Oops, I guess I neglected to post an update at my 3 month post-op anniversary. That was a couple of weeks ago. I've been busy getting back into the rhythm of everyday life. I've been back to work for about 6 weeks but on a part-time basis. Cardiac rehab is going well - I've only got 2 weeks to go. I'm surprised that after 10 weeks of exercise I've haven't really lost any weight. I'm still at the level I was prior to surgery. I know that's not the point of cardiac rehab but I had hoped it would be a nice side effect. Anyway, I'm feeling good, although with a bit of residual soreness and stiffness in the upper torso region. I still have to be careful when lifting things, reaching up over my head and getting out of bed / off the floor. Plus, I sometimes hear and feel the occasional pop around the sternum when I get out of bed. Nothing serious though, I hear it's normal. No more bouts of high heart rate or afib either, which is a really great thing. I definitely don't want to go back to the ER anytime soon. That's it for now. Thanks for your support and for reading my journal entries.
Guess I missed my 2 month surgery anniversary a couple of days ago on Monday. Quick update: I'm doing really well. Visited my cardiologist yesterday and all looks good. He's very pleased with my progress so I don't need to see him again for another 6 months. I can also stop my afib medication so I will just be taking a couple of meds for high blood pressure plus baby aspirins. I'm into my 4th week of cardiac rehab and it feels like things are starting to get back to normal so it looks like I will be going back to work soon. Thanks for your support!
Officially started cardiac rehab today. Looks like I will have 3 sessions a week for the next 12 weeks. I think it will be very helpful and fun. Plus, I will still be going for walks in the evenings. Gotta get back in shape!
Also, I have 1 more week wearing the heart monitor from the cardiologist's office. It's a bit annoying so I will be very glad to be rid of it. Last night the battery went out on it so it started beeping. Of course it woke me up when I was sleeping the best I've slept in about a week or more! Plus, it irritates my incision.
Had another appt with my cardiologist this week - a follow-up to my recent ER visit (see last entry). Things are looking better. Tweaked my meds and they gave me a heart monitor to wear for 2 weeks. I will be starting cardiac rehab next week. I'm scheduled for the orientation on Monday. Over the past few nights, I've finally been able to sleep on my side some of the time. I seem to get more sleep now because of this, although I still have trouble getting to sleep. If I'm lucky, I fall asleep by midnight.
I started driving again last Sunday. Now Alice doesn't have to chauffeur me around everywhere (although I really appreciate everything she has done for me). I have to be careful to use both hands for turning. I feel a slight discomfort when pulling on the seatbelt and when looking back to pull out of the driveway. Otherwise, it's not too bad. Also, I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago I finally sneezed - not fun, but probably not as bad as some others had it since it was 3 weeks after my surgery. That's all for now. Thanks to everyone for their support.
Been a busy week - saw my PCP and cardiologist on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Talked to cardiologist about some episodes of high heart rate in the mornings. Those were "fixed" when I took one of my medications, Amiodarone. That is, until yesterday. I awoke with an accelerated heart rate but it never settled back down, even after taking all my medications. I then got really light-headed after a shower. Ended up going to the emergency room in the afternoon. After lots of tests and medications, my heart rate finally stabilized around 8:30pm. Of course, they kept me overnight for monitoring, loaded up with meds and a blood thinner. Official diagnosis was "atrial flutter with rapid ventricular rate" – in short, afib. Was discharged around 10:30am today with some new meds and dosages of current meds. Feeling much better now. Of course, now I have to see the cardiologist again on Tuesday.
I hope this new regimen works out better. I really don't want to go through that again. Just when the IV bruise from my surgery healed, I now have 3 more. I always bruise from IVs and this time I was stuck with 2 IVs (one in each arm) and blood was drawn from a poke in the back of my hand (an unusual location, which I'm sure I will bruise from too). I never get much sleep overnight in the hospital, so I took a nice long nap this afternoon which aborted my plan to go out for a walk. Anyway, that's the latest.
Had my follow-up appt with my surgeon yesterday. All looks good from his viewpoint: x-ray looked great, lungs are good, incision looking good, and I've got the OK to drive short distances. Still on lifting restrictions though, and will be for a while. So that's it. I won't need to see Dr Ryan again unless an emergency arises. I've got my first follow-up appts with my cardiologist and PCP next week. At that time, I should be able to enroll in cardiac rehab after I get a prescription from my cardiologist. I've continued by daily walks (as long as there aren't any tornados in the area - we had a close call earlier this week). Still have some issues trying to sleep at night though. Can't seem to really get to sleep until 2am for some reason and continue to have lots of strange dreams. Back pain is slowly getting better, so will hopefully be free of that soon. Thanks for everyone's continued support!
Spoke with my surgeon's office about the pain I mentioned in my last update. They didn't think it was unusual and yes, they thought it was a little early to be sleeping flat on my back and figured that accounted for the pain. So for the past 3 nights I've gone back to sleeping propped up with pillows and the pain has gotten much better. It's hardly there at all now. And now with less pain I've gone back to my breathing exercises. Gotta love the spirometer! Plus, I’ve finally been sleeping better and for longer periods of time. Anyway, I've been keeping up the walking - 2 to 3 times a day, 30 mins or about a mile (or a little more) each walk. I’m slowly starting to feel like my old self again. Thanks for everyone’s support!
Can't believe it's been 2 weeks already! Time goes so fast even when I think it's crawling. Thanks to DVB for recommending www.mapmyrun.com to track walks. According to the site, my walk yesterday afternoon was about 1 mile. Sounds like I'm making good progress but now after sleeping on my back for a couple of nights I've got a new pain when I inhale. Lower right front - maybe a rib? Maybe I'm straining something when I get up out of bed? Was it too early to sleep lying down?
Hi everyone! Finally slept in the bed lying down last night. Only had one pillow under my head and one under my knees. Getting up is still a bit challenging but I'm getting better at it. The previous 2 nights I slept in the bed but with lots of pillows propping me up. That was only marginally better than the recliner. The cat is back, picked him up on Monday. He was a little upset with us so he howled all that night which didn't help my sleeping. So yesterday I was tired and achy all day. Hopefully I will feel better today. I'm up to walking about 30 minutes at a stretch, 2 to 3 times a day. I don't know the exact distance though. I have a pedometer app on my phone but can't seem to get it properly calibrated or the sensitivity set right. Anyway, more updates to follow. I'm just taking it day by day.
Didn't realize it had been so long since I last wrote a new journal entry. Things are doing much better. I just got back from a walk around the block. Beautiful day! I can finally shower and dress myself without too much effort. A little slower than before but I'll get there. Tying my shoes is still a bit challenging. Can't believe it's been 10 days since the surgery. I still have a huge horrible bruise where the IV was but that's normal for me, IVs always bruise me good. I'm still applying bandages where the drain tubes were but otherwise looking better. I agree with Linda Dixon about the hot/cold flashes and sweats - I could do with less of that. Still sleeping in the power recliner, haven't made it back to the bed yet. And I've also got a few persistent aches in my back/neck area. Otherwise, I'm seeing improvements everyday. Thanks everyone for your support!
Was released yesterday afternoon and spent first night at home last night. Not too much sleep though. Kept being pestered by the cat and scared to have him jump up on me. Think we are going to board him for a week or two. Yes, one of the factors in the decision to go home yesterday was all the storms expected today. Of course, now we only have a lot of wind and no storms yet. Anyway, glad to be home and looking forward to shaving my face (except for the goatee of course - I didn't have to shave it off prior to surgery). I will check back later.
Finally got my wires out yesterday afternoon and took a shower. Such relief! Also, finally got a BM last night. The last hurdle that the doctors wanted me to get over. Will most likely get released today. It's my choice now. It might be better to do it today rather than during all the storms forcasted for tomorrow. Thanks to all the great staff here at the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano and to my friends who visited yesterday. And of course by eternal gratitude goes out to Alice for sticking it out with me. Talk to everyone later.
Hi everyone! Thanks for your thoughts and prayers. I'm trying to type with an oxygen senson still on my finger. Doesn't work out too well. I didn't actually get Ross procedure. Dr Ryan ended up having to do a lot more work on the aorta, even up to the arch and there were some complications there. So I ended up with a cow tissue valve instead. More on that later. Right now I'm still having a lot of issues with cold and hot temperatures. Cold one minute and hot the next. Trying to do more walking and using the incentive spirometer. I'm also waiting to have some wires removed so I can finally take a shower. Can't wait for that! I feel yucky! Thanks again for everyone's support and Alice for doing couple of updates for you guys. Gotta go, my shoulder is starting to cramp.
It's Alice again. Chris is doing well. Last night and this morning there were some problems with an irregular heart beat, but that seems to be very common and everything is back to normal now. They have taken out most of the tubes and he took his first lap around the floor and did very well. He is starting to eat real food but still feels parched.
Well, I'm off to the hospital. I'm the first one scheduled for the day. Thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Alice will try to update this a couple of times. And I will post as soon as I'm able. Talk to you all in a day or two!
Well, here it is, one day to go, less than 13 hrs. I'm usually very nervous and apprehensive but the past several days I've been strangely calm and relaxed. Is it because I feel prepared? Or that I'm confident in the surgeon and staff? I just hope I can keep it up. Yes, over the preceding weeks I've had a few bouts of uncontrollable tears (especially when I finally made the call to schedule the surgery - personally that was a huge hurdle). I've also been prone to getting emotional and tearing up at strange times for no apparent reason over the same period. But lately, calm and accepting. Here's how I've come to see my situation: these are the cards I've been dealt, there's nothing I can do to change things, time marches on regardless of how much I may want it to slow down, and I would prefer to have the surgery while I'm in control rather than let the aneurysm force an emergency situation and possibly an early death.
That said, I'm doing my best to stay positive and focused on the life I've yet to live. I'm not done yet. One goal to look forward to post-surgery is a trip to Yellowstone National Park. I would love to do some hiking there one day. I plan to visualize the beauty and majesty of Yellowstone to help see me through this. My happy place, if you will. Cheers!
Just got back from pre-op procedures at Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. Filled out a bunch of paperwork, payed the deposit, received instructions, gave blood and urine, chest x-rays, etc. Thanks to Colleen O'Hagan, the pre-admissions RN, for making me feel comfortable. Now I just have to be back to the hospital by 5:30am. I don't know how I am going to get to sleep tonight. Any suggestions from the "valvers" or other members?
Saw my cardiologist today - Dr Russell Fisher. He's very supportive of the surgery and my decisions. Plus, he respects Dr Ryan so much that he took his own mother to him for surgery. He even said he thought Dr Ryan was probably the best cardiac thoracic surgeon in the state. Now that's a recommendation!
This time next Wed I will be in surgery. Scheduled to begin at 7:30a. I am supposed to be at the hospital by 5:30a - ugh! I've never been a morning person. Anyway, I've never planned for a long (well, not that long really) hospital stay. What did you "valvers" take with you to the hospital? What did you find most useful / helpful? How did you prep?
Yesterday, I ordered the Incision Shield mentioned in Adam's book. Seemed like a good idea although it was a bit pricey at $47, even with the discount. Anybody have any experience with it? Was it worth it?
I seem to have mentioned the date and place for the surgery but not the surgeon. Looks like Dr William Ryan is the guy. He comes highly recommended. My cardiologist, Dr Russell Fisher, recommended him. Since then, and after my first meeting with Dr Ryan last October, I have discovered he is the only surgeon in Texas mentioned in the Patient Recommended Surgeons section of Adam Pick's book. In addition, my family doctor (and childhood friend) was very impressed with Dr Ryan after he had dealings with him when one of my doctor's staff needed heart surgery. I also discovered Dr Ryan is one of only four cardiac surgeons mentioned in Adam's book as being known for performing the Ross procedure (although it was not initially on the table for me). After meeting with Dr Ryan the second time to discuss surgery to repair the ascending aortic aneurysm, he thought I would be a good candidate for the Ross procedure to replace the bicuspid aortic valve and get everything done at one time in the hopes of avoiding another OHS in the near future. Dr Ryan is extremely knowledgeable, experienced and capable, and with all the recommendations, coincidental and otherwise, I feel I will be in good hands.
Well, here I am at age 44 waiting for the heart valve replacement that, as a kid, I was told I would need to have by age 21. I'm more than a few years past that now and if not for the ascending aortic aneurysm I developed, I might not have needed the valve replacement for a few more years yet. Anyway, surgery to repair the aneurysm and replace the aortic valve (via the Ross procedure) is scheduled for March 14 at the Heart Hospital Baylor in Plano, TX. More thoughts and details to come. Stay tuned...