race (2,300 meters ascending) on technical trails and finished in 13.20 hours, at the back of the pack but definitely the happiest man on earth! J Just less than 9 months after the surgery.

Anything is possible and one should not think life is over should one get this diagnosis but get it over with and go on with normal life. I realize I’m one the lucky ones but I want to share my story to inspire others.

Thanks for the website and book! It helped during the dark moments/months I had waiting for the operation and not knowing what life would be after the operation.

Best Regards,

V-P Larivaara

...74yr old male who thought he was in great shape...


I am a 74yr old male who thought he was in great shape. I play hockey 3x per week and collapsed during a tournament. Ten days later 5|23|12 I had extensive open heart surgery.  One valve replacement, descending aneurysm, and repair of one blocked artery. I returned to work in 4 weeks. I began to skate after 3 months., and now I bicycle 62 miles. Feel fine with my new pig valve and other corrections. I feel that my pre-surgery fitness helped in my recovery.

Richard E. Cote
New York

More Heart Surgery Information From Another Heartosaurus

Ira Levofsky is a Heartosaurus. He's a bypass survivor, who is due for a tune up next week. He has written a book based on not only his experiences but on the lives of more than 100 people with similar surgery.

The book is available free through his website, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com.

Recovering from Heart Surgery Going Home
Free Book (download) for Kindle, Nook, i pad or any computer.
Designed as a wonderful handout to patients and their family’s experiencing Heart Surgery
Go to www.YourHeartSurgery.net
You can't do anything right now to assist in the surgery, but there are many, many things that you can do that effect in a very positive way your immediate future comfort and ease of recovery so get started.


Ira D. Levofsky