Hi all, I am 4 months post aortic valve replacement and I just finished my 9 weeks of the Ornish Lifestyle program. For the program, I did need to make a great deal of changes to my diet and lifestyle but at the completion of the program my weight was done by 22 lbs. and my cholesterol dropped over 60 points. So all in all a big win. I really didn't think that I could go 100% to a plant based diet but I did and I continue to do so. I may loosen up some of the added oil and egg restrictions, but right now I intend to stick with it. We will see what comes during the colder months.
I am going to continue with the maintenance program for at least a month to help me build up some strength in the chest. I am a little more comfortable with working with the medical team there to come up with a weight program versus someone at a local gym. Not that they couldn't help, but coming off surgery I just feel like I would want to work with a team that is focused on cardio rehab.
Plus, I am still a bit nervous about getting my heart rate up too high. In the cardio program I do well and my heart rate and blood pressure stay low. But last week I was traveling and I tried a bit of running on the hotel treadmill and became a little unsure of myself so I stopped. Then yesterday I had a stress test and as soon as I got on there my blood pressure jumped up to 200/120 which is way higher than at rehab where it only would go to 130/80 or so.
Has anyone else gotten nervous coming off surgery and starting to run or do things that elevate the heart rate? I did not think it would bother me so much but obviously it does.
Thanks for reading and if anyone has any questions about the Ornish program just let me know I would be glad to talk to you about it.
It has been almost 2 months since my surgery and things are progressing well. I am walking about 4 or 5 miles at a time and averaging around 19 minutes per mile. A little slower than before the surgery but the doctors want me to keep my heart rate below 120. I still ache a little when I sneeze but nothing as bad as those first few weeks.
In two weeks I will be starting the Cardio rehab program. I signed up the Ornish Intensive Cardiac Rehab program. This program meets for twice a week for 4 hours and the program lasts 9 weeks. It includes exercise, menu planning, stress management and group therapy. It also requires a plant based diet. (I am not sure how this Italian boy is going to give up meat but I am going to try.)
I hope everyone is doing well and I will post updates about the program as it goes along.
Thank you for all of your support these past few months. It really was helpful to talk with people that are going through the same ordeal.
I had my final meeting with the surgical PA yesterday. She asked me how I was doing and I told her I am walking about 3-4 miles a day and that I am starting Cardio rehab next week.
She looked me over and gave me some discouraging news. I guess I should have expected it, I thought everything was going well. She told me I could go back to work soon. She told me I could go to July 9th if I wanted, but seeing as I am feeling well we set the date for June 11th. I am really getting used to the getting up when I want, doing what I want and napping whenever I feel like it. But I guess that is the next stage of my recovery.
I saw my cardiologist yesterday and all went well. He reduced my metoprolol prescription because my blood pressure was a little low. I have an echo cardiogram scheduled for June and I see him again in September and he said after that I would probably only need to see him once a year. He also has me starting cardio rehab in the next week or two, which I am very excited about. I have been walking every day, but I am looking forward to being able to push myself a little more than I have been.
My follow up with the surgeon is the end of next week.
So here is a quick list of things I miss after a month:
- sleeping on my side
- cutting the grass
- talking to people during the day (everyone is working, but I am not ready to go back yet)
- lifting things for myself
- not worrying about my temperature and weight
- not having to worry about walking too fast
But all in all I am 100% grateful that I now have a healthy heart and I can live with that list knowing I am getting better every day.
This week I have been doing more walking, a little gardening and I got to drive a little this week too (Ok, I drove all over the place, but I was going stir crazy). I did have a little set back though too.
On Tuesday the visiting nurse came for the last time, because I was doing so well. But then on Wednesday I noticed that the top of the incision was a little red and tender. I called the surgeon's PA and they think it is a little infected so they put me on an antibiotic. By yesterday things seemed better though and it appears to be clearing up.
I also became a bit concerned because I noticed I was retaining some water as my legs were a bit swollen and I gained a couple of pounds over one day. But now I think that had more to do with the heat and humidity this week as we were over 90 degrees for a couple of days. Today the temperature and humidity are down and so is the swelling.
Yesterday was a nice day to be out of work and home from the hospital. I took a nice walk with my daughter's corgi, Todd. Then I was able to get out into the yard and do a little spring planting and weeding. I planted some lettuce, spinach and radishes.
This morning I did a nice easy mile walk around the neighborhood. It is nice to be out in the spring looking at all the cherry and pear blossoms on the trees. This is exactly why I planned my operation at this time of year, so I could enjoy the spring.
Loving life right now. Just need a volunteer to clean my yard and cut the grass. Any takers? :-)
It is hard to believe that one week ago at this time I was coming out of OHS. If you told me on April 9 that in one week you will be walking around and up stairs, going out for breakfast and just chilling out, I would have thought you were getting the good drugs. But here I am, I pretty much dropped all my water weight from the surgery. After doing a flight of stairs, my heart rate is 81 and the sun is out. What could be better.
Well I think they got sick of me asking questions at the hospital and they kicked me out. But seriously, everything went very well and they released me today. I am a bit nervous being out on my own but excited also. The visiting nurse is meeting me tomorrow and my family is glad I am home.
Sorry I didn't post yesterday, but a lot happened. They took all the tubes out yesterday and what a difference in mobility. They also took out the catheter and the central line in my neck. Once all that stuff was out i was walking and moving around all day.
Today he pacemaker wires were removed so the only things left are the heart monitor and the IV line in my hand. I have those until I leave but in the bright side they think i can be discharged tomorrow.
Well it is the first day after the surgery and so far everything is going well. They got me up in a chair this morning. It was a little awkward getting in it but all went well. The only issue i have is because of all the fluid they put in me, my fingers are swollen and hard to bend. But I can live with that.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers.It really helped me stay calm yesterday.
I will say B&W is treating me very well. The staff is great and they answer all my questions. If you have the option you should consider them.
Thank God, I have today off from work. It is nice to just relax in an empty house and enjoy the sun. And get everything ready for tomorrow.
I am thinking of going for a walk this morning if it warms up a bit. Tomorrow I get my after market parts. Here is hoping they get me as far as my original parts.
Good luck to all my friends out there that are having surgery this week. We will all be posting here soon. And thank you to all of you who have read or posted to my journal. This is a very caring community and I am glad I found it. The support and love has really helped me through a tough time. I really don't think I would be as optimistic about the surgery with out you all.
Thank you from the bottom of my soon to be BAV-free heart.
It is weird, up to yesterday this whole open heart surgery thing kind of felt distant, like it was happening to someone else. But going through the preoperative tests yesterday, it really hit me last night. Not in a bad way but just more of the fact that it is real.
I will say it was tough concentrating on work today. Thankfully, my last day at work is tomorrow, then I have a dinner Friday night with my son and his girlfriend and my daughter and her boyfriend. This weekend I can get my aquariums cleaned and ready for a few weeks of neglect. And I plan on getting some radishes, lettuce, arugula and spinach planted outside and start some tomato and pepper plants inside (that is the Italian in me). Then all that is left is getting some odds and ends taken care of so that after Tuesday all I need to do is heal from a successful surgery.
Today is one week to surgery and it was my appointment day for the pre-op testing at the hospital. It did not start out well though. I got all the way to the hospital in plenty of time and then it took me almost 20 minutes to get into the parking area because of an accident. But I got in and went to the area I was told to go to a different area for my CT scan. So I walk down "The Pike" at B&W to the Radiology area and have to wait a few minutes while a radiologist and the receptionist discuss something in private. I guess they were talking about me, because when I told the receptionist my name, she laughed and called the gentleman back. It seems that I was not supposed to be scheduled there but back where I first checked in. No biggie, just made the trek back up "The Pike" to the first area. After that though everything went pretty smoothly. I got my CT, blood work, chest X-ray and my special cleaning lotion to shower with before the surgery.
I will say though B&W staff members were all great. Friendly and they made the day go by quick. Before I knew it, it was after 3 and I was done until next week. I hope this week goes by just as fast as today.
Well not really, but sometimes I can't believe this is happening to me. Here I am 9 days out and while a bit nervous, I will say that inner voice asking "Why me?" is dissipating. It is still there, but not as loud. I have been meditating every day with the Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster book (Thanks Gina!) and I really have to say I am ready for the AVR surgery. Not excited, but ready. I got my garden ready last weekend, so when the time comes I just need to put in the plants. And next weekend I will start some seeds inside, so I can take care of them while I am recovering (give me something to do, besides watch TV). My friend and I say we are a bunch of those old Italians that we used to make fun of when we were kids.
It is hard to believe it is in 9 days. When I set up the surgery date in February, April 10th seemed so far away. Now, it is next week. Anyway, here we go into the last week, pre-op testing on Tuesday. Last day of work is Thursday and then we get ready for surgery.
Twelve days out and I am nervously optimistic. Everything that this community has posted has been a great help. Now it is just getting to that day without encountering any hiccups. I will also keep avoiding everyone with any semblance of a cold or the flu.
What kinds of stuff I will most likely need in the hospital and when I first get home? I have been writing down some stuff (toothbrush, socks, underwear, etc) but I haven't found a comprehensive list of stuff, so I figured everyone here would have some great ideas that I can use.
Well three weeks until surgery and I don't know if the anxiety from waiting for the surgery is worse than the anxiety of having the surgery. I almost wish I didn't have a scheduled surgery and they would just call me and say OK tomorrow is the day. Actually, I wish they would call me and say it's all over, but what are you going to do.
Anyway, I did have an excellent day yesterday because I finally came to the realization that I will be going with the tissue valve (bovine) to replace my BAV. And it is kind of weird because, Monday evening I kind of resigned myself to the mechanical valve. I was almost positive I did not want to go through this again. The tiredness, being winded when I walk up stairs. But as yesterday went on I was doing a little reading on Warfarin and how to manage your life with it and I just realized I did not want to have to do that in my life just yet. Maybe when the valve needs to be replaced in 10-15 years I will rethink my decision. But right now this is what I believe is best for me.
My guess is that I was always going to pick the tissue valve, but I needed to go through the process internally. I will tell you that making this decision really took a load off of my shoulders. I can't begin to tell you how relieved I was yesterday.
I just want to thank you all for your support on my past posts. All the information here on this site is great and the people are always helpful. Thank you.
Now if someone will please stop the snow, I am ready for Spring.
Well, I am now 26 days out from surgery and while I am still not sure about which type valve to go with, my concern is how much time to take out of work.
My surgeon said 4 to 6 weeks for recovery and right now I am planning on taking 6 weeks. But will that be enough? Have you found that longer than 6 weeks is better or less? I realize that everyone recovers at a different rate, but I am just trying to insure that I do what is best for me.
It's snowing here in Cranston, RI. I am not sure how much we are getting, but I was pretty much done with winter on December 22nd. But it is March, so the snow shouldn't last too long, couple of days at most. Just have to shovel it.
Now that I have a date for surgery, it seems like time is accelerating and I have so much to do. Appointments for doctors have to be done, paperwork needs to be completed and stuff at work needs to be tidied up for when I am out. I know I have time to do it all, it just seems like a lot.
I have actually started meditating. I am seeing a counselor due to other issues that seem so small now compared to my health. But he recommended doing mediation and to start it now. It is something you have to learn and I really wasn't aware of that. He said it would help with my pain management and anxiety. I sure hope so.
People keep telling me that I have nothing to worry about. I don't have any other issues, just the BAV that needs to be replaced. They keep saying there are 100's of thousands of these operations done every year. My reply is: Yeah, but this is my first.
I am apprehensive but deep down, I know I am in good hands for this surgery. My surgeon is Dr. Prem Shekar at Brigham and Women's. I researched him and the hospital and have heard wonderful reviews.
My father's cousin had his mitral valve repaired a few years ago at B&W and he said they treat you well there. But the best thing was the day you get home and realize that all the worry and pressure are behind you. I am so looking forward to that day.
Hi everyone! I hope everyone is doing well. I am new to the site.
I have a bicuspid aortic valve that needs to be replaced. My surgery is scheduled for April 10th at Brigham and Women's Hospital. But I have a bit of a conundrum. Which valve should I get: the ON-X or the tissue valve. Any advice or recommendations? Thanks!