I've been feeling super lazy by just walking, so I tried running for the first time yesterday (24 days post-op). My cardiologist said I was cleared to exercise as long as I was not swimming, was not lifting or putting stress on my sternum, and as long as I kept my heart rate under 140, maybe 150.
The 3 mile run took me 33 minutes. I probably averaged 10:30/mile if you factor in stops at lights and such. I also had to slow down the last mile because my heart rate was getting close to 150. This is probably one of the slowest runs I've ever had but also one of the most enjoyable. It was great to sweat a little and start doing more than just walking.
A week ago (Monday, November 23, 2015, 10 days post-op), I reported that an echo showed I had fluid around the heart. I started 0.6 mg of colchicine 2 times per day.
I had a followup echo today, and the cardiologist said the fluid is pretty much gone. I'm therefore stopping the colchicine.
As some other quick updates, I'm probably feeling and doing about as great as one could expect. I stopped all pain meds (including over the counter Tylenol) a good while ago. I slept in bed flat on my back the first night out of the hospital. I've started trying to sleep on my side, but it's hard to stay there too long without discomfort.
Besides some soreness and discomfort when moving a bit too much the wrong way or trying to lift too much (or push down, e.g., juice lemons), I do have some soreness/aches in my upper back and shoulders when taking longer walks, but it's nothing worth taking any pain meds for.
My cardiologist, with whom I swim, reminded me just today that I had my sternum sawed open and went through major surgery. She knows me too well and told me to keep taking it easy. Because of her insistence and my family's refusal to let me do anything that pushes the boundaries, I've been taking it fairly easy. I rest when I feel tired (but it's a good tired, much better than the pre-surgery fatigue). I suppose if I was pushing harder I wouldn't be feeling so great, but I am doing my best to follow the doctors' orders to not push too hard too early to ensure I do not create unnecessary problems.
I almost hate posting this because I know many others struggle through surgery and recovery more so than I am, but I hope my post serves as encouragement for those facing surgery in the future.
Surgery was on Friday afternoon, November 13. The echo on Monday November 16 looked great. Before leaving Los Angeles on November 20, the surgeon ordered a last minute echo. They told me that my chest x-rays were by far the best they had seen in a long time, and since I was doing so well, they released me to go home to Vegas before looking at the echo.
A few hours later, they called me and asked, "How far away are you?" Uh, I don't like that question. They said the Friday echo showed fluid building up around my heart, and I could tell their tone was fairly serious. After the PA talked to the surgeon, she called me back and said she'd call in a prescription for me to pick up as soon as I got back to Vegas. It was for 0.6 mg of colchicine, to be taken orally once per day. They also sternly insisted I get another echo 3 days later or 4 days later at the absolute latest.
I told my cardiologist what was going on, and she told me to take the colchicine twice per day instead of just once. She said it may give me diarrhea, and if it does, go back to once per day. Thus far, there is no diarrhea.
I just had the followup echo locally in Vegas. My cardiologist showed me the fluid but was not overly concerned, especially since I am asymptomatic. We'll do another echo next week to see how things are going.
Note that my cardiologist did not have a copy of last Friday's echo to compare, so she was not able to tell if the fluid is better, worse, or the same since last Friday.
The hospital released me about 2 hours ago. It's hard to believe exactly 4 days prior I was in the middle of surgery. They released me 1-2 days ahead of their expectations because I was doing so well.
Everything still feels surreal. I would never say this was easy, but it's hard to believe the hard part should now be behind me. Every day was noticeably better than the past. I didn't even feel I needed pain meds today but took some for good measure when leaving the hospital for a 5 minute car ride to where I'm staying in LA for a few more days.
The surgeon usually lines to see people 5-7 days after hospital release to check everything out, and he's usually against flying. He also usually doesn't see patients for this type of checkup on Fridays. But he said to come in this Friday for a chest x-ray, EKG, and incision inspection, and then I'm free to fly or drive back to Vegas.
Unless I reach for something in an odd way or something, I almost forget I had surgery just 4 days ago. I am sure I may have some worse days ahead and perhaps I'm still getting by on adrenaline, but for now I'm simply taking it easy and feeling remarkably well.
But I am going to take a nap immediately. The nurses woke me up at 2 AM to check vitals and weigh me, and although I fell back asleep, another guy woke me up again for daily blood draws at 4 AM. I couldn't fall back asleep and have pretty much been up ever since. They had had done problems with drawing blood after surgery, so I was just relieved he only had to poke me once and was able to get the 3 vials he needed to run the labs necessary for the surgeon to consider an early release. Of course they had problems drawing blood earlier, though! I went in for surgery at 1:30 PM on Friday, hand had anything to drink since midnight Thursday, and wasn't allowed to drink much until the nausea passed 12+ hours after surgery.
Surgery wrapped up about 6 PM PT (21 hours ago). My girlfriend had been keeping my phone hostage, but she has now released it. Things went well. Dr. Trento repaired my aortic valve. I'm still in the ICU but sat in a chair earlier, walked 2 laps, can get 3 balls up but can't hold them long, had all tubes and catheter pulled, and finished my second meal of the day. I definitely have a lot of pain. Whenever Dad asks where it hurts, I tell him my little toe. I've supposedly been released from the ICU but I'm still hanging out here for a while.
More later or another day.