I just passed 4-weeks since my surgery and everything physical is perfect, at least appearing so from the outside. I'm walking almost every day, provided that I'm not tired from other activities. When I over-do it -- I get very tired, the only physical clue left that I had a significant surgery -- but I have no pain, and the incisions are almost fully healed. I am eager to start driving and getting out of the house on my own steam. Only thing is that at least every other day I get slammed with depression -- chest-pressing, heart "hurting" depression -- for seemingly no good reason. I am going to start a personal journal regarding when it happens, what preceded it, and how long it lasts. Maybe that will help me beat it. I hope so, because it becomes debilitating. I've heard it sometimes happens with heart surgery patients, but I don't understand why and what I've got to do to beat it. My "normal" life, once resumed, will be stressful (Mom care-taking), but I have plans to make it less so. Also, even though I seem to be doing so well physically, I have signed up for card rehab, because it might help with the depression too. So, does anyone out there have any ideas about this or a similar person experience? What the heck is happening?!!
All is still well. Yesterday I had the post-op visit to the surgeon's office. I was interviewed and then examined by the head nurse. She also showed me my recent chest x-ray, on which I could see the annulus band used to repair my valve. Wow. The nurse told me that while min invasive may provide a quicker recovery than a sternal, it is typically more painful due to the muscle tissue cut through to get to the heart. I can only say that must not be true in my case, because the tramadol and Tylenol are working very well for managing my pain. One of my friends had a sternal, and she needed much stronger drugs. After my appointment with the surgeon's nurse, she gave us a copy of the surgeon's notes regarding what transpired during surgery. Very interesting -- it included a comment that the phrenic nerve was preserved upon opening the pericardium. Perhaps that explains the low level of pain. In all, I believe my surgeon did a masterly job in repairing my valve. I am grateful, so very very grateful.
Jen's husband Tom here. She wanted me to let you know when she got out of surgery. Her mitral valve was repaired with the minimally invasive approach. She is now coming out of anesthesia in the CVICU. We will post more after she gets to the step down unit tonight. Thank you for all your warm thoughts, best wishes, humor, and care. It really helped Jen to have this community as she prepared for this.
Thank you so much, Tom.
Tomorrow is the big day for me. Like many others, my feelings and thoughts seem to include a wide range of ups and downs. But here's where I am now -- Regardless of the outcome -- being positive rather than negative, feeling excitement rather than anxiety, being kind to both myself and those that care for me --- plays forward and makes a propitious impact in this world, in the little part of this big world that we each occupy. So, given that, I will do my best to go into the operating room smiling, feeling hope rather than fear. My many thanks and love to my family and friends who have supported me; and my new friends at this wonderful, so very helpful site. We're all going to be fine.
Today I feel it is really going to happen. I am going to have heart surgery. I met with two different nurses at two different locations (one representing the surgeon and the other the hospital, I suppose). The second one met with my husband and I for almost 2 hours. She took from me the white patient folder which I am supposed to take with me to all meetings and the hospital. She opened it up and asked where was the Patient Resources Handbook. I thought it was in there but it wasn't. I thought she was looking sternly at me. I felt like back in elementary school when I forgot to bring my homework page. So, of course, I burst into tears!!! She came over immediately and put her arms around me and gave me comfort. Just what I needed. It was okay after all and all went well after that. Turned out she has 5 cats, just like me (and we are NOT crazy cat people, just suckers for a whiskered face!) In conclusion, each encounter with hospital/surgical staff is making me feel more prepared, even emotionally. Yet, you know -- I'm still asking for that happy sleepy time cocktail while waiting on the gurney!
May each of you find comfort.
Just got word from surgeon's office that based on test results, we can move forward with surgery on the 7th. There had been a concern regarding an infection, but it appears to be cleared up. My sister has taken over care of my mother and today is my first day for just "me care" in quite a while. I changed my profile picture to show who I am -- what I truly love to do (bad hair day and all!). I paint in pastels and today plan to sit in the sun first and then go to the studio and paint. I am nervous but want to invest in other distractions today!
Stay well everyone.
Met with four friends today at a luncheon scheduled especially so I could make it. It was a wonderful time. We laughed and cried. I so needed that! What I learned -- No matter what else is going on, never turn down an opportunity to spend time in the company of good friends. It will not be time wasted.
My Mom is on my mind. In January 2014 my brother died suddenly of a heart attack. He was the primary caregiver for my 89-year old Mom, and both lived close to each other in Florida. My Mom sold her home and moved to an apartment close to my home in Virginia. I became her primary caregiver. On the outside she appears to be strong regarding my upcoming surgery. Last night, however, she cried aloud while with me, admitting that she feels always close to tears and that she still misses my brother terribly. I know this is very hard on her, and she is indeed depressed. I don't know how to make it easier (I do assure her that I will be fine and give her information to support that), and I worry about the stress affecting her own health (she has congestive heart failure). Does anyone out there have any advice from experiencing close family member depression regarding the upcoming heart surgery? Thank you.
I am having trouble finding the time to do what is important to me before my surgery date. I am my Mom's primary caregiver, so I manage two households. The challenge for me is to pare down and just address what is truly most important. And of course accept that it all won't get done, at least not by me!
I did get Adam's book and have been reading it. It helps.