I am sorry to hear you are having such difficulties. I, too, am recovering more slowly that I thought I would. For me, the extreme fatigue is the biggest issue. One of my doctors told me it will take a full year to recover (from my Feb. 28 open heart surgery for aortic valve repair and repair of aorta that had a aneurysm). I also had a hospitalization with a bleeding ulcer in the lower esophagus 1 week after I got home from the heart hospital. She told me I would need an extra 6 months of recovery time due to that. I have had to retire from teaching (as of Dec. 20) because I do not have the energy to keep up with my demanding and stressful job.
I am taking lisinopril - 5 mg./day. I have developed a minor cough lately with no other cold-type symptoms, so I think it may be due to the lisinopril. I have read that many drug side effects are due to the fact that these drugs deplete from the body or use up more of certain nutrients. Lisinopril is an ACE inhibitor. ACE inhibitors deplete or cause you to need more of zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. I got this information from the book Drug Muggers by Suzy Cohen, RPh. This book also cautions to be careful with taking potassium supplements if you are taking medications or have a chronic illness as it is easy to get too much potassium. Cohen suggests getting potassium from food sources and to check with your dr. regarding dosage before taking large dosages of supplemental potassium.
I already take supplemental magnesium and calcium at the direction of two of my doctors. In fact, increasing my magnesium intake at night, at one doctors' suggestion, has eased my bounding pulse. I will try taking extra zinc and see if that helps. I can then increase my calcium and magnesium intake. I will if these help. I am going to be careful with the potassium, because I think I am taking something else that may cause elevation of potassium. CoQ10 is also another nutrient that is vital to every cell in the body, but especially to the heart. Statin drugs deplete this. CoQ10 is one supplement that my cardiologist has told me is good to take. (I do not take a statin.)
My incision is not as painful as yours. It is, however, still sore, and has that ropy appearance. My dr. told me it has keloided (sp.?). It is slowly getting better, but I think it should be less painful and itchy by now. I did use a topical gel product called Xeragel, recommended by my cardiologist, for a couple of months, beginning about 3 months after surgery, and I think it helped a little. (I had to order this from the internet.) I hope your shots help and that you do not have to get very many.
As soon as I get through the Christmas holidays, I am going to go on Doug Kaufmann's Phase One diet to try to regain my health. I will also step up my exercise, of which I am doing very little due to the demands of my job. With all of the bronchial and other ailments you have experienced, you might want to check out his website: www.knowthecause.com Doug believes that many health conditions are caused or made worse by fungus and their mycotoxins. His Phase One diet eliminates these from the diet, as well as including many healthy and some antifungal foods. He also recommends exercise, removing any sources of mold and mildew in our environments, and taking antifungal supplements or medications. Check out the website. There are quite a few articles, a blog written by readers/viewers, a week's worth of his television show episodes that can be watched online, and the books he has written are for sale. I have purchased several of them and am finding them very helpful.
I wish you all the best in overcoming all of your challenges and for a more speedy recovery.
Sorry your're experiencing these problems. I have also had my share of medication related problems as well as others. My cardiologist at CCF is slowly increasing the Lisinopril by 2.5 mg. at a time due to my exaggerated reaction to meds. Hope you feel better soon. ruth howell
Carol, Your comments about difficulty with your incision(s) healing are curious to me. I had a mitral valve repair on March 11th and overall have had a super recovery, although there have been some little challenge things post surgery. Here's my little story about my personal issue thing, not that it could relate to yours, but, who knows. Anyway, because a couple times over the years it seemed like I may have had a reaction to absorbable sutures, I ended up getting the allergy doc to check this...they taped a sample next on to, not into, my skin for 2 or 3 days and there was no reaction, so I was given a clean bill, so to speak, to have absorbable sutures, it is what they use, for sewing me up in all those places they are used from the heart to the skin surface incisions and all those places in between they sew up. I've had some mysterious allergy reactions maybe 3 or 4 times since heart surgery, one time full anaphylaxis (sp?) where I could hardly breath for 6 or so hours. The allergy doc, perplexed with what is the cause, agrees with my hypothesis the sutures may be the cause...so hoping the last blood test shows my histamine and tryptase (re allergy) levels are normal again. Allergic reaction to absorbable sutures is apparently rare, but not unheard of. One doc told me after 15 years of internship and practice he just came across his first case. Other than that hiccup, I consider myself fully recovered as of Oct 30th when I completed the Marine Corps Marathon at Arlington and Dc. ...Barry on the mtn in NM
Carol, I had my mitral valve replacement 11th April and am still having ongoing other health problems but my doctors but most of it down to post- traumatic stress. I have constant anxiety headaches and have had a run of colds and viruses for a few months. I have three small children and am desperate do my life to return to normal for their sake. I have now accepted being signed off work and am trying to rest. Any other advice anyone has would be great.
Hi Carol, thanks for posting your update. I haven't been reading your blog but your update caught my eye. I'm experiencing similar issues, various complications after aortic valve replacement. Doing OK in general now, I had surgery in June, but still have sternal pain and irregular heartbeats. I have a mechanical valve and it's hard to adjust to feeling my heartbeat all the time, intensely, as well as hearing the valve itself click. I'm just completing cardiac rehab which has helped me a lot in getting strength back but I don't yet feel great..getting there hopefully. I've been told by several people it can take some people a full year to feel good again. So, hang in there and continue to be vigilant about how you're feeling and stay in communication with your doctors. Your health is #1. best, Rob R
I see the freedom of driving hasnt worked well for you. Back to work already, yuck! LOL. I still have 6-8 weeks before I can go back, as a nurse I do lots of tugging and pulling on people who are bigger than your average bear. So I have to be sure I don't make things worse. Hope your having a great weekend.
I am so sorry you are suffering with such a bad cough. I believe I have read that some medications can cause a cough. You might check with your dr. I pray that you get some relief and that your post op appt. goes well. Take care.
Three weeks is just not a long time especially after a major surgery. Five days after I was home following my mitral valve repair in December I came down with a cough that lasted 10.5 weeks! The healing process is different for everyone. Allow yourself time.
make sure you bring a list of all your questions for your cardiologist. hope you feel better soon.
Carol - I hope you are doing better today. Each day is a little different. I will be three weeks post surgery tomorrow and most days are good - but today I was really tired for some reason. Thinking of you. Randa Gaalswijk
I am getting mitral valve repair through mini sternotomy and expect to be short of breath for at least a couple of months after surgery. I have heard squeezing a pillow to your chest helps coughing pains. Hope you feel better soon.
Carol, I can only hope your stay was better than mine. I was discharged on the Friday after and quite honestly may have had a nervous breakdown had I been made to stay another day. It doesnt help working in the hospital I had my surgery knowing full well how grossly understaffed they are. I hope today has been a better day for you.
Like the others have said, everyone is different. You just have to keep moving and do what you can do, measuring your progress only compared to where you were before, not where anyone else is at any particular time. I had a major setback Sat night and Sunday I felt I was back at day 1 after surgery, how discouraging/dissapointing, but, you know what, ...just me...but...I would not let it get me down, refursed to...and, wow, Monday felt better and today feel almost back to where I was before the issue. Our bodies are such an absolutely amazing. Here's wishing the best to you...keep moving, more each day...Barry on the mtn in NM
We don't heal and feel as well as we'd like as soon as we'd like. As Garry said, each person heals at their own pace. Do tell your dr. about your symptoms to make sure. Each day and week should get a little better, but if often comes in very small steps. My surgery was Feb. 28, and I am still dealing with pain, mainly back and neck, and with a great deal of fatigue. (I have checked with my cardiologist several times to make sure symptoms were normal. It is best to do that.) It is frustrating at times, but we have to look at how far we have come and what would have happened if we had not had our surgeries. Take good care, and take it easy! You are in my prayers.
Carol you have to remember everyone heals at a different pace, not very reassuring when you are on the up side of the bell curve. Plus I am sure everyone wishes they were further ahead in their progress. I am assuming you had a few complications based on your length of stay at the hospital. You gotta look at the small victories, everyday you have find one thing that is just a little bit better than the day before. So glad to hear from you :-)
Thank you for your note on my guestbook. You are in my thoughts and prayers and will be especially so on Tuesday morning. I am sure all will go well and you will feel so much better. I wish you a good and speedy recovery. I have been taking amiodorone since my surgery, and it has been helpful.
You may need a little time to yourself. This is a big surgery, but one that your surgeon has done many, many times and that will help you so much. I had my aneurysm taken out and that part of the aorta replace and am doing very well. You will, too. Let your family know what you need. They won't always know. Let them help you as you would for them.
Prayers and blessings,
Hi Carol, you will be just fine and everyone deals with this a bit differently. If you need some space to process, take it, but remember your friends and family want and need to be a part of the process also. I am a real Type A guy but don't plan too much and get stuck in your head. Much easier said than done I know. Soon this is going to be behind you and what consumes you prior to the surgery is so different after, at least it was for me. Best of luck Carol
I didn't realize they gave pre-surgery meds. What's that about? As for being alone - yes, I get it. My surgery is on the 21st and I prefer to be left alone most of the time. I feel badly because I'm not communicating much with my husband, but I feel kind of like a wounded animal that needs to lick its wounds and process everything in order to maintain my composure. I don't think this is odd. I just think everyone processes this kind of stress differently. Some people need the comfort of being around others. Some of us need to be left alone. Best of luck to you.
Re wanting to be alone prior to surgery...yep..think it is pretty normal. I even wanted to do the whole thing by myself, that is, fly from ABQ to Cleveland...get the valve job done, and then come back home...all by myself, but, of course, the wife wouldn't think of it...and, you know, family, friends, co-workers, etc., are all part of your support system, and probably we all need to consider that. Our support system is important and need to be included. So, it was really great, for me, that Ms Kate was there, as well as my daughter, Melony, and my sister, Elaine. They all made sure I was OK...and, damn, they also heard whatever restrictions I was given and make sure I abide by the restrictions, bless their hearts, protecting me from myself. Yep, again, wanting to be alone is not unusual, but, remember, you gotta let your supporters support you. You need it and they need it. ....Barry on the mtn in NM
Jim, as far as they can tell from TEE and echos, my BAV is working normal with no AS or AR. The surgeon ask me to pick one because when they actually open me up they want to be ready if it's worse than they think.
Just curious, was anything wrong with your valve? I have a BAV, but mine is neither stenotic nor regurgitant. My root is the problem and is 4.9 cm. I would hate to wake up with a mechanical valve if I don't have to...
You have got to be getting excited and a little nervous. That is normal. You will be so glad after you have had your surgery. These heart surgeons do miraculous things and do them every day, so we are in good hands. I had my aortic valve repair and removal of aortic aneurysm and replacement of that part of the aortic root on Feb. 28. I think I am progressing well. You will be continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.
I will tell you what I took that I used while I was in the hospital. I was fortunate that my husband could bring things from home, but it is always nice to have things with you already.
toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, face cleanser and moisturizer, body wash for the one shower I took, deodorant, hand/ body lotion,comb, brush, dry shampoo (used only once or twice--didn't worry about this much), eye drops for dry eyes, xylitol mints and gum. You probably won't feel like wearing make up.
my pillow that I usually sleep on and a special neck pillow I often use. I was so glad my husband had that to put under my neck after I came to--once I was able to get this need across.
cell phone and charger, laptop and charger (My hospital allowed use of both.) My calendar and a notepad, plus the folder of info. I had on my heart surgery.
I stayed over night the night before surgery so I had a night gown and an extra set of clothes for the day I checked in. I wore these pants home from the hospital and packed a large comfy T shirt to go home in. While in the hospital, I wore only a hospital gown. They gave me a gown to wear backwards as a robe when I went for a walk. That worked fine. I did bring what I wear for slippers: a pair of Birkenstock beach sandals which give my feet more support when walking than the footie socks they give to you. I wore slip on shoes to and home from the hospital. Bending over to tie shoes would not have been easy.
I have an allergy to dairy, so I had my husband bring my goat milk products. The staff was great about keeping them in a refrigerator, and the kitchen used them to help prepare my meals. I also brought some cold cereal I knew I could eat. One of the things I brought was kefir so that I made sure to get my probiotics. I can't say that I ate a great deal, but it was good to make sure I had what I could eat.
If you have any special meds the hospital might not have, you might ask about taking it with you, with their permission. I take Midrin for headaches, which the pharmacies don't have right now, so they allowed me to bring that. I think they may have kept it at the nurse's station.
I brought some books and magazines, but I didn't seem to have the concentration to read much, plus my vision was a little blurry after surgery, which I am told is not uncommon.
One of the most important things I took was my iPod. I listened to it every night, because the nurse's station outside my room was extremely noisy. This helped block out the noise, and I could listen to calming music I had loaded to sleep by. I also had my relaxation / surgery CDs interspersed with the quiet Christian music on a cheap MP3 player that I was allowed to listen to throughout surgery. This was also helpful after surgery.
We brought a camera and had someone snap a few shots before I went into surgery. I don't think we took any more while I was in the hospital.
If you use anything like arnica gel or Bio Freeze or anything for sore muscles, you might bring that, too. You might have to get an okay to use it, but it is better to be prepared with anything like that.
I also had a list of phone numbers of friends and family. I made up a list of people for my husband to call after my surgery.
That is all I can think of. Just think of the most basic things you can't do without and bring them. Think about what you need for your comfort and entertainment/ enjoyment as you are recuperating. Your main focus will be on recovering, which you will do more quickly than you think. You will spend some time every day up walking and much time resting. The nurses will take excellent care of you. My drs. also came in to see me each day.
I wish you all of the best If I ready your journal right, it sounds like you won't need any work done to your aortic valve. That is great. If not, then this is a surgical procedure that surgeons do very often, so you will be in good hands. My aneurysm removal and aorta replacement went very well. I am sure that yours will go as well. Look forward to a better life after this surgery, I will check your posts for your progress.
I'm also working on my packing (april 21 surgery). I am traveling to Cleveland for my surgery so I will be packing a tote bag to take to the hospital.
Here's what I'm taking to the hosp:
2 Pairs of pj bottoms only & light robe
Slippers w/rubber soles
Soap, sponge, shampoo, deodorant
Minimal makeup & mirror
Toothbrush & toothpaste (battery operated toothbrush in case it's painful to move my arm to brush teeth)
MP3 player with relaxation stuff on it
Spiral notepad w/pen attached (in case I need to communicate while intubated)
List of questions for surgeon & anesthesiologist
List of medications to which I have bad reactions
My husband will bring my laptop when he visits (if I want it)
Maybe a couple of magazines although I understand vision is bad after surgery.
I also was born with a BAV that was not diagnosed until I was almost 50. I am now 54. I had my surgery Feb. 28 and am now doing well. My surgeon was able to repair my aortic valve. It would have been replaced with a pig valve if repair was not possible. I had an aortic aneurysm, with the aorta being 5 cm. My heart had just begun to enlarge. My aortic root was replaced in order to remove the aneurysm. My surgery went very well, and recovery has not been as difficult as I thought. I had some additional back pain due to my fibromyalgia and previous back injuries, but most people report much less pain after surgery. It sounds like you are in great physical shape, so that will help you a great deal. I had a little setback with some internal bleeding that turned out to be an ulcer in my esophagus, and I did not know the signs of blood in the stool. The combination of Plavix, ibuprofen, and aspirin seemed to make it flare up, and I did not know I had it in the first place. If I had caught it earlier, it would have been much less of a problem. After another short hospital stay for that, I am now back home and feeling tired but pretty good. I still intend to take it very easy as ordered in order to fully recover. Please do not worry about your surgery. It is a serious one, but the heart surgeons have done many, many of these and are excellent. I am sure you will do very well. I wish you the the very best, and I will keep you in my prayers.