It's hard to believe it's been two and a half weeks since the surgery. I've never been good a journaling, so here's what's happened:
I left the hospital after 6 days, a bit later than I expected (due to a complication I'll say more about in a moment). The three hour drive home was exhausting, but I got home, got upstairs to bed--and discovered I couldn't get out again! I was o happy to see my own bed, I forgot the directions to continue to sleep with your head elevated! I had to slither out on to the floor, let my wife stack up the pillows. then try again. Ouch.
The next day, she got me a bit foam wedge from a medical supply store, which worked great. I only needed it for a few days, but it was a huge help.
Other than that, recovery has been slow and steady. I've been following the exercise plan and I'm up to two 30-minute walks each day, plus a good deal of activity around the house. I'm still finding that all very tiring, and I'm napping at odd times, but overall I'm doing more with about the same tiredness than I had a week ago, so that's progress I'd say.
Cleveland Clinic was very insistent about getting onto a 2000mg of salt per day diet, and that's been one of the harder things to manage. Once you start reading labels, you find salt everywhere. For instance, bagels turn out to be made of solid salt.
But--back to the complication. During surgery, and in my first post-surgical echocardiogram, they detected SAMs: Systolic Anterior Motion of the mitral valve. The doctors had quite a bit of difficulty explaining what this is and what it means. But as I understand it--it meant the repaired valve was still not operating properly, as it was moving backward at a certain point during each beat, and interfering with the proper flow of blood.
So I was faced with possible re-operation (although I had to push a bit to get them to verify that this was a possibility). They treated it with a beta-blocker and hydration for two days before it came around. They were still able to trigger it during a second echo-cardiogram by elevating my heart rate, and my cardiologist here at home will need to do more tests once I'm up to doing another stress test. It seems at this point that I may end up with some limits on physical activity--it's not clear how restrictive though.
Apparently SAMs occur in 2-3% of mitral valve repair patients. But I'd not heard of them before!
For now--feeling good for two and a half weeks out of surgery.
I got out of the ICU yesterday about noon, and got moved to a beautiful single room with a great view. I got to wash up and go for a walk, and I should get another two walks in today.
In between, I've just been exhausted. Wow. They are doing a good job of getting all the tubes out and bandages off as soon as they can, but there seems to be a never-ending supply!
Overall, the advice to get up and get moving seems like the best advice. Hard as it is to get motivated to get out of bed, and tired as I am afterward, the walks seem to more for me than any other treatment.
Just 11 hours to go as I write this. Kids are back home with friends and my wife is driving back to Cleveland now. I'm convinced that I couldn't get better care anywhere in the world, but it's hard not to be nervous! I've got no clue if I'll be able to sleep tonight.
Anyway, all the news from pre-op testing was good. N problems that should interfere with a successful surgery, and it will be minimally invasive: no splitting the sternum, no broken ribs. I realize this makes me VERY lucky compared to others, and I'm particularly thankful as I also have osteoporosis—I've broken quite a few bones and I'm glad I won't have any tomorrow if all goes well.
Thanks for all the notes of support! I've asked my wife to post something tomorrow when I'm out of the OR.
My mitral valve repair is scheduled for Monday, and I've been here in Cleveland Snce Wednesday afternoon for pre-op tests. I'll meet with Dr. Sabik this afternoon and get my final instructions for Monday.
So far, the Cleveland Clinic has lived up to its reputation. The atmosphere when you walk in feels nothing like a hospital, with art on the walls and music playing. And the staff h been very helpful. For instance, I had some questions for the cardiologist yesterday morning and he said I could just come back after 1 when he had the echocardiogram results. I got there around 2 and settled in for a long wait—that lasted only 5 minutes! He found time to meet me, showed me the results and answered my questions. I never expected that to happen at such a large institution.
In the end, we did bring the kids with us for the weekend. They go back home the day before surgery to stay with friends. In the meantime, they think they are on vacation, staying in a suite with TWO TVs! They will have some waiting room time today when we meet the surgeon. We'll see if they still think we are on vacation then!
Thanks to everyone who answered my questions! I'll be operated on by Dr. Sabik on June 25, with pre-op testing the week before. Dr. Sabik won't be there the next day, but I'm more interested in getting this done and onto recovery.
Here's a new question: what about kids? I have two kids under 10, and I'm wondering if anyone has experience going through this with younger children: what you told them about the surgery, whether they visited you while in the hospital, worries they might have had. I'm pretty sure that they shouldn't see me while entubated, but I'm wondering whether visits after that would make them feel better or worse. Or maybe kids of this age won't be too worried?
A Few Questions, Mostly about the Cleveland Clinic
Journal posted on May 8, 2012
I heard this afternoon that Dr. Sabik at the Cleveland Clinic is recommending a mitral valve repair. They've given me a few possible dates for surgery, and I'll have to choose later this week. In the meantime, I have a few questions that I'm hoping I get some answers to:
* The earliest date for surgery is the day before my surgeon leaves the country, so he wouldn't be there during my hospital stay. I know a lot of (most?) people talk to their surgeons the day after the procedure. How important do people feel that is? Should this be a factor in choosing the date?
* Also, my surgeon seems to have been selected by my cardiologist. I asked to have my case reviewed by the Cleveland Clinic, and my cardiologist sent my information to Dr. Sabik, and now they are suggesting dates for surgery with Dr. Sabik. Is that typical, or have others had a choice of surgeons at the Cleveland Clinic.
* On the other hand, Dr. Sabik is obviously an excellent surgeon. Any opinions on him?
* Like a lot of (most?) people, I'd really like to have minimally invasive or robotic surgery if possible. When do people typically find out what kind of procedure the surgeon will do?