After your surgery, what are some of the things that you found out that surprised you

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Well-known member
May 26, 2010
I was surprised that I found out they actually collapsed my lungs to perform the surgery. I didn't know they did that!
I was surprised that when you have this surgery, sometimes it can make you go into some form of a temporary diabetes, and they gave me several insulin shots!
I was surprised that I couldn't lay back, couldn't breathe that way! (fluid)
I was surprised that they must have had me out even before I went into the OR, because I never saw the OR, which I was soooo glad, because that was another fear of mine.
Interesting thread starter, Angel.
Hmmm...some of my surprises:
That my whiplash injury from a number of years ago re-surfaced. Wasn't anticipating that!
That I would be short of breath post-surgery, I could barely put a sentence together without gasping (apparently not the norm).
That my hands and feet looked like pudgy baby feet and hands due to being pumped up with fluid (first thing I noticed in ICU).
That I needed a blood transfusion after all(was told chances were very small).
That I apparently bucked/fought the breathing tube (don't remember that one at all!).

Like you...only recall being in the 'holding room' prior to surgery, but have no recollection of being wheeled into the OR. I don't like to miss a thing and was also surprised by that. :)
I was surprised:

They told my family the fact I survived the first night meant I must be a tough guy
That Dr. Miller told my wife had he replaced a mechanical rather than a tissue valve he would have put me on the heart transplant list
That I was intubated 11 days
That because of all the time bedridden in the ICU I didn't even have the strength to try and get out of bed with help for 5 weeks, by myself for 7 weeks.
That somehow after having such a rough time I came out of it feeling almost normal. (Cardio and stamina need alot of improvement)
That Dr. Miller called me the miracle of 2009.
And as much as anything, I was surprised and touched by all the support from my VR friends. Thank you.
very interesting thread!

here were my surprises!

*the insulin injections
*the heparin injections
*how nice my scar looked initially and how fast they take the bandage off of it
*i did see the OR room and i remember seeing so many people in scrubs doing various things. there were a ton of tables set up with things on them. it was crazy.
i was suprised i fancied choclate 2 days after surgery
Too funny Neil. You reminded me of one more thing.
Surprise!: I couldn't stand the sight and smell of chocolate for the first 5 days in hospital (and I am a chocaholic!). My sister and husband ended up eating all my chocolate treats while I was in the hospital. That soon changed once I got home. :)

One more thing.
I was surprised to find out that I had a bicuspid pulmonary valve based on the intra-op tests (although they didn't repair/replace it). Surgeon told me this after my surgery.
I had known all along about the bicuspid aortic valve, but not the pulmonary valve!
I also like this thread, good one Angel!

I don't remember being in the operating room either, in fact I barely even remember being in the room where they gave must have given me the IV. I remember them saying they were going to give me an IV in that room, but don't remember them actually doing it. At my preop day they said the stuff they give you usually gives you a little retroactive amnesia (on purpose). That's very consistent w/ what happened to me. I have fuzzy memory of some of the things in that 'holding room' (i.e. getting undressed and into that gown, my family being there, my son being late, etc.) but others are completely blocked out (like getting the actual IV). I have a very vague memory of them wheeling me out of that room, but nothing after that. Jackie must have super strong memory or something ;)

I was also surprised about the insulin and the heperin injections. I didn't know about the collapsed lung(s) - do they do that to everyone? Maybe that explains why it took a few days to be able to breathe right and why it's so important to use that incentive spirometer thing.

Another surprise for me was the IV in the neck, although I think they told me about it at my preop day (was just a surprise when they told me they were gonna do it).

And another one for me was my neck pain (from them twisting my head around like in the exorcist during surgery). That lasted a while too (couple weeks I think). Oh, and my shoulder pain from them having my hands behind my back. I was actually concerned there for a while they might have messed up a shoulder surgery I'd had 10 years ago, but that was pretty short-lived - it's all good now.
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Oh, and reading some of the others above reminded me of a couple other things that surprised me. I agree with Jackie about the scar looking a lot better than I thought it would, and that it was not bandaged or anything - right there for the world to see. And I was also surprised that most food tasted bad for a while after surgery. I think mostly due to them flushing my IVs with that saline solution, but also maybe due to some of the drugs I was on.
I was surprised to gain 14 pounds water weight during my first surgery and 16 the second.
I was surprised, just after being wheeled into OR, I said I didn't want to remember any of it and they zapped me immediately.... I remember nothing after that so speak up.
I was surprised at how I ate almost nothing for 5 days post op and wasn't hungry. Nurses started offering me ice cream etc Didn't want food.
I was surprised how much I wanted to be alone. Though, of course, I wanted to see those the very closest to me, I was happy to be left alone to rest.
I was surprised my second surgery to be walking in the corridor with 4 chest tubes in place, less than 24 hours post op.
Great thread. Thanks for starting it.
I was surprised when they took my large chest bandage off the third day by the huge open holes in my upper abdomen (drain holes) I was just not expecting anything left on me not sewn up in some way.
I was surprised to learn that my valve had deformed and webbed to become one cusp and the echo and cath reported a larger area than I actually had (So glad I did not wait any longer to have this surgery and did not listen to the cardiologist who did my cath and said after it was over "good news, you do not need surgery"...are you kidding? I could hardly breath)
I was surprised, while in cardiac ICU, I was left alone for many hours because they would not let family in during certain times and there is not just one nurse in your room to help you.
I was also surprised by all the blood sugar tests and insulin injections. I am not diabetic and those nurses were sticking my poor fingers every few hours....even during the night.
I was surprised, and still am that I cannot eat cereal and milk anymore...the smell make me sick.
Also surprised by the amount of adhesive on my body when I went home....took weeks to finally get it all off. I think they had something stuck to me everywhere. I had to have had 6 to 7 different iv's.
All interesting! And from what I was told, that was a normal thing for them to collapse your lungs for this surgery. I guess it gives them more room or something? I don't know why, for sure. I was also surprised when they went to take that big tube out of my neck that runs into your carotioid artery, that they had a stitch or two in that! I didn't know that either! But, boy was I glad to get that thing out! Well, I guess one last surprise for me would be, I'm surprised I actually showed up on surgery morning, to the hospital to actually go through with all of this!!! lol. Being the chicken head that I was/am!!!! lol. Have a great weekend everyone!! Blessings to each and every one of you!
Oh yeah, eventhough I found this out the day before surgery, I was so surprised to hear that they would have to get my body temp down to around 60 I think it was!!!! Now that's cold! brrrrr.
I was surprised to learn I still had a tube in my throat(It would stay there for about 16 hours post surgery)
I was surprised to learn my right hand was mostly numb.(Brachial plexus injury)
I was surprised to be alive.
I was surprised how scared my hubby looked when I had to get blood.

I was surprised when they pulled my tubes i got an awful pain down my spine.

I also did not know surgery could make you need insulin.

I was definately surprised at the back and shoulder pain.
I was surprised by:

forgetting what I was saying mid-sentence in ICU
not being able to tell time or concentrate
the first cough
the truck that hit me on Saturday morning (surgery 5 days earlier)
the same truck hitting me the next morning
walking the same day after leaving ICU
waiting 3 days for my INR to reach 2.0 so I could get the heck out of Dodge
1. I was surprised to learn I had a PFO which they also repaired.
2. I was surprised to learn that I had a bronchoscopy due to respiratory failure.
3. I was surprised to learn that I was "awake and alert" and transferred myself from the gurney to the operating table in OR, since I have no memory after the holding area. (Can you say "Versed" boys and girls?)
4. I was (unpleasantly) surprised to wake up in ICU as I was being transferred from the gurney to the ICU bed!
5. I was surprised that I needed 4 units transfused. They told me not to expect to need any!

I knew about the insulin shots from when my mom was in ICU. (The traumatized body becomes diabetic.)
I was told pre-op that with a mini-thor, they collapse your right lung so they can get to your heart.

BTW, I would probably never have known about surprises 1-3, except I requested a copy of my complete medical record!
I was surprised that I was still awake when I got to the OR, thought "I shouldn't be awake!" , and then wasn't.
I was more than surprised by the loud hourly alarm for the hourly glucose prick, and after a couple of days surprised they could find a new place to stick.
I was surprised that I had incredible burning reflux most of the second day, so bad that I stopped taking pain meds.
I was surprised to go home the 4th day--the best surprise!

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