Hi, Penny. Glad your chair is on the way. Today is two weeks since my operation. My incision is practically healed and I feel good. My ride home from the hospital was four days after the surgery and it was only a 15 minute cab ride, as I live in Downtown Boston. I sat in the back seat with my pillow underneath the seat belt for comfort. I don't reacall being uncomfortable at all. I was just really glad to be home and surrounded by my own things. You should be fine. About the "blues" -- I haven't had any, and I am sure it's because I didn't use the pain killers. I know in the past when I took them, I became depressed. So this time I avoided them. I think perhaps men are more prone to post-op depression than women and we tend to endure my pain then they do, right?
At any rate, sounds like you're ready to do. Look forward to hearing about your progress and wish you the best in your surgery. Just remember it's never as bad as you can anticipate -- keep the positive thoughts and you will heal quickly too.
Hi Penny, like you, I have been following so many of our "heart club". Lots of different post op experiences. People have been so wonderful about posting, haven't they? I have your name on my calender for your surgery Glad you don't have to wait so long. For me, wonder how soon my March date will come. It's been a long time since early Jan.when I first got my surgery date. I will be following your posts as you have your surgery and healing phase. You should be well on the road to recovery when I have my surgery. We're all the same travelers on the same road whether we live in Scotland, Canada or the states. Your Florida friend,
Your surgery date is coming up soon! I know how anxious you must be feeling right about now, as I was just a few weeks ago in the countdown phase. One thing I’ve been struck by In reading the various journal entries from others on Adam’s site, is how many people describe feeling a sense of peace settling over them on the day of their surgery as they prepare for the operation . That was my experience as well. When I arrived at the hospital that morning I felt quite calm and relaxed, even before they gave me the IV to send me on my way to “la-la land”. After all the anxiety of the weeks leading up to the surgery it was a relief to finally be there. I had done some guided imagery and relaxation exercises starting a couple of weeks before the surgery, and maybe that also helped.
The dread, fear and anxiety beforehand are normal of course, but laughter is really great medicine – I recommend watching funny movies, dvds, whatever will help keep your mind off your worries.
What I’d have done differently: I packed too many clothes for the hospital. Several pairs of pajama bottoms are very good to have. I didn’t wear any of the tops that I brought with me. My basic uniform throughout my hospital stay was the hospital-issue gown and socks, worn with pajama pants. I also brought makeup, lotions, etc., which I never felt like putting on while I was there, so that was a waste of packing space for me.
Re: Bra – Very important! They ordered a surgical bra for me while I was in the hospital and it made an amazing difference in my comfort level. Maybe you can order one (or several) in advance. Mine opens in the front and is fastened with a Velcro strip. It didn’t get in the way of wires or tubes and does a wonderful job of keeping everything together and holding the boobs securely so that the incision can heal well. Not something you’d find in the Victoria’s Secret catalog (looks more like something my grandmother would have worn), but as the nurse in the hospital told me, “This bra will save your life once you get home.” She was right, I’m still wearing mine for comfort and I wish I had ordered more while I was in the hospital. It would be torture to try to wear anything with an underwire while the incision is healing.
How I woke up: In my photos section on this site I’ve just added a picture of me taken while I was still under anesthesia. I had quite an assortment of tubes at that point. I was snug and well-covered with blankets, but was not wearing a gown or anything underneath. I guess they put a gown on me after I woke up in ICU, but I don’t remember.
I will stay in close touch and follow your progress, Penny. I know you will do just fine! You will have plenty of prayers and positive healing thoughts to get you through this.
Susan Murphy (KS)
Just checking in to see how you are doing. Hoping that you are not getting too anxious or nervous. In answer to your questions, I am playing a waiting game and I suspect that it might be a while before I even have a surgery date.
Penny, good luck. Reading your Journal reminded me of all the checklists I did before my surgery as well. I found that I used the iPod more than anything. TV got very boring and my new iPod had FM radio on it as well. Be sure to take a charger plug for it, as they only lst a few hours on one charge.
You'll do great. I am now along, as Carmella left last night after our farewell dinner brought in by her husband, Steve. This morning I rather miss her company, but am perfectly capable of getting my own breakfast and everything else. Wednesday will be my two week mark from surgery.
Thanks for reading my blog this week and be assured that I am slowly recovering. The biggest thing is to rest, rest, rest I am told.
Bring Pjs that buttom up the front. After three days in hospital I finally got a shower and put on my own pjs. I was the envy of the hallway walks, as others were in those hidious hospital gowns often showing their backside. You'll feel 100 times better when you get out of them.
My wife, Mary, is from Scottish ancestry - Orkney Islands. Although we're several generations removed from Scotland, we love all things Scottish, so already I feel a kinship beyond our mutually "broken hearts".
You seem to have everything totally organized in preparation for your surgery. I know all will go well for you. We will be following your progress.
You might want to book for a bikini wax too. I did much the same preparation as you are going through except I have silk nails and had to have them removed and then a manicure. Pain you say! On my second day out of the hospital I hit the hairdressers and nail technician first thing. So much to do and time is closing in.
Your health care sounds similar to ours in that most everything is paid for, thank goodness. Takes some of the stress out.
Have you read Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" series? Great set of books and I believe the newest one is just coming out over your way. I got it in October and will find waiting about 3 years for the next one very difficult. The main characters are Scottish. Great set of books in any case.
Take care. Keep your spirits high. It's not all bad. Happy Valentines Day. Cheryl, Ontario
One of my boybarian sons had some pretty serious surgery a couple of years back and we gave him an ipod full of tunes. They do help to mask the noise at night. Also, get something comfy to wear, here at the moment that is fleece for me... but I know how damp Scotland can be in the winter.
Good on you.....working through your lists...before you know it the day will dawn and then you can join the rest of us in recovery. I have been and am going through a rough patch again. Briefly started with a high fever on Mon,saw Dr on Tues,thought I had flu and asked to see me again on Wed...not sure if it is was fortunate or unfortunate...but i had fever of 39.5 plus for 3 days thus far and was only taking paracetamol which was not helping much. Couldnt take anything else because of the blood thinners. Anyway have pneumonia with a collapse lobe left lung and started going into heart failure. My poor,healing heart is working very hard. The fever only broke yesterday at 4pm and have only started feeling half human again.Will be here for a few more days though....Gary kindly brought my computer in now so that I can check out things and was so happy to see a posting from you. You havent been far from mind even through my fevered days and please know I am thinking of you and praying for lots of strength,love and peace for you,your precious family and all your friends. Will email you when I am home and feeling well again. Happy Valentines day for tomorrow...may it be filled with all the love you deserve.Take care,happy shopping for the pjs,recliner. I found pjs with buttons down the front much easier to use post op as then i didnt have to put my hands up in the air. Take care and will email soon. For some reason I can access this site,facebook but cannot access our home email. xxxx
My leg is a little tender from the heart cath, but only if I bump it or try to bend over to much. I have been taking it easy.
I watched to video about the valve repair and I sew some, so I think it would be really hard to sew a moving object (heart) which is how I think the minimally invasive procedure is. I was disappointed that it isn't offered at my hospital until that video. Now, I would not choose it. THey have to measure things so carefully. I want mine to be as perfect as possible. I wish I was as far along in the process as you. Linda
Penny, So kind of you to introduce yourself to us and to post such nice supportive words on our guestbook. Now that you have a date, at least you know it will sooner be behind you. I'm really glad to be on the other side. I subscribed for your updates. Know of our friendship, support and prayers from across the Atlantic as 2/24 approaches.
Penny... Thank you so much for your kind words & encouragement! Good luck with your upcoming surgery!
One of the things on my list of things to do before I die is to go to Scotland and walk the land of my ancestors (Clan Gunn). When I'm there maybe I can come & visit you!
Finally... Am bheil Gaidhlig agaibh? Tha mi gh h-ionnsachadh. (Do you speak Gaelic? I am learning it.)
Hi Penny. This is Amy from Raleigh, North Carolina. Thank you for your note this morning and the wonderful advice. I have put together a list of questions for the surgeon, and my husband is going with me to the appointment. I actually reviewed all of my questions with him last night. At the time I wondered if this was a bit of overkill, but your note made me feel good.
My cardiologist has already performed the TEE test and catheterization, and interestingly enough, I too was more anxious about the TEE test than the cath and had the same outcome as you! As soon as they removed the cath tube I began bleeding internally had developed a 12-cm hemotoma. Had to stay in CCU overnight. Recovery took over 3 weeks, but only because I began exercising too strenuously too soon. I had been so unprepared...
I will be thinking of you these next few weeks and wish you a successful surgery and speedy recovery!
Now you know it's going to happen and when. The next step has been taken for you. Guess you'd better get busy getting your house in order and start packing. Obviously you don't live close to your hospital so start making lists so you aren't rushing around when you can least do it. How great is that to have such a neat accommodation available for the convenience of your family? Count your good blessings. Stay in touch. Cheryl, Ontario
Hi Penny, so glad you have a date and not too far off! Knew your TEE would go well. You are having a MAZE procedure as I will. Is your surgeon confident that this will stop your afib? I have been on coumadin for 14 years due to afib and have done very well with it. For the past year plus I have been able to test at home and call in my results. Look into that if you can. After a veni-puncture to draw blood for the test I am so happy to have a finger stick done as I have poor veins! Will continue to follow your progress. Since i am going to the Cleveland Clinic I have been able to download meditation imagery which I am begining to listen to. It helps, see if you can find some kind of meditation you can commit to part of each day.Your daughter sounds like my daughter, Teresa who will be with us in Cleveland and post op here at home in FL.
Fran Zilko (FL)
Hi Penny in Scotland (i hope you the right one)
A friend of mine went on vacation in Scotland and claimed he drank 40 different brands of Scotch while he was there. Is that possible? Thanks for the note and don’t read my journal if you don’t want to bust a stitch or two. I don’t want to be responsible for your pain. I left out the part about when I was a kid after Rheumatic fever they did not want me to exert much energy, so I was in a wheel chair. My sister and friends in the neighborhood would line me up in on the top of a very big hill point me in the general direction of the pond and release the brakes. What fun! I think that is the reason my heart valve is bad. I was abused. Keep smiling we will all be just fine!
Thanks for writing in my guestbook. It was so nice to hear from you and I wish you the very best as you prepare for surgery. As you pointed out, our stories are quite similar and we’re close in age. It’s good to compare notes with someone in similar circumstances and I hope that my recent experience with mitral valve replacement can be helpful to you. Sounds like you've done a lot of homework and that’s a great start. I read the list of questions you've prepared for your visit with the doctor tomorrow, and they’re all excellent. I wish I had written mine down before meeting with my surgeon the one and only time I saw him before my surgery.
It's hard to believe now, but when I met with my surgeon we didn't even discuss the different options for mitral valve replacement. I was so sure I would be getting a repair (the doctor said I had an 80% chance of that being the case). Several days after my appointment I called his office because I wanted to get more information about valve replacement. The surgeon's nurse called me back and answered my questions, although I’d have preferred to hear from the doctor himself. In that conversation I learned that my surgeon would recommend a mechanical valve in my situation, rather than a tissue valve. He said a biological (tissue) valve would wear out over time and need to be replaced again in 10-12 years. Because of my age (59), he felt the mechanical valve was the way to go, as it would last forever without needing to be replaced. The down side to the mechanical valve is the necessity of being on blood thinners (Coumadin or warfarin) forever. I kept clinging to the 80% odds of having a repair and never gave much thought to the idea of valve replacement.
When I woke up after the surgery and they removed the breathing tube, the first thing I asked was if they were able to repair my mitral valve. Strange, but when I was told that I had a new mechanical valve I was completely at peace with it. I was just relieved to have made it through the surgery and thankful to have a strong, healthy new valve. A couple of days later I had an echocardiogram which showed no mitral regurgitation and that was wonderful news.
Now the challenge is dealing with the day to day ups and downs of the recovery process, which you can get a good idea of from reading my journal on this site. Overall, I’m getting stronger every day but I really have to be careful and not do too much. I’m learning that when I overdo things I pay later.
One immediate benefit of the surgery is that my breathing is so much better. The regurgitation from my valve was interfering with my life more than I ever realized.
Good luck to you, Penny – I will be following your journey on this site. It sounds like you are in excellent hands.
Take care and be well,
Susan Murphy, Overland Park, KS
Good morning, realize it's afternoon in Scotland.For my surgery,my husband will be with me. Our daughter, Teresa, who lives 45 minutes away from us will be there before the surgery and stay a few days afterwards and then fly home. She has taken time off from her job to help me out after I get home. Our other daughter, Christine, will drive 5 hours to be with me before and a couple of days afterwards. Our son who lives in California felt he should be there, but told him to please not come, it's quite an expense for him to fly, etc. So, we are blessed to both have caring families. As for the TEE, I had it done a few years ago and you will be awake long enough to swallow the scope. They will spray your throat so you shouldn't have a problem with it. Since they had started an IV in my arm, at that point I was given a mild sedative which made me groggy so I didn't really care what they did. They brought me out of it quickly afterwards. You'll do fine and they will have a better idea of what needs to be done. Will watch your posts as I have signed up to receive them. Be positive. Fran Zilko (FL)
Nice to hear from you. I had my valve repaired. I knew going into the surgery that my tricuspid valve was leaking mild-moderate and that I also had AI - aortic insufficiency. Basicially - my valves sucked. The mitral valve repair is considered a success so now I have "trace" regurgitation which is better than the severe that I did have. I'm somewhat disappointed to know there is any regurgitaion at all but I suppose that's the best they could do. When I hear of others on the site who now no regurgitation it makes me second guess my repair. The doctors can't tell me what happened to the other valves other than perhaps they felt the pressure from the leaky mitral valve. I don't believe they will get better but the doctors didn't give me any reason to worry about them either. I see the cardiologist tomorrow after my rehab class to discuss with me my irregular heart beat and its symptoms. There are times I get discouraged because recovery seems to be slow as compared to some of the others but only time will tell. Perhaps I was just expecting too much. I liked your list of questions. I took in quite a long list of questions to my surgeon and he laughed and commented on my thoroughness but took the time to answer each and every one of them. I didn't ask him how many surgeries he had done because I had already asked someone at the hospital. Sometimes I don't tell my husband or family all of what I'm feeling about all of this if a little glitch arises until I've got the glitch worked out. They just all panic so I find my way works for me. You just have to stay positive as best you can. Four months after surgery today and I'm thinking abaout emptying out my purse more as I find it drags me down. You would think I could at last carry my purse without a struggle! Ok, sometimes I've also got my video camera loaded in there because of attending the grandchildren's hockey and lacarosse games. Cheryl, Ontario
Hi Penny, I am one of those female minorities you spoke of. Glad you're finally on to some great care. My path to surgery (scheduled March 18th) has been a lot easier. After my last stress echo my cardiologist said "it's time". Pressure readings were up. He referred me to the Cleveland Clinic and would you believe, Dr Gillinov!! Will have 3 days of testing including heart cath, prior to surgery and will not meet my surgeon until the day before he operates. All prelim info says he's the best, so have no concerns about that. Keep posting.
Fran Zilko (FL)
Penny, your list is great - it seems no matter how many questions, it is easy not to think of them all when you are there - or when your brain is feeling foggy (overwhelmed). The different people I have met while I have been here is incredible. Mostly valves and many mitral like my husband, but also people coming in for things like "stem cell transplant" young husband & wife from VA - they will be here 3 months. Nice man who's 15 yr old daughter having open heart.
I saw how you said to Joel you appreciate everyone's honesty -- I tell you, it is difficult to read when you are in the hospital at the time having it done because you see someone like Duane that had a stroke and you say "oh no" can that happen to Richard - for instance. You are very sad for the person Duane and praying for him and now thinking of yet another possibility of a problem. Penny - there is so much going on and so many little and big things that can happen that you just don't anticipate or think can and everything from not wanting to eat to the pain killers - they gave him oxycodin(sp?) and it absolutely made him halucinate(sp?) so they put him on tourodol(sp?) and it is a non-steroid and he is reacting much better. There seems like a million things (ok, I know I exagerate)but it seems like ther are things that just pop up after these surgeries - each person reacts so differently. His mitral valve is fine - it is everything else, like the heart rhythum that didn't come back, etc.
It is a tough procedure - kind of like when you have a baby and no one ever really understands how difficult it is until you have it --- but as I say the honesty may be helpful before but I am kind of glad Richard can't read things right now. I didn't dare tell him about Duane and he has been asking how he is doing.
Thanks for listening!
Richard's wife, Susan
Just know that you are going to do great once the surgery is over and you are on the mend. I do however pity the poor medical staff who have to try and keep you in check once you start to feel better. Take great care, loads of love Maureen x x x
Trust you had a great weekend and ready for the week ahead....I am thinking of and sending you lots of love and support as you go through each day this week. I am still so excited that we have made this connection and look forward to many more emails etc. I work for a a member of the royal family here-helping her 4 girls with homework-and went back to work yesterday for the first time since the surgery....will email you.Our week starts on a sunday and not a monday as we are in a strict m country. Have a good day.
I had a MVP/R surgery Oct1/09, four months ago. Time flies. Sounds as if you finally have a good lead on decent medical care. Scary when you know you aren't well and the doctors are missing the boat. I hope you have great success with your tests and will be watching for further entries. Good Luck. Cheryl, Ontario, Canada
Penny, my husband found a lot of useful information as well. He ordered the book - read it in one day and got involved with the journal - more to keep himself occupied to keep his nerves down - but it helped. He and Duane (who is in this journaling) had their surgery the same day this week 1/27. I guess everyone is a valve person who writes in these, just different ways, so yes all are going through it in one way or another. My husband is still in ICU,and it is a long process, but it can't be denied - had to happen. We will try to keep up with your surgery coming up in February.
My name is Ronelle. I enjoyed reading your journal entries. I'm looking forward to hearing the diagnosis. I hope all goes smoothly. These entries are interesting and informative. I like our "community," it helps me understand the procedures and quells the nerves to know others are going through the same thing.
I hope things go well. Ronelle
Hi Penny......my anme is Sharlene von BERG-47 years old-orgininally from Durban -SA- now living in Doha,Qater in the Middle East. I am 10 weeks post op after mitral valve repair and maze procedure done back in SA.....it has been a nightmare of a time for a lot of reasons and I returned back home on 23 December-5 weeks after surgery. Would love to make contact with you...if you care to please contact me on my email address...firstname.lastname@example.org Look forward to hearing from you...Take care. Sharlene