3 Months Post-Op--Mostly good news. Today..."ehh."
Journal posted on October 23, 2018
It's been a while since I posted, but I'm grateful for the posts of others and excited for those on to a better life.
It's been a bit over 3 months since my surgery which went very well. It turned out to be an 8 1/2 hour procedure (AVR + 2 CABG) but quite a successful trip through hospitalization and the time I took off from work. I've been back at work for a bit over a week now and today I experienced the only real "setback" or worrisome point while on a walk after my lunch. I work on a very beautiful college campus (Michigan State University) and used to regularly walk along the Red Cedar River most every day. While I have been doing some longer walking with my cousin in one of our local cemeteries, this was the first walk I've done while at work and I became surprisingly very short of breath after about 10 minutes. Took a long time for me to get enough breath back to gain enough of a good gait to walk back to my office, but while sitting on a bench alongside the river, I was feeling pretty dejected and disappointed that I wasn't 100% back to "health," as I had been telling myself I was.
I attribute this to a few things. 1.) Walking too soon after a lunch I gobbled down too fast, 2.) Not sufficiently hydrated, and 3.) Perhaps having too high expectations. 4.) Still needing to drop some weight.
After hearing so many great stories, I think I expected to be doing cartwheels by now. Interestingly, by the time I got to my office, my Oxygen-Pulse finger monitor read 95/78 which is pretty good, especially since my resting pulse has been on the high-side since surgery. So I was pretty well oxygenated and with a pulse that wasn't bad.
I had to delay the start of my out-patient cardiac rehab due to some logistic issues but I start that November 6. And my log of events will certainly help with the intake, there. But...I am wondering if anyone has had similar experiences or even advice. My inpatient recovery had gone amazingly well. I managed to get through PT quicker than most and probably thought I could walk on water, as result. :-)
My AV replacement and double cabg went so well! July 19 Great surgeon, nurses, other team members. Had some "minor" complications with a partial right lung lobe collapse, but VERY LITTLE pain. Did several days inpatient rehab at another facility, following surgery, CICU, stepdown. Home as of yesterday with only "complaint" being very tired, but insomnia is a bit better and so grateful to have the big hurdle behind me, now. God bless all awaiting surgery! You will get through it and move on to a better life!
Going into the last 10 days before surgery, I've found myself occasionally feeling unexpectedly alone and a little depressed. Depression is a lifelong issue with me and I've got that under control for the most part, but lately, I've been feeling...well, overly "nostalgic" and disconnected, at the same time. My family of origin is gone (parents both dead, long-term estrangement from an older brother) but my closest friend is my distant cousin, Kristine and I think I have a lot of support in other friends, as well. By and large, I'm looking forward to having the surgery done with and moving forward. So, mostly in a good spot, with occasional gusts of negativity that I suppose are not all that unusual. Physically, while my symptoms have been generally lessened this summer (thanks to an increased dose of Lasix and other ways of taking care), I've lately had more bouts of short-exertion breathlessness that are, at times, unnerving, but my BP is under good control and I'm sleeping rather well, though usually semi-sitting. Friends who have had valve replacements and/or bypasses have all been saying how much better I'll be feeling. I sure hope so. I miss my long, vigorous walks and just doing work around the house, etc.
Well...have my surgery scheduled (barring any unexpected changes or emergencies at the hospital) for July 19. And like so many, I'm looking forward to getting past that big hurdle and on to recovery. Meeting with the surgeon was a bit scary since the testing this week showed that my aortic valve area had really decreased a lot and the coronary arteries had blocked more than I would have expected--meaning possibly 3 instead of 2 bypass grafts. But no matter...I'm buying a 1-way ticket to Betterhealthville and I am most definitely looking forward to that. Still sleeping very well at night--the higher dose of Lasix that I'm on has resulted in no more feeling like I couldn't catch a breath at night, or feeling I was going to "drown" if I laid fully down on my back. Now, I sleep the full night, unless i have to get up to use the bathroom, and that has been a blessing.
My bicuspid aortic valve and I were born in Michigan's Upper Peninsula in 1955. My heart murmur was first detected in the 60s and in 1974, I was told that I had an "aortic click" and would probably have to have the valve replaced some day. That wasn't news I took easily but other than high blood pressure, I had no real symptoms, so I put it out of my mind for a long time. After years of doctors either hearing the murmur or not, it finally was of the grade that it was heard at every exam. By the time I was in my early 50s, my HBP was harder to manage and a doctor I was seeing at the time responded by just laying on medication after medication, including a huge dose of a beta blocker. Finally, I got a second opinion, a referral to the University of MIchigan and my first heart cath in 2014 which confirmed the suspected valve problems progressing along with some moderate blockage in 2 coronary arteries. Now, several echos, two T.E.E.'s, and another cath, and I've moved from Moderate to Severe with surgery not quite set, but anticipated in a few weeks. Oddly, that news came as a relief as it ended the sense of waiting for that other shoe to drop--that "when will I have to have this done?" feeling that was increasingly on my mind. And while I'm not exactly doing cartwheels at the thought of the surgery, I feel long prepared for it, in good hands, and feel God has led me to this point, securely keeping me in His care. A former cross-country skiier, avid walker and hiker, the last few years have been progressively more difficult and frustrating and at times, scary. Being out-of-breath for very little reason, not being able to be very active, constantly tired, has made me feel old and decrepit. So, I'm very much looking forward to moving on to a healthier chapter in my life and restored activity.