At the end of 2017 and 9 months after AVR surgery, I returned to my maiden name. It was a good decision that helped my healing considerably and my divorce recovery transformation. It also was very time-consuming, tedious, and expensive to change my records. But it felt great overall.
Celebrating National Wear Red Day in Oregon & my 2 year anniversary of AVR on 3.14.17 at St. Vincent’s Hospital with Dr. Julia Swanson, a Providence surgeon. Let’s get the party started with Heartbreaker 5K on 2.17.18 & a huge shout out to Providence
Visiting my friend, Kim (middle) and her mother, Patsy (right) @ OHSU. We are celebrating an early Halloween & my good news from cardiologist this week.
Visiting a heart patient friend today
Journal posted on October 23, 2017
My friend, Kim has had 3 Open heart procedures and is 20 years younger than me. Her mother is my age & her daughter’s main care giver. Kim is now fighting a huge infection and is hospitalized at OHSU in Portland. She remains optimistic & so do I about her recovery but they are struggling to find a nursing home to take her with her complicated health history & numerous machines that will help finish the process once she is discharged. Every situation is different but we are members of the same club now. Kim wanted to see my keloid scar & I just wasn’t ready to show her or anyone, I guess.
6 month followup on AVR - great but....keloid scar
Journal posted on October 21, 2017
It has been 6 months since the AVR surgery. My BP was the best it has been in YEARS (118/90) even @ end of a long work day & 45 minute drive to keep the appointment.
Unfortunately, I do have a very large keloid scar on the incision & although I am healed up, both my surgeon & cardiologist want me to see a plastic surgeon. There is no keloid where my bra went •over• the incision. Interesting development. It is often itchy & then achy painful. I would welcome some ideas from the heart-valve community.
Taking one step at a time, I am going to use vitamin E oil 3x a day as the cardiologist staff nurse suggested to massage the ugly painful thing!
I was very happy to see my employer has a new very motivating wellness program & I am on an online coworker walking team. I went over 12,000 steps yesterday or about 4 miles. All these cool apps are now inside my phone including an effortless pedometer. Everything is synchronized. Amazing technology really, it is!
Jill, the exercise specialist and I @ cardiac rehab. I can do 20 minutes on the recumbent bike.
47 days post surgery & celebrating 67th BD
Journal posted on May 2, 2017
It is with joy that I tell you that I feel better each and every day after the aortic valve replacement but still have some very tired episodes. The exhaustion just doesn't last as long and the pain is greatly reduced. I follow the precautions for my sternum to promote healing.
Many thanks to Dr. Julia Swanson & her team @ St. Vincent's Hospital in Portland, OR who gave me realistic guidelines about what to expect in recovery. Three times a week, I go to a fabulous cardiac rehab program where my confidence has increased. I am off metoprolol but still need losartan for high blood pressure.
I am in 2 support groups ::: one for depression & anxiety and I now take cymbalta. I think it's helping. The other is "Women of Heart" that meets monthly with speakers & discussion. I need new strategies to improve my mental health as I prepare for a return to work on May 15.
On May 20 there will be a 5K walk & run for the American Heart Association and I will be on one of the many teams for Providence and other community groups. I am praising God that I am well enough to be doing some of what I want to be doing in life again!
Thinking of Ruth Ann, Rich and Dan who had surgery today 4.17.17. Coming up fast is Civita and Terrie on 4.24.17. I pray that you find this community useful, comforting, and full of just what you need.
Many blessings to Henry, Melissa, Ruth Ann, Rich and Dan who have upcoming surgeries. I pray all goes well and you can return to this community site when you are able and feel encouraged and comforted by the posts. I found such useful information and a sense of balance with funny stories of how to get through the surgery.
I cannot say enough about Adam Pick's wonderful book that I am reading for a third time! I plan to show the chapter about cardiac depression to my therapist next week when we get started on that part of my recovery. Tomorrow cardiac rehab starts at "Base Camp" at St Vincent's Hospital in SW Portland, OR. As Adam says, we cannot underestimate the need to enhance recovery from the first day of this whole process!
It was really good to see the nurse advocate today who checked me over head to toe in the surgeon's office. My daughter and a good friend, Kate came for support. I found out I am very anemic and although the condition might be common after surgery, it explained some of my very tired feelings.
I have to improve my lung capacity because my right lung still has some fluid. I learned what those $10.00 words ::: plural effusion mean. I guess I thought because I wasn't coughing up phlegm that it meant I wasn't facing pneumonia. Not true! I need to keep up the incentive spirometer and get stronger so I don't get pneumonia. Singing is encouraged.
I have been walking enough but it is so cold, wet, and miserable in North Oregon where I live, that it is discouraging to be outside. ""Embrace the rain"" is what some Oregonians say.
It is now time to sign up for cardiac rehabilitation. My hospital has a new place called "Base Camp" and I made the call to get started. I want to do whatever I can during this medical leave so I can return to work.
As we learn in Al Anon, denial is a river in Egypt. I need to face the facts of this heart disease situation and seek some accountability with it so I can improve my health at age 66.
My friend, Kate helped with a short ride in the country @ Magnuss Tree Farm along Carroll Creek. I really needed a big spiritual plus outside this afternoon.
Recovery, day 8 - home for two! Waking up at home is BEST
Journal posted on March 21, 2017
I loved being in my own bed last night. I am on a big dose of Lasix now to keeping flushing out fluids so I take the oral form AM & PM for 1 week & then temporarily only one dose, for 1 more week. After surgery, my lungs had not been breathing properly & I had to practice breathing •a lot• in the hospital. My oxygen rate would be too low after a physical therapy work out & I would end up needing on oxygen. I got very good care at St Vincent's & my discharge summary is full of details for this successful AVR. I knew it would be a long recovery with many Rx. My daughter bought a plastic multiple hatch holder & my friend & I got them loaded in proper sequence this morning. I also went on 4 walks & know it all works together for good!
Hello everybody! I am at St Vincent's in SW Portland. Surgery on 3/14 was only 2.5 hours instead of 4 and I did not need Rx to get my heart going again. I went to the cardiac recovery unit & was released but the hospital itself was so full, I had to wait
I read in my recovery guidelines that it will be a •long• time before I will be able to swim again & Saturday afternoon I went with my adult children & g'kids to the YMCA. Crowded but fun & it reminded me what I can look forward to in the future. 🏊🏊🏻🏊🏼🏊🏽🏊🏾🏊🏿
5 red tulips ....Now my surgery is only 2 days away so this morning, I did something fun that I can enjoy in my recovery! Tulips! I bought them in the fall but never planted them on time so I refrigerated them thinking I could force them now. It was a si
ironing out the wrinkles ahead of time helps me!
Journal posted on March 10, 2017
Ironing out the potential wrinkles with transportation to medical appointments in my recovery ::now:: really helps me. My daughter and other "old people like me" friends are probably going to have limits when I can't drive or don't want to drive the 1/2 hour to the cardiac rehab center in heavy urban traffic. I have two community based resources and figured out how to sign up. It felt so good to take charge of something!
Thanks for the advice about a neck pillow. I got a nice one today that features a snap button that will help it stay in place & it's machine washable, too!
Update posted on...
March 8, 2017
Good morning to ALL the Heart ❤ Warriors::: I am busy putting my notebook together and reviewing the mass of documents I have accumulated in our so called paperless world. The one that I keep coming back to over and over is Adam's 5 critical questions answered for heart valve patients; this is 20 page gem is a download from the site. I used it for the questions when I interviewed heart surgeons with very good results. I was very wary of the medical system and as Adam Pick said, "Instead of doing their homework, some patients let the "Medical System" take over. Unfortunately, the medical system can dictate a direct path to surgical intervention without any thoughtful patient consideration." (Page 8)
A patient, Dewayne Epley said, "Don't be afraid to ask questions. No question is unimportant as long as it helps you get ready for things to come. Read as much as you can to become familiar with your procedures and options. The better prepared you are...The better your experience will be." (Page 13)
And finally, I am inspired by patient, Kathy Benson who said, "Don't gauge your surgery and recovery on others. Each surgery is unique and each patient will handle the things in a different manner. It seems that patients strive to become normal as fast as possible. What is normal? We will forever be heart surgery patients." (Page 16)
The fifth graders at the school where I work are doing a unit on the human body. Great posters on all the walls about the circulatory system.
ER visit today was a big surprise
Journal posted on March 6, 2017
I didn't feel well on Sunday and experienced symptoms like shortness of breath, light headedness & a dull ache in my chest. I couldn't really sing with everyone in church on Sunday and that got my attention! Today, I was at work and decided to call the cardiologist because the symptoms were continuing. Not good at all......My surgery is 3/14 and after having no symptoms, now I finally understand.
I left work, got advice from my cardiologist & headed to the ER. I am so glad I did. I got great care with lots of tests to rule out blood clots. My tests in late January really helped the ER doctor determine that I didn't have a blockage. He decided against a CAT scan because I already had a big blast of dye from the cardio angiogram. Having no symptoms and now this - WOW! I had a chest x-ray so that will save time & money during my pre-operation visit in just 6 days. If I get another shortness of breath episode then I will go back to the ER right away and see Dr. Riggs. He was a great communicator and I am very grateful. I am no longer in denial that I need this surgery and am thankful I have this heart valve community full of knowledgeable and caring people.
Hi everyone! My Saturday night excitement was buying a raised toilet seat. The town where I live has a thriving community sale page on Facebook - it's like a huge garage sale all the time and people post what they are selling with PHOTOS. Usually you just drive to their place and pick it up off the porch after leaving the money. Porch pick up is a new thing for me and at first, I thought it was odd and a bit unfriendly. My lucky find is new in an unopened box for only $6.00. See how thrilling this is....I need one and got it for a fantastic price. YES. YES. YES...
As I wait for my surgery, I know others in our online community are waiting patiently also. Be strong!
Countdown to surgery is now 11 days....
Journal posted on March 2, 2017
I like to be prepared and I guess it is one of the ways that I cope. I want to know more about discharge planning and called the hospital this afternoon and asked for more information now before my surgery. Unfortunately I was told they can't do anything without a doctor's order. I wish I could get more general ideas that I should plan for ahead of time. I guess I need more processing time for all these changes coming my way. I would welcome hearing practical ideas and suggestions that really worked for other heart warriors! I will take what I need and leave the rest. Sharing will help others too!
WelcomeToBasecamp.org at Providence Heart Institute
Journal posted on February 25, 2017
WelcomeToBasecamp.org is opening on March 6 on the Providence St. Vincent Campus. This is such good timing for me and everyone in the region. I hope I am referred to it when I have recovered enough from surgery. It looks like it's going to be wonderful. On Tuesday, March 7 I am attending Women's Tea & Talk with Dr. Lori Tam; her topic is Women & Heart Disease. I need the support now as 3/14 approaches!
I knew I needed to give myself a self-guided tour of St Vincent's Hospital ahead of time because I don't know the place. I am very glad I did. It is only 20 minutes from home! I called the floor charge nurse to ask about having music but was disappointed to learn I can't bring a CD player or anything that has to be plugged in. If I did, their electrician would have to check it out for safety. The policy is not to bring valuable items & I can accept that! I sure don't want to lose my phone where I store all my music. The good news is there is a music system in the room after I get out of ICU. My daughter & friends can help me with music & ear buds otherwise I will be happy with what the hospital provides.
Grateful for pre-surgery videos by Providence Heart Institut
Journal posted on February 20, 2017
This morning I watched three short instructional videos at home featuring life-like hospital settings for pain management, ICU, and breathing exercises. It helped me understand what's coming up and seems to be a well designed educational program. I have 21 more videos to watch so this is very comprehensive but thankfully, it is grouped into 4 manageable sections. As an English teacher, I really like this approach and definitely need this kind of support right now.
All my information gathering and consultations with surgeons made a difference. I was able to confidently make a decision and choose a surgeon! A time- consuming process? -- YES!
Now I am counting down and thankful I have 22 days to get ready and take charge of what I can. The Serenity Prayers works very well in this situation: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and Wisdom to know the difference::: by Reinhold Niebuhr. There are two more verses of this beloved prayer that are just as inspiring.
Although I am looking forward to meeting the heart surgeon tomorrow and hearing his opinions, I have so many unknowns that I feel apprehensive. I want to be true to myself and acknowledge my feelings as I move through them with God's help. I am thankful that I have sick leave and can take a day off to sort through what my results mean. I am grateful I have family and friends so I can talk things over and get the support I will need for the future.
I've read descriptions of the aorta valve replacement that is recommended for me but now that I have the Internet at home again, I was able to watch some real life surgeries and animations. Shocking and gruesome is the truth of it all. I felt that I needed to face those fears directly and acknowledge the hard physical work of the professionals in the operating room. It truly is amazing what the surgeons are able to do and the huge improvements that are coming our way every day. I am going to need to dig really deep for the courage to do this life-changing operation. I will have to lean on the Lord big time but He will be the one to get me through it and on to the other side of health. I know it's a progressive condition now and can no longer deny the importance of it. I finally understand there is no Rx to help the valve return to health. I am very thankful there are informative videos to watch at all these resource support sites like this site and many others. I really need this kind of info right now.
Building the support recovery team one call at a time
Journal posted on February 8, 2017
Today after work I had time for phone calls and found out the hospital has a guest house for family members at an affordable rate. I also found out about resource department at the hospital; the very kind person who answered the phone helped me look into cardiac support groups and other local resources using the internet. She was doing the navigating because I don't have the internet at home right now. I even made some phone calls to cousins who live far away and that was a good step. One day at a time makes it feel less overwhelming.
I like this photo because I was at work using a dragon puppet for a reading lesson with kindergartners. I had access to two dragons and two young boys in the group - twin dragons, twin boys or so we pretended and then the dragons became brothers. Puppets
Building a support team one person at a time
Journal posted on February 7, 2017
I was able to make some great connections with family, neighbors & some professional plus caring people in my faith community. I am encouraged by their comments and information. I had to be brave to even start the conversation but now that I have a better experience and understanding of what is going on in my heart, I am more prepared and more confident.
Second opinion consultation with heart surgeon - what questi
Journal posted on February 4, 2017
Next Tuesday on 2/7/17, I will see a second heart surgeon in the same practice and for a consultation about the congenital aorta valve replacement. The first surgeon said I don't need a bypass based on the echo cardio gram and the coronary angiogram done 1/27/17 so the professionals have current results. I hope someone has time to respond. I have Adam Pick's book and finished it last night.