My scar is fading and I'm a little sad. It's been open heart surgery talk for the last 7 months or so, and now the visible signs of my journey are coming to an end. Of course I'm very happy that this chapter is closing, so to speak, but it has been all-consuming. Perhaps being the Leo that I am, I enjoyed the attention a little bit. More likely, it means I'll have to go back to reality and start working soon.
It was 86 degrees on Long Island today and a perfect day for my first bike ride. This is really my preferred choice of exercise, over walking and because I live on the South shore, there are no hills. So, I took my little cruiser around the neighborhood and enjoyed all the beautiful Spring scenery. It's days like today when the pain is under control and I can actually enjoy relaxing, that I dread going back to work. I learned the answer to a question I've often asked myself...how long would I not have to work, before I became so bored and needed to find a job or volunteer work when I retire? I can tell you all that I don't think I would have ANY trouble filling my days and time. Only 12 more years, just in time for my re-op. :o)
The surgical glue is finally starting to come off. I feel like a snake and the scar looks pretty gnarly. I plan on wearing my scar like a badge of courage but my husband thinks I should be trying to do everything I can to make it look better. I've heard Mederma is good. I've also heard Scarguard MD is good. Does anyone know if it's purely aesthetics to help improve the scar or is there some medical reason to apply these topical oils, etc.? This seems like a dumb question but what I love about HVJ, there's no judgement. :o) Enjoy this glorious day! It's just the perfect Spring day here in New York. It's also Friday, the 13th, my lucky day!
In the words of a great "Chicago" song, "Feelin' Stronger Every Day". Like others before have stated, every day is a little better in terms of pain and ability to walk. I was a slow walker before surgery and now I have an excuse. After a few months though, I expect I'll be picking up the pace. For now, I'm adding more distance and time on my walk. It's easy to overdo it but I've got my cell and all of my neighbors know that I might "pop in" if I need to rest on my walk. The weather has been cooperating for the most part and my dogs are so happy to get more exercise too.
Now that I'm feeling less pain, I have to admit I've been catching up on movies, documentaries and series I've been meaning to watch like, "Downton Abbey" and "Game of Thrones". I know I won't have this luxury when I get back to work. I'm also reading, "Heart 411", which is a great resource.
The best thing I did heading into surgery, was losing weight. Menopause, a sendentary (sp?) job and a general love of junk food, watching TV and being on the internet, plus a distaste for exercise, gave me a lot of extra weight I had been carrying around the last 5 years. Although my doctor did not say I should lose weight, I decided to do it for myself and because I thought it might improve the outcome of the surgery and recovery. I leveraged every weapon in my arsenal...I read, "Skinny Bitch", listened to "The Secret", did self-hypnosis, logged onto SparkPeople.com every day. I did everything from drinking a lot of water, decaf green tea, ate more beans (which I wasn't a huge fan of), cut back on red meat, cheese, etc. I went cold turkey on refined sugars and within a week, the cravings were gone. I did no exercise other than walk and I was my ideal weight by the time I had my surgery. I think it made a difference. Now that I'm getting my energy back, I'm going to try to do the forms of exercise that I do enjoy like dancing and riding my bike. The benefits are too many to write about here but if you're thinking about trying to lose some extra weight, every little bit counts. :o) My two cents.
Dear Adam, I'm not sure if you'll see this post. I can't imagine you have time to read every post. If you do happen to read this, I just wanted to thank you this website, your book and the countless hours of work that must have gone into bringing your idea to fruition. I am floored by the outpouring of guidance and support. We're all connected by this common condition and our paths never would have crossed if not for you and your desire to help others. I'm sure lifetime friends are made because of HVJs.
I was a little late to blogging and I wish I had started posting earlier. While I did read your book, of course, there's just a tremendous amount of emotional and technical support that's gained from the website and HVJ entries.
So, I thank you Adam, from the bottom of my mended heart.
Pain post-surgery and Happy Easter, Passover and Spring
Journal posted on April 6, 2012
When my cardiologist asked me what my threshold for pain was, the honest answer was, "I don't know." I never gave birth (my daughter is adopted) and I had to really think about the worst pain I ever had. Luckily for me, it was shingles or a sinus headache. WELL, lemme tell you, I now have a basis of comparison. The percocet helps but it's going to run out really soon. I called the post-op team and they were like, "Well, you should be taking Tylenol during the day and using the Percocet at night". REALLY?!!! I think this their pat answer so people don't get addicted. Since I don't have an addictive personality, I decided to call my Primary Care Physician and get her opinion. She suggested slowly cutting back and that she would provide me with a prescription if I needed more. At the risk of sounding like I a junkie, I definitely think I'm going to need more. At least I know my threshold for pain is on the low side. :o( I don't want anyone reading this to get down because from other posts I've read, I think I'm the exception and likely just a big wuss.
To all of you who celebrate Easter, "Happy Easter" and to those of you who celebrate Passover, "Happy Passover". And to those of you who celebrate Spring and this time of renewal, enjoy all the wonders of nature and life. Whatever you celebrate or not celebrate, I wish you LVJers peace and happiness always.
Restaurants for family/friends if surgery is @ Mt. Sinai
Journal posted on April 5, 2012
If you're having your surgery at Mount Sinai and your friends and family members need a good place to eat, my husband (who's a major foodie) said the restaurant called, "Yo In Yo Out" was excellent. It's a casual French Bistro with crepes and all sort of yummy sandwiches and salads. The owner is Yolaine (sp?) who was on the show, "Chopped". It was a tight competition with her competitor, a chef from upstate New York. She was hoping to win Chopped so that she could go back to France to see her ailing grandmother (and the person who inspired her to cook). In the end, she didn't win but the chef surprised everyone and said he wanted to give a portion of his winnings to Yolaine, so she could see her grandma. Anyway, just thought I'd pass this on because you can have a REALLY good food experience or you can have a super bad food experience in NYC. Now, tell them to save room for dessert because just down the block is, "Lloyd's Carrot Cake", which they sell by the slice. They also carry Red Velvet, German Chocolate, Coconut, Chocolate Chocolate but my husband said it was the best carrot cake he had ever had. You cannot eat at "Lloyd's" but they have forks and you may want to skip dessert so you can grab a piece of cake. Nick brought a piece of Red Velvet Cake at the hospital but at the time, I didn't have the appetite. :o( Lastly, there's a burger joint a couple blocks South of "Yo In Yo Out". I think he said it was called, "Joy Burger Club". My husband is a bit of burger fanatic and will try any burger place that claims to have the "best" burger. (His all-time favorite is Minetta Tavern, if you happen to be in the West Village by the way) Anyway, he said "Joy Burger Club" was very good but they tend to undercook their burgers. He read this online prior to going but he was still nervous his burger would be overcooked. He ordered it Medium Rare and it was Rare. So, if you want it Medium Rare, you'd want to order it Medium. Nick recommends you use, "Yelp!" to help you find good places to eat in Manhattan. Like I said, it can be a crap shoot. When I go for my one month follow-up check-up, I'll definitely be checking out "Yo In, Yo Out" and "Lloyds". Oh, they're all on Lexington Ave around 100th Street. This part of Manhattan is a little tricky because you can't walk East or West on 100th Street. You have to walk South to 97th St from the hospital, before heading East to Lexington Ave. You then have to walk North on Lexington to get to 100th Street. Again, Yelp! it to get the exact address and cross streets.
What is it about walking outside in the fresh air, with the sun shining on your face, that makes you want to smile from ear to ear? Oh yeah, I just had open heart surgery last week. So even though I walked the long trek to the Atrium twice while I was at Mt. Sinai, and I walked all the way to the Cardiac ICU to thank the nurses on the 5th floor, walking yesterday outside was waaaay different and so wonderful. It helped that the NY weather had given me a dreamy 72 degree day. I walked to my local library, about 7 houses down, with a friend accompanying me, JUST in case. I didn't think I really needed her but it was funny to see her agape over the fact that I looked so well. I took a few deep breaths (as recommended in my discharge package) and walked slowly. It felt soooo good and I wish I could just capture that feeling. Perhaps it's a little bit of the Percocet but I don't think so. I rested a bit at my beautiful library. Everything is so beautiful. And then I headed home, where I promptly napped for two hours! Ha ha ha. Great appetite but still not able to eat too much. Legs are still pretty swollen but that's to be expected I'm told. Pain is very prevalent and my incision is a fright. While it's small, it seems a little off center to me. :o) I'm not complaining...I'm just sayin' it seems a lot closer to my left boob than my right one. He he he. OK, too much information. Time to sign off. Enjoy your amazing day! Virtual hugs, Lily
It's so fantastic to be home. Ani (my 9 year old) got home from school with me in bed with lots and lots of pillows to prop me up. Thanks for everyone's advice on this. All is right in her world right now. Mine too!! I think the dogs and cat missed me too. Nick (my husband) has been my personal gopher and exertion police. For me, a proper shampoo and shower after 5 1/2 days was heavenly. I'm just so freakin' happy and grateful.
I'm feeling MUCH better. So strange. My echo is scheduled for this morning and then I'll be heading home! Yay!! My friends and co-workers were so surprised I'm getting out so quickly and a little disappointed that they didn't get a chance to visit me! I'm looking forward to a shower, my own bed and sleeping more than 2 hours at a time. I'm not looking forward to the drive home in the back of a Jeep Wrangler but I forgot to arrange the luxury sedan for the ride out to Long Island :o) Have an awesome day all HVJ bloggers!
Out of nowhere my pain went from a 4/5 to a 9/10. The nurse asked if I would be Ok with a Tylenol until my next allowable dosage. Of course I said No. They quickly got approval to give another dose. It was the worst pain I've had thus far. I wish I knew why. The guided visualization/self hypnosis helped while I waited for the pain killer to work. Feeling much better now.
I think I've broken the record for getting out of the hospital quickest after open heart surgery! I'm told I will be discharged tomorrow. I was expecting a week stay. I am ecstatic. My experience at Mount Sinai has been amazing. Everyone from the doctors, nurses, nursing assistants to the people who brought me food, took my vitals, swept the floors, have been top notch. Having just gone through my mother's 1 month stay at a different hospital, I was floored by the stark differences. I think it might be because she's 83. Maybe my expectations were also low going in. Anyway, I am thrilled to be going home.
They have been encouraging me to walk. I was so happy to shuffle to the bathroom and back that I decided to walk to the Atrium ( a large open area with a gift shop on the 5th Floor of Mt. Sinai). That was far! I had no idea. Definitely got lightheaded and thankfully Nick was with me and he got a wheelchair for the ride back. Need to take it easy! Then the physical therapist came around and said, "Let's do some steps!" The steps were actually not that bad. So happy to be walking!
I'm not sure if the elderly fellow next to me is howling because his family is not here, or because they are here. He seems to be in pain because he's whimpering and moaning. He keeps trying to get up and the nurses keep trying to calm him down. I feel badly for him but nothing seems to settle him. Virtually no sleep last night because of the yowling. Hopefully tonight will be better with ear plugs and iPod. Had a bad reaction to the painkillers. Getting anti-nausea meds and changing pain killer. Just made the bucket today but got a little bile on my big stuffed heart. :o( Thankfully Mary cleaned it off. Much more alert. No appetite. Otherwise, feeling pretty good.
Patient controlled analgesics...not so good for me. Can't overdose but I'm so out of it. Didn't know if I was getting the painkiller after pressing the button. So I pressed again and maybe again. I think I overdid it. Super drowsy but not in pain. :o) Switching to oral tablets. Since I don't drink and have never really been drunk or hungover, my friends and family actually think it's kind of funny because I'm saying and doing funny stuff, like trying to push my glasses up but my finger being nowhere close to where I would need it to be to do that. Ha ha ha. I also asked for two, not one, but two Snapple Grapeades! Sitting in the recliner, which is very nice. Nurses have been amazing.
I was so happy when they removed the tube from my throat. I was even happier when I could suck on ice chips! The happiest though was seeing my husband and twin sister walk through the doors of ICU. Life is good.
Valve Replaced, Valve Repaired and Maze Procedure Done
Journal posted on March 29, 2012
Came out of surgery with flying colors. Dr. Adams, Mount Sinai, NYC, and his team worked their magic and my heart pumped strong almost immediately. There wasn't a lot of blood or time on the bypass machine. Best case scenario for the docs and me. Super happy about that! This is likely attributable it to my age (50) and relative good health. They assessed that a replacement was absolutely needed on the mitral valve. This was not a surprise but I think they always go in attempting to repair instead of replace. While they were there, they also repaired the tricuspid valve and performed the cryo maze procedure. More to follow.