I had surgery just a few days after you, and I have dizzy spells now and then too. Not sure if it is my arrhythmias ( I still have a lot of palpitations) or low blood pressure or what. It is a little worrisome, but like you, I don't really want to go have more tests done. I'm hoping they will gradually go away like all the other aches and pains. After four months, I am just ready to start being normal again!
Was just reading your journal. Great to hear you have done so well overall. I am a chiropractor in Orlando, Florida. I can offer you two suggestions. One for dizziness. It could be you have what is called "cervicogenic dizziness" or if you have feeling of yourself spinning or the room spinning, it could be "cervicgenic vertigo". Basically, dizziness or vertigo coming from mechanical problems with the neck. This responds amazingly well to chiropractic care. See this link below for some info and Google further for yourself. http://www.livestrong.com/article/70918-cervicogenic-dizziness-treatment/
Also, for the scar/chest pain etc, try seeing if the chiropractor you may see also uses "cold laser" also know as "low level laser therapy". I will be using this on my chest and scar post surgery to heal faster. If you go to You Tube you can search cold laser and watch some of the news video reports from around the U.S. Search "cold laser ML830" The ML 830 model if the one I use in my offices but there are many models on the market. Good luck to you.
Jeff Shebovsky, Orlando, FL
Thank you Rosemary for your response, it helps me. What s support group this blog is! Indeed pre op is quite anxiogenic, I'm living with the countdown for months now, and in a way, I want to have it done soon, to get over it once and for all. And to know that you can 'get away with it' with time ans a little bit of makeup, boost your moral :)
Thanks again Rosemary.
Thank you Rosemary for posting photos of your scar. I will have a sternotomy in one month for a mitral valve repair and was wondering about my post op look! Now I know and frankly, while I would prefer not having any :), it's ok to have one. The most important is to have a good surgical outcome!! I wish you a very nice Christmas and a good recovery. Christine
I have been there and done that as well. I was really surprised at how good I felt a few weeks back, even posted it in my journal. I did too much and my body (and mind) let me know it. I am trying to do better now. Still pushing myself a bit, but also taking time to rest, even nap in the afternoons when I can, and do better with my sleep time and getting good nourishment.
I am 2 weeks since my surgery. I went to a Christmas party at a neighbors house. I thought of you right away. What's with my voice? It kind of feels like I have to give a really big cough, but of course I don't want to because it hurts. I spent more time clearing my throat than talking. I think most people thought I had a cold. It was fun to be out doing something normal. I feel asleep sooo fast after that.
Keep inspiring us.
I had a consult with a plastic surgeon yesterday about my sternotomy scar and thought I'd pass along what I learned, which is basically that unless your scar is abnormally bad there isn't much they can do to improve its apperance. There are some things you can do now, since you are at 8 weeks and the sternum is healed and there is no danger of breaking the incision open. Probably the most effective is self-massage, gentle circular motion to help free up the scar tissue and promote circulation. This is most effective when the skin is warm, like after a shower. Also I saw some improvement in the texture of the scar by applying vitamin E (puncture a gel capsule and squeeze the oil onto the incision and massage it in for a few minutes. I do this at bedtime since the oil is messy and can stain your clothes). At 8 weeks it was raised and now at 6 months it's flat and can't be felt with my eyes closed. I don't think it improved much beyond month 4 and the plastic surgeon said I have gotten all the benefit from it I'm likely to see. Another product he recommended is called Scar-away, I think. It's a liquid product that contains silicone and is painted onto the scar. Like vitamin E it can flatten our the texture of the scar and is most effective early on like at 8 weeks. Aside from flattening out the scar, he said the scar (especially the redness) will continue to fade for about 2 years so patience is important. If your scar is red or purple, highly raised or keloided, steroid injections or laser treatments can help. But if your scar is "normal" the best treatment appears to be time and patience. Now, I am off to find some of that patience! Hope some of this is helpful for you.
Life is great Rosemary...we are the lucky ones. So glad to read about your continued good recovery. I am at the same stage as you in the recovery and I am very near back to normal...except for just a bit if stiffness/soreness in the chest.
You are brave for posting pictures of your sternotomy scar. I am very unhappy about mine and don't even want to look at it myself. I have struggled for 6 months to figure out why this is such a problem for me. I had wanted robotic surgery for the shorter recovery but didn't qualify. The recovery is long behind me so that's not it. The scar is ugly but I can cover it with makeup. I think what bothers me is that the scar contradicts my self image as a fit, athletic person. My heart now functions better than ever, so if I didn't have to look at the scar I could forget about the surgery. If you have any insights I'd love to hear how you feel about this.
Regarding health insurance in the US. I have excellent insurance; my out of pocket expenses are capped at $5000 and I have not been denied anything whatsoever. I have two grown children with their own health insurance and they haven't been denied anything either. Of course there are problems with our health system as there are in just about any country you can name, but with so many foreigners coming here if and when they can, the standard of care is unbeatable. As with any topic, you can find horror stories if you look for them, and Moore definitely does. He is probably the last person I would look to for objective reporting. He has his prejudices and I have mine, for what it's worth.
The traffic is usually light on my journey to work and back, although some of the roads are not that great. I put in 8:00 hours, but my bosses are great in letting me off on the days I go to rehab; it is in the opposite direction from my house than work and going both places on the same day would be challenging. Getting there at 7:00 AM is a bit of a challenge. My trips to the rehab center and elsewhere on those days do get me into heavier traffic.
Take your time going back to work, you will be there soon enough. The first day I went to work, it seemed like it had not been that long since I had made that trip.
It is good to learn that you are learning how to do things that help with your pain; that should make things a lot easier for you.
It is also good that you are getting more independent by going shopping on your own. I started off with short trips also. Now I am doing 50 mile round trips to work two days a week, and more than that on my my rehab days.
You will get continue to get better, whatever is bothering you; just listen to your body and give it the rest it needs and check with the doctor(s) if needed, but you know that. I speak from having the experience of having done a bit too much last week.
I agree with Joe's statement about the insurance coverage; there are people that have good coverage, but there are too many that do not have good coverage. My previous comment could have been better. Things are getting worse with our declining economy.
Glad to hear that you are sort of getting back to normal. Hopefully you are on the home stretch.
I hope to be down in Sydney in January and if you are ok with this I would like to catch up as I am having my aortic valve replaced sometime in the new year and I am sure you would have lots of advice for me after your experience. If not I understand
My email address is:
Sicko and Michael Moore should not be taken very seriously. He made a lot of claims that are, at least, questionable. True, there are problems at times, but I think that happens anywhere, not just in the USA. From what I have read, the vast majority of people in the USA are satisfied with their healthcare system. Although, it is true that not everyone has health insurance for various reasons, and improvements could be made.
I personally have not had any problems with insurance coverage for my treatments this year.
It is good to learn that you got a good report from your surgeon!
Getting to drive again is a great milestone also.
Just remember to take your Vitamin P; push yourself, but listen very closely to how your body and heart responds, they are still recovering and will be for quite a while. Better to be a bit cautious than to over do something; especially if you are starting back into the commercial area.
The best gift you can give to others is to heal yourself.
Thanks for the tip about drinking. It would be an issue for me. I am 60 years old and that old bladder of mine is not what it used to be. I have been reading your journal. I love your sense of humor. We would get along very well.
I have had to learn Patience myself. It is a big step in the healing process. I was surprised out how much the surgery took out of me. I had no energy and was very lethargic most of the time, still am to a certain extent but getting better. I like to read, but even that was too much for a long while; it was much easier to watch TV. There were times when I felt more energetic and did too much and had to recover from the extra activity.
It was worse when I started rehab, because I was on a very restricted workout routine and I saw others who were doing much more than I was doing. I subsequently learned that I was one of the few who actually had heart surgery and the staff was giving my heart the necessary time to heal; which is a long term process. The ones who had had stents implanted or bypass surgery were able to do more than me.
Family and friends do make a big difference. I did well when living with my son, moving back home and being alone a lot was a bit of a downer, but a necessary step in my recovery. I do make a point of seeing him and my daughter and getting together with my friends and talking with other family members who live elsewhere to keep from being too isolated.
Anyway, take care, it sounds like you have a good support group and are making good progress.
Hi. Identifying w- your story. Mid 60 & going in for avr feb 9 2012. I too am so excited to be able to walk faster - go up a flight of steps etc. I am doing great & no MAJOR symptoms. But do get out of breath if I do hills or steps. - / sp guess what ? I don't do em ! Lol
I am a prof speaker & speak at large conferences - found a window of opportunity between feb 9 & April 20 - which gives me 10-12 weeks to recover. Dr. Say should be good to go ! Hope so. My biggest challenge is trying to log into this journal. It keeps telling me my image is too long. (Lord knows what that means. ). But unable to put my own journal on.
You are welcome to email me direct - I'm in st Louis. At
Nancy@telephonedoctor.com Glad u r doing so well & I look forward to the same. Just have some "girl" questions ". To ask. Thx a lot & continue good recovery. Nancy.
...happened by HVJ today and saw your journal remarks about climbing a hill and getting excited about your recovery. I'm gonna tell you recovery from OHS (open heart surgery) can be as exciting as any dream you can have. I'm a guy that is so proud and excited that I was able to complete the Marine Corps Marathon 7 1/2 months after my OHS last March, but what I did, and I'm proud of it, is nothing compared with Ellen Charnley who completed an Ironman Triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a full Marathon (26.2 mile run)) 9 1/2 months following OHS. Yep, recovery is exciting, and you will be able to accomplish about anything you decide you want to do. I will soon mentor folks wanting to train to do a Century (100 miles) bicycle ride in June 2012, and I'm about to commit to do an Olympic Distance Triathlon in June 2012. OHS can be a new beginning. ...just work at it....Barry on the mountain in New Mexico
I had a similar surgery to you, they opened my chest up twice..they second time because i had a clot. Its my third week home and im still in alot of pain. They have me on 60 mg of oxycontin and 10 mg of oxycodone for breakthrough pain. Its so strong becuase im an ex heroin addict and i still feel quite a bit of pain even on these pills. what i was wondering was do you still have alot of pain 4-5 weeks home? thanks joe(24 yrs old)
I've read your journal and hope that the doctors can get your pain under control. I'll be having an aortic valve replacment within the next month or two.
Janis (Jan) Ghrairi
Hope things are looking up for you. Seems like you have had a few terrible days and nights. I am learning lots from your journals. I bet you are too!!! You might be able to get a Masters in Valve replacement after this.
I know it is easy for me to say as I have not had my operation as yet, but hang in there. My op will hopefully be in late January if all goes according to my plans.
You really described your experiences well. When you "present" yourself to the hospital you give up your ability to act for yourself. Slowley you become less and less dependent. Taking on all those little things at home that you can do for yourself feel good. Retake your independence bit by bit!
Greetings from Louisville Kentucky Rosemary (and family). I'm so glad to hear you made it through the surgery so well. And to be already sitting up 24 hours after the operation is such an encouragement to me! I'm having my operation on Wednesday (Oct 19th). Going with a pig valve and also having a triple bypass.
My prayers and thoughts are with you as you continue to heal.
Back here in the UK, we have a brand of underwear called 'sloggi'. They do lovely soft bras that are still pretty. I went straight into mine after my mitral valve repair op, and i might not even go back to my 'normal' bras again!
I think of you on this journey frequently and can relate somewhat what you are going through. In relation to the bra, I was able to pick up a soft bra at KMart for my stay in hospital. Totally comfortable and kept my dignity in tact.
Wanting to do something to help in some small way, I've thought the best thing is to support Christine as much as possible so she is free to be with you.
I will be thinking of you next week and wish you well. Hope when you are feeling well enough to visit.
Take care and best wishes
Thanks for your response re which type of valve you are having. Also with your enquiry about a bra, I have purchased a special (but ugly) bra that is done up in the centre by hooks and eye and over the shoulder by velcro. Next is a bra that is similar to the one I got but it has a zip front. (Amoena Patricia Zip Front Compression Bra [Style No: AM-2863 by Amoena)
I thought it might give me a bit of support and hurt a little less where the incision is made.
Rosemary - I am just about to visit my Cardio Surgeon for the 1st time and one of my questions will be "What options of an aortic valve replacement would he recommend for a 53 year old women?' What type are you getting - Mechanical or pig or cow valve etc?
Good luck, Rosemary. You've had quite an ordeal. I feel guilty that my trip to the OR this Wednesday has been fairly smooth. Hope it stays that way. I'm lucky in that I will have a mini-sternectomy, which they say will shorten my recovery time. Hope you start feeling well and hope your operation is quick and slick.
Your story is pretty much like mine. I was around ten when I first learned I had a heart murmur. No problems with it at all (other than huffing and puffing up hills) until I was 57 and then wham. One day walking to my office from the parking lot I thought I was going to die, Several tests later and I learned I had a bicuspid aortic valve and needed to have it replaced. I had my surgery in May 2010, got a bovine valve, and am feeling great! The surgery wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared and my recovery was relatively smooth. 11 weeks later I was back at work.
This is a great site to ask your questions and talk about your fears. We're all here for you.