Tuesday 11pm..2 weeks after surgery and Jim is doing very well. Doesn't tire quite so easily now and is getting by with only 1 or 2 naps during the day. Still has stiffness and muscle cramping in his shoulder blades which is the worse pain that he has. Fortunately his incisions don't really bother him too much. Yesterday one of his chest tube incisions (which are about 3/4" long) opened when he took a shower. Cleaning and peroxide was all that was needed and it has healed back over today. I'm sure it will gradually close and be fully healed in another week.
Have had a couple of visitors this last week which Jim really enjoyed. At least he has no problem staying awake now!
Still monitoring his blood thinner, so far so good. Is slowly getting more appetite back but not fully yet.
This afternoon he came out dressed in his work shirt and shorts. Was going for a ride with the boys to look at a pond site. I told him it was alright to play like he was working for a couple hours but not to get any ideas going! He knows he is not ready for that yet. In time.
Had protime lab this am (checks the level of his blood thinner). All is good. Had to sit on a bench for about 20 minutes afterwards waiting for me while I ran an errand. Too much...had quite a bit of back pain on the way home. He can't seem to tolerate sitting in any position unless he has a comfortable backrest as it aggravates his back pain. For people that are more muscular, back pain is a very common problem. When you have open heart surgery they use instruments to "spread" your ribs during surgery causing alot of strain to the muscles. This seems to bother him more than the 3 large incisions he has in his inner thigh area from the surgeon harvesting veins for his 2 bypass's and also more painful than the incisions made under his sternum where his chest tubes were inserted. Hard to believe they are not more painful. He did go without his pain meds last night, only using Tylenol. That's a good thing. Everything else the same, appetite etc.
10:30pm...We arrived home mid afternoon Monday. Slept the first night in bed, that didn't work. He was very uncomfortable the next day so last night he slept in his recliner...had a better nights sleep. In the past 2 days Jim has been learning his limitations. We have been briefly out and about (Dr's appt, bloodwork even a short run to Hy-Vee to stock up on grapes which is one of Jim's favorite foods and about his only craving since his surgery.) Today we actually went to the office so I could do payroll but ended up being there about an hour and a half. We then ran into Menards to pick up a couple things. Jim had to go sit out in the truck as it was a bit too much. Even though he is not doing anything strenuous it is way too early to tolerate much activity. He has been having the most pain in his back and between his shoulder blades which is pretty common for his type of surgery. He toughs it out during the day managing it with Tylenol but does opt for a stronger pain med at bedtime. We take each day at a time which includes finding the right balance of activity and rest to keep him healthy. His appetite is steadily improving although far from 100% yet. I gave him his phone yesterday which he swore would have gone into hibernation from not being used for a week, already had phone calls. I might have to take it back. He is staying awake much more now so I expect by next week he will be fighting boredom. I have stashed away several "Our Iowa" magazines over the past few months to save for those boring days. Also have Netflix so he can take in a movie now and then but I expect movies will take a back seat to ESPN, oh joy. Good thing I have a long to-do list for myself that I planned to work on while I have to be home:) To wrap up for tonight, Jim is doing well, moving around a little easier each day and is pretty mindful of his limitations.
Noon...With the help of a few pillows, Jim slept fairly well. We went to mass at St. Mary's hospital at 8:30am. It was a pretty long walk to get to the chapel and it took alot out of Jim. Brandon found a wheelchair for the walk back to the hospital lab. Jim gladly accepted the help:) Thankfully he does know his limitations. Still doesn't have much appetite. Ordered a fruit plate for breakfast. I encouraged him to also eat some protein so he ate a piece of sausage. We will have a pretty scheduled menu at home just so I can make sure he gets the nourishment he needs.
Took pain medication and laid back down when we returned to the motel. Had a nice nap. Awake now. Just taking it easy :) Something Jim's needs to learn to do!
Before being released Jim had a chest x-ray, EKG, echocardiogram and bloodwork. All came back positive and he was released at noon today. Amazing isn't it, just 5 days for a full open heart surgery! Jim was what they catagorized as a "rapid recovery" patient because of his young age, good physical shape and the fact that his heart was in excellent shape aside from the leaking valve. There was a little 2 y/o boy in the same unit that had been there for 3 months...we feel very fortunate.
Although he really enjoyed the nurses and the back rubs, Jim was ready to go. We can't say enough about the care we received at Mayo. Their cardiac staff are top notch and there is nothing that is overlooked. We checked into a hotel in Rochester for the rest of the weekend. He does go back to St. Mary's lab tomorrow and Monday mornings for bloodwork to monitor his blood thinner medication then we will head home sometime on Monday. He is doing very well, still has some pain that he takes medication for but this is to be expected with the extra activity of the day. He does still tired easily but we are going to take it easy this week and maybe he will be up for company by the end of the week.
Friday noon: Providing everything goes as planned Jim will be released tomorrow. He sleeps alot so still needs alot of rest but he is getting around well as long as he limits it to short walks, etc. Doesn't have much appetite but the food here is so-so. We will be staying in Rochester thru Monday in a motel with the kids and to stay close to St. Mary's hospital for a couple days following release. Dr. appt on Tuesday.
7:30pm...Good day as far as tube removal. They did decide to remove the chest tubes this evening. He didn't flinch when they were pulled out but when I asked him if it was painful he quickly said yes. He's a tough one:)
He continues to do well with the tasks that are given him but he sleeps a great deal of the time, again very normal as his body has been thru a lot.
The boys reluctantly went home this morning. I think they had a hard time leaving their dad even though he is doing well. He just looks so vulnerable and I think it made them feel good to be able to help Jim in any way they could. I don't think people can know what it's like to be in this situation until they are in it. Val remains here, Jeremy and little Alex are on their way to join us. Brandon and Brian's families will be joining us tomorrow. I think Jim will like to see his grandkids even if it is for a short time as I don't know how long he will stay awake, haha.
1:30pm...Things continue to improve. His neck line was removed this am as well as another catheter. They are leaving his chest tubes in as he is still having a bit more fluid draining off than they allow for tube removal. He continues to be eager to walk and does fantastic with that.. however combined with his pain meds he falls asleep pretty frequently and sometimes in the middle of conversations :) All to be expected. He feels better each day however he may or may not feel as well tomorrow after the chest tube removal which is actually pretty uncomfortable (painful is probably more like it but you know men). They said they can add an additional pain med if he needs it.
All in all he is doing great! Dr. Suri was in again this morning and said if all goes well they will probably release him during the weekend.
He is waiting for his message and will probably take another nap so we will return to see him in a couple hours.
10:45pm....Jim walked x3 today. Still has all of his tubes but some of them should be removed tomorrow. Is having more pain between his shoulder blades and some with the incision in his leg where they harvested a vein for his bypass. Minimal discomfort with his chest incision. The nurses told him the pain in his shoulder blades may be at it's worse tomorrow. Between that and the fact that some of the tube removals are pretty painful I expect he may be using more pain medicine than he did today.
He is progressing to small amounts of solid foods. Food is fair from what I have seen. The boys talked about sneaking him some "good" food but I think Jim would turn it away, he is being incredibly self disciplined! He did get a back rub this evening from one of the nurses, he loved it :) On schedule for a professional message tomorrow..geesh, who said hospitals were so bad! Kids are staying up here again tonight. Planned on leaving today but couldn't get themselves to head home yet. Very devoted to their dad. They are leaving tomorrow though to pack up their families and head back up for the weekend.
2:00pm....Jim has now been moved to their "step down" unit. Still has all his tubes including the neck catheter. More alert, took his first short, slow walk and ate soup, a few grapes and some raspberry ice. Taking everything slow. His pain is mainly in his chest area however he does not push his pain medicine button as often as he is allowed. We are going to leave him alone for awhile this afternoon so they can change dressings etc. He tires out easily and needs to get caught up on his rest. So far so good.
10:00am...Jim is up in a chair. Still has all tubes attached but they will be taking them off one by one in the next 2 or 3 days. The line into his neck that goes directly into his heart is coming out this morning. Then hopefully the 2 drain tubes in his upper abdomen will be removed this afternoon. His steak and eggs this am were yellow jello and red juice :) He is alert but still tired. There is someone doing something constantly even thoughout the night so he hasn't had any quality sleep yet. We are limiting our visit length so that he can rest instead of feeling like he has to talk to us. He should be going for his first walk later today. All in all things are progressing well.
8:15pm...Dr. Suri came in and said everything was as they expected. They had no surprises. They were finally able to get Jim off the ventilator at 8:15pm. It took a bit longer than they anticipated as they had to wait for all his "levels" to be in acceptable range. Most important was his oxygen saturation which was a bit slow to respond. Dr. said could have been slower because of the amount of field dust he breathes in on pretty much a daily basis. He can talk a bit now but it does take some effort. He did show a smile when the nurse told him all his family were here and we were all staring at him :)
11:00pm...Right now he is getting the rest he needs after a very long day. Still hooked up to alot of tubes which will be removed one by one in the next 2 to 3 days if all goes well. We still have a ways to go and he certainly is not out of the woods yet but the cardiac team is pleased and optimistic for a quick recovery.
This very tired girl is headed to bed. Goodnight everyone.
3:35...we were allowed to see him but he is still sedated and intubated. By 6:00 he should be awake and the breathing tube should be removed. The surgery was a success! His mitral valve was repaired and so far he has trivial to 0% valve regurgitation. Everything in recovery is good so far. Keep up the prayers, we are over the first hurdle.
Note: cellphone reception in hospital is not so great for some of us so we will try to journal as much as possible.
11:00am. Just finished praying with the hospital chaplin. We are still waiting to get word that he is off the heart-lung machine. Expectedly, we are feeling a bit anxious. Brandon is beyond anxious...he is our worry wort in the family. He's pacing.
9:21...Jim is now on the by-pass machine. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is a machine that is taking the place of his heart and lungs during surgery. It keeps his blood oxygenated and pumping thru his body since his heart is stopped during the valve repair.
11:00pm....Hello family and friends. We made the drive to Rochester Sunday and spent the night at a hotel that is connected via subway to Mayo's clinics. Jim underwent bloodwork, a chest xray and an EKG today then met with Dr. Suri's PA for our consult. We are now at a hotel across the street from St. Mary's Hospital. He reports at 5:30am so we are assuming he will be Dr. Suri's first surgery. Brandon, Valerie and Brian arrived at 8:30pm. They were a bit late because they made a stop in Lourdes at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church. They said it is almost identical to Haverhill ICC. After a nice dinner we are back at the hotel. Before he goes to bed he has to shower with Hibiclens and again in the morning. He also has to put an antibiotic ointment into his nostrils both tonight and in the morning...he's thrilled.
Well, off to bed. Will post updates tomorrow as soon as I am able. Please say a prayer that Jim has a successful surgery! Goodnight, Lori