A compilation of pre/post surgery preparations and experiences

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VR.org Supporter
Supporting Member
May 15, 2023
Hi All,

This is a "log" of what worked and what didn't when preparing for the surgery. I'm very certain that some hospitals are different from others... but a recap might be of some use.

Please note that there is a pretty long-and-useful thread here: what to take to the hospital - a checklist

Some preparatory steps/experiences I and my family took:

- The forum recommendation was to follow the doctor's and nurses' advice to the letter: Good idea! The circumstances are very unusual, but they really know how to handle things.

- The "advanced recovery" procedures (before the surgery): must've been a good idea. Of course, I have only "a sample of 1". But the sterilizing wipe-off probably helped when one of the shavers made a small cut by mistake. And the carbohydrate drink the night before probably helped to re-start the stomach after the procedure, I didn't have to battle the constipation.

- My wife rented a hotel nearby: Good idea! We don't live "very" far, but 40-50 min commute each way would've been taxing for her.

- My wife's sister come over for a couple of days: Good idea! The moral support helped my wife. And the sister-in-law had experience - one of her sons had 2 OHSs.

- There was no flossing allowed, to avoid bleeding while on the blood thinners. A water pick was ok though: Good idea! Of course, there was a "industrial-strength" mouth-wash, but it felt better to use the pick. (And I have dental bridges to worry about.)

- Similarly, the manual shavers are not allowed, to avoid cuts. The electrical shaver was ok: Good idea!

- Getting a haircut: Great idea! (Then one can wipe off the head with wet towels before being able to shower.)

- To have the extension cord: Great idea!

- Getting the shower chair: Really great idea! (Was not "optional" for me, although it might be fore somebody else. And I think the chair height had to be appropriate, the medical equipment stores seemed to have only short ones. We basically adopted a non-medical wooden chair to make do.

- Purely my opinion: The breathing exercise equipment should be exercised more than "once" before the surgery, if this is feasible. This habituates the muscles to breath steadily. Which can help in case of spasms.

- Same with walking before the surgery: might as well get into the habit, to the (safe) extent possible. My stamina was going down before the surgery, but seemed to have stopped changing for the last 2 weeks prior. Which I attribute to the small amount of evening walking (from memory, just ~10 min).

- Getting a pack of baby wipes: Good idea! (for self disinfecting, cleaning up the fallen stuff, etc)

- The tissues stack that nurses can bring over: Good idea!

- I slept very little the night before: A screw-up! Kept sleeping when there was time to pull the ventilator tube out. And the protocol was that the patient had to be awake for an hour. This whole thing ran late due to the shift changes, etc. We managed, but this was taxing for my wife.

- Meant to get used to sleeping on the back and didn't manage: a mistake. The recovery was more difficult because of that.

- The ICU had a white board for writing with Sharpies: Good idea! Used it to the hilt. (But should've agreed on the sign convention with my wife... but the "regular" signs, like thumbs up or "writing in the air" were quite understood.)

- The night ICU nurse was chatty: my respect! It's probably not easy to keep talking to the patient who was directed to "talk very little".

- Drank a jar of water overnight: A screw-up! The water tasted heavenly. But it's extra "water weight". And apparently everybody gets 14-16 pounds of it (~7 kg). Which had to be get rid of later, since it's a risk factor for pneumonia.

- On the 2nd day in the hospital decided to walk longer (200 ft path instead of 100 ft): a mistake. I made it, but had symptoms of over-training, and had to take an hour to "catch breath" instead of the regular 20 min or so.

Other experiences:

- Vision was funny the 1st day post-op. 2nd was better.

- They kept taking x rays and blood samples every day I was in there. The portable x ray machine like pretty cool.

- The hospital sleeping was a bit challenging. I kept calling nurses for the first couple of days due to what probably were alarms in a neighboring room.

- Almost every day some attachment was removed. At first I did feel like "an octopus".

- The "nerve block" machine seemed to have worked pretty well.

- Airport security is apparently used to the implanted devices (I have a ring). Nobody asked anything during 3 trips since the surgery.

- Was strongly advised against "competitive powerlifting". I didn't meant to do that, but their point is that the blood pressure shoots up to 300s during the heavy lifting. Which may disrupt the valve, aortic aneurism, etc. As a rule of thumb, 1/2 the body weight as the upper limit.

- Could use smartphone to check the news and get updates of the test results. That was about it - didn't have time for TV, shows, etc.

- For the last 2 days in the hospital (5th and 6th) could do about 3 hours of work email per day... I would not count on this possibility though. Similarly, worked from home at about 50% time remotely for ~3-4 weeks after discharge, but this really depends on the circumstances and recovery trajectory.

- The blood loss is rather "impactful". Not only your lungs volume gets smaller at first, but also the red blood cells are not supplied from the donor's blood for some reason. So the oxygen transfer is bottle-necked in 2 places. Took about 1-2 months to get the counts up and increase the stamina.