The heart ticks nicely, the scar has faded to just a fine line. The exercise regime took a drive when I returned to work - but that's just how it goes..
What really interested me was I kept on thinking I was totally well from about 10 weeks on and yet as each month has past I got better and better. The bones are most definitely the last to heal fully. My voice box took a bit of a hit too. However I have full volume now. The brain was also effected and is now fine. It worried me for awhile - I thought that maybe old age had set in but now it's really good. Good luck to all of you going though this. The surgeons are so good - in fact the cardiac team in general is truly remarkable.
The last month has been quite good. Amazing really. I have been working very hard physically on some very hot summer days. Oddly enough my weakness is having to sit making idle chatter over a cuppa for hours in a restaurant. The ribcage/ spine/shoulder -you name it starts to ache. The only respite is to lie flat on the floor ...and no, I don't do that until I get home!
I do get dizzy a lot. I'm not sure if its sinus, the operation recovery process or what. I know I should go back to my GP but I am over tests and pills and rehospitalisation etc.so I am really just seeing if it gets worse. I wonder if any of you out there have this side effect.
After three months I can honestly say how delighted I am with the outcome of the operation. My muscles are regaining the strength I lost many years ago. I still have some small hard lumps under the scar line on the right side. I do hope they go as it does hurt when my grandchildren hand plant themselves on my chest. However if let alone there is no pain.
Its just wonderful to be healthy again. (-:
I must say that I am now quite well. The usual Christmas spirit of dining and family would have taken its toll 2 weeks ago. There is still a mild shoulder and neck pain when I lift heavy or awkward items. I still like the occasional afternoon nap to recharge my energy levels. However the operation has really been like a facelift on the inside. (-:
I really have a wonderful team of medical professionals to thank.
Last week I boasted feeling so well with boundless energy. I was prematurely over confident. I used up all my energy and spent several days feeling quite low. The shoulder /neck pain returned making sleep difficult again. However I managed to self massage the shoulder muscle back into place without a physiotherapist this time. I also started taking a daily iron tablet and that seems to have picked up my energy levels.
I find 20 minutes on the treadmill helps to give me energy too. Now my energy has returned I am going to show my body much more respect - at least until Christmas eve!
Feeling really well I decided it was time to get in the car, sing those christmas carols and celebrate with work mates. It only took one hour of laughter and chatting for my voice box to give up on me. That was unexpected.
I notice when I have a big day my heart is pumping and it takes ages for me to fall alseep. The cardiac surgeon did say I should check for high blood pressure. Now thats a first after running low for my entire life todate.
Bones were a bit creaky this morning too. Yet yesterday I was just fine. I'm not really complaining. It was so great to sing, chat and see all my work mates again. I just want to record this as a reminder the next time I have my valve replaced. I'll be retired by then (hopefully) so I'll have to make my own fun.
54 days and finally came the day I've been waiting for. To feel good. There are still some muscular/skeletal creaks and groans but I feel well - strong!
This day might have come a week earlier if I hadn't caught a gastric virus last week.
Before the operation I had muscle and joint pain. It has gone. I am really hoping its gone permanently but until I push the boundaries at work I won't really know. I am so excited - now what to do with the rest of my life???
Just doing some calculations. If 2% of the world globally have a BAV then that means 140 million will have the congential flaw. Only 60% of those will need an operation. However that is a whopping 84 million people. We are not alone!!
Gastric bug gone - yay! Nothing to do with the recovery thank heaven. Back to the exercise program.
The physiotherapist as done a wonderful job in showing me how to avoid shoulder and neck pain.
1. I press the shoulder blades back and down as if I am dropping them into my back pockets.
2. Pull the neck high as if being lifted by a coat hanger.
3. Lie on the floor on my back pushing shoulder back and arms out to take the stress off the neck.
I find I can now stretch and yawn in the mornings. That's nice. I missed that.
I did my first food shop on my own this week. I drove the car to the shops. I wouldn't have wanted to go any further. By the time I got my heavily laden christmas supplies into the car that was enough for one day.
I can't say I'm well. I either have the gastric bug that's going around town or this is symptom xx in the recovery plan. Glad I didn't have it a few weeks earlier. Glad its summer too and getting out of bed a zillion times in the night is not a freezing experience as well. - When I get over this I should actually be doing much better. Mind you I think that every week.
I thought I was going to watch a comedy when my son presented me with Michael Moore's movie "Sicko". Have you seen it?
Its all about denial of medical insurance to the people of America on any technicality. This is an american site so I thought I'd ask. You have all had major surgery. Are you financially burdened? Have you been denied treatment? Will your children be denied insurance because you have had heart surgery?
I was shocked. Is it true?
The best way to heal myself I have discovered is family and friends. I was really too tired for an outing this weekend but thanks to my family who risked unexpected flood waters and going a long way out of their way to pick me up. The weather cleared on the far south coast and so too did my overwhelming tireness thanks to just having family and friends filling my day with joy and festivity. I am still very much on the sidelines. Yet I know they are there for me despite my inability to pull my own weight.
I am told I need a dose of vitamin P. Vitamin Patience. I am now down to just paracetamol as a pain killer. I can do so much more now as the six week journey constantly improves. The heart is great however I am still very lethargic. Being anaemic doesn't help. My muscular/skeletal stiffness is easing yet I still need physio on the shoulders, neck and upper spine. The suture line smarts a bit more than it has this week. The later is easily fixed with a warm shower and some moisture lotion.
I'd love to be more movitated to get out there, especially before Christmas.
Yesterday I went on my first real excursion. You can't call ER three weeks earlier a real outing. I went to my grand daughter's first communion. It was so lovely to be out with family and back with friends. On the OHS side I found I could sing so easily (maybe not in tune). I was very proud of my lungs!
By afternoon the neck pain made the end of day and bed my comforting wish.
For me it really is quite unusual. Everything goes well then it seems I pay later for pushing the boundaries.
It reminds me of a new born baby. All go go go until its not. Tears and all.
I am on the road to recovery. Yay. The stiffness and aches and pains are now more manageable. The most delightful experience I found yesterday was walking up a hill that used to be quite an effort and feeling as though it was just a gentle incline. Wow. Is this how everyone with a normal heart feels? Amazing. Hehehe. I am so excited about getting better.
It is so great to be home after being readmitted for hospital for shoulder/chest and backpain. The pain is easing with pain management. My legs are proving more useful when moving from lying to sitting - sitting to standing. It is great to feel stronger.
The shoulder/sternum and neck pain continued to cause me grief. Eventually I gave in and my family readmitted me to hospital. It really was the best thing. They ran many tests as this sort of pain can be indicative of many serious things. They ran lots of tests and managed my pain so I was really quite comfortable. It was nice to have a hospital bed that could raise me up and out without straining the backbone. Fortunately I had none of the serious complications other than pure sharp back pain! After 5 days in hospital and nearly two weeks of unexpected pain I am now stronger and I have a pain management plan from the hospital. I feel like its time to start recovery mark II.
The pain in my shoulder and back became so bad the cardiologist and the hospital insisted I return. It was 9 long hours of tests and waiting. I got the all clear from the tests for having a collapsed lung and a pulmonary embolism. That was reassuring and they did give me some powerful pain killers that gave me some respite.
I do feel so sorry for my daughter who waited so patiently with me for so many hours through the night.
"Pain arising from structures served by the phrenic nerve is often "referred" to other somatic regions served by spinal nerves C3-C5.Irritation of the phrenic nerve (or the tissues supplied by it) leads to the hiccough reflex." quote from wikipedia
As the physio said the left side shoulder pain was transfered from the C4 vertibrae I guess she was spot on.
The pain from the right side has actually eased off this morning. Its tender but manageable.
I rolled over onto my left side to sleep and thought something didn't rotate with me. I spent the night with what feels like an air bubble in or near my stomach that won't gently massage out. I slept despite the discomfort on the right side and woke to the left side collar bone tense and stiff.
At least its not as painful as the right side shoulder pain. Week 3 has proved to be more of a challenge than week 2.
The web tells me the diaphragm and the shoulder share some of the same nerves - predominantly the Phrenic Nerve. I'll have research that some more.
I went to the physiotherapist and came home in even more pain even though she was very gentle. What she did determine was the pain was to the immediate right of my fourth vertibrae causing the transfered pain. When she pressed I could hear the popping noise you are referring to. Knowing this, I have worked out ways to get in and out of bed with my lower body and arms using the scarves I knotted and attached to the the bedroom wardrobe clothes rail. It even helps to shimmy around to find a comfortable spot in the bed.
Thanks Adam. Thanks everybody – don’t know what I do without you.(-:
I was doing so well until yesterday. Now I have so much pain under my right shoulder in the chest going through to the wing in the back. Its like someone has speared me with a lance. My GP made me call the ambulance as it is in a "significant" place. The ambulance thought it was most likely skeletal or muscular pain so I'm keeping my physio appointment tomorrow in the hope its a pinched nerve and stayed at home.
I was so shocked and tearful when the GP said do not eat or drink and get ready to go back to hospital. It is a long night here at home though. Pain does stop sleep and pain killers stop working after two hours.
I am returning to my own care today after a week of such wonderful care with my daughter. My progress has been so good I didn't think I could "milk" her for any more yummy cooked meals and lovely company.
My granddaughter won't be there to tell me to blow the blue balls either. Oh no! She was a tough master yet so delighted when all three balls reached the top of the tube.
I notice the "plumbing line" scars at the bottom of the rib cage are now quite close together. I guess lying on my side to sleep, as instructed, has helped return the rib cage to its former self quite quickly.
I tried spanning out the painkillers a little further yesterday but alas by evening I realised it was too soon to be so brave. The painkillers really do help correct breathing and coughing. Much more important to cough.
Still I am so happy with my progress so far. Its amazing.
My first GP visit.
After such intensive care and thorough procedure in hospital you would think that the little pieces of paper sent back to the local P would make you a little special amongst all the cold and flu victims. Alas no. One GP set the wheels in motion to save my life but post op and a new GP and its " Well what do you want?" I am overwhelmed at the gift I have been given and to them its just .."...next". Oh well. Back to healing and my emotional gratitude to so many for what has just happened.
Day ( - 1)
I thought I was all very confident however when the last of my family left I felt like a school child facing her first day.
It wasn’t long before I was being pricked, shaved, weighed, lung xrayed and breath tested so the teary thoughts evaporated in the medical busyness. My room was air conditioned to icy levels so the night was long and cold.
That was the surgeon’s day. They did an excellent job and I am so pleased with the stitches. I lost 5 units of blood so it means I am going to be anaemic for awhile. I was pleased to hear it was just the aortic heart valve replacement and not the aorta as well.
The video we were instructed to watch said we would be asleep for pretty much the first few days. That was not the case. After the surgery I watched the clock move ever so slowly hour after hour.
I was moved to the coronary care unit. The tubes were removed bit by bit. As each one went I was much more comfortable. T was amazing how quickly they got me up and walking, showering and exercising. The pain killers made me quite nauseous.
At last I was back into the ward. Unfortunately it was back to the very icy air conditioned room. A tech guy who kept visiting the cupboard in the corner of my room noticed i had blankets all over my head and offered to warm the room. He said I was in the haunted room. –Very funny. I started to wonder if he was real! Anyway the room warmed up and I didn’t see him again – until dawn – Phew! He was real.
Day 5 – 7
I was moved to a warm room. Heaven.
I couldn’t believe how much more mobile I was becoming with the assistance of the physios. By day 8 I was still like the little school girl itching to go home!
Home. My son’s car had a flat tyre so we had to stop for road side assistance. I figured if I could manage all that then I would be fine.
Back to the GP for more painkillers. I felt a little timid leaving home. However I have to say how amazed I am by my progress. This might be a very difficult operation but from the patient’s perspective the wound is not affected by twisting and muscle pulls that other operations in, for example, the abdomen.
Thank You to the wonderful surgeon Dr Michael Wilson RPA and Cardiologist Dr Raj Puranik RPA. Thank You to my family who protected me like sentinels guarding a fortress. I am truly blessed with the gift of life. Thank You.
I am writing this on behalf of my mother as she wanted to share her story so far.
The night before the operation was freezing, couldn't sleep because it was so cold, not to mention a few nerves. Just before the operation I had an injection in the leg, the next thing I knew I was lying in the intensive care ward.
The following night was hot! Everything went well and I am doing well, finding it a little difficult to breathe- but I am sitting up already ( less than 24 hours after the operation).
One thing I noticed ( her son) was the immediate warmth in mums hands. It's a great relef to see her doing so well. Even if she might not feel like it.
This one is for the girls. I had really wondered if I would be wearing a bra immediately after the operation. The answer apparantly is Yes! It keeps the ribs together. I was told to get a bra with no underwire - groan how non feminine are they! Still I doubt that I'll be overly appealling to anyone other that franksteins monster with matching stitch lines for awhile. (-: ++++ :).
Carotid Duplex Ultrasound done. Yay - no issues there.
Tooth extraction now a dry socket - I don't need this throbbing pain day after day - but the dentist tells me it will be another week yet. Lets hope I'm in good health soon or the heart op will be postponed again.
Lucky I'm not at work so at least the heart can chug along slowly til op day
My last pre op visit to the cardiovascular surgeon today. The date for surgery has been set 2 months to the day since the tell tale echo cardio indicated my heart was in trouble.
Its been one test after another. The gum is still hurting from the tooth extracted in dental health readiness for the op. Now its a carotid duplex ultrasound.
I'd like to think that was it. Surely the pre tests have to stop soon.
The pain from the bruised nerve near femoral artery has now faded. The centre of the tooth extraction is still throbbing but not as much as the stomach pain from taking paracetamol and codiene. Mmm... need to be in tip top shape for my next visit to the cardiovascular surgeon next week.
It does make me wonder how I will manage the pain killers after the op.
I went you a routine checkup to the dentist in preparation for D-day. I was hoping the sensitive tooth the dentist fixed 4 weeks ago would pass muster. I was then faced with a choice. Have a root canal and delay the heart valve operation a few more weeks or remove the tooth there and then. So I came home one tooth less. I was very surprised when I checked in the mirror that it wasn't the tooth he had repaired 4 weeks earlier. I do hope he got the right tooth!
I can't believe I have so much pain to deal with in preparation for an operation. Maybe I'm just being toughed up for the big day!
I not quite sure what I write here. I have known since I was 8 years old that I had a heart murmer and then at 25 I was told I had a Bicuspid Aortic Valve that was not damaged. At 34 when a asked to have it checked again it was still fine. When I turned 50 and I kept telling the family I think something is wrong with my heart the medical practioners in my clinic wouldn't believe me. At 57 I was most definitely symptomatic and a free medical clinic listened to me at long last and 4 weeks later here I am all lined up for an open hood repair job.
Getting to D day. For several months my heart had been fluttering in the early hours of the morning. I'd sit up in bed sort it out and get it back in order. I made little mental messages. Give up diet coke, give up caffiene, and definitely don't drink any alcohol whatsoever. For awhile (weeks) I thought I had it all sorted. Then it was as if my heart and my brain were in kahoots. Don't sleep! Your heart is not ticking properly and it would pound relentlessly through the pillow making sure I sat up and moved. Enough was enough. I had been to my own clinic so many times telling something was wrong with my heart, I had joint and muscle pain and weakness and chronic fatigue. But then so do lots of menopausal women.
I felt guilty taking time off work because someone would have to carry my work load. One week I was given so much extra work I said - that's it I am going to a doctor anyway or my Mother is going to out live me.
The free clinic was excellent. I felt as though they were going to infer I was a hypercondriac and yet again I'd be sent on my way. But no. They checked everything.
ECG, 24 hour halter, blood tests and the very telling Echo cardio.
It was during the echio cardio test that I was asked why I hadn't a cardiologist. - No one ever told me I was supposed to have one!
Next I had a CT scan of my heart. That was fine - a shot of iodine in the arm to check the blood flow through the arteries. I even got to keep the video.
Two weeks later the cardiologist ordered a angiogram and an MRI. The later was easy. Hold your breath - breathe etc for 45 minutes and it felt a little like swimming the length of the pool.
The angiogram however was not as much fun. It didn't hurt as I understand it can. However I hemorraged and the pulse dipped out for a few moments. With a shot of adrenalin I was back. My kidneys ached. I was busting to empty my bladder and just couldn't relieve myself lying down on a pan. It was agony.
They did a CT scan of my stomach to see if I had internal bleeding. It was OK.
The next day and 3 lots of iodine later I went home.
The bruising spread down my leg and I felt quite ill. The spread according to the Dr was OK. It was gravity moving the blood downwards. The pain though grew each day. They did an ultrasound and found that my nerve near the femoral artery was bruised.
Its now 12 days since the angiogram. I am still lacking in energy and the pain is like an unpleasant cramp when I sit awhile and then stand. But it is easing (-:
But hey... they did find my aortic artery was still in good condition so that will simplify my operation.