Anxiety about upcoming surgery.

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Buckeye

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Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
I just got my pre surgical physical yesterday and my anxiety is finally starting to hit me pretty hard. I talked to pharmacist, anesthesiologist, cardio nurse, and had an ekg, blood drawn and an X-ray. They gave me I think a 100 page handbook about the heart, and procedure, what to expect and going home to rehab. The whole thing is really starting to scare me . They say I’m going to have tubes and wires and be bloated and pale. What were some of your experiences after surgery, how long did it take to start feeling a little better? They talked about giving me insulin, and how I wouldn’t be allowed to have more than 8 ounces of liquid for first to days. How was going home. Hard to walk up a flight of stairs? Taking a shower, going to the bathroom? How about sleeping, getting out of bed? Thank you For all the advice you have given me so far. This is a great forum.
 

johnmarkos

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I've been home since Saturday afternoon. I had isolated AVR, and I only have a 3" incision, so YMMV. It's not too bad. Not hard to walk up a flight of stairs.

Basically normal to shower, except that I'm supposed to limit time with my hands up above my shoulders, which makes washing hair challenging. I kind of keep my elbows down while shampooing.

I'm not on insulin, so I can't tell you anything about that.

I can drink 2.0L/liquid a day, but that's doable.

I have really bad insomnia, which is one of the worst things about this experience. One of the nurses told me I was sleeping better than most patients in the cardiac ward, so that's saying something. I got 4.5 hours last night, which is on the high end for this week. Median night has been about 3 hours of sleep.

Getting out of bed is slow, but they teach you how to do it in the hospital. Going to the bathroom is basically normal. People are often constipated and can't urinate at first, but I got over that by day two. They want you to have a BM, walk around, and have all your tubes out by the time you leave the hospital.

Having all those tubes in was a drag, but I was super-psyched to be alive and more or less myself, so it didn't get me down the first couple days. By day four, having to drag a box of blood around with me everywhere was super annoying, and I was really glad to get my chest tube out. Same with my central line, because it meant I could go home.

It's not like a spa week or anything, but it's been bearable. My family and friends have been very supportive and that has made a big difference for me. I'm a week out from surgery, and I'd say I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered.
 
Last edited:

tom in MO

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Jan 17, 2012
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MO USA
You should start feeling better on Day 2. For me I was allowed to eat, but didn't really want to. I also had insomnia, stayed up for 24 hours after I woke up from surgery and then had fitful sleep for the next week in the hospital. I think your subconscious is afraid to let you go to sleep since the last time it happened they stopped your heart and lungs (i.e. "killed" you).

It'll go OK and it's worth it. Once you are up an around, if you are like me (I had stenosis due to a BAV) you will soon find you have more energy than before.
 

Buckeye

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Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
I've been home since Saturday afternoon. I had isolated AVR, and I only have a 3" incision, so YMMV. It's not too bad. Not hard to walk up a flight of stairs.

Basically normal to shower, except that I'm supposed to limit time with my hands up above my shoulders, which makes washing hair challenging. I kind of keep my elbows down while shampooing.

I'm not on insulin, so I can't tell you anything about that.

I can drink 2.0L/liquid a day, but that's doable.

I have really bad insomnia, which is one of the worst things about this experience. One of the nurses told me I was sleeping better than most patients in the cardiac ward, so that's saying something. I got 4.5 hours last night, which is on the high end for this week. Median night has been about 3 hours of sleep.

Getting out of bed is slow, but they teach you how to do it in the hospital. Going to the bathroom is basically normal. People are often constipated and can't urinate at first, but I got over that by day two. They want you to have a BM, walk around, and have all your tubes out by the time you leave the hospital.

Having all those tubes in was a drag, but I was super-psyched to be alive and more or less myself, so it didn't get me down the first couple days. By day four, having to drag a box of blood around with me everywhere was super annoying, and I was really glad to get my chest tube out. Same with my central line, because it meant I could go home.

It's not like a spa week or anything, but it's been bearable. My family and friends have been very supportive and that has made a big difference for me. I'm a week out from surgery, and I'd say I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered.
Thanks, I see you had minimally invasive with a 3 inch incision, unfortunately I am having a full sternum and a single bypass. Hopefully everything is as smooth as yours was.
 

pellicle

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Nov 4, 2012
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7,165
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Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
unfortunately I am having a full sternum and a single bypass.
Don't look at it that way. The last I read there was no significant advantage (and indeed a few minor disadvantages) to this technique.

The majority of us (including Dick) have had regular ohs. I've had three actually.

The mini (as I understand it) can inly be used for AVR and any additional components (like bypass or aneurysm repair) mean traditional.

To me the significance I see in the studies is down to miniscule advantages like hand a day less in ICU over hundreds of patients. Meaning no significance to you, but some for the hospital.


Keep your mind focused on your part in this, which is looking after yourself, keeping your eye on the goal of recovery and taking an active hand in doing your rehab. The surgeon does the cutting your body and nature does the healing.

Soon enough this will be behind you and you may perhaps look back at this time and wonder what the fuss was about.

Remember and reflect in a meditative way on these points:

887290


887291
 
Last edited:

Buckeye

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Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
You should start feeling better on Day 2. For me I was allowed to eat, but didn't really want to. I also had insomnia, stayed up for 24 hours after I woke up from surgery and then had fitful sleep for the next week in the hospital. I think your subconscious is afraid to let you go to sleep since the last time it happened they stopped your heart and lungs (i.e. "killed" you).

It'll go OK and it's worth it. Once you are up an around, if you are like me (I had stenosis due to a BAV) you will soon find you have more energy than before.

It’s funny Tom because I don’t feel bad at all. I still get on a stationary bike and/or walk on treadmill whenever I want. I also have no problems playing ping pong with my family. Maybe I will feel better after the valve replacement and I just think I feel fine when in all actuality I am suffering some effects of my bicuspid aortic valve.
 

pellicle

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Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
7,165
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
It’s funny Tom because I don’t feel bad at all. ...I just think I feel fine when in all actuality I am suffering some effects of my bicuspid aortic valve.
the human body (well all animals actually) is incredibly good at adapting to slow and gradual changes, including the onset of pain. Its only when things are rectified (like you get new tyres on your car and go "oh wow, those old ones were stuffed") that we see how we'd scaled back.

Within 4 months of my last surgery (IIRC) I was nordic pole walking on the beach near where I lived and by 6 months being able to pole jog up dunes.

Make small steps in recovery, never over train and get setback. Perhaps get a Garmin or some such fitness tracker and make plans for slow incremental recovery schedule post surgery.
 

Catie

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Joined
Jun 17, 2010
Messages
276
Location
Texas, USA
Hope talking here helps! Everyone's different, for sure. I had no symptoms ahead of surgery. Walked two miles on day seven or eight after my op. Shifted quickly to Tylenol for pain while in hospital. Could shower independently with ease. But...I was plagued by a few complications, which were aggravating and inconvenient and some were painful. I had full sternotomy because surgeon had big hands and needed room to maneuver, plus he was addressing aneurysm along with valve; was told in my case, the difference from minimally invasive was only a couple inches. Cardiac nurse asked me not to sleep on side for six weeks--you do get up gingerly for awhile. Had same 6-wk time frame to wait to drive.

Whatever discomforts you experience, remember they will get better.
 

LoveMyBraveHeart

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Joined
Aug 6, 2019
Messages
137
Location
USA
Hello!

My fiance has had 3 OHS in less than 10 months. Scary to think about, but he came through just fine!

So, to answer some of you questions from an observatory place...

The bloating and paleness lasted (real noticeably) for the first, mmmm, maybe 12 hours. Mathias was awake for approximately 6 of those. Perhaps more overwhelming for visitors and support than it is for the patient. Only thing about the bloating and paleness for Mathias specifically was that they had a harder time placing an IV they needed to. And that was only round one. The other surgeries there wasnt any trouble.

There are tubes and lines hanging off of you in CICU. For Mathias, it really wasnt something he noticed so much as to be very bothered. Yes, they were there. No, they weren't especially "fun". He had one to two tubes/lines removed each day. It moves quickly and before you know it all you have left "hanging off" of you is a single IV, and it's used for emergency type purposes after too long. Mathias had his taped and wrapped up, but still attached after day 3 or so. They keep one in until discharge.

His first go round, he was in the intensive ICU (cleveland clinic) for 48 hours due to plural effusion that was stubborn. He was unable to eat any solids, and only had small amounts of liquids while there. He also had a large air bubble in his stomach for the first 24 hours that caused vomiting and anorexia. Once they discovered this, medication was administered and he felt much better. After being moved to "step down", he could eat whatever he wanted if his appetite was in gear. He had trouble with nutrition, mainly because he wanted a home cooked meal and not hospital food, not because he was nauseated. At day 3 after the third OHS, I brought him scrambled eggs from home.

Mathias had very little in the way of heart failure symptoms, so to be honest, he didnt feel better for quite a while after the first surgery. He hurt and didnt know why he put himself through it all. About 4-8 weeks after OHS, he noticed how much more comfortable he was. He didnt have his pinching chest pain, he didnt have shortness of breath (aside from being worn out from pushing himself on his walks)...he just felt different. "Better" wasnt quite the right word until later in recovery, but he felt able. Not sure if that makes sense.

He was administered insulin for 2 days after the first surgery, 2 days after the second, and 4 days after the third. It bothered him mentally because he'd never needed it before, but it was needed...maybe because he was naughty about eating what he should have. You can refuse it if it bugs you that much, but it didnt have any ill effects on Mathias.

Going home was overwhelming all three times. Not sure if the overwhelming feeling was negative. First time, we were released from CC into our hotel (we are from the west coast), so that wasnt very comfortable. Second time it was to our home, but he was more painful than round one (found out it was because of pericardial effusion, lead to cardiac tamponade so the pain made sense) and the third time was emotional after all we had been through, we were just happy to be home. The familiarity of your own place is helpful. Helps with sleep and relaxation.

He didnt sleep in bed with me until 6 weeks post op. He slept in a zero gravity chair, similar to a recliner. It was much more comfortable for him than laying flat, and didnt take much effort for him to sit himself upright and get up to use the bathroom or get some water etc. This was also helpful from a caretaker point of view because I needed sleep in order to be alert enough to care for him during the day, and, eventually, to be able to go to work. In addition, bathroom habits were normal for him. He was able to do it all himself. The occupational/physical therapy go through ways to guard your sternum while executing toilet hygiene. Ended up being no big deal for him all three times. They also go over with you how to get up from laying flat, like on a bed. They dont expect you to be able to know how to ambulate and maneuver yourself after the surgery. They are very persistent about teaching you the correct ways to protect your sternum while moving about. One amazing nurse reminded us...after your heart surgery is complete, your heart is fixed. It's your sternum you have to focus on healing.

We dont have stairs, so I cant comment on that much other than when we did encounter stairs, he took it slow and did just fine.

The only thing Mathias would tell you would be to stay away from thick drinks (they typically offer protein shakes in the hospital) because they caused him to have coughing fits which are very uncomfortable after OHS. Also, dont be afraid to ask if you feel like the pain you are feeling is unusual, or doesnt get better with pain medication...ignoring the unusual pain landed him back in the hospital for round three...it likely could have been prevented if he was upfront about what he was feeling. We also asked for muscle relaxers for pain management...the pain killers werent helpful for him (he does have a high tolerance to most painkillers due to many other orthopedic surgeries in his history, so perhaps that's why the pain meds didnt work well).

I think I covered most of your questions. I apologize that it is from a caretaker point of view...perhaps it's not that useful for you.

Lots of positivity is being sent your way, keep asking questions!
Jill
 

mtb-charlie

Member
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Messages
11
Location
Alberta, Canada
I just got my pre surgical physical yesterday and my anxiety is finally starting to hit me pretty hard. I talked to pharmacist, anesthesiologist, cardio nurse, and had an ekg, blood drawn and an X-ray. They gave me I think a 100 page handbook about the heart, and procedure, what to expect and going home to rehab. The whole thing is really starting to scare me . They say I’m going to have tubes and wires and be bloated and pale. What were some of your experiences after surgery, how long did it take to start feeling a little better? They talked about giving me insulin, and how I wouldn’t be allowed to have more than 8 ounces of liquid for first to days. How was going home. Hard to walk up a flight of stairs? Taking a shower, going to the bathroom? How about sleeping, getting out of bed? Thank you For all the advice you have given me so far. This is a great forum.
I've been home since Saturday afternoon. I had isolated AVR, and I only have a 3" incision, so YMMV. It's not too bad. Not hard to walk up a flight of stairs.

Basically normal to shower, except that I'm supposed to limit time with my hands up above my shoulders, which makes washing hair challenging. I kind of keep my elbows down while shampooing.

I'm not on insulin, so I can't tell you anything about that.

I can drink 2.0L/liquid a day, but that's doable.

I have really bad insomnia, which is one of the worst things about this experience. One of the nurses told me I was sleeping better than most patients in the cardiac ward, so that's saying something. I got 4.5 hours last night, which is on the high end for this week. Median night has been about 3 hours of sleep.

Getting out of bed is slow, but they teach you how to do it in the hospital. Going to the bathroom is basically normal. People are often constipated and can't urinate at first, but I got over that by day two. They want you to have a BM, walk around, and have all your tubes out by the time you leave the hospital.

Having all those tubes in was a drag, but I was super-psyched to be alive and more or less myself, so it didn't get me down the first couple days. By day four, having to drag a box of blood around with me everywhere was super annoying, and I was really glad to get my chest tube out. Same with my central line, because it meant I could go home.

It's not like a spa week or anything, but it's been bearable. My family and friends have been very supportive and that has made a big difference for me. I'm a week out from surgery, and I'd say I'm feeling pretty good, all things considered.
Thank you for sharing your first hand experience. I will be going for AVR on Feb.3. Reading your post has given me so much idea of what to expect in the hospital and going home after the surgery. Anxiety is starting to hit me no matter how I try to ignore it.
 

Buckeye

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
Hello!

My fiance has had 3 OHS in less than 10 months. Scary to think about, but he came through just fine!

So, to answer some of you questions from an observatory place...

The bloating and paleness lasted (real noticeably) for the first, mmmm, maybe 12 hours. Mathias was awake for approximately 6 of those. Perhaps more overwhelming for visitors and support than it is for the patient. Only thing about the bloating and paleness for Mathias specifically was that they had a harder time placing an IV they needed to. And that was only round one. The other surgeries there wasnt any trouble.

There are tubes and lines hanging off of you in CICU. For Mathias, it really wasnt something he noticed so much as to be very bothered. Yes, they were there. No, they weren't especially "fun". He had one to two tubes/lines removed each day. It moves quickly and before you know it all you have left "hanging off" of you is a single IV, and it's used for emergency type purposes after too long. Mathias had his taped and wrapped up, but still attached after day 3 or so. They keep one in until discharge.

His first go round, he was in the intensive ICU (cleveland clinic) for 48 hours due to plural effusion that was stubborn. He was unable to eat any solids, and only had small amounts of liquids while there. He also had a large air bubble in his stomach for the first 24 hours that caused vomiting and anorexia. Once they discovered this, medication was administered and he felt much better. After being moved to "step down", he could eat whatever he wanted if his appetite was in gear. He had trouble with nutrition, mainly because he wanted a home cooked meal and not hospital food, not because he was nauseated. At day 3 after the third OHS, I brought him scrambled eggs from home.

Mathias had very little in the way of heart failure symptoms, so to be honest, he didnt feel better for quite a while after the first surgery. He hurt and didnt know why he put himself through it all. About 4-8 weeks after OHS, he noticed how much more comfortable he was. He didnt have his pinching chest pain, he didnt have shortness of breath (aside from being worn out from pushing himself on his walks)...he just felt different. "Better" wasnt quite the right word until later in recovery, but he felt able. Not sure if that makes sense.

He was administered insulin for 2 days after the first surgery, 2 days after the second, and 4 days after the third. It bothered him mentally because he'd never needed it before, but it was needed...maybe because he was naughty about eating what he should have. You can refuse it if it bugs you that much, but it didnt have any ill effects on Mathias.

Going home was overwhelming all three times. Not sure if the overwhelming feeling was negative. First time, we were released from CC into our hotel (we are from the west coast), so that wasnt very comfortable. Second time it was to our home, but he was more painful than round one (found out it was because of pericardial effusion, lead to cardiac tamponade so the pain made sense) and the third time was emotional after all we had been through, we were just happy to be home. The familiarity of your own place is helpful. Helps with sleep and relaxation.

He didnt sleep in bed with me until 6 weeks post op. He slept in a zero gravity chair, similar to a recliner. It was much more comfortable for him than laying flat, and didnt take much effort for him to sit himself upright and get up to use the bathroom or get some water etc. This was also helpful from a caretaker point of view because I needed sleep in order to be alert enough to care for him during the day, and, eventually, to be able to go to work. In addition, bathroom habits were normal for him. He was able to do it all himself. The occupational/physical therapy go through ways to guard your sternum while executing toilet hygiene. Ended up being no big deal for him all three times. They also go over with you how to get up from laying flat, like on a bed. They dont expect you to be able to know how to ambulate and maneuver yourself after the surgery. They are very persistent about teaching you the correct ways to protect your sternum while moving about. One amazing nurse reminded us...after your heart surgery is complete, your heart is fixed. It's your sternum you have to focus on healing.

We dont have stairs, so I cant comment on that much other than when we did encounter stairs, he took it slow and did just fine.

The only thing Mathias would tell you would be to stay away from thick drinks (they typically offer protein shakes in the hospital) because they caused him to have coughing fits which are very uncomfortable after OHS. Also, dont be afraid to ask if you feel like the pain you are feeling is unusual, or doesnt get better with pain medication...ignoring the unusual pain landed him back in the hospital for round three...it likely could have been prevented if he was upfront about what he was feeling. We also asked for muscle relaxers for pain management...the pain killers werent helpful for him (he does have a high tolerance to most painkillers due to many other orthopedic surgeries in his history, so perhaps that's why the pain meds didnt work well).

I think I covered most of your questions. I apologize that it is from a caretaker point of view...perhaps it's not that useful for you.

Lots of positivity is being sent your way, keep asking questions!
Jill
Thank you so much Jill. Your post was very informative. Trying to stay positive, the waiting and worrying I think is the hardest part. January 23 can not get here soon enough .
 

johnmarkos

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San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Sure -- happy to try to answer any other questions, given that my memory of the hospital is so fresh. Like @Catie, I switched to Acetaminophen/Tylenol as soon as I could, because opioids make me feel yucky. One of the nurses opined that Acetaminophen is the best pain reliever for cardiac patients.

Thank you for sharing your first hand experience. I will be going for AVR on Feb.3. Reading your post has given me so much idea of what to expect in the hospital and going home after the surgery. Anxiety is starting to hit me no matter how I try to ignore it.
 

Protimenow

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Joined
Aug 10, 2010
Messages
3,587
Location
California
I have a few memories of my surgery. I remember the day before, showering in the hospital room, and cleaning my body with some kind of antibacterial soap.

I remember being in CICU post-op and listening when the person in the bed next to me coded and died. I remember thinking to myself 'thank you' to the person in the next bed - thinking that, if someone was meant to die in that CICU, I'm glad it wasn't me.

I remember visits from my wife and young kids. I remember spending time reading a paperback book. And I remember my mom bringing me a barbecue beef sandwich from a place that I used to like.

I remember doing some walking around the floor where heart patients (including myself, of course) were. I remember when one of my tubes was removed - 'take a deep breath' - I don't remember much pain.

I remember my disappointment when my tachycardia returned. I was hoping that the surgery would keep it from happening again. I still get SVTs, and will probably continue getting for the rest of my life.

I remember that, right after release from the hospital, we went to Costco to pick up some prescriptions that were given to me on discharge, and how grouchy I was that day.

And, a few weeks later, I remember walking the mile or so to pick up some greasy Tommy Burgers that the family and I liked at the time - then walking home with them, with a nice family meal.

Post-op was either forgettable, or not that big a deal. But time does dim less pleasant memories.
 

Buckeye

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Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
Sure -- happy to try to answer any other questions, given that my memory of the hospital is so fresh. Like @Catie, I switched to Acetaminophen/Tylenol as soon as I could, because opioids make me feel yucky. One of the nurses opined that Acetaminophen is the best pain reliever for cardiac patients.
John did you have a mechanical valve? I’m not sure I can take Tylenol with me being on warfarin,
 

Buckeye

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
61
I have a few memories of my surgery. I remember the day before, showering in the hospital room, and cleaning my body with some kind of antibacterial soap.

I remember being in CICU post-op and listening when the person in the bed next to me coded and died. I remember thinking to myself 'thank you' to the person in the next bed - thinking that, if someone was meant to die in that CICU, I'm glad it wasn't me.

I remember visits from my wife and young kids. I remember spending time reading a paperback book. And I remember my mom bringing me a barbecue beef sandwich from a place that I used to like.

I remember doing some walking around the floor where heart patients (including myself, of course) were. I remember when one of my tubes was removed - 'take a deep breath' - I don't remember much pain.

I remember my disappointment when my tachycardia returned. I was hoping that the surgery would keep it from happening again. I still get SVTs, and will probably continue getting for the rest of my life.

I remember that, right after release from the hospital, we went to Costco to pick up some prescriptions that were given to me on discharge, and how grouchy I was that day.

And, a few weeks later, I remember walking the mile or so to pick up some greasy Tommy Burgers that the family and I liked at the time - then walking home with them, with a nice family meal.

Post-op was either forgettable, or not that big a deal. But time does dim less pleasant memories.


[/I remember my disappointment when my tachycardia returned. I was hoping that the surgery would keep it from happening again. I still get SVTs, and will probably continue getting for the rest of my life

What is tachycardia and svts?
 

Justmadi

Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
10
Location
Wisconsin
I just got my pre surgical physical yesterday and my anxiety is finally starting to hit me pretty hard. I talked to pharmacist, anesthesiologist, cardio nurse, and had an ekg, blood drawn and an X-ray. They gave me I think a 100 page handbook about the heart, and procedure, what to expect and going home to rehab. The whole thing is really starting to scare me . They say I’m going to have tubes and wires and be bloated and pale. What were some of your experiences after surgery, how long did it take to start feeling a little better? They talked about giving me insulin, and how I wouldn’t be allowed to have more than 8 ounces of liquid for first to days. How was going home. Hard to walk up a flight of stairs? Taking a shower, going to the bathroom? How about sleeping, getting out of bed? Thank you For all the advice you have given me so far. This is a great forum.
 

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