Today I had a general health check up for work. Very pleased with the results - cholesterol is down, so hopefully liver function is better. I was told I had the second highest grade of fitness - imagine how I will go once I actually do regular exercise.
Thursday I am off to see the surgeon - Peter Skillington. Hoping he will give me the clear to do a charity cycle tour through Vietnam for Epworth Hospital next February - nothing like a goal to work toward :-)
I have to admit - I did struggle over the last 4 - 5 months. I was constantly tired, couldn't get up the energy to exercise and was beginning to wonder if I would ever turn the corner.
Then I had a bout of gastro which put me in bed for 2 days. Once I came out of that, I was a new woman and really turned the corner.
I have now had my second overseas trip for work to Hong Kong and Singapore. However, on the off days we went for walks (yes, we found heritage walks in Hong Kong). I went up and down and up and down lots of stairs. Although I was short of breath (due to fitness levels), I recovered so much faster and my colleagues were amazed at the difference.
I am now considering embarking on the Epworth Cycle Challenge 2014 - a fundraising cycling trip in Vietnam next February. I see the surgeon again next week - so I hope to get the clearances from him. My only restriction will be to not fall off the bike - as I will be on coudamin for the rest of my life.
All in all - I cannot complain and am much happier than I have been for a long time.
Recovery continues to go very strongly. My cardiologist is very happy with my progress.
Heart rhythm still a little fragile, but I find the Sotolol the best beta blocker I have had so far - don't need much to keep things in check.
I have just returned from my first overseas work trip. Left Australia last Friday for Vienna and Bratislava, and returned yesterday. I felt everything went much better than I could have asked for, so my confidence is building.
I am bringing my fur ball family home today - cannot wait. It has been 4.5 months since we have been together.
I am now living back in my apartment. I cannot thank the friends who put up with me and cared for me enough.
I agreed to have some renovations done while I was away, on the basis that I wouldn't have to do anything. The theory was that as both I and the three cats would be away, the various trades people would have easy access. The project manager however pulled out over a month ago, and I was left with quite a mess to clean up. I just look at all of the boxes and say 'it can wait, it is not worth hurting myself'. When it is all done - it will be a wonderful result though.
I visited the surgeon recently, and he is really pleased with my progress. It is still a month or two though before I can bring my furry family home and get on a bike or go swimming. I still keep to a good walk each day. I cannot thank my surgeon, Dr Peter Skillington enough for his care and attention.
I am easing back into work, if that is possible in my line of work. I hope to travel to Vienna and Bratislava at the end of June for a work meeting - that will be a big test for me, but I am looking forward to it.
I still cannot get over the scar, or lack of one. I don't try to hide it anymore. Using the CicaCare dressings has really helped, although I don't use them for 24 hours a day as they recommend.
This week I also received my personal INR tester. That has been an adventure learning how to use it. Such a simple tool - you just prick your finger and drop the blood on the test strip - but I have discovered even will a foolproof tool, I still managed to stuff it up. I am sure a bit of practice will make perfect.
All in all - I still cannot believe how easy it all was this time compared to my last open heart.
As everyone says, recovery does require patience. I think I am doing fine and try to do lots of stuff and then fall in a heap. I have found the hardest thing, apart from lack of independence, is the continued tachychardia. The good news is - it will stop and I don't need to go to emergency anymore, but every time I think I have turned the corner, I get another attack.
Exercise is increasing each day, which is great too.
It is Day 13 of my new life, and today I get out of rehabilitation. In Australia, we stay in hospital 6-10 days and then have the option of going to a rehabilitation centre for another week or so. Living on my own, and as my health fund covers it, I chose rehab - which was a great decision.
Surgery went really really well. The pain levels don't even compare to my first open heart in 1987, mostly as they went round the side that time. The neck and shoulder pain is the worse, as forewarned by many of you. After a massage yesterday - I got my first full interrupted sleep last night.
I have had two bouts of tachycardia, both corrected without cardio version; and a slight scare with the liver. Feeling very lucky though as no bleeders - yeh :-)
My surgeon, Peter Skillington, should be put forward for an award in stitching excellence - my scar is so clean I sit there looking at it in awe. I had started to cull low cut tops and dresses from my wardrobe - think I acted too hastily.
The intensive physio at rehab has really helped. However, like many, you feel invincible so off you go and do something - like go to a movie (The Croods) and your body reminds you that you have just had major surgery.
I tick - literally, like an out of time watch - but as the saying goes "the only time you should be worried is when you can't hear it".
Yesterday I went for my pre-surgery angiogram and got the all clearance - no blockages and coronary (?) arteries are where they should be.
I was fortunate to see all of my cardiologists and surgeons at Epworth Hospital throughout the day. Dr Walton performed the angiogram through the wrist (radial). The wound site is so tiny you almost need a magnifying glass to see it.
There were times when I thought - I am too much of a coward to keep moving forward to the real thing, but I am equally excited about life post surgery and recovery. I didn't like the sting of the local anaesthetic, but thought to myself 'you can't remember the pain afterward, so just relax'.
My electrophysiology cardiologist (Dr Sparks) also caught up with me. It is great to see the person you have the ongoing relationship with in these situations.
Then my surgeon, Peter Skillington (the one featured in your article on Ross procedure) dropped in to give me the good news. We also agreed I will be having an ablation at the same time as the mitral valve replacement - which I am really pleased about also.
Back to work on Thursday, then a pre admission clinic next Monday, and the big one the following Tuesday. This time in two weeks my ticker will be literally ticking.
23 days to go and don't really feel like I am getting on top of anything, but beginning to let go of a lot of things that really aren't that important.
It was an absolutely stunning day in Melbourne today. It is 8.10pm, and the sun is just setting and the temperature gauge still sits at 32C.
I am off to Sydney tomorrow for work for 2 days - a bit anxious because I feel like every time I go to Sydney I end up in emergency with atrial fibrillation - fingers crossed I don't this time.
I have nearly finished preparation for my 3 darlings to go to a cattery next weekend to commence their holiday, or in Pierre's case - his health / weight loss farm experience.
My angiogram is booked in for Monday 25 February, they are doing radial, and I am quite excited about this as I haven't experienced one before.
I have purchase a new iPad Mini as my little present to myself. So enjoying selecting some good TV series and downloading them. Last October I got all of Game of Thrones Season 2 in, which I really enjoyed. Going to watch it again, as Season 3 starts soon after I get home. Of course, to have a balanced selection I will include Underbelly Razor (an Australian TV series that is brilliant), Spartacus, Rome and Pride & Prejudice. Dad is going to get my old iPad.
All in all, I am in a completely different place, and quite looking forward to the next 2 weeks (apart from dropping off my 3 darlings - I will miss them terribly).
Just received the latest newsletter and Mitch's story about his 2nd half marathon - wow. I don't believe I have ever been able to run, due to my heart condition and a complete lack of interest, but I yearn for the day I don't have to start my bike ride a 1/2 hour before everyone else and arrive to coffee when they are on their second round - so I have hope now.
It is 37 days until I have my mitral valve is replaced at Epworth hospital in Richmond (Melbourne). I am having a mechanical valve, and they are going down the sternum. I am still waiting to hear whether I am also having an ablation (for atrial fibrillation) and when my angiogram is.
I chose to have the surgery on my birthday, much to most of my friends dismay - my thinking is, what better present can you give yourself. I have had 25 years to prepare for this event, and can honestly say it is not the surgery that is making me anxious, it is everything else.
I live on my own with three beautiful cats - Pierre, King James and Lady Louisa. They will be going into a cattery prior to my angiogram, and not returning home for possibly 4 months (Pierre is too heavy for me lift, and King James too affectionate and boisterous to risk him jumping on my chest for morning cuddles). their companionship will be sorely missed. Two of them are just over 1 year old, so they will grow a lot while we are apart.
I don't feel like I am coping well in a different way - I don't seem to be able to get even close to being on top of work, home chores, keeping up with friends and family - I feel like I live in chaos and it is really beginning to get me down, which is disappointing as I lead such a blessed life and am so grateful for all that I have. All of my friends ask what can they do to help, and I can't even get my head straight to know what to ask for help with. I write my priority lists, and they disintegrate before my eyes. I am just grateful to actually get through each day until I realise all I haven't done. I say "no" to others and myself, and try to focus on the important things - but the discipline that is normally there seems to have disappeared, possibly in the exhaustion that I feel.
Most posts are about the feelings around the surgery going into it. Have others felt overwhelmed by just getting on with life pre-surgery?