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Kerry Broome

Victoria, British Columbia,



My Diagnosis

aortic valve replacement




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Ten weeks and counting

August 28, 2012

I saw my surgeon last week. He says my recovery is going well and the sounds of my heart are normal although more pronounced than average. Sleeping doesn't seem to be much of a problem any more. It's interesting that the "pounding" sensation in my chest is much less pronounced when I lie down on my right side. I'm getting back into a normal routine and starting rehab next week. Will likely return to work mid September.

Eight and half weeks post op

August 14, 2012

Not much to report. I'm definately improving each week. Sleeping is becoming easier and I can tolerate some sleeping on my side. Some nights I find it more difficult as the sound of my heart beating keeps me awake. I've been taking tylenol and ativan again to try and dull all the sensations and kick off a good sleep. I feel much better in the mornings. My INR levels were low this week so getting tested a bit more often to find out whether my current warfarin doses are adequate. I start rehab in september and I'm looking forward to a fully healed sternum and opportunity to exercise.

Seven weeks post op

August 3, 2012

I saw my cardiologist this week. good news that I seem to be recovering nicely without any complications. He didn't raise any concerns over my most recent echo though he warned me about trying to be more active than I am ready for. I had a long list of questions for him that I got answers for. My biggest concern was the feeling of my heart beating. It pounds and it clicks. The clicking is the sound of the valve and will always be with me. The pounding, he says, is a result of inflammation within my chest cavity that will take time to heal. My assumption is that the Bentall procedure is especially invasive and takes longer to repair. I've backed off the walking a bit this past few days. I'm still not driving. Taking lots of knaps. Dr. took me off plavix and wondered why I was ever put on it in the first place. I may not need to be on aspirin and that really only leaves Warfarin and 1mg of Metroprelol per day. I figure that's pretty good, best that I could have hoped I suppose.

I'm realizing that the rate of improvement has dramatically slowed. My sternum still feels weak but is much stronger than a couple of weeks ago. I haven't tried sleeping on my front and I can only tolerate a few minutes on my side. In fact falling to sleep on my side is deadly because I eventually will roll onto my back with painful consequence.

On the upside, the weather is beautiful and I couldn't have picked a better time of year to go through this. in fact we're venturing off next week to a B&B near Sproat Lk. and I'm looking forward to a change of scenary - perhaps a different ceiling to stare at while I'm drifting off for an afternoon knap.

July 27

July 27, 2012

It's been six weeks since my surgery. I've been improving steadily and enjoying frequent outlings. I'm looking forward to increasing my exercise regime. Currently I walk several times a day. Still I get tired and often find myself knapping in the afternoon. I had a few more tests this week. My INR is in the correct range although it did drop over the past two weeks. I'm taking 7.5mgs and hoping I won't need to increase my dose. They also tested my hemoglobin. That's still lower than it should be but recovered from extremely low levels a few weeks ago. I had an echo test the other day and won't know the results of that until I see my cadiologist next week. The Echo was somewhat uncomfortable but I am more capable of lying on my side. Sleeping is gettng easier and I've been experimenting sleeping on my side. All in all I am pleased with my recovery so far and adjusting life to the new reality.
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July 10

July 10, 2012

Very little has changed. Each day is a challenge and I seem to feel better in some instances and feel like crap at other times. I'm sleeping in bed now but getting out of bed is a real challenge. It seems to take a while to feel normal in the morning although i seem to get there eventually. Still on minimal pain killers, wound is healing well and INR is stable. Kb

July 3

July 3, 2012

My rehabilitation is progressing as expected. Lately I have been feeling pretty good, especially in the morning after a good sleep. I'm still sleeping in the lazyboy as my brain is becoming accustomed to the new noises emitted from my chest. The closer I get to suppine position the louder my heat beat seems to be - very annoying. I am told I will get used to the ticking of the new valve. I'm trying to exercise two or three times a day by walking in the neighborhood. Towards the afternoon I become very fatigued and often catch a chill that effects my breathing. After dinner I seem to be the worst of the day and sitting down with a warm heating pad is heavenly. The wound on my incision is not infected and is being treated every two days. My INR level has stabilized. Today my INR is 3.2 and the doc recommends staying on 7.5 mg a day. I am taking bery little pain medication. I have stopped taking Dilaudid and take minimal tylenol. I think this has caused me to feel all sorts of funny little pains. Bu and large I think i'm doing ok (touch wood). 

Day 14

June 28, 2012

Days seem to be getting easier. I'm more tired later in the day. My walks are improving and getting longer although I need to rest afterwards. All in all I think recovery is marching steadily and I shouldn't be impatient.

Day 12

June 26, 2012

Had a pretty easy day. Went to community hospital to get my wound cleaned. Apparently it's not very bad and probably not infected. I'm not on antibiotics but I do have to have the wound redressed daily for several weeks or months I am told. Apparently they try to grow tissue back from within the wound until it completely fills in and that takes a bit of time.

I also stopped in to say hi to my colleagues at work. I can't thank them enough for the support they have offered. I cannot believe that many people whom I work with are making us dinners to help Erin and I during the first couple of weeks at home. I am so lucky and very grateful. I should mention too that many friends are offering us meals and the food is much better than we make for ourselves. I hope my wife doesn't get used to it for when I return to be the cook. I'm going to have to sharpen my skills.

Day 11 Some Setbacks

June 25, 2012

I had another great sleep last night thankfully. I now spend a lot of time resting and sleeping in a Lazyboy recliner. I'm discovering a lot at this stage of treatment :
- find comfortable sleeping conditions like Lazyboy (bed with a pile of pillows was torture for me)
- manage pain and stress when trying to fall asleep at night (Dilaudid and Adavan)
- don't watch comedy flics
- breathing seems laboured later in the day.
- cold air has negative effect on breathing rythym.
- drink prune juice and or Metamoucil. 

This morning I went for a blood test (INR) then went to my GP to get my scar looked at. The scar is infected in one spot and I am now required to get it cleaned out daily until it heals (could be weeks.) My first visit to Saanich Peninsula Hospital will be tomorrow. My INR revealed bad news also as I now must increase the Coumadine dosage to 5 mg per day.

Day 10

June 24, 2012

Today has been another good day. I'm beginning to believe that my recovery will be completely successful. It's strange because it's only been 10 days and I am beginning to feel simply that I am injured and recovering slowly. I think the two biggest chalenges over the next several weeks will be to nurture my sternum and improve my stamina for walking. I think it is the sort of thing that seems like it takes forever until one day it improves exponentially.

Day 9

June 23, 2012

Kerry here, today I'm feeling a lot better after the first decent nights sleep last night. We worked out a new sleeping startegy yesterday and it worked like a charm (dilaudid and adavan just before going to sleep). I found this strategy helped clear my mind and the dilaudid worked it's magic. Looking back it's amazing they don't prescribe narcotics after release from hospital. The first couple of nights and days were horendous, absolutely horendous.

Each day seems to start slow with improved activity and stamina through the day. Today after a decent nights sleep I felt well enough to venture out for a haircut and purchase new slippers. I can't walk too far without rest but with better sleep I am hoping that will improve quickly.

It's hard to describe the experience of open heart surgery. My mind is a fog but t's not something I would want to do again. I feel that I'm starting to turn the corner and my physical strength and mental state of mind is improving after a week of hell. I should mention that there were many older patients in the hospital that didn't seem to be hit as hard with the immediate recovery.

I would like to thank all my well wishers

Day 5 to 9

June 23, 2012

Each day has shown really slight improvement for Kerry. His pain has been his biggest complaint. We did see the GP yesterday to ask for some stronger pain killers for night time to allow Kerry to sleep. Last night was a good night with 6-hours of sleep and he feels so much better already. Hopefully this will help in coping with pain better during the day. Lesson learned: be honest and assertive with doctors to keep pain manageable.
His other main complaints include continued effort in his breathing, fatigue, and constant discomfort. He needs to shift positions on a regular basis and has just found his dad's laz-y-boy to be the most comfortable place to be. The bed is still too soft for him. He does find that getting up and walking regularly and stretching his legs does ease the discomfort.
Kerry's INR levels have dropped and we're wondering if this is because he is now resuming his normal diet with more vitamin K than he had in hospital. He is scheduled for more blood work in a couple of days and he is on a slightly higher dose of Coumadin now..
His independence is slowly growing each day as long as he's set up for success. For instance, lifting a 4L jug of milk to too heavy for him. But if milk is left in a smaller container and the glass is within easy reach, then he can pour himself a glass of milk. His arm movements are still quite limited, but he is able to do just a little bit more each day.

Day 3 and 4

June 18, 2012

Day 3 was not much different than Day 2 and definitely a difficult day for all. Fatigue seemed to set in for everyone. Kerry continued to have difficulty breathing, with fluid still in his lungs. Moving was still very painful and required assistance.
Day 4, however, is a completely different day. We just found out that his hemoglobin count is low and will affect his energy for quite awhile. Despite that, he was able to do 3 laps walking around the ward at lunch and tried the stair test this morning. He is now able to get in and out of bed by himself. Every movement is deliberate and often painful, but Kerry recognizes the need to take his recovery slowly and to just relax for awhile. Each exercise exhausts him and requires sleeping afterwards, but his improvements are certainly noticeable today. His voice is stronger and clearer, and his colour is slowly returning as well.
We are attending a class this afternoon on his care at home, and will attend another tomorrow morning on managing the anticoagulation medication. We are certainly in a first class setting with amazing staff!

Day 2

June 17, 2012

We visited Kerry a couple of times yesterday (day 2). He's wants to get better quickly, so he is motivated to get out of bed and do his exercises. He walked in the hallway 3 times, then sat in a chair for 30-minutes to eat a meal afterwards. Each time he was able to walk a bit further with a walker and oxygen.
The pain and the fatigue are easily apparent when we visit. The most difficult part seems to be coping with the fluid in his lungs. His breathing feels laboured and he just can't get comfortable. Although he is motivated to get better, he is definitely looking at things with the glass half empty focusing on what doesn't feel right rather than what is improved from the morning. He continues to need quite a bit of reassurance from family and nurses that he's doing well and that his experiences are normal. There is still some anxiety that things can go wrong.

Day 1

June 15, 2012

The day started out pretty grumpy and full of pain. Kerry was nauseous from the IV pain meds and was having a hard time tolerating the pain he was having first thing in the morning. By noon though, he had his lung draining tube out, was on oral pain medication was able to tolerate clear fluids. He was really groggy for most of the day having a few bright moments and then quickly becoming tired. He was moved out of CVU at 1:00pm, less than 24 hours since surgery and is now in post op care.
He did have a fainting spell the first time the staff tried to stand him up beside the bed this morning, but the other attempts today went well. At dinner, he sat up in a chair beside the bed for 30-minutes. And he's working hard at his breathing exercises already too to work the fluid out of his lungs.
Kerry was still pretty anxious about this entire ordeal when I first saw him this morning, but by noon was feeling well enough to say 'I think I'm going to be okay'.

Breathing tube out

June 14, 2012

Well, it's a few hours since the surgery completed and already Kerry is away and has the breathing tube out. He was groggy and kept his eyes closed, but he responded verbally to us. Visits are short, only 5-minutes. He was tired after that. His words were pretty mumbled with the exception of 'It FUCKING hurts!' - that was pretty clear. The have to lower the pain meds to increase his alertness to then take out the breathing tube. They were going to increase the pain meds when we were leaving.
Kerry is still anxious, he did say that he's still scared. I'm assuming the Ativan will keep flowing.

A success!

June 14, 2012

Kerry's surgery was more than 7-hours! It was teary morning, with loads of anxiety. They couldn't give him enough Atavan, but off he went. We spent all day trying to keep busy until we finally heard from the amazing surgeon that all went well. His aortic cavity above the valve was aneurismal so thank goodness that was done or we would be back in the same place within 5 years, perhaps with catastrophic results! So . . . we've seen Kerry in the CVU. He looked better than we expected, perhaps because he is so much younger that the patients we saw during our tour. We're waiting for news that his breathing tube is out and that he's becoming more alert.

Surgery day

June 14, 2012

i'm getting surgery today and already I'm a lot anxious. i found out yesterday follwoing t ct scan that I must undergo a procedure calledmthe Bentall Procedure meaning my entire aortic root, valve and ascending aorta must be replaced. This bring with it much greater short term risk for long term benefit. Roy Sutherland is right (check Ted Talks) everything is perspective and now I wish that all I had to undergo was valve replacement. I really feel quite terrified and want like hell just to play with Tobi and be home. Also my choice of va
Valve has to be St.Jude because the X valve doesn't come with the juicy accessories.

On x or st. Jude

June 13, 2012

Today's dilemna is which valve to go with. On the one hand the On x valve is new technology and design but has only been used for twenty years. The St Jude has a long successful history and is most popular. Both valves require the use of coumadine. Anticoagulant therapy is evolving and within 5 yrs may have alternatives. The On x valve is being studied to possibly not requiring anticoagulates other than a once a day aspirin. I'm leaning toward the On x. My surgeon says both valves are excellent and he wouldn't use one that has problems. Interesting to note that the On x valve was designed by the same doctor who invented the St. Jude ( just with more modern materials that minimize damage to red blood cells as blood passes through it.

Hospital stay

June 13, 2012

Yesterday I was offered an opening for surgery in the afternon. I accepted the opprtuntiy. My attitute is that I have to get the procedure. The mortality rate for people suffering this condition untreated is higher that the worse cancers.

I accepted the offer and was prepared for surgery at 1:30 pm. However the surgery was cancelled as the hospital had staff shrtages in the ICU and did not want to risk the after care. So I wait. I am now told surgery is planned for Thursday June 14.

Arrival Victoria Jubllee hospital

June 13, 2012

I came to hospital on Sunday evening feeling chest discomfort. We had been at Beaver camp and my discomfort had become quit irritable. I had avoided hiking and dreaded crouching to enter the tent. This compelled me to come and get checked out. The people at Jubilee hospital immedately conducted an electro cardio gram. It showed a possible enlarged ventricle. Enlargement is caused by the pressure of blood flowing back into the heart at every beat. I spoke with a doctor who "didn't like what he saw" and i was immediately admitted. My room is private and I've been monitored constantly.

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