8-weeks post OP mountain bike ride - did 30 miles with 5,100 feet total elevation gain - loved it!
First week back to work
Journal posted on August 20, 2016
I just finished my first week back to work, and it went without any problems. It felt like nothing has happened. I know that everyone recovers at a different speed - for me getting back to "normal" helps with recovery.
I also had my follow-up visit with my surgeon, and everything was going very well, my lungs are clear, and all other values are good. I also feel great, have energy, can walk every day 5-7 miles, and I sometimes wonder just three weeks post surgery if I ever had surgery.
I would rate myself at over 110% - my heart is performing better than before as I can climb any stairs/hill without limitation - and enjoy this a lot. I can't wait to be back on my bicycle, but I have to wait for another five weeks. My mechanical On-X valve is clicking away (I don't hear a thing, or maybe I have already learned to ignore any possible noise) and it seems my INR is stable, and my Coumadin dose (about 7 mg/day) is dialed in. I also purchased my Coagocheck XS meter and started testing myself (really easy) - very reassuring as it allows me to build confidence. I feel the anticoagulation clinic is redundant and a waste of time - so I will try to get out of there soon. Even after this very short period, I feel already that self-management is the way to go and will allow me to stay in range - which I cannot confirm for the anticoagulation clinic - they put me at the beginning for days on 2.5 mg - my INR tanked, and I had to take shots.
I decided that cardiac rehab for me would not be necessary, and I will not pursue this.
My surgeon told me that I am ok to drive after four weeks - so that would be the end of next week. It seems that some of you got different directions - maybe it is because of my partial/mini-sternotomy.
BTW - I also looked into Cleveland Clinic but then learned that an experienced surgeon started May this year at OHSU, and I decided that surgery in Portland, Oregon became a viable option. Based on my personal experience I can confirm that this was the right decision, and I enjoyed the five days in the hospital just 25 minutes away from home and the visits from my family and friends.
Spent half a day at work on Tuesday - and it felt great. If everything goes well I am planning on returning to work next week. I will scale up my daily working hours for a week or two and will see how it goes. I have an office job - so that makes it easier.
I enjoy the long walks that I have with my wife and regularly get my 13,000 or so steps in per day. I am still amazed how well I feel and hope that it will stay this way. The new valve works great and my heart takes full advantage of it I can feel it on the uphill sections were I used to feel that something was starting to max out - but not anymore. My neck/shoulder is still a little bit stiff, but nothing serious.
The final tube and pacemaker wires came out today. I did not feel any pain, the physician who did this had to pull pretty hard on these tiny wires - great they did not break. After the bandage was removed I can now also see my incision - which is nice and short. I was able - on this quiter floor - to hear my valve during the night. Very reassuring - not annoying. Oh, and they let me take a shower which felt great as well. I also could look at an X-ray that they took today that showed the valve and the closing plates and wires.
The final task is to dial in the INR - everything else looks pretty good.
I am now in the step down unit and walked already several one mile lapses around the 11th floor on the Kohler building - that felt great this morning at 5 am. Most likely the last tubes and wires will come out today.
Surgery went well, I am on Tylenol (feel no pain) and was allowed to go on three walks today with 5 lapses for my last one on the 12th floor with great views of Portland. I got a 23 mm valve and feel great. Quite a few lines came out as well. I know that there could be set-backs and changes but feel that I got of to a good start. Yesterday on my day of surgery I was obviously not that awake but I do remember my wife and children visiting me. I have been "downgraded" in my care level and will change stations tomorrow since they had no open bed. I valve had a really large opening but the surgeon Jai Raman mentioned that the level of excersice (bicycling) helped to compensate for it and was a great preparation for surgery. I also lost some weight (at least 15 pounds) since Christmas when I learned about my valve condition - I hope that will help also to get back into shape. I got a minimally invasive surgery and hope that this will help with recovery.
Took today of from work and enjoyed the sun. Was even able to go on a 30 mile bike ride - probably the last for some time. I hope this is what will keep me motivated - tried to memorize as much as possible. Summers in Oregon are fantastic - too bad I have to check into the hospital tomorrow at 5:30 am.
Getting now ready - have check in the hospital at 5:30 am.