So, I have had an echocardiogram to see how my valve is working. The gradient (pressure across the valve) was 15 and the size of the opening was 1.86 square centimeters, both of which fall in normal ranges. Before the replacement, I fell into the critical category with a gradient above 70 and an opening that was only 0.5 square centimeters. I call this success.
I had a post-surgery visit with the cardiac surgeon and other than a small stitch in the incision that had not dissolved properly, I am in good shape. The physician's assistant snipped the stitch thread and pulled it out. Felt pretty strange to have the thread tugging through my skin, I have to say.
I asked if I could drive, drink alcohol and caffeine and use ibuprofen instead of acetaminophen. The answers were all "yes" just not at the same time, of course.
Today was my first venture out as the driver of the car. It feel great to be that free again. I only went as far as the post office and bank but now I can drive the 9 miles to the grocery store. I am still restricted as to weight I can lift to between 5 and 10 pounds as it can take 3-4 months for the bone they had to break to complete heal at my age.