What a difference a day can make. Per the provider’s direction, I have increased the diuretic and there are signs the water is now flowing out of my body faster than being stored. I still feel and look bloated, but I can simply tell by vision some of the stored liquid is gone. Walking is also less difficult now. I can bend my knees. I even went for a few walks inside the house over night. Moving around seems to make a big difference. Even though a walk can leave me breathing heavier, I can just tell my body is adapting again to activity I also find I can become tired from the walk, which helps with sleep.
I have to admit I ended up “cheating” and took a sleeping pill around 2:00 AM last night. Based on how tired I was and quickly I was out when I climbed into bed much earlier in the evening, I thought for certain I could have made it through the night. However, I did make a couple bathroom breaks (becoming more frequent now that the prescription diuretic is starting to work]. And although I can tell me legs are draining some excess liquids, they are uncomfortable. The Ambient put me back to sleep, but I guess I snored with decibels rivaling airplanes (a bit of an exaggeration, but gives you an idea of how loud.
It’s great to have our dog, Trek, back home full time with us again. We can tell he’s a bit confused, however. I’m certainly not the same person I was. His routine has been thrown off. One of my jobs is to get up early and walk him. That’s not happening right now. It’s hard enough to walk a few laps around the inside of the house, climb in and out of bed, or make a trip to the bathroom. There’s no way I could give him the kind of walk he needs. Mark has taken over that responsibility. Mark also rearranged the living room, so I can watch TV or Netflix. I’m not ready to tackle going up or down the stairs to the basement, where our family, laundry and exercise rooms are. So Trek is a bit thrown off. His favorite spots in the living room are either harder to get to or temporarily do not exist. I have also noticed he has been exceptionally gentle around me, almost as if he knows that I cannot handle his more rambunctious energy.
It's amazing how the passage of time seems to be measured by different grains of sand. The New Year seems like it was only yesterday. Yet it feels like ages have passed since we headed down to Rochester to fix my heart. We made it back in less than 1 week. I am so glad we went with the less invasive surgery and that we went to the Mayo.
The doctors at the Mayo are much pleased by the operations success thus far. That damn heart murmur, the crier regarding my diseased heart valve, has been there since as far back as I can remember. It is no more. It's gone and my heart is functioning as well as expected for this much time after the surgery. Of course, my heart, like much of the rest of my body needs more healing time. Even though the doctors performed a minimally invasive surgery, the fact is, I had major heart surgery and my heart was traumatized as with all heart surgeries. The right side of my chest, the area where the robot “arms” entered my body, looks like it got in a fight with an ice pick. I don’t think I’ve ever been so black in blue before in my life.
The good news is that I was released from St. Mary’s yesterday and given the green light to go back to Minneapolis today. Let’s hope for a safe and healthy recovery. I’m passed the operation and seem to have put the nausea behind me, but I do still have pain and walk at a snail’s pace. It hurts when I cough, which I do quit often. Thank goodness I have only sneezed twice and was able to minimize its impact. My lungs have not yet fully re-inflated. Additionally, I am retaining water big time. I look like the giant marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. My body has to re-learn to excrete additional fluids and not store them in the body. I am wearing gray sweat pants and if you only saw those legs, you would swear an elephant was in the room. This is making walking difficult. My legs are not very flexible and I am carrying 30 or more pounds of excess water in body. I find myself winded much easier today than yesterday morning.
Speaking of walks, I have been meeting my daily goals. So far today I have four of my 6 walks done. It’s a lot of work for me, but I’m making myself do the things I need to do. I also practice throughout the day with the breathing tool they gave me. I have to suck air into my lungs 10 times consecutively each waking hour. The tool measures the amount of air or pressure taken into the lungs.
Not sure when I’ll be up to seeing company yet. Everything seems to zap my energy. I’m hoping for a good night’s sleep tonight. It could be my first good one since the operation.
Thanks again for all your entries in the guestbook. And of course A gigantic thanks to Mark. He’s been such a hero throughout this process. From providing emotional support to all the physical work he’s now doing to care for me
First, thanks to everyone for your entries in this journal. Mark and I truly appreciate it.
After a rough couple of days post-op, I’ve progressed positively by leaps and bounds. The first couple of days I had really bad nausea. Doctors think it could have been the combination of the anethstesia, the pain killers (narcotics), and an empty stomach, but I bounced back quickly and was released today, the original target date. I’m looking forward to Mark and me heading back to Minneapolis tomorrow and picking up our dog, Trek.
It was great having Mark here with me for the duration and a special thanks to Rochelle for her generosity of time and for her comedic relief directly preceding the time of the surgery. It really helped reduced the anxiety.
At the moment, everything seems to be proceeding as expected. Hoping recovery goes just as well.
A huge thanks to Drs. Burkhart and Suri for a successful surgery and for fixing my broken heart. I can’t say enough about the nursing staff: their caring, concern, and support were wonderful.
He's more himself. Just snarfed down dinner, he actually was looking forward to dinner. He's taken 2 walks today, sitting in his chair for longer periods of time. He's been able to urinate on his own as well although he says it hurts: probably the lingering effects of his catheter. Nausea is virtually gone, so everything is looking really good.
When I left Will last evening, he seemed to be doing real well: he ate some crackers with some ginger ale, went for a little walk with his nurse, sat up in his chair for a while.
This morning he says he feels like crap: nausea. I looked at his bp numbers and they're low. The nurse is giving him meds for the nausea and something to help him urinate. He hasn't been able to or had the need to urinate. He's dozing a bit.
He's got a lovely feast of yellow jello waiting for him when he's ready. If he doesn't eat it soon, I'll have to. It's calling me.
i got to see Will in the icu a few minutes ago. he looks great! they had taken out the intubation tube so he was breathing with the aid of an oxygen mask. he was in and out of consciousness, the nurses were waking him up telling him to breath, he said he just wanted to sleep and that he was thirsty. he said hi and waved to me and Rochelle (our friend who came down for the day), so he was aware of what was going on around him. the staff said he's doing so well that he'll probably be moved out of icu tonight and into his own room.
Will is in surgery. This is Mark, Will's partner, writing. Thanks to our friend Rochelle making the trip down to be with us and serving as comedic relief, the minutes before surgery were light and Will was in great spirits. The time came, however, when he had to go and it was very hard for both Will and me.
I know he has the best care (the staff here at the Mayo have been outstanding!) and will come through this just fine, but these are going to be a long 6 hours for me.
I just accidentally deleted my last entry. So here we go again.
I'm feeling more calm now that I met with Dr. Burkhart and a staff member about the final prep. Actually I've been remarkably calm all day. Getting a good night's sleep helped. I swear the beta blocker to slow my heart rate has also helped. I wonder if my condition made more anxious and less patient due to the way my heart beat in my chest.
We are to be at the hospital at 7 am. I'll probably be out of surgery and ICU 6 - 7 hours later. The operation itself will be about 3.5 hours.
If all goes well, I may be at home with Mark and Trek Monday.
The day—heart valve surgery day—is approaching fast. Mark and I head down to Rochester, MN tomorrow. I'll be in pre-op all day Wednesday, and surgery on Thursday. We'll find out the time of surgery on February 20.
For those of you who are not familiar with what is going on with my heart, I was told in September 2012 I needed surgery to correct my Mitral Valve. This is the valve that regulates the flow of blood between the upper left chamber and the lower left chamber.
It was Abbott Northwestern Hospital that told me I needed the valve repaired and that it was urgent. They indicated I would need open heart surgery. We knew the Mayo Clinic offered a less invasive robotically assisted surgery and went to them for a second opinion. They confirmed I needed the surgery and needed it soon. However, they also found I was a candidate for the robotically assisted surgery. My chest will NOT need to be cut open and the breast bone broken. Instead the robot goes in multiple incisions on the right side of my chest. This should allow me to recover more quickly and, hopefully, result in less pain during my convalescence, especially since my breast bone should remain intact.
Although I’ve been watching the calendar days pass with trepidation these past few months, I also know I need the valve corrected. My symptoms have grown more pronounced over time. Even walking the dog with all his sniffing stops would leave me breathing heavily. Some nights I was in bed between 8:00 and 8:30 PM physically and mentally exhausted. And then on Valentine’s Day I was in the emergency room after passing out at work. Mark and I spent the evening in my hospital room. At first it may not seem like the most romantic place to be, but we were both just glad to have each other. As sappy as that sounds, it’s true. I’ve been assured the surgery is still on, and I’m trying to focus on what life will be like after I’ve healed.
Although I may make a couple more entries prior to the big day, Mark will take over blogging the day of the surgery. Keep checking the blog for news on how it all goes. And please keep me in your thoughts.