1. Please click the Browse button. Then find your new profile picture on your computer.
Victoria, British Columbia,
aortic valve replacement
The Patient's Guide
Simply insert your friends and family email addresses - one email on each line - to invite them to your Heart Valve Journal.
Ten weeks and countingI 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 opNot 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 opI 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.
July 27It'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.
July 10Very 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 3My 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 14Days 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 12Had 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.
Day 11 Some SetbacksI 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 :
Day 10Today 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 9Kerry 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.
Day 5 to 9Each 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.
Day 3 and 4Day 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 2We 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.
Day 1The 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.
Breathing tube outWell, 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.
A success!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 dayi'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
On x or st. JudeToday'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 stayYesterday 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.
Arrival Victoria Jubllee hospitalI 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.
>> Next: Click These Links To Learn More About Kerry!