County Supervisor Pat Herrity Prepares for Open-Heart Surgery

March 27, 2012 3:11 pmBy: 
Pat Herrity photo

Pat Herrity

Pat Herrity knows more than he wants to about hearts, heart disease and heart surgery. By necessity he’s had to pay attention to how hearts work, learn the names of a heart’s parts and realize what happens when something goes wrong.

But what’s on his mind now is something few of us ever have to ponder: How will he feel when he watches the Tivo’d version of his open-heart surgery once WUSA-TV records it for broadcast?

“Channel 9 has called and they want to film some of the surgery,” he confirms as he drives on his way to yet another pre-operation procedure. “But the idea is it’s not about me, it’s a health education issue.”

UPDATE:  Inova has denied WUSA-TV permission to tape Pat Herrity’s heart procedure but, he says, “we will do something with Channel 9 afterward.”

Indeed, Herrity’s heart surgery, scheduled for April 5 at Inova’s Heart and Vascular Institute, is one of the highest-profile surgical procedures in recent memory – well, except for maybe Dick Cheney’s transplant this week at the same hospital. Attention is being paid, no doubt, because Herrity is the Springfield District representative on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He’s also the son of the late Jack Herrity, the longtime Chairman of the Board who had three heart attacks and, finally, a heart transplant.

Clearly, it runs in the family. Herrity’s younger brother Tim of Richmond underwent a procedure at age 42 similar to the one Pat faces at age 52.

Looking at the Positives

Jack Herrity photo

Jack Herrity

Herrity says his wife Nancy is “taking it well. It really still hasn’t hit me, so I don’t think it’s really entirely hit her. It probably won’t until we get in there.”

Worrying isn’t something Herrity is likely to do. And leave it to Herrity to not only emphasize the positives but to also use his experience for the greater good.

“The positives I hold on to, and Nancy does too,” he says. “I’m young for a heart patient, I’m in good shape, I swim a mile twice a week, I play hockey twice a week, I walk the dog and all that other good stuff.” He’s also been known to lace up the cleats and play the occasional rugby match with his longtime local team.

“I haven’t had a heart attack or have heart damage and I’ve had a ton of people come up to me and tell me they’ve had the same procedure. It’s just incredible the number of people who are walking around out there who have had open heart surgery.”

He hopes he inspires others to get checked out, something that’s already happened thanks to his frank newsletter to his constituents.

“Listen to your body,” he advises. “Get your blood pressure checked because that’s one of the signs of heart issues. If you’ve got the flutters or an irregular heartbeat, don’t ignore them. I had someone in our police department call and say he’d been having flutters and ignored it but after reading my newsletter went in to see his cardiologist.”

Two Simultaneous Procedures

Herrity actually will undergo not one but two procedures, performed by two different surgeons, in one day, an event that, Herrity says, is statistically safe for the patient. And success rates are historically high.

But it’s the recovery process that will wear on Herrity most. Herrity, who generally is in constant motion, says, “I do not do idle time very well.”

Doctors tell him to expect to be “walking around the hospital room the same day, walking the hospital halls the next day, taking the staircase on Day Three and out of hospital in four to six days. They also say it will be four to six weeks to fully recover.

“My brother was younger, but he was pretty well recovered by Week Three,” he says. “I’m hoping it sets me back a couple of weeks, but you have to wait and see how your body handles it.”

All of this is just positively positive, but, come on, there must be dark thoughts that creep occur in advance of open heart surgery.

And indeed, there is one.

“One of my big fears,” Herrity says, “is I’ve got to ride in the back seat of the car for two to three months. I’m the type who gets in the front seat of a taxi cab, and if the driver would let me, I’d drive. I’m not going to do well sitting in the back seat. That’s not me.”

As for those WUSA television cameras in the operating room? “We haven’t decided yet,” Herrity says. “I clearly don’t want my surgeons nervous when they’re operating on me.”

 

 

 

Comments

More Top Stories

  • Consumers Politics Top Stories CareFirst data breach hits Virginians; Warner offers tips

    CareFirst data breach hits Virginians; Warner offers tips

    U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner provided a variety of useful resources and an online form on his Senate website for Virginians potentially impacted by the cyberattack targeting health insurer CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield to contact his office for assistance.  CareFirst, which operates in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, announced late yesterday that 1.1 million of its customers had been victims of a June 2014 data breach – first uncovered by the insurer a month ago and publicly disclosed on […]

    Read more →
  • Military Top Stories WWII, Korean War veterans honored at DCA and around town

    WWII, Korean War veterans honored at DCA and around town

    Reagan National Airport is normally a busy place on Saturday mornings but today it more closely resembled 4th of July on the Mall than an airport filled with grumpy travelers, as three planeloads of World War II and Korean War veterans arrived on special Honor Flights. The Fairfax Main Street Band played marches and nostalgic period music as the veterans walked, rolled and, in one case, danced down the concourse. The flights are organized by the Honor Flight Network, a […]

    Read more →
  • Real Estate Top Stories Median home sale prices inch up in Northern Virginia

    Median home sale prices inch up in Northern Virginia

    Areas of the Northern Virginia region experienced increases in median sale price in April, according to the Long & Foster Market Minute reports. The Northern Virginia market includes the city of Alexandria and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties. The Long & Foster Market Minute reports are compiled from data from residential real estate transactions within specific geographic regions, not just Long & Foster sales. The real estate market in Northern Virginia saw increases in median sale prices in […]

    Read more →
  • Education Top Stories Fairfax school board approves gender identity protection policy

    Fairfax school board approves gender identity protection policy

    Fairfax County Public Schools’ non-discrimination policy now includes gender identity, after the school board voted 10-2 yesterday to approve an update proposed by board member Ryan McElveen. The vote makes Fairfax, the largest school district in Virginia, the first in the state to add gender identity to its list of protected classes. “Equality Virginia is pleased that the board took into consideration the opinion of both community members and experts, and voted to do the right thing,” said James Parrish, […]

    Read more →
  • Business Education Fairfax Top Stories GMU’s Patriot Center will become EagleBank Arena

    GMU’s Patriot Center will become EagleBank Arena

    EagleBank today announces a multi-million multi-faceted, long-term strategic alliance with George Mason University. As part of the agreement, George Mason University’s Patriot Center will be renamed EagleBank Arena. EagleBank’s alliance with George Mason University spans a broad array of substantial education-related programs including scholarships, internships, lectures and seminar series, the bank said. The agreement provides for a minimum $6.6 million commitment by EagleBank to the university over 10 years. It also includes the unilateral right of EagleBank to extend the […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Transportation Congress asked to leave DC-VA airports alone

    Congress asked to leave DC-VA airports alone

    As the 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill comes before Congress, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA), along with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), Don Beyer (D-VA-8), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10) urged the Congress not to exacerbate overburdened operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by adding more flight traffic. In their letter, the members point out that when Congress established the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) in 1986, it was […]

    Read more →
  • Politics Top Stories Transportation Congressional spending plan threatens Metro funding

    Congressional spending plan threatens Metro funding

    The House Appropriations Committee is considering a spending plan that would cut federal funding to Metro in half — from $150 million to $75 million, threatening efforts to improve safety and catch up with deferred maintenance on the troubled system. “Providing anything less than the federal commitment of $150 million would jeopardize rider safety and the successful partnership with Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to fund the purchase of new rail cars and vital safety improvements throughout the […]

    Read more →
  • Fire & Rescue Top Stories Fairfax search and rescue looking for victims in Nepal

    Fairfax search and rescue looking for victims in Nepal

    USA-1, the Virginia Urban Search and Rescue team, searched collapsed buildings in the Kathmandu area of Nepal Thursday but found no live victims. Searches will resume at first light Friday, the team reported. The Virginia team and USA-2, from Los Angeles County, are working from a base established on land controlled by the U.S. Embassy. “Our Recon Operations were well received by the public. Some of the local community members visited our BoO providing information on collapsed structures and potential work sites. […]

    Read more →