Rebecca S posted a note for Carol that says:
Hi Carol. You are 3 weeks from the date? I had 6 or more weeks to think about it. It was hard. I told my husband that it would be harder and harder as the day got closer. So emotional. It's not a simple thing. It's hard. Lots of pain. I was in ICU for 24 hours, on the vent there for about 4 hrs I think. That was hard. You have to be awake to get the tube pulled. Once I got that done, seems it moved so quickly. Now it's 5 days post op they are talking about sending me home today. We will see. As hard as it is, getting up and walking makes a huge difference. It's good to rest but also good to get things moving. It's not easy to go through. Some say its easier than thought but not everyone is the same. And keep the pain meds regular even if u don't feel pain. Makes it easier to do the breathing and stuff. Tell me your date again and we will be praying for you. Hang in there. God loves you and he has a special plan for you. If I hadn't done it, I might've died and they wouldn't have found the issue with the tricuspid valve that needed attention.
Victoria tan posted a note for Carol that says:
Hi carol my husband is about 80-90% 5 weeks after surgery. He went back to work although with lesser hours than he used to be. Good luck on your upcoming surgery,the waiting I'm telling you is much worse than actual surgery and recovery period.
Renee Radocaj posted a note for Carol that says:
Hey Carol – you just go ahead and take your emotional day. You deserve it! There will be many more to come. Do not be too hard on yourself. I know your positive attitude will shine through and you will heal faster – it’s proven! I did the same thing as you, dove into my work and making arrangements and shopping and seeing friends, anything I could to not have to sit and think about what was going to happen. It’s a great defense mechanism. Are you only planning on being off work 4-6 weeks? I would encourage 6-8 weeks if possible. You don’t want to rush your recovery. This is a big deal so if you can swing the time, I would definitely take it. (My humble opinion only.) I did a living will and printed all my insurance policies, bank info, account passwords, etc. It was nice to have everything ready…just in case. I wish you the best and will be looking for your posts, both pre and post surgery. You will be amazed by your recovery. Take care.
Joe posted a note for Carol that says:
My wife and I made sure our wills were current shortly before my surgery. It is a good idea. The odds however are that your surgery will go smoothly and in a month or less will begin to feel better than you do today. And everyday after that gets a little better.
The emotions as many have said are normal but as you are hearing from your fellow open heart patients who have gone before you, the odds are heavily in favor of successful surgery and a much healthier life ahead.
You will be in my prayers. Now try to relax focus on positive thoughts and let your surgeon, hospital and your caregivers take complete care of you for a while.
Ernie posted a note for Carol that says:
I did a Revocable Trust and a "Pour Over Wil"l that covers everything not in the trust. My Advanced Directive (which you can get from the hospital) covers what would go into a living will. Thankfully I won't need any of that, but it's nice to know it's done just in case something does go wrong. I've had a few times where I start thinking about things that could go wrong and scare myself, and mainly all it does is keep me from getting enough sleep. So, I'm concentrating on the positive as much as possible, enjoying my time with family and friends, keeping busy preparing for the home recovery, and trying to keep a good sense of humor. Positive thoughts and energy brings positive results. Knowing that you are well loved by God, family, and friends, and that your doctors have done this MANY times (it's their job, that's what they do!) gives me plenty of reassurance. Plus, reading all the journals here and hearing how well everybody is doing afterwards, and meeting some people that have already been through this has helped a lot. This operation is going to save my life, and that's a good thing (at least for me it is, I'm not sure how everybody else feels about that, though). You're going to do great. We're going to be fine.
Brian Reid posted a note for Carol that says:
Everything your going through is perfectly normal... I did the same thing as far as a will and aligning other matters before my mitral valve repair on April 13th. Everything will work out and you will feel better then ever once your valve is repaired. I can say for me it was comforting knowing I had all of the family things in order before I went into surgery..
The last couple of weeks before surgery it becomes difficult to remain completely focused at work as well.. Try not to get to stressed and keep your positive energy going. I am 43 and work in a stressful job environment but had no problem returning 5 weeks after surgery.
Rebecca Schneider posted a note for Carol that says:
Carol, I can identify with your flip-flopping emotions. One minute I'm calm, then I start visualizing all that will be done to my body and I cry. I don't want to go through this, but as time goes by, I feel more and more fatigue. I have trouble completing an entire day at work. I know I have to have the valve replaced. I am older than you, so my fitness level is not even close. I had worked out with a trainer for more than 3 years, lost lots of weight and gained muscle. I think that's why my heart and lungs are stronger than they might have been.
We will get through this. I pray that for you and our other friends here on this website.
Victoria tan posted a note for Carol that says:
I think you will be enjoying the cruise by that time. My husband at 2 weeks with open surgery can already go to mall and walk with rest periods for 2 to 3 hours. He still naps every day, but the resting period decreases day to day. I expect him to be able about 75% in 5 weeks. Your surgery should have faster recovery . He is handicapped by the 8 inch sternum that needs 6 to 8 weeks to fully heal and his anemia due to blood loss from the surgery. The anemia is expected to resove in a month, and the sternum injury limits his movements in terms of standing from the bed, and bending, but all in all gives minimal limitation. You just ask the doctor if you will be allowed to travel by that time. In our directions upon discharge, it says we have to clear with the cardiologist before performing the following activities; driving, traveling, exercise, and sex.
Its probably too late to get travel insurance that will cover any complications from your surgery, becuase that is a pre-existing condition. On the other hand, your existing personal medical insurance may well cover you in a foreign country.
A google serach indicated that Bermuda had a good health care system. If your have medical insurance that covers you there, your worst case scenario would probably be that you would need to stay in Bermuda until you were well enough to travel home on a commercial flight. Make sure you have a passport, so you can fly home if you need to.
Otherwise, if you work you recovery program as instructed by your doctors, I would think a cruise would probably not post any unreasonable risks.
My advice: go have your surgery, work hard at your recovery and then enjoy your cruise!
Suzanne posted a note for Carol that says:
I had my aortic valve replaced 6 weeks ago with a mini-sternotomy. So other than the open heart part, my procedure was very different than yours will be.
The thought is that recovery from a mini-thoracotomy is quicker than from a sternotomy. You need input from those who had that procedure. Even then, everyone recovers at a different pace.
If you have cruised before, you know that cruises can be both relaxing and exhausting. I know I tend to burn the candle at both ends. That would not be an option for me at less than 6 weeks post open heart surgery. I would want to make sure my family travelling with me understood that I probably would not be able to do it all and that they should continue to have a good time even if I am resting or need to skip dinner in the MDR.
Do you have travel insurance that covers you if you have a complication in a foreign country and need hospitalization or medical evacuation? If you don't already have insurance that covers your heart condition, as a risk adverse person, I would probably delay my surgery until after the cruise. Obviously, this may not be an option for you.
As an aside, when my cardiologist told me I needed heart surgery, one of my first questions was if I could go on my already planned vacation first! He told me it was fine. I went, had a great time and had surgery a month later.
Best of luck with your surgery and your recovery. -- Suzanne
Ricki Shine posted a note for Carol that says:
I had my aortic valve replaced 3 years ago at the age of 57. Other than a bi-cuspid valve that I was born with, I was in excellent heath and good shape.
I had a mini-sternectomy (only a 3-inch incision) at the Cleveland Clinic. I was amazed at how little pain I felt. But, I was weak as a kitten and was out of work for 11 weeks. (I probably could have gone back after about 8 but I have a long commute so working until I got tired and going home to nap wouldn't have worked so well for me. I did do a little work at home but I tired easily and concentration was an issue.)
As for the cruise . . . I love cruises (I just got back from an Alaskan cruise) and find them incredibly relaxing which is just perfect for recovery. However, I would be concerned about the germ issue - the surgery will affect your immunity (it took about a year for my immunity system to get back to normal). I'd ask your primary care doc and your cardiologist for their thoughts.
Renee Radocaj posted a note for Carol that says:
Hi Carol - glad you have date! That has to ease your mind a bit. My friend went through this and it took him 8 weeks come back to work. He was very very tired and had no color in his face upon return. Hopefully your determination for good health AND a cruise will decrease your sick time! :) I would caution on the cruise due to the massive about of people i.e. germs and I hear some people get seasick. I imagine throwing up post-up would be quite painful. Have you discussed this with your Dr.? I'm sure if you take extra precautions you will be just fine!! I wish you the best.
Deb Ziegler posted a note for Carol that says:
Your story is similar to mine also. I was 56 and feeling fine when a routine visit to a GI doctor revealed a significant murmur. Had an echo and the next thing I know a cardiologist is telling me I need open heart surgery to repair or replace 3 of my heart valves. I about fell over. I, too, have worked out most days of my adult life and never knew I had a problem. After a lot of research and second and third opinions, I had my valves repaired at Cleveland Clinic about a year after being diagnosed. I can honestly tell you that that the waiting is the hardest part. I had a mini sternotomy and my pain never got above a 4. It was WAY less painful than the hysterectomy I had 12 years earlier. I was able to do so much more than I thought I'd be able to do. Cardiac rehab was awesome because it was really reassuring to test your newly repaired heart under medical supervision.
Go on your cruise as scheduled and just enjoy the time with your family. You will have deserved it!
Godspeed and good luck....you will be in thoughts and prayers!
Sherry Stevens posted a note for Carol that says:
Hi Carol, I understand how shocking it is when a doctor tells you there is something seriously amiss and you are perfectly healthy. I was in the same situation; this just couldn't be. It sounds as though you are similar to me; I started reading and researching my aortic stenosis, and also found this site. I have followed Adam's blogs and other patient's stories for about six years now and have learned so much that helped me understand my situation and be much less fearful; actually much more in control. I am glad to read that you research and are not afraid to say that this is not the doctor for you. I went through that as well. You will do fine with your determination to learn and understand as well as keeping a positive look forward. I will be going into an aortic valve replacement in early August after watching it for many years. But I am going in confident and understanding what it is and what needs to be done. I will be watching for your progress and posts. If you have questions don't hesitate to ask your doctors or others on this site that have "been there". You will have as much support as you need.