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Emotional And Behavioral Changes After Heart Surgery… For Beth & Erik

Posted by Adam Pick on September 12th, 2008

Beth just emailed me about her husband’s problematic recovery from heart surgery. She writes, “Hi Adam – My husband had heart valve replacement surgery (from mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation) two months ago. Since then, he seems to be experiencing some emotional and behavioral changes after heart surgery. Although his heart is doing great, Erik seems to be “a little down” and somewhat “out of it” since the heart surgery. Any thoughts? Thanks, Beth.”

Here are my thoughts for Beth:

As patients, we enter the operating room with two critical thoughts. The first thought is, “Please let me live!” The second thought is “Please fix my heart so that I can live longer!”

After surgery, the relief of living and having fixed hearts is not enough for many patients. Instead, many patients are bombarded by difficult thoughts relative to pain, complications and ultimately, a challenged recovery. That said, these thoughts can manifest in emotional and behavioral changes after heart surgery.

In my own research, I learned that 30%-75% of patients report feeling anxious or depressed after heart surgery. That’s a pretty significant number. Personally, I experienced both emotional and behavioral changes following my valve replacements. I was moody. I was irritable. I was fatigued. I was tired of the pain.

As Doctor R. Scott Mitchell notes, “I think the cause of cardiac depression is entirely unknown… But, it could be the psychological effect of anticipating surgery, the prolonged time under anesthesia, or the results of the heart-lung machine.”

On this note, reports suggest that these emotional and behavioral shifts are increasing in frequency. In the opinion of many, this increase is directly related to short hospital stays in which patients are discharged too quickly after the operation. Today, patients are in the hospital five days on average. In the past, patients would have ten to fifteen days in the hospital to assimilate their new reality, according to Dr. Richard Fogoros.

As to what can be done about the emotional changes after heart surgery, I took several guided steps including attending cardiac rehab classes, spending less time alone, ending my use of Vicodin, etc.

Cardiac Rehab Program - Torrance Memorial Hospital
Adam In Cardiac Rehab Class

I hope this helps explain a little more about the common emotional and behavioral changes after heart valve replacement surgery and heart valve repair surgery. Scroll down to see over 45 patient comments.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Vicki M says on September 12th, 2008 at 3:48 pm

Dear Beth and Eric

I am 3 1/2 weeks post op for a mitral valve repair. Everything went well and I am recovering nicely. My mood though, not so great. I have had a great support system but I think I just miss my independence. I get very blue and then I get upset with myself for being blue. I have a lot to be thankful for but I start wanting to just go somewhere and be by myself. My friends and my family take me out and I have time alone in the house. I have always been a very independent person and I haven’t been released to drive yet. It’s not that I really want to drive but I just want to be somewhere besides my house and be by myself. I want to have something to talk about other than health issues. I want to be interesting. Some days I wish I had a new hobby but I dismiss the idea because it sounds like to much trouble. On the days that I am home alone, I don’t turn on music or tv and I can’t concentrate to read. Tell Eric that he is not alone. I hope someone responds here and tells us how to get past this moodiness. Is Eric on anti-depressants. I am but to be honest, I was on them before surgery but then they helped. I have to make myself go to cardiac rehab but I always feel better afterwards. I am looking forward to cool weather and getting out of the house more often. Good luck to both of you.



Laura says on September 12th, 2008 at 5:20 pm

RE: I hope someone responds here and tells us how to get past this moodiness.
hi vicki.
be patient and fair to yourself. youve been through a major trauma to your system. i havent had my surgery yet, but i did have a valvuloplasty, which is way less than open heart surgery, and it took me at least 3 months to feel okay again. fresh air usually makes me feel better. see if it helps you to sit outside in the sunshine.


patty elliott says on September 12th, 2008 at 5:39 pm

Adam…My brother had a mechanical aorta heart valve replacement back in 1970. He was one of the first 3 to receive one and, up until this past Monday, was the only survivor of those 3. He passed away, due to a heart attack. His situation was unique, in that he had a blood infection that ate out his aorta heart valve. When they wheeled him into the operating room, they told him he had 2 hrs to live. He was in the Air Force at the time, and they flew in the best heart surgeon in the country to perform the proceedure. His name was Col. Cox. I am trying to locate Col. Cox to let him know about my brother, but am running up against the typical red tape known as the Government. Is there a roster of heart valve recipients that you know of that might also list the attending physician?

To those of you going through this, good luck to you. My brother was told his valve would only last 7 yrs. It lasted over 20 yrs, and he had a good life. He did have to have it replaced about 10 yrs ago, and the valve was defective, so he had a pig valve installed. Even so, he lived a full life.



bitofsense says on December 8th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

I am a male 68, and 9 years removed from mitral valve repair, with complications 6 months after surgery. Shortly after the surgery and lasting to this day, I have been waaaay over-emotional. My short-term memory was also bad but since has improved. Some things just seem to set my ‘cry’ button off and I feel like the doctors must have messed with my genes and my estrogen levels are higher than my testosterone levels : )

I appreciate the little things in life, but wish that I didn’t cry at the drop of a hat. Will it ever go away?


Ann says on December 31st, 2008 at 6:52 pm

We have a friend who is 10 years past triple bipass. He seems to be lacking in judgement in many areas – financial included. Is there a good resource that we could consult to learn more about this? Thanks. Ann


Jacqui says on January 17th, 2009 at 4:50 pm

I have been dating a wonderful man for almost 3 months when he was given wrong medication during a routine colonoscopy. He wound up having emergency heart surgery which weakened his heart and 5 days later had surgery again to receive a pacemaker. I have not seen him since all this has happened (his choice) and barely had a few conversations. I have conveyed my support and wanting to be there for him but he seems to be pushing me away and avoiding me.

How can I help him and give my support? I don’t care how he may look or about possible side effects. I care about him. Isn’t this the time when you would lean on those you are close to? I feel I am becoming depressed and disconnected from him. Can anyone give me some feedback as to how he may be feeling?

Thanks in advance.


Susan says on March 4th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

I am a 50 yr old female who had a heart valve repair for severe regurgitation from mitral valve proplapse. I was going into heart failure last spring and told that if I didn’t get surgery I would be in the emergency room within six months. It was the best thing I have ever done! I had the surgery 09/09/08 – was back at work half-time after one month; back to work full-time after three months; had all the emotional roller-coaster rides you all are talking about but made myself get out and walk – more every day. Started biking at two months; running at three months. For the last two months I have been obsessed with one person (not my spouse) and have been too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. I figured it was a result of the surgery and the trauma my body has been through, but it is driving me crazy! I have had little/no depression – euphoric is more the word I would use. I am so very thankful to be alive and getting better every day because I’ve had symptoms from my heart problems my whole life. I have had severe guilt trips because two friends who had heart valve replacements prior to me (by a couple of months) are doing very poorly – one passed away a couple of weeks ago (from other health problems due to never going to the doctor his whole life). I have always tried to take care of myself and I think it’s paid off. I still get anxious thoughts, when is “it” going to happen to me (meaning something going wrong). I can’t wait to get over this mind trip – I never did drugs for fun and I sure don’t want to feel like this. I just go out and try to get exercise when I start getting weird thoughts and the exercise seems to help. After reading all the posts to this site – I feel much better. I haven’t felt like I had anyone I could talk to about this that would understand what I was going through. Thank you all for listening and wishing you all quick recoveries – we’ll all get through this with time.


Midge says on March 4th, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I am 19 days post aortic valve replacement and would agree with everyone that says walking is the best medicine…not just for your body but for your mind and spirit also. From the day after I came home from the hospital, I made myself get up in the morning, put real clothes and shoes on so I felt more normal and then laid back down and took a nap if necessary. Naps are also a good thing for recovery. I, too, find it confining to be restricted about many things, but nobody complains about how much I walk so use that as my escape. The one thing that has kept me from getting depressed or anxious during this whole process is the thought that not doing anything would result in dire consequences so any action I have taken is good and I will recover at some point. I am still pretty short of breath but improved for my first day home so I am making progress. Focus on all the things you can do now and know that they will increase and improve as time goes by.


Susan says on March 5th, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Dear Midge – The first month after my open heart surgery, I felt like all I did was sleep, read books, watch movies and walk (more each day – started with just one block the first day home from the hospital – did that a week; increased to two blocks for a week, etc.). For me it did get easier physically each day, it’s the weird thoughts/emotions that seem to carry on. Now (six months out) the sternum only hurts when I do too much – last week I ran/walked two miles three days — too much — this week my sternum is achy. So, I’ll just run two times this week and see how I feel. I’m biking an hour every weekend now, but haven’t dared to try tennis, swimming, canoeing, or some of the other things I enjoy. Am just adding a little to my routine at a time. Hang in there!


stephanie says on April 9th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

My father had quadrupel bypass surgery on Tuesday and is showing severe emotional disturbances. He is not speaking in complete sentences, relative to anything, including pain. For anyone who has had this surgery who is reading this, my question is: Is this normal? This man went into surgery joking, and playing around and came out not saying a word! This is so bizarre and my family is just devastated. We want to know how to help him, and would be very happy to receive some pointers in how to perk him up and help him recover.


Midge says on April 10th, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Stephanie, I’m willing to wager that your father will improve with time…some things in days, some things in weeks maybe. I had my aortic valve replaced on 2/13/09, can’t remember a thing that happened for three days until the afternoon of 2/16, then finally woke up enough to be lucid but had a hard time remembering alot of words when I went to talk. I would start out a sentence but would just totally loose the next word or two I wanted to say. Luckily I had a roommate and she was having the same experience, so we had some really good laughs while trying to talk to one another. (Laughing was good but a little uncomfortable on the sternum).

Just remember, we are given alot of drugs, etc. for the surgery and for afterward and they do funny things to your system. People react differently to these drugs and expel them from their body at different rates so be patient and attentive to him and overlook some of the different things he does. I said I was lucid by Monday afternoon, but also continued to have some grand hallucinations for a couple more days….usually when I was alone and my mind could go where it wanted. Having people to talk with helped me focus more.

My advice is to treat your father with love and lots of understanding….this surgery is no walk in the park for your system. I feel I have had a great recovery but there were definitely alot of stumbles along the way.



Mr Kerry says on June 8th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I am a 50 yr. old. 7 weeks P.OP. from mitral valve repair and had been recovering pretty well in till I started cardio rehab 2 weeks ago.
I had a slight ache in the inside of the back on the left side.( an old injury ) I had thought it was the lack of exercise, and started a very light routine at the card. rehab. unit. I had just gone 3 times,the last being a friday.
I felt great emotionally but my pain had increased in my back. I then sneezed, didn’t have the pillow close by. This really inflamed the pain that went through the sternum to the left side of the incision, then to the ball joint of my shoulder, and to my back, like a pinched nerve. I tried laying down with the heating pad, but the pain in my sternum and back forced me to take the oxycodone pain pills. They helped me get through the weekend.
I called the cardio nurse and she had told me to contact my primary care doc. which I did and was seen on Tuesday and given muscle relaxers. The doctor noticed that the top of my sternum incision looked infected and swollen and gave me a 10 day script of antibiotic. My last follow up with my cardio surgeon happened to be that following thursday. The pain in my back had eased a little. The surgeon put a hypo. needle into my swollen sternum to see if he could drain it, but couldn’t get anything out. He told me to complete the antibiotics and that was it. Well, by the last day of the 10 day course of the antibiotics, which happened to be the following thursday, my sternum swelling had decreased but had puss under the scar, and two other places showed up along my ( I thought healed up incision).I had called my cardio nurse and got in right away. Well, the surgeon cut open and cleaned out the now three wounds and showed me very quickly how to care for the open wounds. Using a 9% sodium chloride irrigation and sterile pads, and letting the water from the shower rinse out the wounds, and then push the sod.chlor.soaked pads up into the wounds and cover with gauze and change once a day.
And now my questions, Why after five weeks did this infection to my incision start? Could I have picked up? Something at the cardio rehab unit? And infected myself. Why didn’t the antibiotics work?, and is the 9% sodium chloride treatment enough to keep infection away? Is there a better treatment?
My mitral valve repair seems solid and looks good.
I no longer feel tired, or confused and seem to have better motor skills and don’t forget words quite so much.
I can meditate without the palpitations or the hard heart beats affecting my breathing.
I also agree with walking as much as one can. If I find my self starting to have depressed thoughts. I make myself stand up and do something, walk, do a stretching routine,do something. I don’t find that watching television helps.
I would like to suggest that everyone be careful with not exposing your selfs to any strong chemicals,paints,cleaning supplies,auto.exhaust , etc. These can also affect the way we feel and think.


Midge says on June 8th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

Kerry, I had my aortic valve replaced 2/13/09. About the fifth day in the hospital the top of my incision got so sore I had to hold my hospital gown away from it when I wasn’t sleeping. It was right where the knot was tied. When the doctor came in for his daily rounds, I told him about it and he went to touch it and I took hold of his arm and told him, “No, don’t even touch it. It hurts too bad. He then looked it over without touching and said my body was having a reaction to the beginning stitch and put me on IV antibiotics for the remaining 5 days of my hospital stay (it added an extra day to my stay). Then sent me home with antibiotics for 10 more days and that seemed to work but it was a touchy spot for a few weeks. Think the IVs probably prevented it from getting worse.

Your situation sounds like what happened to my daughter when she had a C-section a few years back. The incision got really infected and when she finally went to the doctor, he opened the incision and pus shot up to the ceiling of the exam room. She was a single mom so every night I had to go over and take alcohol soaked sterile pad and push them into the incision as far as they would go, but each day the distance I had to push the pads in was less and less so after a couple of weeks we were able to stop. As you may guess, this was very painful for her but it did work eventually. Not exactly the same thing as yours but similar enough to let you know that this kind of stuff is done.



Joanne says on July 21st, 2009 at 1:35 pm

My dad had a aortic valve replacement on 7/14/09 and 2 days following the surgery we noticed that when we would talk to him he would just stare at us & his eyes were bulged. We initially thought he was falling asleep with his eyes open but the nurses said he has bypass brain from being on the heart lung machine. If you ask him a question his respone is delayed or non existent, says very little, and can’t make decidions. Well a week has passed and he is off all IV’s & pain meds, & is going to transfer out of ICU into rehab today, where he will receive physical, occupational, & speech therapy. There have been slight improvements daily but no significent gains. All the doctors & nurses say this is normal, but how normal is it, it sounds like from other’s posts & discripions that my dad’s case is more severe. Will he get back to the way he was before.


Deb says on August 18th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

Dear Vicky M;

I had a aortic valve replacement three months ago and I felt exactly as you did at 3 1/2 weeks out. First of all, my family and friends drove me nuts. I love them but either they were coming over or calling all the time. I just wanted to be left alone.

My daughter stayed with me for a week after surgery and then my parents came for the next 2 weeks. I couldn’t stand that I had no privacy and had to rely on others for things I wanted to do myself. Ironically, when they left I felt lonely and depressed.

I couldn’t concentrate to read a book and spent more time watching TV than I ever had before. After 3 months, I can concentrate to read and have mostly returned to my regular activities. I struggle with anxiety which I feel certain is because of all the recent changes in my life including the surgery, side effects from the drugs, a job change, and the death of a close friend from complications after open heart surgery.

I too am sick and tired of talking about my health. That’s all that my family talks to me about anymore. I have found that I gravitate to people who are not constantly asking me how I am. I expect that my family will get tired of this too sooner or later. In the meantime, I’m getting really good at changing the subject.

My best advice, for whatever it’s worth is to try to get back to your “normal” activities as quickly as possible. Your friends and family may try to convince you that it’s too soon to…(well, just fill in the blank) but you will know what you’re capable of doing and what you’re not. If you get over tired or sore, rest.

As your recovery progresses you will feel like doing more and everything won’t seem like “too much trouble”. I started a new business in the midst of my recovery and it was the best thing I could have done. It gave me something to look forward to and it made me plan for the future. I wish you good luck and a speedy recovery.


Nancy Frazee says on August 22nd, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Hi Adam– I had arotic valve replacement on May 27, 2009. My surgeon is Prem Shekar of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. I had severe aortic stenosis. I am recovering just fine as a result of the unbelievable care at BWH and the follow up of my surgeon an d cardiologist Dr. Lorenz Cueni of PLymouth Ma. I am 68 years old and otherwise in excellent health. Your book and blog helped me so much in prep for my surgery and afterward. Thank you so much for getting involved in the follow-up to these surgerys. Keep up the excellent work!!! I shall continue to read your website.

Nancy Frazee


Bill Uhlig says on October 15th, 2009 at 11:50 am

I had a defective aortic valve replaced a year and a half ago. I’m a 59 year old male. My recovery was smooth and by the book. There doesn’t seem to be too much lingering effect, other than I can actually breathe and climb stairs now.

But, psychologically, it’s a whole ‘nuther story. Before the surgery I was a very committed organized labor activist, on the front lines. Both as a chief steward for a 500 member union and in just general rabble rousing. I had been doing this, more or less, throughout my adult life. The surgery took ALL that fight out of me. I feel like I aged a decade, mentally. I was driven at work, in a very stressful, demanding creative job, as well. Now, all I can get excited about is retirement.

It’s difficult to tell if this is just “aging”, or if it is some residual effect of having my heart and lungs “turned off” during surgery. There was a distinct change in my whole outlook on life from before to after. I wouldn’t call it “depression”, per se, but I sometimes feel that I’m living in a different skin than I had before the operation. This got me to cruising the internet, which led here. I still don’t know if this sort of seemingly permanent personality change is common, or even related.

Has any long term open heart surgery survivor had a similar abrupt personality change after the operation?


Midge says on October 16th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Bill, think this might be called “it’s time to get on with MY life” syndrome. I had AVR in Feb. 09 and think my personality has change also. Many things I thought were important are not as important as they seemed and many things I put on the “back burner” for so long are now front and center. Every day I look at the big, blue sky and give thanks to be alive. When you confront your own mortality as so many OHS patients have done, I believe it does cause changes and that we will never go back to our old selves.

Today when I am standing in line at the market and the lady in front of me has a really nice looking hairdo, I tell her so. When I see an attractive family playing at the park, I try to find a way to tell them how great it looks to watch them. Some people react like you are “bonkers”, but the majority of them thank you with a smile on their face. I just feel kinder, gentler and more at peace with myself and where I am in this world.

We have all been granted a miracle and should welcome this rebirth of ourselves. My mother died at about 56 years..had our types of surgeries been available then, she would have lived much longer.

Take care and enjoy the new you….both physically and mentally.



Andrew Wrigley says on October 16th, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I am a 49 year old man. I was in hospital for two weeks after a Mitral Valve Replacement (mechanical) in June. I had been in hospital for 8 weeks before that with endocarditis.

The point is, I have had no emotional changes since the op which supports the theory that longer stays post op are better for you. I did, however, get great support from the rehab nurses and attend the gym, despite my neighbour telling me it was a bunch of old fatties and hearties throwing balloons at each other. It is actually much more strenuous than that. One of the nurses also treated me in the coronary care unit when I was first admitted.

Tomorrow I am doing my first long walk (3 hours) and on Tuesday I am playing in a singles tennis tournament, less than 4 months after the op.

So no emotional changes. I cried easily before the op (a bit of a history with depression) and still do. Really irritating, but that’s just me.

Oh, I did ask my partner of 14 years to marry me the day the surgeons gave me the all clear. So maybe they fixed more of my heart than the valve. For the record, she said yes.



Carol Ghazarian says on October 17th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Hi All,
I had my vavle replaced on 10/02/09 and i feel the same way. I just feellike I am in a different body now. it’s very strange and hard to explain.


Johanna says on October 17th, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Hi there…

I’m a 26 year old that just had my second open-heart surgery on Sept 11th. This time around it was to replace my aortic arch and take out the aneurysm that had been plaguing it for years. I also had my leaky cow aortic valve replaced from my first surgery in 2000.

When I first went into surgery I was 15 years old, I was born with aortic stenosis, later found out to be caused by only having 1 flap rather then 3 in my aortic valve. Rare…but congenital heart defects are all too common. I was just a high school girl playing sports when I had my first open-heart…I had a support system, sure, but still..I was just a kid.

This last time around, I have my husband and his family as well as my own. One of my brothers refuses to speak to me for personal reasons involving his wife…the other is serving our country on his 2nd tour in Afghanistan. It was for this reason that I went into a sort of depressed and emotional period before and after my surgery. I felt like I was a burden to everyone…that everyone was going out of their way to single me out for special treatment that I didn’t think I deserved. My husband and his family were new to this whole ordeal, which made me feel all the more guilty. I went through phases where I thought I wouldn’t make it through surgery..they told me that the aneurysm was pressing against the breastbone which made it even more risky. When I came out of surgery and into recovery…I went through a time where I refused to rely on painkillers. When I was still in ICU, my painkillers gave me such vivid dreams that I nearly ripped out my neck IV in the middle of my sleep. I woke up to find myself inches away from tearing it out…already having meticulously torn away all the tape and such. I was petrified it would happen again and here I am a month later and only took my painkillers for 1 week and only to help me sleep.

My main problem and my main source of depression or “down” like symptoms is the fact that I am young…and so is my husband. We are not millionares nor have we been married long enough to even start saving that nest egg. I was obviously out of work for about a month and bills have started to pile up. Now my husband is the main breadwinner and my parents have contributed more then I can even accept. I hate having to rely on others..and this threw me into a state that was less like depression and more like “i’m sitting here, doing nothing and everyone else is picking up my slack”

I have been cleared to go back to work and that excitement has brought me out of my slump. I suppose that the idea of not doing anything and feeling a bit helpless brought me down and now that I have something to look forward to next week, i’m almost back to my old self.

There will be instances that any survivor can relate to. That first sneeze…and the ones coming soon after for about a month…the fact that laying down flat can sometimes not be so cool for a good while. Moving wrong…tweaking a muscle that was forgotten in rehab…and all-around questions from those that don’t understand. It’s in my opinion that in addition to your support system…you also need to speak with others that understand what you’re going through. Anyone can say “Oh i know how you feel” without meaning to be incosiderate…but not many can look at you and say that and actually mean it.


Gloria says on November 14th, 2009 at 10:49 pm

I had mitral valve replacement on May 20; I had severe complications; was in the hospital 24 days; in a coma 12 of those days; am doing exceptionally well physically now, walking 2 miles per day most days. However, my emotions are overwhelming and my “fuse” is maybe one quarter inch long. I cry a lot and become overwhelmed at the least thing. I had problems with clinical depression for years prior to surgery. It apparently has become worse. I know I’m extremely blessed to be alive; I came close to death on two occasions during my hospitalization. Why are my emotions “running wild” more than normal? Will it get better as time goes along, or will I have to suffer with this forever?


Jordy says on December 27th, 2009 at 7:37 pm

I too could write a book about my experiences after heart surgery. Six years ago, at age 58, I had a triple bypass. It would take a week to describe all that happened to me. For starters, my sense of smell went haywire. I could smell, or thought I could smell, inside the very plastic of the hospital trays and cutlery, I mean deep inside the material. Further, it nasueated me. I didn’t eat a bite for five days after the surgery, due to severe nausea. I simply couldn’t. The smell of meat also made my nausea worse. I smelled strong scents of shampoo, soap, lotions, perfumes, and other toiletries. Problem was, those things weren’t even present. Once I smelled the very strong smell of cinnamon oil, and it lasted 18 hours. I thought I would go insane from all these non-existent smells, as they only increased my nausea. And don’t even mention vision; I couldn’t stand to have a TV on, because I saw the picture as fluttering and rolling. This also further nauseated me. When I closed my eyes at night to sleep (I never slept during the day)-while fully awake, a pinpoint of light would shoot (every night) from the right side of what would have been my vision field, if my eyes had been open. I had no choice but to watch as I was taken along a visual trip, always moving from right to left, of exploding lights and other things beyond imagination and beyond description. I perceived that I went on trips into a single cell, into caves, and I even perceived that I saw living beings in dark caves, who were sentenced to work forever, and each one was completely unaware of the presence of any other beings; they didn’t even pereceive the presence of each other, each one assuming it was totally alone. I could see them, but they couldn’t see me, or know that I was watching them. They seemed to have picks and similar tools to work with, and they were totally silent in a totally silent universe. I must have seen thousands of light beams explode into billions of pieces, and I could go inside the split pieces and watch them as they split into even more rotating, ever-splitting pieces. This is enough for now; I just wondered if anyone else experienced anything akin to what I did????….


Macia Sharpe says on December 30th, 2009 at 12:33 am

Adam I appreciate you honesty in your book about OHS. I had the bentall procedure done in Nov 06 just passed my 3rd year, I wish it had been available when I had my surgery. It is a long journey to say the least, you have to be a fighter with a strong will to live to survive this surgery. Many Kind Regards to you and your book!


Joni says on March 10th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I had two valve repairs done in August of 2009. I still suffer from short term memory loss and I now have anxiety and have to take meds for it. I also have a good deal of depression. I wonder if it will ever get better as the Dr says. I do feel like a different person.
I wonder if others go through this as long as I have.


Mel says on March 27th, 2011 at 1:38 pm

My husband (will be ex husband sometime this year) had double bypass and aortic valve replacement in April of last year. He also has COPD, ADD and takes medication for low thyroid. He was off work for 3 months, when he went back he developed a infection that put him in the hospital 3 times between Oct and Dec. After the second stay in OCtober he came home and announced he was moving out and we were getting divorced because he wants to make himself happy. Tried to blame me for his illnesses stating he maybe works so much to get away from me.
We have 2 boys at home one graduates this month the other is 11. He doesn’t feel I deserve anything after 29 yrs of marriage and that the child support he will pay is paying me. Our daughter recorded a conversation with him and he is so full of hate towards me. He then rambles off on how we drove him away and a few minutes later states he pushes everyone away because he doesn’t want anyone to be hurt if he dies.
Is all this behvior from the surgery?


Lara says on March 31st, 2011 at 11:47 am

My husband, who had open heart surgery to replace a valve in 2004, was a police officer. He was very active, healthy and had strong values. His identity was wrapped up in being a caregiver, a hero, a helper…. Since the surgery, he became increasingly depressed and forgetful. He had identity issues, as he couldn’t do his job the same because of the coumadin risks… He then began drinking (more and more over time) and recently lost his job over poor judgement and reckless behavior, which is totally out of character (Pre-surgery character) for him. No one told us about the possibility of post surgery depression. He says he knows he “should be” happy, because we have a great life, daughter and marriage, but he feels worthless. We finally made a counseling appointment. He says he wishes he had read your blogs, before he spiraled out of control!!


Rick says on April 15th, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Hello to all, I will turn 59 in two days. I had six bypasses nearly 10 years ago. I have lost my work drive and can cry at the drop of a hat. I am a totally different person since my operation. I’ve gone through many life changes including divorce and job loss. I am now retired and in a new relationship. Needless to say, my emotional roller coaster continues. I wish I could been advised of future emotional issues when I was going through my physical therapy. Since I moved and because of new health insurance, I will be getting a new cardiologist. Hopefully, he can give me some direction. I’m glad I found this site and wish everyone the best in your own recovery.


Sensei Mitch says on August 5th, 2011 at 8:33 am

8 years ago I had unexpected mitral valve repair surgery. I was 36, married with a son. After surgery I had some complications, including perpetual migraines and developing vasculitis after a few weeks. My initial recovery took a little over 3 months and I have very little memory of that time period. Afterwards I felt different, not depressed, but like someone else had come out of surgery with my memories. That probably doesn’t make any sense or sounds crazy, but it’s the best description. Over the past 8 years that feeling has never really changed, even my wife notices it, though we have both adjusted to it and rarely talk about it any longer. For a good 2-3 years after surgery I had difficulty thinking, like mini brain pauses. While they still occur they are infrequent. I spoke to the doctors and they did a brain scan, patted me on the head and told me I was fine.

I’m OK with who I am now though the foreign feeling still bothers me from time to time. I am very grateful to still be alive but miss my old self. There are many days that I still do not know who I am, like part of my ‘self’ didn’t wake up… One way my wife describes it, I never laugh anymore, she is right. It’s not that I am never happy, but I had a distinct laugh that seems to be gone. Again just one example…

Just wondering if anyone else feels that way? It has taken my 8 years to ask this question, hopefully people are still reading this post.


Jim says on August 14th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Out of surgery for widow maker 10 months now. Feel distant, like I am not here, or like watching a movie. Sometimes I feel I am still in the operating room and this is a dream or projection of myself.


Donna Rubik says on September 21st, 2011 at 3:24 pm

My 70 year old very healthy, vital mother recently had aeortic heart valve replacement. She 3 days status post surgery. She is saying things like “your trying to kill me” or “I want to die”. At this point she has said that my sisters and I are not allowed to come visit her, only my Father (who before the surgery she really did not like very much). Any thoughts regarding the dilema? I have never seen her act this way. She has always been receptive to our help.


Audrey Schilz says on September 25th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Three years ago my husband of 13 years (he was 49yrs) had open heart surgery to remove an aneurysm and replace his aortic valve. His friends and family have noticed a complete change in his personality. This has been a very lonely three years for him (and for me) – he is no longer the man I married. He seems to be afraid of everything, lost his drive, very easily agitated, unable to focus, desire for sex is completely gone, very depressed. I have been very sympathetic and have encouraged him to seek counseling (he made several attempts/but would stop). Worse yet, his drinking has increased exponentially in the last 8 months (yes, he is on coumadin). Our marriage is failing at this point – we really had a great marriage before the surgery and at this point we are two strangers living in the same house. He is once again seeking help but we are no longer living together because he needs to be alone to try and sort out what is wrong with him. This is so painful, in so many ways he left me three years ago and I’m not sure how much fight I have to exist this way any longer. I am angry that a surgery meant to save his life has turned my husband into a person that no longer understands himself or can relate to anyone around him, in many ways he lost his life. I am in the medical industry so I asked all the questions (lots of research and we purchased Adam’s book that we both read) in preparation for this surgery but NOT once before, during or after was his mental health addressed by the medical team attending him. This is outright neglect on the part of the medical community, they promote physical rehab for the body yet nothing for the mind. Please let me know if you have experienced this and how you were able to turn the situation around. I still love my husband but no longer recognize who he is.


Nancy Sutlief says on September 27th, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Audrey – Same story here. My husband was 48 when he had his surgery two years ago. My husband appears fine but has never returned to work. Our lives are in absolute financial ruin. His cardiologist suggested we might try going for a walk. It was such a complete disconnect from what I was trying to say that I felt I’d been slapped in the face. My husband treats me like I’m background noise and I have no clue what to do or where to go for help.


Audrey says on September 28th, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Nancy ~ Just writing down my thoughts and reading this blog has helped me because I realize that I am not alone in this struggle. The “go for a walk” solution that your husband’s cardiologist suggested is just plain ludicrous ~as if he just stepped out of the medical dark ages!

My husband and I have not seen each other for the last month while he tries to sort out what is going on with him while seeking psychological help. He has told me that he has felt better being on his own because he no longer feels any expectations from me that he will return to his old self. I do not expect him to return to who he was before surgery but I would like to have a “relationship” of some kind with him again. For a man that adored me for over 16 years he barely notices that I am even in the same room with him anymore.

I am understanding of the pain and loss of self that he is experiencing and that he will most likely never be who he used to be. I am willing to go to marital counseling with him if he can work with his Dr’s to move from this depression he is in. However, if he is unwilling to do the work along with me, at some point I will need to save myself from this situation. I have too much life left in me to continue being invisible(and so do you) ~ he was once my greatest love but I am facing the fact that I may no longer be his. The thought of no longer being with him is very difficult but in turn, the thought of living in isolation as we have for the last three years, is unbearable.


Rick says on September 29th, 2011 at 7:53 am

Audrey, Nancy, thank you both for your comments. I am approaching my 10th anniversary from open heart surgery. Because of bleeding after the surgery, I was brought back to “the table” to fix the problem. Recovery from anesthesia was difficult. Much has happened in the last ten years. I am in a fairly new relationship, but I am so emotional about certain things that it may affect my new wife. Hearing your comments at least lets me know that my reaction is not “just me”. I need to work on my new marriage and I walk 3 1/2 miles almost everyday
for the last couple of years to control my cholesterol and glucose levels. So, just walking doesn’t solve the problem, it helps but I need to communicate with others that have gone through the same experience. I take enough medication to control my physical ailments without adding chemicals for mental failings. Keep your comments coming, and I appreciate this blog.


Joni says on September 29th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Audrey and Nancy;

Being on the other side of this I totally know what you are going through as well as your husbands. I am totally aware of how I am and how my life has changed since my surgery. I am 2 yrs out now. And I just want to say that from my perspective that I imagine that your husbands feel very bad as I do about how their life has changed and how they treat you. I know that I am not the person my husband deserves but I love him too much to leave and he understands and is making no demands on me. I am the one who is making demands of myself that I can not live up to. I will say this, I had some depression before the surgery and it only got worse. So, maybe your husbands were harboring this darkness and keeping it to themselves before the surgery. It’s hard to leave a person when they are down but I understand your need to gain your own lives back too. I would be devastated if my husband left me but I know he deserves better too. So, I think counseling together is good. If they are taking blood pressure meds I can tell you for sure it changes men and they lose their sex drives. And many men associate sex with intimacy. Many thinking it’s the same thing. So, I don’t know what the right answers are for you but I think you might want to dig a bit deeper and see how things really were before the operation. I for one loved many arts and crafts and now I don’t do them much. I loved to read and again not much anymore. I think what really happens is that we have these bad hearts and we are this person making do with what we have and then we get fixed and it transforms us into who we should have been because now we are getting proper blood supplies and so forth. Just my thoughts though. And I am rambling lol…Since I am on the other side of this coin I thought I would share with you.


Nancy says on October 1st, 2011 at 8:23 am

Thank you all. I’ve returned to reread your posts several times over the past couple of days and find something new each time I do.
My problem is that whatever this issue is that my husband and I are dealing with is that it feels to me like some sort of mental impairment that is being dismissed as depression or as aftereffects of life changing surgery. It’s as if to all outward appearances my husband is highly functioning but there are hundreds of examples that tell me something is wrong, that he would not be able to live on his own.
I can’t tell if I’m enabling his decline or if I’d be abandoning him. Contrary to the cardiologist who suggested walking, his endocrinologist expressed alarm, strongly encouraging we return to our Primary Care where he’d recommend a sort of advanced sleep study for the night terrors . . . all we’ve heard from the Primary is the ADA (Diabetic) may have support groups.
So again, I return to this blog, picking through the pieces of your posts and want you to know how helpful they are – the demands/expectations from both sides of the coin, the changes in interest – from both sides of the coin, rx side effects . . .He called last night from the Pacific Coast Hwy and sounded wonderful but we don’t live on the PCH. We live in the Midwest and can’t pay our electric bill. :)


joni says on October 1st, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Nancy, I know what you mean as I have these concerns for myself. I wonder if it’s side effects from meds too. So many things have changed for me. I now have Vertigo, something I never had before. I will say this, diabetes will mess with a persons mind. My grandmother had it and she had a complete psychotic break once. But, here is another tidbit, she had extreme heart failure to the point they said her heart did not really beat it just laid there and flopped. So who is to say. I think we should keep documenting all of this and maybe some research will start up if it has not all ready. As for functioning on my own as you express same concerns for your husband. I am not sure I could. I am extremely forgetful, I have so much going on in my head that I get lost in it sometimes.
But listen, you have to think of yourself too or you will grow to hate him and your life. If he can’t take care of himself then maybe you need to consider some alternatives. If he needs mental health care then you need to see that he gets it. Sometimes you have have to love someone enough to let them go. It’s a tough decision because your first loyalty should be to be true to yourself. And if you are not happy , then at some point it might begin to effect your health as well. A sleep study may be good for him. I am considering that also. My problem is that I can’t go to sleep on my own and they will not let one take meds to sleep. Now here is the thing in a nut shell Nancy. If he is having all of this the chances that he will ever get better are slim. I know because I have all of this too. And I have always said that if I get to a point where I am making my husband miserable. I will leave. I guess I have it up on some because I am all too aware of who and what I have become. I hope you can come to some sort of peace with all of this Nancy.


Nancy says on October 8th, 2011 at 8:46 am

Thanks, Joni. Your thoughts are appreciated. I’ve come to realize over this past week how much of my own self is gone, how intensely focused I’ve been on him, and take this as a good sign. The ‘experience’ has changed us both.


Mel says on October 8th, 2011 at 11:13 am

Research into the after affects of heart surgery is truely needed. However, I don’t believe it will happen………….my estranged husband had chemo. and radiation 28 yrs ago. The radiation was in the neck and chest area, no Doctor will acknowledge that the heart issue could or is a result of the radiation. There is alot of mention online of “Chemo brain” (name given to how they feel after chemo) Foggyness, forgetful issue etc after chemo. again Drs don’t acknowledge a connection to chemo. Interestingly the chemo he was on isn’t used anymore but I can’t find out why it is discontinued.
Not every patient that has any of these medical procedures has the after results. Alot of people around us that haven’t dealt with the results after the procedures say it is a small price to pay to be alive still……. which is probably the same mindset of medical community. It’s like takin a medication, they list the possible side affects but continue to use it because the extreme side affects don’t affect everyone.


Em says on March 23rd, 2012 at 2:56 pm


My husband is due for surgery in a couple of months and after reading some of these posts, I’m really worried. He’s 26. We’ve only been together for 2.5 years, but he’s the love of my life. He seems down a lot, though says he’s happy. Our sex life has already gone down a lot, he says he’s just not in the mood. I cannot possibly understand the stress he’s under, but I try to be supportive. He’s recently estranged from his family & had this surgery upcoming, so I think it’s normal he’d feel emotional, scared… Im gOing to take care of him after his surgery, but hope to still give him the independence he still needs (as I noticed from the other posts). But I’m worried he’ll change & not be the same person. I know I shouldn’t be thinking of myself in this at all, but after reading some of the posts I fear he’ll change. I already see change in how down he seems at times, emotional differences, and his lack of interest in me sexually, or how he just zones out & doesn’t feel like even talking about general things in our lives. Any advice??


Barbara says on April 9th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

After reading all comments I have to share some of my story. My husband had triple by-pass surgery about 5 years ago. My niece from Florida came out to help me & her uncle….. The night my spouse was released from the hospital I went to the pharmacy to fill his perscriptions…..when I came home approx. 10 minutes later he was fighting with my niece; thus I had to the police….Boy what a mess that was and the cops (all 5 of them)were not as nice as one would & should expect… I called the heart surgeon where by he told the COPS totally different info than the instructions he had given me.. Eventually I had one of the officers escort my husband upstairs (note: spouse was NOT to walk up stairs Per Doctors orders)… After spouse was in bed, I told all 5 of the officers to LEAVE & GET BACK TO THEIR WORK…. The next day I made breakfast for my husband & he accused me of trying to kill him… He got nastier and nastier as the next few days went by…….My Niece wound up leaving because she couldn’t take my husbands behavior…….Even Now my spouse is NOT the same person I married…..I do not know how much longer I can be with someone I don’t know……HE IS ranting & raving,angry, verbally abusive, extremely jealous, drinking & driving and HE just doesn’t seem to make sense. Glad to share just a bit of my experience because I had not a clue that this type of surgery could create this behavior. He is not my parent but appears to think along those lines……… YIKES!!


Barbara says on May 16th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Hi There. As I read more of the coments I know I am in the same circumstances that you all are in…..married to an open heart/by pass patient. The one way I handle his “moments” is telling him I will NOT listen to the non sense……and then I do follow through with absolutely not LISTENING…………. Sometimes it is like dealing with a small child but it WORKS the majority of the time…………So JUST hang in there & just hope the Heart Surg. Doc’s give the spouse more info in the future.
P.S. I so appreciate hearing/reading this blog information…..It does make a difference. Thanks so much


jane says on July 9th, 2012 at 8:48 pm

I am so glad to find this site. My husband 68 had aortic valve replacement 3 yrs ago and is just not the same person. I am trying to accept that it will never be the same. we go no where he stares into space and rarely laughs. It took him 3 days to recover in the hospital and was in there for 6 days. Our family can see a huge difference. It is almost like his emotions are gone. I get angry. Everyone tells him how good he looks and he does but emotionally there is nothing. I think he has lost his sense of wonder. It is truly sad we were 2 peas in a pod…..joined at the hip… more……


Diane says on October 11th, 2012 at 9:16 pm

In 2001 at age 58 I had open heart surgery for mitral valve repair and a maze procedure. Immediately after awakening I experienced terrible depression, claustrophobia and mild paranoia. I didn’t realize at the time that this was a normal occurrence after being on a by-pass machine. Also I couldn’t sleep even with a sleep aid. Why isn’t this being told to patients before surgery so they can be aware that what they are going through is normal. The only way I now know it is normal is because a friend recently had triple by-pass and is having the same trouble. This led me to do some research. Doctors need to inform patients and their families what to expect. The nurses and staff also need to know this so they can give the help and counsel needed.


Carl says on December 27th, 2012 at 11:16 am

5 months post Aortic valve replacement with aortic aneurysm repair. Surgery produced Type II Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome in my right hand affecting the use of my thumb and 3 fingers. I am right handed so this has had a profound affect on my ability to resume my life…Depression, anger and apathy… a sense that I really don’t care much about anything…. My wife and family are supportive, but they are starting to get frustrated. Some one mentioned early here it is as if I’m watching a movie of my life and not participating in it. It sucks.


Sherry Bradford says on January 5th, 2013 at 1:46 pm

I had my aortic valve repaired, and an aneurism repaired by graph in October 2012. I have had issues with memory, vision changes, and mild depression. I am normally a very happy person with a survivor attitude and persistence. I feel fortunate that my symptoms post op are relatively mild by comparison to some. But they are real and this past week as I returned to work, the level of stress was so high that I have spent a good deal of time crying today. The stress comes from other people’s expectations that I am now “all well” and they treat me exactly as they did prior to my operation. But I am deeply aware of being “different” from before and I have not found a way to explain how that feels. And even if I did explain it, I don’t know what it means. On the one hand I have tremendous gratitude that I am alive and hopefully will be for much longer. On the other I feel that everything I do is something I have to “force” myself to do in some way. Things I used to really enjoy now feel like one more thing I have to force myself to do so I can feel more normal. Otherwise I feel my life has just become sleep, food, tv. I love my husband and my home and enjoy my friends. But everything seems to take so much effort – like walking through knee-high water. I hope that this will get better. I wish the medical community would team up to address this. As Boomers age we are going to see more and more of these ops. This is obviously more than just “the blues” or even normal depression.


Ron Lewis says on March 14th, 2013 at 2:55 am

…I am now Home 3 days after triple by-pass and am worried that caring/attending to me will literally kill my lovely Wife…I am robbing her of sleep, patience, any time alone for her…I am aware of being very emotionally needy and worry that I am “too much for her” to handle…I also have short-term memory issues, concentration issues…I flip between working optimism and dark thoughts on how I have now become a sort of Black Hole…allowing nothing to escape…the term ByPass Brain is strangely helpful. Best of Luck to All!!!


Nancy says on March 14th, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Marriage is give and take, and now is your time to take. The sooner you are better – physically – the sooner the two of you can begin to heal together.
Speaking as a spouse – my head was busy with all of the details – appts, prescriptions, insurance – utility bills, yardwork. But every single bit was okay. No complaints.
But somewhere along the way, this became normal life for us. He checked out emotionally and whoever I was – was lost. We spent the better part of last summer and into the fall fighting – to redefine ourselves, fighting because of the hurt – mine, and fighting to regain trust in each other. But we never, ever said the words – that we were done. To be honest, he was far more patient with me than he probably should have – letting me vent this anger – at how taken for granted I felt.
Talk to her. Tease her. Don’t look through her. Talk about the memories you have together – the shared history. It has nothing to do with her not being able to handle it. As long as she knows that you treasure her, you’ll bump through this together. We’re going to.


Will says on June 9th, 2013 at 4:21 am

OHS is traumatizing, I am 27 and had my tricuspid valve replacement almost 10 months back. I went from being an extrovert, confident, boisterous man. To Isolated, insecure and withdrawn. Allot of it is because it changes your identity, see I used to work as a personal trainer. So I was real vain, vapid and narcissistic. I no longer train and had to return to IT work. The surgery did safe my life, but damaged my spirit, ego and esteem in ways its indescribable. Don’t party, date, go out, loss of sex drive….been almost 1year celibate. Also relapsed on alcohol and opiates soon after discharge, after 2 1/2 yrs sobriety. Problems with concentration are just getting better, but for a long time I couldn’t read a complex book.


Carmen says on June 10th, 2013 at 5:57 am

I had a double by-pass surgery in December and the surgery so far as be fine but I have experienced lots of pain and cognitive problems my remembering thing is very hard at this time. Has anyone experienced this problem I am 48years old I should not be experiencing memory loss at this rate. Any comments


vj says on July 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am

My husband had a triple bypass and mitral valve repair almost a year ago. He has always been plagued by anxiety and depression..probably led to his heart attack six years ago. He is retired, has few friends, no hobbies and spends much of his day online and watching TV. What a life. After 40 years of marriage and four children, I am feeling very conflicted. Fortunately I am very well. Fortunately, for him, I have a strong ethic and sense of loyalty to him. I take good care of him. But he has not been a good patient as far as post operative rehab is concerned. Refused to go to any physical rehab or any of the counselling sessions that were offered. So his recovery was slow, however it turned out good, physically. His behaviour is normal in many ways but bizarre in others. He has become ultra-religious, wears shabby but clean clothes, has given away all his dress shirts, suits, dress shoes, has grown a long beard (his cardiologist saw that as a sign), looks like a street person. Needless to say, I am not thrilled to be seen with him, open-minded and patient though I am. I think I have reached my limit. We are both educated and well-travelled. Life was pretty good. No longer for me. I hate to sound so selfish, but the future does not seem bright. Can all this surgery be the cause of dementia? I would appreciate any insight on our plight. Thank you for all your comments on this forum. God bless you all and give you strength.


Sherrie says on August 24th, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Hi my name is sherrie. My husband, Tim, age 36, just had a triple bypass on Aug. 16, 2013 he’s only been home a few days. (Hosp. Stay was days ) he was determined to get up and walk so he could go home. Now that he’s home… Well, it’s not the same… He doesn’t wanna do the things he’s allowed to do.He only wants ta do what he’s not suppose ta do… If he’s not doing what he wants, little things, now big things then he’s on the couch or bed refusing to do anything… Even talk. I keep telling our kids and myself that, I know things r different right now but u have to remember daddy hurts. He can’t do all the things dads r suppose to do right now so he’s upset but it’ll b ok. Give daddy time to heal…. I need some help. We need help. I can’t fix this for him. I can’t make it go away, but no matter what I say or do I can’t reach him. What can I do so he knows I’m here, we’re here and we love him. How do we get pass this? Will it get any better 4 him, 4 us?


Diane says on August 29th, 2013 at 10:07 am

This sounds over the top for this kind of surgery. this surgery certainly causes depression and it does get better. It is so difficult to deal with depression especially for the family, but I would definitely talk to his doctor. All I wanted after surgery was to go home and I know I pressured my doc to let me out. Once home I was scared of every heart beat and assumed everything was going wrong. Also it is difficult to get good REM sleep because of limited movement and that makes depression worse. It got better and better for me but I did not spend my day in bed. I always got up and dressed. He needs some gentle intervention to let him know that soon he will good as new, and even better. Hope this helps.


Frank says on October 3rd, 2013 at 6:52 pm

My wife (68) had mitral valve repair 3 months ago. Her recovery is on track; she is walking longer distances each day, eating normally, and in PT. Physically she is making progress. However, she has died emotionally towards me, shows no affection, is content to spend a lot of time alone, and can’t seem to speak to me without being condescending. Her female friends rave about what a caring, compassionate person she is.

I have been supportive to a fault, gentile, compassionate, helpful and understanding. Nothing works. We have been married 44 years, and I am beginning to wonder if we’ll make it to 45. Someone please help; your counsel and comments are needed, welcome and apprciated.


vj says on October 3rd, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Three months is still fairly early into recovery for your wife. It sounds as if she is being compliant, doing her PT and walking. She is probably just weaning off a lot of the heart drugs. I think it takes several months to flush out all the drug residues that have accumulated in the body. We were told that full recovery takes a whole year. My husband just passed the one year mark last week and I am glad to report that life is returning to normal. Or maybe I have adjusted to the new normal. In any case, things are much better than they were in July. I think my husband is feeling much better and his confidence is back. Perhaps that one year mark is a psychological hurdle that has to be overcome. He is once more an affectionate and considerate person. Even helpful around the house without too much prompting. I admit that I took off the kid gloves and had it out with him a few times. Not my finest moment, but perhaps necessary as a wake-up for him. I hate to say that more patience might be in order while your wife recovers, but give her that year. You have been married for 44. I hope things continue to improve for the both of you. It is hard for you, too, I know. God bless you both.


William Smith says on October 10th, 2013 at 9:18 pm

I had my mitral valve replaced in 2005. Within a few weeks of having the surgery, I was well enough (physically) to go outside and mow my lawn. It’s the emotional component with which I am having difficulty. I felt that I had been given a “new lease on life” and, for the first time in my marriage, considered having an extra-marital affair, going so far as to join several disreputable dating sites. No sexual liaisons occurred, mostly because most of these women (I am convinced) are really Nigerian men pretending to be women. But that’s a different story. What is more problematical is the fact that, after the surgery, I completely lost control over my temper. This has already cost me three jobs.

So, there you have it. I honestly believe that, if I had known that having my mitral valve replaced was going to cost me the love of my family and three jobs, I would have refused the surgery, just for the honor of dying the same moral and ethical man I had been up until that time.


cheryl says on February 19th, 2014 at 9:34 pm

I am a 54 yr old, I had aortic valve replacement – artificial valve and acsending aorta replacement on March 1, 2012. I had stenosis from chemo and radiation to treat cancer 34 yrs ago and was told that after surgery I would have a new lease on life. Well it has been almost a full yr and I am still experiencing “stuff”. Physically things are better but lately I have felt like something is missing as though I lost part of myself during surgery! My eye site has changed, focussing on anything long term is tuff, reading is something I love but doing it like I use to is hard. I forget words I want to say when I am speaking, very irritating. I just feel off for the past yr. After reading this blog I know I am not going nuts! Thank you! I walk 5 miles almost every day, do some kind of muscle strengthening daily, so I am active. I lost my job due to having surgery so I know that is part of the self esteem issues, work gives you purpose. But I just feel lost.


Pam says on March 9th, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Thank you for this blog. I’m relieved to see I’m not alone. I’ve been experiencing sadness, frustration and fear that I will not be the same again after Aortic valve replacement. I don’t really care to do anything and then I get feeling lonely.
I am very worried that I will become a burden on my family and a bother to friends who have been so helpful to me. I had a scare on the 9th day after surgery when I awoke with my heart racing. It didn’t make sense to me that my heart would be racing if I was sleeping so I called a neighbor and she took me to the emergency room. I hated that (bothering people needlessly). I didn’t get any answers as to why but was told that sometimes the heart gets out of rhythm and that this would probably not happen very often..GEEZ…I can’t stand all this drama over something I should have been able to manage on my own and yet I can’t!!!


Gene says on March 16th, 2014 at 8:11 pm

it’s been2 years so I had quadruple bypass, then a infection another surgery, wound care tore a veins then a 3rd surgery. I have major lack of support enthusiasm or joy. 58 years old, lost my business. Every one says i should be happy i lived but me.


rex says on March 30th, 2014 at 11:00 pm

I had bypass completed 4 weeks ago. It went well, only had to stay in the Hospital for 4 days. I am 50 and guess I did well due to my age. I feel that I am getting better physically every day. Emotionally I am a mess. I feel violated, less than a human now, I almost feel like I should not have lived through the surgery. The doctors tell me that I am lucky and refer to the problem area as the widow maker. Pretty much let me know if I had not caught this then I would have died this year. They chuckle and seem to play it off as just another day at the office, tell me to keep up the good work and they will see me in 3 months. I go through the motions, tell my family I am doing fine, but again, mentally I just can’t seem to put it completely into words on how I am feeling. I just don’t see a future for myself. I am not suicidal at all, I just see no purpose for continuing. I hope this all passes. Before this all came up out of the blue, I really enjoyed life, wanted to live forever. I use to joke with people about how I wanted to see all life had to offer. Now I don’t


Zoe says on April 16th, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I am 18 and sixteen days ago,I had open heart surgery to repair several holes and a valve. Due to complications, I was taken back into surgery (totaling 10 hours under general anesthetic) and spent 3 days in intensive care. I was on a ward for 4 days before being discharged. I am aware that everyone is different and recovery periods vary however I worry my pace is much slower than it should be. I am now at home and am very emotional, have a major lack of motivation and am sill taking many pain killers and sleeping a lot. Can anyone reassure me or advise me of things that may help?? Thanks.


Cheryl says on April 16th, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Dear Zoe I had open heart one year ago. I was in ICU for 3 days and released five days later only to have to go back in 24 hours after I got home due to fluid. I am doing so much better one year later but I so get the emotional sadness and feelings of loss. I took myself off of the pain meds bc they seemed to increase my feelings and gave me really vivid crazy dreams. I will say that forcing yourself to walk, shower, get dressed and do any thing that is normal stuff helps. I could only walk a flat surface so I walked inside around the house first ten minutes twice a day working slowly to thirty I now walk 4 miles a day. I had cancer when I was your age and the treatments produced a lot of scar tissue on my valves so I now have a mechanical valve – very noisy! Keep pushing forward it takes time and I would do the cardiac rehab if u can it helps a lot w learning to trust and believe in yourself.


Diane says on April 17th, 2014 at 10:39 am

When I had heart surgery in 2001 the discomfort I remember the most was my depression. That was worse than any pain I might have had. It took a few weeks to finally get over it so hang on, it will get better. It seems to be a constant with open heart surgery. It would have been wonderful it the doctors and nurses had realized that this is common and given some encouragement. In fact I am surprised that that wasn’t the case. This side-effect should be told to every patient so they know what to expect. It did help once I was able to sleep flat in bed on my side or belly. Before that I was so sleep deprived. Get as active as you can. Keep pushing yourself and get outside.


Jolene says on May 11th, 2014 at 6:08 am

Hi My husband has to go for a triple heart bypass in the next to weeks we have been married for 17years him been 59years old me been 38years old. All I can think about is how scared I am and how am I going to do this. Did I mention that I have four children 15-13-11-10 any information that you could give me in how to prepare my home for after the op would really help thanks


Kyle says on June 10th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

My dad 76 just had triple bypass over a week ago and had to go back on the table to remove fluid. He will be discharged tomorrow after 8 days in icu. He has trouble sleeping and is very combative and uncooperative. He is disoriented and is not himself. He is giving the nurses a very hard time and drs say he will return to normal in a few days. This is so out of character for him to act this way, I understand what he just went through. But after reading alot of the blogs, im worried he may never return to normal. And my eldery mother may not be able to handle his after care plus his mental changes. Before sugery he was a very active man even though he was 76, and such an independent person. It is hard to see him like this, I hope he can return to normal like the dr says… wouldve been nice if they would have counseled us on the after effects of surgery.


Louise says on July 3rd, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Wow! I thought my husband was the only one going through the “blues” and having no energy or interest in life. He has always been so kind & caring till his surgery in June 2014. It’s been 4 weeks and I swear they sent the wrong patient home. He tells people he’s doing well, but I know him so well after being married 45 years, I know he’s going through some hard times. He is not the person I married. He blames everything on me. Nothing is good enough: ” His pills are too big, the glass of water is too full, he tells me to leave him alone cause I’m not a nurse”. He won’t talk to me and very grouchy! We have always been able to talk to each other and tell it like it is, but I don’t dare anymore. He is definitely very very different since his aortic valve repl. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone.


Doris says on July 14th, 2014 at 11:55 pm

I had aortic valve replacement surgery January 17, 2014. At six months, I am still learning what to expect at each stage of the game. My energy level is greatly increased, although there are times when I feel as if I am having an energy surge. If I do too many things, I feel drained after a little while.

Last month, my cardiologist approved a road trip me, cautioning my family that I would need to get out of the car every two hours to walk around, in order to avoid the posibility of developing blood clots. Although there were three drivers, when it was my turn to drive, my sisters allowed me less driving time than either of them, because I, while they were driving, kept falling asleep.

One of my prescriptions states that I need to stay out of direct sunglight as much as possible. While we were outside, I wore a hat, and avoided sunlight as best I could. However, I still encountered problems. After we returned, I caught a bad cold, that included a deep, hard cough. It cleared up after a few days. Since I did/do not know what is safe for me to use, I sucked on cough drops, and took Zyrtec.

I still get sleepy at odd times. I also, feel sensations of burning, itching, sometimes an occasional jab in various parts of my chest. It usually passes quickly, especially when I use antacid tablets..
My next appointment with the doctor is in November.
Is there cause for concern, or can I wait until I see my cardiologist, keeping to my scheduled visits?


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