Hi Everyone! well, a year ago today I was in the VA hospital getting prepped for open heart surgery with an aortic valve replacement and preparing to become a member of the "CCC" (cracked chest club). This website went a long way in helping me to prepare for surgery, understand all of the pros and cons and everyone was so very supportive. I want to thank Adam for this great website and for all his effort and time he has put into this work. I am totally back to a normal life and doing all of the things I used to do in the way of exercise. My incision scar and drain hole scars have nearly disappeared and I have a new lease on life now. Prayer and positive thoughts are a great help, but one also needs to do their research and understand everything that is about to transpire. Gaining knowledge of your situation will help you mentally to prepare for the surgery and this website with all of its great information and people's input with their different situations will be a great help in getting you ready for your surgery. I wish everyone the very best and thanks to one and all for your messages and support. This will be my last post probably unless something comes up that I need to share, so "keep on trucking" and be good to yourself! Vaya con dios! and may the good Lord give you peace and comfort!
Hello Everyone! It's been awhile since I last posted, but all systems are "go"! I had my last CT scan in May and everything was A-OK and now I'm up to about 5 miles/day every other day through the week on my bicycle plus walking a mile 2 to 3 times per week. My incision and drain holes in my chest have nearly faded away and using Bio Oil has helped this process of healing the scars. I'm also down from about 200lbs. to 182 now after having changed my diet and portion sizes as per my trainer in cardio rehab and I highly recommend going through cardio rehab. My goal is to eventually get to 170lbs. which is where I should be for my height of 5'9", so at 67 years old, I feel I'm good to go now for several more years. I will post one more time at the 1 year mark and update. I wish for everyone good health and success with their heart surgery and I want everyone to know the Indianapolis VA and their surgical team did an outstanding job for surgery, recovery and rehab and I can't thank them enough. Happy trails to one and all!
My incision at twelve weeks--end of designated recovery period! Lookin good!
OHS/AVR Post Op + 12 weeks
Journal posted on April 23, 2017
Hi Everyone! I've reached the end of my surgeon's designated 12 week recovery period and I'm doing great! I have completed 13 of my 1-hour cardio rehab sessions with only 6 more to go and after that is completed next week I will finish 5 sessions with my personal trainer that I didn't complete before surgery back in January. I am walking a mile + every day and today I get to start riding my bike again which I haven't been able to do since the first part of last November. I just want to say to everyone facing this surgery to not be apprehensive or afraid, but do your research by reading Adam's book, go online to youtube and watch videos of surgery and google as much info as you can to help yourself mentally prepare. I can't stress enough the mental prep to help relieve the anxiety, fear, etc. I also bought the "incision shield" that Adam mentioned in the book and it worked like a champ in keeping shirts, sweaters, etc. off my incision while it healed. (see pics) Also, after getting the OK from my surgeon's assistant I started using Bio-Oil on my incision and drain holes and it did wonderful in the healing process. I will post again at the 6 month & 12 month marks, but this is it for now. I wish everyone the very, very best in their upcoming surgeries and/or recovery periods and to "keep on truckin"!
It will be nine weeks tomorrow, Mon. Apr. 3, and I am walking a mile + every day now without being too winded. I have completed four - 1 hour sessions of cardio rehab with another six sessions to go. I have been using Bio-Oil, similar to Mederma and Scar Gel, since the end of week four after getting the Ok from my surgical team assistant. The oil is helping the incision and drain holes to heal up nicely. I still have some tenderness/soreness, not pain, when lying on my back at night, but I can now comfortably lie on right/left side with no problem. After my cardio rehab is complete in two weeks, I plan to be back doing my water aerobics, yoga and bike riding, so with warm weather arriving and my twelve week recovery period coming to an end, I'm looking forward to getting back to everything I enjoy doing. I will make another entry at the end of the twelve weeks and I wish/hope/pray for everyone the success I've had with this experience!
At the 6 weeks mark now and doing great! Walking up to a mile per day now and I will start a 3 week rehab on Mar. 23. This week I go in to see my PCP, full blood work-up and a CT scan to see how everything is healing up inside. I won't be seeing my surgical team again until May 15 unless I feel I need to see them. My team's surgical assistant, Matt Ozimek, after seeing me last week felt that I was doing so well that it was unnecessary to come back in any earlier. My incision and drain holes are nearly healed already but I still have some tenderness/soreness (not pain) in the chest especially at night if I roll to the left side. Looking back now I would say the first 10 days after surgery were the toughest days & nights to get through, but it's been pretty much smooth sailing since. I will post again at the 9 week mark and then again at the 12 week mark, which is the expiration for the "recovery period". Unless something comes up, I'll be talking with everyone again in 3 weeks! I wish one and all the very best and I hope you receive the same excellent care I did from my VA team! bye for now---
I have posted my pictures of the incision and drain holes both without the incision shield and with the incision shield in place. The shield has truly been a "real saver" in that it keeps the shirt material away from the incision and prevents irritation. These pictures are at post-op + 3 wks. and the incision and drain holes are healing up nicely. My surgical team used stainless steel surgical wire which is about the diameter of a hair follicle to close the sternum and these wires will eventually disappear into the bone and skin and will remain with me the rest of my life. On the surface of the incision, they used super glue which with time is flaking off, not to be picked off by the patient, but to be allowed to naturally dry out and just fall off. The drain holes were where the tubes and monitoring wires came out from in front of the heart and behind the heart to monitor fluid build-up. There was absolutely no pain involved when they were removed, but only if your RN or NP knows what they are doing. My daily walks are now stretching out farther and farther and I will try to walk to my local library today to return a couple of movies. My purchase of Adam's book, the incision shield and rental of a "lift chair" have been invaluable! I am a veteran and had my OHS done at the Indianapolis Roudebush Veteran's Medical Center and in my opinion did an outstanding job! I hope and pray that everyone on this site has the same excellent care that I have had and that your surgery is a success in all respects! Take care, one and all!
Mon. Feb.20--post op + 3 weeks: the first 10 days at home after surgery were pretty rough. I had a lot of coughing and lived with my "heart pillow". I had to go back to the ER because of the continuous coughing and after some x-rays and a meeting with my surgical team, they found fluid in my chest cavity, not in the lungs, but it was also determined that I might have some left over issues from my cold prior to surgery, so after changing my diuretic meds and giving me an inhaler for my lungs, I'm doing great now. The fluid in my chest cavity, common for OHS, will take about 2 weeks to be eliminated/absorbed from the body. I am able to walk down to the end of the block now, do laundry, do steps and today I reached the 2000ml level on my spirometer, so it's a daily improvement. The "lift-chair" has been a real saver for me, however, this week I'm weening myself off of it and trying to sleep in bed now as I'm sending the chair back to the rental company this Friday. I had visitors this past weekend to stop by and see how I was doing and they were stunned to see how well I was doing considering it was just 3 weeks ago that I had surgery. This week since the weather is nice I will start to walk farther out a little bit each day and see what my limitations are at this point. My cardiac rehab begins in 3 weeks so I want to be in pretty good shape by then. For those of you with upcoming surgeries, there is no reason to be afraid; just do your research and gather all of the info that you can. It's certainly not a "walk in the park", but like all difficulties in life, "this too shall pass"!
To anyone and everyone that is having OHS for whatever reason I recommend researching your situation online, BUT I also recommend getting Adam's book, read through it and give yourself a good dose of confidence! Adam's book along with my own research online and being a part of this website prepared me for everything that has happened to me so far. Adam, if it sounds like I'm pushing your book, your darn right I am! My surgical nurse, Sandy, thumbed through the book, took pictures of it, so she could go to the book store and get one for herself! She said, "I just hate it when the patient knows as much or more than I do about what to expect"! LOL Folks, if you haven't got it yet, GET IT!
Friday, Feb. 3rd: home from the VA Medical Center today. The surgeons have been great to come in each of the past 4 days and check on me and they say all is looking well! The nurses and everyone in cardiac care have been fantastic and now it's on the road to recovery. I wish everyone the very best with their upcoming surgeries and I hope and trust your experience will be as positive as mine was this past week!
Hello Everyone! thanks for the prayers and support! 2marO's the big day for not only myself but for others as well with pending surgeries! Let me say I wish everyone the very best and Godspeed to one and all! And Adam thanks again for the book, the website and all of this much needed info!!!
Good morning everyone! are there any stats on what percentage of our general population have a bicuspid aortic valve versus the tricuspid aortic valve and also, is there any research on a possible bio-prosthetic bicuspid valve replacement that can be inserted by TAVR?
I am meeting with my surgery team leader on Dec. 30th to discuss my open heart surgery to replace my aortic valve and I am trying to ascertain why I do not qualify for the TAVR procedure. I was told by the cardiologist that oversaw my heart cath ten days ago that at 67 I am too young and that I am in too good of health and I have no other medical conditions that would preclude me from having open heart surgery. However, I have a pseudo-aneurysm in the right ICA at C1 as the result from an accident nearly two years ago and I also have a herniated umbilical cord in my abdomen, so my questions is this; would these conditions not qualify me for TAVR? thanks!
Great guidebook! Am using this book to prep for my upcoming surgery-my sister, an RN for nearly 35 years, agreed it's the best guidebook she has seen on this subject. Many thanks to Adam Pick for writing this book and helping me to prepare for this major surgery!