14 days post op. Lounging on the bench with the original Puffy (not stuffed version) in our backyard. Still dealing with nausea, pain, dry coughs, skin reaction to adhesives, etc. But I'm feeing stronger day bay day.
Journal posted on May 20, 2019
Wednesday, May 8, I was scheduled for an open-heart surgery to replace my bicuspid aortic valve that was causing severe aortic stenosis. After spending a night with our friends close to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, WA, I checked in at Patient Registration at 9 am. While I was lying on the bed in the preparation room, I saw a bunch of staff coming and going, including anesthesiologist. My husband Peter was waiting in the waiting room, receiving updates from the anesthesiologist about the progress of my surgery. Dr. Ryan, cardiac surgeon, successfully replaced my bicuspid valve with a Bovine valve. The new valve is made from a piece of pericardial membrane from a cow.
Around 4 pm, I was moved to the cardiac ICU. Apparently, my heart function and BP came back a lot quicker and stronger than average, and with no arrhythmia. Partly because of that, during the night they found that there was an unusual amount of blood coming from the tube that drained fluid from around my heart. They figured out that this was a leak in the aorta, which happens to about 5% of patients. So they took me back to the OR for another open-heart surgery, where they added a suture near the new valve. I was returned to ICU after 2 am. I was asleep for the whole time, and I didn’t know about it until afterward.
Thursday, May 9, I woke up in the morning at the ICU finding myself with the breathing tube and all kinds of tubes and wires attached to my body. They removed the breathing tube shortly after I woke up. It was nice to see my husband Peter. Later in the afternoon, I walked to the chair with the help from nurses, I ordered room service dinner and split it with Peter. We had pasta, salmon, and fruits. Thursday night was one of my most miserable, due to the strong meds, and many other reasons. I was in an emotional mess all night. I ended up getting little sleep.
Friday, May 10, early in the morning, they moved me out of the bed, and made me stand on the scale; I gained 21 pounds in two days. In the late afternoon, I was moved from the ICU to the Telemetry Unit, as soon as a bedroom became available. Before getting discharged from the ICU, a Foley catheter in my bladder to drain urine was removed, as well as an IV tube from my neck. The nurse from the ICU took me to the Telemetry Unit in a wheel chair. As soon as I arrived at my new room, I went to my private restroom, I had a little bit of both Number 1 and 2. After Peter left for home. I ordered Asian Stir-fry with Tofu for dinner. Shortly after eating, I became nauseated, and vomited twice. They gave me an anti-nausea med, but it didn’t work. It was very miserable and painful.
Saturday, May 11, I woke up feeling nauseated. The nurse encouraged me to order something for breakfast. While waiting on the chair for the breakfast to arrive, I vomited, just clear fluid. I had a bite of scrambled egg, and yogurt. I was also having diarrhea all day. The PA removed more drain tubes and wires from me. She also removed the tape from the incision over my sternum. I took my first post-op shower with help from a nurse. I kept a banana and a fresh fruit cup on the overbed table. I managed to eat a few grapes and a banana by the end of the day. I also took a short walk in the hallway with the nurse.
Sunday, May 12, with an encouragement by a nurse, I ordered a scrambled egg, yogurt, and banana again. I managed to eat a few bites of each. I still felt nausea even with anti-nausea meds. They stopped giving me narcotics, to avoid nausea.
Monday, May13, I became independent enough to go to the bathroom, and take a shower, with standby assistance. My surgeon suggested ordering anything that I felt like eating, delivered from the cafeteria to my room. I finished a small bag of baked potato chips, and Boost protein drink with chocolate flavor for lunch, and a few bites of grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. They kept giving me tramadol, Tylenol, and Zofran. I haven’t been able to sleep well at night. I got up from the bed at midnight and walked around the entire Telemetry Unit by myself. I still couldn’t sleep even with melatonin sleep aid.
Tuesday. May 14, I woke up very early with a little sleep. The nurse weighed me. It turns out that I gained 21 lb. on the first day, and I lost 24 lb. in the four days after leaving the ICU. My goal of the day was to convince the nurses and doctors that I no longer have nausea, and I’m fine to go home soon. I ate a half of a grilled cheese sandwich, and a chocolate protein shake for lunch, and I didn’t throw up. When Dr. Ryan came to see me. I convinced him that I’m ready to go home. While Peter was driving down for 2 hours, the nurse removed the last IV tubes from my neck, and they went over the discharge process. On the way back, we stopped by a nearby Vietnamese restaurant that the nurse recommended. I had Pho, and it was so good. After all that bland hospital food, I craved something with flavor and salt. We drove home to Ellensburg in the rain, and got there a little before midnight. It was so nice to sleep on our own bed at home.
My Puffy the chicken wants to go home. Me too. We've in this hospital since Wednesday morning. It's been almost a week. I've made a lot of progress after the surgeries. I still can't get home because of nasea.
Waiting for breakfast. I was nauseous all night and this morning since I vomited last night. It might be the reaction to the strong pain med. They make my digestive system sleep for the surgery, and my system takes time to wake up.
Journal posted on May 10, 2019
Since the night before the surgery, I haven't been able to sleep well. I've been crying a half of the time. Maybe from pain, maybe from anxiety. Last night and this morning, I had emotional breakdown because I couldn't sleep at all in the ICU room. It was a little bit better today, and I liked removing some tubes and moving out from the ICU to a new room. I even went to the bathroom with 2 nurses assisting me. My O2 level was 90%, and they put me back on the O2 supplement. I was able to eat dinner last night, and ate meals today, but I ended up vomiting twice after managing to eat a part of dinner tonight, and it was tauramatic, causing maJordan chest pain. The nurse gave me more pain med and anti-nausea from the IV tube on my neck. And that allowed me to finish writing this post. It's been a rough ride. But I know tomorrow will be a better day.
They're taking some of the tubes and wires out, and soon I'll be moving to a "telemetry" room on another floor. I didn't sleep well last night, so I hope it will be quieter there. I've been out of bed two times today, and tomorrow I will practice walking and showering.
Everything went well during the surgery, but later when they were getting me ready for extubation, they found more blood in the chest drain. So they took me back to the OR. Another surgeon opened my chest, and he found a small leak in the aorta by the valve. They put in one suture, and stopped the leak. This might delay my discharge by a day.
I've built my healing nest. This rental lift chair arrived on Friday. It's the smallest chair they had, but still slightly too big for me. For the past few days, I was custom fitting it with chair cover, pillows, blanket, bathroom mats, etc.
During the presurgical visit with a RN two days ago, we went over my plans for pain management after discharge. I mentioned the chicken therapy and cannabis. She recommended using the edible instead of vapor.
I've been wondering what to do about the chair for my post-op recovery time. This chair in the photo is the closest I have to a recliner that my doctor mentioned. I've never needed a recliner before, and I'm not sure if it's worth getting one.
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