Help! Dear Community, I am the wife of Eric Wattleworth and I had some questions for you. He had his metal valve and aneurism fixed on Sept. 20th. He just got off of his Lasix and potassium pills two days ago. He has now gained 5 1/2 pounds over those two days. His blood pressure is slowly going up and his pulse is slowly going down. Did any of you have these issues? Is Lasix something that he might have to be on for a while? He is on blood pressure meds 50 mg twice a day. We take his blood pressure every morning and night. I just had him take it again and it is now down to 106/59 and his pulse is 53 and he is really tired. Ideas? Suggestions? I put a call into the surgeon and they are going to put him back on Lasix for a week and are checking with his cardiologists about the blood pressure. Thanks for any words of wisdom!
We went to primary doctor for check-up. Eric is doing great . To celebrate we went to the mall and did a lab (.66 mikes). Longest walk yet!!! We got a lot of stares- the teddy bear I think. I think they think he is some kind of creeper! Lol. We did have a gentleman stop us and ask Eric if he is a member of the zipper club and then continue to tell us a funny story about his own experience with the teddy bear. We then stopped by Cracker Barrel to get some take-out of mashed potatoes and gravy. He is still having a hard time with things tasting "right" and his appetite. We went for our evening walk and a neighbor stoppped us to tell us he was also a member of the zipper club. Then another neighbor stopped us to volunteer to help take eric to rehab. (Cardiac !!!) We are so very blessed to have so many people support and care for our family. Although Eric is still losing weight, I am gaining from all the different foods people are bringing for us!!!!
I know Eric is feeling better because I got to hear him laugh ( and cough) at my expense of course! He also shared some really, really bad jokes. Look out students he is preparing for you! He is also starting to get onery. He wanted to prank call Joi! Sorry Joi, I will have no control when I come back to work! 😂😂. His meds are still being an issue but we don't have to go back for blood until Monday. He also slept about 7 hours straight last nite! We moved him to the bed and with the Benadryl he finally slept!!! That means I got to sleep!!!! 😀
I thought that I would be much better at keeping the journal updated! We are day 11 post surgery and day 5 home. I think we are starting to finally settle into a schedule of stats, meds, exercise, etc.. I am also building confidence in my abilities to keep all of the meds and stats straight. We have had a couple of bumps on this journey. His chest tube sites were weeping some and he has also been running a temperature. This warranted a call into the surgeon team. They gave us some suggestions that seem to be working.
The constant low temperature is a worry but the Doctor says that until we can finally get the bottom part of his lungs to expand it will continue. He has some infection but is working hard on the spiro to get that last part to inflate. His breathing has improved so much over the past few days- our hope is that over the next few days he can get the rest to inflate and get that infection out.
He is moving better and even walked to the corner and back yesterday without being out of breath. He is also starting to move around the house by himself for short trips to the kitchen and bathroom. He even laid (kind of) down in bed for the first time in 11 days. It was only for a few minutes but baby steps!
His blood pressure seems to be under control and his pulse has dropped to a more normal range of 60-74. In the hospital his pulse was usually around 105 so this is really good! His INR (blood thinner) was a little high last week so we go back Monday to retest. We continue with blood tests twice a week until we can get his numbers to stay steady. We will see his regular doctor this week to just do a check on incision and other tube sites.
Thank you, thank you, thank you all who have brought treats, food, gift cards, etc. He has lost almost 16 pounds since being home and is having a hard time with foods tasting good. Yesterday was the first day that he ate (Mrs. Preston!) that he said he could taste it and it tasted good!
Probably our biggest issue is sleeping. Nights are our worst time because this is usually when the temp comes back and a side effect of the surgery is "episodes" of severe sweats. Ours seem to come at night. He sweats through everything and sleeping is very difficult. We were up only twice last night! They have added a new med to try to help him sleep at night. This is another side effect of the surgery- having trouble sleeping. He cat naps through out the day but this isn't a good healing sleep.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! We are doing well and it is just going to take some time to adjust.
Picture I colored during some of the longest hours of my life .
Two days home
Journal posted on September 28, 2017
We have been home for two days and it is hard to believe where we were at this time last week. He has improved so much, although he thinks he is not. Pulse and blood pressure are looking good. INR was a little high today so adjusting meds. Trip to DMH was a major undertaking and the first time he has been out of the house since we came home. St. John's gave a teddy bear for the chest support and Eric took it into DMH with him (as instructed to always carry it) and people were staring. He wanted to walk into the lab (to use as one of his daily walks) and the rude stares he got really bothered me. I wanted to stop and explain what he had been through but decided it wasn't worth it. We have another cushion that we can use for when he goes out, but really people?????? After resting from this ordeal he had a great day! He even got outside to sit on the porch and even walked to the neighbor's sidewalk! I am so proud of the hard work he is doing. He even went up our stairs four times today!!!!! This evening he did have one of the for lack of a better term, "heat flashes" that really wipe him out.
A big thank you to all that are bringing us food. It is so very helpful to not have to worry about meals so that I can concentrate on Eric's care. My kids are thinking that we should extend this through the rest of the year because they are eating much better than they usually do! Shout out to Sherri O'field, Sherry Lignon, Brenda and Amanda, Ron (Eric loved the taco stuff- he said he could actually taste it and it tasted great), Christie Allen (Best veggie meal- I will need the recipe), Also, a big thank you to Matt and Rick for making our yard look great- hope the neighbors don't expect it to stay looking that great!, Anita for sharing Rick to help us out this week, Roger our neighbor for the tomatoes and apple butter. I hope that I did not forget anyone, if I did, I am sorry and do appreciate all that is being done for us! Please keep praying because this is going to be a super long journey.
Hello all this is Becky, Eric Wattleworth's wife. He had OHS to put a mechanical valve in and fix an aneurysm 7 days ago. Ever since the surgery he has had "episodes" for lack of a better term, where his face gets fire engine red and is hot. He doesn't have a temperature, his face just gets really hot and feels like he has a temperature. Sometimes they last a half hour sometimes over an hour. We put cold wet wash clothes on his head and neck and have a fan blowing on his face. We talked to our doctor about it and the nurses and they said it was normal. We were having such a good day and then an episode started. He gets really tired after his face cools down. Has anyone else had this issue? Suggestions? Does it go away?
Wow- the last few days have been a roller coaster ride. Our days consisted of medicine drops, four walks a day in the hallways, the favorite- exercising the lungs with the spirometer, trying to talk to the cafeteria people into letting him have real food (which never worked until Jennifer an awesome nurse bartered for half a pepperoni pizza!) and long hours of watching the Food Network and American Pickers. We have been very excited about his progress with walking the hallways, then the next day his labs are low and has moved into Afib. This meant more IV treatments with a new drug which sounds great except each of the four IV lines have blown and it took us 6 hours and five different people from all over the hospital and over 12 stick and digs and still no viable IV line. They even had the vascular team with an ultrasound try to get a line- no luck. Dr. Stevens was still worried about the Afib, but there was no way to give the IV drugs so again Jennifer came to our rescue and was able to convince Dr. Stevens to let us take the Afib meds by mouth- at least until they could get a new line in which they were putting off until this morning to give Eric time to recover from the ordeal. We were waiting for the medicine drop when our room phone rang. It was Stephanie Dr. Steven's nurse, she asked us if we were ready to go home!!!! Really???????? Did she even need to ask? So unexpectedly we started the discharge process this morning. We were really dreading today because we thought that he may have to put a pic line in, but instead we were going home!!! This is a very long process.......... Lots of education- teaching about the new life we will live which will consists of lots of appointments, twice weekly blood draws (which we are dreading) 12 new medications, diet watching, injury watching, excessive bleeding, blood levels- YIKES!!!!! On the flip side- he is ALIVE and will finally feel better. Not going to lie- I am very stressed about making sure that I keep all the medications straight, doctor visits, diet, blood pressures, temperature, weight and exercise! I know, this is just another bump in the road and something that we will adjust to and it will just become a normal part of life. Kind of scary that my husband is putting his life in my hands! :). Of course, I have a spreadsheet, a journal to keep all the data, etc. to keep everything on schedule! He just rolls his eyes at me!
So anyway- back to my story- We had gotten him changed into street clothes and had all the bags packed when Stephanie came back in and said wait- she had ordered an EKG stat because she thought he had went back into Afib. What a disappointment! So we sat and waited. They did the EKG which was fine so we were unexpectedly allowed to go home!!!
Who would have thought that a trip home could be such a large undertaking for all of us! It started with me over-packing. I had made a promise that I was not going to leave him alone so I had packed enough for a lot of days! (I always over pack but would rather be safe than sorry). So we had to dig up a cart so that I wouldn't have to make multiple trips to the vehicle. Well, when we arrived at the hospital we went to the Prairie Heart side and I had parked my vehicle there. Rick, being thoughtful moved the vehicle to the other side- St. John's so that I wouldn't have to go all the way back to pick up the vehicle, then go back to St John's to pick up Eric. Well, where I thought the vehicle was parked was not where it had actually been parked. You should have seen us! They had given Eric pain meds so he was drugged and escort was pushing him. I had a cart carrying all my bags. I left Eric with the escort and walked all over the parking lot looking for the Santa Fe in long pants and two shirts (because it was so cold in the room)! With a couple of phone calls we figured out where it was parked and got him loaded in. I never really paid much attention to the roads and bumpiness until I drove Eric home. I felt so bad for each bump because it jarred him and made his incision hurt. We arrived at the house and with Rick's help we were able to get him into the house. This wore us all out! We surprised Caitlyn and Noah with our presence when they came home from school. They were really surprised and excited to have him home.
It seems really surreal this whole last week. In the hospital you are confined by four walls and your whole life is governed by med drops, dr. visits, labs and such. When we drove home, it was weird seeing that the world just keeps spinning without us! Rick and Matt (Eric's brother) had been busy in our absence and made our yard look great. I just hope the neighbors don't expect us to keep it looking like it currently does!!!! :). I left Eric with Rick so that I could go to Target to pick up all the new 12 medications Eric is on. I knew that I looked bad when the new pharmacist said I looked like I had been put through the ringer and the tech said she would get the one prescription that I had brought in right then! I am very glad that we have such great pharmacists. He went through each medication, explained the dosage and purpose. I had been through all this with the nurse at the hospital, but it was reassuring to hear it again.
We are so very grateful for those that have brought food and have signed up to bring food. Today (the past week) had been emotional and stressful and having that prepared while I concentrated on getting Eric comfortable and getting his meds figured out. Thanks Jody and Sherri!
He is doing as well as can be expected after having open heart surgery and making his first trip home. He was excited to eat "real" food that wasn't governed by the diet restrictions. Although he doesn't have much of an appetite it was great seeing him enjoy eating a little. We are anxious to see how tonite goes because nights are never great for us. Thankful to have Rick here to help move Eric up the stairs and fix all of the things that needed fixed! We have decided to hire him full time! lol :)
All of that being said, Eric is going to have a long journey in this recovery process. We please ask that there be no visitors for a couple of weeks until he is stronger and we have him on a schedule. He has a lot of sleep to catch up on! I will be happy to answer texts and emails as I can and hope to keep this journal up to date. Thank you all for the prayers during this difficult journey. We needed them all and continue to need them!
Rough, rough night but so glad I can be a source of comfort.
On the road to recovery!
Journal posted on September 23, 2017
I apologize for not getting to this sooner. I thought I would be able to post a brief update each day but have been so busy that it was impossible. I do appreciate all the texts and emails.
We arrived at the hospital, St. John's Prairie Heart in Springfield, Illinois at 5:00 a.m.. Very early morning but we hadn't slept the night before so we were already up. Rick and Anita (Eric's parents) met us at the hospital. As soon as we walked in the doors it has been a whorl wind. They took Eric back and we sat in the waiting room for an hour while they prepped him. We got to go back and meet the surgery team and give our last hugs and loving. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest moments of my life. We had been waiting for this day for four years, when they found the aneurysm, although we knew it needed to be done we weren't really ready for it to if that makes any sense.
When they took him back to the operation room, we were taken to a private waiting room. I will forever be grateful for this private room where we could wait by ourselves and have quiet time. Not going to lie, I was an emotional wreck. They started the surgery at 7:00 and they called us three times to update us, when they actually started the surgery, to notify us that he was on bypass and to notify us when he was off bypass. Another one of the hardest moments was when they told me his heart was stopped, there are no words to describe that feeling. Dr. Stevens was amazing and the actual surgery was just right at two hours, however the whole thing lasted for a total of four hours. During those long hours I colored. I know it sounds weird but it kept my mind occupied so that I wasn't pacing for those hours. I will post a picture of that coloring project later. I am going to frame it- not because it was good- believe me with the stress it looked like a young child colored it, but because every time I see it, it will remind me of those dark hours and to not take loved ones for granted. That surgery could so easily of went another way.
We waited for the surgeon on the third floor waiting room which was my home for several days. There were people in the waiting room that had already been there for multiple days. It is weird but the different families did not talk to the other families, but we were all united by a common stressful situation of seeing a loved one hurting. You could feel the support of the families, even though the words were never spoken. We were called back by Dr. Stevens and were told that the surgery went well and that we could see him soon. His soon and my soon are very different. I think we waited another hour and half before they called us back. I kind of freaked out because in the cardiac ICU you are only allowed to see your loved ones four times a day at specific visitation times and for only 15 minutes. There is also a limit on the number of people that can sit in the waiting room and that can go back to see him. Rules, rules everywhere! I know- kind of funny since I am a rule follower and enforcer but man these rules were awful to follow! We were told that we would only be allowed back during those times and if we were late we would have to wait until the next appointed time. Most of the families started coming early to make sure that we didn't miss the visitations!!! Everyone went back and we were still sitting there waiting for our first visit. We were called back and there really are no words to describe how Eric was. My hear about stopped and I wanted to throw up. There were machines all around him and he had about 9 bags of stuff being put into him and tubes everywhere. I was so afraid to touch him anywhere for fear of hurting him. I can't write any more about that, it still upsets me.
We were told he was doing very well (my well and their well are also very different) and that every thing went as planned). We were then instructed to go back up to the fifth floor and wait until the next visitation time in four hours. I had promised Eric when we found out that he had to have surgery that like Mayo, I would not leave his side. Not being able to be beside him in the ICU when he was hurting the most broke my heart and the promise I had made. They had actually told us about the restricted visiting hours before we met with the surgeon. I know the rules were in place for the safety of everyone but geez this was going to be so hard. I wasn't sure that I would be able to comply and be kicked out! I decided to write a letter to Mary, Dr. Steven's nurse. I told her Eric and I's story, the health issues, the miscarriages, and more importantly our Mayo story. I asked her to please let me see Eric more than the allowed time because I had made a promise. I then gave her the letter at our surgeon meeting. I didn't really think it would help but wanted to try anyway. I knew that I would not be able to stay in the fifth floor room so moved all the bags down to that ICU waiting area. Maybe I couldn't see him, but I would be as close as possible. You should have seen it! I camped out in a corner and had my pillow, blanket, and bags of stuff to keep me busy. We then began the visitation process. After seeing Eric, Rick and Anita went to our house to stay because they weren't going to allow us to see Eric, so might as well get as good as night rest as they could. That evening I met a very special person, her name was Teresa. She was so supportive and told me that Mary had told her about Eric and I's story and had asked Teresa to come into work special to work with us. She snuck me in for a few minutes several different times through out that evening so that I could see him and touch his hand. I was then kicked out at the last visitation at 8:00 and told that I probably would not be able to see him again until 9:00 the next morning. Man did that seem like forever. I was not allowed to see him, but I could call any time I wanted to speak with his nurse to check on him. I think Eric's nurse really wished that I had slept that night! I finally couldn't stand it any longer so went back to the third floor waiting room and my corner.
We were able to see Eric Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.. He did look better and they said that he might be able to go to a cardiac room later that day. Another long day but he was able to go to the cardiac floor which was awesome because I was allowed to stay with him the entire time. That first evening/night was awful because there had been some miscommunication and he didn't end up getting the meds that he needed to cut through the pain. Also, without all the machines around (although he still had tubes everywhere) he could hear his new mechanical heart clicking every time it beats. He describes it as having a grandfather clock ticking in his chest and head. We tried using earphones to drown it out but that didn't work. They tried multiple medicines to knock him out but nothing would. Then Friday morning we were able to see Mary, Dr. Steven's nurse and to fix the medicine issue. He felt instantly better after that IV medicine. I know- I am probably telling you all way more than you ever wanted to know! Sorry- just trying to get all of this out of my brain so I can move on.
Friday was lots of worry because they wondered if he had a blood clot in his leg because of spasms that he was having. Due to this worry, he was not allowed out of bed or able to start the cardiac rehabilitation program. Last night he took his first walk, 150 feet! I know it seems like that is such a short distance, but to Eric it was like a marathon. His body has to continue to learn to work with the new valve, re inflate his lungs, heal the broken sternum, and wake up all the systems that were put to sleep. Needless to say he slept for five straight hours last night! We hadn't slept in 2 1/2 days and those five straight hours were SO NICE! We then had night vitals which woke us up, but he went right back to sleep after that. In total I think he slept 9 hours. He looks so much better today and what a day we have had!
He has already been up to walk three times and increased the distance to 250 feet, has started the oxygen weening process, and eaten two meals by himself! This is a very big day for us! He even faced timed Caitlyn this morning and was able to talk to her.
A big thank you goes to Rick and Anita who took care of the kids while I was at the hospital. Rick even fixed my leaky faucet! They stayed at the house at night to take care of the kids and came to the hospital days to see Eric and our visitation times. Mikaela ended up with strep so they picked up and took her meds to her as well.
So here we are at day 4 after surgery- he has walked three times today about 250 feet each time, been eating by himself and they have pulled all tubes but his oxygen (which they are weaning him off of) and his iv. He is exhausted from getting up and down and the walks, but we are hoping this will mean another good nights sleep for him.
Next steps- wean off of oxygen totally, continue walking four times a day and control pain and heart rhythm. Hoping to get out of here Monday but more likely Tuesday because of our late start with cardiac rehab. We will have a lot of appointments and tests when we get home and after two weeks he will start cardiac rehab at St Mary's hospital in Decatur.
This journey will be long but is looking up! We ask that there still please no visitors for at least two weeks. He gets very tired after any physical activity and is supposed to be low stress and concentrate on healing and getting stronger. We will let you know when you can see him! I will try to remember to post pictures so that you can all see that he is doing well. Thank you for the kind messages, texts, and emails! We appreciate it all and are so very blessed to have so many that love our family!
Hello all, this is Becky.
We are going to begin our journey (although I feel like we had started it at diagnosis!) this week. Eric's surgery will be the 20th (Wednesday). This day will be agony for me (waiting) but they tell me he will be out of it most of the time which is good. I plan to color to keep me busy and maybe grade a few papers. I will post when I can so just keep checking this journal. You can also write him messages (which I will read to him) by using the My guestbook tab. Please keep us in your prayers! The kids are starting to feel the stress so if you see them please give them some extra loving as they won't be allowed to see their Dad until at least Sunday. Thank you to all of you that are helping to keep track of the kids for us! This whole experience brings back so many memories of the weeks we were at Mayo when Mikaela was a baby. I am thinking that is why we are having such a hard time dealing with it. Thank you all for your support!
Hello All! As you can probably guess, I am not Eric, but his wife Becky. We decided that this journal would be a great way to keep everyone updated without answering a lot of texts and calls. We are not sure what this journey will bring us but know it is going to be pretty intense for a while. Eric's surgery will be September 20th at 7:00 a.m.. We ask that nobody come to the hospital (except Eric's parents) because there are many rules for his recovery and I am not even allowed to see him for the first day or two except for the four times a day (15 minutes at a time). I think that I dread this part the most. I know that he will be out of it and won't even know but for that I am grateful. They did tell us he had to have the mechanical valve because of his age. (They usually do these surgeries on people over 60) This valve should last the rest of his life and the pig valve would only last a year or two because of his age. The drawback is that he will be on blood thinner the rest of his life and will have to closely be monitored which means lots of sticks. :( The days in the hospital depend on his recovery speed and will be a minimum of 5 days with a couple of those in the ICU recovery. I will notify all when he is in a regular room for those that would like to send flowers/balloons or whatever. The recovery will be a long process and I will be taking three weeks off work minimum. After a couple of weeks he will go to cardiac rehabilitation three times a week for 12 weeks. He is hoping to come back to work at 6 weeks- but we will see. It will take at least 6 weeks for his breastbone to heal.
While we know that we are well loved, we ask that we have a couple of weeks for him to recover before he sees visitors. His main job will be to sleep and to work on getting his strength back (which they said could take up to 12 weeks). On the positive side he is young, healthy (except his heart!) and that there isn't damage to the heart muscle. I have already started a list of activities that I am going to drag him to that he wasn't able to do before because of the valve and aneurysm.
Feel free to leave messages on this board- we are trying to plan for our absences from work and to get ourselves centered for this recovery, and make sure that our kids have what they need. So please, please don't be upset if we don't get back to you or answer your texts for a while. Each message makes our heart smile and we know that we are loved.
Eric is doing well but gets super tired very easily. He is in good spirits but trying to wrap his mind about what is to come which means little sleeping at night. The kids are all doing well and keeping busy with school activities. Please keep us all in your prayers as we know we need God's strength during this difficult time. He did ask his doctor if he would pass through a metal detector because of all the metal in his breast bone and the valve! :) I am hoping that means we will be doing some traveling when all this is behind us! Again, thank you all for your continued support and prayers! We love you all!