WHOA. “The darkness surrounds me,” I hear as I stare at this actual photograph of a metaphorical representation of the last two years of my life.

It’s not over

The Recovery Chronicles #20

AE Stueve
2 min readOct 6, 2022


I don’t mean to brag, but I am more aware of my mortality than most men my age.

In August 2020, I had open heart surgery for a birth defect called bicuspid aortic valve, a birth defect I didn’t know I had until May 2020 when I experienced a terrible ‘heart event.’ If you’d like to know more, you might notice this piece is #20 is a series, so there are 19 previous chapters available that could clear up a lot of questions you might be having if you’ve stumbled onto this excruciatingly popular blog and are enticed by my eloquence.

If you’d rather just kind of swim along and see what’s going on with me now, continue.

Long story short, two years ago a talented surgeon performed a Ross Procedure on me which, essentially, involved replacing my bad valve with one of my good valves then replacing that good valve with a cadaver valve. It was a long operation and when I woke up… well… let’s just say that I was not in the best frame of mind.

I’ve come a long way since.

Apparently my heart hasn’t.

The cadaver valve I was given is, for lack of a better word, failing, so on Tuesday October 11, I’m getting a new one.

It’ll be just like Christmas morning… or something.

This procedure is far less invasive than the one I had two years ago. It is called a Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve Replacement (TPVR). It is laparoscopic so there are fewer risks. It is not without risk, mind you. There are just fewer risks compared to open heart surgery. But if everything goes according to plan, I’ll be out of the hospital in approximately 24–48 hours.

Recovery appears to be 1–2 weeks.

Then I’ll be bouncing around like a cartoon character again.

This, of course, is contingent on the surgery working.

Have we reached the Star Wars Episode VI: The Empire Strikes Back part of my little heart adventure?




AE Stueve

AE Stueve teaches and writes in Omaha, NE. Check out all of his available work at aestueve.com