Last night, while reading a bedtime story, my 8 year-old son asked me, "Mom, when they fixed your heart, how did they do it? Did they take it out, fix it, and put it back in?"
"Yes, that's what they did." I said, plainly.
For the next few seconds, we both pondered in silence that simple yet unbelievably complex image.
Indeed, one year ago today I had my mitral and tricuspid valves repaired by Dr. Adams at Mt. Sinai. To Dr. Adams and my current cardiologist - heartfelt thank yous for this second chance at a full and active life. To my family, friends, church, and many, many others, thank you for helping me through the most awful week of my life... and then some.
If I had to point to a silver lining in this experience, I would have to say that aside from improving my health, OHS revealed a strength in me I never knew I had. Most everyone knows the feeling of having such a "bad day" that they feel like they can't make it through the day. Truly, with open heart surgery, there were many times when I didn't think I would make it through the next 10 seconds, let alone the entire day. But I did.. and then some. Fellow HVJers .. know what I mean?
While my health is far from perfect, I can honestly say I no longer suffer from palpitations, shortness of breath, and cardiac-related fatigue. I did learn at one point that my repair leaks a bit, but at this point I 'll take it.
Best wishes to those anticipating the big day, and to those currently in recovery. I pray for all of you daily. KR
Three months ago I was confined to Mt. Sinai hospital, having had my mitral and tricuspid valves repaired early on a Monday morning in mid-May.
As with many of us, since my surgery I have had my share of ups and downs. On the plus side, I have resumed most of my pre-surgery duties: I am back to being a full-time mom to our 7 year old, walking our 65 lb. energetic lab, grocery shopping, vacuuming, etc... all chores which involve steady upper body strength.
On the down side, I have been troubled with either a high pulse and low blood pressure, or a respectable blood pressure and a galloping pulse. After three changes to my metoprolol and levoxyl doses, I feel I may finally have hit upon a winning combination. In all honesty, this has been tedious, frustrating, and a bit depressing.
Presently I am in cardiac rehab; three days/week I toil with fellow scar bearers as we feverishly work the Nu Step. The rehab staff has been great to me, and I do feel they are helping me with both my confidence level and my cardiac reconditioning.
My incision site has recently become a bit of a concern; I was referred to a dermatologist today as the top of my incision seems to be getting redder, and it is still super sensitive to touch. All in all, I know things could be much worse, but sometimes I wish I were one of those folks running half marathons at the 5 week mark.
A few other thoughts: I continue to be ever so thankful for my wonderful husband and his unlimited patience with this experience. In addition, I thank many friends for their ongoing love and support. One thing's for sure: having OHS certainly confirms for you who loves you and who your family and friends are.
God Bless all those anticipating surgery and those in those first few days of recovery. Stay strong; take it one minute at a time, and best wishes for a full recovery.
Dear fellow HVJers,
Just a quick question as I have been wondering for a while now if anyone else has had a similar experience.
At times, especially first thing in the morning or after a nap, my chest/rib cage feels like one of those old time souvenir floaty pens .. the ones where there is a floating image inside a clear window that floats from one end of the pen to the other.
When I sit up from a resting position, I feel as if my chest cavity, and what is within it, struggles mightily to readjust itself. During that 5-8 seconds I feel significant pain; a burning discomfort. Thankfully, the pain disappears, for the most part, once I get "settled" into the upright position.
Does anyone else feel this? If so, how long will it/ did it last?
As I say, thankfully the uncomfortable sensation disappears on its own, but it is quite bothersome to me, and it is beginning to make me reluctant to sit up in bed in the morning. Just hoping it starts to ease off one of these days..
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Happy Healing! Kate R
Hi HVJ friends,
Just a note to say hello.
I had a stress test today in order to see where I'm at...good news is that I am now ready to begin cardiac rehab. My performance on the treadmill was far from stellar, but my heart did behave itself and there were no crazy beats on the rhythm strip. I did get very lightheaded, though... not a fun feeling.
My incision/scar has been bothering me lately; it seems to be more sensitive now than it was in the first place. In addition, nighttime is rough... lying down and turning over there are moments where it feels like my ribcage is going to split in half. Again... not a fun feeling.
I am still taking metoprolol twice daily and a full strength aspirin. I expect these to last for a while longer. I am still not driving nor walking the dog.. two things I need to get back into once my strength and endurance return to normal. All in good time, I guess.
Well, that's all for now. Thank you again for all of your prayers and good wishes. I truly appreciate them. Best wishes for all of those in recovery and those awaiting their surgery - Kind Regards, Kate
Dear journal friends,
I hope everyone is well; here is a brief note regarding my progress.
Today is day 19 of my recovery; for the most part I am doing as well as I could have hoped. My incision is healing well, my upper body range of motion has increased (I am now able to sleep on my side.. yea!), and I have mastered the 6 minute walk. I no longer feel short of breath with climbing stairs and bending down.. quite a milestone for me. On the down side, I did spent 6 hours in the Emergency Room yesterday due to two days worth of an increased heart rate; still not quite sure what the issue is, but I am better now and the most likely culprit is my thyroid medication (too high of a dose).
On the up side, during my stay in the ER I had a full cardiac work-up, complete with EKG and Echo, and my heart looks (and works) amazingly well. I am so very, very grateful. No leaks! I burst into tears I was so happy (not a hard thing for me to do these days :)).
I am still not driving and don't anticipate doing so for a few more weeks.. but I am slowly getting back into my usual "mom" routine. My husband and son, in adddion to neighbors and friends, continue to amaze and honor me with their endless love and support.
My best wishes and prayers to all those currently anticipating surgery, currently in the process of, and those recovering.. hang in there!
Until next time, Kind Regards, Kate
Today I had my first visit with my local cardiologist. "Sounds like a totally different heart!" she exclaimed. Furthermore, my EKG was normal... hooray!
My husband and I have been overwhelmed with support from family and friends; a big shout out to Grandma and Grandpa, Ray and Donna, Judy and Dave, and the awesome outpouring of support (and meals!) from Abiding Presence Lutheran. There are many others I don't have the room here to mention and thank... suffice to say we feel so blessed and cared for; thank you a million times over.
Honestly, it is going to be a challenging road back for me. This whole event, to put it bluntly, was not what I was expecting.. it was worse. Many are lucky; they truly find the waiting the worse part of the deal; I'd have to say that was not the case for me. I am eternally grateful to have my repaired heart and I find myself continually thanking the 'powers that be' for returning me to my wonderful husband and son in one piece; I know I am very lucky.
If I could impart one piece of advice, I would encourage all heart surgery patients to have a 24hour/day support throughout their entire hospital experience. Having someone "there" to advocate on your behalf medically, emotionally or physically, or just to help with a pillow, reach ice chips,, etc.. is incredibly important. It can make a big difference.
Again, thanks so much for your love and concern on my behalf. Hope to write again when I have begun my cardiac rehab! Kate
Thank you again for your love and support these past few weeks. I came home Saturday afternoon; was never so happy to be sitting in traffic on the NJ Turnpike. I just had a visit from the VNA, and am now settling into the recliner chair for a nap. Honestly, I don't know where to begin or what to say: off the top I will say thank you to the amazing Dr. Adams and his team. I appreciate so much the care and expressions of help, thank you again and I will write again soon. Kate
Hi - thank you so much for your prayers. This has been terribly hard for me ; however, with many peoples' prayers and support, I may go home this weekend. Thank you, love you all, Kate R.
Ps: My lucky duck best friend went to the Caribbean for a well deserved vacation... So I will try to keep up with things....
Hi everyone, this is Stacey again. I'm posting this on my way home from seeing Kate. Her breathing tube was removed pretty early last evening and she had a tough night last night. Today she's uncomfortable and tired, but I think she's doing well. Hopefully it's downhill from here!
Hi everyone. My name is Stacey and I'm Kate's friend from NYC. Kate and I met at summer camp; I think we were 11. We became fast friends and have stayed close ever since, through many life changes.
I'm so pleased that Kate has this forum to share her thoughts, feelings, questions, and worries. We all know what it's like to have our own medical issues, and it is so important to know that you're not alone.
Kate asked me to post on her behalf until she feels up to doing it herself, post-surgery:
I saw her just a little while ago. The doctor said that her surgery went very well, with no bleeding. She looks great I think. She's awake but highly sedated. The next step is the removal of her breathing tube, which may happen sometime tonight.
What a relief! Hopefully, when I see her tomorrow, she'll be able to tell me herself how she feels!
I've started to pack my bag for NYC..
My husband and I have a few questions for those that have done this before..
Is there anything I need to remember to bring with me?
Any suggestions/recommendations for my husband who will be in NYC at a local hotel... restaurants, coffee shops, places to walk to in Central Park? Quiet hangout places within the hospital? His Monday will be a very long day, too.. any thoughts for him? How have all of you amazing caregivers passed your time?
Thank you for your input... K R
Yesterday my husband and I went to Mt. Sinai for the Pre-op visit... a rather long day. Quite a drive into the city; the drive alone gave me palpitations. Kudos to my husband for pulling it off without accident or injury. In all seriousness, a heartfelt thanks to my dear husband - he is my rock; I am such a lucky girl to have him by my side through all of these shenanigans.
Everyone at the hospital was gracious and helpful. A special thanks to "Marissa, RN" for putting up with my tears at the end of the visit... the details and "what ifs," I must admit, are beginning to get to me . Marissa offered some words of encouragement right when I needed them... I am fairly sure I will need a few more before this is all said and done with.
I am almost done with the "stuff" I hoped to accomplish before surgery, and I look forward to a nice quiet weekend with my husband and little boy. Thankfully, my little one's attention has been distracted from my issues by the newest Star Wars Lego Collection... Thank God for small favors!
Well, if you believe in prayer, please say one for me on Monday.. one for Dr. Adams and his team might be a good idea as well.... Best Wishes, K.R.
Well, I am not quite sure how to start out; I am scheduled to have my mitral valve repaired by Dr. Adams at Mt. Sinai on May 14th. My husband and I met with Dr. Adams and his team last month; we were quite impressed. Here's to hoping all will go as planned. I keep on reminding myself that while it is a big deal to me, it is somewhat routine for Dr. Adams and his team. Nevertheless, I still have my weak, teary moments.
I have a 7 year old son; any advice as to how to make this smoother for him would be much appreciated. He is aware mommy is having her "heart fixed" and she'll be away for a few days..
That's all for now; God Bless and thanks for the opportunity to share.