Hey Everyone. This will probably be my last entry in the heart journals. It will be 3 months tomorrow from my mitral valve repair, a MAZE procedure and to repair a small hole in the heart. I had a minimally invasive procedure at Inova Fairfax in Washington DC. Anyhow I am feeling fantastic and I am now 100% back to perfect health. I can lift as much as I use to and have better endurance than I have had in years. It was a pleasure to do strenous work the past 2 days and not be tired or out of breath. Even though I had some complications and setbacks after surgeryand recovery has been much easier than I thought it would be. I wish you all the best. Gene
I have not written in my journal in 6 weeks but thought I would update everything since it was 8 weeks ago that I had my surgery. I have had some ups and downs the past 6 weeks but all and all everything is going really good. I have absolutely no pain in my incision area (I had minimallly invasive mitral valve and MAZE for A fib). I am so glad I choose the minimally approach, the healing process was so easy.
After surgery there has been some complications. First about 9 days after surgery I lost eye sight in my left eye. I immediately went to the hospital and they believe a small clot let loose and caused the temporary vision loss. My coumadin was low at the time and was boosted up. I spent the night in the hospital for observation. For the next several weeks I was getting stronger every day. I walk at least a mile a day and now have started jogging too. A few weeks ago I saw my cardiologist and was complaining that I was coughing alot and had a bit of shortness of breath. She had me do a Catscan of the heart and found that I had a Pericardial effusion which is blood or fluid around the heart. Long story short I ended up in the hospital for 4 days. They were going to drain the fluid but waited to see if it went down on its own with a high dose of Moltrin and at the same time they took me off of coumadin. Most of the fluid did go away and I was released with out the drainage procedure. Since then I have been having echos once a week to make sure it does not come back.
My heart rate is still kind of high but again the doctors say it will come down! So all and all I am doing well!
I am 15 days post op. Continue to get stronger and more lung capacity. I am in no pain just an occ. twinge here and there. I am walking every day, walked .5 miles yesterday and .6 miles today. Few heart palpitations here and there. My main concern has been my heart rate. It use to be in the high 70's to 80's. Now at resting I can only get it down to 95 or so. I am on 50mg of Metapropal but it really is not helping. Doctors say not to worry about it coming down but I am still awaiting. I had a scary situation happen to me 6 days ago. I suddenly lost vision in my left eye for 15 minutes. They believe a small clout let loose. Increased my coumadin levels. All and all this has been a much easier experience than I thought. Anyone with elevated heart rates post surgery with any thoughts pop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my friends and family got an email about my update but wanted to post it here for others not on my email list. Gene
Well one week ago right now I was coming out of a 6 hour open heart operation. Just now I completed my second walk of the day and after tonight's 3rd walk I will have walked a total of 1/2 mile. My goal is to increase walking every day as they keep telling me this is very important. I am 75% pain free and only took pain medication for 5 days. I decided to try last night without any and I did okay so as far as I am concerned the narcotics are in the past. This is very important to me as with my prior back surgery when I was younger I became dependent on them so was very vigilant to take the least amount to get me through. I have not been updating my journal,FB and email as much, this has been a very long and interesting week. The big surprise came the first night back to the hotel from the hospital when Bob came down with either food poisoning or a virus and became quite sick. At 4am I dragged myself to the lobby and got a second room for myself. I didn’t see Bob for 3 days to make sure he was healthy. He is.
The surgery was longer and more complex than they thought. The heart in worse shape. I had my Posterior Flap of the Mitral Valve repaired and a new O ring put in. The valve job should last the life of this car! When they brought me into surgery, I was in Atrial Fib and that surprised them. They spent 3 hours doing a surgical MAZE on both atriums. My left atrium was dilated quite a bit 6.5 which is not good. I leave you guys to look on the web to understand all about thisif you care to but the bottom line is I should be good to go.
Night one in ICU was a blur with the breathing tube, the Central A line, the pacemaker lines, the jugular lines and the cath. I don’t remember much except waking up throwing up and then going back to sleep all to repeat the cycle several times. Bob was so great, I owe him BIG time. Night 2 was still in ICU and not bad. At this point I was on a morphine pump so just slept away. Night 3 was the worst as I started weaning of the pain meds, wow! The chest tube is like an elephant tube going right through your chest wall into the lungs. The pain was crazy and I had the only Nurse Ratchet in the hospital. A heart transplant patient came out right after me and her theory was if he can do it certainly can I.
The next couple of days were removing tubes, starting to taste foods, getting up into my chair. Bob took me for a few 100 foot walks. What is it with these johnnies? They are so skimpy and come down like one inch below your privates with your ass wiggling in the wind. Can’t a hospital billing my insurance company $200,000 for this operation afford johnnies at least knee length. The color schemes were awful too. Nurses had bright matching outfits but the johnnies were worn puke green rags!
Anyhow this past weekend they sent me packing back to the hotel. I already told you about night one at the hotel . After I got that second room (by the way Bob says don’t order from a Jewish Deli run by Mexicans) I called my parents in Baltimore to come down and keep tabs on me. I didn’t want anyone around but Bob and my doctor brother, Ron but I needed some help. Ron works like 24/7 and couldn’t be around much. My folks came and stayed 2 days and have now gone back home.
So that is where things stand. My resting heart rate is pretty high but they say that should come down. I use an incentive spirometer every hour to help lung capacity and just have to keep pushing! Oh, for those of you following my long health story you know I have had unexplained chronic nausea for the past 2 years. They think that the A Fib and atrium dilation may have caused it. It has been better except for yesterday when it returned for awhile. Hope the heart was the cause because it made me miserable.
I will see the doctor on Friday AM and hopefully will be released to head back north. I can’t drive for some time and have to take frequent breaks so will probably make the trip over 2 days. Can’t wait to get home, our 4 cats must be so lonely and the dog has been at the kennel for 2 weeks.
On the other side and it was not as bad as feared!!
Journal posted on January 13, 2011
Hi Everyone. Surgery went well and just took my first walk just 24 hours after coming out. It was a 6 hour surgery, min invasive with full MAZE. I was in A Fib when I went in. I will write more soon but the pain and the whole experience this fart is better than I had feared! Thanks for the support. I will probably be in the hospital till Sunday or Monday.
I have been down here in Virginia getting ready and the time has come. Surgery tomorrow at 7am. They will fix the Mitral Valve and do a MAZE procedure to help with my A Fib. I can't wait to have this behind me. I will post in a couple of days. Thanks for all your support everyone. Gene
Well one week from right now I should be finished with my procedure (sounds much better than open heart operation) and in ICU. My surgery now seems to be a bit more complex as they are going to do a MAZE procedure to fix my A Fib problem too. It will add about another 30 minutes to the operation and on heart/lung machine. Had my teeth cleaned today,they suggest it before heart surgery. Just got a ton of paperwork in the mail from the surgeons office. Working through that. We will be leaving NH on Sunday and staying at the Residence Inn Fairfax Merrifield near INOVA Fairfax in Virginia. I will forward our home phone to our cellphone and changed my plan to unlimited minutes for the next month so feel free to call and wish me luck when we get closer. Right now I feel pretty relaxed but expect that to change once we actually get to Virginia. I have been dealing with another problem the doctors can't figure out and that is chronic nausea and loss of appetite. It has been going on for a long time. That causes most of my worry. Although they don't think so maybe if they fix the heart they will fix the nausea!
Bob and I got up at 4:30am to drive down to Manchester NH for my heart cath. I explained the procedure in yesterday's post. I wanted to be awake for it and it was painless and interesting to see the probe snaking through my body. I'm back at home this evening and now I have to rest and let the artery heal. I can't lift more than 10 pounds for a few days and basically take it easy. Now starts the coordination of leaving home for 2 weeks or more. I think I am more concerned of leaving our old dog in a kennel for so long or how our 4 cats are going to fare alone than the heart surgery!
Hi Family, friends and other heart valve patients. This is my first entry and begining of a long journey of repairing or replacing my Mitral Valve. Yesterday we set the date of the operation, January 12th. So 2 weeks from now at this time I should be out of surgery on the road to recovery. Exciting and definately scary at the same time. My brother is a Cardiac Anesthesiologist and has been wonderful in explaining what will be happening. He has set up a great medical team for me and an associate of his Dr Paul Massimiano will be my surgeon.
Up until this year I knew nothing about my heart except it was red and that if it stopped that would probably not be a good thing. I am learning a lot. Hearts have chambers and the blood is suppose to flow one way. Between the chambers are valves of tissue. I liken them to the old pin ball machines with those flippers on the bottom. They are suppose to close tightly. Well one of my "flippers" is bent at the end so the blood pushes forwarded and then some comes back. The heart has to work extra hard. The chamber that is receiving the regurgated blood is becoming enlarged. This is not good. So they will open the heart and fix this flipper. There are several ways to do this. The conventional way is to crack the sternum (actually they saw it open) and expose the heart. Other ways are less evasive and they can go in through your side between ribs. With this approach the healing time is much quicker. The downside is that if something should go wrong there is less room to quickly fix it. I do not know what approach is best. Pro's and Con's of each. Any input from other people out there who have researched this would be appreciated!
Before my surgery there is one more step I have to take and that will be done tomorrow. I am scheduled for a heart catherization. The doctors go in through an artery into the heart and check my arterys out in case I need by pass too. They figure that as long as they are going in might as well do anything needed. I have always had good cholestrol so don't think they will find anything. Until the next entry!