Email Bag: The Biggest Challenge Of Heart Valve Surgery?

By Adam Pick on January 3, 2007

I recently received an email that asked, “Adam, what was the most challenging aspect of your heart valve surgery?”

It’s a really good question – one that I do not answer quickly given the ups, downs, ups and downs of dealing with heart valve surgery.

However, I would say the hardest part of heart valve surgery was the recovery. It’s unfortunate but I found that the health care specialists failed to properly manage my expectations following my aortic valve replacement.

I was in the hospital for five days. Then, I was discharged. There was very little guidance as to what to do and what not to do. I did receive a 15-page handout but the only pre-planned events were a follow-up appointment with my cardiologist (2 weeks) and my surgeon (3 weeks). It was quite troubling. Besides that, there was no structure to my recovery. Ultimately, this led to several challenges in my recovery – pain medication dependency, cardiac depression, etc.

That was not fun.

Ultimately, my family and I took it upon ourselves to advance my recovery in the seventh week post-operation. We learned a number of post-operative strategies to enhance the recovery process.

To be honest, that is the key reason, I wrote my book. The patient needs to know what might happen at each phase of the operation. Personally, I felt like I was ‘left out in the cold’ following my aortic valve replacement.

I do not want you or anyone you know to have that experience.

The physical discomfort was one thing but the mental discomfort was completely unexpected and quite dislocating.

I believe a lot of those challenges could have been avoided had my cardiologist and surgeon structured my recovery a little bit better.

I hope that helps!

If you have any questions, please email me.

Keep on tickin!
Adam


Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded HeartValveSurgery.com to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and The Wall Street Journal.


Heather Taylor says on January 3rd, 2007 at 3:19 pm

Thanks Adam. Right now, I’m so focused on the finding the right surgeon and hospital that I didn’t even think about the recovery. Again, thanks for the thoughts. See ya, Heather.



chris scafidi says on February 18th, 2007 at 8:40 am

Just had tricuspid valve repared 1/26/06 and it is 2/18/07 and I still have pain in my chest from the cut bone is this normal? And you are not kidding there is no guidance



Adam Pick says on February 18th, 2007 at 10:53 am

Hey Chris,

I had my aortic valve replaced on 12/21/05 and I still have pain in my chest at times.

My point is that the real recovery valve surgery and the real healing to your sternum takes a lot of time. I don’t know about you, but I was told that I would back at work in 8 weeks following my aortic valve replacement. Well, it took me an extra 9 weeks from that initial estimate. I didn’t return to work until more than 4 months after valve surgery.

The good news? It does get better. Slowly, things like getting in and out of bed don’t hurt so bad. Driving gets easier. The list goes on.

Are you scheduled to be in a cardiac rehab program soon?

Cheers,

Adam


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