I am now half way through my eight week cardiac rehab. Things are going well.
Today I received the monitor that I will be using to do my INR's at home. Monday someone is coming to give me instructions on using the monitor.
Tonight I square danced for the first time since October!! It was great fun. I made sure that everyone in the square knew about my surgery so that they would be gentle. My energy level is no problem, but I did want to be sure that no one twirled or swung me too vigorously.
And, Charlie and I have just booked a 7 day cruise to Alaska with Princess. We fly to Seattle on July 4, and board the ship on Saturday, July 5. My sister Suzie is also going and will be sharing a cabin with Cathy Gordon, a close friend of mine from my church. They met in the fall and got to know each other during my time in the hospital and early recovery. We are all excited!
Things are definitely getting back to normal and life is good. Praise God for his love and care!!!!!
I am continuing to do well. I have completed three sessions at Cardiac Rehab and that is going well. They will not let me do any upper body work for another two weeks. My incision looks good - just a very thin line, but those drain holes. They look like two extra belly buttons! I wonder if they will eventually fill in and smooth out.
I have also started to drive. I use my heart pillow under the seat belt for some extra padding for my sternum. I have resumed some of my other activities - volunteering at Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly and my ladies Bible study. Things are slowly getting back to normal.
I am enjoying the warmer weather and watching my spring bulbs starting to bloom.
Today I saw Dr. Glassman, my regular cardiologist. Everything went well - heart sounds good, blood pressure okay, etc. He will be referring me for cardiac rehab and also starting the process to get me equipment to do my INR's myself at home. I see him again in two months. I will be staying on Metoprolol for a while at least. He increased the dose to 50 mg. twice a day. I will remain off the Diltiazem and Sotolol that I had been taking prior to surgery. We talked about antibiotic prophylaxis with dental work of any kind and I have a prescription that can be filled six times. Dr. Answini's nurse practitioner told me that I should wait at least six weeks after surgery to get my tooth fixed after losing a gold inlay during surgery.
Feeling good except for some discomfort at the upper end of my incision.
I am progressing well. I saw my surgeon's nurse practitioner yesterday and was released to the care of my cardiologist whom I see on Monday, 3/3. No more support stockings!! No more spirometer!!! They say that my incision is healing well, but it is so ugly!!! And the two drain holes are even uglier!! Today I walked on the treadmill twice for 10 minutes each time at 1.4 mph. I am really tired at the end of the day. Still sleeping in my lift/recline chair. The nurse practitioner told me that I could drive, but I have no intention of doing so for another month or so. I have not used any pain medication at all for over a week. Since all my helpers have left, except my husband of course, I have been fixing simple meals, doing dishes, feeding and medicating the cats. Tuesday I had my hair done and last night I went to Bible class. It felt good to get out of the house, but I plan to avoid crowds and obviously sick folks as much as possible and of course use that hand sanitizer.
I purchased a second copy of Adam's Book and gave it to my surgeon's nurse practitioner. She was not familiar with it and it helped me so much, I hope that they will share it with other patients.
Blessings to all those awaiting surgery and those in the recovery process.
Yesterday my son Bill and his wife Desirae flew back to NYC. What a blessing to have them here for almost a week! They were such a big help!! Desirae has turned into a really good cook and we have had some delicious meals - chicken, salmon, swai (steak and nachos for Charlie and Bill) etc. She has the refrigerator and freezer filled with containers of stuff that I can just reheat. Bill was getting very proficient at putting my support stockings on and at giving Mijikai his Insulin. Poor Charlie will have to fill in now. He will have to adjust his sleeping pattern to more closely match mine so that he can be available when I need him. I can only lift 5 pounds and no pushing or pulling with my arms. Little things like twisting a jar lid off - I cannot do. I can reach the bottom shelf of the cupboards, and light things on the second shelf, but am not supposed to reach any higher. A lot of dresser drawers and file drawers are too heavy for me to pull open, etc. etc.
I am continuing to do well for the most part. I have developed some pain in my right hip and leg which appears to be sciatica. Sure wish that I could see my chiropractor. That will have to wait a while until I can lie prone.
Today will be my first time out of the house since I came home from the hospital two weeks ago. I am going to get my hair done and then tomorrow is my followup visit with Dr. Answini. I plan to go to Bible class tomorrow evening.
Today, I got into a pair of jeans for the first time since surgery. I have been wearing soft knit pants with elastic waists.
I have approximately half of my new Charlie Harper puzzle together.
I am still doing well. My heart rate sometimes gets too high and I have to skip my time on the treadmill, but everything else seems okay. I do hear a lot of clicking noises coming from the upper area of my sternum, but have been told that is to be expected. I have not had any percocet for several days and feel better without the slight headache and slight nausea that seemed to cause. I am sleeping better, but am tired out at the end of the day. I will try to get three sessions on the treadmill in earlier in the day today.
It has been fun to have Bill and Desirae here. We have enjoyed some delicious meals and good company.
Yesterday I started working on a jigsaw puzzle - 550 pieces - about 1/3 to 1/4 completed. Bill and Des went out to get coffee this morning and came back with a Charlie Harper 1000 piece puzzle for me. That will be a challenge!
Things are still getting a little better each day. Yesterday, I walked on my treadmill for six minutes at 1 mile per hour without any ill effects. So now, I am allowed to use the treadmill three times a day for six minutes but must have a family member with me.
I am getting better and better on the spirometer. Temperature has remained normal and my weight has remained steady at my presurgery level even without the Lasix and Potassium. I am still getting by with Percocet only once at night and regular Tylenol the rest of the time.
Sleeping in my recline/lift chair is working out very well. I usually alternate between sleeping on my side and on my back and I am sure that if I were in my bed, I would end up on my side and hurt my incision. The chair is comfortable and prevents me from turning. I highly recommend getting a power recline/lift chair before surgery.
My younger son and daughter-in-law arrive today and sister Suzie leaves tomorrow. I will certainly miss her !!! She is anxious to get back to her cat and dog and the warm weather.
I continue to praise my Father God for his care and protection. What a blessing to a member of his family.
Today is going well so far. I do miss being in church, Maybe next week or the following week I will be able to go. I do want to be careful about exposing myself to anyone who has the flu or an upper respiratory infection. I certainly do not want to cough any more than absolutely necessary!
My pain at present seems to be concentrated at the upper end of my sternum or in my back when the muscles get tight. Last night I tried one of those heat in the microwave packs on my back and it did feel good. I am using the Percocet at night and getting by on regular Tylenol in the daytime. My appetite is improving.
I will certainly miss my sister when she leaves on Wednesday. Having meals appear on the table and wastebaskets emptied, laundry done, cats fed and medicated, etc. etc without any effort on my part has been great. Plus, we have enjoyed watching some of the Olympic games and just talking.
I go in and spend a few minutes with the cats each day, but still do not want to take a chance on having Mijikai (20 pounds) or Montel (13 pounds) jump on me - and Montel's favorite thing to do is to walk up my chest and kneed the area at the top of my sternum with his front paws. That does not really feel good at any time, but right now - no way!!!
A little problem with increased heart rate and weakness
Journal posted on February 15, 2014
Yesterday, I was feeling more fatigued than the day before and my heart rate was usually over 110. They had increased the Metoprolol dosage and that was not helping much. My weight yesterday was just a little below my weight on entering the hospital. I opted not to do the stairs yesterday or this am and talked with the surgeon on call this morning before I took my Lasix and potassium. He thought that I might be getting a little dehydrated and told me to stop the Lasix and potassium for now and watch my heart rate using my wrist monitor.
I am feeling better and my heart rate does seem to be coming down - mostly in the 90's.
I am doing well at home - stronger and more comfortable each day. I am currently taking one Percoset about every six hours - I am alowed 2 every 4-6 hours. A physical therapist visited today and we did the basement stairs and she wants me to incorporate two trips down the stairs each day into my exercise routine. Monday she will be back and has obtained permission to let me try my treadmill under her supervision. The treadmill should be a more efficient way of accomplishing my walking time than trying to walk around my small house.
I am so thankful that I have made it through the surgery and the hospital period! All of the nurses and other staff at Christ Hospital were very caring, attentive,and skillful. One nurse went out of her way to find me an old style bed that did not move about and make me feel seasick. I thank everyone for their prayers and encouragement and other forms of support!!!!!
I have exhausted my alloted computer time and will add more tomorrow. There are so many of the patient community that I am eager to check on.
Barb had a great day yesterday (Monday); she had finally gotten some sleep. Did several walks and feeling much better. Dr. Answini is extremely pleased with her progress. Just heard she is coming home this afternoon so we will be herding the three kitties into one bedroom so they can't jump on her in her recliner. I'm frankly a little nervous about her coming home!! Wish us luck!! Sue PS Thanks so much for the encouraging notes after the tough day on Sunday. Really appreciate it.
My sister Barb had a tough day today (Day 3) in the hospital. She spent a second night without sleep. Yesterday she had been moved to the cardiac stepdown unit to a private room and she even walked part of the way. But this morning she was pretty miserable not having had any sleep again,there was a problem with her kidneys last night, food tasted awful and her diet has been so restricted. About noon, however, wonderful Dr. Answini came in and prescribed something stronger to help her sleep and reassured her that she is actually doing wonderfully well. He said the problem with her kidneys has been resolved and she is doing great. Now, if she can just get some sleep. "Sister Sue"
Barb did extremely well today; her surgeon, Dr. Answini, was very pleased. Said she was in great shape and they finished both the aortic valve and the Maze procedure early. She was doing very well in the ICU. We were all amazed at how wonderfully warm and organized Christ Hospital is. We'll be back early in the morning. Sue, Barb's sister.
My sister Suzie has arrived and we had time to enjoy a meal at Outback steak house before the snow started.
Yesterday one the nurse practitioners from Dr. Answini's office called me to tell me that although my urinalysis was completely normal, the urine culture had grown streptococcus and they wanted me to start an antibiotic right away. One more pill...
Today Charlie drove me to Christ Hospital for preadmission testing - EKG, blood work, urinalysis, EKG, chest x-ray. We also saw a video about the surgery, and talked to one of the cardiac rehab people and was given a bottle of antibiotic body wash to use the night before and the day of surgery. The last thing was a consultation with one of the anesthesiologists. All of this took longer than I expected. We arrived at 10:45 and it was almost 1:15 when we pulled out of the parking garage.
Several times today I could feel the anxiety trying to creep in again. Time to refocus and reaffirm my trust in my Father.
Psalm 32:10...the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.
Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Isaiah 41:13 For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear, I will help you."
Bill and Desirae have made their flight reservations - arriving on Tuesday, February 18 and leaving on Monday, February 24. They will have an evening to visit with my sister before she leaves on Wednesday. I am very thankful for my family!!
Two weeks from tomorrow is my surgery day. I can honestly say that I am excited and looking forward to it. I want my valve to be fixed and my heart to work more efficiently so that I can be more active again. I want to square dance again, participate in classes at the YMCA, travel, work in my garden, etc. etc. But getting to this state of calm and confident anticipation has definitely been a process.
When I was first diagnosed with aortic stenosis, the possibility of surgery was years away. After my echocardiogram in November of 2013 when I was told that I would need surgery within the next year, I was filled with apprehension and anxiety.
Since November I have spent more time in prayer and Bible study. The Bible is full of assurances of my Father’s love and care. Deuteronomy 33:27 --“The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”-- is one of my favorites. I picture myself being carried in my Father’s arms like a small child.
The 23rd psalm is another favorite. I picture myself lying down in “green pastures” and drinking from the “still waters” and walking unafraid through the “valley of the shadow of death” knowing that my Father is taking care of me and that whatever happens in this life I will dwell in the house of my Father FOREVER.
Now my surgery is scheduled and things are ready at home, friends and family are lined up to help. I know that my Father has been working in my life and will continue to do so.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
I am wondering if I will be able to wear my regular clothes after surgery. Most of my cold weather clothes are pullovers - almost nothing buttons or zips up the front. I am presuming that lifting my arms over my head will be painful for a while with the sternal incision.
Yesterday, I saw Dr. Answini and this morning my surgery was scheduled for Friday, February 7 at Christ Hospital here in Cincinnati- just three weeks from tomorrow. I have to be at the hospital at 5:30 am and surgery will be at 7:30. Surgery is anticipated to take about four hours. We decided on the On-x mechanical valve and I will have a maze procedure for atrial fibrillation at the same time.
I have an appointment for preadmission testing on January 30.
I will just be taking it easy for the next three weeks. I have a good supply of videos and books from the library.
Charlie found a recliner/lift chair for me and that is now in place in the living room. I plan to spend a lot of time in it - even sleep in it for a while. He also found a wireless doorbell for me to use to let him know that I need something when he is out in the garage or down in the basement. He also installed a screen door on the front bedroom so that my three cats can be confined when I first come home so that they cannot jump on me.
Things are falling into place.
My sister, Suzie, who lives in Florida will be here while I am in the hospital and for a week or so after I come home. I really appreciate her being willing to come and help. She has been in Florida for 32 years and is no longer used to northern winters.
My son Bill and daughter-in-law Desirae may be able to come for a while when Suzie has to leave. That will be wonderful.