I'm a graduate! lol ;) Last day of cardiac rehab. So very glad I opted to do that.
Update posted on...
August 2, 2021
Hey all, just a quick check-in...I'm coming down the home stretch in my cardiac rehab program. Just 3 more weeks to go. Feeling pretty good, still have those days when my body just crashes and I'm forced to nap, but not as much as after surgery, a few per week perhaps.
I know we all scar/heal differently, but I was wondering if anyone else has had this. For the last month or so (when I got sensation in my scar area back), the bottom of my incision/scar has often stung when the skin was stretched (even slightly). Looking back at earlier pictures compared to today, my scar is definitely hypertrophic and I’m afraid it may become a keloid. I’ve never had any issue with previous scars (two prior surgeries with incisions on my neck, plus various stitches throughout my life). And have been lucky enough for those scars to all but “disappear”. Has anyone else had their OHS scar expand? Is this a “normal” looking scar??
So last year, I had decided to change cardiologist (the current one was nice, but just didn't feel a connection), but I was already under the care of Dr. Thourani and Dr. Rajagopal (an interventional cardiologist) in preparation for the big day, so I had waited. After surgery, Dr. Thourani recommended Dr. Adam Carlisle. Yesterday was my first appointment, and the wife and I both really liked him and so glad for Dr. Thourani. So Dr. Carlisle recommended, even though everyone is very pleased with my progress so far, to go ahead and enter cardiac rehab. He explained that, "they" can't quite explain why, but that there is a sort of "magic sauce" in regards to long term outcomes and those who partake in it. Research just shows that those folks seem to last even longer than those who didn't. So...now to find a place with an open spot. ;)
So things are going pretty good health-wise. I feel pretty strong, walking 2+ miles 2x a day, have lost about 20 pounds (hoping to lose a little more). I would say I’m back to about 90%. I still have these nagging muscle pains in my right chest muscle (feels like a major bruised muscle, but not always, comes and goes), especially nearest the incision site. Nothing Tylenol can’t handle, but just wondering if any of y’all that have had surgery a few weeks/month before me still have that? Meeting with my new cardiologist in a couple weeks and should be returning to work a couple weeks after that. All in all, happy to have had the surgery (wasn’t exactly feeling that the first couple weeks 😂), and to be healthy and here!
As a former chef, I love to cook. It’s been over 4 weeks since I’ve had the energy to get back in the kitchen. Felt really good to be back in the game. Linguine with homemade tomato, olive, basil sauce
1 month since surgery
Journal posted on April 21, 2021
Today is 4 weeks since I went under the knife. So very thankful for all of you who have been keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, and to my fellow heart warriors who have taken time during their own healing journey to keep encouraging me. And a huge thank you to my wife, who has been my nurse these last four weeks and made sure I take my meds and get my exercise in (even when I didn’t want to go walk). Post-op appt is in about 1 week. Looking forward to being allowed to do more activities
So 4 weeks out and the scar is looking pretty good. The glue/scab came off yesterday after my shower.
Update posted on...
April 15, 2021
So it’s been 3 weeks since surgery, I’m feeling much better and stronger. Still a little sore in the sternum whenever I sneeze or cough, and my chest feels like someone is rubbing it with 10 grit sandpaper whenever my shirt rubs against it, but I feel pretty good otherwise. Pulse ox is finally at or above 95 and I’m able to get the spirometer up to 2500 (sometimes 2750) now, and I no longer hear/feel crackling in my lungs when I breathe so I think the fluid is disappearing (if not gone). Up to 2 13-minute walks a day. Still gotta take it pretty slow or the BPMs rise super fast. All in all, starting to have more good days than bad which is great!
So getting stronger every day. Last night, was able to sleep almost through the night, no waking up for any meds. I’m up to 2 11-minutes walks a day.and I’m backing off the pain pills. Mostly true pain is only when I’m coughing which I do a lot of when using the spirometer. My chest skin is starting to no longer be numb, but is now starting be very sensitive to touch. But I feel good and that’s awesome!
This is kind of weird. Prior to surgery I wore glasses to drive/watch TV, etc. I have 20/15 but a slight astigmatism so didn’t really have to wear them. I also have a small prescription for reading glasses. But after surgery, I don’t need the glasses for distance at all (in fact things look crisper without them) and my readers don’t seem to work as well anymore. Not strong enough. Anyone else have vision fluctuate like that??
Ok so that finally happened. It was a huge, totally come out of nowhere, chest bursting sneeze. And the pain, though only lasting a brief few seconds was like fire bursting through my chest. But hey I survived it, and at least know what to expect for the next time.
So 1 week ago at this time, I was waking up in the ICU. Having been home for three days now, things are slowly but surely progressing. The muscles in my back and chest feel like I did 1000 back and chest days in just one day (I stated it that I feel every fiber of every muscle attached to my ribs). But managing that well with Tylenol and have started pulling back on the pain pills. Using the inspirometer apparatus is definitely helping and I was able to actually use my CPAP last night without feeling my lungs were gonna explode. So in turn, I got my best night of sleep. Also found the best position of the wedge we got to help me sleep and it’s actually easier to get in and out of bed on my own. All in all, things today are much better than one week ago, and each day comes with a little more strength and a little less pain.
Ok so Post Op day 4. Early this morning they removed my PCA pump, and oxygen (and sensor). All positive signs. Pain is at about 4 out of 10. Chest feels very tight and I can tell I have some junk in the lungs with every breath. Trying to use the inspirometer as much as possible to get that stuff to expectorate. For this wondering, Dr. Thourani ended up using a 25cm Inspiris valve, so I’m a cow. Lolz
Well Post-Op day 3 update, second drainage tube unfortunately did not come out today. I’m not progressing on the breathing apparatus as well as I had hoped. That tube is really the only thing that hurts and when I get up to walk and then sit or lay back down it really kills and knocks me on my butt for about 5-10 minutes. Drain didn’t produce quite as much so far today, so hopefully it can come out early tomorrow and I can still discharge tomorrow. Everyone here is great, but really do want to be home with my wife.
Post Op Day 2, pain is a little more today but not terrible. They just took out one of my chest drains. So that helps. Steph has been here every day and an absolute rock. Love that woman so much. Plan for today is to do some walking. 🚶🏼♂️
This is Stephanie Morrison, Michael’s wife. He wanted me to update you all after surgery. By the grace of God all went well. Thank you all for being such a great support system for him and for each other. I know this outlet has been really helpful for him.
Heavenly Father, I entrust my life to You as I go on the operating table. May Your hand be upon the surgeons and doctors who will do the operation. Allow them to act as extensions of Your healing hands. Enable them to be the instruments that will help me recover my strength. As I fall asleep from the anesthetic, I ask You to be with me always. Allow me to feel Your presence. Let Your peace surround me even as I am unconscious. I trust in Your promise, God, that when I call to you for help, you will heal me. All these things I ask in Your Name, Amen.
All checked in. Hooked up to heart monitor, BP a little high. Day of labs and tests and surgery first thing in the morning
Update posted on...
March 20, 2021
So just a few days before the Big Day. 😀 After discussing all the pros and cons with my surgeon about the different valves, we’ve decided on a tissue valve. One reason is not wanting to be on blood thinners for the rest of my very long life, but also, because I suffer from misophonia (yes it’s a real thing) and am very afraid that hearing the repetitive clicking of the mechanical valve would drive me to madness. Just the mention of that to my surgeon and he had no hesitation on which one to go with. The only up in the air matter is porcine vs bovine, but he will make that decision once he is in there and can see how big a valve he can fit. The bigger the better.
Wife surprised me today with a “Heart of Hope” pillow
Update posted on...
March 19, 2021
Odd question...For you men...Did you shave your own chest prior to surgery, or let them do it? If so, how much do you shave, the whole front or just the chest? I have Hailey-Hailey disease and worry about letting them do it, because in the past, they've always just dry shaved areas of my chest to get EKG leads to stick, and the irritation can cause a breakout
starting to put together a list of "necessities" to bring to the hospital. Aside from the obvious toiletries, comfy button-up pjs, etc, was there anything else y'all brought? anything you wish you brought, or things you ended up not having to have brought at all? I'm looking at 5-7 days in hospital after surgery.
Saw Dr. Thourani today for my pre-op consult and to get all the details of my upcoming surgery. Will be having a Bentall procedure, replacing my BAV, root, and the aneurysm. Will be going with biological valve, though whether he uses a porcine or bovine will depend once he gets in there and is able to see which option will be best for my ticker. Looks like 5-7 days post-op in the hospital and about 12 weeks recovery time. Will keep everyone updated if any new details arise before surgery and of course will document my healing journey on here as well.
So the doc gave me a picture of my aneurysm (first time I've actually laid eyes on it in 6 years). At 5.0cm, it's not as big as some that are operated on, but he said it is very big in length. All that circled part has got to go.
Update posted on...
March 1, 2021
Just had another CT scan done, and then a virtual follow up with Dr. Thourani. It's time...finally! ;) Surgery scheduled for 3/24. Will go in next week to talk about specifics of the operation and all that stuff...but finally seeing a light at the end of this tunnel.
Well, CT confirmed aneurysm at 4.9cm. However, everything else looks "good", BAV is mildly stenotic with mild regurgitation, and aortic root still looks good, so no decision for surgery just yet, but will get another CT in 6 months to see if it has grown any more. So it's back to the "watchful waiting" game. ;)
So I recently decided to look at changing cardiologists. I wanted someone who was more of an expert in valve diseases. Got a couple good recommendations from Dr. Malaisrie, for both an interventional cardiologist and surgeon here in the ATL. Meeting with Dr. Rajagopal and Dr. Thourani, with Marcus Heart Valve Center at Piedmont Hospital, and they requested getting a new echo (last one was performed back in January). I was perfectly fine with that because in the last few months I've been having wicked palpitations, interpolated PVC, and high heart rate (spiking above 120 bpm) when sleeping at night, and shortness of breath. Things just weren't feeling "right". At any rate, echo results showed the aneurysm at 4.9cm. They've ordered a CT to verify the actual size, but given that it was 4.5 in January, and they don't expect them to grow any more than .1cm per year as being "safe", it looks like things might be progressing much quicker to surgery. CT is scheduled for Wednesday (9/30), so I'll let everyone know the results then. Fun times. :)
I just realized I never came back and updated everyone on my last post. So nothing has changed with the ticker, but the biopsy on the nodule in my thyroid did come back as positive for cancer. Good news, apparently, if you had to choose a cancer to get, this would be one, papillary thyroid cancer. Doc was able to get in there, and remove everything with clear margins. And did so with only having to take out half my thyroid, so the hope is I won't have to go on hormone replacement therapy. Have to add ultrasound checkups to my throat a couple times a year for the next 5 years as a follow-up, but that's nothing I'm not already used to. :) Just wanted to give an update on that since I did mention it before. Thanks!
Well, had my yearly echo last week and got the results back. No change...so we wait again another year. I must say, as weird as it may sound, I kind of wish I could just go ahead and get this over with. At any rate, in other news, I had an ultrasound done on my neck for a lump I felt. It turned out to be a small lipoma, but in the process they found a rather large nodule on my thyroid with some calcified lesions, so they did a biopsy to test for cancer...So now I have that to worry me. :) Seriously though, the doc was fairly certain it's nothing to worry about, just being absolutely positive by testing. If it ain't one thing, it's another...
Woohoo! CT scan results came back today and showed that there has been no change in the aneurysm's size as compared to last year. Echo picture just was not a very good picture apparently (which is why the CT scan was ordered to verify). So life goes on as "normal", yearly echos and just "watchful waiting"
So I have two echos scheduled this week. The first, I had yesterday (2/4) was a normal echo, and a stress echo scheduled for Friday (2/8) due to the fact I had let the doc know that it seemed like it was a little harder to run long distances like I was used to. So just got the call back from the doc office with results from first echo, and it appears the aneurysm has grown to 4.8 cm. So he's ordered a CT scan to double check that (CT are more definitive than echo). So if that holds up, it looks like my search for a surgeon will begin. Stay tuned...