You have no idea how much I admire your strength and courage. From the first time we met I knew you were different and although I didn't think we'd get along (because you were so quiet) I've come to love you as part of my family. If you ever need anything you know where I am. If David or the girls ever need anything, you know where I am. :) Keep your head up and remember that you're 1 day closer to freedom. When you're able to, we will have a girls night with lots of celebratory drinks and of course, lots of laughs. I love you and miss you bunches!! <3 *A*
Another thing checked off your list and in the end you'll be better for having finally had it done.
It's only natural to face the ups and downs of emotional mayham right now because we as lay persons most often see only the negatives. Your job is to get yourself mentally and physically ready for your surgery and just let your doctor and his very experienced team do their jobs. Sometimes easier said than done and if you are finding that so, then get your mind busier so you have less time to dwell on what you cannot change. You are going to be fine and we here on HVJ can attest to that.
I suffered severe palpitations and shortness of breath before my surgery but then I kept remembering in all of the doctor appointments I had, no one said I was in any immediate danger of suffering complete heart failure. They did say I was having my surgery now because I was getting worse and they didn't want any heart damages to set in. That is where you are at. The doctors are doing these surgeries at the right times - you are either having the right symptoms or technically the machines and tests are showing you have developed to the "right" stage to have surgery. The doctors aren't letting us get to extreme "danger" stages so waiting a few more weeks, probably even a few months, is not putting you in a dangerous situation. Try and keep that in mind and perhaps it might help you relax as you wait.
Don't be afraid to voice your fears but mix that up with how much you are anticipating your healthier future after surgery. Keeping you in my prayers.
Just wanted to drop by and offer my support as well. I had a mitral valve repair done in Oct/09 and am now in rehab regularly and doing well. It's a scary road to travel and my biggest piece of advice is to try and keep things in perspective and stay as calm as you can without dwelling on the negative statistics you may read.
Great gains have been made in these types of surgeries so with that on your side, including your wonderfully supportive family, you'll do just fine. You are lucky to have children old enough to help out and a new mate who truly wishes to stay by your side throughout. Life is good and it will only get better.
We have just opened up your journal. We want you to know you have been in our prayers for a long,long, time. Hope the dental work goes good. I know that is a lot to go through in one visit. We are thankful David is there by your side.
We will keep in touch and we wanted you to know we love you very much Charles & Mary
Wow, that's a lot to have done in one day! I think about you daily, but will be doing so even more tomorrow. The dentist is so not my favorite thing. Dad just had all his teeth pulled in one day (long story...neglect combined with Navy dentists, enough said). Between him and you, I'm adding finding, making and actually keeping an appointment with a dentist to my to-do list for the day. Love you girl!
Ouch--teeth cut out, does that mean pulled??? Your hospital is doing an excellent job of requiring dental clearance prior to surgery. Many people mentioned they never needed one but it's so important as you may know the mouth is a rich supply of bacteria for the heart and you don't need that. Evidently prayers worked!!
Wow, you're between a rock and a hard place! Don't know how you'll be able to function with your symptoms but am praying for you to get through the day if that's what you need to do. Try some meditation techniques several times a day when you can.
Good days and bad days are pretty much par for the course. Take advantage of the good days and pamper yourself on the bad. Fran had a good idea about calling in sick (you ARE sick) if you need to do so. I've been blessed with a very understanding boss and co-workers allowing me to work around my symptoms.
And remember, not very long from now you'll be feeling much better and have good energy and lots of good days to enjoy.
Sorry today is already not a good day for you. Don't know what kind of work you do, but are you not able to take a sick day? You don't need all that stress on your body and mind? just an observation.
Hi Amy. Today marks the 91st day since my medial sternotomy to replace my pulmonary valve. Today, I have no pain or other associated issues. For about 6 weeks I thought the doctor had not tied the wires right because when I took a deep breath, a narrow, sharp pain would shoot through my sternum. Turns out, it was just part of the healing.
Something I wish I had at the hospital was a thicker layer of blankets between me and the mattress. The hospital beds are fine, but they are vinyl to make it easier to clean, and are covered with just a couple of thin sheets. After the surgery you will probably have a bit of a fever (normal), which means you’ll be sweaty. The hospital rooms are chilly because that helps reduce the transmission of infection. Put the two together: sweaty person with chilly room, and you have a perfect recipe for uncomfortable. My back was typically wet and hot, and my front was typically wet and cold.
As you probably already heard, the importance of your breathing exercises can not be overstated. Believe it or not, taking deep breaths truly is “exercise!” You will get an “incentive spirometer,” which is a plastic device that measures the volume of air you can inhale. Everyone outside of the hospital who saw mine thought I was blowing into it, but you are actually trying to re-inflate your lungs to stave off pneumonia or other lung issues. Use it even when you don’t want to. Remember: it is exercise. Prior to my surgery I was able to inflate to 4750 mL. Immediately after the surgery, the best number I could get was 1,500 mL. Before leaving the hospital 9 days later (I had a complication), I was inhaling about 2,500 mL. Today: 4,600 mL.
Regarding your anesthesia, mine was also problematic. I had issues with my cardiac cath and with having consciousness during a surgery 30 years ago. I was assured by the nice British doctor that they use a form of EEG to determine my level of consciousness. It worked like a charm: the last thing I remember was being wheeled into the OR and observing how huge the spotlights were…next thing I was accusing my surgeon of being an imposter in the ICU after he explained that I had received a bovine valve. Then I proclaimed (according to my family), “I am strong like bull!” I guess my humor can never be put to sleep, even if I’m the only one who thinks I’m funny!
Although many people might say not to take anything with you to the hospital, I suggest taking a supply of underwear. By the 3rd or 4th day, you’ll be feeling well enough that you won’t want to be flashing the world. It gives you a sense of dignity back, and a little normalcy. I know the nurses help naked people every day and don’t care, but I don’t run around commando-style and I DO care. Know what I mean? Also, the non-slip socks they give you are not very comfy – 100% polyester is not my idea of comfort. You’ll need to wear them for walking around, but after that, I put on my cotton socks.
Lastly, make sure your family keeps a full stock of snacks/candy in your room – even in the ICU. Not for you, but for the staff who are typically on their feet 12 hours a day. And don’t get the cheap hard candy from the dollar store. We avoided full-size candy bars and bags of chips (too expensive and too much noise), but keeping a steady supply of Hershey’s Kisses, Dove Chocolates, peppermints, those tiny Twix or Kit Kat bars, etc. created a steady (but not intrusive) flow of my nurses “checking up” on me. I would even get a double-visit from my surgeon as he finished his rounds.
I’ll keep track of your postings. You will do fine. Three months after your surgery you will look back at these times and wonder why you worried so much.
I'm a bit more than a week from surgery. I don't have the roller-coaster emotions but I do have weirder dreams than normal and am having some sleep issues (which is VERY unusual for me) and I definitely have problems concentrating. My memory is terrible. As my doctor reminds me, I'm not getting enough oxygen to my brain.
So I think you sound pretty normal!!
.Starting to have more bad dreams than I did before and trouble sleeping through the night which was NEVER a problem for me...
Just wanted you to know I signed on to your journal so I can learn more about what's going on with everything. You and the whole family are definitely in my thoughts and I just hope it all goes really well for you. We love having you in the family and want you to stay in the family for a very very long time! :) All my best! Love, Melinda :)
I know exactly what you are going through. I had all the same emotions, but didn't have the dreams. It's hard to think that you are going to have a major surgery such as this. It totally took me for a loop. I found out on a Friday, and spent the rest of the weekend crying. I would have ups and downs and never know what the day would be like. As it got closer and I realized that this was for the best, I put my trust in the Lord to help me get through. I also willed myself to know that I have too much to live for, especially the little ones in my life. Take time to enjoy the little things and know that's what counts in life. Spend time with family and friends and try to get your mind off of the surgery. I know it's easier said then done, been there. Pray alot and let God come into your heart and heal it from the inside as no one else can do. I woke up the morning of surgery with and unexplainable calmness and was ready to go when I got to the hospital. I knew right away that God was telling me it would be ok. You have so much support and so many praying for you, you will also do well. I also found it helped from time to time to get some alone time and do something for myself. I went shopping, had my hair done, just tried to get my thoughts together. Know that for every thing you go through in life, there is a purpose. You may not know exactly what that purpose is, but God does and he will show it too you in time. God does not give us more than we can handle.
Also, if you are having trouble sleeping, check with the dr. he may be able to give you somethin to help.
Keep your chin up and stay focused. I will continue to pray for you and your family.
You are not alone. I experienced the roller coaster of emotions also. Especially the one of being weepy at the drop of the hat.Have always been one to be emotional but found myself weepy every time someone sent me a little gift, card, email or phone call!!! Am still that way to a degree. Just go with it and realize it's probably your mind's way of preparing for what's ahead. It was a new path for all of us (except Carla who had a re-repair). You'll be fine, find some relaxation/guided imagery tapes to listen to, they really helped me.
Hi Kimberly & David! I like the web site and think it's a great idea. Hang in there and know that we all love you guys and we're only a phone call away! Please don't hesitate to call if you need something! Love you guys!
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I think of you often, and will be following your progress through your journal. I'm so glad that we've reconnected after 22 years, and look forward to actually being able to see you in person when you've recovered from surgery!! ~Dawn
Hi Kimberly, It's Anne Beale. You met Chris and I in the wine shop. I'm so glad to be able to keep up with you this way. Psalm 73:26 came to me to share with you...God is truly the strength of your heart...Have a great day.
Kim, I just wanted you to know that you're in my thoughts everyday. You've been through so much in your life, your heart is as strong as they come. I'll be praying you constantly, & I know you'll do fine. You come through everything stronger than ever.
I love you, Cheryl
Just checking in on the chest tube discussion. As was said, everyone is different. I had no difficulty or discomfort when they were in and just a slight twinge when they were removed. I barely remembered it. One of our daughters was with us during my whole time in Cleveland and at the Clinic and I had asked her to write a journal for me.I can now read all the things that happened to me before I was totally awake and some that happened afterwards that I don't remember. Plan to read it every year on the anniversary of my surgery (March 18th). Be strong and mentally prepared and you'll do well.
Just like Amy, I too had the most pain from the chest tubes. I still have some muscle spasms at night on my righ side if I over do it during the day. It has been 4 weeks for me since surgery and every week is better. I would say that already 75% of my pain is gone. I can get up in the mornings and find myself a liitle stiff, but ok during the day. I just started sleeping for a few hours at a time in the bed, still can't lay flat for very long as it pulls a little on my side. But, I will take this any day over the alternative of not having surgery! I will continue to pray for you and look forward to getting your updates. Know that God will be with you as you travel down this road, and that He will help you heal!
Just wanted to let you guys know I have saved this page and will check it all the time...:-))))) Praying for you both!!! Believing in God's hand to touch you body Kim and heal you thru the surgeon!!!!
Hi there Kimberly. I hope my journal doesn't scare you too much with regards to the chest tubes. Most patients don't complain about them, but for me they caused lots of pain. I'm small--5'1" and less than 110 pounds, so there wasn't much room for the tubes. One is very small and flexible--about 12 to 15 inches long, but the larger tube is more rigid. Not sure the length--but it doesn't bend like the small one. That is the one that was the most uncomfortable. But truly I haven't heard anyone on the site complain as much as me about chest tubes. My husband and I think perhaps I felt them more because my frame is so small and there was simply less room for them to fit.
The biggest thing to remember during this entire process is that everyone is different. But another important thing to remember is that everyone makes it through the challenges of recovery in time. You can't gage the speed of your healing to anyone else's. I've read some patient stories who had the robotic procedure and they felt absolutely no pain ever! You might want to check out the Da Vinci website. It has an area of patient stories. Here is the link:
Kimberly, I think you're an amazing person and I'm just so happy that you're with David. I just accessed your Journal Website and read every single word. I'm glad to have the information - I've had so many questions, but didn't want to bombard you with them. I'll be thinking of you every step of the way. I knew you were a stong person when I met you (finally!) and that will serve you well. (Although I must admit the anesthesia story gave me pause - I didn't know someone could have a high tolerance). Love from the Schlienzes in Manassas - Karen and Kasey, plus Zach. We'll keep up-to-date with your progress. Hugs and Kisses to you and your family.
Kim, I know this is a difficult time, preparing for a major surgery must be overwhelming at times. I am glad you have David, this journal, and of course FB to vent and escape as needed! You are loved by many!
Amy's suggestions are good ones, especially elastic waist pants for going home. I did bring a couple of pajama bottoms which I wore with the hospital gowns when I was walking the halls. An I-Pod with what ever you need to hear to help you relax and Chapstick. Hope the waiting time goes quickly for you.
Hi Kimberly! So glad you found my journal helpful. We really wanted to document the robotic surgery on this site to help others prepare for the procedure. It was hard for me to find specific information before my own surgery.
You ask a very good question tonight. There have been some journal entries on this very same topic of what to pack. However, I know that often patients find they couldn't use anything they packed while in the hospital. I did take several pairs of pajamas, but due to the number of wires and tubes I was connected to during my inpatient stay, PJs were pretty impractical. You will be given sponge baths each day, and probably won't be able to shower until you get home. You'll need a brush to do your hair, and if it is long, you may want to tie it back. They give you non-skid socks to wear when you walk, so you don't need slippers. All I really used from my suitcase was the change of clothes for wearing home. Just be sure you choose something loose fitting because you will retain some fluid and may have some bloating around your waistline. This will all pass once you get home and complete your diuretic prescription.
I think the most important part of recovery is performing the breathing exercises. I was determined to be diligent about doing these, and psyched myself into thinking it was my favorite thing to do. I do think it helped me recover quickly and return to a challenging workout level in a short period of time.
The waiting will be the hardest thing for you, but you have a great community here through these journals. You will find much strength and gain a lot of knowledge using this tool.
I am from NC as well and had my surgery for severe mitral regurg on April 8th, 4 weeks ago. I am 36 with two small children. I had the minimally invasive surgery where they make a small incision on your right side under your breast as opposed to "cracking the chest". Do you know if you are a canditate for this? Ask your doctor. My recovery has been great and at this point it's like being 3 months out had I had my chest opened up. You can check out my journals for my posts to date!
I will keep you in my prayers and know that God will be with you. You, like me, have so much to live for, you will do great!
Welcome to the Heart Valve Journals. I had mitral repair surgery on March 2, 2010. I had an incision under the breast instead of sternum, and have recovered very well. I just started cardio rehab. The Tee test is no big deal...some places knock you out for it and it is quick. If you have any questions, feel free to post them and someone will answer them on this site.