It's been 15 months since my surgery. I had two surgical procedures since then. One to have hip replacement revision surgery and another to remove an exposed sternal wire. I've been plagued with shortness of breath the last few months and finally found relief with yet another draining of about a liter of fluid from the lungs. I read about everyone's recovery with gratitude for their healing, but a bit of envy that I find these bumps in the road. I feel so much better after the thoracentisis, but now my "good" hip is giving me grief, letting me know it is in the queue for a replacement. I feel like my body is a "bop a mole" game. One thing resolves and another appears. I look for gratitude that at least it doesn't all happen at once. Blessings to all on this journey
After a wonderful dinner in San Francisco in the shadow of the hotel where my husband and I spent our honeymoon 43 years ago, I'm resting in a cute boutique hotel ready for the sternum wire to be yanked out tomorrow morning. Lets just get this over with and hope I don't see the inside of a hospital again for a long time. Cheers to all who are in various stages of this journey.
Saw my wonderful heart surgeon, Dr. Vincent Gaudiani yesterday and he explained that the sternum wire removal is a quick fix. It's like a twist tie that needs to be cut and pulled out in an outpatient procedure. I have that done next week. So I am feeling much better about it all. Good news all around. Strong new heart valve, two year post cancer check up clear, and amazing gratitude for this site as a place to both vent and rejoice. Blessings to all.
It's been over a year since my aortic valve replacement. I would have celebrated with a flair but was too busy learning how to walk again on my new new hip after hip revision surgery July 1. I say new new hip because the first replacement performed 4 years ago failed and I had to have revision surgery. So yet again I spent a summer in recovery. This makes 5 surgeries in 5 years. Enough! But oh no. Yet another event will take place tomorrow when I return to my cardiac surgeon to deal with the sternum wire that waited a year to expose itself like a teenage piercing. I don't know how he will deal with it. I only know that these health issues are becoming one big cosmic joke. But I'm not laughing.
During a regular checkup with my beloved oncologist who has treated me for the past 40 years, he brought up a comment about religious faith. He's never done that before. He said that I'm a perfect example of God's plan of not giving a person more than they can handle. Seeing as how I will undergo the fifth major surgery in five years on July 1, I know what he's talking about. Let e list them: severe wrist fracture, hip replacement, lung cancer lobectomy, aortic valve replacement and now I'm facing a hip "revision" surgery to replace the replacement. I am very prone to black humor, and find this latest development almost comical...if it wasn't so real. The ironic part is, I feel terrific. 10 months post valve surgery I'm doing great. My energy is back. My optimism and joy of life is back. I gave myself a year to heal from open heart surgery and I am ahead of schedule. When friends ask about my summer plans, I almost don't want to mention my plans for yet another surgery. But here I go. Wish me luck.
I've given myself a full year to recover. Now at 7 and 1/2 months, I can say that I am confidently on the road to recovery and feel almost normal. I battled with pleural effusion which resulted in four "draining" sessions of about 1 liter each time. Th relief from breathlessness was immediate, but soon after I was retaining fluid again. The last procedure was done at the end of December and I was told that any more buildup would have to be dealt with another way which caused it's own problems. I was determined
to not go down that road! On January 3 I began cardiac rehab and immediately realized how sedentary I'd become. Week by week I gained strength, really watched my salt intake and began to feel so much
better. I can now climb a flight of stairs without
breathlessness. I won't win any races climbing the
stairs, but I can do it!
During this process, I felt the black hole of depression gather around me, for the first time in my life. I am a
Pollyanna optimist, and this feeling was new to me and horrible. I began to understand a bit how debilitating
depression can be and felt new compassion for those dealing with it. Adam's book and his discussion of
cardiac depression helped tremendously, as I learned that those feelings can be handled and were
temporary. Throughout my 40+ years of a torrid medical past which included breast cancer, lung cancer, heart
disease, arthritis, hip replacement, etc. etc. I had never felt so low. I felt I was not getting better, and would
never again. But now I'm on the other side. I have
sparks of my energy back, I'm exercising daily and
enjoying life by surrounding myself with amazed gratitude that I'm breathing.
My thoughts go out to all of you who are at various stages of your journey. It gets better. It really does.
Final delivery of the meal train today. I am so blessed to have had this help. So many folks say "what can I do to help" or "just call if you need anything". If you really want to help someone, organize a meal train! I was given enough food for two nights and still have plenty of food in the freezer! My organizer friend also asked that food be delivered in containers that don't have to be returned. That too is a huge help.
I had a bit of a setback last week. My strengthening trajectory came to a halt with breathlessness and weakness. I felt depressed, like I was going backwards. Turns out I had fluid buildup in my lungs. It was drained and I feel better, back to walking without stopping every few steps. I hope that was just a temporary setback. Anyone else out there experience fluid buildup?
Patience is my mantra
I walked outside for the first time. We live on a circle so my goal was once around. Did it! Tomorrow, twice if I get out there before the heat. I see my cardiologist today for first post surgery visit. Every day is a baby step forward and I celebrate small victories.
The meal train should be called the gourmet express! Poached salmon with cucumber sauce and fresh herbs, fresh green beans, melon, sorbet. I'm blessed
Blessings to you all and thanks for your wishes. I hope to return the favor
Oh the glory of one's own bed!
And a shower!
And a meal train of marvelous food!
Still there are hills and valleys..bad, bad pain, crazy illusion that when I walked through my front door (greeted by the smells of a freshly baked peach pie...thank you Dan and Kimberly) all would be well.
Tomorrow I'll walk outside before valley heat soars.
I see firefly lights at the end of the tunnel
Home tomotrrow after av replacement, tricuspid repair and pacemaker. Surgeon said radiation damage evident on my heart, and I had no rhythm so pacemaker required. Haven't investigated complexities of that yet.
Bless you all
It's 5:00 am and the alarm is set for six. My dear husband sleeps beside me getting much needed rest for the day ahead. Yesterday we endured a grueling 3 hour drive to the hospital in commuter traffic and my heart went out to those who do this every day! I brought fresh valley grown peaches to the staff at my surgeon's office.
My exam with the PA, pre-admission to the hospital the day before surgery and subsequent tests went well. I studied the pain chart indicator on the intake RN's desk like the Rosetta stone. Hindi, Spanish, Russian, mandarin, Vietnamese and even happy and frowning faces all contained the same theme: pain. How do you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. How many times will I be asked that?
Waves of nerves followed me throughout the day. Anxiety and sadness were there too, of course. The thought of my dear husband going through this with me brought tears. I am oh so protective of him! He assures me he's a big boy and can take it and I know that's true.
Thank God for all the love and support I've had these days leading up to....today.
Today. Surgery at 9:30. Thank you all for your advice on the difficulty of waiting for the procedure. At this moment, I feel calm, having given over control to my higher power. With full trust and faith I'll see you all on the other side.
I stumbled on this sight a few weeks ago and am oh so grateful for the information gained here. I have been meaning to begin this journal, but have been so busy preparing for surgery (scheduled for Wednesday August 1), ticking off my to do list, traveling to visit my son and family, I just haven't had the time. So here goes.
This has been a very strange journey indeed. I was diagnosed over a decade ago with a heart murmur. This didn't unduly concern me as I am a thirty-nine year breast cancer survivor, and when I mean survivor, I mean survivor. Thirty-nine years ago I was given six months to live because of the aggressive breast cancer discovered while I was nursing my new son. I've lived the last thirty-nine years in constant gratitude for having raised this boy to be a man and to become a grandmother of two beautiful children.
The last few years have presented bumps in the road: hip replacement, shattered-wrist, but nothing like beating cancer. Then last year I was to see a surgeon about fixing my valve. I went through a battery of tests and on the day before I was to see the surgeon I had a wonderful telephone call. In his opinion, I did not need valve surgery.
Hip hip hooray! The anxiety instantly was replaced by relief and an "I've got my life back feeling". Four hours later my oncologist called and said that one of the tests found a spot on my lung, and it could be cancer. In four hours I felt what it must be like to be manic-depressive. Long story short in October 2011 I had a lobectomy to remove a malignancy in my left lung.
The past few months I've recovered fully from the lung surgery, but the asymptomatic Aortic Valve Disease became symptomatic and I knew it was time. I couldn't ignore the condition anymore. My cardiologist sent me to Dr.Gaudiani in Redwood City for a second opinion and I am delighted to see his name praised here. My lung surgeon at Stanford concurs that he is top notch and I am ready.
Thanks to all of you who have shared your stories already. I go into this with confidence, anxiety (of course) but full faith that I will FEEL BETTER when this is over.
Bless you all.