My surgery scar at one year. You can still see a couple of scars lower where the tubes were.
One year anniversary
Journal posted on September 11, 2014
Received "Toro", my bovine aortic valve replacement a year ago today. So, this is my one year rebirthday. Heartwise I feel great. Good stamina and can do so much more physically now than before surgery. I still have a pain at the bottom of my sternum. Cardiologist thought it might be a loose sternum wire, but my Cobra insurance ran out before we could get it checked out completely. That's been 6 months or more. They did do a chest x-ray, and the wires were intact, but the cardiologist said we'd really need to do a CT scan to see if they are loose and insurnance ran out before we got to that point. I only get the pain when I lean back a ways or sometimes when I sneeze, otherwise it doesn't really hurt. I also still have little sparkly "fireflys" in my vision. Not near as much as I had right after surgery, but they're still there. I've been bad, I haven't been walking like I should and put on some weight. But, when I do walk, I've got good stamina and that's so much better than before surgery. I remember when I asked the heart surgeon about exercising to loose weight before surgery to help recover quicker, and he told me to only walk at a leisurely pace because I could die very suddenly doing strenuous exercise. Now my heart is "strong like bull". This surgery definitely saved my life.
For those going into surgery and in recovery, take it slow to heal quickly. Don't try to push yourself too quickly to do too much too early physically. It's not a race---it's recovery. Plus recovery is not linear. It's a roller coaster. You have good days and bad days, and if you push yourself TOO hard on the good days, it will bring on the bad days.
Take your pain meds on a regular schedule. If you wait until it starts hurting before you take your pain meds, it's going to keep getting worse before the pain meds kick in, so don't wait too long. As you recover you'll be able to last longer and longer before needing to take more pain pills and you'll be able to ween yourself down to Tylenol and get off the Vicodin.
Sleep doesn't come easy at first, so sleep and nap a lot so your body can heal. Also eat well and get good protein to aid in the healing. It took me several weeks for me to get my appetite back.
Adam's book is really helpful and this website answered so many questions and alleviated so many fears before surgery. Use the search function, watch videos, and read journals of past patients to know what to expect. I went from pissing myself in public thinking " Oh crap, I'm having open heart surgery" to confidently thinking, "Let's get this baby done" before surgery. I still piss myself in public but at least it's not because I'm scared. Great big thanks to Adam for the book and the website.
Good luck to those going into surgery and those in recovery. And a shout out to Jim, Dan, Aubrey, Gabi, Debs, Joe, Carols, Higgy, and etc. who jumped on the recovery train around the same time as me. Big hug to Rachel in the UK. Thanks to all my heart valve buddies who laughed at my journal and were so encouraging and supportive. And great big thanks and love to all my family and friends, and especially Brian who made so many trips over here bringing food and company while I was recovering. Big thanks to Mom for coming out and watching out for me during surgery and recovery. I've almost paid off your bill at the liquor store.
If you're brave enough, read my journal for a laugh or two.
March 11 was 6 months post op for my heart valve surgery. I saw my cardiologist Feb. 11th and he was very happy with how I was doing and said not to come back for another 6 months. My blood pressure was 120/70 and heart rate was 70 bpm.
I've been bad. I pulled a muscle in my calf and stopped walking for a couple of months. I did a three mile walk today at a brisk but not too fast pace and felt fine. I've got a pain in my lower sternum that started about three weeks ago (AFTER I had been to the cardiologist, of course). I only feel it when I sneeze, twist a certain way, or when I toss my head back to swallow my pills. I wanted to walk and see whether I got really tired or not to see if it was a return of pericarditis. Since I didn't get tired, and out of breath walking, and I don't have a temperature, I doubt it's pericarditis. My roommate thinks it may be muscular since I've been using a dumbell to try and rehab my shoulder from the rotator cuff pain I developed recently. Doesn't feel muscular to me, though. I've got a regular doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks. If the pain persists until then, we'll see what he thinks.
I thought I'd do the final post tonight, but the football game on TV, strippers, pizza and a bit too much beer took up most of the day, so I'll have to postpone it. I'm going to write a summary for new patients so they don't have to read 20 pages of my B.S., so I have to organize my thoughts first before my final post. I plan on posting at 6 months and a year, but I'll post if any other signicant event happens, like Mom finally completing rehab or if I get a tattoo of a zipper on my chest scar.
Quick update from me healthwise: Feeling great. Did 3 miles walking/jogging on the treadmill in 39mins. and then a half mile cool down. Wasn't breathing hard and felt like I could do it faster, but no need to push it right now. Hoping to do a 5k sometime in 2014 when I can do consistent 10min. miles or less. 15min. miles last week were pretty easy, so upped my intensity a bit this week. I'll probably keep it at 3 miles for 39 to 40 mins. all next week before I up the intensity. I'm 16 weeks post-op, so about 4 and 1/2 months out and feeling great. I dropped 3 or 4 pounds this week from the 10 pounds I gained over the holidays. I weighed 194 lbs. this morning and the goal is 175 lbs. I haven't weighed that since college so I'm looking forward to reaching that goal. Maybe an all beer diet will work.
Did a motorcycle ride today through the twisty canyon roads in the mountains behind my house. It was the first time I've ridden since my surgery. Rode 50 miles and no sternum pain, and I didn't wreck, hit a deer, or get hit by a car so I'm plenty happy about that.
Next post will be my heart valve surgery summary.
Waiting with fingers crossed for Rachel to get a nice, viable heart for transplant, and expecting to hear great news.
Good luck, good health and safety for everybody here in 2014.
I thought my doctor's appointment was on the 23rd, but it was yesterday. Doctor was happy with everything and said I was doing well, so sent me on my way.
Not sure if I should watch the Cowboys game tomorrow or not. I guess if I do, I'll just have to make sure there is nothing in reach that I can throw at the TV. They need to teach all of the Cowboys players how to do the Heimlich maneuver in case Romo starts to choke again as usual.
Christmas party tonight at my friend Kirby's place, and I'm going down to my sister's for Christmas Tuesday. Gotta try and get through Christmas without gaining too much weight, but I can't make any promises. Big time sweet tooth. Can't say no to desserts, especially anything chocolate. I guess I know what this year's new year resolution will be.
I didn't see the Dallas Cowboys game, and I'm glad I missed yet another Tony Romo big-time choke. The Dallas defense (if you can call it that) didn't help matters either. Roger Staubach is only 71. Bring him out of retirement. I'm sure he could do a better job than Romo.
About 3 and a half months post surgery and recovery is going great. My cardio is better than before surgery, so very happy about that. Sternum is healing really well. Seeing fewer sparks in my peripheral vision, so I think that's getting better, too. Starting to drop a few pounds that I gained from Halloween and Thanksgiving. Just boring good news. Nothing special to report on.
Glad to hear good news about Rachel in the UK. She and her support group have so much strength and class. Very proud of her and them. Lawson even took the time to respond on my guestbook as well as others and he even subscribed to my journal putting me over the top of my goal of 100 subscribers. How classy is that? Not sure who I have a bigger crush on, Rachel or Lawson.
To all those in recovery, heal like the wind! Those getting ready for surgery, good luck and keep a positive attitude for positive results. Recovery will take a while (and you need to take it slow!), but you will be so much better after you've recovered.
My next doctor's appointment is Dec. 23, so if nothing else comes up to report on before then, that'll probably be my next journal entry. Until then--- Heal, damn you, heal!
No, I didn't hit on Kristie the exercise physiologist, although she's a real sweety-pie.
My insurance has a limited amount of lifetime cardiac rehab visits allowed, and Kristie didn't want to use them all up at this time since I'm doing so well. My numbers were hitting right where she said they should be and I was having no chest pains or discomfort, so she sent me on my way and told me to keep doing cardio 5 days a week for 45 minutes. She told me not to do any upper body exercise until January to let my sternum heal, and then when I do start, no chest exercises like push ups or bench press, and nothing that involves lifting the arms higher than the shoulders like lat pulls.
13 weeks post op I'm walking and breathing better than I did before surgery, so I feel great about that. My chest doesn't hurt except sometimes when I sneeze, so everything is going well. This week I started sleeping flat again instead propped up in bed with a bunch of pillows, and I think I'm sleeping better. All in all, healthwise things are going great. Now I just need to get a job.
Great to hear Rachel is doing better and that the other people in recovery are doing well, too. Good luck to those going into surgery.
Just noticed that I've got 98 subscribers to my journal now. I've almost reached my goal of 100.
I had gotten a bit lax about walking over the last several weeks, so put on a few pounds. Thankfully cardiac rehab has gotten the ball rolling again. Today they had me do 40 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph and halfway through they had me bump up the gradient to 2. I worked up a sweat, but cardio-wise had no problem. My heart rate was 75 before I started and the highest it got was 123 while I was exercising. BP was 120/70 before and after exercise, and it was about 160/80 during exercise. So, everything was looking good. I had some weird chest pains driving home afterwards, but it felt more musculo-skeletal than heart pain. I was driving my Jeep and it doesn't have power steering, so hopefully that was the cause. Or gas.
We've got a bunch of new people getting ready for surgery. I never wrote a summary of my experience in the hospital, so need to do that. Jim Jones, Dan Sinclair, Aubrey and others have done a really great job with their summaries and advice/tips they can offer from their experiences.
My BEST advice for when you are in the hospital---prune juice and Dulcolax. Pain meds tend to slow things down a bit, and the prune juice and Dulcolax help to get things moving along.
Also, I had to change the ring tone on my cell phone. The hospital staff didn't appreciate the humor that my ring tone was the sound of a heart monitor beeping and then flatlining.
Good luck to everybody getting ready for surgery and good healing those of you in recovery. Positive attitude yields positive results. Keep up the good fight Rachel. We're all praying for the best outcome possible.
Low and behold, Brian made it back to the house for Monday night football. Yay! He picked up some food coming over--- chicken, salad, mac and cheese, and some ice cream and pie for desert. He picked up Vanilla Bean, Sweet Chocolate, and Pumpkin Pie. We usually only have two strippers over on football night, but Pumpkin Pie wanted to come along too.
Had cardiac rehab yesterday, and it's going well. Feels good being able to walk better on the treadmill than before surgery.
Hope everybody has a good Thanksgiving, and continued prayers for Rachel over in the UK.
Started cardiac rehab this week and went twice. They have me doing 40 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 speed. I feel fine and the only thing slowing me down is sore tendons from many sprained ankles, so I have to stop and stretch them after about 10 minutes. Since I have a bovine valve, they usually hold up a red cape in front of me for incentive to keep me going.
Had a doctor's appointment Friday, and he was very satisfied with how my recovery is progressing. If I was doing any better I'd have a rainbow coming out my ass.
My friend Brian hasn't been by the house ever since I made that joke about having strippers dressed in cheerleader outfits when he's over here for football night. Maybe his wife DOES read my journal. It was a joke Joni!! They're basically just wearing thong bikinis and high heels, not cheerleader outfits.
I've read the journals and see that several of the ladies in recovery are having some problems. I hope ya'll are feeling better quickly, especially Rachel who we continue to pray for.
No real pains. Feeling good. Walking well. Then I sneeze and I'm reminded real quickly that the old sternum has a bit more healing to do.
My friend Dave read my journal where I wrote that I had a week where I couldn't get motivated to do anything. He said it sounds like I'm totally heaIed because I was basically back to the way I was BEFORE surgery. The bastard.
Mom just called while I was typing this. She was pretty sober this time, so it was a pleasant call.
Last Friday went to an animation career expo and spent the better part of the day walking around and visiting with friends and ex co-workers. Got a lot of comments about how well I looked post surgery. Didn't feel too tired from all that walking and talking, but yesterday ended up taking a good 3 hour nap in the afternoon. It's been a few weeks since I've had to have an afternoon nap like that.
Football starting soon, so gotta get off this infernal machine to go turn on that infernal TV. Continued prayers for Rachel in the UK and wishing the rest you good health and healing. Take it slow. Not everybody is a machine like Aubrey.
Congrats DanSinc on getting discharged from the hospital. Now the recovery really begins.
Went into the hospital yesterday to start cardiac rehab, and all they had me do was fill out paperwork and answer health and body questions. They are going to have me come 15 times or so, twice a week. So, no workout. I already had my sweats on, so I just swung by the gym on the way home and walked 3 miles on the treadmill.
Continuing prayers for Rachel in the UK. Good luck for those getting ready for surgery and continued healing for those recovering.
I know. I haven't been updating my journal much lately. Last week I didn't feel like doing much of anything. Hardly left the house, didn't do bills, didn't hardly exercise (and I was really kicking ass the week before). I didn't really feel down, so I don't think I was depressed, but I just couldn't get motivated to do ANYTHING. It was almost like I WAS depressed, but without being in a funk. I blame it on the Dallas Cowboys. (Hey, I can't blame myself!)
I had a cardiologist appointment yesterday. I've been feeling well physically, and the doctor was happy with how I was doing. Got an EKG and it matched my last one, so that is my new baseline normal. The cardiologist recommended and prescribed cardio rehab, so I've got my first appointment scheduled for Thursday. Looking forward to it.
Today's tip for people recovering from heart valve surgery---- no NAKED TWISTER for at least three months after surgery. I found that out the hard way. Got into a position I couldn't get out of without hurting myself and needed help to get out of it. It wouldn't have been so bad, except I was alone. So, I had to wait for my roommate to come home. Another ten minutes, and I think I would have sobered up enough to get out of it myself. It was embarrassing enough having my roommate walk in with me stuck like that, but unfortunately he brought a couple of lady friends home for dinner. What's worse was by that time the house had gotten pretty cold, and the heater was turned off.... Why the hell does EVERYBODY have a cell phone with photo and video capability nowadays?!! I think I need to buy an Xbox or Playstation for the next time I get drunk and bored and decide to play a game.
Good healing to all those who just had surgery and are joining us on the recovery train, and those of us a little farther along in recovery. Jim (JJ), Lynn E, Jenn, Tom, Aubrey, Higgy, Cindy, Sandy, Carol(s), Rebecca, Barb, Mary S, Debbie J, Ralph, Anna, etc. Thanks for those much farther in recovery who post (like Linda H and Elsie) and keep encouraging and inspiring us. Good luck Dan Sinclair, Tracy, Bob, Tamara, etc. who are getting ready for surgery. And prayers for Rachelle in the United kingdom who's having some trouble right now after surgery.
Romo pulled out a comeback win for the Dallas Cowboys this weekend!!! Holy cr@p!!
I've got 95 subscribers to my journal! Haven't hit my goal yet of 100, but this is the closest I've come so far.
Finally paid off Mom's bill at the liquor store. Mom, the store owners want your address to send you a thank you card. They miss you and ask about you every day.
Another tip for heart valve patients: If you have strippers come visit you at the hospital, the nurses don't appreciate it if they show up dressed in "sexy nurse outfits". And, if you're in a hospital like St. Josephs, they especially don't like it if the strippers wear the sexy Catholic schoolgirl costume. Better to have them show up in the sexy cop outfit.
Thanks Brian for stopping in for Monday night football and bringing tamales and ice cream. Glad you're feeling better. Next time I'll make sure the stripper's cheerleader outfits match the teams playing that night. Might require a bigger tip, though. (Hopefully your wife doesn't read my journal.)
Good luck to the November patients going into surgery, and continued healing for the rest of you on the recovery train with me. You know Aubrey's an engineer, right? He'll get us where we need to go.
Diarrhea. No fun. Hope I'm not getting sick. Woke up this morning feeling a little tired, so hard to tell if it was a stomach bug, or something else. Maybe snacked on too much Halloween candy.
Good amount of trick or treaters came by yesterday, but still have a good amount of candy left. Little bastards took all the Almond Joy, but that's all right. I'm good with just chocolate.
Walked in the neighborhood yesterday, and went up one of the most steep hills. Did well, but coming down hill my left knee started hurting and got so bad I started limping. Loosened up and quit hurting once I turned onto my street and onto even ground. Damned 50 year old knees! A lot of wear and tear over the years.
Sternum must be REALLY healing now. Starting to get some chest pains but only feel it when I breath deep, cough, or sneeze. It's a dull pain, more like a bruise feeling. Totally manageable, and don't need anything for it.
Ever since surgery I've had these "firefly" like sparks that fade in and out every once in a while in my peripheral vision. I looked at other heart journals and some people said they had "floaters" but eye floaters are usually dark, and mine are more like sparks that fade in and out as they zoom through. I wonder how much longer I'll keep getting those? I don't see them when my eyes are closed when I'm trying to sleep.
Congrats Jim and Lynn on your Red Sox victory. That was when I was taking a nap, so I missed the final game.
Went and saw GRAVITY yesterday and really liked it.
The good news: Got back the results of the kidney ultrasound.
The bad news: I have a kidney stone.
The good news: It's nonobstuctive and the doctor said if it's not bothering me, then we don't need to do anything to it, and I need to drink more water to keep from getting kidney stones. (I guess alcohol doesn't count)
The bad news: I didn't do any REAL walking the last 4 days.
The good news: I went into the gym today and did 4 miles on the treadmill and averaged 15:25 a mile. I jogged several times for two minutes at a time and did well.
The bad news: I was a little chilly earlier this afternoon and crawled in bed just to warm up and fell asleep, so I didn't get much done today since I slept a good part of the day.
The good news: I got a damned good nap in today and it felt great. :)
The bad news: Mom called today while I was taking a nap, so I didn't get to talk to her.
The good news: Mom called today while I was taking a nap, so I didn't have to talk to her. (I kid, I kid! I love Mom--- when she's sober)
The bad news: My sister Lori had a birthday yesterday, so she's getting OLD.
The good news: I'M YOUNGER THAN SHE IS!!!! :)
The bad news: A number of us here on this website have had or ARE having open heart surgery.
The good news: It's saving our lives and we will be better because of it.
Hope eveybody's doing great, and thanks for checking on me.
My friend Dave(Squid) flew in this weekend and stayed with me Friday through Monday. We went to a couple of Tiki events this weekend and got to see a bunch of friends I hadn't seen since before I had surgery. It was great seeing people's reactions when they were surprised to see me, and when they were even more surprised when they realized Squid was there too, because it's been a year or two since he's been here.
Had a bunch of compliments about how well I looked, and had a few people say they couldn't tell I had surgery just by looking at me (except for the scar peaking out of the top of the shirt). Plus, I had 2 or 3 rum drinks, so I got a little alcohol in me this weekend.
It was a long weekend and I felt a bit wiped out on Monday, but got some good sleep last night and I feel good today. It was great seeing everybody this weekend and Squid and I had a blast.
Brian's been sick, and he hasn't been over here to watch the World Series, so I haven't been keeping up since Dave was in town this weekend. I did catch the game yesterday. Rooting for your Sox Jim Jones. If they win, that'll make your surgery and recovery in November SO much easier. :)
Haven't heard back about my kidney ultra sound yet, but the results of the blood test were fine except for low hemoglobin, which is to be expected after major surgery. Doctor said it's nothing to worry about and the hemoglobin will replenish over time.
My sister said Mom's had a few sober days now that she's back in TN, and my brother got the staples removed from the incision for his new bionic hip. He's not running sixty miles per hour yet, but he's burning through the wheels on the walker he has to use right now.
Good luck to everybody recovering and those getting ready for surgery. A little tip---when you're in the hospital, if you bring a laptop computer, they discourage you downloading porn during your stay.
P.S. Thanks Eric for the awesome mug, and Sandra for the cookies and pumpkin seed. You look great Sandra after your brain surgery same time as my heart surgery. Good to see you out and about.
I don't think I'm sleeping well at night, and usually nap during the day because I'm tired. Before surgery---hookers and lots of alcohol and I slept through the night, no problem. Do you think 5 weeks post op is too early to start binging again?
Usually I have to get up to pee 2 or 3 times at night because I take a diuretic, but yesterday I must've had too much water when I did my walks, because i spent half the night getting up to whiz, so I felt pretty tired this morning. I kept having a weird dream that I was a dog and had to mark my territory. Hopefully I won't run into one of my neighbors who says they saw me peeing on their fire hydrant at 3 in the morning. Wasn't able to get a nap in, so hopefully I can sleep well tonight. No sign of blood in the urine, so that's good. Dr.'s appointment on Tuesday, so will let you know what he thinks.
I've been walking real well and a lot, and that usually helps with the energy level, or it tires me out and I take a good nap. Maybe they replaced my aortic valve with a dog valve rather than a bovine valve. I knew I should have opted for the more expensive heart valve!
Today is the first day my spirometer numbers were about the same as before surgery, so very happy with that.
Started off tired, but felt really well today and had some good hikes up in the Angeles Forest breathing some good mountain air. Ate well and going to probably have heart burn tonight, but at least since I'm still sleeping pretty propped up in bed, that shouldn't be too bad with some Tums.
Hope all the post surgery people are healing well, and those getting ready for surgery are thinking positive thoughts. Thanks all the heart valve journalists who read my journals and sign my guestbook. And thanks to all my friends and loved ones for your support. Higgy, don't forget to post something now and then in your journal you bastard!
Still feeling a bit tired during the day, and have to nap.
Yesterday my second walk was a long walk, a little over an hour, but not hard. Came in and fell asleep in the recliner watching baseball. Woke up about an hour later and took a whiz and urinated blood and passed a few blood clots. Didn't have any real pains anywhere. Haven't peed blood since then, so not sure what that was all about. Never peed blood before, so that was weird.
Eating well and walking pretty well, so that's good.
Talked to little brother and Mom today, and he seems to be doing really well after hip surgery, so that's great news.
Just woke from a nap, so it's time for walk #2 today.
Saturday I felt a lump in my arm and when I looked down it was in the vein that my IV catheter had been in. The whole vein in my forearm is lumpy and hard, but doesn't hurt and it's not red.
So I searched on the internet, and what I found was that it's called phlebitis and it's my vein's reaction to being traumatized by having the IV in it for a period of time. The lumps are valves in the vein. Supposedly I can treat it by heat or cold compresses and an inflammatory like aspirin or ibuprofen. I'm already taking Naproxen as inflammatory because of the Dressler's syndrome, so I think I'll treat it with heat compression. I'll call the cardiologist's office tomorrow and let them know about in case they think I need to do something else to treat it.
Been kind of tired the last 4 days or so, but I've been walking well and the spirometer numbers are coming up better now. Haven't been sleeping well at night, but been making up with a good nap during the day.
Overall not feeling bad at all, but not great. I think I've just become more of a wuss in my older age.
Either that, or I was always in such a drunken state all the time, I never noticed not feeling well or having any pains. Mom drank all my liquor while she was here. How am I supposed to afford to restock my bar? Alcohol costs a lot of money.
Thanks for dropping by today Brian to watch some baseball and football, and thanks for bringing cookies and ice cream. It's a good thing I'm walking a lot, or they might have to open me up for heart bypass soon!
Still continuing roller coaster recovery, but the highs and lows are little less extreme right now.
So, 2 weeks ago I got Dressler's Syndrome (some fluid build up around the heart) and started taking Naproxin as an anti-inflammatory. They gave me Dilaudid while I was in the emergency room, and I felt like I had a hangover for a few days after that. Then I had a few days where I felt GREAT (last entry), and walked a lot and a bit harder. Then the last several days felt a bit more tired, a little light headed, and slightly nauseous with some angina (chest pain--not sternum).
Last week my cardiologist was out of the office and my regular doctor was on jury duty, so I wasn't able to follow up last week with a doctor's visit after my trip to the emergency room.
So, yesterday I was able to go to the cardiologist's office and a Nurse Practitioner saw me. I told her about my symptoms and she ordered an EKG. I told my roommate who had driven me there that if the cardiologist returns with the Nurse Practitioner, that something's wrong. Sure enough, first person through the door is the cardiologist followed by the Nurse Practitioner. Cardiologist was concerned because my EKG wasn't the same as before and examined me. He ordered an ultrasound and they gave me Nitroglycerin for my chest pain. He didn't think it was arterial because my angiogram hadn't shown any significant blockage, so he thought it might be more fluid around the heart. The ultrasound didn't really show any fluid or anything that looked wrong, so the Nurse Practitioner gave me a prescription for Nitroglycerin and told me to take it if I have angina and to contact them if it gets worse. So, ultimately they couldn't really tell me what caused the angina with the light-headedness, tiredness and nausea. I did get some more angina in the evening and took a nitro pill.
I slept really well last night (finally), and woke up less tired than yesterday. I didn't get any angina today. Each time I tried to walk today, it started raining after a lap or two, so it wasn't until this evening I got some good walking in. So, I'm feeling better, but I'm not feeling great like I did Saturday and Sunday.
Still not taking any pain meds. No sternum pain, so no problem coughing or sneezing, so the sternum is healing nicely.
Brian came by Sunday to catch some football and baseball on TV. I was taking a nap when he got here, and he woke me up when he took my pulse to make sure I was still alive. Had some nice Tamales that he brought over and we watched the Dodger game for a bit on Sunday and we laughed that Dallas' quarterback Tony Romo choked yet again as per usual last week when he was having a great game and threw it away at the end.
My little brother Sam just had hip surgery Monday and went home today, so Mom's got two son's recovering from surgery. She's probably hitting the bottle pretty hard about now.
The Nurse Practioner did tell me I was OK to drive as long as I wasn't taking any pain meds and was mindful of how I felt before getting behind the wheel. So, that was good news. I can drive again. Woohoo!
Went to taco Tuesday with some of my neighbor's yesterday evening, and I had a margarita, so that was the first alcohol I've had since August. I'm still on the roller coaster train of recovery, but I'm off the wagon! :)
Good luck to everybody in recovery and those getting ready for surgery.
Last couple of days have been really good. LOTS of walking. Feeling less bloated. Ate better yesterday than I have in a while. Good nap during the day. Good burping, farting and pooping, so things are moving through well.
No chest pain, so I'm not taking any pain meds, not even Tylenol. Usually sleep in bed with a bunch of pillows propping me up, and then nap in the recliner, but yesterday I napped in bed, and seemed to sleep better.
Thanks Dave for bringing food by with some nice company, and Brian for dropping in and walking with me and watching some of the baseball playoffs.
Mom's back at her home now and starting to sober up. Her stay here was the longest drinking binge she's ever been on. I have no more alcohol in my house.
My neihgbors all loved my mom, so it's a good thing she's a happy drunk and not an angry drunk.
Time for me to get off this infernal machine and go for a walk.
Today was 3 week anniversary of OHS (added some photos, too)
Journal posted on October 2, 2013
My roommate Dan and I took my Mom to the airport at 5:30 this morning. She didn't fly out until 3:00 PM, but we just couldn't wait any longer to get her out of the house. (I kid, I kid. I love Mom!) She called this evening and said she got home fine. I was feeling much better today, so Mom was relieved that she left and I was feeling better. Thanks for all the help and for putting up with me, Mom. The neighbors miss you already. The medical marijuana store and the liquor store miss you more.
Didn't eat much today, but I did walk a good amount, so that seemed to help feel less bloated.
Thanks for swinging by today Dave and dropping off some DVDs to watch, and for planning on dropping by Friday with some food. You're one of the GOOD Canadians. :)
After I went to the hospital for Dressler's Syndrome (a form of Pericarditis) at the end of last week, it's been some rough days since then. I think some of that has been because of meds. I felt like I had hangover for several days after they gave me Dilaudid at the Emergency Room. Nauseous, bloated/full feeling in my belly, so didn't eat much. My head was fuzzy. I felt wiped-out a lot of the time. A few days, my eyelids just felt so heavy, it was hard to keep them open. One day I had a weird, piercing head ache that lasted a good part of the morning. My neighbor has been complaining of allergies. I've been sneezing several times a day, so I may have developed some allergies in my older age that I hadn't noticed before.
The good part is my chest scar is healing great. My sternum hardly hurts. I can sneeze without needing my chest pillow, and coughing doesn't hurt too bad. I've stopped taking Vicodin and only take a Tylenol just every once in a while.
I sleep in my bed at night, propped up with a bunch of pillows, so I do sleep a bit on my side and I sleep pretty well, but not a FULL night so far. I usually have a nap during the day.
I wish I could get rid of this bloated/full feeling I have all the time, so I can eat more. I'm pooping, farting and burping well, so everything is moving through as it should.
Cardiologist is out all this week, and my regular doctor has jury duty, so it's been hard to try and get in to see a doctor to follow up after my trip to the emergency room.
Called the heart surgeon's office to ask about when I can drive, and they said I shouldn't drive for 90 days after surgery. What the hell? They also said I should be riding in the back seat because of air bags. At least they didn't mention anything about riding in a child's seat.
Been more emotional, and get easily aggravated and frustrated since surgery. Had to get a new blood pressure cuff yesterday because mine accidently broke when I smashed it against the floor when it wasn't working right. I was just so frustrated about how badly I was feeling compared to the beginning of last week before the Dressler's Syndrome. My roommate reminded me this morning that it hasn't even been three weeks since my operation, but it gets frustrating when you're doing so well and something comes along to knock the winds out of your sails so completely. Hopefully today will be better compared to the last several days.
Mom flies out tomorrow, so I'll be stuck here at the house since I'm not supposed to drive for 90 days after surgery. I've read in these journals several other patients who got the OK to drive after 4 weeks post op. I'll have to see if my regular doc or cardiologist will give me the OK in a week or two.
It's not my fault, but I had been lead astray. The doctors had told me I had a bicuspid aortic valve, and that was not true. The heart surgeon told me that once he got in there, I did have a tricuspid aortic valve, it was just SO calcified that two leaflets were stuck together and the valve was acting like a bicuspid aortic valve. I am embarrassed that I mislead you all, and now I'll have to change "My Story" part of the journal. I'm not sure that there is a way to change the "My Diagnosis" part, so if not, it may still say Bicuspid aortic valve even though that was not the case. Again, I apologize and hope the heart valve community can forgive me for what was ultimately not my fault, because I had been given the wrong information. Goes to show that you never know EXACTLY what they are going to find until they open you up.
Just now had my FIRST SNEEZE as i was typing the above. Came on unexpected and the heart pillow was downsatirs. Thankfully I had taken a Vicodin this morning, so it wasn't so bad. I was able to stifle the second sneeze. Earlier this week I was able to stifle sneezes three different times by grabbing my nose and rubbing. I hadn't had any Vicodin for the better part of those days, so that could have been really bad. One day was when my friend Shannon was driving us to and from the doctor's office. My Vicodin had worn off and I was having a bit of a tough time that day. i think she would have seen me crying like a baby if I hadn't been able to stifle my sneeze then. Vicodin saved my life today.
Feeling SO much better today than I did two days ago with the Dressler's Syndrome and Dilaudud incident. Still have the slight bit of a hangover feel, but hopefully some more sleep will get rid of that. Only slept a little less than 6 hours last night, so hopefully can get in a nice nap sometime today. Spirometer numbers are starting to get better.
My sister Lori and her husband are coming up to visit today since Mom flies out on Wednesday. So, looking forward to a nice visit with them.
Speaking of nice visits--- thanks for dropping by again yesterday angel Brian with some more food. And thanks for working out that knot in my back yesterday. It saved my life. Masseuse Tanya will be by today with her healing hands to work out the rest of those knots in my back. Looking forward to that. And thanks Dave for the DVD's you dropped off for me to watch. I hope none of those labeled "documentaries" are pornos, because i would be really embarrassed when Mom and i sit down to watch BLUE PLANET and it turns out to be a different type of "blue" film.
I've only had a few days where I don't have a BLOATED feeling, so I'm looking forward to when that feeling goes away. I've been burping, farting and pooping well, so I don't think anything is backed up.
Hopefully as I'm able to walk more and more, that will help. Not eating a lot because of the bloated feeling, so at least I'm not gaining weight now that I've shed all the water weight from the surgery.
Thanks for the cards and letters friends and family, and thanks everybody who has signed my guestbook.
Good luck to everybody in recovery and those getting ready for surgery.
Yesterday I woke up and couldn't really catch my breath. SUPER EXTREMELY TIRED and WIPED-OUT. Felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Pain in my left side under my rib cage wouldn't let me take a deep breath. Spirometer numbers were terrible. Tried to walk a little, but had to stop like 6 o7 times to catch my breath just for trip to end of block and back. Felt so bloated I only ate one small yogurt all day. Called the cardiologist. At 6pm he returned my call and told me to go the the hospital to make sure it's not a blood clot in the lung. I guess it wasn't a pulled muscle in my side after all.
A number of tests later they said it was Dressler's Syndrome .It's inflammation. A form of pericarditus. I had some liquid around the pericardium of the heart and lung.
Hadn't had any vicodin since 2:30 pm so they gave me Dilaudid. Worst pain med EVER. I had a small turkey sandwich at the hospital. Threw it all up driving home. Today I feel like I'm getting over a hangover.
They prescribed some sort of NSAID and told me to follow up with cardiologist. Cardiologist is out today and next week, and since it's Friday they are pretty booked as for as seeing another cardiologist, so I called my primary physician and I'm waiting to hear from him.
Don't feel too bad pain-wise, but this hangover feeling sucks.
My friend Shannon took me and Mom to the heart surgeon's office yesterday and he said I was "solid" and looked really good. I only took one vicodin early in the day, so it got a bit rough later in the day. Thanks for the ride Shannon.
Today Brian's wife Joni took Mom and I to my regular doc and my cardiologist. Both gave me the thumbs up and said I was doing really well. Brian picked us up from the cardiologist's office for the ride home. Thanks Joni and Brian for the rides, and thanks Cheryl for almost being able to give us a ride except for your kid getting sick and throwing a wrench in the plans.
I slept in the recliner until 1:30 AM last night and then moved to the bed. I slept better in bed, but I pulled a muscle in my side when I was arranging the pillows. Because of the vicodin, I didn't know I hurt myself until this morning. Now I've got another pain I didn't need. It hurts to breath in deep because of it, so that REALLY sucks.
So the good news, the doctors all said I was doing great and healing really well. The bad news, I pulled a muscle and can't breath deep. Spiromiter numbers really suck right now. Memory sucks right now and concentration problems. Have to retype half of everything on the computer because of misspellings, so may have to lay off the journal for a bit.
Felt WIPED-OUT all day yesterday. Also, bloated feeling, cramps in my back, chills. Not sure if i over did it the day before or if it's from cutting way back on vicodin (or both).
Incision pain is fine except for when I cough and use the spirometer.
Slept in bed last night for the first time. That went really well until 6:00AM. Couldn't fall back to sleep although I felt really tired. Maybe I'll be able to nap well today.
Lapses in concentration makes it hard to type without misspelling words all over the place.
Got an appointment with heart surgeon today. Need to write down all questions I have because memory and concentration suck right now.
One good thing. Weighed 189.8 lbs this morning. Less than the day I went in for surgery.
Good luck to all going into surgery this week and keep healing those of you on the recovery train with me. Although, my train is feeling a bit more like a roller coaster. Recovery is definitely not a linear progression.
P.S. Thanks for dropping by yesterday Brian and bringing chocolate pie. :)
I weighed 191lbs. today which is what I weighed the day of my surgery, And that's even with eating chocolate birthday cake just about every day. Woohoo!
Had too much liquid yesterday for awhile, so I felt pretty bloated most of the day, and didn't eat as much. Didn't have a bowel movement the day before, but had two yesterday, and the first was big enough I had to use the plunger after flushing. Had some good farting yesterday, too. When I sleep, I wake up every two hours to pee like clockwork.
Knots are coming back, so gotta call the masseuse again today. Chest pain is minimal, so going for long stretches without pain meds. Only time chest really hurts is coughing or going for a new record on the spirometer. Hitting 2000 ml pretty consistent and 2250 ml several times a day. New goal is 2500 ml and I think I should be able to get there this week.
My friend Shannon is driving Mom and I to heart surgeon's office tomorrow, and I see cardiologist and regular doc on Wednesday (my two week anniversary of OHS).
Surprised how emotional I can get somedays, especially when I get frustrated. Poor Mom's had to be patient with the patient. But, some of the frustration has been caused by Mom as well, so she's also been the source for causing angry outbursts a few times. She's great at giving me plenty of advice about what she thinks I need to do to get healthy, but she won't do what she needs to keep herself healthy. Gonna have to drag her to a doctor I think. Too bad I can't have alcohol, because that woman's going to drive me to drink. (Which is about the only place she'll drive out here in L.A.)
Time for my morning walk. When I get back, I'll need to sit down and make some notes so I can write out some good advice for patients heading into surgery this week. So, there may be another journal entry later today for heart patients.
Thanks everybody for your continued support. I read all the guestbook entries and check out all the other patient's new journal entries, so just because I haven't responded, doesn't mean I haven't been keeping up. Getting more energy every day, so should be able to spend more time on this infernal machine soon.
So wiped out from the previous night's lack of sleep, I made up for it last night with nearly eight hours of sleep!!
YAY!!!!!!! Good start to today.
Sorry to hear about Tony (another valve surgery patient) needing another surgery because of infection. Thankfully he's a young guy (33) so he should bounce back pretty quick to play with his new baby boy. Good luck Tony. Soldier on!!
Glad Nathan (Higgy) made it back home to play with his boys, too.
Debbie J. Things will be great. Focus on the positive. I'm down to 195.4 lbs. I've lost about 9 lbs in 4 days and I'm eating more than usual (including chocolate cake). Gotta love that.
Looking forward to a massage today from my friend and masseuse, Tanja. Woohoo!
Time for the first walk of the day, so I'm off to start my day.
P.S. JJ, Mom won't let me post any poop pictures, sorry.
I just checked and I have nearly 6 pages of guestbook entries I need to respond to!! Hopefully tomorrow I'll have enough energy and enough alone time to get after it.
Today my sister Lori, journal updater when I was I.R.(In Recovery in the hospital) and her husband came up for a nice visit. Her husband Lou saved my life by working out one of the knots in my back. My friend Tanja is a masseuse and will be coming by tomorrow to get after me with her healing hands and get the rest of the knots out. (And no, she does not work at the Oriental Massage parlor I joked about before.)
Angel Brian stopped by for a brief visit on the way home from work. And we had a great visit with a TRUE ANGEL sent from above in my hour of need, my neigbor Sally. Sally had this same procedure last year came by and dropped off some yummy healing food and accompanied Mom and I on a walk back to her place and a nice visit. She had some great advice and Mom jut loves talkng with her. She has a nice gazebo behind her house she lets Mom and I sit in to view the valley area below us.
I had a horrible night sleeping last night. Not because of pain; just couldn't sleep. Two nice bowel movements and several good farts today made up for the overall tiredness from lack of sleep and back cramps, so I'm counting this as another good day physically. So, I'm signing off this infernal machine now and try and get a better nights rest.
Stop signing my guestbook you bastards! I need to catch up.
Love you all.
P.S. Thanks for the phone call yesterday Kelly, Hiphipahula. I may have to bother you for a ride to the doctor's office on Tuesday because it's downtown and there is no way in hell we will get Mom to drive in downtown L.A. If I get a volunteer driver closer to me, I'll let you know. Love ya, babe--GROG
Mom drove me to run a few errands in town. The scariest five mile trip I've ever traveled.
Between my "backseat driving" and complaining about how she was driving, she may never drive me to town again.
Yesterday I only took 1 vicodin each time I was scheduled to take my pain meds and even went past times a few times because I didn't have much pain. Back cramps were worse than chest incision pain, and still had a bloated feeling all day, so didn't eat as much yesterday. Had a rough bout for an hour and a half last night and went back to two vicodins to sleep mainly because of back pain. The chest pain kicks in when I cough. Nice hot shower helped immensely. So, got a good, hard 5 and a half hours of sleep last night and a good two hour nap today.
Good bowel movement, but not big because I haven't been eating much because of the bloated feeling. Drinking BOOST protein drinks to get more protein, and added protein powder to banana, peanut butter, chocolate smoothie I made for breakfast yesterday to help with the healing.
Felt really good an had a really good day today.
Angel Brian showed up with more food and good company. Brought some more chocolate cake---my fave. I may not get back to the 191 pounds I was when I've lost all this water weight I gained, but I did manage to lose another pound today.
Getting more energy every day, so I may have enough energy soon to be on the computer long enough tomorrow to respond to some guestbook posts. Thanks everybody, I do check them every day as well as new journal entries by fellow patients.
Tired now, and it's past time for vicodin, so no time to write anything funny. Getting off this infernal machine now.
Sleep. My new best friend. Plus, one week anniversary.
Journal posted on September 18, 2013
(Yesterday's entry was after 12:00AM, so that's why tonight's entry is also Sept. 18.)
Today is my ONE WEEK anniversary. I was in ICU just after surgery at this time last week. Not fun at all. I will write a journal entry later describing my surgery and my stay at the hospital. Got lots of good advice too for those getting ready for surgery and for your hospital stay. Quick tip: the opening of the hospital gown goes in the back, not in the front. Who knew?
Last night I SLEPT well!!!!! (compared to how few hours I've been getting lately.) And, today had a two hour nap in the afternoon!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just had to find a good sleeping position in the recliner that kept my legs up high enough to get the swelling down, and my upper body sitting up enough where I could breath without the sleep apnea--non-breathing problem waking me every time I was about to drift off to sleep. So sleep and I kissed and made up and actually spent a good night together. I am having more muscle cramps in my upper back today from this more upright position, though. I might need more potassium too to help with the cramping. Mom's got NO hand strength for massaging, but every little bit helped. My friend Mary visited and dug in with her elbows a bit, and helped a bunch too.
Met a few neighbors while on a walk this evening with Mom, and they were amazed how well I looked and how well I was doing. My neighbor Sally who had this operation a year ago thought I looked incredible for only being a week out of surgery. She's bringing some food by for me day after tomorrow (including some chocolate cake---YAY!!)
Had a nice visit this evening from one of my bestest friends, Mary who brought me a nice card and some beautiful flowers she arranged. My "Tiki" friends Eric and Manuel stopped by too with a great homemade card that Eric had a bunch of my tiki friends sign. He also carved a sponge for my sponge baths to look like my own personal tiki mug I made and drink from. And he made a jar full of Jelly Beans that if you mix them in the right amount taste like a tiki drink called The Pain Killer. MUY, muy awesome! Also got some great advice from my friend Dr. AJ (thanks AJ!) and had a nice phone visit with my friend Rory, Wildsville Man. Had a nice phone call with my buddy Adrian, and my neighbor Kirsten called to let me know she's just around the corner and is available to help most mornings. Mom is scared to drive out here in L. A., so Kirsten may end up regretting her offer to drive us around.
Started taking one Vicodin instead of two when it's time to take my pain meds, and the pain's been manageable, so Mom the Vicodin Nazi was happy.
Still having some bloated feelings, so haven't eaten as much today, but it's better today than yesterday. Threw in a stool softener with my BP meds I take in the morning, and that helped move things along a little better today. So pooping was good, but could use a bit more burping and farting.
COUGHING IS THE WORST!!! Especially if you start coughing before you take your pain meds. It's hard to hug the heart pillow strong enough against my chest, so I found that if I lean against something to press the pillow into the chest, it helps a lot.
Using the hell out of the spirometer.
I weighed 198.4 today, so weight still coming off, and blood pressure looks really good.
Today was a really good day.
The escort service called today and said they may have to close up shop if i don't heal soon, and Bambi the stripper emailed that she's short on rent money. The bars are having to have drink specials every night because they are overstocked with booze without me there. Somebody told me the Oriental Massage place is having 2 for 1 specials because business is so slow.
Father Flannigan called to see why I'm not at confessional every morning as usual.
Almost falling asleep and waking myself up gasping for breath is the WORST!
Talked to a friend of mine who is an ER Doc and asked her about over the counter sleep products. When I described my sleeping problems, she says it sounds like I have sleep apnea. I have a little brother who has this and has to sleep with a mask that helps him breathe, so it wouldn't be surprising if I have it too.
I slept sitting up last night without my legs raised and had a lot swelling today. Was able to fall asleep for an hour this afternoon laying on my back in the recliner with my legs up, but Mom said I snored really loudly and had a few interrupted snores to catch my breath. I usually sleep on my sides, so this hell. Hopefully can lose some pounds and get to where I can sleep on my back again.
Started back on my regular medications today, and one is a diuretic. I weighed 204.2 at 3:00 AM and this evening I'm at 200.2. I was 191 the morning of my surgery.
Coughing is the worst. Hope I don't sneeze, it would kill me. Mom is Vicodin Nazi and won't let me have any before 4 hours between doses.
Feeling bloated and full is the worst. I can eat when I have room in my belly. Burping, farting and pooping is all I look forward to all day.
Poor Mom. She's a great help, patient, and puts up with me complaining about how she does everything and how SLOW she does everything. I think it's role reversal from when I was a teenager.
Getting off this machine now. Too tired to be funny and to write longer entry.
Ernie A.S. (My friend Stan suggested the ending initials should stand for "After Successful Surgery"---only one S, thank you.)
P.S. Brian Sheesely and my roommate Dan are angels sent from above.
Also, posted a photo of my new zipper in the photo section.
Got home about 3pm today. Totally wiped out. Tough last two days. Can't sleep well because I breathe too shallow and and wake myself up trying to breathe. Using the hell out of the spirometer. Think it might be from sleeping position and usually around time for pain meds.
Laxative is one of God's greatest creations.
I'll be saying the opposite in several months when
my Dr. will want me to do my first colonoscopy now
that I'm 50.
Ernie will be staying through Sunday at the hospital. He was given the option of going home, but he felt it was better if he stayed overnight once more. So, he should be going home on Monday.(He told me to be serious this time, so no jokes.)