Well I have made it thorough to week 9 and started my cardio-rehab program at our local heart hospital in Norfolk, VA.
The first week was a breeze, all very easy. They have six machines and dumb bell weights. Oh, you only get to use the treadmill, a couple arm only machines, a recumbent bicycle and a stair stepper.
First things first - you are taught how to hook your self up to a wireless 4-probe EKG monitor which a nurse is monitoring the whole time you are there, (approx. an hour, less when your first start.) They will take your blood pressure when you first get there after you are hooked up to your little portable device. Don't worry about the device, you wear it in a pouch around your neck - very light.
You begin your stretches which are simple for anyone and then you go to start exercising. The staff the staff is always there and the classes are very small so you get all the attention you need. The staff will take your blood pressure again in the middle of your exercises when you are on the bike, and then after you finish and cool down. Once your pressure is within a few points of when you started or lower, you leave.
I am on week four, and things are getting more difficult and the times and level on each machine goes up. They always ask you how you are doing because you are not allowed to over do it. This is a good thing.
You learn about different diets and menus, heart health and most importantly- speaking with other heart patients.
I have 6.5 more weeks and then on my own. The recovery continues. Pain is completely bearable and I have not used pain meds since week four.
Good luck to all and as Adam says, keep on ticking!
Last time I wrote I was preparing for surgery. Now I am going on week 5 post surgery. I can tell you a few things I experienced that others too have experienced and some that maybe a few things they didn’t. I hope this helps you.
The surgery was a breeze - you are 100% out of it, so don't worry at all about that part. I am a 57 year male that had an isolated aortic valve replaced. I also was fortunate to have a great surgeon that performed a partial sternotomy instead of a full one although my research said there is not a lot of difference in recovery, but could speed up the process.
When you come out of surgery, the changes start!
If you did your homework and have a realistic idea of what to expect about recovery; it is not too traumatic. If not, wow! Do your homework please and learn what to expect so you won’t have too many surprises. You will be glad you did as not knowing what to expect is scary.
As others have reported, you wake up with a ventilator tube in your throat and drainage tube/s, catheter, IV's, and wires coming out of you; do not be afraid. The ventilator tube, you probably won't remember coming out unless you have complications. You will still be groggy from your surgery. The other tubes and wires will all be taken out usually by you third or fourth day I was in ICU for only a day and then released from the hospital on my fourth day. I was fortunate; the hospital food is not the best. (I think it is their way of getting you out.)
One thing I learned and had not read about in any of the other blogs; you will be woken up every hour to have your blood sugar monitored. You are loaded up with sugar water during your surgery when put on the heart-lung bypass machine to help your brain. Anyway, I gained 16 pounds due to water retention. (I lost it the first four days when I returned home)
A tip I will pass on to you- Ask for pain pills about an hour before they remove the drain tube/s and also your heart wires. The pain pills will numb the effects of the removal of these objects from your body and you will not feel any pain. You will however feel a little discomfort, but when all are out; all is better. Do not lose any sleep or have anxiety about this.
The nurses had me walking the third day and I did well. It felt great to get out of the bed!
Be sure you stick to your instructions given to you when you were discharged.
I recommend you rent a lift chair for your first two week or month home. You will be glad you did since it is much easier on you (pain-wise) getting up. You will be sleeping in the chair as well.
Pain – everyone wants to know about how much pain will you be in. This is different for everyone. No two people are the same. My mother was 80 when she had her valve replaced and said it didn’t really hurt. (Hmmm must have been nice!) I felt pain in my chest which I did expect – Duh! For the first week and then the second week I felt pretty good and thought- no too bad except when I cough or sneeze. My third week was a different story. It hurt quite a bit and I had to use pain pills most of the time, my wife called the surgeon nurses (You will get their number in your discharge papers), and they had me go to the ER and get checked out. Nine hour and many tests later; I was allowed to leave. The results were all “pristine’. The pain was apparently just “growing pains. Wow!
My fourth week was better and now I haven’t taken any pain pills except for Tylenol. It still aches quite a bit, but I can tolerate it.
I am now allowed to drive again –Yay! And I start my cardio rehab next week.
I apologize for the long post and promise all posts will be kept to a short paragraph from now on.
I will let you know how reah goes and what to expect as I go through it. God Bless and get well wishes to all.
Hello heart community! I have chosen my heart hospital and surgeon and a surgery date. My surgery is at 7am est March 12. Like most folks having to go through this; I feel I have done all the reach I can and now await the time. I have kept myself busy by trying to make sure my business will stay a float well I am away and spending time with family and friends.
I hope to have a mini sternotomy with a "T" incision versus a full sternotomy. My surgeon will ultimately make that decision but is comfortable either way.
I will being getting a tissue valve - a CE Magna Ese that my surgeon prefers. I am a 57 year male so most likely I will need another one in the future.
My unsolicited advise for others is the same as most of the great folks that have need this surgery.
Do your homework, make the best decision you can, feel good about the heart hospital and surgeon which in turn will help your state of mind.
Adam's book is well worth reading ad are all the forums. I also recommend highly the DVD, log book, and handbook from RecoverRite.com. The 411 heart book by Dr. Gillinov (sp).
I am a little anxious, but I am ready as I can be. Hopefully I will remain this way when my time comes in the next 25 hours. Time for me to try to get some sleep. Good night all.