8 months post surgery, with repaired aneurysm and mechanical valve. Not 100% and can barely run a mile. Pre-surgery I could run 4-5 miles. Turns out my new valve is leaking and my left ventricle isn't working properly. My EF (ejection fraction) is only 40% and was 60% pre-surgery. frustrating. Anyone else have this issue?
3 1/2 wks post surgery: We just got home from Madison. Dave had to see a cardiac specialist today, and they said his heart is in total heart-block (Heart block occurs if the electrical signal is slowed or disrupted as it moves through the heart from the upper chamber to the lower chamber) - there are three levels of heart block, his is severe. When a valve is replaced, the surgeon said that the surgery may disrupt the electrical paths in the heart and Dave's did. It can happen, but not often. He needs to have a heart pacer put in tomorrow. A surgical procedure that requires us to stay overnight at the hospital. Not as serious as open heart surgery, but a set back. Dave is so bummed. It temporarily prolongs his healing and going back to work. The bright side is that after this is installed, he won't be so tired and out of breath all the time. Walking around Walmart today was exhausting for him.
Hearing this song on our ride home today "I Am" by David Crowder
Holding on to You.
Holding on to You.
In the middle of the storm,
I am Holding on,
Yesterday marked the "3 weeks post surgery" date! The past 2 weeks at home has been lots of ups & downs. Some moments Dave is doing really good and others not so good, but that is to be expected. He is primarily on Tylenol for pain. He has more pain in his back from sitting around than his chest from surgery! Sleeping in a recliner is best as any pressure on the sternum would be painful. He started cardiac rehab last week. He was only 2 wks post surgery and was walking on the treadmill, biking, and hand cycling. A slow 10 minute walk for him is exhausting and frustrating but yet normal post surgery as the heart is healing! Patience is so important during this phase of recovery!
Yesterday Dave woke with severe swelling in his feet and ankles. He hasn't had any issue up until now with fluid retention. Good thing it happened on the day we planned to visit the surgeon. They ran some tests and determined that his heart was in "heart block" (not beating in good rhythm). The doctor was baffled because he said that as the heart continues to heal, the rhythm gets better not worse. So we are planning to see a specialist (cardiac electrophysiologist) on Monday to determine if he needs a heart pacer.
Other than that things are going well. Appetite, emotions, body temp, & sleep can all be affected after open heart surgery. Dave has experienced changes in all of these things but they are slowly getting better.
This has been quite a "storm" but we have see and felt the hand of God in so many ways. The outpouring of love through cards, gifts, phone calls, emails, meals has been amazing! Thank you!
Saturday update: all systems are working great! Its truly amazing how much he's improved since yesterday. Dave is walking more, has an increased appetite, and the need for pain meds has decreased. Doctor said he could go home tomorrow but he can't because his heart still needs a pacer to keep the rhythm which is common with new heart valves. Each day the heart heals they see an improvement in the hearts ability to keep a good rhythm. So we are praying it continues to heal and we can go home early next week (and go home without a heart pacer. He's sleeps alot but gaining strength every day. I sometimes reflect on all that has happened in the last couple days and feel like it's a dream. Some moments when Dave looks strong and takes a big step in the healing process, we are encouraged. But sometimes I see him struggle and it breaks my heart. Just last week he was running 4 miles a day and now a walk down the hallway exhausts him. One day at a time. This has been a true test of our faith and we cling to His truths for strength.
Dave moved out of ICU today. Moved to a new room - with a view of the capital! Another big step. His heart is making some improvements in regards to rhythm (still has pace maker which is normal) but improvement is great! Sleeps a lot, appetite is coming back. each step is a huge blessing!
Got here at 7 this morning. Talked with the doctor and everything is going well. The only thing that is a concern is his heart rhythm. It's not beating at a normal pace yet which is very normal after surgery. The heart has some swelling (normal) and has to heal. So he has a pace maker until it can beat at a regular rhythm on its own. They can't move him out of ICU until the rhythm is normal. All tube and IV are out and he's eating some food. Doctor said today will be the worst for Dave for pain because he is alert and feeling everything. They will have him start doing breathing rehab so he doesn't get pneumonia. Breathing rehab is really painful they say. Thanks for your prayers. We are so thankful for God's love and healing.
Surgery is done we just met with the surgeon. Everything went well aneurysm repaired and new mechanical valve. Praise God. He will be on a ventilator for the next 2-6 hours. This is sort of a wait and tell period to see how he wakes up to be sure everything is successful, everything is working well. He'll be in ICU today and tomorrow. One step at a time. I will be going to see him soon. Deep breath. Thanks for all your prayers.
In about 24 hrs Dave will be receiving a new aorta heart valve! Looking into the future...and on a positive note - he actually wants to run another half marathon, to see how he will do with his new heart-parts! We ran one together last year and as we reflect back, we can see why he struggled so much. His heart had to work so much harder with the leaky valve. For all those who ran with us, don't feel guilty for laughing at his photos..they are still funny to us! I'm also looking forward to him not being so tired all the time (one of the symptoms of a leaky valve). Thank you to everyone for prayers! The support is so encouraging & uplifting!
People have said the waiting is the worst part - I hope so! Waiting at a restaurant, waiting in traffic - not my favorite things! Waiting for surgery day - not fun. But through this time as we prepare mentally, we are stretched and we learn! I'm reminded of an important life lesson that is so easily forgotten - "relationship over task". Our days can be so filled with to do's and we miss the important things! Jesus wants to have a relationship with us. He made a point to touch people to heal them. Think how much more efficient He would have been to just do it from a distance. But he went to the villages, and touched eyes, arms, hearts. I am so thankful for all those who reach out and "touch" our lives. I've been guilty of not reaching out lately, being so self-absorbed. Another lesson we've been reminded of during this waiting time...is that in order to be able to rely on God's strength, I have to first be able to admit that I am weak.God is certainly at work at not only Dave's heart but mine too! :) ~ Ginger
Dave got a call from his surgeon this evening. He went over some of the results of his pre-opt procedures (he already completed) and details of surgery. The aorta aneurysm is not located near the arch or where it branches up to the neck (that's good) and it is not on the very base of the aorta, its just above the base which is good and is less complicated to fix. He also confirmed that his bicuspid valve is rated at "moderate" for leaking (doesn't close all the way). So basically Dave's heart has to work harder than ours. And when you run a half marathon - it works even harder! :) He'll receive a mechanical valve which will require him to be on medication for the rest of his life (coumadin- blood thinner). He also wanted to move up the surgery date to Wed April 9th because he is going out of town on the 12th and didn't want to do surgery on the 11th and be out of town the next day. The surgery will last about 5 hours and he'll be in the hospital 5-7 days. God has lead us to the point of discovering this heart problem and He will carry us through. Thanks for your prayers!
Hi friends & family
We'll track Dave's journey here!
Last week Dave had a heart cath procedure to determine if there is any blockage in his heart - a necessary procedure prior to open heart surgery. He is healing nicely and is anxious to get back to running. Prior to the procedure he received a Valium...we laughed so much, we were crying. So if this accounting career doesn't work out, I'm pretty sure he could do comedy! The results of the heart cath is no blockage - which is a green light for a life of brats & bacon! :)
Dave's heart valve and a portion of his aorta will be replaced on Friday April 11th. There are moments of fear and anxiety (for him and me) and there are moments of complete peace. God continues to lead us.