I have not been posting much since I have become so busy back in my normal life. Today is my six month anniversary since AVR and I am doing great. Except for the scar in the mirror I ....almost ..... forget I had the surgery. That is to say, it is no longer an every hour, every day thought. I am healthy and strong and wondering how my valve is holding up is no longer a daily question. I have been able to return to my part time work, my volunteer work with my local Fire Dept, traveling, and spending time with our 9 grandchildren who live nearby.
I read a number of the posts by newer people on this path and I wish you all a successful surgery, good recovery and joyous return to your life. I agree completely with one poster who talked about the value of rehab. DO NOT MISS IT if you can help it. Rehab gets you back on track, with supervision so you have no worries about hurting yourself. It is the best way to get your fitness back and ensure that you are taking care of your new life.
Hi All, Ernie just reminded me how long its been since I have been HERE. Thanks for the nudge Ernie. I am doing fantastic. I completed 6 weeks of rehab and opted to stop earlier than they usually suggest because I was doing so well from the start. Rehab staff told me the first week they didn't think I would be there long....so I am back on my previous exercise routines and doing fine. I have helped my husband raise a wrought iron fence and rebuild an exterior wall on the house. I would say that means I am Good to Go. There are still a few twinges in the incision site occasionally, but nothing to even really think about. I have passed all my post surgery testing with flying colors, which is what we all strive for. This has been an amazing learning experience and I hope to continue being able to share and encourage those facing heart surgery. In fact, after my surgery at a meeting, I found out that an acquaintance that I have known for some time had this same surgery when she was 18. I encouraged her to check out this site as she will likely be facing surgery again in the next few years. I have found friends and support on this site so I try to encourage others facing these issues to do the same.
I have completed 4 rehab sessions, and I drove myself yesterday, yea! It was not as scary getting back into the driver's seat as I anticipated. Rehab has made such a difference in my self assurance. I know now that I can get back to my life (with a few restrictions yet) without concern about doing damage to myself. I have been on the treadmill 20 minutes at 1.5 incline, the bike 20 minutes on level 2 alternating with level 3, weight/strength training and stretches and it feels so good! I am 6 weeks post AVR tomorrow and I feel amazingly good. For anyone on the fence about cardiac rehab I say GO! It makes a significant difference in how fast and well you can get back to being healthy and fit. I still can feel when I try to do something beyond what I should yet ( stretching too high...) but my confidence is so much better with the guidance of the rehab nurses. To all those about to go into your surgery; one month or slightly more and you will be on the road to recovery and back to your life.
Ernie, glad to hear you are doing well. You look like you are in "get well" mode now.
Deb and Barb, Stay busy getting the things in order that you want done. I made a quilt in the week before surgery that I had put off doing for a while. It kept me occupied very well and passed the waiting time easier. You will do fine. As Ernie said, and I can confirm; wake up prepared to be in "get better" mode and your body will follow your head.
I am five weeks post surgery today and doing well. I started Cardiac Rehab last Friday so in an hour I will be doing session two. Rehab has a great staff that is full of information to ease the angst of getting active again. They will not let you do anything that can do harm, but they will guide to you do as much as you can so you can get back to your life. The first rehab class was like a door opening up into the next phase of being "back!" There are still some restrictions, but I can now see that it won't be long before daily life will be back to daily life.
We are all so fortunate to be in a time when the expertise and technology has come so far that this is a very recoverable surgery. Have faith, be Determined, do what you need to do to recover, and you will do great!
I cant believe its been 18 days since I have logged on. My days are certainly not "full" again yet, but they do seem to slip by. I was able to wean off the pain meds by the middle of week 3 which has actually helped me feel better even with a few "twinges" left. Sleeping is still a bit of challenge but I am able to get comfortable with pillows behind my back so I can "sort of" sleep a bit on my side and not flat on my back. I have been cooking a bit, some laundry, dishes, etc. Trying to make sure I get up and move every couple of hours and walk as much as I can. I start cardiac rehab this Friday so I will have a better idea of what I can safely do now ( use my arms more would be sooo good). I feel very positive at 4 weeks out and believe it won't be long now before I feel pretty much back to normal, only BETTER!! I know there are people preparing for surgery in the next few weeks. I am here to tell you, it is hard work after surgery, but if you are determined and lean on those around you healing will come likely more quickly than you thought.
I can't believe it's 11days post surgery. It has actually gone by pretty quickly, of course I may have slept through some, ya think? Last night and this morning were the first I would consider difficult. I think we did too much yesterday; doctor appt, breakfast out, and a trip to the store to walk. This afternoon I am bouncing back. I asked my husband to do an actual measurement on my incision which I guessed was about 4" and he says its just over 2". I love my surgeon!! Some back pain from being still too long, water weight is gone, so very few complaints. The hard part is being patient for the healing so I can get my full mobility back: can't wait to wash my own hair. This is hard work, but knowing my heart is strong and healthy is more than worth it ! And an appetite would be good LOL. Thanks for all the notes of encouragement and information.
Alrighty ! I was discharged yesterday afternoon after my chest tubes drainage finally slowed way down and spent an extra night for safety. My hospital course was exactly as predicted ( thank the Lord ) and I was complimented by numerous staff about being a good patient. Scars at my age ( 63 in 3 weeks) are not an issue for me at this point. My vanity issue this week has been bed hair (curly and unruly on a good day ) LOL. Of course there has been discomfort, some outright pain, lack of control because you can't take care of yourself; so what I have learned is that having an excellent surgeon, outstanding hospital staff and caregivers who really pay attention is a huge key to getting better. My care was not only good it was exceptional. They paid attention to everything I needed, were personable and caring while being completely professional, at the same time taking great care for my family. I asked my surgeon to take a photo of my valve so I could see for myself how bad it was and while he hadn't had that request before he did so. As it turned out the valve was so stenotic that he had to physically break it into a number of pieces to get it out. I will post a photo of it for those of you who might be interested. It certainly re-enforced for me that it was time for my surgery.
So, we will definitely return with huge Thank You to the Arrowhead CVICU in Glendale, AZ and the staff that was so amazing. For those of you coming up next: do your research, which you are already doing if you are on this site, find a surgeon and a hospital with good reputations and ask, ask, ask, ask any and all questions. While this is a daunting surgery to think about, being on the "other side" is a feeling of freedom and success. Keep the Lord in your daily "talks" for He will give you the strength and peace to move forward with much less trepidation. Feel free to ask me any questions and I will answer as honestly as possible if I have an answer. Fear Not, the Lord is with you.
Hi All, this is day 3 of post op. I am feeling really well; swelling is going down, walking a lot and doing what I need to do. Once the drainage from the chest tubes decreases a bit more they will be pulled and I can go home the next day. Everything else has already been removed. I have had amazing care from
Doctors and Staff and will be posting the info on docs and hospital posts. My surgeon was able to do mini-sternotomy so the incision is only about 3" long. Amazing!! I will post again when I am home with my computer and a bit more mobility. Thank you to everyone for all of your support.
Hi everyone. This is Jill - Sherry's daughter-in-law. I saw Sherry last night around 9PM and she looked really good. A lot of her swelling had gone & she was eating ice chips and talking with everyone. I just talked with her a few minutes ago and she sounds great! The nurses have already had her up sitting in a chair for several hours and she even took a walk down the hall. She has been able to eat a few bites here and there for breakfast & lunch. I should see her again later and then I'll report more tonight or tomorrow. Thanks for all your support.
Hi all. This is Nancy, a close friend of Sherry's and I am writing to update all of you. She came out of surgery around noon AZ time. Her breathing tube has been out for about an hour. Happy to report that the surgeon was able to use a small incision and that Sherry is doing very well. Surgery went without a hitch and we are all so happy and grateful for the great care she is getting. The information and support she has been receiving from all of you means so much to her and to all of us that love her! Take care everyone.
I am packing the last items and heading for the hospital in a couple of hours for pre-op testing and surgery tomorrow morning at 7. I have been staying busy, very peaceful and positive about the surgery. Just said see ya later to my kids and the nerves are elevating slightly. For the next few days my best friend and my daughter in law will try to update at least basic information until I am able to post again myself. My husband will be busy with me. Thank you all for your good wishes. I look forward to being able to be a knowledgeable support for those coming behind. I have my music and my Bible at the ready for the long night ahead. Bless you all. Sherry
We are now at 13 days before surgery. I had a phone call Monday morning ( yesterday ) from the surgeon's office asking if I wanted to have the surgery this week, namely on Wednesday ( tomorrow ) since the surgeon's scheduled had changed some. While I am ready for this to be over and into recovery, I was not ready to check in to the hospital in 24 hours from that call. I have lots of last minute things to accomplish this week. So we are still set for Aug 12th. I will post again before surgery, and after surgery I think my friend, Nancy, will update the blog for a few days in my stead until I am able to get back online again myself. I am using every day to tidy up details at home and mentally prepare for the next few weeks.
I just received a call from the surgeon's office; surgery will be delayed one week because of his schedule. In the whole scheme of things, not an issue to get excited over. It will be that much more of a wait, rescheduling for help coming in, but all in all a small thing. I take this as a chance to get even more small things done that I wanted to do before being "down" for a bit. The Lord is teaching me patience; apparently he thinks I need more practice LOL.
We met with the surgeon recommended by my cardiologist a couple of days ago. I was so happy when I liked him as well as I hoped I would after the references and research we received. My husband and I both feel very comfortable and confident and ready to go with him. After a long discussion, lots of my questions ( yes I had some for him even with all the information on this site ! ) and even one that made him stop and stare at me, we are planning on surgery in about three weeks. The question that threw him was " what is the backup for the heart/lung machine?" Dr A just stared at me, and started shaking his head. I asked what that meant and he said it was just that no one had ever asked that question before. I thought it was a perfectly logical question: and he agreed it was a VERY good question. So, we talked about it, had a chuckle cause I stumped him, and proceeded with plans. I was offered three choices for the type of surgery; traditional sternotomy, ministernotomy or thoracotomy approach. After discussion we agreed on ministernotomy; it should give him the visual field that is best with the option to do more only if necessary, while the thoracotomy has a couple of small drawbacks for me, though he said it was very doable. I am opting for a bovine valve because I am active and do not like the idea of anticoagulants for many years to come. If a second surgery has to be done in the future, I will deal with it. As we were wrapping up, my husband said he had one last request from this visit. He asked Dr A to hold out his hand......... and it was steady as a rock, so we were satisfied. :-D There won't be much to report for the next three weeks, except me getting things in order at home ( and you really don't want to hear about all that ), so I will check in and update once the final date is set and we get closer. Once again, Thanks so much to those who have written back to me in the last few weeks and all those whose journals have provided so much information, encouragement and inspiration. Sherry
The cath is done and thankfully completely clear except for the "crappy valve" as the doctor said. We meet with the surgeon recommended this coming week and I am hopefully that we will feel as comfortable with him as I am now from all the recommendations and background I have received about him. Then, I guess, the surgery depends on his schedule. I have spoken with so many lately; some with amazing support, some with thoughts that I may not have thought about, even a sister-in-law who had this surgery over 10 years ago. Now, I have to make my final decision about what valve to use and go forward, ready to get back to my life. I intend to keep the blog updated as so many others have done, which inspires the rest of us.
I saw my cardiologist today because of some vague pressure in my chest and he said "it's time". So we are scheduling preliminary tests ( cardiac cath ) and moving forward with a surgeon. Now that it is actually here and we are looking at surgery in the next 6-8 weeks, the reality is setting in. I have felt very empowered having this site and the book to rely on for information for the past 5+ years, but, wow, it still makes you sit back for a bit when the time arrives.
I want to thank the other patients who responded to my first journal entry so quickly. The notes from each of you were reassuring and so welcome. While my family is nervous and of course supportive, it is so good to hear from people that understand it from "this side" as well. The fact that I have been following Adam's blog and reading so many of the others for several years has made all the difference in my being more comfortable with heart valve issues and more prepared for what is to come. I may well call on you for advice and your experience in the coming weeks or months (whatever it may be) as I prepare for my own surgery. Once I am over that bridge I hope I can be as helpful to others facing the same things as you have been already.
I have been diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis due to a Bicuspid Valve for nearly eight years. It has always been in the mild range and did not impact my activity or life except for my bi-annual get-together with my cardiologist. During my visit in mid 2012 the status went from mild to moderate; still not a life-changer in a day to day respect. This year, I was feeling some odd things, so we had our get-together a bit earlier than usual, and to everyone's surprise my valve has deteriorated to a severe status. Since I am 62, healthy (otherwise :-D ), and with almost no symptoms we are in a watch closely mode now. But, for the first time I have been given strict orders that there is to be NO strenuous exercise. Sadly my husband didn't buy that that meant no dishes ! Phooey ! So, I decided it was time to start a journal and gather support from others in my boat. In fact, I just learned this morning that a friend who I don't see often was diagnosed with the same thing two years ago. I am giving her all the information for this website, since it has been such a huge help to me for the past 6 years. Now, I will start making preparations so that when the time comes we are ready for notifications, recovery, etc. Thank you to all who have posted information on this site previously. I have enjoyed reading about your journeys, especially now that I am starting on my own.