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Thread: How long after surgery did you need or use your prescription pain medication?

  1. #1
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    Default How long after surgery did you need or use your prescription pain medication?

    Hey everyone....

    I was just curious. How long after surgery did you need your prescription pain medication? I called my cardiologist for a refill today (because of course I couldn't get through to Northwestern Memorial for one) and the nurse told me my doctor was shocked that I needed pain meds 3 weeks out from surgery.

    I am still having a lot of weird pains and aches. Like I mentioned in another post, my sternum hurts. My left side shoulder REALLLLLLLY hurts and the pain is only relieved if its being massaged or with a pain med. I still have fevers so I am trying to tame that. And I get headaches. So I didn't think it was weird to ask for a refill. But if I shouldn't be using them this far out, I don't want to.

    So please tell me, how long did you use yours?

    Also I can't remember if I asked this already but my right side of my chest is numb at the surface from the incision over to my armpit area. Some times there are twinges of pain there too. Anyone get this after surgery? Did it go away?

    Thanks!

    jackie
    May 21st 2010- Aortic Valve Replacement w/ Arch Replacement
    Mild/Moderate Stenosis and Ascending Arch Aneurysm
    Diagnosed w/ Bi Cuspid Aortic Valve Feb. 2008

  2. #2
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    Second week I took regular Tylenol.....3rd week occasional regular Tylenol......4th week nothing, but I had tons of aches.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  3. #3
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    Oh, and numbness is very common. Doc said it was due to cut nerves and they heal slowly. They will probably itch before they heal.
    BAV-Aortic Stenosis...AVR Oct 11, 2005 / St.Jude Regent mechanical 21mm
    INR Home testing since 2007 with Coaguchek XS...Self-Dosing

    "Caution: I may have been in contact with Nuts"

  4. #4
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    My surgery was performed at Oklahoma Heart Institute here in Tulsa, OK, USA, on 22 September, 2009 by Dr James Spann.
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    I began using Tylenol on the third day after surgery. In these past months, I have mostly needed an analgesic [Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen] in the evening when one is more likely to feel all of the achey places.

    I never had any numbness in the chest. Mine went the other way when in week four the skin became hypersensitive to any touch centered around my chest incision. I started desensitizing routines but it remained a problem for about 6 weeks.

    Larry
    Last edited by Mentu; June 11th, 2010 at 07:13 PM.
    AVR 22 SEP 09
    Carpentier-Edwards Bovine Pericardial "Magna" with Sternal Talons
    Oklahoma Heart Institute, Tulsa, OK

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bina View Post
    Second week I took regular Tylenol.....3rd week occasional regular Tylenol......4th week nothing, but I had tons of aches.
    Same here. Just Tylenol. Doctor never gave me any pain medication.

    Brigham and Women Hopsital -Dr.Shekar OHS- June 1,09
    AVR-St.Jude Mechanical Valve. (25VAVGJ-515)
    Ascending/Transverse Arch Aortic Replacement


    Nelson

  6. #6
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    I used 5 mg oxycodone 1-3 times a day for about a week after discharge. I have had no fevers or headaches or any other problems. I used motrin 1-3 times a day for another week. I have not needed anything since. Last time I did not need even motrin after discharge. From what I understand though, I have very easy recoveries. Have you tried heating pads for your shoulder. Heat really helped me a lot. I have one of those pads that you heat in the microwave for a couple of minutes. It really helped the muscles in my chest, shoulders and back.

    Debbie

  7. #7
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    thanks everyone. i'm going to switch to motrin only for a few days and see what happens!
    May 21st 2010- Aortic Valve Replacement w/ Arch Replacement
    Mild/Moderate Stenosis and Ascending Arch Aneurysm
    Diagnosed w/ Bi Cuspid Aortic Valve Feb. 2008

  8. #8
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    Just remember Jackie, everyone is different so if you are finding you still are experiencing pain maybe you should chat with the doc. Don't try to be superwoman!
    Hope you are feeling better soon!

  9. #9
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    thanks penny!
    May 21st 2010- Aortic Valve Replacement w/ Arch Replacement
    Mild/Moderate Stenosis and Ascending Arch Aneurysm
    Diagnosed w/ Bi Cuspid Aortic Valve Feb. 2008

  10. #10
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    portland, oregon.
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    this post blows my mind. i should be sleeping instead of reading like every post here. but i can't believe some of the replies. 11 years ago, i was still taking oxycodone 3 weeks after and only sort of shuffling about. i can't believe in some cases, docs don't even give pain meds for this surgery anymore? ~mind blown~
    VSD, cleft mitral valve, aortic valve regurgitation. 1998, bacterial endocarditis.
    1999, mitral and aortic valve repair (UCLA medical center).
    Aug 2010 AVR, possible MVR (OHSU).

  11. #11
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    Every person is different and every surgery is different. There is no "correct" answer to this question because it all depends.....With that in mind, I think there are two points to consider about your post.

    #1- I think that those that respond, particularly early, to this post are going to be more likely those that took pain meds for either a short time or a long time becasue they have a more interesting story to tell. I know when I saw your post I was "proud" to think that I only took narcotics for one day post op, when in actuality I was just lucky enough to not be in much pain. That puts me in the group with the short time. It would be helpful to do a study that actually checks how many narcotic pills the "average" open heart patient takes post op. Maybe something like that is out there. But that would be a challenge to get good information without bias.

    #2 - Every day on narcotics is one day closer to becoming addicted. If I am reading between the lines of your question, I would guess that is why you are asking the question. I don't know much about addiction, and don't know how long it takes to happen, but I think that is very variable as well. For that reason, I my plan going out was to find alternatives to narcotics as early as possible and put up with minor discomfort. My GI system certainly appreciated it!! - Please also keep in mind that there are side effects from too much Motrin or Tylenol, so work with your doctors to help determine the right amounts of meds to keep your pain managed.
    AVR 3/10/2010 - 25mm Magna bioprothesis, ascending aorta with placement of a 28mm Hemashield graft through mini-sternotomy for severe aortic steosis with bicuspid valve. Cleveland Clinic- Dr. Eric Roselli.

  12. #12
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    I was given Morphine, Paracetemol and Codeine in hospital. The Morphine was for just over 2 days and then it was paracetemol and codeine. Now, after 19 weeks I only get pains if I overdo the exercises. If they last I have a couple of Paracetemol. I found that the operation aches lasted about 3 weeks but declining in severity. I must add that at no time have I felt in acute pain and now with quite heavy exercises they are nothing much. I was told in hospital that if I had any pain to tell them as there is no need to suffer these days.

  13. #13
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    Jackie - I didn't like the feeling the oxycodone or vicodin gave me so tried to get off it as soon as I could. But that could very well be just me. I switched over to tylenol only probably around week 3 or so I think. If I would have been able to tolerate the weird feelings better, I would DEFINITELY not been shy to ask for a refill. So if it's helping you, tell them to take a flying leap and give you a flipping refill!!!
    - Andy
    Born with BAV; Moderate/Severe Stenosis/Regurgitation by age 49; AVR Surgery 5/5/10 by Dr. Robert Emery, St. Josephs Hospital, St. Paul, MN; St. Jude Regent Mechanical Valve

  14. #14
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    My surgery was two days prior to yours. I take motrin during the day and I take tylenol with codeine at night. I find I need the stronger medicine at night, or I get into positions that wake me up much more frequently.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by malibu82 View Post
    thanks everyone. i'm going to switch to motrin only for a few days and see what happens!
    What worked best for Justin after the first week or so (unless he was having complications) was just to take OTC during the day, and take one of his pain pills before he went to bed. It helped him sleep a little more and if he rolled ect he didn't wake up in as much pain.
    When he left the hospital, I had to argue because I wanted him to hve a weeks worth of pain meds just in case he needed them, theywanted to just give a couple days worth. I told them I rather him have them and not take them , then be in pain during the night or weekend and have to wait hours to get more. I won.
    Lyn
    Mom to Justin 25 TGA,VSDs, pulmonary atresia/stenosis ect, post/Rastelli, 5 OHS, pacer in and out ... and surgery w/muscle flap for post op infection (sternal osteomyelitis with mediastinitis) www.caringbridge.org/nj/justinw

  16. #16
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    Jacquie,

    we are all diferent and we all have all had a variance on similar surgery and different tolerances for pain...echoguy probably said it best in my view. That being said the surgeons had to do some damge to get in there and fix things, they may have been expediant to get it done and it may explain why some have more pain than others

    In mys case, went home from hospital with a good supply of Oxycodone and Ttylonol, with the continued recommendation to take them as needed to remain active, walk and use the spyro.

    In my case never really needed them, as have discomfort, not pain...only exception was coughing in 1st 10 day post op and yeah the sneezing thing (Andy was right), sneezing not much fun...but since arrival at home have weened myself off the pepper somewhat, as I was an addict for food falvouring, but easier to ween of pepper than to sneeze...sneezing is really my only source of pain.

    Now also my sternum was cemented using Kryptonite and that may be another difference.

    In my case current greatest discomfort is the itching thing on torso and a tightness at upper part of incision...but am really careful about lifting anything or making sudden movements...maybe the aches are related to the fever that you are still trying to control...hope the pros can enlighten you on Tuesday?
    AVR/Mitral repair-May 17, 2010, Royal Vic Montreal, Surgeon K. Lachapelle
    Aortic VR - SJM - Epic 21 mm, Mitral repair - C-E - Physio Annuloplasty Ring 28 mm
    Kryptonite glue used for sternum closure - 1st test case at our hospital, wow it rocks !

  17. #17
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    I came home with an Rx for 30 5mg oxycodone. I took about half of them in the first two weeks, so I guess that averages out to about 1 per day. I did not have a sternotomy, but when I was home I noticed that reaching for things and using my right arm would give me a bit of soreness, but nothing in the way of bad pain. I used the rest of them to help me fall asleep when I went through a serious bout of insomnia in March and April, which I probably wasn't supposed to have done, but they always put me to sleep in about an hour.

  18. #18
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    What's up with the fever. Does the Doctor know your still running one . Could be cause for the headaches . Everyone is differenct with pain some have higher pain tolerences and some not. Do what's best for you and if your not comfortable taking the pain meds talk to Doc about something difference or alternating with Motrin & Meds. I get the numbess too they say it will go with time.

    Be Well
    Kathi
    Aortic Valve Replacement & Cabg 1X 5/7/2010
    Dr David H Adams Mount Sinai

  19. #19
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    thanks again everyone. i think what i am going to do is take motrin during the day, then motrin and vicodin before bed and when i wake up because that is when i am most in pain. i'm telling you ever since this crappy weather rolled in i am having pain in my sternum. for the first two weeks my sternum was fine. it's not really like oh god it hurts, its more like achy and painful at times.

    sweetbanker, who knows what is up with the fever, i will find out on tuesday i have a doctor appt!
    May 21st 2010- Aortic Valve Replacement w/ Arch Replacement
    Mild/Moderate Stenosis and Ascending Arch Aneurysm
    Diagnosed w/ Bi Cuspid Aortic Valve Feb. 2008

  20. #20
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    Miami, FL United States
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    I was told by my cardiologist that it is normal for younger patients to have more pain. He said that it had something to do with the nerves being younger and more sensitive (I'm 29). I find myself having severe upper back pain when I stand for more than ten minutes. If I had more pain meds I would take them before I would go walking, but since I don't I just haven't been walking as much as I would like to. Both the surgeon and the cardio said that the back pain was normal though.

    As to the fever, it could potentially be due to narcotic withdrawal.

  21. #21
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    Well I cant speak to how long to take pain meds like Oxy and Vicodin after this surgery, I have yet to learn this myself as the time is near for me. HOWEVER, after several severe back and neck injuries, a torn rotator cuff, and a few other issues I have had to endure, all ending with narcotic pain meds like these, I have a few things to share with you. Regarding how your body reports pain, be advised, there is irrefutable evidence that your emotional state will dictate your physical state. When your brain builds neurological paths to painful areas, those pathways do not simply stop when the condition stops. They continue! They take time to resolve themselves and it is very important that stress and anxiety do not keep those neuro-pathways alive. They are like yelping dogs at your door that you continue to feed to shut them up. The more you feed them, the louder and more often and longer they will yelp and remind you that they are there. Take for instance the case of someone who has had an amputation of a limb and still says they feel pain in the limb or that they have an itch in that limb. Its not there, but the neuro-pathways are still firing and thus the feelings are real, not imagined.

    Long story short, donít let stress or anxiety keep pain neuro-pathways alive. This is not "new age psyco-babbell" its real and its called mind/body syndrome. Rebound doctors like Dr Howard Shubiner and John Sarno have written books on this subject. If allowed to go on, it can manifest itself into significant pain and dysfunction. Your doctors must satisfy you that your issue is not a structural or tissue problem, than start short circuiting those neuro-pathways with exercise, deep breathing, meditation, counseling, or whatever you do to take your mind off of things.

    Finally, a word about narcotic pain medications, especially Oxy, Vicodin, Morphine, Tramadol and many others. These drugs work with brain receptors to reduce pain. Many people who are take long term opioid pain medications have reported that there is a significant rebound effect both physically and emotionally when stopping them. Physically, a pain that may have been a 3 could become a 6 if you stop pain meds after chronic use. Three weeks to a month is pushing the envelope from therapeutic to chronic. Once you cross that threshold, pain can be increased just from stopping and those receptors wake up and start coming back to life. This shall pass!

    Emotionally, your mood and behavior will be affected when you are on, and when you come off pain meds. Personally, I used to experience headaches from vicodin. It is a well known effect called vicodin headache. A lot of people get it. Once youíre on it for a little while, it passes, but they can come roaring back when you stop. Vicodin used to touch off migraine headaches for me at times. Iím not talking bad headaches, Iím talking lights flashing, tunnel vision, and weird noises type migraine headaches. Caffeine can really fuel that fire once you stop. After stopping vicodin after a month of 3 pills a day after a bad back injury, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and was a horrible bear to be around for about two weeks. I had a droning headache and even my sinuses were swollen shut for a week or so and I had increased bouts of anxiety I never used to have. My temp. was elevated and I felt like I was buring up. My back was hurting like hell but nothing was wrong with it. As a matter of fact, once I told my back to shut the hell up, my neck started hurting and than my knee. All of this after only taking 3 pills a day for a few weeks! Once my body and mind re-adjusted to being off the opioid meds, I was my old happy-go-lucky self again. As for the emotional effects of stopping opioid drugs, this too shall pass.

    Donít let the pain killer monster get out of the bag. Donít suffer, but sometimes, you need to get your mind around what is happening to you. Donít suffer with pain, but remember that pain is your body's way of telling you whatís going on. Listen to it, but donít let it boss you around. Take control of your pain and it will leave you alone as long as your are satisfied that your cardiac team is sure there is nothing else going on that needs to be resolved.

  22. #22
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    The main thing I can say is don't be a tough guy about this. I was off the Tylenol 3 (codine) at about week 3 for the most part. I tried to come off when I was still in too much pain and that was wrong as I think being in pain risks injury. So I just took them when I was feeling the pain creep up with a mix of regular Tylenol. I think I took 30 pills home with me and got another script filled around 3 weeks that I did not finish. Better safe than sorry.
    BAV diagnosed at birth University Hospital Madison,WI
    OHS 1980 OHSU Portland, Or (age 9)
    23mm On-X valve in the Aortic January 5th 2010 at Tacoma General. Dr. Nichols.
    Proact Study participant.

  23. #23
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    I was given pain killers when I first woke up in the recovery room.
    After that I was never offered or given any further prescription pain medication.
    OldManEmu

    "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." FDR

  24. #24
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    Default Pain Meds

    My surgeon and his staff encouraged me to use prescription pain meds following surgery. Vicodin was prescribed. The general thought here was that I would heal more quickly if pain wasn't an issue. Pain tolerances vary from individual to individual. My doctors were suprised when I kept declining refills.

    While I really liked vicodin, I had read something about how easily people can get addicted to pain meds. I used the prescription meds as little as possible.When I did use vicodin it was mostly to knock myself out so I could sleep.

    Over-the-counter pain killers have never appealed much too me. It doesn't seem to do much for me. I never used the over-the-counter stuff.

    -Philip

  25. #25
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    I haven't used the vicodin in almost a week and I feel fine. If I do have pain , I take tylenol or motrin and that takes care of it. I don't feel any withdrawl symptoms from the vicodin.
    May 21st 2010- Aortic Valve Replacement w/ Arch Replacement
    Mild/Moderate Stenosis and Ascending Arch Aneurysm
    Diagnosed w/ Bi Cuspid Aortic Valve Feb. 2008

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