Anxiety about upcoming surgery.

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Protimenow

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It's been 28 or more years since I first started feeling arrhythmias (I remember it well - I was at a conference, staying at the Ulysses Grant hotel in San Diego when I first felt them), and I spent a long weekend at home, with my wfe, worrying about it and thinking that surgery would be imminent.

When I decided to have surgery - my thought was 'I'm still strong - how sick do I have to be before I get this valve replaced' - the impending surgery didn't seem like a big deal. Maybe it's because it was MY thought to get it done, rather than a surprise from a surgeon. I don't think there was much anxiety on my part. The night before I had to go to the hospital for prep for surgery, I took my kids to a movie.

I felt like I was in good hands. I believed that I would be stronger and feeling better after the surgery.

I certainly can't discount the feelings of anxiety and dread that others have expressed here. Perhaps it's partially because this came as a bit of a terrible surprise, and you don't feel like you are in control of the situation. Perhaps I've just pushed the anxiety out of memory.

(One loosely related factoid: I was a journalist for InfoWorld, and the last story I wrote was a commentary about the acquisiton of Ashton-Tate (a software company) by Borland (another software company). Someone at the SEC wondered if I was trying to manipulate Borland or Ashton-Tate stock, so they had a wiretap on my phone for 8 weeks. I only learned about that months after getting back to work. The 8 weeks that they were tapping my phone were the same 8 weeks that I was recovering from the surgery. How's THAT for timing?)
 

Catie

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Buckeye, I know the wait is stressful.

Re: potential constipation, as I recall, they gave me both senna and a stool softener in the hospital. Typically, they will ensure your bowels are moving ok before they'll discharge you.
 

Buckeye

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Well it’s Wednesday evening an I am getting ready for my open heart surgery tomorrow morning. Feeling really anxious and nervous. Scared of something going wrong , worrying about waking up with a tube in my throat, and in pain. Wondering how recovery will be and how long before I’m fully healed . I know surgeon said 12 weeks, but I’m in good physical shape. I’ve been exercising all week leading up to this. I hope by being in shape and exercising I will speed my recovery time. Wish me luck and I’ll talk to you all after I wake up . Trying to stay strong 💪.
 
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mtb-charlie

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Alberta, Canada
You will be fine! It seems scary but so many are done and are successful! The Surgeons only operate if they believe they can do it!💖💖
I will be doing my first OHS on Feb.3. We will heal and we will move forward. We got this!!!
 

bizinsider

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Jun 27, 2016
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It's been 28 or more years since I first started feeling arrhythmias (I remember it well - I was at a conference, staying at the Ulysses Grant hotel in San Diego when I first felt them), and I spent a long weekend at home, with my wfe, worrying about it and thinking that surgery would be imminent.

When I decided to have surgery - my thought was 'I'm still strong - how sick do I have to be before I get this valve replaced' - the impending surgery didn't seem like a big deal. Maybe it's because it was MY thought to get it done, rather than a surprise from a surgeon. I don't think there was much anxiety on my part. The night before I had to go to the hospital for prep for surgery, I took my kids to a movie.

I felt like I was in good hands. I believed that I would be stronger and feeling better after the surgery.

I certainly can't discount the feelings of anxiety and dread that others have expressed here. Perhaps it's partially because this came as a bit of a terrible surprise, and you don't feel like you are in control of the situation. Perhaps I've just pushed the anxiety out of memory.
(One loosely related factoid: I was a journalist for InfoWorld, and the last story I wrote was a commentary about the acquisiton of Ashton-Tate (a software company) by Borland (another software company). Someone at the SEC wondered if I was trying to manipulate Borland or Ashton-Tate stock, so they had a wiretap on my phone for 8 weeks. I only learned about that months after getting back to work. The 8 weeks that they were tapping my phone were the same 8 weeks that I was recovering from the surgery. How's THAT for timing?)
As a former biz journalist who was pretexted, not tapped – and who, as a journalist, was sued by the SEC with two other journalists until they realized that was a ridiculously stupid move and quickly dropped it – I love that story! I'm headed to the Cleveland Clinic in a week for a battery of tests and to meet with a cardiologist (Griffin) and surgeon (Svensson). I've been tracking my BAV for 40+ years. The LV has shown signs of mild dilation, but the bigger issue is the aneurysm in my root and AA (hopefully not arch) have expanded a tad too rapidly and are now 4.9cm by measurements here in San Diego at Scripps (Not the Ulysses Grant, which is now the U.S. Grant.) Given the nature of it, I decided it's time for an in-person consult at CC.

Unless the measurements by Scripps were too aggressive, I'm guessing they will recommend that it is time to get surgery on the schedule. I'm strangely at peace with this. I'm not sure if it's because I've been tracking this so closely for years, and have likely over-researched it, including reading as many studies as I can find. I've attempted to take the mystery out of it; I've gone so far as to watch videos of how the close the chest with wires. It's very different than I had imagined. I'm certainly less nervous than my wife and family. I know that mortality is low, that you will likely feel awful for several days and that there is a likelihood of various (albeit fleeting) complications, including aFib, liquid around the lungs and other not-so-fun things. The alternative, from non-action, is my bigger concern.

My biggest fears are the tubes - all of them, especially the removal of chest tubes. Does not sound like a party.

But I do understand fear and anxiety. I remember many years ago – in the 90s – I was getting an echo at UCSF; at the time I lived in SF. A fellow came in and after looking at the numbers suggested the doctor may say I need surgery. THAT freaked me out. I was NOT emotionally ready at that point. Thankfully, my cardiologist, who was also the head of cardiology, had a very different view.

There was a very comforting video on the CC's website with a cardiac surgeon saying he realizes how scared everybody and their families are, but to remember for them it's another day at the office. This is what they do. Everyday. Plus from years of reading this forum and others, there theme is this: Yes, many people have significant difficulties. I may be among them. But most don't. Until proven otherwise, I'm opting to assume I'll be in the group that gets on with it. I simply have too much to do. In other words, positive attitude going in, a better likelihood of positive results on the other side.

I admittedly am speaking from the hypothetical side of things, but it's how I think. We recently went to Egypt and the Middle East. Everybody thought we were nuts. "Did you feel safe?" We didn't think about it. We went and it was among the best trips we have had. There's a moral in that story somewhere. ;-)

Best of luck with your surgery. Will look forward to updates.
 

Protimenow

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bizinsider - yes, it was the U.S. Grant.

I'm with you on the issue of anxiety -- I had known for nearly 20 years that I would eventually need surgery to replace the valve. We didn't have the Internet back then, so there were no forums or resources to check out before the surgery. I was strong, young, and trusted my surgeon and his team.

You should prepare your wife and anyone else who plans to visit post-op that they should expect to see lots of tubes, all kinds of electronics coming from you . My wife tells me that she was kind of freaked out when she saw me post-op, and it looked like I had tubes and wires connected all over. (I don't remember her exact wording). So, please, prepare them before they visit.

My wife's visit actually helped me - she called the assistant's attention to what appeared to be a lot of blood drainage. The had noticed it, and finally took it seriously - my sternum wasn't closed tightly enough - they took me back to surgery, repaired the sternum, and the problem was solved.

As far as removing tubes was concerned, I don't recall much pain when they were being removed - I remember being told to take a deep breath, and the tubes were pulled out. It didn't seem like that big a deal.
 

tom in MO

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...Ibuprofen for instance does nothing for me (which is probably a good thing...
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, not a pain reliever. For example, if you are having arthritic pain, you can take both acetaminophen and ibuprofen, one for the pain, the other for the inflammation. If ibuprofen relieves the pain w/o acetaminophen, it's because it lowered the inflammation that was causing the pain. That's how come some people erroneously believe ibuprofen is a pain reliever. Aspirin however, is both a pain reliever and an anti-inflammatory.
 

bizinsider

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You should prepare your wife and anyone else who plans to visit post-op that they should expect to see lots of tubes, all kinds of electronics coming from you . My wife tells me that she was kind of freaked out when she saw me post-op, and it looked like I had tubes and wires connected all over. (I don't remember her exact wording). So, please, prepare them before they visit.
I have been getting to try to get her to look at some pictures and she refuses. I think this appointment will make it more real than the visits with my regular cardiologist. At that point, she'll have to stop putting her fingers in her ears, closing her eyes and humming a song to drown me out. 😬 I'm now 67, and frankly I'm more concerned about the impact of this on my biz, since I have been strongly advised to let it go for a few weeks. Very hard for me to do. With recent bouts of jet lag I've been trying to internalize how to relate that out-of-body experience with the post-surgical haze. I'm sure it's going to be very different than I expect, and not in a good way. But it is what it is. Then there's pump head. I've advised my wife and biz partner to remember forgetfulness/senior moments I have now, so post-surgery they don't blame it on that! I write fairly complex things for a living so will be eager to see how long it takes for my brain to fire again.
 

LondonAndy

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My biggest fears are the tubes - all of them, especially the removal of chest tubes. Does not sound like a party.
As I anticipate Buckeye will say in a few days' time, the tubes are no big deal, just as Protimenow says. I realise it won't help saying this though - anxiety is very difficult to ignore once you've got it, and only experiencing the process yourself will you be reassured. It sounds like you have a positive attitude though - best wishes for when the day comes.

I remember waking up in the ICU after my surgery, on a trolley by a window where the sun was streaming in, thinking "this is a nice hotel"! It was only as I moved my head slightly and realised there was the tube in my throat that I remembered what I had been doing that day, and I laid there calmly until the nurse realised I was awake and they removed it.
 

Agian

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Biz, I was in a bit of a daze post op. I rang the hospital in the middle of the night to ask why they had only shaved one armpit. I later found out I was anaemic. However, now I'm sharper than before. It only takes a couple of weeks for your mind to clear. A lot of it is psychological.

Did you have an out of body experience?
 

Bryan B

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NC
Regarding the tubes, I think it's natural to have a fear of them, especially if you have never experienced them before. I've had 2 OHS's and the first one I "fought" the ventilator which caused me great distress. However the chest tubes were a non-issue and I had no pain from them, even when they were removed. After my 2nd surgery I "went with the flow" with the ventilator and it was a non-issue, however I had some type of "rub" going on with one of my chest tubes which caused me great distress. They put me back on a morphine pump until the tube was removed and it became a non-issue.
 

bizinsider

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Biz, I was in a bit of a daze post op. I rang the hospital in the middle of the night to ask why they had only shaved one armpit. I later found out I was anaemic. However, now I'm sharper than before. It only takes a couple of weeks for your mind to clear. A lot of it is psychological.

Did you have an out of body experience?
That's encouraging!
 
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