I graduated rehab this week! All is well, and I am continuing to work more hours in Labor and Delivery. Seems like spring has sprung and thkose spring babies keep coming! Everyone keeps telling me I'm looking great. It has taken me 5 months, but I'm back to the weight I was before surgery. I only lost five pounds, but gaining that muscle mass back is more work than losing it. I suppose that is a better problem than others have. I definitely don't need to lose weight. As for my stress test, I haven't scheduled that yet. I really would like to wait longer to allow my heart and aorta to continue to heal before I put any unnecessary stress on my body. Exercise is going great. When I started rehab I was doing 3.4 METs and now I can do about 7 METs. Now, I just need to make sure I regularly get exercise even though I'm working, homeschooling, and wanting to sleep in when I can. It's so hard to make myself get out of bed to go exercise when there is no one expecting me.
So I just have a question for everyone out there. I went to see my cardiologist this last Friday, March 10th and he wants me to do an exercise stress test in the next month. I am 4.5 months since having a Ross procedure and ascending aorta replacement. Everything at my appointment looked great. I'm just wondering if others have been asked to have a stress test so soon after surgery? Opinions? I'm not sure I want to stress my heart so soon. I realize I would be monitored, but what is the point? I exercise multiple times a week and am continuing to improve, but I make sure I don't go over 170 BPM. The office said they want to make sure my blood pressure is adjusting appropriately, which they check in Rehab. I already know that is fine.
Yesterday was four months since my Ross procedure and ascending aorta replacement. I would have posted then, but I worked a 12+ hour shift on the Labor and Delivery unit that I work at. I'm feeling amazing, and am loving being back at work! I am still doing cardiac rehab on the days that I am not working. I continue to do better every week, and my heart is improving. If I am unable to do cardiac rehab, I try to get to the YMCA a few times a week for my aerobic exercise. My muscles and bones no longer bother me. I only have a tender area of my incision that is sensitive to touch and clothing, but isn't too bad. For the most part, I don't even notice that. I've enjoyed speaking with others at work and on this blog about my surgery and why I made the choice I made for my valve replacement. Life is busy again, with family activities, work, church, homeschooling, and YMCA. Days now seem to go by so fast, and I can't believe that just four months ago we were in New York. I'm so happy to be where we are today, healed and ready/able to do more than before.
I have finally been released to return to work after much back and forth between myself and human resources department at work and multiple notes from my doctor's reassuring them that I am fit to return to work. My first day back was Thursday for about 10 hrs and then six hours today. I will return my usual schedule this coming week and working g on the labor and delivery floor as usual. I am so excited to be back at work with my wonderful co-workers! The girls all wore red or red pins with me today for woman's heart health day. I am still continuing to do cardiac rehab three times a week as long as it doesn't interfere with work. I am also going to the gym on off days when I can squeeze it onto my increasingly busy life. We also started attending church regularly while I was on FMLA, so we are spending more time with that. It feels like things are getting into a more familiar routine🤣
My daughter's memory verse last week. Love the Lord your God with all your HEART, soul, and mind.
Journal posted on January 17, 2017
I finally started cardiac rehab this last week. Of course I'm the youngest person in the class, but I do have fun. They say I'm doing well. Apparently my heart looks great. I keep asking if they think I'm ready to go back to work. They said it is something I need to discuss with my cardiologist, but their only concern is the strength of my chest muscles. They are worried if I need to move a patient, I won't be as to do it or will strain, hence the concern. It is frustrating when mentally I feel ready to get right back to work, and in every other way I may be ready, but this one thing may hold me back. I guess I will be calling to see what my cardiologist thinks and have a discussion with my boss.
So it has been two months to the day since I had a Ross procedure and my ascending aorta replaced by Dr. Stelzer at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Last Friday was eight weeks exactly. It seems that once eight weeks was past I suddenly felt like myself again. Up through last week I was still having slight twinges of pain in my upper sternum every once in a while, but nothing to complain about. This week the sternum pain is completely gone. The past few weeks, I would tire out easily. After doing a bit of housework or cooking lunch I would have to nap for a little bit. Now, I get up in the morning and I start working around the house and don't stop till the day is over. School work with Claire is getting done, meals are being cooked, dishes done, laundry accomplished, I'm even getting my house organized again. I feel so satisfied and it feels good that at the end of the day I can check a few things off my list of things to do. I'm hoping to get outside if it warms up one of these days to clean up the garden, but this week is quite cold in the Pacific Northwest. I must say it has been very therapeutic for my sore muscles to be moving around and doing activities. I still have one sore spot on my left pectoralis and one by my right shoulder blade, but every day feels better. I should be talking to my cardiologist later this week or next week about how my recovery is going and the plan for the next couple weeks. After that I see him in two months. Overall, I'm feeling very good but I am wishing I could get more exercise into my daily routine. I don't have any cardiac rehab program that I am a part of, but I definitely want to get my heart into good shape. I did mention this at the last appointment, but no referral was made. I will mention cardiac rehab or ask for recommendations again when I speak to my cardiologist this month. I am expecting to return to work in 4.5 weeks as a labor and delivery nurse, and I want to be ready for that. All good news so far from here. I'm feeling really good about my recovery and am feeling ready to get into shape. I definitely want to do some hiking this spring/summer that I didn't quite feel I was up for last year.
Both my PCP and Dr. Stelzer recommended starting Ibuprofen again yesterday to decrease inflammation. They thought that was the cause of my fever. My labs ended up showing no signs of infection. I restarted the Ibuprofen yesterday afternoon and woke up today feeling so much better. Not only is my fever gone, my back is feeling a ton better too. My appetite is back too. Back to being a mommy and homeschooling🤣. The girls got one day off, but today we are back to work.
I'm not sure what's going on today. I felt a bit nauseated yesterday and off and on through the night and this morning. I have had the chills since last night sometime. I finally took my temperature, which was 101.1. I called my cardiologist and he says to wait 24 hrs to see how I do. If I'm feeling the same tomorrow, I need to go to Urgent Care and possibly come in to see them. I've called Dr. Stelzer's office too to get their opinion. It is no fun feeling like crap. It is just past 5 weeks after surgery right now.
I saw my cardiologist today. He said everything looked really good and he would have to remember Dr. Stelzer if he had another patient with Aortic stenosis and a dialated Aorta. My dialated aorta was the reason the Washington surgeons were reserved about the Ross procedure. Dr. Stelzer did a wonderful job repairing both problems and still doing the Ross for me. Everyday I continue to improve. I still have some pain and sore muscles, but hopefully that improves over the next month. My incision is looking really great, though it is still tender to the touch. I still fatigue easily, though each day gets better. Dr. McClosky is decreasing my Metoprolol to see if that helps with my energy level, plus I have been running 90's/60's. No more lasix, but still continuing with baby aspirin for awhile. It was really encouraging to have an echo today, and hear my doctor say that it pretty much looks and functions like a normal heart now with a slight pulmonary valve regurgitation, which was expected. Pretty exciting! Now to get through all this healing process😃
Well, I had a bit of a hard week last week. To start out last week, I did a bit too much at home and ended up pulling one of my lower back muscles. Josiah decided it would be better to drop me off at my parent's, so I could "take it easy" for a while. Every day seemed to improve last week, but my sore back muscles really drive me nuts. At the end of the week and over the weekend I wasn't feeling so well, with loss of appetite, nausea, and chills. I didn't have a fever though. Come to find out I was coming down with that cold my little girls have. Now that I just have some sniffles and occassional cough at night, I'm actually feeling much better. My sore back muscles feel so much better this week. YAY! My left pectoralis still bothers me, especially when I go for a very long walk. My arms also start to ache after walking very long, but walking feels really good. I have been able to walk the hills around my parent's house at a slow pace. All the fresh air has been wonderful. Mostly, my pain is now in my sternum and incision. I have been weaning off of the pain medication. Now I am only taking Ibuprofen about two times a day and the narcotic one time a day. Normally, by the time it has been about 20 hours since my last dose I'm hurting and needing something. I'm hoping I can wean off that last pill by the end of this week. Much of my time is working on home schooling with Claire and giving Abigail attention. It has been wonderful being home with my girls. The last few days I have even been able to start doing some minor chores, such as rinsing dishes, preparing easy meals, and getting kids ready for bed. I have to keep reminding others around me that my restrictions is my weight limitation, so they will let me help where I can. I'm not completely incapable of doing easy chores. Of course, I won't lift that load of laundry of vacuum yet. Next week I have the check up with the cardiologist to see how everything is going. I'm looking forward to seeing what my cardiologist thinks of Dr. Stelzer' s handiwork.
Today I was able to get up and make pancakes for my little girls. Following breakfast I rested for a little while, then dressed and we went to church. It was really nice to join New Hope Community Church this morning. After service and I had a wonderful nap, while Josiah worked on lunch. I am blessed to be married to a very good cook. We had teriyaki for lunch. The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. The girls helped pick up around the house and daddy did laundry. Tomorrow we are looking forward to getting back into the homeschool routine with Claire. We'll see how that goes with my energy level. We might just need to take breaks for mommy's naps.
We started the day leaving the New York apartment at 0430. We boarded the plane for Seattle at 0630 and take off was shortly after 0715. It was a six hour flight to Seattle and we arrived at 1015. My twin brother, Jonathon, picked us up and brought us home to my parent's house. My little girls were across the yard at Aunt Christa's house (Grandma Dede was watching them). I got the most amazing little gentle hugs. They had been training well to be gentle on mommy when she got home. Josiah then brought all our belongings home to our house and took Abigail to the doctor because she hadn't been feeling well all week. I was able to take a nap at my parents. After that he picked Claire and I up, took us grocery shopping and brought us home. While I painted little girl's nails and talked on the phone, my husband made tacos for dinner. Soon we will be getting ready for bed. It feels so good to be home with my little family. I must say, I think my husband is ' The Man' after today. He did a great job with such a busy day.
We were able to sleep in today! I slept pretty well last night with my heat pads and only got up once in the middle of the night to take something for pain in my sternum. I have heard that younger patients tend to have more pain than older patients, so I think I'm doing pretty good with the pain management. Each day I take less medication. I have found that heat helps more than anything else anyways. We had our post-op appointment with Dr. Stelzer this morning at 11:30. He seemed impressed with all that I did this week, even if part of it was in a wheelchair. I do feel like I am healing by leaps and bounds and can't wait to get home. He said flying home is not an issue in the morning. I just need to make sure I get up and move around throughout the flight. My incision is healing nicely, and the places where the chest tubes were look pretty good too. After the appointment Josiah and I took a lovely walk all the way across Central park (east to west side). We sat down by one of the lakes and enjoyed watching the Mallard ducks court for a while. After that we took a Lyft cab back to the apartment and watched a movie. When my parents arrived back to the apartment, we left to go get the prescriptions from the pharmacy, about five blocks away. So I walked about 12 blocks this evening. That felt pretty good, two weeks after heart surgery. We also stopped at Starbucks for a tea for me and coffee for my husband. I like my tea. I had to have that about every meal while I was in the hospital, or hot water with lemon. Tonight al our suitcases have been packed, as much as possible the night before, and the apartment cleaned from top to bottom. We leave here at 4:30 AM. Sounds awful, I know, but it means I get to see my little girls sooner. I can't wait! Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement!
Today we all got to sleep in, which was much needed for me. By ten o'clock my mom had to wake me up at tell me I really should take all my medications. This afternoon was very fun, with an outing to see "Fiddler on the Roof" on Broadway. They did a wonderful job and it was a great show to see! Thanks Mom and Dad! Then we all took a walk down to Times Square, so I was able to see that. We went out to dinner to Curry in a Hurry. That was very good Indian food. Josiah and I took a cab home, while mom and dad spent a little more time in downtown. We were able to facetime with our little girls this evening. I can't wait to get home to them. I'm sure they both will have grown so much by the time I see them again. So only two more nights till I get to sleep in my own bed again. Tomorrow is the post-op appointment, and Friday we fly home.
We had another big day on 11/15 and went to the Museum of Natural History. We meet up with Kathleen who also had a Ross per Dr. Stelzer, and it was great to talk about recovery and see how well her scar is doing. Kathleen is doing half marathons, which to me is amazing. Running long distance is something I have never been able to do. Thanks Kathleen for talking with us! I really enjoyed the IMax theatre and the dinosaurs. my family pushed me around in a wheelchair for a good part of the museum, because I got tired after two big days. I had a nice long nap at the apartment in the afternoon, dinner with the family, watched a movie, and then off to bed. Muscles feel better with the heat compresses and/or icy/hot and I am spacing out when I am taking pain medication. I am just up I'm the middle of the night to turn my hot packs back on and take some medication. My sore sternum woke me up. Looking forward to sleeping in this morning.
It was my first big outing after surgery today. We went to the Central Park Zoo. We were able to use a park wheelchair. I walked during the flat areas and my husband pushed me up inclines. I really enjoyed getting fresh air, watching the sea lions, and the tropical birds. We had lunch at the zoo and enjoyed the IMax. We arrived home in the afternoon and I had a wonderful nap with my hot packs. My husband fed me dinner when I woke up and now we are watching a movie. Looking forward tomorrow.
First full day after discharge and my appetite is back
Journal posted on November 10, 2016
Today has been great! I woke everyone up this morning with "I'm hungry, please feed me now". My breakfast consisted of three eggs, a piece of bacin, 1.5 of cinnamon raisin toast, aa bit of Greek yogurt, and a Mandarin orange. Yummy! My mom helped me with my shower, which felt awesome. My pain is being managed with oxytocin, tylenol, and Motrin. No more nausea, thanks to my wonderful appetite. I think I had a nap and a snack after all that. Carrots and two turkey meat rolls with mayo and mustard. And orange juice. Yummy! After I woke up, Josiah took me for a nice walk in the park. A very slight incline makes me out of breath. My valves apparently need to get used to their new jobs. It was a beautiful day in New York today. Oh, I also ate borsch soup before and after my walk. My appetite has come back with a vengeance.now I'm waiting for dinner. Oh, and we all had a second walk when my parents returned from sight seeing at Trump tower. My parents seemed quite impressed with my stamina. It feels really good to go on a walk. Can't wait to do more! Thanks for all your support. This has been a great experience. I would say the hardest thing is being away from my little girls, but my sister is doing a wonderful job taking care of them! Thank you, Christa!
Yay, I had a shower this morning, which was exhausting but amazing. I let the shower run over my sore back for a while. The nurses helped me return to bed and I took a nap. My husband helped me get dressed for the day and I was able to have lunch and one last dose of pain medication before heading out the door. All my nurses were amazing. I couldn't recommend any other hospital more highly than The Mount Saini Hospital. Discharge was smooth and everyone compassionate. We took Uber black home which was a very good experience. My mom had stayed the night with me and then gone home to get the apartment ready for my arrival. Their was a reclining couch, and I went right to sleep. My husband and father went to go get my medications while my mom took care of me. I woke up right before they got back home and then mom's and dad went grocery shopping. Time alone with my hubby😍. What a good day.
I made it out is surgery and spent the weekend in ICU. On Monday I was moved to 7west the cardiac med surgery floor. I have had all my tubes and drains out, and am starting to walk around a bit and all function are working🤔I have had a unit of blood and lasix for excess fluids. I am having a rough time with pain control and nausea . They have not been able to find the right balance of meds so that has made me pretty miserable. Looking for better days to come. Briana as told to her mom😊
This is Josiah Briana's husband. Briana's surgery was a great success. She wanted to give you all an update and thank you for your amazing support and love. I'll let her fill you all in on the details as she recovers. I am currently by her side in the cardiothorasic ICU. She is very alert, it's as if she never skipped a beat! She is such an amazing source of strength and encouragement even in her current state. I feel like the luckiest man on earth. Thank you all for your love and support.
We had all the preop tests done today. Blood work, urine tests, x-rays, EKG, talking with the nurse practitioner, anesthesiologist, and meeting with Dr. Stelzer. It was very reassuring to talk with him. We arrived at the hospital at 11:30 and left around 6:30. We stopped at the pharmacy and then headed back to the apartment for dinner. The last meal before surgery was some borsch and toast. YUM! I took the preop shower and then talked to my girls one last time. I will take the shower again when I get up and braid my hair. We have to be at the hospital at 5:30. We roll back to the OR around 7:30. I am Dr. Stelzer's only case tomorrow. I will try to have my family update this when I come out of surgery. Thanks for all your prayers!
My support (Mom, Dad, my husband) and I in Central Park 11/2/16. Our one day to relax.
In New York
Journal posted on November 1, 2016
We have now made it to New York after an exhausting day of travel. Both my parents are with me and my husband. Sybil showed us around and we had a wonderful dinner out. Everyone else is up still talking, but I am done. Tomorrow we can do whatever we want, then preop is Thursday. Surgery is Friday. Thank you for all your prayers and encouragement.
This week has been super busy trying to get ready for heading to New York. Of course, I have to get all the things done that a mother does and I feel I may not be able to do later. This week started with three 12 hour days of work over the weekend and Monday. Tuesday consisted of getting the house back in order and homeschooling. Wednesday was crazy with education for work in the morning (I had to have it all done so I don't worry about having to come back to it when I return from FMLA). Mid-morning was the online meeting with Caire's WAVA teacher. Homeschool the rest of the morning and early afternoon. Haircut at 1:20. Back to my parent's to work on legal paperwork. I needed to have everything in order for my sister to care for my children. After that was done, I got that witnessed and notarized. Returned to pick up the children, and got home in time to put them to bed 1 hr late. Shesh, That was only Wednesday. Thursday was homeschooling in the morning, children's well-child appointments late morning and flu shots, then more homeschooling and cleaning house. Dealing with cranky, sore children, we went to my parent's for dinner for a last get together and pictures before we head to New York. We also talked about plans for flights and transportation. Friday didn't seem to slow down, due to my own need to take the kids out to have fun. We went ice skating and then played out at the park with my friend Lauren. It was a beautiful day in Western Washington. Later in the day, my friend Desiree took family pictures for us which turned out beautiful. After all that this week, I was not up for cooking and my wonderful husband took me out to eat for Thai food. Which I would say is a comfort food to me when I am going through momentous times in my life. Saturday was finally a day to stay home. Yay! Of course homeschooling doesn't stop on the weekend when mommy is leaving the next week. We also cleaned house, did dishes, cooked, and did laundry. My little girls were so helpful. We are looking forward to church in the morning with Grandma and Grandpa. Thank you everyone for all your continued prayers. Our God continues to be faithful and I have continued to be encouraged by each one of you and everyone in my family. Everyday I look to see what little bits of advice or encouragement you are sending my way. It is much appreciated during this time.
Today was busy with trying to figure out where we would stay in NYC. It seems everywhere that is a possibility is already booked, and we have less than two weeks till we fly into NYC. The place we were working on booking through VBRO got snatched up right before we we could get it. Other places had only part of our stay available and we don't really want to be moving around from place to place. My sister started a Facebook post several days back asking friends to ask friends who lived in Manhattan for recommendations of places. Upon reading this post, I saw that Sybil, a friend of my sister's neighbor was offering for us to stay at her place if we were coming at the end of the month. I contacted her anyways yesterday and let her know of the planned day, November 4th. She has made arrangements so that we can stay at her place in West Manhattan for the whole stay. Come to find out she is friends with several of my friends on Facebook too... Small world. Now we have a place cheaper than any hotels around, yet we also have a kitchen and a washer/dryer. There is a doorman to help with luggage, and an elevator. And we aren't too far from the hospital. God is so good.
We heard from Dr. Stelzer today. Insurance has approved the surgery, so we are scheduled for the 4th of November. We made flight plans for the 1st, so we can get settled in NYC a couple of days in advance. We now have a place to stay a few blocks from the hospital. My parents and Josiah will be going with me. The girls, Abigail and Claire, will be staying with Aunt Christa. Grandma Dede will be helping with them on the days Christa goes to work. I have filed for FMLA, and my last day at work will be October 24th. And no, I will not be coming for jury duty on November 14th. I will be in NYC and I cannot return for that, lol. Thank you to all my friends and family who have offered to help and have helped so far during this time. Thank you Christa and mom for helping me get my house in order for when I come home. Thank you for everyone's prayers for my family and I.