Hi Kathryn. You're probably sleeping well by now, but I just saw your comments about the recliner. I had a full sternotomy, aneurysm repair, aortic valve repair, and pulmonary vein isolation 11 months ago. Like you, I had a lot of post-surgery back and shoulder discomfort, and I had to use a bolster and semi-recline in order to get any sleep. I just checked my journal, and I happily reported that I slept flat all night between 6 and 7 weeks after surgery. At 6 weeks I also started rehab. I too was fit before surgery, and they suggested only 6 weeks instead of the usual 12 weeks of rehab. I think it's a good idea to do some rehab even if you're fit--a lot of things got shaken and stirred during the surgery! Hope you're doing well.
My first week home I prob napped twice a day, second week once. At 5 wks out I haven't napped the last two probably.
Some nights I toss and turn(which is why I am responding at 146 am). I havent taken pain meds in 2 wks.
The docs/nurses were 50.50 on my needing cardiac rehab, but having pnemonia and CHF prior to surgery I ended up needing this. I am glad I am going now as there are senior citizens next to me doing better and Im not even working to my targeted hr yet,
Yes, some days are still good and some still tire easy but in most cases I see improvement as the days pass.
It is hard when you work full time to slow down and take care of yourself.
Hope I addressed most of your comments.
Be patient and take the time you need to heal. Without our health we have nothing.
Hi, Kathryn -- I'm sure you'll hear that "everyone heals differently" but, since you asked, here's my take on it:
1. The back pain -- like many people, the back/shoulder pain was really uncomfortable. I had a median sternotomy for MVR and expected sternum and chest pain. I *didn't* expect feeling like I'd been hung by my neck. One of those microwaveable grain filled heating thingies brought relief, but I'd say it was about 4 weeks before I realized it wasn't all that bad.
2. A good night sleep? Forget about sleeping at the hospital, and I slept in a recliner for about 3 weeks when I got home. So, again, 4 weeks seems to be the turnaround.
3. I don't believe I've taken a nap since surgery. Which is weird, because I was taking naps BEFORE surgery! I'd go to bed early for the first month. Now, at about 7 weeks, I'm having a hard time falling asleep.
4. Starting cardiac rehab? I haven't gotten there yet. Seems like it depends on the operation, but lots of folks seem to go at about 6 weeks.
5. My vision returns to normal? My vision didn't change, but I was getting ocular migraines for about 2-1/2 weeks.
6. My appetite returns to normal? That was gradual....I had no appetite in the hospital and it was probably 2 weeks home before I felt much like eating.
Hi Kathryn, Ok I mentione the heating pad to you, but Linda D. also had a travel pillow that she said helped her a lot. I plan on getting one. I guess it is round like a donut and JC Penneys sells them. Yes some meds can make you constipated. Get a stool softner of some kind that should help and drink lots of water. Just hang in there the day will come you will feel better. I havent been there yet for this but had another surgery allong time ago so can relate to that. It does take awhile.
Good luck to you.
For the long haul
I had surgery on 5/9/12 and I found that in my circumstance the discomfort in my back and neck was my biggest complaint. I had gotten a recliner prior to surgery (this was my way of getting something I had wanted for several years!) and I have found it to be helpful. Yet, its best days are ahead as I use it the way it is supposed to be used, to watch tv and fall alsleep for a little while!
Yet, as it turned out sleeping was a little bit of a challenge and I ended up combining 3 things throughout the night. I started out in the recliner, then switched to the couch and then ended up in my bed around 5:00am. For me each offered a different way to deal with my back discomfort.
Yet, after about 5 weeks I was able to use my bed and the back and neck discomfort is almost completely gone. I believe that the sleeping issue for me was just part of the "adventure" of recovery from surgery. In other words it was just something that I had to manage for a short time.
I had my AVR May 8th, because of complications I spent 13 days in the hospital. Sleeping was a problem I would lay in bed for a few hours and then would get up and try the recliner for a while. Nothing seemed to give any relief for more than a short time. It is now 6 weeks since my first surgery and 2 1/2 weeks since my 2nd surgery and for the past week I have been sleeping 7or 8 hours in my own bed. I am sure that if it weren't for the second surgery I would have been sleeping normally weeks ago. Just be patient in a few weeks you will be back to your old routine.
Hi Kathryn Try using a heating pad for the back pain. I have heard that you can rent one of those recliners. Might be worth it. Call Arrons or rent a center. Somebody said that got a wedge pillow for their bed.Good luck to you hope all else is going well for you.
For the long haul
Kathryn: my wife Mollie is facing AVR surgery in August. We've been advised to buy a small electric lift that sits in the seat of the recliner. It's very affordable compared with the cost of the lift chair. Also, we've decided on the Ross Procedure. I'm curious if you ever considered that? Best wishes for continued recovery.
Katheryn, after my husband had bypass surgery I did run out and purchase a "power" recliner from Evans furniture. It eliminated the lever usage. You might try putting pillows Underneath each arm which raises them off the mattress, thus the strain on chest muscles. Give it a shot. It all takes time but it will get better, promise.
I didn't have a recliner or much else to sleep on other than my bed the day I got home. I put a bunch of pillows under my mattress at the head of the bed so it angled the bed up. I found this worked really well.
I had/have trouble with my shoulder, so I slept on the heating pad during recovery. It is better now but I remember complaining at the hospital about the shoulder-not the incision! Wasn't expecting that. I also slept on the couch for 6 or 7 weeks. I tried the bed but found it was not comfortable. I also have recliners but I found the couch was best for sleep. Recliners were useful for naps. I did not take a lot of pain pills but when I did it was generally for the shoulder. It will get better....
Hi Kathryn, sorry you are at the "I survived, surgery was successful, but now I'm uncomfortable" stage. I will tell you that it was weeks before I could sleep anywhere other than my recliner and also before I slept more than a few hours at the time. Perhaps you can still get a recliner? I don't know how I would have made it without mine. It is definitely worth the investment. I understand many places have them for rental. Getting up and walking around is a good idea, but you also need GOOD rest. Hope you feel better soon.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
Friday will be 4 wks post-op. I was told 6-8 wks for recovery. Plan is to return to work on 7/17(7 wks) if all stays to plan. My steri strips have all come off and incision looks good. They wired sternum and glued me. My surgeon said I could swim(I will dip in as I am not a strong swimmer and the arm motion would kill me with the incision). I do have to watch the sun exposure this year and if I do tan the area spf 50 or 60. I gained 20 lbs in hospital. I took it all off about a week ago and about 7 lbs came back when I stopped taking diuretic. My surgeon explained that this is natural after surgery.
Good work on the spirometer. I can relate all to well on the BM...or lack thereof. Honestly, all chest tubes, pace wires, incisions aside that was one of the worst parts of my surgery! I hope you are able to be discharged today. If so you will need to take it easy as far as walking, etc(maybe after dinner before dark?) We are in CT and expecting same heat both today and tomorrow. I have my first cardia rehab today at 10am so that is indoors I assume with plenty of AC. However; rest of day will be inside in central air. My surgeon cleared me Monday to swim. I am not a good swimmer and to try to swim using my arms would kill my chest so perhaps I will just wade into my pool later to cool off.
Good luck and keep us posted.
HI Kathryn. Glad you are doing real good. Sorry about tv. They should have ear phones so you cant hear it. As far as the other problem goes, you might want to ask for a stool softner. Some of the meds make you constipatated, thats no fun. Good luck and hope you continue to do good in your recovery.
Early on I too had a lot of back pain. I did find it to lessen after my chest drain tubes were removed. Not sure on caffeine as I at most would have one a day if that, but brought my own herbal tea and honey to the hospital. Hope each day finds you feeling better.
I also found myself up at 3:00am reading while I was in the hospital. I was awake about an hour and then was able to sleep. It was the discomfort in my back and neck.
I too am a commited coffee drinker, yet for me in the hospital it did not bother me to not have it, however I think that is because I was given Percocet for the pain. When I got home I started to drink coffee and as a result avoided the headaches.
Hope each day you're feeling better and better. I feel the same way about the TV being left on and am sorry that is the case..maybe you will get a private room.
Keep up the good work with your walking and gaining strength.
Prayers for your healing and comfort.
Glad you are up and walking!! Keep pushing yourself. Glad these days are behind you and you can focus on recovery now. Keep using that spirometer, it makes a huge difference. Stay strong!!! Thinking of you.
Hey Kathryn, Sorry you are having some problems, but tomorrow will be a better day and the next. Soon you will be sprung from the hospital and really getting better. Good luck to you, hang in there.
For the long haul
Kathryn, sorry you are having these issues, but they will soon resolve. The hardest parts are over, now you can begin living again! Take care and remember to make the spirometer your best friend, you will be thankful later on.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
We are in the same boat Kathryn, sort of. I debated for months over the mechanical vs tissue question....long story short, I'm 63 years old and just received a St. Jude Trifecta tissue valve.
Everyone is different of course but in my case after a few days post surgery, 6/6/12, I had no real pain issues. I'm home after four nights in the Cleveland Clinic and I'm just suffering the normal pains in the butt from all the side effects of the drugs they still have me taking.
As usual, the better physical you are in going into OHS the better the recovery.
Take heart, pun intended, these heart surgeons know what they are doing.
Hey Kathryn, Tell your husband I can relate to his feelings twice. Once with my Dad and his adonamal anuersym and my daughter with aortic stenosis. Its no fun waiting for it to be over with. My husband is having issues with waiting for my nucular stress test that takes 5 hours. I told him to pack a lunch as he is diabetic. I think God was just preparing me for what is coming my way. He will be fine. He might even find someone to talk to while waiting, that helps a little.
For the long haul
Hi Kathryn, Its never to late to be almost over. You are starting a new chapter in your life and it will be amazing. God will take care of you and when this is over you will be on the other side of the mountain,.Im not there yet myself but I hear it is real nice. Good luck to you and prayers will be out there. Keep us all posted.
For the long haul
Kathryn, you've already done one of the hardest parts...you decided on a valve! Soon you will be done with the absolute worse part...waiting. Honestly, the surgery for me was not at all bad and I am by no means superwoman. Just keep a positive attitude and make the spirometer your best friend! You will be fine! Hope you have someone posting updates for you. God bless!
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
I am tissue AVR, 5/4/12. Few points:
1. The 15 years you mention is based on old valves. At my institution they now quote 17-20.
2. Get a second op from a surgeon specializing in tissue. Review the surgeon and his institution for re-ops, etc.
3. Assume progress. A re-op in 2027 will not be based on today's methodology.
4. I am 67, with gene history pointing well into 90's, and I selected tissue.
Darn I just wrote everything and it got erased. I dont know what I do wrong.
Anyway, I am 57 yrs old and I am opting for the tissue valve. I dont think being on coumdin is worth all that fuss.
I also feel the new Aortic procedure called TAVR will be perfected by then.
My surgery is June 7th.
Bovine Valve vs. Mechanical(Pros and Cons):
• Give up Physical Job or Activity:
• I want to be able to work on Tree Farm, yard, etc.
• Go Deer Hunting/perhaps fishing one day
• Football officiating maybe?
• Do all this without my wife worrying about me bleeding to death.
• I can hurt myself somewhat quite often…….
• 1 of 100 on cumiden can have stroke/bleeding
• Chance of stroke less with tissue vs. mechanical
• Monthly blood test
• Cost of medicine/forget to take medicine
• Bleeding while shaving, etc
• Major accident: friend's mother on cumiden that bleed to death.
• Future Elective Surgeries/Dental work
• Past History of Ulcer
-Fellow worker had mechanical valve (16years) still had replacement done.
• Probably gets a trip to Vegas is he “sells” 5 mechanical valves:
• I really think the cardiologist is ok with any decision I make (I was unsure before Secretary call today).
• He was “stand backish” during Surgeons visit, but walked in on the conversation.
• Did not communicate strong opinion back to me via secretary. She stated it was up to the surgeon to discuss questions, etc.
• Stating in initial visit that the “Surgery was not a big deal”…( so therefore I can do it twice)
• Gave me choice
• If it happened to him……. His choice is bovine. He would go through the Surgery twice, no question.
• His face, when discussing that the cardiologist had talked about Mechanical exclusively.
• Video from Hospital, about his parents.
• Cleveland Clinic, in 2009 performed 1,613 aortic replacement procedures, 85% were biological
• Study on biologic valves show, in 40 year old, these valves have a 50% chance of lasting 15 years or longer without decline in function. (I am a little older so that might be a small plus?)
• In discussion on internet, Dr. Gillivov, Cleveland clinic, states that “advances in preservation of tissue valves where they could last 20 years, some do, but count of 10-15 years”; in conversation with 65 year old man, that is replacing valve after 10 years: leaves the option open for Mechanical valve at that age of 65.
-My overall health forward (quit my vices):
-Future surgical procedures for an easy fix, or future of biologic valves longevity.
- Fellow Worker stated “Put a God made valve in”
• Does not have to be replaced: Maybe…………..
• Get Mechanical the 2nd time, if advancements are made in blood thinner/valve
• Some clicking sound
Is your head spinning yet? I think the best advice I read in your guestbook is: Choose the one that lets you sleep at night (and I'm assuming that person was not referencing the ticking).
Someone before me wrote that we don't know the long term effects of coumadin on the body. We most certainly do -- it was approved for human use in 1954.
You will find this to be a very personal choice. I tried to read everything I could from people using Coumadin. The overwhelming theme was to not let Coumadin use influence your choice. It really isn't that big of a deal.
To confuse you more, my cardiologist and all three surgeons I interviewed all recommended mechanical because I'm 44 and there is always an increased risk in multiple surgeries. They also weren't so sure that we'd have approval and durability data to support replacements done through the groin by the time I'd need a replacement if I chose tissue.
On 3/20 of this year, I had a Carbomedics aortic valve implanted, plus my root and ascending aorta replaced. With all that work being done, I wanted to do everything I could to make sure I minimized my chances of needing any further surgeries.
So far I've had one major life change in my activity -- I've put a first aid kit in both of our cars so that I have band aids with me. I'm very active. I've cut myself a couple of times (not uncommon for me). I've noticed that I do bleed a little more, but it is not a drastic change.
The only other thing is that I try to stay consistent with my intake of green leafy vegetables. That's it. I'm on a low dose of Coumadin and my levels have been easy to maintain.
Again, this is a very personal decision. I'm not going to try to sway you one way or the other. I'm just letting you know that I probably won't need another surgery for this and the Coumadin is not an issue for me.
i am 63 and will have an AVR on May 7, using the "Port Acess" prcedure. My surgeon, Dr. Husam Balkhy, is quite progressive, doing Da Vinci robotic survery on Mitral valves. He advised me that tissue valves have been continually improved, and my tissue valve will likely last well beyond the 10 to 15 years lives of the older genration valves. He also greatly dislikes Coumadin.
However, my neighbor has been a Coumadin monitor nurse for many years, and assures me nearly all people can live a quite normal life with Coumadin. According to her, you can enjoy alcohol in moderation and eat all the green vegtables you want, so long as you are reasonably consistant from day to day. She also tells me there are better replacements for coumadin coming along.
Hi Kathryn, I had my aortic valve replaced 2/6/12 with the On-x mechanical valve. It is a hard decision that we all make. Getting information about your disease is the best medicine. I will say that all of your HVJ friends are there for you and will keep you in thier thoughts and prayers. As Adam would say "Keep on Tickin!" Take care.
I had AVR and repair of the lower ascending aorta on 2/2/12. I chose tissue valve, bovine to be exact. I am still getting used to the sudden urges to eat grass. Lol.
I chose tissue because I did not want to deal with coumadin. My surgeon told me he felt the risks associated with Coumadin far outweighed the risks of 2 surgeries. Plus, like others have said, I am pretty confident my next AVR will be done through the artery in my leg.
Those are my reasons. With research the right answer will come to you. The only right answer is the one that makes you sleep best at night. Just so you know, I started this process dead set on mechanical, but ended up with tissue. Go figure.
My AVR is scheduled 5/4 at CClinic.I asked for a tissue valve.
1. We don't know the long term effects of coumadin, perhaps on other organs.
2. I am 67. A re-op is doubtful.
3. In the event of a re-op, assume it is 10-15 years out. OHS for AVR will be obsolete. Non invasive techniques are in the books.
The important thing, however, is that you do your own research, reaching a decision that you, family, and Doctors are comfortable with. Best of luck. You have my support.
Keep in mind that longevity has almost nothing to do with your parents or grandparents lifespans. And with the constant, almost miraculous advances in medical science every few years the likelihood of very minimal intrusive re-surgery for valve jobs is very likely in the near future. This is why I am choosing the biological valve. I do not want to greatly alter my active lifestyle to compensate for dangers of blood clots and strokes inherent with the mechanical valve.
Reading the many journals here has only reinforced my decision.
First let me say this is just my opinion, and what i experience, I am from MA too, and I am 50 years old. I had AVR in November 2011 and I chose a Mechanical Valve, my brother had AVR 20 something years ago and is doing great with a Mechanical valve, one thing he told me and a friend who had Bypass surgery, you only want to have open heart surgery one time. I too have good genes in the family, I did not want to get a tissue valve and have surgery 1,2 or 3 more times, each time the risk is a little more higher. Also I didn't want to have this type of surgery when I was in my 60's 70's or 80's at that age you don't bounce back that quick. When I was in the hospital I was there 6 days, and was one of the younger patients there, I talked to older patients and they were there still in the hospital after 12-14 days. A tissue valve last like you said 10-15 years and I sure you could get more out of it if possible, but do you want to have another open heart surgery when your in your late 60's or 70's or older. I heard some people say CC promotes more tissue valves than Mechanical, because of the coumadin side effects, or is it because they want to have repeat business in the future, don't know. I heard other people say that they will have a new procedure in the future, where they can go through your groin, that maybe true, but is this type of procedure good for replacing any valve in your heart of only some. Also I heard that this type of procedure in very lengthly, would I want to stay under that long, especially being older person, don't know. I know that the success rate is very high for Valve replacement, and some people make it sound like going through another one or two operations is no big deal, remember it is still major surgery. The hardest part to Coumadin is getting you blood levels with in your INR range, it is a very slow process, and it takes time, and it can be a pain sometimes having to go weekly for blood draws, but over time you will go longer periods to have you blood drawn and hopefully get it to once a month. Some foods i do avoid a little bit, or if I have them I have smaller portions. Any how this is just my opinion, you will do excellent, I know it is a tough decison, but for me a Mechanical valve was the right choice and the Coumadin hasn't been a problem so far except getting my blood within range, Take care you will do fine, I will keep you in prayer. GOD BLESS. Jim