2 weeks post op

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wakedeac

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Mar 5, 2020
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Tomorrow I will be 2 weeks post op from a bioprosthetic aortic valve replacement done at Cleveland Clinic. I'm 44yo and prior to surgery was in good shape and asymptomatic. The velocities on echo just said it was time.

I was told at discharge to try and walk for at least 30-45 min/day, slowly building up duration and tolerance. Since I've been home for the past week I've been doing 3 walks each day (amongst walking around the house for things periodically throughout the day in between). Shortest duration 15 minutes, longest 25 minutes. Cumulative walking distance 2-3 miles/day. I tolerate the walks well at the time, and my heart rate drops appropriately with rest. I'm staying in sinus rhythm as far as I can tell. However, usually at the end of days around 5pm I start breathing a little harder and my throat can become dry and scratchy, wanting to cough more. By 8pm I'm usually exhausted and just want to lay on the couch and not talk until bed.

My primary question for everyone is did you feel more fatigued/SOB at the end of days at the 2 week post op period? I'm wondering if I'm trying to do to much too fast. Or if this is a normal part of the healing process and getting stamina back?

My secondary question for everyone is how long did it take post op before you felt like you could do your normal daily activities from wake to sleep with full stamina without feeling fatigued or SOB? (This is excluding any intentional cardiovascular exercise or activities that increase your heart rate for a sustained duration. I understand that aspect will take significantly longer to come back fully.)

Thanks in advance!
 

Buckeye

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Dec 2, 2019
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Hello wakedeac,
I am 6 weeks post op today. I had an ON X mechanical valve and I did the same as you did with small walks building up to 30 minutes a day. Started cardiac rehab at 3 weeks. For me at the end of the day, even at 6 weeks I definitely feel it. I sit in my recliner at the end of the day and want to fall asleep. I am exhausted. I do get some SOB walking upstairs to go to bed, I climb the stairs in my house all day long without SOB during the day. I am praying by the time 12 weeks is up and I can go back to work I will be in much better shape. I find I do get a little SOB on walks with my dogs especially climbing a slight incline. I took a 3 mile walk today with my pups, and rode a recumbent bike for 32 minutes, along with daily housekeeping. So I am pretty active throughout the day.
 

KatherineA

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Feb 3, 2020
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8 weeks is a significant change for me. I had what Cleveland calls a J incision. Kind of a shorter sternum cut. I’m 69 and received a biological aortic valve and a fix to the aortic aneurysm.

I was advised nothing but walking and no cardiac rehab for 6 weeks, no treadmills, handweights etc. i walked and did house stuff and basement stairs. I was always ready for bed early, like 9 pm. And often around 4 pm was so exhausted, I laid down for about an hour or sat and read.

Six weeks I felt stronger and was allowed to drive and use handweights etc. depending on the day, I was not as tired. But, walked 2 miles one day in my hilly neighborhood and felt that.

8 weeks now and I feel way more normal. Still don’t want to pack the day with a multitude of activities, but going to cardiac rehab and doing Hatha yoga for 45-60 min in the same day now feels ok.
 

CarolM

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Sep 15, 2012
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I am 3 weeks post-op AVR #2. I was instructed to do just 2, 10-min walks each day, adding a minute or two gradually. I am up to 16/17 mins, but definitely have shortness of breath. Absolutely no dog walking before 6 weeks. I certainly am fatigued, and take an afternoon nap, even though I am ready for bed by 9.
 

tom in MO

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Tomorrow I will be 2 weeks post op from a bioprosthetic aortic valve replacement done at Cleveland Clinic. I'm 44yo and prior to surgery was in good shape and asymptomatic. The velocities on echo just said it was time.

I was told at discharge to try and walk for at least 30-45 min/day, slowly building up duration and tolerance. Since I've been home for the past week I've been doing 3 walks each day (amongst walking around the house for things periodically throughout the day in between). Shortest duration 15 minutes, longest 25 minutes. Cumulative walking distance 2-3 miles/day. I tolerate the walks well at the time, and my heart rate drops appropriately with rest. I'm staying in sinus rhythm as far as I can tell. However, usually at the end of days around 5pm I start breathing a little harder and my throat can become dry and scratchy, wanting to cough more. By 8pm I'm usually exhausted and just want to lay on the couch and not talk until bed.

My primary question for everyone is did you feel more fatigued/SOB at the end of days at the 2 week post op period? I'm wondering if I'm trying to do to much too fast. Or if this is a normal part of the healing process and getting stamina back?

My secondary question for everyone is how long did it take post op before you felt like you could do your normal daily activities from wake to sleep with full stamina without feeling fatigued or SOB? (This is excluding any intentional cardiovascular exercise or activities that increase your heart rate for a sustained duration. I understand that aspect will take significantly longer to come back fully.)

Thanks in advance!
My primary question for everyone is did you feel more fatigued/SOB at the end of days at the 2 week post op period? I'm wondering if I'm trying to do to much too fast. Or if this is a normal part of the healing process and getting stamina back? Totally normal, nothing to worry about. Sounds to me like you are doing good. I would take a late morning and late afternoon nap.

My secondary question for everyone is how long did it take post op before you felt like you could do your normal daily activities from wake to sleep with full stamina without feeling fatigued or SOB? (This is excluding any intentional cardiovascular exercise or activities that increase your heart rate for a sustained duration. I understand that aspect will take significantly longer to come back fully.) I don't really remember when "full normal" kicked in. I had more stamina from by new mechanical valve by about 4 weeks, since my previous birth valve was screwed up.
 

wakedeac

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Mar 5, 2020
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A big thank you for the quick responses. Although it's a limited sample size, it gives me the confidence that I'm on the right track at such an early stage. Very much looking forward to that 4-8 week period where it seems a significant amount of routine normalness will return.

If anyone else has any additional advice or wisdom about their physical condition with either normal daily routine as well as exercise tolerance in the week 2-6 period I'd love to hear it.
 

egar

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Apr 11, 2019
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I had a mechanical mitral valve installed about 16 months ago. After about 2 months I felt like I was 100% recovered. By the 3rd month, I felt even better. In the 4th month, better still.

I guess the message is it’s tough to have an objective measure. It will take a couple of months for you to feel mostly normal. That will be so much better than you feel now it will seem like you are totally back. It’s a very interesting journey.
 

Astro

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I also felt a big improvement by 6 weeks. However, I did notice significant advances each week. Next week will hopefully be better than this week. The week after better again...

I found sleeping became a lot easier around about 4 weeks. Better sleep also helped my energy levels.
 

egar

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Yes, sleeping well is a big milestone. The ability to comfortably sleep, lying in bed normally, is an important step in your recovery.
 

vitdoc

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One of the primary reasons for fatigue after cardiac surgery is not necessary cardiac issues but significant anemia. Most people loose significant blood with open heart surgery. It can take at least a month for the blood count to normalize. Blood may be replaced during surgery but people are still left somewhat anemic. This can lead to fatigue. Also these recommendations about how much one can do after surgery are essentially plucked from air. Frequently these are repeated ad nauseum because that is what someone came up with 30 years ago.
The surgery will not fall apart if one walks too far. The chest won’t burst open if one lifts 5 lbs.. The main thing to avoid is marked stress i.e. significant heart rate elevation which might cause AFib to kick in. And avoid falling so as to not disrupt the sternal closure.
 

Buckeye

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Dec 2, 2019
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Yes, sleeping well is a big milestone. The ability to comfortably sleep, lying in bed normally, is an important step in your recovery.
I find sleeping on my belly still uncomfortable at the 6 week mark. My Chest muscles and breastbone to some extent still get sore and I can’t do it for very long. How long did it take before you were able to lie on your belly comfortably?
 

Art O Ceitinn

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Hi Wakedeac it gets better with time. Four weeks after OP I cooked the family Christmas dinner and washed it down with some champagne. Six months later I was climbing mountains in Crete. Enjoy your new life.
 

egar

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How long did it take before you were able to lie on your belly comfortably?
I’m a side and back sleeper. It took longer to get comfortable on my side than may back. Not sure exactly how long it was before I could stay in bed all night, probably around 5 weeks (+/- a week).
 
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I'm six weeks post op and try to get a few miles in a day. Like @wakedeac I'm young (37) and was asymptomatic before the surgery; my doctor heard a murmur during a routine check up, and a month later I was under the knife. I think you'll see great progress between weeks two and four, and from there, you'll start feeling almost normal again. I have not really have issues with fatigue, and my cardiologist basically cleared me to walk as far as I felt like as long as I didn't experience any chest pain or extreme shortness of breath. Likewise, my surgery team suggested I could try light weights again at six weeks and "if it hurts, stop."

I'm still having sleep issues, but I chalk those up to anxiety. My insurance company case manager suggested I see a therapist, so I'm starting that at his recommendation. Anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability, difficulty sleeping... all are common after heavy invasive surgeries like this, especially if you've been put on beta blockers like I was. I'd recommend sleeping on your back as long as you can. The past week or two, I've been tossing and turning a bit more side to side, and I can feel the tightness/soreness in my sternum in the morning.

I think you're going to be amazed and impressed very soon with just how quickly our bodies recover from such an intense trauma.
 

bizinsider

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I'm 67 and 11 days out from bio valve/root/ascending aorta/1x bypass at CC. Just got home ( California) yesterday. I notice exactly what you noticed - exhausted at day's end, with my heart getting a bit angry. But... sleep is improving and I'm trying to learn to listen to signs of fatigue earlier in the day - and act on it. Great to see everybody's responses. Seems there is a steady theme: Every week is usually a week of markedly improved performance!
 

Protimenow

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Hi Wakedeac it gets better with time. Four weeks after OP I cooked the family Christmas dinner and washed it down with some champagne. Six months later I was climbing mountains in Crete. Enjoy your new life.
I sure hope that your surgery was at the end of November, and not Mid-May. Cooking Christmas Dinner in June would have been a bit odd.
 

Keithl

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Apr 20, 2019
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I had an On-X valve 11 months ago and was vigilant about walking every day. I was walking close to a mile by the end of the first week. Once home I would get on my treadmill at least 4-5 days a week going 30-40 minutes starting at around 1.5 mph then after a few weeks was walking for 40 minutes and doing about 2-3 miles. I was a bit fatigued, as your body just went through a traumatic experience. It was rough sleeping which led to most of my fatigue. I was in very good shape by 6 weeks, back to my old work out routine. What I did do was not push too hard, avoided anything that would put pressure on my healing sternum for the entire 6 weeks. Sure others say 4 weeks they were back to normal, I followed doctors advice to take it easy form6 weeks and it paid off greatly.
 
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