I saw my cardiologist this week and he referred me to cardio rehab which I hope to start soon. My scar is healing really well. I do have some chest discomfort but mostly at night when I fall asleep on my side for a few hours. It feels like the skin is stretching. The nights are still a little hard with only sleeping a few hours at a time. Any advice for that? I am walking about a mile everyday and that's about my limit for now. I have also started to drive myself which feels great. Somedays I feel really good, but then it seems that other days I am more tired and need more rest. It feels like it's going to be a slow and long recovery. I still get lightheaded sometimes and my heart rate is still in the mid to high 90's. Although my cardiologist was not too concerned about it at the moment he does want to keep an eye on it especially as I go through cardio rehab.
I am learning to use my time wisely. I have been reading great books to help me with my business. I am also helping Aida with the house and kids more.
Thank you friends and family for your visits, calls and messages through the site. They mean a lot to us.
Thank you Michelle for checking in on us! The last two weeks have been somewhat uneventful but nevertheless significant. Steve continues to walk daily. Since my last entry it was about 5 minutes each time but he has increased that to about 15 minutes over the last two weeks. Although he is sleeping in bed he has had a hard time staying asleep. He's pretty restless and sleeps for about 2 hours and then wakes up for about 1-2 hours. It seems other patients have experienced this as well. A week ago we noticed his blood pressure was on the low side and he was feeling lightheaded upon standing up. Since his heart rate tends to run between 85-95 he stopped the beta blocker and his episodes are gradually decreasing. We still monitor his bp and heart rate daily to make sure he is staying in a good range. By the way, when he eats something with more sodium his bp goes up which he says helps him feel better. Speaking of ranges, the coumadin is slowly stabilizing his INR which is great since he was doing lab work 3x a week. For the first time, he is at once a week. :) He has had some muscle aches and pains but nothing serious that would require a visit back to the MD.
I also wanted to share that today I was Steve's personal driver to his job sites. We run a small window cleaning business and have contracted out our work while Steve recovers. Well, today was a big day for Steve. He dressed in his company shirt and off we went to check in and give our crew direction. I was so proud of him. It was a great way to mark his one month anniversary.
Thank you all for your love and support. We will always be grateful. We also deeply care for all those about to experience this as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Steve had his first post-op appt with the cardiology department this week. They did an EKG and his heart beat looked fantastic. We were really relieved to hear that as his heart rate tends to run on the fast side post op. He is still taking his beta blocker to help with the heart rate. Since he opted for the mechanical valve, he takes coumadin daily and the mobile lab has been fantastic along with the anti-coagulation department informing us of the dosages. I actually took another patient's advice and set an alarm to go off from my cell phone each night at the same time. This has really helped. He was also advised to stop taking the Norco (I guess it has caused rashes in some ppl) and use Tylenol instead since the pain has diminished considerably. :) Another great step in his recovery is that he can now sleep in the bed propped up with a few pillows. He was so relieved to finally be able to rest comfortably. He is also walking daily 2-3 times a day for about 5 minutes each time. On another note, he was very tired these past few days so he had to slow down and sleep more. He is really learning to take his recovery slow as if he tries to do too much his body will let him know right away. As for the clicking, he is still getting used to that too. It has been an incredible past two weeks learning how to recover from such an operation but we are taking it day by day and grateful from the bottom of our hearts that he is here with us! For all of those with upcoming surgeries our thoughts and prayers are with you as you too follow this path. Each day is a blessing and after this surgery each day is a gift :)
Day 6: His INR levels were checked this morning via a mobile lab that came to our home. In the evening, the pharmacist called me and gave me the amount of warfarin to give him. Also, the coughing is starting to improve as well as the pain but by no means can he go without taking it. It has been a challenge sleeping in a bed so he is using a recliner as so many people suggested. :) His cousin Debbie was so kind and generous to lend us one.
Day 7: On a side note he seems to have developed a localized skin irritation to one of his pain meds so this morning I called the hospital and they gave him another pain prescription. He did not have a fever or problems breathing or irritation elsewhere. It really does require constant observation and assessment to make sure he is stable and recovering as he should. As I watch over Steve, his Mom helps me with the kids. She is doing a great job. :) I could not have done this without her support and the support of friends that have helped us in so many other ways.
Every day he looks a little better although he is very tired. Today we had our long time friends the Fraziers' pay him a short visit. That really cheered him up :)
And a special thanks to our online journal friends who we hope to meet someday as your contributions have been incredible on this journey.
Day 3-4 Steve has been monitored for INR levels and they are slowly getting to where the MD wants them. He was also given a Heparin I.V. during this time to help those levels. Since his heart rate was higher than normal after the surgery he was also given medication to keep it from getting too high. He's had breathing treatments to help with his lung secretions since the pain to cough it out has been rather intense even when he asked for morphine.
On Day 4 he had his chest tubes removed and his first echo post surgery. It was incredible to see the regurgitation resolved and his new mechanical valve functioning. As a side note, we can hear the valve if we stand near him. It is a constant reminder that Steve has a new life and for that we are eternally grateful.
We have been blessed by having such a strong support system. You absolutely need one if you are going through something like this or have young kids. We have been touched by everyone's loving support.
Day 5 Last chest xray taken shows clear lungs :) His INR levels are better and his MD feels Steve can go home :) He was very happy to hear that. It's wonderful to be home. :) The kids were really happy to see him as we were too.
I wanted to share a few thoughts about the last couple of days. Steve was taken off the breathing tube right after surgery which was not expected. His first night in ICU was amazing. He had an angel of a nurse who took care of him every single moment. Due to Steve being stable, he was moved to the step down room. Here, his brother and I have been Steve's advocates for pain management, prescription administration and anything else that Steve needs. His brother Shawn is being an incredible support.
Steve can now walk slowly a few times a day. His pain is under better control although coughing still hurts a great deal. Also, his chest tubes are still in. When he is not being poked, walking, or coughing he is sleeping comfortably. We are so thankful for everyone's messages and prayers. The support has been incredible.
Lastly, his INR is being closely monitored due to his mechanical valve and the need for blood thinners.
Hi this is Aida. Steve pulled through surgery and is recovering. His surgeon informed us that Steve had too much calcification on top of his valve for a successful repair. So, he received a mechanical valve. We are all waiting to see him in about an hour or so. Thank you all for your love and support.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:15 in the morning with my hardcore entourage of cousins, my lovely wife and my mom. I am feeling good. Just got called to get prepped. My family will keep you updated. Thank you for all the prayers.
I had my last day at work today. I clean windows for a living and I realized that I should probably have someone help me finish the job so I had a long time contact help me today. These days I have been so tired that trying to do it alone would not have been in my best interest. However, it was a productive day and the best part was getting a visit from my sister in law Maria and her husband Ruben and the kids from Temecula. I was blown away that they took the time to come see me. I felt loved by my family tonight and it gave me the added comfort and confidence for the next two days. Thank you again...I will see you on the other side shortly.
One of the things that I value the most in life is spending time with my family and friends. My brother Shawn and the kids came over on Saturday to visit. On Sunday my cousin Debbie and her husband came to see us. It means everything to me to be able to spend time with the people that I love the most...my family.
Mom flew in from Missouri today to help support us during this time and help with the children while we are away next week. It hit me tonight that I'm a week away. It's getting very real...but I know it is the right thing to do. I don't think I could have continued living the way I have been especially these last few years. I am grateful that I can get 'fixed', although the thought of how they do it still scares me.
I also received a few phone calls today from friends and family that really lifted me up. Tonight as we were together seeing Mom play with the kids was really the highlight of my day. Love you Mom! Glad you are here!
Today's visit went extremely well. My wife and I asked many questions. We had a unique opportunity to meet two surgeons and receive their opinions one of which is Dr. Yun who will be doing the operation. He was attentive, explained things well, and gave us the assurance that he will do everything in his power to do a repair. We left feeling that we can trust Dr. Yun.
It was also confirmed that I have bileaflet disease of the mitral valves also known as Barlow's disease. Both my anterior and posterior leaflets are damaged but more damage to the posterior. The chordae are also very long. No doubt I have summarized and explained it in simple terms. I also have calcification on my valve which puts another layer of complexity to my already diseased valves.
So, as I digest this information and face repair or replacement I need to carefully think through my options. Will my 'repaired' diseased valves need re-operation in the future? Will I choose a tissue valve and in about 8-10 years need reoperation? Mechanical and need coumadin? If anyone would like to share their thoughts or experience with bileaflet repair, or tissue or mechanical replacement please let me know. Also, if anyone is living with a mechanical valve and using coumadin please let me know how it has impacted your life or if you experience any side effects.
I have an appointment with my surgeon tomorrow in Los Angeles. Plan on asking him many more questions. Although my angiogram looked great as far as blockages are concerned my cardiologist did see some calcification around my valve. I hope that this will not affect my repair probablilty. I have read the article that was posted on calcification recently and it was great information. Would appreciate any other imput.
I was reading an article on this site and came across a comment that gave me the courage that I needed for today. 'But courage is being scared to death, but you saddle up anyway.' When I responded to the person writing this, he said to me, 'You will be GREAT! And when you wake up, your Life and your Children will be there waiting for you. Be a Warrior. A Marine. Kiss Ass!!!' Hard to add anything else to that one! If anyone reads this, I hope it gives you courage, determination and encouragement for your journey as it did for me.
Well, they called from the surgery appointment desk yesterday and set the date for January 31st. I was in shock hearing the actual date. It took me a day to process it and start letting my friends and family know. Today I have contacted everyone I care about to ask for prayer for this upcoming surgery. Your support means everything to me at this time.
I was really nervous about this procedure but I was put at ease by all the nurses that took such great care of me from start to finish. I was also very happy to hear that my arteries look great considering the strong family history of heart disease. This was only the beginning but I could already feel the support from my family especially my brother Shawn who spent the day with us. Thank you bro!
Now the count down begins..my surgery date will be scheduled today. I am waiting anxiously for the phone to ring at any minute.
Since I heard of my upcoming surgery it has been one whirlwind of emotions, anxiety, and even frustration. However, after receiving numerous messages I feel supported by all you. I know I will have moments of increasing anxiety in the weeks to come but for now I just want to say 'THANK YOU' for all your words of encouragment, words of wisdom, but above all your care and support. It means everything to me at this time.
It has been a week since my cardiologist recommended surgery and it's still setting in that I will be having surgery in 4-6 weeks. It's a lot to process emotionally. I would love to hear any thoughts that you would like to share.