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“Memory Loss After Heart Surgery?” Asks Paige

Posted by Adam Pick on June 19th, 2009

I just received an interesting question about memory loss after heart valve surgery from Paige Mitchell of Virginia.

Paige writes, “Hi Adam, I had my aortic valve replaced in March, 2009. A few weeks later, I became agitated that I couldn’t remember peoples’ names, what I had just been doing, etc. I mentioned this to my cardiologist and he said this may happen as a side-effect due to anesthesia and the heart-lung machine lowering oxygen levels to the heart and brain during surgery. The cardiologist also said my memory loss would diminish over time. I’m 11 weeks post-op and still experiencing problems remembering.  However, it is less than it was. Did you experience any of this? Thank you for writing your book and this blog! Paige”

While I never experienced any complications specific to memory loss, many patients report experiences of cognitive decline following heart surgery. In fact, this condition is often referred to as “pumphead” for the reasons that Paige provides above.

Interestingly enough, there is ongoing debate as to whether-or-not use of the heart-lung machine is really the source of memory loss after surgery.

Medial Drawing Of The Heart Lung Machine

Regardless… This post-operative condition does impact certain patients. For that reason, I have included several links below which provide additional information specific to pumphead and heart lung machines.

I hope this helps you better understand memory loss after heart valve surgery. Don’t forget to ccroll down to read over 30 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.

 


Charlene says on June 20th, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Paige,

I experience the very same thing. I also had a dull headache that would not go away. My surgeon put me on Plavix and all of it went away. They would never say it is Pumphead syndrome but if you read about it, the symptoms are almost identical. It has been 9 months since my surgery and since being on Plavix and I haven’t had any of the signs of it again. But I also had my valve repaired not replaced.

 


Mary Campbell says on June 20th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Paige,

I wrote in to Adam previously asking the same question you did… I was told the same thing by several cardiologists that you were. I had the same surgery in December 2008 and I still have the memory loss. It just depends on the day. I was that way this past Friday. It really gets you down when you can’t carry on a conversation with anyone. I go back to the cardiologist this Tuesday and I’m going to mention it again and I still have memory loss. Thanks for taking time to share with us all.

 


Sean R. says on June 20th, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Paige,
My aortic valve and root replacement was in Aug., 2008, and I experienced some memory loss – especially people’s names! And my short-term memory seems to have suffered too. It has very gradually improved. I try to keep certain things in mind: 1. Even if I have some memory loss, at least my life has been extended due to the surgery. 2. There’s nothing we can do about it – except maybe keeping our brains active in various ways. 3. I couldn’t always remember things before the surgery, so perhaps now isn’t much different than before and it’s just that I pay more attention because I knew that memory loss was a possible side effect of the surgery. So, I just try to accept it and be thankful for all the years I have left because of the surgery. I wish you the best!
Sean

 


tom lamont says on June 20th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

No doubt about it! I was wondering about the same thing. I attributed it to being 75 but perhaps there is something in this theory!

 


Cindy McGinn says on June 21st, 2009 at 11:36 am

Hi Paige,

My valve replacement was the end of January and I had, and still do to a lesser extent, the symptoms you described. But I had never heard of Pumphead. When I complained to my family that I had ‘changed’ they said I was just starting to get older (I’m 52). I joked that maybe I fried some brain cells while on the heart lung machine. Maybe my joke wasn’t that far off. The short term memory problem made my job as an Analyst very difficult. When I started back to work I took very detail notes on my work and conversations. While there are still times I have some difficulty it is nothing like it was 2 months ago. I’m pretty confident it will continue to improve. Thanks for asking Adam, made me feel better to know there was more to it then my imagination (or age).
Cindy

 


jeff stoveken says on June 21st, 2009 at 5:51 pm

“pumphead” is my new favorite phrase !but seriously i definately suffer from that although its slowly getting better.my short term memory has been very poor lately. i often forget that i’ve said something and will repeat myself. the worst part ive noticed is writing or typing and putting the letters in the wrong order to form a word(im normally a very good speller), but this is the correct letters , just in the wrong order.it takes me twice as long to type sentences. jeffstoveken@yahoo.com
ps. is anyone else having difficulty maintaining their coumadin inr levels? jeff

 


Midge says on June 21st, 2009 at 8:02 pm

Paige, I had my aortic valve replaced on 2/13/09 and still experience instances of not being able to remember words, names and especially going to find an item in another part of the house and then not remembering what exactly I was going to get. In this case, I can usually bring it back into my mind if I stop myself, don’t get upset about forgetting and then focus on what is in that room that I might have wanted. Like most everyone else, it has gotten better with passage of time and I expect it will improve more. Not only could it be pumphead, but an awful lot of powerful drugs are pumped into your system and they can take months and months to totally leave. And, during the surgery alot of organs, nerves, etc. get moved around in your chest cavity and take time to get repositioned so that everything flows smoothly again. I would imagine that some things inside even have to find or develop new pathways, so it’s no wonder we forget a thing of two. I have always been a pretty good notemaker, but now there are 3 X 5 note pads everywhere around and I have trained myself to write things down…then you don’t feel so stupid because you can’t remember a simple thing.

Have faith, confidence or whatever you want to call it and your memory will come a long way back.

Remember, all of us are now survivors and we can survive this also. Oh, one more thing is to be honest with family and friends about not remembering and they can help out alot.

Midge

 


fazilat says on June 22nd, 2009 at 4:55 am

hi
I also have the same prob i am over a year post op things are getting better but slowly.
to jeff
i had prob controlling inr as food also plays a big part in the levals but i have settled down i would give it about a year as this will help level ouy with your life style.
fazilat

 


Doug says on June 22nd, 2009 at 8:08 am

I am 16 months post op from my Ross procedure and I still experience memory loss. Mine is typically short term…like I can’t remember what I was about to do…or why did I walk into the kitchen…etc. I’m hoping this will improve over time, but have also heard that it is somewhat normal.

Doug
Ross Procedure – 2/2008

 


Steve Falor says on June 22nd, 2009 at 9:19 am

I had my aortic valave replaced in February. Call it pumphead or whatever I have had memory and problem solving difficulties since then. It is getting better but very slowly. I keep reminding myself I am alive with a very healthy heart and a valve that is functioning better than my old one ! A little brain function is a small price to pay.

 


Donna says on June 23rd, 2009 at 11:38 am

My husband had his aortic valve replacement in 2005 and continues to have some memory problems and is sometimes overwhelmed by situations since his surgery. We hope that he will not experience more loss of memory after his next surgery.

 


neil kortie says on July 10th, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I had my valve replaced on May 18 2009. My memory for the last 3 to 4 months has been erased. This may be worse than the physical pain. Confusion, and not being able to sleep are other side effects I’m experiencing. Even typing this now is taking way more consintration than normal. Although I have noticed a small gain in memory the last two weeks since I’ve rejected taking oxycodone and xanax, still this is an annoying side effect. I went from photographic memory to having huge black voids of memory. Yesterday I went to the vitamin store and bought a high grade, phyto based multi vitamin that I mix with Gatorade, hopefully this will help feed my brain. I will keep you posted.

 


Phillip Rich says on November 17th, 2009 at 6:53 am

Hi

My Mitral valve was replaced in April 2003 in London. I suffered dreadfull memory loss and confusion when my heart was reconnected. This all came back to normal soon after but I still forget more than I would expect to do
some 7 years later. The other symptom that may well be related is vivid
memory recovery of short experiences when I am not trying to recall anything in particular.

It is interesting to hear from you who have similar experiences.

Phillip

 


Elizabeth Bird says on January 12th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

I had surgery to replace my aortic valve on November 23, 2009. I have noticed major difficulties with my memory. I lose words when speaking and there have been a number of times my husband will speak to me, I will answer, then he will come back and want an answer to a question about what he just talked to me about and I have no memory that he’s spoken to me. I am fairly young for having had the procedure, 42, and I’m very concerned that this will be long term.

In addition, I’ve noticed a change in my ability to concentrate and in my attention span. I have been unable to become interested in reading a book, which before the surgery was a great passion of mine. Even watching television or listening to the radio has limited interest, and I find myself switching channels constantly because I am no longer interested in what is on. I truly hope this is a very temporary issue.

 


Midge says on January 12th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Reassurance for ELIZABETH. Elizabeth, most of what you are experiencing is probably temporary. I had my aortic valve replaced almost a year ago and went thru exactly what you are asking about. The losing words when talking to someone almost got comical….many times had to revert to young child type talk to explain what I was trying to say. Sometime the words would never come and I just got used to saying “never mind”. I did not try to hide this….I just explained to most everyone I came into contact with that I had these lapses in thought and if something didn’t sound correct, to let me know. I have people who work for me and I really stressed with them that this was going on so don’t be afraid to ask for more explanation. Most of it is gone now, but my spelling still continues to plague me. I just started leaving a dictionary handy. I have been an excellent speller all of my life and this really is frustrating to me. So, not everything gets totally back to normal.

The concentration has been less of a problem for me and after the first 3 or 4 months I felt about back to normal, although I do find it easier to sort of “space out” infrequently.

Remember, your body and all of its parts went through a major trauma and it takes time to get back to feeling more “normal”. Chin up and learn to laugh about alot of it (you can even make fun of yourself). Sure makes it easier.

Midge

 


Ahmed talal alnakkash says on August 28th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

my father had a mitral valve repair 10 days ago and today i surprised that he has the same problem (short memory lost) i dont think that there is something help getting rid of this abnormal condition but after i read the above comments of the patients themselves i looked into the bright side of the surgery which is more important of forgetting some words when he speak or what is he up to when go to the kitchen in the future as somebody mentioned … but i really thank all those who participated in this page ..it is very useful especially when u find many people having a lot in common in such serious cases
i wish he can get better with time .. and if someone has a useful tips or medical information to help our memory problem plz share it with us
regards

 


Mark Clancy says on September 13th, 2010 at 1:53 am

Yes I am having memory loss problems after heart surgery in feb 2010, is there any exercises for the brain you can recommend

 


Robert Parker says on November 3rd, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I had a CABG done in May 2000. Since that operation, I have lost parts of my memory. I noticed it first when someone would discuss a person or event in my past, and I had no memory of them or it. It has become very annoying and at times depressing. I was only 36 at the time of the heart surgery and I believe that my young age has added to my feelings of depression. My thirty year class reunion has come and gone. I didn’t attend. I can’t remember a lot of the members of the class I graduated with. Enough said. I will have to live with it.

 


Nick says on November 29th, 2010 at 9:32 am

my pal Nick had a 4 operation with six stents… seems the last two were to repair what didn’t get done with the 1st two but I digress. Nick is a shop instructor and recently has complained about short term memory loss where he has to ask another instructor how to do something as he just can’t remember the steps.

It’s only been a month since the final procedures were done and just the other day he was sure he left some nails at my house the last time he was here…but do you think we could find ‘em. Just yesterday while watching the Eagle’s play and I indicated it was the Eagles… He goes, “we must be getting old as we can’t even tell whose playing”.

Glad to see this thread as it appears a linkage and it also appears to dissapate in the 6-12 month timetable. I will be letting him know as I am sure he will appreciate knowing that it is more temporary than not. Well, let’s hope so.

 


ANTHONY says on February 21st, 2011 at 12:11 pm

In October of 2009 I had an aortic valve replacement (bovine) and a AAA done–That’s an Acsending Aortic Aneurism for the lay people..I noticed almost immediately that I wqs having cognitive problems during my recovery period.Everyone attributed it to the trauma my body experienced.As time went by I realized that the condition was not improving and I mentioned it to my cardiologist whoi said I might have “Pumphead”,but that it should go away within 6 months.Well, here I am 1 1/2 years later and things dont seem to be improving. Rather, there are times when it is obvious that I may actually have lost just alittle bit more.I have a terrible short term memory now–if I am doing something as simple as dialing an unknown phone #–I have to look at the number while dialing because I cant even seem to hold 10 digits in my head long enoughto get it dialed.Confusion comes fairly easy and yes, I have forgotten where I’ve parked my car regularly.When I mention these things to my cardiologist–he just plays it off–I also notice recently while typing on-line–I must re-read everything–because I have a habit of inverting the letters–”Anoterh words” To the left you will see an example of what happens if not corrected.Any Feedback frm Anyone”?

 


Marsha says on August 25th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I had aorta replacement 2 1/2 years ago and have recently begun to experience short term memory loss. I live out in the country and have suddenly not recognized the roads home. I lose my keys, my glasses, forget to go to the bank when that is the sole reason for going into town. I have difficulty feeling comfortable on the interstate as I get confused when there is a lot of traffic, especially on the on ramps. My Dr. is starting me on Aricept tomorrow, just in case of early onset Alzheimer. I am only 52, so he isnt convinced that is the problem. I will see a psychiatrist for testing soon.

 


Lisa says on September 13th, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Hello everyone, Nov. 2009 my mother(64 yrs old & diabetic but very active)had her aortic valve repaired. The surgery was successful and Doctors were surprised at how fast my mom began to wake-up post operation. Her first day fully awake she was eating and talking but her demeanor was changed. She kept repating herself using a line from a song she liked to answer most of the questions. Ex: I would say Mom,how are you feeling? her reply: I’m fine “I got the Midas Touch” It’s now 2011 and my Mom still has memory loss, she repeats herself, her sentences are often jumbled, gets easliy agitated and she tends to stare into the distance for several minutes likes she’s frozen, until you call her name. This can occur anytime and IT TOTALLY SCARES ME. My Moms says she’d like to go back to work (part-time)but she’s not confindent due to the symptoms I’ve described. What can I do to help her? I want my vibrant,intelligent,funny & creative mom to get past struggling with these issues and get as close as possible to the woman she once was. Any suggestions

 


jim tidwell says on December 6th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi, my father had triple by-pass 6 weeks ago and has severe “pumphead” symptoms. He doesn’t recognize my mother, me or my sisters. He has become, (mostly in the middle of the night), awake, showers, gets dressed and demands to have the keys to his vehicle to go “home”. My mother is beside herself, because she doesn’t know this person when these episodes happen. The docs say it will pass. It’s been 6 weeks, and I understand that this is somewhat common, but it hasn’t gotten any better. Not even a little bit. Just wondering if we are dealing with early dymentia or if he will get better. Any thoughts or anyone else dealing with this. BTW, he is 77, and before the surgery was very active and in relatively good shape. Thank you for this forum.

 


SAM THOMAS says on December 25th, 2011 at 10:11 am

HAVE THE SAME PROBLEMS AS THE OTHER PUMPHEADS.

BUT I HAVE A DIFFERENT ONE. BEFORE SURGERY [AORTIC VALVE REPLACEMENT]
I HAD PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY IN THE LOWER LEGS/FEET. AFTER SURGERY THE
NEUROPATHY MOVED UP ABOVE THE KNEE IN BOTH LEGS. I FEEL THIS COULD
BE IMPORTANT INFO TO MEDICINE FOR ONE WHO IS COLLECTING INFO.

IT HAS BEEN 3 MONTHS AFTER SURGERY. LOOKING FOR A BRIGHT NEW YEAR.
SAM

 


Kristen Garcia says on January 11th, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I had heart surgery at 17 and again at 20 (3 total) had an ASD repair and mitral valve replaced. I have never been the same mentally since. I’m now 32 and still have trouble remembering things and especially gathering my thoughts when communicating verbally. I blank out a lot when having just normal conversations, even with friends. I’m fine when it comes to typing or writing… strange

 


Christi says on January 18th, 2012 at 10:46 am

Yes I too had open heart surgery in 09 and they had to go back in and placed me back on heart lung machine for second attempt! I definitely have experienced short term memory loss! It is very frustrating bc I won’t see something that will remind me of what I was doing or going to do it is completely gone! I have two small children and it is such a challenge!! If I leave our routine but don’t write down what I was doing or going to do it is lost from my memory!!

 


Shawn says on March 9th, 2012 at 11:50 pm

I’m a 36 and had an aortic graph put in about 8 months ago. No one spoke to me about the major memory loss that I’m having. Does it get better?

 


Shawn says on March 9th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

Please give me tips on retaking memory.

 


Julie Seeds says on April 17th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

My father had his aortic valve replaced 5 weeks ago. He already was being treated for early signs of dementia, but was still driving a few months ago.

During surgery he was not on the heart lung machine. Ever since he woke from surgery his memory is much worse, he can’t dress himself, forgets how to do most daily living skills.

He is not the same person mentally he was before he had surgery. It’s very sad.

Even his neurologist is concerned since his memory is rapidly getting worse.

Any suggestions on what is going on? Is there a book to read about this phenomenon? Any help will be much appreciated.

 


Antonio Carbuccia says on July 16th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I had my Mitral valve repaired back in 2001 and here I am 11 years after still having issues with my memory.

I was told by my cardiologist (after the surgery) that it’s a “common” side effect and that it would get better over time. In deed it got a little tiny bitt better….

It’s very frustrating having to deal with memory loss. Before my surgery I relied on my memory for work. Now I can’t even concentrate on anything for a period of time.

Is there something I can do or take?

I sympathize with every one on this blog!

My best wishes to a recovery and a good healthy life to all of you!!!!

 


julie seeds says on July 16th, 2012 at 10:18 pm

My Dad had an aortic valve replacement on March 07, 2012. He was not on the heart -lung machine. My Dad is not the same person he was the morning of March 7th. He cannot do anything for himself anymore, he can’t even remember the steps to go to the bathroom. He is totally dependent on my Mom. He started a tremor in his right hand after surgery and once he started walking he started shuffling. About 2 weeks after surgery he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. This was someone who just retired and was driving pre-surgery.

It appears this can happen, we just wished someone would have explained this instead of finding out afterwards. This condition really needs to be investigated more and disclosed to everyone who has this type of surgery.

 


Lorraine L says on August 6th, 2012 at 3:29 pm

My 74 year old husband had beating-heart triple bypass 4 1/2 months ago and is concerned about continuing mild memory and cognitive problems. He gets quite impatient when he can’t mentally calculate figures as readily as he used to. When I bring up something that he has been fully aware of in the past he seems to be at a loss as to circumstances of the incident.

Will things improve?

 


Will says on September 18th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I had my aortic valve replaced 7 years ago. After the surgery I could not remember anything. People that I had worked with for years I could not remember their names. This effected my ability to do my job. It has gotten better but I never got back were I was before the surgery. I still don’t remember names and can not answer the most simple questions. Sometimes its hard to hide. I was at the top of my game before surgery and now I feel like a 75 year old man who is having signs of dementia and knows it. I was 44 at the time of my surgery and have said many times that I would not do it again.

 


chris says on October 10th, 2012 at 7:52 am

I have had 8 open heart surgeries since I was 6 years old and for a time was called a walking miracle. Doctors informed me that I would not live past 16; so here I am at 42. This is my condition: congenital aortic stenosis. I am also in constant afibrillation and have suffered heart failure in 2006, which 2 years later caused the replacement of my st. jude mechanical Mitral valve, and recently I have noticed that I am having trouble remembering things. Not everything just things that involve task and concentration to the point that I had thought I had done them when in fact I had not (this cost me my job), which I thank they were wrong for doing knowing my health situation. I read some of the other blogs, and they are very similar to mine, but I do not see mine getting better with time. My wife and kids are very worried since we have no income now. Surviving so much trauma and pain; I’m wondering why do I have to endure so much?

 


Stewart says on October 23rd, 2012 at 12:12 am

I had my aortic valve replaced last year at 62 years of age. Since that surgery my memory has severely diminished. I sometimes have a difficult time putting phrases together. It is difficult for me to learn new processes. My reaction time is much slower than it was pre-surgery. My balance is also a bit off.

As a male, I have become over-emotional, to the point where it’s embarrassing. I can begin to cry way-to-easily. I’ve read that many believe this “pumphead” thing is actually depression. In my particular case, I don’t agree with that diagnosis at all.

I believe I’m more physically active than ever before. I try to get my heart rate up daily and I feel better in general afterwards. I do not overeat as I did pre-surgery. I should add that I had a previous valve replacement 10 year earlier and had no such cognitive or memory issues afterward.

My business partner eliminated me from the company we owned. I have not been able to find new employment even though I have a substantial, award winning work history. I am not as sharp as I once was and I believe it shows in my actions.

My cardiologist believes there’s nothing that can be done….now that’s depressing.

 


Dominick says on October 23rd, 2012 at 2:20 pm

It’s a fact, all the complaints as it relates to memory and or concentration and spelling loss. I had an aortic graft and an aortic valve replacement (bovine) 3 years ago. I have all the aforementioned issues including problems with balance, sleeping, bouts of severe exhaustion. For the most part I keep it to myself because I cant afford to lose my job at 59 years old, but I do wonder what’s on the horizon ahead of me. All my syptoms are gradually getting worse. Fresh out of surgery for the first year I used to get alot of what I can only describe as gold spots of lite with black centers shooting across my peripheral vision which pretty much subsided after about 2 years. Well, little by little I’ve noticed these spots of lite have begun to reoccur with greater and greater frequency. I suppose I’ll be mentioning it to my cardiologist on my next visit and I’m sure he’ll tell me that it will subside on its own. I’m seriously concerned about how bad my memory may unltimately become. Is there a cut off point ? There is NO DOUBT that in the last 3 years my mental, cognitive and motor skills has decreased and gotten worse. I guess, all I can do is simply get up for work every day and wait and see what happens. I wonder if my being a diabetic on insulin could have made things worse.

 


Jim says on December 24th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I had aortic graft and an aortic valve replacement and the aortic root replace 6/21/11. I did and do find myself forgetinng thing. But did not think any thing of it.Until I miss a app. after being call the same day. I told them I forgot it. The one nurse said I belive you I have read book on after open heart that people have slight memory lost.

 


Chigicherla says on February 24th, 2013 at 4:33 am

i got operation in the year 1996.the operation is mitral valve replacement.
i am using tablets regulary from 1996.
tablets like Acitrom 2mg, Fruselac ds, pentids 400,lanoxin 0.25 mg, cordarone.

From last few years. i am not able to get the past things happened.

i have suffering also short time memory. Even not remember the things done by last few seconds\minutes.

Plese suggest to over this memory loss.

Thanks in Advance,
Mallikarjuna.C

 


LuAnn says on March 29th, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I am 3 weeks post surgery for aortic valve replacement (mechanical) and have been recovering rapidly but yesterday I stood in front of a group to make a speech and my mind went blank. I’m a 51 year old lawyer and was counting on surgery making me sharper not slower.
I am also having a problem remembering whether I have taken my coumadin. Now I’m so depressed that all I want to do is sit and cry which is very uncharacteristic for me.

 


Tom Krumwiede says on June 1st, 2013 at 9:55 am

It has been one year since I’ve had aorta valve replaced & mitral valve replaced
…I’m 79 years old & experience memory loss & lack of concentration when trying
to remember procedure for performing simple tasks which I previously did out
of habit.
I’m looking for excersizes to help re-condition & sharpen my slow brain.
Hearing of similar cases do help to realize others are having the same
problems in recovery.

 


Fletcher Hart says on September 9th, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Adam and friends, My name is Fletch and I had open-heart surgery on OCTOBER 11TH, 2007. I had 5 bypasses and the replacement of my aorta valve with a pig valve. I knew something was different about me as soon as I woke up after surgery. Even friends noticed the difference! I live alone and the first year was very ruff for me. The extra depression and strange feeling was still there but eased up a little the next few year. I’ve read that the PUMPHEAD can lay dormant few a few years and then sort of wakeup and start causing the patient, me, a lots of problems. Just recently, without any notice, I have started having serious memory problems and the strange feeling is back again. Is this the PUMPHEAD acting up again or could it be something else? Doctors really don’t want to talk about it so I came back to Adams site hoping and praying I might be able to get some help and good advice!!! If anymore out there has any kind of answers for me I surely would appreciated any HELP/ADVICE I could get from fellow open-heart patients!!! Hoping all are having a nice week and I can just hope and pray that I can get some help from someone, sincerely, Fletch in Jax., Fl.

 


Antonio Carbuccia says on September 12th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Dear Fletch,

I know how you feel since I am still having the same issues after my “repair job”. I deal with it with the best possible attitude… I’M STILL GREATLY ALIVE!!!
I am a 48 years old man and for the most part, consider myself healthy and very active (I practice sports and exercise routinely).

About the short memory” loss I experience, I have learned to live with it to!!!… Now I write or type more often than I did…

Hoping you learn how to cope with the loss of memory he way you find suitable to you. I wish you the best in life, please keep in mind our purpose here on earth… Be and make people happy!!! Sincerely, Antonio in South Florida!

 


Dawn Cascell says on October 15th, 2013 at 11:30 am

I had aortic valve replacement 16 months ago I still have memory loss not as bad I am 33 years old and got endocarditis from my c section with my son so I now have a pacemaker too. I am not the same person and have tried all different depression meds not helping I am mainly depressed because I have no energy and I have a 16 month old son that I can barely keep up with all I want to do is be in bed and things I use to love I don’t feel like doing anymore because I have no desire or energy for it! I’m so flusterated!! Does anyone else feel like this?? Does it get better? Is there other issues I may need to get checked physically?

 


Dominick says on October 15th, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Hi Dawn–I guess it must be the course of how things are for awhile after this type of surgery. Add to that the possibility that you may also have a dose of the post-partum-blues and you must really be in rare form these days. I think it’s a normal course of things to have emotional depression. I know it happened to me and some of the folks I’ve spoken to had similar feelings for quite awhile. You’ve got to find the things that would bring joy into your life to attempt cheering your self up. For me I was lucky enough for my wife and sons to come home with 2 small puppies and drop them right on my lap. What a feeling that was, and believe it or not –those 2 puppies got me thru some of dark days when I wasn’t sure if I going to be waking up in the morning. Look, what I’m saying is you’ve got to find something to bring the joy –the wanting to keep going back into your life. It’s very important that you’ve got a reason to push forward and want to get better and look forward to the rest of your life and the days you will have to offer to your little son. There are many adventures ahead for you and your child to experience and it just would be so much less without you in his life–so you got to push past the depression and realize that there is a reason to force your brain and your body to get it together. And 40 or 50 years down the road –you’ll be grateful for the skilled doctor who made all those added decades to your life possible. Just look forward to what’s coming your way.

 


Antonio says on October 16th, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Hi Dawn!!!
I am sorry you are going thru this while trying to raise your baby.

The good news is that you are so young and ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!

Your energy level, stamina and endurance should continue to build up, If your doctor cleared you, try exercising.

The depression however, is all in your mind!. We all went thru a period like that. I guess it’s part of the “process” after the surgery.

You can control that since depression is all about each one of us and even if sometimes our mind is our worst enemy, we can beat it…

HUG THAT BABY, Cheer UP!!! Your life is just starting!!!

 


Jennifer says on December 31st, 2013 at 5:24 am

Hi Dawn,
I have had three Open heart surgeries all before I was 18 years old. my last one wasin 97 when I was 17, I had an aortic root replacement. I have been on heart medicines my whole life, but my memory is really really bad. I was just searching the internet because I was curious about it and I came across your comment on Adam’s blog. This has been so helpful!! My memory is really bad though, I don’t remember most things from my childhood, I can watch a movie and then watch it again a month from now and it’s like seeing it for the first time, I can watch a commercial and try to explain it an hour from now and I don’t remember anything they said I just know it was really funny at the time. It might be the Toprol that I take which causes short term memory loss, but my memory has always been horrible or almost nonexistent. I’ve been researching it and I think I’m going to get tested for Cardiovascular dementia. :/

 


Stan says on February 17th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

I have read the blogs and have experienced the same symptoms! I was 48 years old when I had double by pass surgery. I was terribly depressed after the surgery but finally got over that. I am turning 69 this month. Whether it was pump head, anesthesia or what have you? Something during the surgery caused me to have memory loss. I wish I could say it was short term, but 21 years later it is not. My cardiologist also said my memory would improve with time. It didn’t- I have trouble concentrating, lose train of thought when speaking, forget keys, glasses, phones at checkstands. Driving in traffic makes me very uncomfortable. I use to be able to do many tasks at a time, no more. Now I can only do one thing at a time. Don’t get me wrong- I’m glad to be alive! My dad died from heart desease at age 57. All i can suggest is do not look for a cure. The surgery was necessary and has given me so far an additional 21 years to enjoy with my family. I have learned to live with this disability. Just keep in mind= you are not alone!

 


Stewart says on February 17th, 2014 at 9:23 pm

I last posted here about a year + ago. I still have the cognition and memory issues but they have gotten a bit better over the past six months. Part of my job involves creative writing, and what’s truly amazing is that my creativity has gone supersonic. My writing is
much more unique. I have no idea what’s happening, but I like the boost I’m getting.

 


Andrea Kittell says on April 19th, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Dear Adam,
This is my first day to research information after a heart valve replacement. My father just had his aortic valve replaced March 9 2014, and he is a retired superintendent of schools with a doctorate in Education. He no longer can remember the passage of time, when he took medication and if he took it too early or late, why my mom and I wrote down NEW times. He no longer remembers so, so many areas such as dialing the numbers on a phone, the names of people, whether he had a certain conversation just minutes or days before. He, nor we were told about cognitive side effects of this surgery in any way at all. But, he is very sad, confused, depressed, scared and angry for he thinks we did or said things that he forgot about and thinks we left him out. He is ashamed and feels crazy.
If it were not for finding your website about this memory loss, today, I’m afraid his depression could’ve been dangerous. Whether it be not knowing to help him with medication times, or addressing a doctor on it, it could’ve gone on with us never knowing.
Does your book cover any type of rehabiltative types of things that post op patients have found helped recover memory?
Besides us ordering your book, are there any other ones in particular you know of to get?
He is even afraid to tell our family doctor, but I advised him that he needs to, for we need to know more about it and we are not medically trained to understand some of the medical journals.

 


Porcine Koon says on June 20th, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I had a bicuspid aortic valve replacement (replaced with a pig valve) and aortic root replacement in mid-May. I will plan to relate several of my experiences with this surgery and my recovery over the next few weeks. However, in this session I have a question: I have heard of memory loss (mostly temporary) after this kind of surgery. Have any of you experienced or heard of fine motor control loss after the surgery? My writing, which was bad before surgery, if even worse now. And I frequently type the wrong letter or mix letters on my keyboard when preparing documents or email.
Thanks, John the Partial Pig

 


andrea kittell says on July 15th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Mr. Koon,

YES, NO ONE MADE MY FATHER AWARE OF THIS COMMON IMPAIRMENT DOCTOR’S CALL (PUMPHEAD), because of liability. it comes from the heart-lung pump machine. i am not a medical person so, i researched about it. SOMEONE, should write a book about the DEBILITATING MEMORY LOSS AND COGNITIVE DISFUNCTION THAT OCCURS IN 51% OF PATIENTS OVER 65 AND NOT MUCH LESS PERCENTAGE EVEN BEFORE 65.

NO ONE told my father. He did not know after being a superintendent of schools he couldn’t write the proper words, letters, numbers. he couldn’t remember from hour to hour and so I SAT DOWN AND TOLD HIM THE TRUTH.

Everyone was scared to say anything. It was psychological painful for still, no help was given after discussing it with surgeons. All just said give it time.

If you are open to it, go to a neuroscience doctor or neoropsychologist and get the tests done to help you get speech rehab, activities of daily living rehab, any thing that is available, not just cardiac rehab.
Do you know how hard it is to go to a room full of people in a cardiac rehab and all the exercise machines when one has short term memory loss. It was horrific. They humiliated my father. Even when it was explained, no one on staff had the time to learn of what is now called ‘COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AFTER OPEN HEART SURGERY’.

Adam’s book is invaluable for those beforehand getting ready, it is only in the past few years has more and more new studies from teaching hospitals of the brain impairment that is occuring with many of these types of surgeries.

I’ve watched my father go through such darkness thinking that he had truly lost his mind, when before the surgery, he had not. I had doctors rule out dementia and any other mind deteriorating diseases.

We lost months that we could have helped him immediately get to a neuroscience specialist. He lost months. And, this is treatable with someone willing to do the work after the surgery. ALSO, one can contact local brain injury support groups in the area, or stroke support groups. They often already share the same types of rehabiltation and it is a place to find people who can relate to the process ahead. Please excuse any grammar errors. I wrote this quickly.

 

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