I just returned from my 1 month post op visit (I had robotic mitral valve repair on Jan. 17) with my surgeon (J. Michael Smith here in Cincinnati).
The few small incisions I had are almost completely healed and I was given the ok to start doing whatever I feel like doing (physically) w/o any restrictions. All things considered, the past month could not have gone any better for me. I say that not to brag (especially since I really didn't do anything but heal and soak up God's healing powers! It also doesn't hurt to have a daughter who is a cardiology Nurse Practitioner who personally oversaw my recovery as well!) but merely to encourage anybody out there who may be considering or has the opportunity to have robotic surgery. I know it's not a possibility for a lot of people for different reasons, but I also know there are some people who just aren't aware of what this technology can do and a whole other group who don't know where to go to talk to anybody who may have had this surgery before. I can't quantify how important this website has been for me over the past 2 months gleaning information and getting/giving encouragement from/to so many others on this site about planning, experiencing surgery, recovering, and getting on with daily lives post surgery. I continue to pray for those just getting through surgery and some getting ready for surgery (Linda). However, there weren't too many people who had gone the robotic route and I really was hoping to talk with more robotic patients. I hope this note might benefit somebody considering robotic procedures!
I really have had no pain to speak of after they took the tubes out of my chest on the day after surgery. Nor have I really felt limited physically in what I can do other than using common sense in not lifting my grandkids etc. After 3 weeks I started working out on my exercise equipment (which I had done prior to surgery but lifted only half amounts after surgery) and have been walking a mile and a half on my treadmill (always been a walker!). I was cautious in listening to my heart and body but never really experienced any symptoms to slow me down. Now I have been given the ok to get back to normal workouts - although I will start slow and I will obviously pay attention to my heart and body!
I have a visit with my regular cardiologist on Tuesday and hope to get squared away on meds then. I am currently only taking the same medications I was prior to surgery with the addition of metoprolol.
Looking back now, it's hard to believe it's been 4 weeks since surgery already and I have my valve repaired and can look forward to the rest of my life w/o this dread hanging over me. I know those of you who have had your surgery know exactly where I'm coming from. I wish you all a continued great recovery and I will be praying for those getting ready to take this step. Again, what this site and the postings of so many have meant to me can't be overstated.
I would always be glad to talk with anybody considering robotic surgery - although as they say in the stock market - "prior results have no bearing on future performance"! We are all different!!
This time last week I was still in ICU after having my mitral valve repaired robotically. One week later, today, I had a really great day and have to pinch myself sometime just to realize that I already have the repair and first week of recovery behind me. My daughter, Mindy, did a great job posting updates from the surgery and post surgery day 1 (last Tues/Weds) for me. I came home on Friday and have really had only minimal issues in the week since surgery. After reading tons of journal entries, I realize that we can always have setbacks after surgery but I also realize that we can have success stories w/o hitches after surgeries. God has really blessed me this past week! Hoping I don't jinx my recovery or have to edit this entry later, I want to give a quick recap of my past week and how I have done and how God's hand is all over this.
Prior to my surgery, I was fighting sinusitis/bronchitis and took antibiotics etc. to fight this infection off so my surgery wasn't delayed - I didn't think I could handle that setback. Fortunately, it was healed enough to have the surgery but I am still on some medication for upper respiratory congestion which still scares me that I could get pneumonia or something similar - even though I exercise frequently and stringently on the spirometer. The other hard parts of my first couple of days were the breathing tube/dry mouth in the ICU and then getting the chest and neck tubes removed after surgery. Once those 3 things were accomplished, the only other challenge I had was sleeping those first 2 nights because they kept sticking my finger for elevated insulin levels. Past those things, which were really not as bad as the dread of them, and by Thursday noon - 2 days post surgery - I have felt great and really can't believe I had this surgery done! I came home at noon Friday and spent the weekend with family and just resting up. I have had some post op anxiety occasionally - Xanax - (I know from reading entries that a lot of people have different levels of anxiety at different times which I think only proves we are human and have emotions). I have taken Vicodin for chest pain (thought not a lot there because the entry ports for the robot are small), steroids for internal swelling from the internal trauma, and a couple other meds. I have been working to get my blood pressure back to pre surgery levels but they had me on lower dosage than prior to surgery, this was adjusted today. Becky and I took Mindy back to the airport this morning and then went and walked a mall for awhile. I probably need to get more sleep than I do but I have never required much sleep and w/o sleeping aids, I don't think I can make myself sleep a lot now. I feel really good and wanted to share this with you guys - not to say how lucky I have been or whatever, but to let those of you with surgery coming up know that there's nothing wrong with expecting and believing with all your heart that good things and good outcomes do happen and you can be blessed with that result.
I'm sorry for the length of this entry but I wanted to share this with so many of you who now mean so much to me and may be struggling a bit or being anxious about what's coming up. You're all in my prayers, as I hope I continue to be in yours, and if I can help any of you in any way, please let me know as I will share email, phone numbers, or time talking with any of you who want.
Blessings to all of you
Dick Miller - Cincinnati, Ohio
Just wanted to send a quick note to let you all know that I was discharged from the hospital around noon today and was home about 30 minutes later. I could not have dreamed of things going any better than they did. There is absolutely no doubt that God was with me and was in charge of this from start to finish. I thank all of you from the bottom of my fixed up heart for all the prayers and notes you sent my family and me. I will send more detail tomorrow and if anybody has any specific questions, please ask - I want to be completely open and help Mitch, Linda, Nancy and all of you whose surgery is coming up, by sharing whatever I can to help you prepare.
You're all great and I appreciate you all so much. Will write more tomorrow!
Hi everyone, it's Mindy again subbing in for Dad. I am very happy to report that he continues to do very well and he is progressing according to plan! Most of his lines were taken out today (the swan ganz catheter in his neck and arterial line) and his CT's were removed (much to his delight!). He was transferred out of the ICU around noon and is currently in a private room on the telemetry/cardiac step down floor. He was pretty uncomfortable from the chest tubes earlier today but that has pretty much subsided now that they've been removed. He didn't sleep well last night in the ICU so he's still pretty wiped out today. He doesn't have much of an appetite yet either. The plan for the afternoon was to get him up and moving around some on the floor and then the nurse was going to discontinue his foley (urinary) catheter.
My Mom and I are heading back down there to bring him some soup and visit with him tonight. Overall, a good day! He's out of ICU and traveling down the road to recovery. Surgeon said today that if he continues to progress at his current pace and bar any complications, he may be discharged home as early as Friday! We're all keeping our fingers crossed for that but more importantly, we just want him to continue to do so well.
On behalf of my Dad and our family, a sincere thank you for all of your comments, thoughts and prayers! We will continue to keep you posted on his progress.
I am very happy to report that Dad's breathing tube was removed and he has been breathing on his own since 4:15 today! My Mom and I were able to see him at 5:30 p.m. and he looked really good, just very groggy still from the anesthesia, which is to be expected. He was moving everything and asking some questions about his surgery. Mostly, he just wanted ice chips as his mouth was extremely dry, which is a side effect of the anesthesia. He complained of a little pain on his right side around his incisions and chest tubes but mostly he just wanted water and sleep! The nurse informed us that he had met all of his goals for the day, which was the best news to hear! Hopefully he will have a quiet, stable night and transfer out of ICU tomorrow.
Thanks again for your messages, thoughts and prayers. We read them all and Dad will be happy to see your messages when he's back on here. Despite his grogginess this evening he managed to ask me if I had been updating his journal, so I can tell you without a doubt your kind words mean a lot to all of us!
We received a page at 11:15 that surgery was over and surgeon would be out to speak with us. We were cautiously optimistic that was a good sign! Dr Smith came out and informed us surgery went very well! He repaired Dad's valve in 3 places with suture, then finished with an annuloplasty ring. He was on pump (bypass) for only about 1 hour, yay!! He will be moved to the ICU in the next hour or so and we will be able to see him then. When he begins to wake up from the anesthesia they will start to wean him off the ventilator. Hopefully, he will be awake and talking to us by this evening!
Please keep thoughts and prayers coming! It's been good news so far but the 1st 24 hours is most critical. Will post an update when we know more!
On behalf of my Dad and our family, thank you for your thoughts and prayers...
Dick's daughter Mindy here. Taking the reins for Dad while he is in surgery. As Dad mentioned in earlier post, I am a CT surgery nurse practitioner. My job is taking care of patients pre and post heart surgery. That being said, no amount of job experience can prepare you for a day when your loved one is the patient! Trying to keep my emotions in check today and stay focused on the positive.
We had an early start this morning. We all got up around 3:15 am and left our house around 4:15, arriving at the hospital by 5 am. It was pouring rain for the drive down but we made it safely. Dad got right back for his surgical prep and we got to see him again around 6 am. By that time his chest had been prepped ( aka shaved...ouch!) and he had an IV in his arm with fluids running. He managed to find his favorite a.m. show, Squawk Box, on the tv so that helped keep his mind occupied. We met with his surgeon,Dr Smith, around 6:40 and he answered a few last minute questions. After that, the anesthesiologist came by, followed by the OR nurse. He was wheeled back to the OR around 7:25 am and at 8:30 his surgery began.
Now the longest part of our day begins...waiting. I will keep you informed of progress as the day goes on. I will tell you that Dad has been very calm all the way up to the time he went back for surgery. He has confidence in Dr Smith and truly believes that God is the one in control. Also, hearing from you guys and feeling your support has been a great comfort to him too.
So stay tuned and keep your positive thoughts and prayers coming, please! We really appreciate it!
It's the morning of my surgery. Got about 4 hours sleep and woke up anxious to go. Surprisingly, still pretty calm. Leaving for the hospital in 5 minutes for my 5:00 check-in. I'm so ready to get this done and get to the recovery process. Just get the breathing tube out quickly and while I'm even unaware!! Hope my doctor had a great night!
As I said earlier, my daughter Mindy will post updates until I'm back and able to post them myself.
Appreciate the thoughts and prayers for my family and me.
Stay in touch!
I now have one more wake up till surgery (assuming I go to sleep tonight) - I have to be at the hospital at 5 a.m. for 7 a.m. surgery tomorrow morning. Surprisingly, I still don't feel really anxious about it other than thinking to myself at various times today "this time tomorrow, I should be..." I know I'll probably have an anxiety filled evening/night but I am really more anxious to get the surgery behind me. It still feels odd to think I am having major surgery tomorrow when I feel 100% healthy. I guess the goal is to make sure I stay 100% healthy long term and don't wait for the problems to appear before treating them.
Yesterday was a great day spent with family - I am so blessed to have a great tight knit family. My daughter, Stacey, her husband Ryan, and my 2 grandkids, Braden 3 and Lyla 2, came over for dinner with my wife Becky and me and my oldest daughter, Mindy. Yesterday morning, Becky, Braden, and I picked up Mindy at the Cin/NKy airport as she came in for my surgery. Her husband, Neil had to stay behind and work and take care of my other grandkid (their dog, Frasier)!
Mindy is a Nurse Practitioner in a cardiac unit at a Tampa hospital. She has a lot of experience with heart surgery patients and, obviously, we have spent a lot of time discussing my condition over the past several years - and the possibility for one day having to have surgery - until now when we are discussing the actual surgery and recovery process., Between talking with her, reading the posts on this website, having complete confidence in a great surgeon, and my faith that this will all go according to God's plan, I feel I am about as mentally prepared and optimistic as I can be. Mindy will be posting update(s) tomorrow and until I can start doing so myself. Hopefully she will be able to help keep her Mom and sister less anxious during the surgery although I also realize this is not just another heart surgery patient she is concerned about this time.
Thanks to all of you for your notes to me and I look forward to getting through this surgery/recovery and being able to share encouragement for all of you who are preparing for and having surgery after I do.
Please keep my family and me in your prayers and thoughts tomorrow!
I look forward to being able to get back to talking with you soon.
It is now Saturday afternoon and Tuesday's surgery appointment is coming quickly. I have spent the biggest part of the past 3 days reading the personal stories and journal entries - from beginning to current - from most everybody on this site. Prior to reading these journal entries, I really wasn't sure what to expect in the days leading up to surgery (anxiety), the surgery itself (more anxiety), or the recovery phase after the surgery (just get me there!). After reading all the personal entries from each of you, I have a much better idea what to expect during all three phases and I also have a totally new appreciation and respect for what each of you have been through, and, in some cases, continue to go through. I want you to know that as a "newbie" to this site, I thank you for sharing your experiences so openly and giving me this insight as I prepare to go where you have gone!