I think back to that day in 1993 when I was a first year medical student and I first put a critical ear to my chest and listened to my heartbeat. It was an afternoon cardiology class and I listened intently with my new stethescope to my irregularly sounding heart. After a break, I approached the instructor who also listened as I told her something is wrong with my aortic valve. The next day I had my first echocardiogram. Bicuspid valve was the diagnosis and it is the most common congenital abnormality of the aortic valve. I would need many echocardiograms over the ensuing 18 years. I was advised back then to limit heavy weightlifting and long distance running, but otherwise live a normal life. I did. Until three weeks ago. My cousin had a rare electrical problem with her heart in September this year and teetered on death’s door. Her miraculous recovery reminded me to get back in for a check up. I had been remiss for a few years. Although I felt better than ever, my tests showed critical worsening of my aortic valve and an aortic aneurysm. I ran five miles the day before I was told to stop running and surgery was a must. With excellent heart function and a failing valve and aorta, this was the time to proceed. If untreated, I would likely suffer an aortic dissection and most likely not survive. I interviewed surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals and was most impressed with the skill, caring, and overall success of Dr. Alan Markowitz at University Hospitals. He will perform my valve replacement and aortic graft on Monday Dec. 5, 2011 at 715am. I have put my faith and trust in God, my family and friends, my surgeon, and the wonderful medical community that we live in.