Well, I'm almost "back". Have had two lengthy days out shopping and traveling, and was bushed at the end of them both; but, did ok. Only problem now is itching around healing incisions and I apparently shouldn't have installed fluorescent light bulbs in the garage when the old ones burnt out, as the stretch to install them has me pretty sore on the right side of my chest, where the incisions were. Can't complain much, since I did it to myself. Not using any pain pills at present. Have started cardiac rehab and will stay at it for about two months to build up stamina. All in all, I think it's gone very well.
Surgeon says I'm doing fine and he doesn't need to see me again, unless my regular cardiologist notes some issue. Electro-physiology cardiologist says I'm doing fine and took away the Life Vest (defibrillator vest)---halleluiah (that contraption may save your life; but, it will also drive you nuts)---and he says no plan to add implanted defibrillator/pacemaker or to try another ablation. He thinks I'll do fine. I still need to see my regular cardiologist, scheduled in three weeks. As to how I'm doing, I'm much stronger; but, still wear out quicker than I had hoped. I have enough chest soreness that sleeping has been a chore, bouncing between the bed and a Lazy-Boy; but, slept the last two nights, which are the first full nights of sleep since I came home. Everything is healing nicely, even though I look like a lost a knife fight. I can already tell that I will be stronger when healed. All is going pretty well.
Well, the surgery came...I slept thru it...don't really remember ICU; but, they had me up walking right away. I remember day two and three as being pretty good. There was soreness; but, the meds worked fine. I felt stronger walking than prior to the surgery. Unfortunately, I came out with three chest tubes and on day five, they inserted another one to take care of air building up on the chest cavity and not where the lungs could handle it. The insertion of the new tube was the worst pain of the whole ordeal. This made my expected 4-6 day hospitalization become 15 days; but, I came home last Monday and am feeling much improved this week. I've had some ankle swelling, which was fixed by diuretics. I can say that there is soreness, but not significant. I can walk; but, my stamina is not yet back to normal. I'm wearing a "Life Vest" which is really a vest with a built-in defibrillator, in case my heart goes off on a VTT tear while healing. I'm officially told that after healing, my heart will be much stronger than it's been in ages; but, until it heals, I have a higher risk of a heart attack, thus the LifeVest. The "before & after" pictures clearly indicate that I needed this surgery; I was told that I was only getting 45-50% blood flow through the valve, at best. The surgeon - - the greatest! Did a wonderful job. The hospital staff - - outstanding support while I was there. I guess in summary I'd advise anyone needing a mitral valve repair to go for it; get the best surgeon and hospital you can find in your area; get in the best shape you can before the surgery; use the meds when they even hint of being needed; get off the pain meds as soon as you can after you get home (I used meds for one day, and now pain is controlled with Tylenol and an occasional hot-pad). Glad I did it!
Was diagnosed with Mitral Prolapse and atrial fibrilation in 1999, and started with meds to slow the heart rate. In 2001, I had my first cardioversion, which worked great for two days, at which time I went back into a-Fib. Meds seemed to work pretty well until late 2006, when the regurgitation apparently worsened and I became a little short-winded. In 2008, I had a VTAC episode, leading to a successful battery of tests and ventral ablation, which settled the VTAC and continued meds handled the A-fib. The VTAC reoccurred in 2013, leading to another (unsuccessful) ventral ablation and several experiments with drug combinations. I went onto Sotalol in Spring of 2014 and had another cardioversion - - also unsuccessful. Currently, the view is that a mitral valve repair will help the valve problem and also help the a-Fib problem. It is unlikely to fix the VTAC; but, perhaps that can be controlled with meds. A bit nervous about the whole event, now scheduled for the latter half of August; but, I think I have a great surgeon and hospital lined up. I'm led to believe that in a year, I'll think I'm a new person; but, that it may take 6-12 months to really get full recovery. I'm in pretty good health otherwise, so I'm optimistic....but nervous; at 67 years old, I'd like to be around healthy but don't relish the whole idea of open heart surgery. Want to learn more about what to expect during recovery. What will I be able to do? Unable to do? etc.
AUGUST 1 Update:
Well, the vacation trips with the grandkids went fine; I just got a little winded at times (chasing them thru parks and beaches). Last week completed pre-surgery testing; I had a pulmonary function test to assure that my lungs were healthy and a cardiac catherization to assure no "surprises" during surgery. Both came back ok, so it appears that I'm teed up for the surgery, now scheduled for Aug 25th. Still nervous; but, comforted by comments from bloggers and those I've met who went through this earlier....and trusting my surgeon who is very experienced. Thanks for all the comments from well-wishers!