How Do Patients Change — Physically & Mentally — After Open Heart Surgery?
By Adam Pick on May 13, 2008
I just received an interesting question from Mia. Her email reads, “How I am going to change after open heart surgery?”
As we all know, emotions of fear can accompany the unknown. Ultimately, I think it is the unknown of heart surgery that stimulates thoughts like, “How will I be different after my operation?”, “Will my physical abilities change after heart surgery?” and “Will I experience mental changes after bypass- like pumphead?”
That said, I have to be honest with you and every other person who reads this blog. In my opinion, there is no single response that encapsulates the potential changes that patients face as they experience open heart surgery.
After my experiences with aortic valve replacement procedures, I will be the first to share with you that the recovery can be difficult – full of daily changes, weekly changes and monthly changes. However, there are many patients, that experience no relative, long-term changes after open heart surgery.
Consider the story of Veronika Meyer… After mechanical heart valve replacement, Veronika climbed Mount Everest. If that patient success story is too extreme for you, think about the story of Taylor Browning… After aortic root and valve replacement, Taylor experienced no major issues during his recovery.
The point I am trying to make is that heart valve repair and heart valve replacement surgery is a personal experience. I could make a laundry list of all the changes that could occur after open heart surgery but I don’t believe that would be fair to you.
Instead of focusing on the potential changes following heart bypass surgery, I encourage patients and caregivers to focus on the surgical results. The critical result is that we (the patients) live longer lives.
This result IS quickly recognized and appreciated by most patients.
“How does Adam know that?” you may be wondering.
Well… In a recent survey (now in my book), I asked 78 patients to answer the question, “How has heart surgery changed your life?”
The results were very, very, very interesting. Over 80% of patients surveyed suggested that cardiac surgery had a positive impact / change on their lives.
We (you, me) are unique. Open heart surgery will not change that.
I hope that helps!!!
Keep on tickin!