Well yesterday marked 4 weeks since my surgery and things are progressing well. Aside from a small bout of recovery depression last week, and some abnormally low blood pressure, everything is going well. Still lot's of naps and sleep which is normal. Pain is almost all gone, with my Chest feeling tight and still "clicking", again all part of the healing process. Today I set a new personal best on my walk. 3.4 miles. Hoping to get that up to 5+ before long. My heart is responding well to the exercise and aside from exhaustion afterwards it's all been good. It's been a real gift to have the kids home for summer break as we have been able to spends some really good quality time playing backgammon (Thanks Chris D), doing puzzles, making model airplanes and just plain ol hanging out. Nurse Allie has still been my rock and is keeping the house in order, as well as her mom Salwa who came in last week to help out. For those of you heading into surgery soon, realize that you too will be at Post Op 1 Month before you know it and you will be wondering why were you worrying so much. I know it sounds easy, but remember you will get better day by day and your body is mean to heal itself, so please allow it to do so.
3 Weeks and 2 Days Post Op. 5K Run / Walk. Am I crazy or what?
Post Op Day 24 - Some Good Days and Some Bad Days
Journal posted on June 23, 2017
3 Weeks have passed since surgery and recovery is in full force. The Drs. were right, in that there will be some good days and some bad days. The past 10 days or so have been filled with both. The first part of this week was full of naps, exhaustion and fatigue. To the point where I'd wake up at 9am and then take a 3-4 nap at noon. Apparently all part of the recovery process. What I'm learning is that my body knows what it needs way more then what I think it needs, so I'm listening to it. After 3+ days of feeling mentally low and exhausted it started to get me down in the dumps. So I figured I would break the mold and get out and walk. So Walk I did at the 2017 San Diego Corporate Dash 5K Run/Walk. http://thecorporatedash.com. It was great event and I gathered with my colleagues of The PEERS Network. http://www.peersnetwork.org. I was able to walk the entire course finishing the 5K in 60 Min 52 Seconds, a 19.38 minute mile pace. It was a great time and just being surrounded by happy people enjoying the San Diego weather and supporting charity, well my "troubles" seemed to drift a way. Woke up at 9:30am today feeling it and I think I'll take the day off from walking. Special Thanks again to all my friends at PEERS for being there for me at the finish line cheering me on. It was a great moment for me and one that won't be forgotten. For all of you who are getting ready for surgery, or are in the early stages of recovery, please know that it will get better and to listen to your body, but to not be afraid to get out there and do it. You body will do what it is capable of, your mind however is what will make or break it. Seize the day and remember Heart Beats Matter.
The "Cough" Pillow. One of the High Tech devices that the Hospital sent home with me to help recovery. Doesn't look like much, but man when you need it, it comes in handy.
Post Op Day 13
Journal posted on June 12, 2017
Checking in on my start of day 13 Post Op and one week at home. For the most part recovery has been good and getting used to the new norm. The Doctors all said you will have some good days and bad days. Didn't quite know how that would manifest itself with me, but last night my body told me to SLOW down. After some visitors we had for dinner, I laid down in the recliner and took be evening meds, and just like the anastasia I was out. Slept from 8pm and woke up at 10am. 14hours of hard sleep that I think my body and mind needed. Not sure where today will lead me, but I know for sure I have to do my walks, and stairs. From there we shall see. Overall the heart is feeling and working well. Still managing the pain, and making sure I'm up on my feet as much as possible. The incision is healing well and my sternum has finally stopped clicking when I move. Well most of your are at work right now, and The Price is Right just came back on. Nurse Allie is doing great and out playing tennis right now, so things are slowing coming back to normal. Just wanted you to know I've Got This! and to thank you all still for your concern.
Woke up today after a 10 1/2 hour sleep laying fairly flat and even able to move throughout the night. I consider this a simple and big victory as it's by far the best rest I've had in the past 10 days. Went to the Coumadin (blood thinner) clinic yesterday to start that 3 month relationship. Coumadin is a blood thinner that is required for 3 months after tissue valve replacement and it's main job is to prevent blood clots from forming. The valve choice I made was a tissue vs a mechanical. I was lucky to receive a bovine (cow valve) so feel free to call me Mooobey from here on out. Had I chose a mechanical I would be commited to Coumadin for life which was not right for me.
Since my return home, I've been progressing well on my daily exercises and am monitoring them on a daily basis. Here are a few:
- Round trip time to mail box 3min 26sec. Day one was 9 minutes even.
- Walk around the block 1600 feet. Day one was 400 feet.
- Stairs: 3 round trip. Day one was 0.
- Total Steps = 4857 (2.19mi).
Lots more to accomplish but overall doing well. Allie and I can't thank you enough for all of the love and support you've given to us. It's been the fuel for me to continue the fight.
For those of you who don't know me and have been following on this wonderful site, I want to thank you, as had it not be for this forum I would have been lost. I spent 100s of hours over 2 months learning and reading about what's to come from the experiences of others. This was a gift of a lifetime as it allowed me to tackle this bump.
After a solid night sleep on the recliner downstairs, I woke up determined to get upstairs and see what that part of the house looks like. So after powering down some meds and a heart healthy breakfast (fruit, Greek yogurt and 1 scrambled egg) I rang nurse Allie to be behind me as I took my journey up the Stairs. Made it up to the top (14 stairs) with only one stop. Got to the top and gazed down on a major accomplishement, which 2 weeks ago was not even a thought in my mind. Nurse Allie helped me get showered and then a shave and brush of the chompers. Made it back down the stairs to then collapse on the recliner feeling like I just went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson (I won btw). Can't still manage in my head how fast I used to be at these daily activities and how easy physically each one of them were. So today's big lession, patience, and appreciation.
Came home yesterday to start the real part of recovery. The closest thing I could equate the experience to is the day you leave the hospital after the birth of your fist child. You want to leave the hospital so bad, but a part of you just wants to stay. In my case the care I received this past week was as much emotional than physical, so the fear was how to replace that. Again, I've been so blessed to have both of my parents, my sister and of course my Hero of a wife. The first meal at home was amazing, Buca Di Beppo, generously provided to us by our great friends Dina and Jeff Fickinger. After getting settled in and learning to use my new recliner, and TV we had a bunch of laughs and enjoyed the Warriors victory. Can't wait for each day to be better and stronger than the day before. I still can't believe how weak I am and how much I'm having to relearn how to do the simplest of things, just so I don't hurt. Off now to the first of many follow up appointments. Thank you all again for every ounce of support, it's help make the difference in my attitude and capacity to turn such a traumatic event into one of peace and humility. Would love to hear from you as I know there will be long days ahead, so please don't be afraid to reach out. Love you all. John. I've got this.
Hi friends! So humbled by all the love, support and prayers! It was surely felt by us. Just an update, John is doing great! He graduated from the intensive care unit today and into a regular cardiac recovery room! We are taking it hour by hour but he is on his well on his way to full recovery going thru times of extreme exhaustion and pain while slowly getting the strength to do all his normal activities on his own, brushing teeth, eating, and the extreme highlight of his day, took his first steps or as he calls it his victory lap around the nurses station today! To say he was sooooo happy to be out of that hospital bed is an understatement! We can't thank you all enough for everything! You all kept us going thru a very tough time !❤️Allie
I just heard that our mom and dad were coming around the corner in ICU a few minutes ago, and lo and behold there was John taking his first post-op walk. He'll be transferred out of ICU in an hour or so, and is well on his way to recovery!
John on Day 2 post op. Everybody in ICU is saying how well he's doing. We're so thankful!
Ready to roll!
Journal posted on May 30, 2017
Hi, friends. I'm John's sister, Joy. He asked me to check in with you all during the next few days while he's otherwise occupied. John's wife, Allie, mom and dad are here with me at the heart center, and John is about ready to head to the OR. He's comforable (hungry!) and ready to go. He sends his love to you all, and is greatful for your friendship and support! I'll be in touch again soon.
Thanks to my buddy Bret Callan for my uniform I'm going to wear the day I show up for surgery. Heart Beats do Matter and mine will be beating for a long time to come.
Journal posted on May 19, 2017
This week I had my Pre-Op appointment and learned all about what will happen the day of surgery, which they call Post Op Day 0. It was very informative and gave both Allie and I a little more comfort on some levels that although this will be a big deal, they have it very well under control. The best part about the meeting was how great the surgical team is at UCSD. They are very patient and family focused and gave us some great information. The thing that stood out the most was their focus on recovery. They plan on getting me up and about quickly and making sure I'm working hard to gain my strength. They told Allie that the worst thing she could do would be to "Baby" me when I come home. She liked that and I was a little bummed, but we both understood the reasoning and how much of this recovery will be on me and my mental focus to get up and moving. There are only 3 restrictions I have after leaving the Hospital assuming all goes as planned. 1. I can not Drive for 8 weeks. 2. I can not lift more than 10lbs for 8 weeks. 3. I can not submerge my self in water for 8 weeks. Other than that anything my heart and body will let me do, I can try and do it. The day ended on a special note as I came home to a surprise give from an amazing friend of mine, Bret Callan. Bret don't worry, I've got this and I'm wearing that shirt into the hospital and damn sure I'll be wearing it out of the hospital. You all have been amazing, and I thank GOD for giving me such an amazing support group of people. I love you all, and will be in touch soon. 11 Days and counting. See you all soon. With Love. John and Allie.
I wanted to share my journal with you so you can understand more about my condition and upcoming surgery. Please follow my surgery and recovery through this journal as it will be updated frequently. I hope you find this helpful and informative. I know it’s definitely helping me in managing what is to come.
At birth I was born with a Heart Murmur, and at that time the doctors said it would go away and I would be fine. Fast forward 30 years during a yearly physical, my GP picked up the murmur again. I was referred to a cardiologist and was diagnosed with a bi-cuspid aortic valve, which at the time they said would have to be replaced some time in my late 50’s - 60’s.
So for the next 18 years I lived symptom and problem free and was monitored with yearly echocardiograms (ultrasounds) to measure my heart functions and size. Over that time the valve became more calcified and stenotic and slowly was deteriorating. It was not until 6months ago that I started feeling the symptoms, and knew that when I became winded taking my 6yr old son up the stairs it was time to revisit my cardiologist.
After a stress (treadmill) echo, chest CT scan, angiogram, and some blood work, it was confirmed I was a candidate for AVR (Aortic Valve Replacement) and needed to schedule meetings with a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. After interviewing 3 surgeons at 3 different hospitals I’ve chosen to have the surgery at the UC San Diego Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center in La Jolla with Dr. Michael Madani who is the Director of the Cardiovascular program at UCSD. The address of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center is 9434 Medical Center Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037.
On of the main reasons I choose Dr. Madani was his incredible calm, confidence and complex surgical expertise. During my pre-surgical visit with Dr. Madani he saw something in my angiogram films that made him suspicious of an anomalous right coronary artery. If abnormal it would need to be fixed, but also might change the surgical procedure options available to me. After another Chest CT scan, this time with contrast, his assumption was correct and I will also need to have my right coronary artery repaired.
The good news is that the AVR is a very common surgery, and has been done for over 50+ years. I feel very confident in the Dr., Hospital, techniques, nurses etc. So feel good that my mind is strong and I should recover very well given my age and overall physical condition.
The surgery is scheduled for Tuesday May 30th. Assuming there are no complications, the typical recovery from this surgery could have me in the ICU for 2 days, the Cardiac recovery unit for an additional 4 or 5 days and then off to home for the rest of my recovery journey. I will be out of work for approx. 6-8 weeks. I will not be able to drive for 8 weeks, not able to take a bath or swim for 8 weeks and not be able to lift more than 5 lbs for 8 weeks. This is due to aid in the healing of my sternum, muscles and nerves. By the time I leave the hospital, my heart will be stable and strong, and I will be able to do what it allows me to do. My guess it will take longer than I want, but I will allow me to heal properly and not rush it.
I am blessed to have a such a wonderful support group of friends and family, which gives me the strength to be able to deal with this bump in the road My wife Allie, has been so helpful and supportive and just amazes me on how much she can handle. I promise I’ll be a great patient to her, but I encourage you all to keep in touch with her and encourage and support her through this time.
I’ll be updating the site often and hope you find this helpful to keep tabs on me.
With abundant love,