Hi everybody, first of all thank you to everybody that sent me notes of care and concern. I kinda left everybody hanging after my first post!! Sorry . . . I can't believe how fast time has flown though. So here goes, the update . . . On October 16, 2014 I had my mitral valve repaired (yippee - I was not looking forward to a mechanical valve) as well as closure of my ASD. I stayed in the hospital for 5 days and only stayed in ICU overnight, less than 24 hours. As all others have mentioned, the tube in the throat is the worse. Even through the haze of the anesthetic I could still feel the tube down my throat. For those awaiting surgery, I suggest coming up with some form of sign language that you can use to communicate to your family/care givers while the tube is down your throat. Important ones would be for pain and nausea. There is nothing like throwing up in your mouth with a tube down your throat (happened to me and I panicked). Good thing the nurse was close by and gave me the suction to suck the vomit out of my mouth before I choked on it. After my stay in ICU - the rest of the stay went smooth. The hard work began once I got home. I am very fortunate to have family close by. My husband and children X 3 were terrific helpers as well as my parents and siblings. Without their help, my journey would have been even more difficult than it was!! On November 1, I was taken back to the hospital by ambulance. My heart rate was extremely high and BP very low and I was feeling very weak and horrible. In the ambulance, they started an IV and gave me something to slow my heartbeat down. At the hospital, I was given a ton of IV fluid, had lots of blood tests, and a chest x-ray. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with a cardiac tamponade. This means that I was bleeding between my heart linings. I had ~ 700 ml of bloody fluid drained. This was a painful procedure and a bit scary. The drain was left in until I was discharged to make sure that there was no more bleeding. I stayed in the hospital another 3 days. 3 weeks later I started cardiac rehab once a week for 6 weeks. I am very grateful that I live close to a center that offers that program. I recommend to all to attend the program. It was my saving grace from cardiac depression. It was the reason that I left the house once a week. At cardiac rehab I had accessible to me a nurse, OT, and a social worker. These people helped me through my recovery weekly not only physically, but mentally as well. For those of you who have doctors that poopoo the idea of cardiac rehab - remember this is your life not theirs - so take charge of your life and go to cardiac rehab if you can. If not, don't just sit at home. It can get very depressing and then you will be having a pity party . . . Feb 16 - marks the 4 month anniversary for me. I can tell you that recovery is very slow for me and unfortunately I am not a very patient person. I am still not working yet, but am aiming to return to work mid April. Right now, I am having issues with delayed would healing. The top 1/2 inch of my incision is on it's third scab - not sure why it is taking so long to heal. Still not driving yet as there is discomfort in the same area as the scab when I turn corners or park. But the pain is lessening. My GP thinks there might be some inflammation/costochondritis happening and have started me on Pennsaid - a liquid anti-inflammatory that I put on my chest 3 times a day. So far, the medication has lessened the pain. The pain is described as burning sensation, and only happens when I I try to exercise my arms by doing arm circles!! As for the pain, I have been off any type of narcotic pain killer for over a month now and am using tylenol or ibuprofen when needed. I am scheduled for a bone scan on Feb 23 to investigate further the continued pain when I move my arms a certain way and the delayed healing of the incision. Cardiac wise, the surgery was successful according to my echo back in January. It's all the other stuff now . . . To all the others going through this journey, hang in there and be PATIENT. Easier said than done!