Day to day it's very hard to measure progress, so I like to think about week to week.
During first week home for the first few days I felt groggy, unstable on my feet, but walking 10 minutes, then 15 then 20 at the end of the week (twice each day). Sleeping was hard, sweating out the anesthesia and drugs. The whole body needs to get used to things again. After my first shower I had to sit down, I was dizzy. Talking was hard, felt like I was whispering a lot.
The second week, just now completing, I'm thinking more clearly, walking steadily for up to 30 minutes each. I haven't been motivated to do much other than eat, walk, rest, sleep repeat. Now I'm thinking about cooking out on the grill, shopping trips with Karen, calling friends... but golf is still weeks away. I start cardio rehab tomorrow, but can't do upper body workouts for another week, nor can I drive for another week.
One think I noticed last week that I hadn't before - before surgery I could feel my heart beat through the chest, I could put my hand there and watch it move. Now I can't, the heart muscle is working way more efficiently, thank God.
I noticed I have 38 subscribers, all who tell me you haven't seen my posts so I hope this one reaches you, dear friends.
As many who have been through this, faith in God and the love of friends is what carries us through it. I'm now a proud member of the "zipper club". LOL
Yes, we made it through, but oh my God, what an ordeal. We Marines think we can live through anything but I have never been so physically challenged in my life. Open heart surgery is no cake walk.
On Monday, 9/14 my valve and root replacement was text book according to my surgeon, but from the time someone said they were giving me a sedative to relax me to the time I woke up, I know nothing (thank God). It seemed quick but I had no dreams and when I woke up I saw Karen and my first thought was “I’m alive” praise God.
The next couple of days I fell into a blur of routines: blood tests every day, finger prick blood sugar checks, vital sign checks, daily chest X-rays at 3am (yes 3am). I walked 200 feet on Tuesday. Interrupted sleep.
Then on Wednesday I apparently had a pneumothorax (air pocket around my right lung), which collapsed that lung, then my heart went into afib (rapid beats) and the ejection fraction (blood leaving the heart) fell from 55 to 37. I was in heart failure, speech unintelligible and delirious. I’m not sure what miracles God did to fix me but some time later I had a tube inserted above my right lung to release any air build up.
So at this point it’s hard to find my chest. I have 3 drainage tubes going up to around my heart, pace maker wires set to trigger only if my heart beat goes below 50, the air release tube and lots of outer wires to monitor everything my body does. The process of removing them on the weekend was my path to freedom.
Karen was awesome - the calm, ever-present, ever-watchful Marine on guard duty taking care of me every day. Even as we are at home now, she makes sure I do everything I’m supposed to do and don’t do anything I’m not supposed to.
The nursing staff, except for one guy were all women, young and cute. I swear they must have to pass the “cute-test” to be a nurse. That said, professional, watchful, detail focussed. The exceeded my expectations.
My doc finally let me out on Sunday. Karen drove me home the 90 miles from Charleston to Bluffton SC. I was sore, tired soooo happy to be home.
Monday I took my first shower in a week, bandages gone - freedom at last!
Sitting on my back porch with first coffee cup in hand, I wept. I don’t fear death but want to spend so much more time with family and friends.
Tuesday - I now have a bunch of meds, exercises to do and 3 x 10 minute walks, which I find very taxing at this point. I’m seeing daily improvement and lot of food in the frig from kind neighbors.
So thank you my dear friends for your prayer cover and kind thoughts.
It’s been a long week. I came out of surgery on Monday afternoon delirious and looking into Karen’s eyes. First thought...I’m alive. Lol
Slept most of the day and evening.
Tuesday I was doing well, even walked a little. So they moved me from ICU to a regular room. On Wednesday I took a turn for the worse. One lung collapsed, went into afib and my speech made no sense. LVEF dropped from 55 to 37 so my heart was failing to pump out blood. No ideas on cause but the stabilized me back in the ICU and Emma’s back to recovering. Sooo hoping to go home Thursday wasn’t happening. Friday my drainage tubes came out. Walked the halls 3 times. Saturday even better som my pace maker wires are out now and hope to go home Sunday. I’ve managed to avoid Oxycodone since Tuesday. Pain is not so bad.
Still in hospital but going home Sunday.
Thank you all for your heart felt prayers and notes. I could not do this without you all.
In His grip.
My morning QT was in Psalm 23. Sitting on my front porch alone with the Lord as the sun came up, I felt at peace knowing My Lord and Savior lives and in Paul's words "to live is Christ (serving Him) and to die is gain (to be with Him in Heaven).
Spoke to my kids yesterday (kids in their 30s LOL). FaceTime is a wonderful thing. My sister is a nurse, who also encouraged me as we spoke.
So today, Karen and I will drive to Charleston, check into our hotel and enjoy some take out. One of my favorites, a salmon caesar salad.
0530 tomorrow - the new chapter begins.
In His grip, Mike
Yesterday woke at 3; today woke at 2:30am. All I can think about is the surgery. My emotions are crowding in on the mental confidence.
Sent out a note yesterday to a host of friends. It is comforting that I'm not alone in this. I know this - God works through His people to comfort and support those in need. Thank you all!
Today wrapping up preparations for the trip Sunday to MUSC Charleston Hospital. We're staying overnight there as I have to be at the hospital by 0530.
LOL, I'm sure I'll be sleeping a LOT after surgery.
Reading the Psalms every morning.
Covid test today, yuk. But nothing compared to the surgery on Monday. I've started the count down of final tasks.
- Emails to friends
- Taking the Impact AR, etc.
- Packing a little bag
- Reading Adam's book again
- PRAYING and reading the Psalms
Our God is an awesome God.
Composing an email to friends, I suddenly teared up, realizing how many family and friends I have that care. I am a blessed man.