Posted on April 29th, 2008 under Patient Stories & Updates.
First, she had cancer as a child. After chemotherapy and radiation, she won that battle.
Years later, Sara learned that she needed mitral valve replacement procedure. After a minimally invasive surgery that was filled with minor heart surgery complications, she is now recovering alongside Lucyfur Ladyhawk, her horse.
This is Sara’s story…
EMAIL FROM SARA TO ME SHORTLY AFTER HEART VALVE SURGERY:
Sorry for the delay in the response. But, for someone who’s supposed to be resting and recovering, I seem to have been busy. So you know, I had my mitral valve replaced.
Now that the surgery is over, I thought you might like to share a couple, personal tidbits with your readers.
Shortly after my procedure (couple hours I think), I was given Lopressor – a beta blocker used to slow my heart rate and let the heart ‘rest’ after the surgery. Either the dosage was wrong or I reacted negatively to the medicine. The Lopressor lowered my heart rate too low. As a result, the doctors sent me back to the intensive care unit (ICU) for several days. Please warn your book and blog readers about a potential sensitivity to this drug.
Also… Once I left the hospital and arrived home, I had a few ‘surprise’ effects / complications. Some were covered in your book, others were unique to me.
- As the medications and pain killers wore off, I felt like I was no longer healing. Apparently, my doctors used a bunch of nerve blockers on me. As the drugs wore off, I felt much worse than I did in the hospital which caused a bit of panic about what was going on.
- Nose bleeds – Since the nasal passages were disturbed by a variety of things (tubes, oxygen) during my surgery and time in the ICU, I had nose bleeds. I learned that nose bleeds are somewhat common. It would have been nice to expect this at 10:00 PM on Sunday night when a round of several nose bleeds occurred for no apparent reason.
- Intravenous drip pain – I experience a throb in my neck where the I.V. drip line was placed. It was a very odd feeling. It has been weird for my husband. He can see my neck vein pumping away from across the room. Of course, this only applies to those who had a subclavian type I.V..
As for my heart valve replacement, I went with a mechnical heart valve. That said, I’m on Coumadin. My doctors believe that patients should have their own INR meter. That way, I can test my levels (at home), on my own, without going to a lab. Then, I can call in the reading. For now, I am working with the surgeon on my Coumadin levels, but I will transition to my regular cardiologist to monitor the dosage adjustment. The home INR meter starts with a 90 day lease for $100. Hopefully, my insurance will pay for the meter.
At home, I’m now trying to regain my lost muscle mass and cardio fitness. At least I’m allowed back on my horse, Lucyfur Ladyhawk. Well, at a walk anyway – I’m not quite ready to trot yet. I’m considering that exercise as part of my cardio therapy.
FYI, I am a cancer survivor who underwent chemo and radiation as a child. If any of your readers have a similar history and want more details, they can find me through you. My surgeon stated several ways that people with radiation to the chest are different from the average person undergoing this surgery. I’m also petite (<5 feet) which made the robotic surgery more of a challenge.
Thanks again for everything – including your blog and your heart valve surgery guide for patients.