Month: April 2017

Home is Where the Heart Is!

So it’s been three weeks since the surgery today…. And I’ve been home for just over two weeks. I’m overdue for an update! In general, things are going pretty well. There have been some bumps in the road, but I think I’m on the right road.
I’m walking every day, like the doctor ordered. Several times a day, getting at least a mile per day total. I have not been cleared yet to do hills, so basically I’ve been walking our street…. It’ll be fun when I can explore other landscapes!
The appetite is better, though things still don’t taste right (from the anesthesia). This will pass, but basically, a lot of things that I know should taste good taste like cardboard. And it doesn’t help that I’m not using salt.
Sleep is getting better. The first week I couldn’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time – the discomfort was too much. Now things are leveling out a bit, and sleep comes easier. I nap quite a bit.
The pain of the incision has leveled off some, too. I’m still taking one Percocet per day (in the morning, when the stiffness is the worst), and using Tylenol the rest of the time. Though I believe Ibuprofen would be more effective than Tylenol, I can’t use it because I’m on a blood thinner (Coumadin). The hardest task of all has been not to overdo things. Some days you feel pretty good, so you try to do more, then you feel pretty bad because of that. It’s a tough balancing act. Sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose are no picnics.
The blood pressure has been pretty good (I’m on medication for it), and though my pulse is what I consider too high, the medical experts agree that this is simply a sign that the heart is learning all over again how to beat correctly. I defer to their expertise, and I wait patiently.
A few setbacks:
On the fourth day home, I had an episode where I couldn’t remember what day it was. I also couldn’t remember whether I had actually had the surgery yet or not, or what I had done the day before, etc. It was a bit scary for both Larry and me. It subsided soon enough, but my surgeon did suggest that I try to wean myself off the narcotics, which I have been doing. He also added a baby aspirin to my med regimen, to ensure that the blood is moving.
I also had an episode recently wherein my eyes wouldn’t focus. That has happened to me in the past, and usually the sensation has gone away within seconds. This lasted almost five minutes. Not an unusual thing, the nurse told me, for a heart valve patient in recovery. Hooray!
And now the latest thing: it appears that I have a UTI, probably the result of having had the Foley catheter in the hospital. I’m on antibiotics for it, and it’ll go away.
One thing I have to say, though, is that through all of this, I have never felt more grateful to be alive, and my appreciation for even the littlest things has grown immensely. I hope that never leaves me. Our cat is a constant source of amusement, our friends and family have been such a support and comfort, and above all, I realize how very lucky I am to have long-suffering Larry tagging along on the ride with me. It’s my stop-and-smell-the-roses time, and I am not letting that slip by me.
I also can’t say enough good things about my surgeon, Dr. John Elefteriades (luckily he lets people call him “Dr. E!”), who worked wonders with the ticker, the expert and exceedingly caring staff at Yale-New Haven Hospital (cardiac ICU and general cardiac units), and the wonderful care I’ve been getting from my visiting nurse from New England Home Care. I’m really very, very lucky, and I’ll never forget that. Thanks for listening – as you were!

Passing with Flying Colors!

Hi folks – just let me say that the concern and love and encouragement Larry and I have received in the past few days has been – again – overwhelming. I cannot thank you enough. It’s been a pretty incredible ride – having heart surgery really is like being hit by a train, but the speed of my recovery process has been more than encouraging in my case. From the breathing tube coming out (no fun at ALL!) and getting up and walking the day after, the progress was steady. When they started taking out the chest tubes (which drained fluids from my heart and lungs), my pain level dropped and my comfort and mobility increased exponentially. I’m getting around on my own now – I just did three laps around the unit (I’ve been on the step-down floor since yesterday afternoon), and my breathing and all the numbers have stabilized and are excellent. The appetite is coming back. My surgeon just came in, and he said if things continue in the way they’ve been going, I’ll be going home tomorrow. I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed again (I’m not sure how Larry feels about it!). When I can get a shower, I’ll feel even more like myself. And you know, there are people here who are much older and frailer than I am, and to see how they’ve forged through this process…. Well, they’re real heroes. As are all the folks who work in the step-down unit; they’ve all been great. So I’m ready to start the slow and steady process of getting back to normal – and I’m so grateful to be able to share it with you.