Not sure why I didn't post this sooner...I was able to prove my friends wrong...I do have a heart and it's not black. You may want to ask your surgeon for a picture of your heart...he/she might say yes.....mine did.
Two month update
Journal posted on February 4, 2015
I can't believe it has been two months....I haven't passed out in 4 weeks and the a-fib is almost gone...just a run or two a day of a-fib. I'm back to work part time this week and full time starting next week and energy levels seem great.
It's funny...for weeks after surgery I never imagined I'd be feeling this good. Still have a ways to go with endurance and I'm starting cardiac rehab soon but I'm finally starting to feel normal.
Thanks to everyone on this site for your words of encouragement and for sharing your stories of hope and your experiences so we know we aren't alone and that there is a normal (or new normal) life ahead.
The only hiccup in my recovery was a fire in an adjacent condo a week ago...only smoke damage to my place but I'll be living in a hotel for 2-3 months. Running back into a smoke filled building about 6-7 weeks after open heart surgery and while in a-fib for my dog wasn't too helpful but I seem to have recovered from that (13 years as a firefighter/paramedic makes me run into buildings instead of out) with no long term issues.
Thanks again everyone and I look forward to hearing more success stories in the weeks and months to come.
It's very reassuring to see so many stories on this website about how life returns to normal but honestly, I can't see it right now. I've seen pictures of people hiking and on boats 4-6 weeks postop and I can't even make it to a restaurant for dinner. I'm 38 years old and had an aortic valve replacement and aneurysm repair on December 3, 2014.
My recovery seemed to be going well...the first 7-10 out of the hospital I was walking further and further each day, had little to no sternal pain, and was in generally high spirits. The Friday before Christmas I ended up in the ER with a rapid a-fib. They adjusted my meds and sent me home since it broke before I got to the ER. On Sunday, my heart rate went to 240 and I passed out and ended up being admitted. They adjusted my meds and discharged me on Monday. Tuesday it went to 240 again and I passed out and this time I got admitted until Christmas. The new meds seem to be keeping the rate from going to 240 and I haven't had to return to the hospital but this feels like such a major setback in my recovery.
I have entire days where my heart rate is sitting at 120 and I'm exhausted all day. It's like I'm working out all day long. They say this should pass at the six week mark and that it's just irritability from the surgery and while that's less than two weeks away I'm having a hard time seeing the finish line. I can't even imagine a normal life right now. I can't see work, dinners with my girlfriend much less traveling again. Everyone says this is fine...it happens in 20-30% of cases....in six months you'll look back and this will all be behind you. I want to believe it but I can't right now. I can't see a normal life again.
I'm not a Debbie downer by any means and I'm usually very optimistic. I lead (or perhaps I should say led) a very active professional and social life. I was out with friends 6-7 days a week. I was very optimistic until my two trips back to the ICU the week of Christmas.
I've read some of the stories on this website and all seem to be of amazing recoveries....life returning to normal in 4-6 weeks. I just can't even see a normal life for me right now. I know it'll happen with time but looking forward I just can't see it.
It feels good to get this out and share it with a community that has gone through or will be going through a similar experience. I didn't have much notice for my surgery...just a few days so I didn't know about this website until my girlfriend told me about it. I wish I found it sooner.
I guess that's where I am...4.5 weeks postop and trying to find a semblance of a normal life.