In honor of today being NHVDAD (Adam's latest effort to increase awareness...Go Adam!!), I thought I would post. Feb 2 was my 5th anniversary. Amazingly at my annual check up, I was told things have improved since last year. My heart is working better now (gradient has surprisingly improved). Apparently, I misunderstood my doc last year and I don't have any signs of my valve deteriorating. So, uh yeah, never mind on that. Phew!
No sports injuries to report. Not running as much, but have taken to cycling (well not in the winter in New York). Feeling great and still working out like a fiend. So, all my fixed parts are working correctly. For those of you who see me on Facebook, you know my life is good. I am happy and in love.
The first step on this road is the hardest. To everyone out there, if I can help in anyway, let me know.
Love to you all and, I will never stop saying it, thanks to everyone who helped me through this journey.
He's back! Hi everyone. I had my 4th birthday in early February but did not feel much like posting then. I was nursing a new sports injury, heard a bit of news at my annual check-up that jolted me and had some stuff going on with my older daughter.
So, let's back up and start where I left off. I did run another half marathon in May. I ran a tad slower than my last half so no PR, but I had a truly great, enjoyable run. Fast forward to January. After a break from running, I decided to get back into it (not a great idea in the dead of winter in NY, but no one ever called me bright). On the day of our biggest snow storm (2 feet plus), at the end of January, I decided not to run and go to the gym to do a bootcamp. Well there I rolled my ankle doing lateral jumps over low hurdles. I badly sprained my ankle with several torn ligaments and even got myself a bone bruise too. 11 weeks later, I am still out of commission. I hope to be back to running in a few weeks. So, my 50+ year old body (52 this year) continues not to be able to keep up with my awesome, fixed heart. I guess that is good news, at least here anyway.
At my annual check up, for the most part everything looked great. CT scan showed my repaired aorta was in great shape. No afib and all mostly looked great with my cow parts. However, doc informed me that I have started to show some signs of deterioration of the valve. Specifically, it has narrowed slightly. Doc says all normal and par for the course. He said nothing to be concerned about and no reason to think it won't last just as long as originally expected, but the news still jolted me a bit. I guess I just expected this thing to start wearing out later than my 4th birthday. That said, I am still pleased with my decision to go tissue and have no plans to take it easy as I want to live my life, my way. And whenever it is that I wear out my cow valve, I will cross that bridge when I get there. Obviously I hope it is later than sooner.
Also the good news is my heart truly is working great as I have found love again. Been dating an awesome woman for past 15 months. As evidenced by all the little heart emoji's I send her, I guess the heart is working as it should.
So that is my update. All fixed things are working properly with no issues. High energy workouts continue so I guess wear and tear are to be expected. I keep my doc informed of all I do, and he is fine with it all.
To everyone out there, if I can help in anyway, let me know.
Love to you all and, I will never stop saying it, thanks to everyone who helped me through this journey.
Another year gone by. Wow, time flies once your fixed and feeling good.
I continue to be plagued by sports related injuries because I feel so good post op. This past year brought a late summer foot fracture from landing wrong on a stick during a run. Oh well, bad luck, stuff happens. Now I am back it and have my sights set on a late Spring half marathon.
My annual check up revealed my hardware is all in great shape. New parts (barnyard aortic valve, aorta repair) are in place and working fine. Heart continues to be in great shape and no leaks. But unfortunately, I have developed a software glitch as my echo showed I am experiencing afib at times. (Recently, I did notice a slight flutter at times. I figured it was just stress. I mean I do live in NYC and have a teenager!) Not ideal, but doc says it is pretty common. So wearing a heart monitor for 2 weeks and then may need to alter or add to my meds (currently taking metoprolol and a full aspirin daily). Hmmm, guess I can live with that given everything else in this process.
So, that is my update. To everyone out there, if I can help in anyway, let me know. This whole site is about paying it forward and helping each other through this. It is a crappy club to be in, but here we are. Always grateful to Adam for this site.
Love to you all and, I will never stop saying it, thanks to everyone who helped me through this journey.
Happy 2nd Birthday to me! Save the wisecracks that I often act like a two year old......
So, it has been 2 years since my OHS to replace my aortic valve (moo!) and repair my AAA. FInally, the urge to eat grass has subsided. Bottom line, I feel great. My annual check ups (CT scan, echo, dr visit) have revealed my heart has continued to improve over the past year. Blood pressure stronger, gradient better, LV a tad smaller. YAY!!!!!!
My big issue over the past 12 months was multiple, recurring stress fractures in my right tibia and fibula. So, my bright idea to run a three-peat of half marathons by my 15th month post op was not a good one DUH! My battery of tests around that confirmed what I already knew, I over did it. I was finally cleared from PT in December and now back to a slow, controlled build in my running. Not even thinking about doing distance. OK, thinking about it, but not going to do it....
As I said last year: to those who are still on the other side. Go for it! But take your time, do your homework and get comfortable with this. Then, go get fixed and never look back. It is not easy, but it is manageable, you can do this. If I can help, let me know.
Love to you all and, I will never stop saying it, thanks to everyone who helped me through this journey.
Time for a little Jimmy Cliff..."I can see clearly now....."
Quick update as I hit 18 months post op. I have a huge issue. I have a stress fracture in my ankle. LOL! Comical really, given all I went through. I ran my second half marathon 13 months after surgery (note my new profile picture). So, of course, after a few weeks off, I went back to training for my third half marathon that was to be at month 15. While gearing up for that, I developed pain in my ankle and ultimately found out I had a stress fracture from all that running. So, no third half marathon for me. Well, at least until my ankle heals……..
So, for everyone who is in the early stages of this journey wondering 'what will my life be like post op?' I offer you my story. Anything is possible after surgery. Don’t worry about it. Do your homework, get fixed, and don’t look back. Good luck to you all and let me know if I can help you in anyway.
1 year out – A perfect looking heart & half marathon #2
Journal posted on February 1, 2013
Tomorrow is my one year anniversary of surgery. Wow, what a year it has been! I still find it mind boggling and hard to grasp all I have been through. But been through it I have, indeed. Cracked like lobster and new parts put in – new cow valve and new section of my ascending aorta, to be exact.
I just received the results of my one year post op echo. My cardiologist’s exact words were, ”you have a perfect looking heart.” I have no leakage, valve is working great and has settled in nicely, and my heart has returned back to its normal size (it had enlarged due to my condition which was the main cause for concern that had prompted my need for surgery). I also had a CT scan which confirmed all is good with the repair of my aortic aneurysm. Big exhale. I just knew all was well with me, but it sure is nice to hear confirmation.
So, I came, I saw and I conquered! And now I feel great. In fact, I feel so much better post op. I have much more energy and people tell me I look great, which I attribute to having more color in my face. Funny thing, before my surgery, I thought I was asymptomatic….
I will also say, I remain grateful for the emotional side of this journey. I would be lying if I told you I still feel as in touch with all the emotions, the rawness, the openness, etc. as I did around my surgery. However, I do strive to stay in touch with as much of those feelings as possible. Why? Because I feel this journey, while hard, was also a gift. It has made me a better person and more aware of the important things in life. And of the need to make sure you take time to get the most out of what life has to offer. So, part of my job now is to stay in touch with the emotional side of all of this and do my best to make the most out of this one, wonderful life we have.
So, to those who are still on the other side. Go for it! But take your time, do your homework and get comfortable with this. Then, go get fixed and never look back. It is not easy, but it is manageable, you can do this. If I can help, let me know.
As for me, life is good. I feel great and yes, I am running another half marathon…in March. Hmmm, 13 months post op, 2 half marathons. I still gotta be me!
Love to you all and, I will never stop saying it, thanks to everyone who helped me through this journey.
Half marathon…yup, been there, done that. This past Sunday (10/7) I ran my half, 5 days after my 8 month anniversary. I trained really hard and found the half was very doable. Not easy, but not hard either. I finished exactly on my target pace, 2 hours 10 minutes. No one would call me fast, but I can live with that. After all, 8 months ago I had trouble walking on my own. Now look at me! But after the half, I was disappointed I did not finish faster. I am an idiot! But what was that all about?
Well after much soul searching, I have realized something. I realized I ran the half, not as a testament to my physical accomplishments. I ran the half to acknowledge my emotional accomplishments. I needed to get some closure on this saga, and the half has given me that. The audacious (for me) goal, and subsequent accomplishment, of running a half marathon (8 months post op) showed me that, without a doubt, I am again physically sound. With that question answered, it has allowed me to get more in touch with the emotional side of this saga. I look back and can better grasp how scared I actually was. I came face to face with my own mortality. I was scared. It sucked. But, guess what, I lived! Today I feel more alive than ever. I feel thankful and blessed. So, lots of tears for me since Sunday. Tears of joy, relief and release. I still can’t believe what I have been through.
I wish all in the early stages good luck. You can do this! The waiting is definitely the worst part. Do your homework, make decisions that feel right to you and take small forward recovery steps as often as you can. This site is an incredible resource. Thanks to all of you for your support. And thank you, again, to Adam!
Almost 8 Months Post Op - Time for a half marathon (Yikes!)
Journal posted on September 20, 2012
Quick update for everyone. In two weeks I will be 8 months post op. How will I celebrate? By running my first half marathon! Suffice it to say, the running group was a great idea. I was never really a runner and now look at me. Truly amazing! Yes, life is good. I am very lucky, I know that. I wish everyone the same luck as me.
While I am not here as often as I was, I do still read all the entries to "catch up" where I left off. It has struck me that, lately, many people seem to go through surgery, start recovery, stop posting and then reappear with a recap that ends with a "didn't want to post bad news" type of comment. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!
In my humble opinion, this is not supposed to be a ‘feel good’ only site. It is supposed to be a place where we all go for support and help during a really, really scary time in our lives. For me, HVJ was what got me through it all. A place I could just be me, raw and honest, and not be subject to the judgments of others. So, I strongly encourage everyone who is nervous, scared or has something going on to post often.
I know from experience, when your fellow HVJers reply, it helps, A LOT. It helps make things much less scary to know others are feeling or have felt the same things. Plus, more often than not, they post helpful advice and suggestions. The fact that so many people still hang around post-surgery to "pay it forward" and help others like they were helped is what makes this a truly amazing community. And of course, call your doctor non-stop, especially right after you get home from the hospital. I know I hesitated doing this at first as I did not want to bother him. Well, I found out, he is used to it and even better, he often helped me over the phone without needing to see me.
Now, as for me, yesterday was my 6 month post op anniversary. This one feels really big to me. One reason is the timing lines up and my anniversary is the same day of the week as my surgery. So, I can't help looking at the clock and thinking about what I was doing at this time exactly 6 months ago (ex. Thurs 9PM - having my breathing tube removed, Fri at Noon - AFIB hits, Fri at 3PM - my pressure drops super low so instead of heading to step down and home in a few days, I end up in ICU for 5 days....). So, this is a very poignant anniversary for me.
I can't help but marvel at how the time has flown, how well I am doing and how thankful I remain for all of those that really supported me through it all. You know who you are. I still can’t thank you enough.
To everyone not fully ensconced in recovery like me, Hang strong! Lots of “bright, bright sunshiny days” ahead. Until you get there, “Lean on Me” and all of your HVJ brothers and sisters.
Quick update, mainly for my fellow runners. Set a personal best today; ran 7 miles. Never did that distance before and I am just about 2 weeks shy of 6 months post op. Yeah, I am feeling good. Oddly, it was about 25 degrees cooler today and I noticed my pace improved. So, yes I am still slower than pre-op, but I also realized I never really ran in the heat, so that is impacting my pace too. For my fellow runners looking for some data points, I averaged a 10:30 pace (I never was a fast runner) and my HR averaged low 150s. Good luck to everyone in recovery and still facing surgery. You can do this!
Amazing how time has flown. Life is good. I feel great. Fully ensconced in my running group. We are training for a 10K in August. I have more than doubled the mileage of my runs since a month ago. I have exceeded my pre-surgery distance. Plus, I am now technically a stronger, better runner. My pace is slower than my pre-surgery pace, but I have read that it takes a bit more time for the pacing to return.
People often ask me if I had any symptoms and I used to say no. I have now come to realize I actually think I did. Post surgery, I seem to have more energy and better color in my face. Interesting to note that I don't think I was as asymptomatic as I thought.
At 5 months post op, I feel I am at a truly amazing point. Far enough that I feel I have overcome all the physical hardships of surgery and I am now back to my pre-surgery levels. But at the same time, not quite done with recovery such that I feel I have more improvements to make. Hence, I hope and expect to "land" in an even better place physically than I started. Now that is exciting!!!!!!
So, can you tell I am a little focused on my exercising?!?!?! True, I am. At the same time, I have not lost sight of the emotional/mental aspects of this journey. I remain thankful for all that I have and better focused on the important things in my life.
As I said before, life is good and we are all lucky to have been fixed. Here's to making the most of what we have been given!
I saw Joan Davenport today in the hospital and wanted to pass along she is doing well. She is out of ICU, but not quite in step down because no beds are available. As some may have noticed, her HVJ seems to have disappeared. She is not sure what happened to it, but you can still sign her guest book by going to:
4 months post op and at times I need to strain to remember surgery and all I went through. Then I look in the mirror and see my scar. Ah yes, it did actually happen.
I am feeling great. I am working out 4 times a week, 2 with my trainer and 2 runs. But I seem to be stuck in the low mileage/slow pace groove with my runs. Likely because I am not running enough to really improve. So, I signed up for a running group to break me out of it. Either a genius move or an idiot move…we will see. One thing I know for sure, I will listen to my body for the answer. I have been very good about that lately.
Also, reality check, I am four months post op, exercising 4 times a week and complaining about not doing more. Good to see I am back to “normal.” And, for the record, not a day goes by that I am not thankful for life and for all the support I have received, and continue to receive, from those around me. Bottom line, life is good!
For those that are in the early stages pre and post surgery, you can do this! It is not a cake walk, but it is very manageable. Good luck to you.
Well, I am jumping the gun a little. Rehab graduation is tomorrow and my 3 month post op anniversary is on Wednesday. But, hey, I missed HVJ. Just caught up on many posts and felt like doing my update now.
I am graduating rehab already because I did too well on my stress test and insurance only approved 12 sessions (4 weeks). A good thing, I guess. Rehab was really good for me. It helped me get confident about exercising again. It pushed me hard, but kept me safe. Perfect! Exactly what I was looking for. Now I feel like I can push my intensity, know what to look for and be safe. All good things.
3 months out and I feel great. Truly, life is good. I am doing a better job listening to my body. Nap when I need to, which is not that often. But, if I need one, I will take it. This week I even left work early because I just felt wiped out. So, I went home and napped. However, generally I feel very good. I am working out 5x a week, 3 at rehab and 2 with my trainer. In fact, on Saturday, at the end of my workout I pushed myself hard, similar to my old intensity. Know what happened? I got a glimmer of my old self. It was awesome, it made me tear. While I know I still need to be careful and build back slowly, that glimmer made me truly feel like I was back. And it felt great!!!!!!
I am back to running. Up to 1.5 miles at a slow pace. But now that rehab is done, I plan to focus on the running more. My BP is approx 110/68. RHR is mid sixties (where I was pre-op). Still taking 50mg of Metoprolol, and will be for awhile since cardiologist dismissed me for 6 months. Plan to keep an eye on my numbers and will inquire about reducing my dosage if my pressure gets low.
Like many of my HVJ post op friends, I feel different. My heart has been touched, literally and figuratively. Because of it, now I have a better appreciation for what matters in life and what doesn't. As Janis put is so well, "when I see crazy coming, I cross the street." OK, at least I try my hardest, but in NYC, crazy is on both sides of the street! While I don't recommend this path for anyone, I feel like a better person because of it.
I wish the best to all my HVJ friends who are post op and good luck to everyone who is pre op.
OK, so I am one of THOSE people. You know the ones that give out lots of advice about what OTHER people should do, but are too stupid to follow it THEMSELVES? Yup, that's me! So, I tell people here, over and over, to listen to their body, take it easy when necessary and of course, nap, nap nap. And what do I do? I fall off the nap wagon and stop taking naps.
I had not napped in 10 days. In those 10 days, I increased my hours at work (to pretty much full time), on Saturday I took a yoga class and then went for my first run (it was a glorious run in Central Park on a great day. Ran 1.5 miles, slowly, but I did it!!!!), started cardiac rehab 3x per week and of course, decided I should start training with my trainer again so I did a 5:30 AM session yesterday. Guess what, I was wiped out today!!!!! But, I am not THAT stupid, I left work early, finally got back on the nap wagon and took a nap before rehab, and I felt great. So, I plan to stay on the wagon and do a better job listening to my body.
Cardiac rehab is going really well. I am a little surprised as I figured it would be a waste of time. But, the main guy is really good, experienced and is setting my levels so I am working hard. He said I would bounce back quickly from surgery and my body would respond well to rehab. He was right, 5 sessions done and I already see improvement. BTW, my stress test indicated I am in really good shape, so insurance will only pay for 12 sessions of rehab. So, I am almost halfway done!
Tomorrow is 10 weeks post op, I truly marvel at how well I am doing and how far I have come. I guess I feel so good, I get carried away and want to do more than I can handle. Well, that is plain stupid. I see that now. I need to remind myself 2 things: recovery is not linear, slow and steady wins this race (where is that turtle?). Ah yes, and be patient!! (ok that is 3 things).
For those about to go, good luck. This is a completely doable and manageable event. I know it does not feel that way right now, but it is true. You can and will do this! For those in recovery, work hard, push yourself, but also be patient and listen to your body. For me, TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE!!!!
I expect to start rehab next week. I did my stress test today and doc was amazed at how well I did. Yes, I am doing great. Still have a little fatigue but not too bad. Work is much better this week as I am leaving early and taking little naps daily. Like others, I will probably be posting less going forward. So, in honor of all of you, I wrote the following:
So this is for all of you, it’s about time
I show you more than Jeff and Nancy, can do a little rhyme.
Some call it a poem, or a little diddy
We call it a rap, that’s how we roll in my City.
My name is Mitch, one day I found this site
Started by some dude Adam, then the site took flight.
Adam had an idea, wanted to help see those through
Then his idea took off, it just grew and grew and grew.
We all are very thankful, to this guy from the West Coast
What he has done for all of us, is really more than most.
He more than helped us out, allowed us all to meet
For a guy who likes to surf, that really is some feat.
I found this site one night, in my panicked haze
Was overwhelmed and scared, we have all had THOSE days,
Only commented at first, then met Linda and Jane too
They convinced me to start a journal, what followed who knew.
I started it with a leap of faith, this is not something that I “do”
No, no, not for me, social media is still too new.
Living out loud, was certainly not for me
Doing it all alone, that is how I used to be.
Made lots of new friends, learned a lot too
From what I have been told, I even helped a few.
The support I received, is just plain humbling
Every time I think of it, I cry and start bumbling
So, thanks to all my friends, old and new
Especially, Larry, Shep, Debbie, Linda, Jane and Janis, just to name a few.
Can’t mention you all, but need to name one more
This special person got me through recovery, I swear she was always at the grocery store
I just call her mom, many call her Di
All because of her, again I can fly!
I can’t say thanks enough, she stayed by my side
It was not always fun, but boy what a ride.
I will end my little rap, here and now.
Wish everyone the best, love from me and my cow!
Hi, just wanted everyone to know I survived my first week back at work. I was totally consumed by work this week, so not much HVJing. Yes, of course I overdid it. We all knew that was coming. I went in 4 days this week. 2 of them I worked full days and was completely wiped out by the end. At least I stayed home today, but had calls, answered emails, etc. I will strive to do a better job next week listening to my body and taking it a little easier. My goal is a more gradual build up to getting back to work full time.
I did get a few walks in this week. Today I walked my 2 miles in just under 28 minutes. It felt great. I moved my rehab orientation to today, from Monday. Just a bit too optimistic to do it on my first day back. Today was nothing, forms and an explanation of the program. Found out I need a stress test before I can start. I can do it there, which is at the hospital and have my insurance pay for it directly, but they are booked until April 26th. Or I can do it at my doc's office next week, pay myself, submit it to insurance (since he is out of network) and see what happens. Yeah, like I can wait until end of April.....
So, I am doing great at 7 weeks post op. Still have a little brain fog, but that is getting better. Overall, I have no complaints.
One last thing, today I got my bill for the hospital portion of my surgery (no doctors bills yet). Ready...$115,000!!!!!!!!! Sure glad my insurance covered pretty much all of that. But still a staggering figure. OR...$25,0000, cardiac cath...$10,000, bovine valve $7,500. Mitch being fixed and feeling great now....priceless!!!!
I met with my cardiologist for my 6 week post op visit (tomorrow is my actual 6 week anniv). I had an echo earlier in the week, I am happy to report all looks great. YAY!!!! No leaks, valve is securely in place and no signs of fluid around my heart. Going from almost 75% regurg to nothing. Awesome!
Doc agreed that rehab could do me some good to help me get more comfortable pushing my body. So, I have my rehab orientation on Monday. Will see how it goes.
Doc also gave me parameters to work on outside of rehab. He told me to pick up the pace of my walks and target 2 miles in 30 minutes. I figure I will be there by the weekend since I am under 18 minute miles now. Just shave a bit each walk. One thing for sure though, I will listen to my body and not push too much.
"Re-entry" into my life is hard for me mentally. I am still working to get my head around returning to work (this coming Monday) and reintegrating with my family. Just sharing. I have found small incremental steps, like with excercise is my key. So, for example, this week I started setting my alarm to wake up and have returned to taking my daughter to school.
I told the doc while I feel great, I am still not feeling like "me" yet. He reminded me I am only 6 weeks out from major surgery and to be patient. Oh, yeah, got to go find my turtle, slow and steady wins this race. Patience, I am going to look that one up in the dictionary.....
Yeah, if only that were true...... Maybe soon, but not quite there yet.
But, truthfully, I have no complaints. 5 weeks post op yesterday. I am walking 2.5 miles at a time, at a very good pace. Right now, I am only getting one walk in a day as I try to see my HVJ brothers (Chris and Jeff) daily as they are in the hospital. I would not have it any other way, who needs to walk 5 miles a day anyway.
I can't exactly say I am pushing my recovery these days. I am pretty much doing the same distance and pace daily. I feel like I am at a good point in my recovery and the next step is really ramping it up and I am just not ready, mentally, yet. I am waiting for the magic 6 week mark when supposedly I am back in one piece (sternum fully healed and new parts fully "integrated"). I see my cardiologist next week for my first echo and 6 week post op follow up. I plan to discuss rehab with him when I see him.
I am a little torn on doing rehab or not. At 2 weeks post op, my cardiologist mentioned he thought it would be a waste of time, but we would discuss it further at 6 weeks. Many here have extolled the virutes of rehab, and I am very intrigued by DVB, who said it was great for him and he pushed it really hard in rehab. So, I am guessing I will give it a try and see what happens. Worst case, I look for a "Cardiac Rehab Dropout" t-shirt to add to my collection along with "Zipper Chest Club" and "I eat grass."
Also, I am still a little groggy/foggy at times. It just seems I am not as sharp as I was pre op. And I am a bit forgetful at times. I am guessing this is from the anesthia and will go away overy time. Sure hope so.....
Fatigue is still the issue. I am still usually napping once a day. But I have had my first few decent nights sleep. So, if I continue to sleep well, fatigue should get better.
I decided I will go back to work on 3/19. Dang, I was enjoying this life of long walks and naps!
That's all for now. Peace to all of my friends and family. Especially my HVJ brethren, those about to go, those in recovery and those who are new to this process.
One more thing, A BIG SPECIAL SHOUT OUT TO LINDA. WELCOME TO CLEVELAND MY FRIEND. YOUR JOURNEY IS ALMOST OVER. WE ARE ALL HERE FOR YOU. YOU CAN AND WILL DO THIS!!!!!! I CAN'T WAIT TO FINALLY WELCOME YOU TO THE OTHER SIDE OF SURGERY.
Hard to believe it has been 4 weeks since my AVR and root repair. WOW, is all I can say. I had my follow up with my surgeon today. He is very pleased with my progress, in fact he said I was his poster child for surgery and recovery. First Patient Spotlight and now this...... I might as well hang it up now, I can't top that. Plus, guy said he did not want to see me again. Hmmm, is it personal.....
I got teary again today after seeing my surgeon and being "dismissed." While I am certainly not done with recovery, I do have a sense of feeling like the worst is behind me. Kind of like, Yay for me, I did it! I could finally turn to my mom, who was with me, and tell her she had nothing left to worry about, that I will in fact be fine. We hugged and cried.
Last few days, I have been feeling a little "blah." I was starting to get bummed out by the fatigue and by taking it slow. Sure, I could walk (a lot!), but still nowhere near myself. I also started to think about when I might go back to work and worst of all, I felt myself starting to get back into the groove of life. Good thing, right? Well, not really. During the hardest days before and after surgery. I felt very alive, very awake, very touched and very different. I really saw changes that I wanted to make in my life for the better. I felt like this was a rebirth and a chance to do things differently, and better. Last few days, I felt those feelings slipping away and felt myself just feeling like the old me. It was quite humbling and upsetting. How terrible would it be to waste this rebirth?
Suddenly, today, after seeing my surgeon and him telling me how I have done everything possible to have a good surgery and a good recovery, and him telling me that not everyone does that, well, I felt alive again. I AM reborn and I will NOT lose this chance and I WILL make the most out of my rebirth. I am renewed, again. Feels great.
Physically, I could not be happier. Tuesday was a beautiful day in NYC. I went for a long walk in Central Park and ended up walking close to 3 miles. Probably a bit too long, but I am now easily walking 2 - 2.5 miles, twice a day and a very good pace (18:30 miles). Doc cleared me to drive and to go on the treadmill (walking only!) today.
So, 4 weeks post op. Doing well physically, pushing it as my body allows me, and resting as my body needs. Emotionally, my recovery work is to stay awake, stay focused on my rebirth and not to simply take the easy path of life as it has always been. Too much living to do for that to happen. Hmmm, I think the physical recovery sounds easier, at least for me.
Well, feels like I have come full circle, I stated I started this HVJ to do things differently, to share and live out loud and be a better person for it. Well, I did and I am. Now to just keep it going.....
As always, thank you all for all of your support. There is just no way I would have made it without you.
And, last but not least, my heart goes out to Kelly's family. Today would have been 4 weeks post op for her too. God bless you Kelly, rest peacefully.
Thanks everyone for all your supportive comments to my last post, I will be responding to everyone individually soon. But, I did want to say, all of you are the best, and your comments really helped me.
I am back to rocking recovery. Yesterday's mile was at 18:30 pace, even surprised myself with that one. And last night, I did not sleep in my recliner. I slept lying flat (ish), on my side and got a great night's sleep! Huge milestone for me!!!!!
Also, I met Chris Dixon and his wife Niki yesterday. He arrived in town for his surgery on Monday. Good people! Chris is more nervous about being in the Patient Spotlight and following in my foot steps, than his surgery. OK, not really. Chris is solid, in that "bring it on" place and ready for his surgery. I know he will do great.
I felt great yesterday, same today. I'm just taking each day as it comes. But sure enjoying the great days!!!!
Wishing you all a bright, bright, bright sunshiney day!!!!!
Today, I am officially 3 weeks post op. In every respect, I am doing incredible well. Yesterday, I walked 1.5 miles in the morning, and then later I did 1 mile in the afternoon at a 20 minute pace. Great right????
But, today, I was feeling a little down. As a milestone, I took my older daughter to school today. This is something I did daily pre op and will do daily again soon. At school, I guess I kind of expected this huge "OMG, how are you doing?" reaction, fanfare, etc. But in reality, it was just another day of school drop off. A few nods, a few smiles, yes, a big welcome from my daughter's teacher. But in general, just another day for most. I wanted to get on a desk and scream, "what is wrong with you people, I have been through hell and back and am soaring now, how about a little love?!?!?!?!" But, I didn't. I kind of withdrew and felt like I was making a bigger deal of this day, and my accomplishments, then I should.
I shared this with my wife, and I thought she was going to smack me. She was like,"stop it, you are changed you are awake now and a better person for it. They have not changed, their loss!" Then she bought me a cookie with "you are king of the world" written on it. Yay for her! It sure helped lift my mood.
Then I had a great visit with a good friend, and lunch with a different friend. I walked a mile before lunch, but did not time it today. Hope to walk another mile later. So, still a pretty good day so far afterall.
So, I realize, this is recovery. Great days. Dare I say, days where I push a little too much. And not so great days, where I need to recover from the great days. I did not sleep well last night, and know I need extra rest today because of yesterday. I am giving myself that rest, napping and taking it easy (ok, between walks, visits, lunches, etc.)
Also, as you have probably seen, I have passed the Patient Spotlight baton. It was time. I will continue to update frequently, but I figure everyone was getting tired of my ugly mug. Though not sure Chris' is any better, but that is a discussion for a different day......
I'm still flying, but just a little lower today. Back with the eagles tomorrow, for sure.
All my best to everyone, from the bottom of my now fixed heart.
So, I know the norm is weekly updates post op, but I just can't wait until Thursday, my official 3 week post op day. I had to write today.
Simply put, to coin what I believe Ivana has said in one of her earlier posts, amazing things are happening now! I feel I have totally turned the corner and am in full rock and roll mode. Today, I walked 1.3 miles. Decent pace, but decided not to time myself. But I can tell my pace is also improving as my distance is increasing. I feel great! Post walk, was a little tired, sat down in my best friend the recliner, but did not pass out for a nap. Very interesting.
Fatigue is still an issue. Creeps up on me out of nowhere, but that is OK. I keep an open mind about fatigue and welcome it when it comes. If I need a nap, I nap. If not, not. Nights are starting to get better too. Almost manageable, but not quite easy yet.
Also, my chest is healing! Hard to describe, but I know my not so mini incision and my cracked like a lobster sternum are getting better. I feel no pain, but do feel stretching and pulling and sometimes a little uncomfortable 'twinge.' But in an odd way, these are welcome sensations. I know it means I am getting better. And that is a REALLY good feeling.
So, life is good. Our hearts have been touched, literally and figuratively, and we are forever changed by that. Now, here is the real questions for us all. What do you want to do with this one fantastic life we have been given?
For those still to go, you can do this!
For those healing, you can do this, but you better be planning to make the most out of life. It is precious, and we have all been given a renewed chance to fly! So, whose ready to come fly with me?
As we say in my family, "funny strange, not funny ha ha."
I feel like I am settling into somewhat of a recovery groove. Definitely 2 walks a day now. Yesterday's walks were both 1 mile each and I even broke out my runner's watch to time my first mile. Just wanted to see how long it took. No way I am setting myself up to compete with myself. Nah, we know I am not competitive that way.........
Spasms are better, only a few here and there, no meds necessary. However, instead of the spasms, now I have one super sore back muscle. Chest is great. Back hurts like a *&^%#$. Took a percocet because the midnight caughing was unbearable because of the back pain. Strange right? My chest, where they filleted me like a fish, feels great, but my back hurts a ton.
I can walk a mile, but sometimes need a nap after my shower. Hmmm...
Also, yesterday when I woke up and took my vitals, I found out my heart decided to race that day. My pulse jumped from a normal around 85 to almost 130. I lived with it until mid afternoon and then paged my doctor (on a Saturday). His reply, no big deal, take an extra beta blocker. Bang! Pulse went back to normal. BTW, he had a similar reply when I called him about the back spasms, no big deal, here is what to do. So, word to the wise for everyone in recovery. Anything bothering you, call your doctor (cardiologist, not surgeon), and thell them what is happening. Our bodies have been through a major ordeal, these doctors have probably seen this all before, so they can help us easily and quickly. Lesson learned for me (and I hope others too).
Anyway, I feel great, I walk, and I nap. That seems to be what this recovery game is all about. Do what you can and also do what you need. Take it all one step at a time. 2 weeks, 3 days post op, I guess I should be pretty psyched with where I am in my recovery. You know what, I am!!!! Now my mantra is "yes, I did it." Today is going to be another bright, bright, bright sunshiney day!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks to my new good friend valium, back spasms are manageable. But not gone yet. Buy, hey, I will take the improvement. Magnesium has helped too.
Beautiful day in NYC today, so I went for my walk. And, just kept going and going. 2 weeks, 1 day post op and I WALKED A MILE TODAY!!!!! At a decent pace too (well relative to the walker crew). Yeah baby. Feelling like Mitch again!!!! No pain, or pain meds either.
So, as everyone has said, good days, bad days. We just needto take them as they come.
Also, Linda spammed me with an invitation to buy viagra from this great pharmacy in Canada. Good suggestion, but I need to call Janice first and get a read again on when it is ok to do "laundry."
Lastly, I posted a few new pics if you are interested. One of me in all my glory 2 hours post op. Another of my scar since someone asked me for it. Now I was supposed to have a mini, but my scar looks pretty long for that, so I am not sure if I had the mini or replacement of my aorta meant I needed a full. More from surgeon when I meet him in 2 weeks.
Hi everyone, it is hard to believe it is already two weeks since my surgery. WOW, how times flies. For the most part I am doing well. I am getting in 2 walks a day and 2 naps (one mini cat nap for 20 mins or so and one longer nap of an hour or so). My walks are up to half mile and today I increased my pace such that I caught up to the old people with walkers instead of getting passed by them. Now that is progress!
Also today I woke up to massive, unbearable back spasms. Doc said it is all a normal, but unfortunate, part of the recovery. I have tried stretching, heat and walking, which have helped, but have not stopped them. I also took a few valiums (because we are just not on enough drugs, right???). That helped a little but, amazingly did not get rid of them. So we will see what tomorrow brings.
Good news is I am off pain meds of any kind. No percocet or tylenol. I will take them as needed, but have not needed them lately. Plus, prefer to avoid taking both pain meds and valium.
So, the back spasms are a bummer. Wish I did not have them, but that is part of recovery. Good day, bad days, one day at a time. Slow and steady wins this race. Overall, I am generally feeling stronger every day. Yay, me!
Having a great day. 1 walk, 2 meals, 1 nap so far today. I am hoping for one more of each to make it a perfect day. I am typing responses to my guestbook, mid reply to Duane, and then bang it hit, out of nowhere, MY FIRST SNEEZE. HOLY CRAP WHAT PAIN. NOT SOMETHING I EVER WANT TO HAPPEN AGAIN. AT LEAST FOR A FEW DAYS, PLEASE!!!!!!!
Since I was on my HVJ anyway, just thought a real time update was appropriate. BTW, of course today, I am only on Tylenol. My only percocet of the day was in the middle of the night.
I guess the recovery gods figured they would have a little fun with me. I see them all laughing up there right now. Not sure if I will reach for another percocet or not. Still regaining my composure after my first sneeze. To those that have been where I am right now, total "hello" right???
This am I had bacon for breakfast. My heart started to flutter a little bit as I think my new cow valve was happy to see his old barnyard pal pass by (cue drum roll for bad jokes).
I am soaring! So far today, I woke up, ate breakfast, took a nap, and showered. Very cold here today, so I am staying in all day. I have given into the recovery gods and look to appease them in everyway that I can. I am focused on taking it easy now, one day at a time, so that I can end up with the shortest recovery possible. So, I am taking everyone's advice to go slow and finish first. I have a little toy turtle now to remind me 'slow and steady wins the race.' I plan to start a formal, measured walking program beginning tomorrow.
Nights are still tough, especially the massive night sweats. I recall reading the medicine they are giving me to keep my heartbeat regular, because I went into A-Fib in hosipital, makes the sweats worse. I am sleeping in my best friend the recliner and only make it for a few hours at a time. All of that said, when I woke up today, I had the strange feeling of winning (yes, me and Charlie Sheen). It is hard to explain, but if I draw a vertical line, left of the line is "losing the night battle" and right of the line is "winning the night battle" last night I finally crossed over to the right side of the line. I know I might cross back left tonight, or other nights in the future, but I am pretty psyched to have had a "winning" night last night. Wait a second, while I drink my tiger blood....
Drugs. I did my little experiment and went of the percocet. I learned something. This thing hurts, a lot!!!!! Especially when I cough. So, I decided to again re-evaluate my approach to pain management. Gone are the aritificial 'coulds' and 'shoulds.' Now, I am letting my body tell me what it needs. And right now it still needs percocet. I am OK with that now. I mean, they sent me home with a bottle of 80 perocet and said, let us know if you need more. So, no need to be a pain martyr. Already, I see my need for them tapering everynow and then such that sometimes I take 1 pill every 6 hours instead of every 4 hours. BTW, my RX is 2 pills every 4-6 hours as needed for pain. So, I am doing pretty well at only 1 pill as needed.
So, overall, finally, I have embraced my recovery. Not exactly rocket science that I needed to do this. But, for a type A guy who has never had any type of physical limitation in his life, who is in better shape physically than most people, it was a lesson I needed to learn. Well, lesson learned! Lookout recovery, here I come, very s-l-o-w-l-y.
I was out to dinner with friends last night, one week post op (mini sternotomy)!!!!!! Not sure that is a good thing, probably even a stupid thing, but it is a data point.
Physically, I need to work towards listening to my body better. I overdid it yesterday (my first full day home), many times, and suffered with pain and dizziness because of it. So, I am now working toward doing things in smaller bits and resting more. So far today, i only took a little walk outside to diner for breakfast and am now home taking it easy. This feels more right. Live and learn!
Emotionally, I am a mess. Alternating between being great and crying often. In fact, my cell phone is dead right now because I drenched it in tears and it fried out. Reentry into my family was very, very hard as I am just different right now, physically and emotionally. I found it hard to find my place in the daily routine of my family. I was watching and could not do much more. It was devastating for my children to see their daddy this way.
So, I have decided to move out of our home to another place we have nearby. This will give me the time and space I need to recover, to relax and come to more of an equilibrium. I am here with my mother and a night nurse. I plan to "visit" my family often. I guess that is life in NYC if your apartment is not large.
I also need to mention I am still taking pain pills regularly. 1 percocet every 4-5 hours. Not so much because I have pain, but because I am afraid of having pain. So here too, I am going to buy some Tylenol today and start to taper down the hard stuff.
So, how am I? I have to be honest, I know I am doing better physically than I would have ever imagined. I also know what I have been through and am still in, is something that was a huge, huge emotionally charged event. So, I am doing amazingly well on many levels.
At the same time, my challenge is to be kind and gentle with myself and allow me to heal both physically and mentally. So, I am awesome but also need to be more realistic about recovery and allowing myself to heal on many different levels.
I love you all. And as has been said, we are lucky can be fixed. Life is good!
Just walked in the door. Balloons everywhere. Waiting for my girls to get home from school. My wife is with them, so I have not seen family yet. Crying just thinking about seeing them. Cried whole way home (10 minute ride).
Well, today is another bright, bright sunshiny day!!!! I just got the news I am going home tomorrow. HOORAY! I did it. I feel like I am officially on the other side of surgery!!!!! WAY TO GO ME! I have tears streaming down my face, I mean I am balling right now. I totally did it. But, not without a lot of help from friends. Thank you all so much for your support.
While here for the next day, I'll be the one walking all those laps and using my breathing machine.
Yes, I know I have a lot of work still to go, but right now I am celebrating me!!!!
And a very special thank you shout out to Larry for doing such an awesome job on my blog and keeping everyone updated. Thanks Berm!!!! You 'da man!!! Now as to using Sympathy for The Devil for your intro. Hmmm.....
My buddy just stopped by and asked me what my day was like today and I told him, 'it was an amazingly good day.' I am now in the step down unit. All of my tubes are now out, and I took 2 long walks, including one with the physical therapist. Yes, I even used the restroom all by myself and 'completely' enough said... Ok! Maybe a little TMI.
Not sure yet, when I am heading home, but will keep everyone posted. Thanks again for all of your support.
Hi!!!! I just heard the second transfusion did the trick. I spoke to my surgeon and I will be leaving ICU today. Yeah!!! I can't stop crying. I was so scared I thought I had a leak and was going to need a second operation. Of course, no one even mentioned that was a possibility but I was still worried about it. Yeah, good bye ICU once there is a bed ready in step down.
Lots of tubes came out this am too. No more foley catheter or A Line in my neck. Just some pacing wires left. Yes, I can do this!!!!!!!
Hi everyone it is Mitch. I'm still in ICU. Their main concern is my pressure drops significantly when I get out of bed. It is improving, I was in a chair for 2 hours last night. I think my heart is used to working so hard from the regurg that it is enjoying the light duty. Will know more later. My spirits are high. Go Giants!!!!!
Hey a funny story for you....apparently the first thing I said after they took out the breathing tube was "I want to be perfectly clear on something, I am alive. Right?". Love that. I also spoke to my girls yesterday on the phone, love that even more.
Actually great news. Mitch is back in sinus rhythm and his blood pressure has returned to normal. As one of you out there posted earlier, the recovery process is not linear. There will be good days and bad and as granular as good hours and bad hours. Mitch seems to be progressing nicely but out of an abundance of caution he will probably be in ICU until Monday morning.
Last night was an uncomfortable one for Mitch. He was doing quite well up until about midnight which is when he went into afib. In non medical terms it means he is having irregular heartbeats. This is very normal and occurs in about a third of all cardiac patients. This minor setback will delay him from being released from the ICU. Before I leave I will try to send another update.
Lol, that is an exact quote from Mitch. We were just joking around about his cow valve and there were many jokes but his was the best. He is doing AMAZING!!!!!!! So well in fact that the nurses want him out of bed in the next hour or so for either a small walk or to at least sit in a chair.
I just walked out of Mitch's room and had a brief yet fantastic conversation with him. Fantastic for the fact that he was alert and able to speak after such an ordeal. He will be sleeping for the better part of the day. He has asked me to thank you all for being there for him over the past few months. If I were a betting man I think you all may get a post from Mitch himself by sometime late tomorrow.
Really it is NWRD. So grab some red and celebrate Heart Month but more importantly support Mitch. Stacey and Mrs. Friedman told me that Mitch had a good night and he has been awake and talkative this morning. He is making great progress and will be moved out of ICU either late today or tomorrow based on availability. Meggan is in the room with him while he is resting and has been by his side all morning. More to follow soon.