The Patient Need To Communicate After Heart Surgery

It was my third day in the hospital. I just had my aortic valve replaced.

Even though my surgery was deemed a complete success, I was experiencing significant respiratory pain due to a common heart surgery complication. There was fluid in my lungs.

It hurt to breathe – like a little pinch or cramp in my left side after every inhale and every exhale. My medical team started me on respiratory therapy. So, throughout the night, I did fifteen minute breathing exercises at 11pm, 2am and 5am.

I was ab-sooooooo-lutely exhausted.

Then, my wonderful family began to arrive at USC Medical Center. It was Saturday morning. The “Adam Pick Family Support Machine” was in full force. First, my wife (Robyn) arrived. Then, my parents, my brother, my sister, her husband and their children trickled in.

Room 550 had turned into a zoo.

And I…

I was miserable.

It hurt to breathe. It hurt to talk. And, I really needed more sleep.

“Why is Adam writing about this?” you may be wondering.

Well, I think it is critical for you – both patients and caregivers – to realize that communication is critical during a heart valve surgery experience.

Now… Some of you may follow the Church of Oprah. Or, some of you may follow the Doctrine of Dr. Phil. And, some of you may just be natural communication gurus.

As for me, I’m not the best at communicating. I can be more passive than open when I want or need something.

Still, in that moment, I needed peace and quiet.

Then, a wonderful, soft voice arose inside me. I whispered to my mom, “I need to rest. It was a very long night. Can you please thank everyone for coming and supporting me? I’m too tired to do this right now. Is it alright if I take a nap?”

My mom (Donna) looked in my eyes, saw my discomfort and immediately took action. Within two minutes, the room was cleared. My mom, however, chose to stay in the room and sit quietly.

I felt terrible saying those words. But, I needed comfort. I needed some quiet. I needed to rest.

I got what I asked for.

I hope my little story above made sense. I really, really, really, really encourage all the patients out there to share, communicate and say what is on your mind during this experience. The impact of isolating your thoughts before, during and after cardiac surgery can have very negative implications.

Take my word… Be like Oprah. Or, be like Dr. Phil. 🙂

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

To learn how Adam has helped millions of people with heart valve disease, watch Adam's video, subscribe to his free newsletter, or visit his Facebook, or Twitter pages.

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