Pin It
Home > Adam's Blog > Guest Blog:...

Guest Blog: Jim Talks About Pain, Cardiac Rehab & Mowing Lawns After Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery

Posted by Adam Pick on August 8th, 2013

A common question that patients have before cardiac surgery is, “How much pain will I experience?”

As we have previously discussed, each patient will have a unique experience during recovery. Some patients experience a lot of pain. Some patients experience some pain. And, some patients report no pain. For this reason, most patients will become familiar with a pain scale (see below) during their hospital stay.

Jim Swanson - Cardiac Surgery PatientJim Swanson – Aortic Valve Replacement Patient

Recently, I received a patient update from Jim Swanson about his experience specific to pain.  I thought you might enjoy Jim’s update, so I posted it below.

Hi Adam – I had my aortic valve replaced and aorta replaced 13 weeks ago.  I was able to delay the surgery for several months to finish up some work projects. This gave me a long time to think about the surgery.  My thoughts ranged from pure terror to acceptance.  I had a friend who had open heart surgery the previous year, and found that a number of the people I met in business also had the surgery.  I was suddenly sharing my experiences with them and I realized I was not alone.  Each person’s story was different.  For several patients, there were complications that they were able to overcome.  For others, there was only modest pain and recovery went smoothly.

 
Patient Pain Scale

My main fear was to awake from the surgery and face a new reality of “terrible pain” and situations I would not be able to handle.  However, when I awoke, there was very little pain (granted I was on strong pain killers).  By day two, as the strong drugs wore off, I was surprised to find that the actual pain in my chest was pretty manageable.  As was the case with two of my friends, there really was no need for strong pain killers.  By day three, I was just taking regular Tylenol.  I found similar stories from people in my Cardiac Rehab group.  We definitely felt like we had the wind kicked out of us — but the actual pain was limited.

Jim with Nick in the hospital
Jim with Nick (his son)

I certainly believe some people come out of surgery with incredible pain. We are all different physically.  I am writing this to let you know that, if you are looking at open heart surgery, the pain may not be as terrible as you imagine.

My surgeon was Dr. Timothy Kroshus, at Regions Hospital.  My friend, who helped develop my valve at St. Jude Medical and is a salesman for the valve, recommended Dr. Kroshus as being the top doctor in the field up here.  Dr. Kroshus told me he had done 3,000 or 4,000 of this same aortic valve / aorta surgeries.

FYI, I am very proud as I just finished all 36 Cardiac Rehab sessions. I also cut my large lawn yesterday — walking behind the mower.  The Rehab Team was very excited to get your book.

Thanks for all you do!

Jim Swanson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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.

 


Lloyd Eisen says on August 8th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

jim……………want you to know that i am a 62 year old lawyer in atlantic city and had your operation on 2/25/13 at U of P hospital in Philly, with Dr Bavaria.( i have new st jude bovine valve and new aorta too) i had had a repair of my bicuspid valve in ’99 at Cleveland so it was a reop. i finished my 36 rehabs about a month ago, and have been golfing, going to the gym and working on an improving basis getting stronger every day or week. noticably. also had virtually no pain in either operation and i joke with people that the most painfull part of the 99 surgery was when a nurse ripped off a sticky pad from my skin that had been used for heart monitor as i was leaving. so best wishes to you. Sincerely, Lloyd

 


maureen says on August 8th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

I have been told I am about two to three years away from needing my aortic valve replaced due to stenosis. My fear about pain is I am allergic to all pain meds, I can only take anti inflammatory meds. Narcotics and synthetic pain meds slow and stop my heart. Actually had a complete ceasarian hystorectomy (spelling sorry) done with an epidural and versid (again spelling??) no pain medication afterwards. I have been told I am a candidate for the operation that is done through the artery but I still worry about pain management afterwards? Anyone else familiar with my problem?

 


Dominick says on August 10th, 2013 at 9:07 am

Maureen, dont worry about –I had my aortic valve and aorta replaced with the full open chest surgery. Never felt the need to for the pain meds when the nurses and docotrs attempted to push them on me. I suffer from recurring kidney stones (That is Pain) by comparison to the pain I get from kidney stones –the pain of this surgery is easily endured. Look, cutting ones ribs open does offer discomfort after the fact–just make sure you hold a pillow against your chest if you are going to tighten your stomach muscles as in laughing, coughing and God forbid Sneezing. Just keep a very firm pillow handy for the first few weeks after surgery –you really wont need pain killers. Plus the fact they cause constipation–I’d rather have some pain discomfort than not be able to go to the bathroom. Good Luck –you’re going to be just fine without the pain meds.

 


maureen says on August 10th, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Thanks, Dominick, I learned the pillow trick with the hystorectomy surgery, yes it really works. I needed to hear that about your heart surgery. I guess if I made it thru the other surgery without the pain meds, and they took out a major organ in that one, then I should be able to handle this. It helps to hear that from others though. Thanks!

 


Jackie K says on August 10th, 2013 at 8:07 pm

I will be having an aortic valve replacement within the year. I am a 61 year old female . I had breast cancer in 1990 with bilateral mastectomies and silicone implants. Due to rupture I have silicone in my lymph system., diagnosed on biopsies I have since been diagnosed with primary biliary cirrhosis, auto immune hepatitis , rheumatoid and osteo arthriits. schogrens and now this. I am afraid but I believe the doctors from Abbott in Mpls are experienced with this and will take good care of me.
Will I have more energy after the procedure? I haven’t had chest pain. What symptoms did others have.

 


Barb says on August 12th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

My story/question is this – At the recommendation of my family doctor’s office I had an echocardiogram less than one month ago,The diagnosis for the test was “heart murmur.” It was news to me and after having the recommended test, my doctor’s office called to tell me that I have an aortic stenosis, that my heart is beating fine, and there’s no need for a follow up. I asked about prophylactic measures and after hesitation the nurse told me – Um no need for that. I waited a few days to gather some more information and found out during my search, that many of the feelings I’ve experienced over my life and was told by my parents and later my spouse to – quit exaggerating – exercise more – eat a better diet – stop worrying (all of which I’d followed to no avail). I’d grown to accept these “feelings: as “normal” for me – easily fatigued, shortness of breath, excessive urination (even years after bladder surgery/cystocele), intermittent chest tightness & heart flutters, but now have discovered that these were symptoms. My question is this – Because my doctor’s office is saying there’s no recommended follow up suggested from the test reading – What if anything should I do or say? I made an appointment to discuss my concerns with my physician’s office, but if they stick to what they’ve already told me Should I be concerned? I have a 24 year old daughter who was born with a congenital VSD & aortic stenosis. So I know some of what/what not to expect after testing. Thank you.

 


Jean Norenberg says on December 8th, 2013 at 11:34 am

I am a healthy 82 yr old female. I have two leaky valves, MVP, and A-Fib. No other major health problems and not overweight. For the past year I have been experiencing extreme shortness of breath. Echo and other tests show increased pulmonary pressure so it’s looking like a valve replacement might be in the near future. I am concerned that at my age, taking almost a year off for health to return may not be the way to go. I have not yet seen anywhere comments from anyone in or near my age group who has gone through valve replacement/repair so don’t know what to expect.

 

Leave a Reply

(required)
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the answer to the math equation shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the equation.
Click to hear an audio file of the anti-spam equation

Welcome to Adam Pick's
Heart Valve Surgery Blog

Adam Pick
Patient, Author & Website Founder
Watch Adam's story

Get Adam's Free Email Updates
Sent To Your Inbox First

Over 35,000 Patients
And Caregivers Have
Read This Book

Patient Recommended
Heart Valve Clinics

(Click a logo)

Florida Hospital
Mount Sinai
University of Michigan
Alta Bates
Northwestern Memorial
Cleveland Clinic