I still am amazed that before long I will celebrate 2 years since my mitral valve replacement! I wish there would have been a website like this one many years prior to my decision. I waited too long for surgery and 2 cardiologists never brought up the subject! It was due to my curiosity that I sought help but I already had been in permanent AF over 4 years when my valve was replaced. I am very thankful for my tissue valve, knowing that it has given me better quality of life but the AF was not able to be corrected. Thank you Dr Accola and Florida Hospital and all of you who shared your stories to give me hope. I know I was in The Almighty's hand and He used each of you for encouragement.
As I look back over the past year, I can hardly believe I even had surgery. If it weren't for the scar, you could fool me! I know those of you facing surgery will be thankful you had it done, so be encouraged! The hardest part for me was being patient through the process of healing but in hindsight, the time really did fly by! My thoughts are always with those of you trying to decide the "where" and "who" and those in the hospital now. God's blessings, friends!
Isn't it amazing how the body heals? My back pain is gone and I can take deep breaths without pain now. I'm looking forward to lying on my side and beginning cardiac rehab at the 8 week mark. My strength is coming back but I am being given B12 injections due to anemia. My mother, who lived with us, died a week ago so we are dealing with grief and yet joy because she was a Christ follower.To all of you beginning your journeys, trust the doctors and the Master Healer!
Time does fly by quickly and I see improvement each day. I saw my surgeon yesterday and he released me to my cardiologist. I walk a little each day and do a lot of things around the house. I still have pain in the shoulder blades but was told that it would get better. Life is a gift and I am blessed to receive this new valve. Yes, there may be problems down the road but I have peace that I don't walk this journey alone. God is my strength. I pray for all of you going through surgery and recovery.
A number of you have been asking how we are doing so here's a quick summary. Cheryl is gaining strength every day. Today she walked about a half-mile and she has picked up her pace considerably.
She was able to sleep in her own bed from the first night. Until last night she had a number of pillows to keep her propped up. Last night she was laying down and slept through the night pretty well.
The area around the incision has been quite bruised the last couple of days. Normal, they say. Also, the site where the last drainage tube was removed finally scabbed over and stopped seeping.
We were a little on edge when she started running a low-grade temp on Wednesday. We had been told to expect it, but...By the next morning it was back to the normal range.
Before the operation, Cheryl's heart rate was in the upper 80s and low 90s. Since Christmas Day it's been in the upper 70s to mid 80s. We're heading in the right direction!
The hardest thing for Cheryl is allowing others to do what she isn't supposed to do. No more than 5 pounds lifting, Elbows must stay below the shoulders, no bending over at the waist, arms are not to be extended either forward or backward.
The idea is to keep the chest muscles inactive as much as possible. Where it proves to be most inconvenient is when sitting or standing up. That's when she must either grab her heart pillow to her chest or cross her arms over her chest as she gets into or out of the bed, couch, chair, etc. She needs help to put on her blouses and coats.
We'd appreciate your continued prayers. We will see the heart surgeon in a couple of weeks and let you know how things are going.
Can you believe it? Cheryl was released yesterday!! We are glad to be home. At the same time we will miss the wonderful care that Cheryl has had. We were especially impressed with the nursing staff. All of them were excellent caretakers; selfless, professional, gentle, and very personable.
We definitely saw the fingerprints of God in sending 5-6 Filipina nurses to look after Cheryl. There was an immediate bonding! We believe that all of these "angels" were instrumental in Cheryl's healing.
So now begins the next phase of recovery. All of the goals for release were met and in some cases exceeded. In a sense, it was the burst of speed from the blocks for the distance runner. Now we pray for wisdom and endurance to settle into a pace that will take us to the tape - complete recovery.
We ask you to continue to intercede for us as we "run with patience the race that is set before us". Pray that we will not miss the lessons that God would have us learn as we endeavor to walk by faith. Pray that our focus would not be on ourselves and our circumstances, but on bringing honor and glory to the One who holds us in the palm of His hand!
Cheryl awoke today with a stronger voice, a heartier appetite, and a will to meet a couple more goals. Shortly after breakfast, goal # 1 was met. Let's just say that it was a moving experience!
With some encouragement from the staff, Cheryl was able to increase by 4 times the distance walked yesterday. In part, this was due to less pain around her lungs. The doctors were much encouraged that there was a lot less drainage from around her lungs. We are hoping that the last tube will be removed tomorrow.
We had a nice surprise when some close friends stopped for a long visit. Cheryl was much more alert today because she didn't need as much pain medication.
Cheryl was able to talk to her mom for a few minutes today and yesterday. We sense that she will be happy to have us home again in a few days. This ordeal has been hard on her, even though she has been well cared for. Her care giver is a very special person - a gift from God!
We had a visit from a nurse who gave us some orientation about how to manage Cheryl's recovery once we get home. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are just beginning the recovery process. We are reminded of Paul's words in the scripture that we should not grow weary in doing well.
As I began this note, carolers walked around the ward singing about the real meaning of Christmas, a great way to end the day, and with that I will end this note.
Today we were encouraged to see a couple of milestones reached.
1. Cheryl was able to walk (with the aid of a walker and "guardian") from her bed to the main desk across from our room and back. That's a whopping 50 feet!!! But, that's not all. At 8:30 PM, she broke her previous record by walking 240 feet! A roar goes up from the fans!!! ...a small beginning, but...This is the season where we remember one small beginning (the birth of Jesus) that led to the redemption of the world. And so, we celebrate each milestone.
2. Cheryl's appetite is returning! This mornings breakfast: half a boiled egg, half an english muffin, a cup of grits, a little yogurt, one piece of turkey bacon, and a few grapes. For lunch: half a bowl of bean stew, some salad, broccoli, and V-8. For supper it was: a half bowl of tomato bisque soup, most of a side salad, half a serving of spinach lasagna, half of a whole wheat dinner roll and half of a carton of milk.
3. Cheryl was able to take her first shower today. So, the bandage on her chest was removed. We are thankful that the incision looks good (meaning it seems to be healing well). It's not by any means what you would consider "body art". :-)
So, consider the above to be our "praises". We are so thankful for God's goodness.
Here is our one prayer request that we learned about today:
We discovered that there is still some water in Cheryl's pleural cavity (the sack around her lungs). A drainage line that was inserted at the time of the operation is still draining that fluid. However, the tube is causing a lot of discomfort (spelled P-A-I-N)which leads to taking more medication. It also inhibits deep breathing and walking (both critical to her recovery). Please pray that this condition can be rectified soon.
We were unexpectedly blessed by 2 deliveries of beautiful flowers. Again, God's handiwork and the love of His people blessed us immeasurably. A big thank you to our son Josh for the 2 flower baskets and to Village View Community Church for the vase of lovely blooms!
At 3:00 this afternoon Cheryl graduated from the ICU to Progressive Care. In order for her to make the move, a couple of tubes had to be removed. I must say, she looks a lot better without all those tubes! Another sign of progress was the mode of transportation. In the photo below you'll see her with Zy, a Honduran by birth, who was the last to care for Cheryl in the ICU.
So, we are now camped out in room 8814 in the Ginsburg tower. The Lord blessed us with another lake view. As we look out our window we are reminded of our gracious God who has blessed us in so many ways during this past week.
Cheryl has come a long way since the operation. She was transferred here only 26 hours after the completion of her surgery (another wonderful testimony of the power of prayer - YOUR prayer!). We can't thank you enough.
Now, I have a tall order for you regarding continued prayer. There are a number of goals to reach before we can go home. Here they are:
1. Use the incentive spirometer 10 times every 1 to 2 hours
2. Do feet and ankle exercises 10 times every 1 to 2 hours while sitting in the chair or lying in bed
3.Walk at least 4 times every day
4. Reduce pain medication to once every 3-4 hours
5. Be off of oxygen
6. Incisions are healing well
7. Have no fever greater than 100.5
8. Able to shower daily
9. Eating and drinking sufficiently
10. bowels have moved after surgery
Thank you for all the emails you have sent in response to my updates. We are humbled by the concern and love expressed!
After a very long day, I'm so pleased to be able to report that Cheryl's surgery was successful. She now has a new mitral valve. The surgeon was very encouraged with the overall condition of her heart. His only regret was that we waited so long to have it done. As a result, the atrium is enlarged. This means that the doctor could not do a procedure to stop the Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib).
The good news is that Cheryl made it through the surgery in under 2 hours. Let's pray that the shorter operation time will mean a quicker healing time.
I was able to visit Cheryl twice since the operation. She was still too sedated for us to really communicate. The second time she was able to nod to yes/no questions.
Right now she needs to rest and allow her body to heal. It is my prayer that she can have the breathing tube removed late tonight or tomorrow. Once she can breath on her own and take a few steps she will be able to leave the ICU.
In the meantime, please offer thanks to God for a successful surgery.
We made it through our first night without too much trouble. Sleeping is always a bit difficult when you're in a new place (and in my case, sleeping on a recliner).
Cheryl was taken on her bed to the heart catheterization unit at about 8:30 this morning. Everything went well and the doctor informed us that there were no surprises. Veins and arteries are clear and the other 3 valves looked pretty good. So, unless the surgeon sees something the cath did not disclose, only the mitral valve will be replaced. After 4 hours of lying still, Cheryl was able to walk around with no adverse effects.
We had 2 hospital staff visit us during the afternoon, one to explain tomorrow's events including the surgery and the immediate recovery process; the other to talk about longer term recovery. Both were very professional and encouraging. Cheryl slept a bit. That was good.
The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning around 9. Cheryl will be taken to the prep area around 7:30. I'll get a tour of the OR and then see my sweetheart one last time before the procedure begins. If all goes well, I should be able to see her again in the ICU around 3 pm.
Photo below: After the catheterization, Cheryl looks out of our hospital room window with Lake Estelle below.
The heart cath went fine today. No surprises, the doctor said. The hardest part was staying still in bed for 4 hours afterward. I took the time to sleep since I was awakened many times for blood draws during the night. It's been a busy day with teaching sessions and special washes and now it's time for sleep. I'll be heading down for surgery some time in the morning...the time keeps changing! Probably after I'm out of ICU I'll let you know how it went. My husband is writing a blog for us on his own computer so I don't want to ask him to write another update for me. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.
The surgery is getting closer. I'll be admitted tomorrow for the start of heparin since I'm off of my blood thinner now. On Monday I'll have the cath procedure and Tuesday, surgery, if all is well. I am sooooo blessed to have my friends and family praying and offering help in soooo many ways. I'm happy to hear that many of you are recovering and over your surgeries, too. Hearing your stories prepares me for what lies ahead and I know The Great Physician goes ahead and at the same time He walks with me and I'm holding unto His hand.
I've been following many of you for a couple of months now, preparing myself for surgery. I'm very thankful for Adam's book and the valuable information in it. I could hardly bring myself to look at pictures on the internet or read the chapters, but as I became more familiar with the procedure and outcomes, my outlook has changed.
My biggest surprise was finding out from 2 top surgeons that my valve was not repairable. So, I take that as from the Lord as to what He wills for me to do. I enter the hospital on the 16th for pre-op tests. I've been in continuous AF for 4 1/2 years so that is also something we hope to have corrected, if that is possible. I didn't find many people on this site who have the same issues as I do so I hope if there is someone out there, that I can be an encouragement to them.