I am 2 weeks out from surgery (16 days really), and things are going great. I'm finally sleeping (thanks to some Melatonin) and I haven't been on pain meds for about a week. I take maybe 3 Tylenol a day and that keeps me feeling good. I walk 4 times a day about 1/2 mile each time, although yesterday on one walk I went a whole mile without stopping. All in all, things are going great.
For anyone who is reading this trying to get ready for surgery and looking to see what it is like afterwards, I would give you the following perspective: While it is no picnic, and there are many things you would rather be doing than getting open heart surgery, it really isn't as bad as you think it's going to be. I can honestly say that every phase I went through wasn't that bad now that I think back on it. My first 24 hours in the ICU was weird, but given that you are on so many pain meds, you don't really feel that terrible. My 4 days in the step down weren't that bad either (I had one uncomfortable day where I was a little worked up, but nothing terrible). Getting home felt great, and it wasn't scary being out of the hospital. The worst feeling was lack of sleep, but the pain was never terrible.
I remember feeling each day that it wasn't as bad as I anticipated. Maybe I just thought it would be worse, but I think I had a fairly optimistic view going in. So remember, if you are a little worried going into your procedure, it really isn't as bad as you think it's going to be. The worst part of it all was being so nervous right before. So if this helps anyone be a little less nervous, it was worth the time to write this entry
Not sure what to make of everything yet. I go on a 18 hr string where I feel like I am breaking records on recovery from surgery. Then I go a night with trouble sleeping and I feel like no one has ever felt worse than I do at that point. It's kind of frustrating, but my dr. said it is normal and expected. I just wish that I could fast forward a couple of weeks and get to the point where everything would be easy. But I guess you can't do that.
I didn't sleep at all last night, and I feel that the painkillers are causing more trouble than they are solving. So I'm just praying that a quick nap will take me over when I turn on golf this afternoon. here's hoping for that
For the first time, instead of waking up and hitting the nurse call button, I stood up, walked to the station desk, and got some food out of the fridge. While that doesn's seem like a major accomplishment, there is definitely a little bit of independence in that.
Only problem I seem to have is beeing pretty uncomfortable in bed, and sleep only really lasting as long as the pain meds do. So since i didn't take a nap yesteday because I had visitors all day, I was exhausted by 7:00 and was asleep at 7:30. So here it is at midnight with nothing to do. But i guess that's ok since it's progress. Tuesday or wednesday is my target date to go home. i;ll let you all know more news as I get it
Did someone get the license of the truck that hit me?
Journal posted on May 4, 2014
2nd day was sore, 3rd day was actually worse, but I'm told that is the worst day. IN the grand scheme, it's not so bad. I can have lots of smiles and laughs, but every once in a while you get a little pain. Definintely manageable.
Walking around the hospital unit, and can stand and get up on my own. Occasionally, you find yourself in an awkward position that it hurt to get out of, but they're pretty good about keeping you comfortable.
Can definitely see myself coming home in a few more days, and the worst is behind me. thanks for everyones thoughts and well wishes.
I'm going in on Friday the 2nd for my surgery, but for some reason I'm not nervous at all. Maybe I'll feel differently on Thursday night, but I just don't see it. I'm actually looking forward to getting in on Friday and getting this taken care of. Sooner it's done, the sooner I can start getting better.
I think the biggest difference in my mind set is that I've stopped wondering and worrying about the surgery, and I've started visualizing my recovery and all the things I want to do this summer. (In fact, on my way home from by Pre-Admission testing session, I stopped and bought a boat we were talking about this spring!!!)
The more I think about it, the less I need to worry. I'm going to one of the best hospitals in the country. I've talked to many people have been through similar surgeries. In fact, I just learned my grandfather had the exact same surgery about 14 years ago when he was 83 and he did fine. Sure it will hurt, but I plan on playing the sympathy card at home, so I'm good to go!!
I finally told my parents today what was going on with me. I know it sounds weird, but telling my mom has been the most stressful thing. It's been a tough year, as my dad became very ill in January and we almost lost him a couple times due to a ruptured intestine. Amazingly enough, after 5 unconscious weeks in the ICU, he is home, walking around and on his way to full recovery. Truly a miracle.
But before she could take a breath and relax, my grandfather (her dad) passed away this weekend. Needless to say, it was hard to find a time to tell her and heap more stress and worry on her. I actually wanted to just have the surgery and just tell her about it later, but my wife had the good sense to tell me what an idiot I am for even thinking that.
But now she knows and I can go tell the rest of my family members. On a good note, I was able to talk to my dad about it. He had open heart surgery about 9 years ago, and he let me know recovery really wasn't that bad (especially as compared to what he went through this year)
I have my pre-admission exams tomorrow, and other than those and a dentist appointment, all I have left to do is show up and get fixed. So wish me luck. I will have my wife, Stacey, post the good news after surgery.
About a week ago I came to a conclusion that I was ready to do this, and wanted to target the last week of April or first week of May. I was amazed at how calm I was about it all. I just finalized a date of May 2nd, and I have to say I'm actually a little bit nervous. Not necessarily anxious, but more of a nervous energy that you get before a crazy roller coaster or a big presentation. The kind you try to get yourself psyched up for to feel like it's not going to be that bad.
I guess I feel like that because this thing just got real. No more "in theory" type of stuff. However, I've gone back to some of the stories that I've read here, and certainly some of the advice that has been shared with me to my other postings, and I am fine and ready for this to go.
I've made every arrangement I need to make for the doctor. My work has been unbelievable, with my leadership team ready to cover in my absence. Insurance has been easy to deal with. And of course my wife and daughter have been awesome. So I guess the countdown is on and the only thing left to do is get it done.
Cami Munk had given me advice that she wished she had been thankful more often, and worried less often. So I'm going to take her advice and go with that.
I spent the last 2 weeks meeting with a couple of surgeons and doing a bunch of research and thinking. I've picked my surgeon and we've come up with a game plan. All we have to do is schedule the specific date, but it's going to be either the last week of April or 1st week of May. I'm amazed at how calm I was when talking to the surgeon today to tell him I've made up my mind. (Actually I would like to thank Cami Munk on this site who gave me some great advice on how not to worry)
So my game plan is to have a tissue valve replacement versus trying to repair the native valve. The dr. said that with the size of the annulus (the ring-like structure around the base of the valve), the risk of the valve leaking again in the next 5 years might be as high as 25%. We didn't like those odds, so we are thinking straight replacement.
I've been told by a friend of mine who is a retired cardiac surgeon that there is a great probability that by the time that tissue valve wears out in 10-15 years that the standard way of doing new valves will be by catheter, so I chose to go that route instead of dealing with blood thinners (skiing etc is too important)...
So I guess I'm ready to do this. I didn't think I would be this eager, but I have to say that this website and all your comments have been the difference. While this certainly is a big deal, it is not nearly as intimidating and scary after hearing everyone else's successes.
My wife and I are at the point of trying to figure out the best time to do my surgery. We are supposed to be going out to Texas for Easter to visit her parents, so it will have to be after that, even though my surgeon said that we could go earlier if we want.
I have a question for people who have already gone through this to get some insight on how they were feeling a few weeks after the operation. One of the things I'm trying to factor in is that my daughter (12 years old) plays a soccer tourney on Memorial Day weekend, and I do not want to miss that. How early after surgery could I reasonably think about sitting comfortably on the sidelines of 2 or 3 soccer games a day? Is 2.5 or 3 weeks to aggressive? I hear about people walking a couple miles, so sitting at a game is feasible, right?
Met my first surgeon, Dr. Joshua Baker at Mass General. He really made a great first impression on me. First off, he let me know he had no other appointments after ours because he had them cancelled because of a surgery, so he had as much time as I needed.
It was easy to like him because he came highly recommended by a friend who is a retired cardiac surgeon. But the time he took to explain everything made it even easier.
The good news he shared is he felt like I was a candidate for repair (vs replacement) on my aortic/ bicuspid valve. He said that while this is a newer practice, he has had lots of experience with it, and it has a great upside. Not only does it help me avoid blood thinners, but there is a good chance that it could outlast a tissue valve if it turns out he can truly reshape my bicuspid valve so it doesn't regurgitate.
The surgery will be just as invasive, and recover will be the same. But there is a distinct chance that it may be a long term solution. Even if not, it should last at least as long as a bio-prostethic. So this to me was great news.
I am going to see a couple other surgeons, but Im getting started on my CT Scans etc to see if there are other areas of concern they will need to work on.
All in all a positive visit. Starting to feel some excitement of getting through this and having a "normal" valve situation going forward (or at least for the next 15 years)!!!
My latest visit to my cardiologist showed the regurgitation from my bi-cuspid valve was getting worse. He explained that while I had plateaued for many years within a normal range of blood flow, it is now starting to decline and that surgery was now something I would have to consider. I'm sure everyone on this website has had a similar moment, so I don't have to explain the fear and worry that accompanies that news.
So I immediately started doing research on doctors in the area, and was able to get referred by some people I knew who work as doctors and surgeons. Luckily, living in the Boston area gives access to world class health care. I already have appointments set up for a couple different surgeons at Mass General and Brighams and Womens, so now I just need to wait to hear what they have to say.
I feel great about the information I have on the doctors. However, I have gone back and forth about whether or not to go with a bioprostethic or a mechanical valve, and that back and forth is what is most unsettling. I am actually excited to go to the surgeon's consultation and hear what they have to say. Seems to me some certainy is what I crave right now. My first visit is on Wednesday, so let's see what they have to say.