On year ago I was just starting to wake up after my mitral valve repair and LAD artery bypass surgery! Many memories are still vivid of the experience and recovery. Other than two minor incidences of infections from my sternum wires, I have had a remarkably easy recovery. I went back to my office, no strainuous work, eight days after my surgery and have continued ever since. I know that I was fortunate to have had such a smooth recovery, but I feel it was worth taking the effort to travel to the Cleveland Clinic. Everybody and Dr. Gillinov were great, and I highly recommend them!
A lot has happened this last year, and I thank God for this. I just saw my daughter graduate from her surgery residency "and" have our first grandchild! I know it can be scary when you first learn of your condition and the treatment ahead, but there is a lot of life to look forward to afterwards. Keep the faith!
I'm a little over seven months post op and doing great! I am fully functional and plan on going skiing in a couple of weeks. However, I have had and am having a recurrence of a complication that I had not read about. About two months post op, I developed an infection related to my sternal wires. The infection was not in the sternum or chest and just under my skin. I had the infection lanced and took a course of antibiotics. Everything seemed to heal OK , but I was told that there was a 25% chance of a recurrence, which would probably lead to surgery to remove the wires. Five months later, the infection has recurred. The doctor wanted to do surgery next week to remove the wires. Since I had my ski trip already planned with my family, the doctor lanced the infection again and I am taking antibiotics until I return. At that time we will see what it looks like. Maybe it will heal and never return.
From reading this web site, I really had no surprises with the surgery. However, I was surprised by this post op complication.
Four months, and if I didn't have a scar, you wouldn't know that I had surgery four months ago. My incision infection has subsided, and hopefully won't come back. I've had enough surgery!
I'm still on metoprolol, atorvastatin, and aspirin. Hopefully, I will stop the metoprolol at six months. It looks like I will be on the atorvastatin and aspirin long term, which probably is OK. With my cholesterol levels as low as they are, I should be able to eat what I want to eat, as long as I don't eat too much! I love fried fish! I will probably switch to Crestor soon.
I know that I was fortunate to have had an easy recovery. It may be that my heart wasn't badly damaged, I was in reasonably good health and I'm not too old, just 64. However, 64 doesn't seem very young! My advice, for what it is worth, is to not put off the surgery once it becomes necessary. Also, find a great doctor and hospital.
Once again, this site is invaluable! Reading earlier heart brother's and sister's experiences was very helpful. Hopefully, my comments are helpful to others.
Time goes by quickly, and things are pretty much back to normal. Up until now, I have had as good a recovery as you could hope. I went back to work the day I returned home from Cleveland and have done well. Uber helped out until I could drive again. I am very thankful for the outcome that I have had.
One thing that did occur this last week was a little surprising. I developed an infection in my incision area. It wasn't painful, but it obviously wasn't supposed to be there. My local primary care physician put me on an antibiotic, but the PA at the Cleveland Clinic wanted me to see a thoracic surgeon locally. I saw a thoracic surgeon yesterday, and he drained the infection. The good news was that it didn't look like it involved the sternum, and that the sternum was solid. I did get a precautionary CT scan to confirm. Also, he didn't hear any murmur! I now have a hole in my chest that will take a few days to heal. There is a twenty-five percent chance that this could reoccur, which would mean that the wires in the area would need to be removed. Hopefully, this won't be necessary.
I saw my cardiologist a few weeks ago, and he said I don't need to see him again for a year. I'll get an echocardiogram at that time.
Overall, things are great. I did about five weeks of cardiac rehab until I decided that I was getting as much exercise walking two laps in the mall almost daily. I have maintained the twelve pound weight loss from the surgery, which leaves me at a pretty good weight of around 187, and I'm six feet tall. Twelve more pounds more would be good, but I don't want to go through another surgery to obtain that!
Once more, I must think Adam for hosting this web site! The knowledge I have obtained here has been invaluable, from the technical information, such as Adam's book, to the reading of others' experiences. Knowing what to expect makes all the difference.
I guess it's another milestone, eight werks post op! They let me use my arms today at cardiac rehab! Really, I consider myself recovered. I'm not going to see how much I can lift, but I'm back to my normal self, only a little better. My sternum pain started to diminish at about five and a half weeks. I have had a few full sneezes, with no problems. I remember that at four weeks, I thought my sternum wouldn't stop hurting every time I coughed, but it finally did.
In the last week or so I have noticed that I feel better than I did before my surgery, even though I considered myself almost asymptomatic before. You just don't notice the gradual changes. Having lost twelve pounds or so in the process may have helped! Anyway, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
I really don't feel like a teenager again, but it is good to have a little more freedom! I'm far from being 100%, but I can now function normally and follow my pre-surgery routine.
I have some new pain in my left chest, but not servere. As I have felt more normal this last week, I may have pulled or pushed a drawer or something and made it sore. The usual chest pain, that hurts so much when you cough hard, has subsided somewhat this last week. It made me feel good when I realized that I didn't hurt as much. I have even sneezed twice in the last week, the first times since my surgery, and I survived OK.
The verdict is still out on the cardio rehab. I have gone three times this week. I'm looking for objective measurements so that I can know where I am and where I need to be. I'll see my cardiologist before I make any decision.
I hope my posts are useful to others going through this surgery. I got a lot from reading about other's experiences, so I hope my experiences are helpful.
I'm five weeks post op today and went for my cardiac rehab evaluation. I'll start Monday and go three times a week. I'm not sure what cardiac rehab will do for me, but I guess I'll find out. I eat pretty healthy and I'm about at the weight I'd like to be. I'm very active and walk the local mall almost every evening. My cardiologist had told me that they would help my get my heart going at a rate to ensure that the bypass graph on my LAD artery would be used sufficiently. I have one more week of not driving, so I'll keep Uber busy getting me back and forth. I hope the rehab proves useful for what my insurance company will have to pay.
What's the best benefit that others of on the site got from cardiac rehab?
The last week went by quickly. My flight home was rather uneventful, thankfully. I've been able to go to my office everyday and catch up on the daily routines. Since I have been home, I don't get to walk as much. I average 6000-9000 steps a day. It's hot outside, and I don't have as good an opportunity to walk. My wife and I try to go to the local mall and walk. It's level and cool!
My chest still hurts, especially when I cough, which seems more than normal. At the end of the day I'm tired! Yesterday, I walked our neighborhood instead of the mall, which was a little over 4000 steps. However, it was hilly, and I got credit for 16 flights of stairs on my Fitbit for the day. All I could do last night was eat supper, lay around and go to bed. I've been sleeping in a lift, lounge chair that I had purchased. It may not be necessary, but I have enjoyed it! I have slept well each night.
I saw my local doctor, an internal medicine doctor, last Friday. He said that I could go from a no salt diet, to no added salt. That made a world of difference! Friday night was the first time that I ate something that tasted good since the surgery. I don't seem to have any fluid retention problems. I lost about fifteen pounds since the surgery, and I'm staying at that level. I still don't have a great appetite, but that's not so bad if I can keep my weight down. At least I don't dread mealtime!
This site has been very helpful. I haven't had any surprises at any point along the way. I'll be glad when I can clear my throat without my chest hurting, and have my previous energy level back, but that will come.
It's been an adventure to remember! I'm stronger every day. I got over 10,000 steps yesterday and 4 floors of steps. Today I'm at 13,740 steps and 5 floors of steps. That's more than I averaged before the surgery, but not near what I can do on exception.
The biggest concern was yesterday when I became dizzy twice. The second time I would have gone down if I hadn't found a bench to sit on. I believe the problem was the lack of food. The last two nights I ate unsalted grilled lamb and spinich. I haven't had any similar incidences since. Finding low salted good food that I would eat has been difficult.
It's time to sleep and get ready to travel tomorrow.
Everything went pretty smooth today, being discharged from the hospital. I ate my last bit of hospital food, which was pretty bad. The challenge now is to find some resturant food that meets the low salt requirements. I ate a chicken and avacodo wrap that probably had too much salt because it didn't taste that bad. I understand that the big issue is fluid retention, so I'll try to abide with the guidelines. Of course the nurse reading the guidelines to me said it would be for the rest of my life. I don't think that is going to happen! Salt had nothing to do with my need for surgery. I just need to let my heart recover from the surgery.
I have an appointment tomorrow with one of the cardio thoracic nurse practitioners. My daughter did pick up on the discharge papers, that I had small collapse in my lung from a chest tube. The biggest concern now will be flying home Saturday. We will discuss this.
It's nice to be out of the hospital! I walked over 5,000 steps according to my Fitbit. The hotel bed feels great.
My last chest tube and my wires came out today. I also haven't had a-fib today. Dr. Gillinov and his PA, Deanna, came by this morning and said everything looked well. I plan on being discharged on schedule tomorrow.
Today was a little slower. I didn't get my last chest tube out and I had two brief episodes of a-fib. I was planning on being discharged on Wednesday, so I'm still on schedule. It's a little uncomfortable with the tube still in place. However, as was pointed out to me, having to have the tube reinserted would be much more painful! I guess I can wait another day.
The a-fib got their attention. One event was in the morning and the other was in the evening. Both times after a little exertion, my heart went into double speed and I felt hot. Each time I set down, took a calming breath and I reverted to a normal rhythm. They say that a-fib occurs in about one third of mitral valve repairs. Hopefully, this will be the extent of it for me.
Today has been much smoother than yesterday. I got two of my three drainage tubes out yesterday before I left the ICU, but I still have the third one in. I think most of my pain is coming from that tube. Getting the first two tubes removed helped a lot. I guess I didn't realize where the pain was coming from.
They weighed me this morning and I had gained about ten pounds of fluid. They waited until after they took my catheter out before they gave me lasix. I've gotten to be good friends with my urinal.
They are encouraging me to switch to oral pain medication instead of the six minute button. I had found that if you push the button before the six minutes are up, it starts all over again.
I've walked the hall once, and should do so twice more before the end of the day.
I did get to see operating theater before I was put to sleep. I remember seeing the heart/lung machine and three large flat screens. They will probably be in there tonight watching the Cleveland Calvaliers!
Things went pretty well yesterday. Everybody at the Cleveland Clinic has been great. They took me to the operating room a little after 7:00 AM Friday morning. I opted to have no prior sedation, but it didn't make much difference. They had a quick "time out" meeting and the next thing I remembered was the recovery room, or I guess the ICU, with my breathing tube in my throat. Everything was bearable, but not pleasant. I was ready to go to the step down room, but had to wait for a room to come available. I'm in the step down room and had a good meal. Anything would taste good after not eating in two days.
This web site has been great! I don't think I had any surprises.
Early tomorrow morning is the day! I did my pre-op's yesterday and met Dr. Gillinov and the anesthesiologist today, and all is set. As a back up to a mitral valve repair, I selected a bovine valve. The rational was that if it was necessary and at my age, 64, a transcathetor valve would be available when the bovine valve wears out, and Dr Gillinov felt that the bovine balve would fit better.
I'm disinfected and ready for bed. This time tomorrow I'll know what the surgery is like and be ready to start the recovery.
Well, we're heading to Cleveland for surgery Friday morning. We arrive at 11:30 PM tonight and have a 7:00 AM appointment to start the pre-op process. The pre-op is split up over two days, so it won't be too bad without a little sleep. Tomorrow afternoon should be free. This will be an interesting week!