Linda Dixon and I were at Clevlend clinic at the same time. I was 2 days after her. Your list is exactly as mine was.
Advise- toss it out the window.
I'm 2 years older than you. We
Are considered young for this. You'll see when you get there.
My tube came out immediately after surgery. Yours most likey will too. But, if not. Linda made a good point.
Pain- no worries. I took 3 Vicodin. My whole
Recovery 3! Seriously. It's very tolerable.
If you pray- that helps.
I'm not overly religious but when you get to the hospital I promise you- a peace will set in. It's divine.
Just FEEL STRONG. You will do great!!! Stephanie Cole
Us Floridian are thinking about you. We are just a stones throw away (what ever that really means) and will be there lickity split if you need us. Love you guys! and it was great to spend your last drinking weekend with you.
I am scheduled next week for surgery & noticed you wrote down "my fear list" on your journal.... Linda certainly had a great response....
Its not easy to remain calm as they wheel you into the OR, but I think we just have to remember those who went before us and came out better on the other side...
Keeping you in my prayers as you wait.
Well, I must say, you pretty much have EVERY fear on your list, lol. Especially like number 1! I think that is pretty much everyone's biggest, although we don't all admit it, lol. I had them all myself. Having had AVR on March 13, 2012, I think I can pretty much say...not to worry about any of them. The number 2 on most lists is the dreaded breathing tube. I was aware of the tube when I woke, but it did not frighten me. Instead, it was sort of like "YAY!!! I HAVE THE BREATHING TUBE IN AND I KNOW IT!!! THAT MEANS I MADE IT PAST NUMBER 1!
Seriously, I was aware of the tube, but it only seemed like a couple of minutes before they removed it. The "taking out" was not as bad as I imagined either, in fact none of your list came to pass with me (well maybe the fog head...but I don't think I can blame the surgery for that, seemed to be a little foggy before, lol). Just don't be shy about telling all the staff to wash their hands, you'd be amazed how many don't! Don't worry about becoming addicted to the pain meds...you really won't need them long enough to become addicted. Number one on the list really should be...I don't survive the WAITING!!!!! THAT'S THE HARDEST PART.....SERIOUSLY!
Hang in there...you will be amazed how quickly you bounce back!
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
J, I think different surgeons give different advice about the issue of transfusions and blood donation. I did not need a transfusion, bled only a minimal amount, yet my hemoglobin still dropped a little. This is common with the surgery. I think the majority of patients do not need a transfusion although it does happen. I don't know if you would be able to "give" more than one unit since your surgery is just a month away. I think, unless you are just completely against receiving someone else's blood I would "save what you have for the big day", lol.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
I had surgery on 5/9/12 and they did go through the sternum. I am also a stomach sleeper. It took me about 4 weeks before I could with relative comfort sleep on my stomach. So, when I got home I slept in a recliner and on the couch on my back. I would switch once or twice a night just to be comfortable, yet it was manageable and much easier than I expected.
As far as the soap, I was instucted to not use soap on my incision. So as soon as I got home I started to shower and just used warm water, and for me this was o.k.
Hi J, welcome to HVJ! Yes the sternum does grow back together! I wondered the same thing, but mine was actually very stable with the wires. I had a "lump" right above the top of my incision, but it gradually flattened out and now it is back to normal (3 months out). I also was told to shower with my back to the spray until my incision was healed and to just gently wash the incision with my soapy hand, no washcloth, didn't matter what kind of soap.
As for the sleeping, I am a side sleeper. I slept for weeks in a recliner. They told me not to sleep on my side and certainly not stomach "for a couple of weeks" when I left the hospital, but I tried the bed after about 2 weeks and went back to the recliner. I was back in the bed full time after about 6 weeks.
My number one suggestion is that you get a travel pillow (donut shaped) to take to the hospital and for use back at home. Most of us experience some neck/shoulder discomfort (for me that was worse than chest discomfort) and the travel pillow wrapped around your neck helps support your head and lessens the neck/shoulder strain. It was a lifesaver for me. I got mine from JC Penney, but I noticed them in almost all of the airport shops on my flight to Cleveland. I think it was about $12.99 at JC Penney.
Really, the surgery and recovery for me was not nearly as bad as I had imagined and expected. You are doing the hardest part now...waiting...I know, I know...that's what we all say...BUT IT'S TRUE!!
Good luck and keep us posted.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
I was told that the best way to cleanse the incision once I got home (I had a median sternotomy) was to stand in the shower with your back to the spray. Don't apply soap directly incision itself, rather, use plain soap on your hands and gently cleanse the incision with your hands.
Like many others, I slept as well as I could in the recliner for the first couple of weeks. I'm a side sleeper and that was a no-go.
It sounds like you're well prepared -- I didn't bother checking my BP or pulse ox, just my temp a few times a day, and my weight. You'll want to make sure to have an accurate scale.
I second the neck pillow idea, as well a one of those hot pack thingies you can plop in the microwave for 2 and a half minutes My shoulders and back would get incredibly tight and sore, and the hot pack helped a LOT. It was soothing and comforting.
Another thing I found helpful was a little notebook. My head was pretty foggy from the meds and it helped to write down all the meds I needed to take each day, and check them off as I took them. THere were some that needed to be taken in the morning, some in the evening, some with food, some without food -- it was crazy! I'd have gone nuts if I didn't write everything down, including when I took painkillers so I'd be sure to wait long enough before taking them again
I'd record my temp and weight in the notebook daily as well.
I think everybody else has it pretty much covered.
forgot about the soap question. At the hospital it was surgical wipes until I could shower and then just warm washcloth/soap cleaning lightly over steri-strip bandages. At home, the same. I just used my liquid soap like Ivory/St Ives.
I think the wires do work. While I have heard of others having movement of the sternum mine has been stable, even with starting cardiac rehab and I was just 5 wks post-op Friday and I hear it's 6-8 wks at least for sternum to fully heal. I have been told no arm exercises/weights until 6 wks. Sleeping was tough. While I am not a stomach sleeper I did spend the first 2 wks home on the couch propped almost sitting up with lots of pillows.
Hi J, You forgot one little tiny thing, Linda D suggests to everyone on taking chap stick to the hospital. She said it gets very dry and you will really love it. Have a good day.
For the long haul
Hi J, you seem to be really prepared. I would add one thing...a travel pillow. The donut shaped kind, keeps a lot of the pressure off your neck and shoulders. It was a lifesaver for me.
Linda Dixon, AVR 3/13/12
Hi J...Welcome to HVJ!
First of all want to tell you how much I enjoyed your story. My husband & I couldn't stop laughing...(I have been crying alot of my own situation AVR sched. for 7/17/12...and boy did I need that laugh!!...I enjoyed it sooo much I told my daughter who is a clinical pharmacist for the VA...she said the vets are constantly "dropping trou"....you wouldn't happen to be a vet would you...wink...wink
You certainly have come to the right place for support & knowledge.....although I am new here too....I have learned sooooo much reading their journals...and researching their advise & helpful hints.
I look forward to following your journey...and I wish you all the best on the waiting game & upcoming surgery....If you have questions...just put them out there....these folks here at HVJ are the best
and here to help....
Hi J, Welcome to HVJ. You have come to the right place for support. You have the same feeling everyone here has experienced that have already been there. Listen to me, Im still in waiting and that is no fun either. It is good to know everything there is . They say knowledge is power. It is better knowing and googling everything then going in and not knowing anything. Read some of the other journals on here. Some good ones are Mitch Friedman and Linda Dixon. They both are very good. If you have any questions, somebody will be here to get an answer for you. You will do just fine and will be feeling a whole lot better soon. Hang in there and stay strong, God is with you.
For the long haul