Aortic Valve Replacement Feb. 2020

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RJMello85

New member
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
3
Hello new to the site, I watched a YouTube video from a past patient and he mentioned this forum.
I started getting symptoms almost a year ago January 2019. I was working out of town and notice chest pain I've had in the past worsen and shortness of breathe. Now when I was a kid I always had a hard fast heart rate and deep hard breathing after running or riding my bike, my Mom took me in and they always did an ekg and never found anything. I am a twin and my Mom remembers years back that the doctor said one of us had a heart murmur, but nothing was of abnormal I guess. Well last January at 33 when this episode happened they brought me to a small town hospital and ran a bunch of test, gave me nitro glyrcerin and a shot in my stomach for blood clots. I was admitted and the next morning they gave me an echocardiogram on what look like an old , but very good machine. The lady asked at that moment if I had a Cardiologist which I turned my head and said no. Ever since then We found a good one closer to where I live. We've been monitoring the progression and it has gotten worse quickly then expected. He put me on Cardizmem Er and I take Asprin 81 at night. He has done another echo and Double Heart Cathe in September. My arteries were good and that the Pulmonary valve was taking the excessive pressure off the Aortic valve. But lately my symptoms are getting worse. My Wife and I have been in and out of the Emergency room and we visited my Cardiologist again explaining everything, He stopped talking and made a call to the Surgeon. So we went a few weeks ago to talk and meet with him and discuss the available valves he had and Surgery date. We planned for Feb. 18th 2020. I've been researching the On X alot and for my age and my career. I am a Commercial Plumber which is pretty high physical demanding job. He showed us the prosthesis valve and the St. Judd mechanical , but then he mentioned On X which I started to tell him I've been researching that one. He said give me and minute and he left to check if he had one came back in the room and said yes, but it may not fit my original location. He said they have a longer collar then most people have. So he said if in the OR it does not fit the St. Judd will be placed in which either way I'm happy with, My Wife and kids and I just want to be back to normal finally again. Any ideas on how after the Surgery will be? With pain and discomfort and strengthening back to my old self. Recliner better option to rest at home? Will this bleching and discomfort end is it from this condition the whole time. Is there any short term financial help available? We have Afllac , but only pays one full small amount sum for being out over 3 months to heal. Any advice would be great thanks. Robert
 
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dick0236

Eat the elephant one bite at a time
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Welcome Robert. At your age, you should be back to work in a fairly short time although it might be a little longer to dig plumbing ditches with a shovel(if required). I had my surgery when I was about your age and I was only away from work for about four weeks but I had an office job. Ask whatever questions you have......somebody on here will have experience with your issue.

BTW Merry Xmas
 

Protimenow

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Joined
Aug 10, 2010
Messages
3,028
Location
California
Robert:
I don't think that you'll be back under sinks, removing garbage disposals and installing sinks for quite a while after the surgery. It takes a while for the sternum to heal.

OTOH - if you are a plumbing contractor, the above ground work may not be as big a problem -- but, then, you may not be able to pull fittings extremely tight without some pain. You're more familiar than I am of new types of tubing and connections, and these may be less strenuous.

For connections that just require a strong grip, and little involvement with your chest muscles, the problems may not be as severe.

Back when I had my OHS (a St. Jude valve), I wasn't cleared to return to work for 8 weeks -- today, it's much less time.

If you haven't already, you should talk to your surgeon to get a better idea of recuperation and return to your work activities. She should have a better answer.
 

RJMello85

New member
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
3
Welcome Robert. At your age, you should be back to work in a fairly short time although it might be a little longer to dig plumbing ditches with a shovel(if required). I had my surgery when I was about your age and I was only away from work for about four weeks but I had an office job. Ask whatever questions you have......somebody on here will have experience with your issue.

BTW Merry Xmas
Thank you very much the feedback. Ready to get better. Merry Christmas to you.
 

pellicle

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Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
6,825
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
Hi Robert

Any ideas on how after the Surgery will be?
it will take time and you *must* give your sternum time to knit properly, so do follow the advice because the last thing you want is a "mobile sternum" and the attendant reoperations that will involve. I know it seems a pain, but the pain of being impatient is bigger. For me it was day at a time and make sure to do the rehab (and the breathing exeriszes) so that you get better as soon as you can. My view is "small steps every day, big ones set you back"

With pain and discomfort and strengthening back to my old self. Recliner better option to rest at home?
I never used one, hated them ... each is different. I preferred to be upright and discourage "stooping" ... same for when I slept. I snore like a mating bull when I sleep on my back, and so rather than force my wife out of the bed, I slept in the spare room where we also attached the strap to the foot of the bed (as instructed) and used that to help myself up (to not pull from above, elbows in, use your biceps)

Will this bleching and discomfort end is it from this condition the whole time.
dunno, never had that.

Is there any short term financial help available? We have Afllac , but only pays one full small amount sum for being out over 3 months to heal. Any advice would be great thanks
I'm in Australia so I can't answer that. I'd see if there are any social services, but if they're like Australia you have to be skint before they do much. Happily I've always been a "for a rainy day" saving sort of fella, so we got by with that and leave from my job.

Don't worry about the surgery, and in my view look forward to a totally different experience. Its like Disney world only for special people (and maybe a bit more of a Jumanji adventure).

Best Wishes
 

RJMello85

New member
Joined
Dec 24, 2019
Messages
3
Hi Robert



it will take time and you *must* give your sternum time to knit properly, so do follow the advice because the last thing you want is a "mobile sternum" and the attendant reoperations that will involve. I know it seems a pain, but the pain of being impatient is bigger. For me it was day at a time and make sure to do the rehab (and the breathing exeriszes) so that you get better as soon as you can. My view is "small steps every day, big ones set you back"



I never used one, hated them ... each is different. I preferred to be upright and discourage "stooping" ... same for when I slept. I snore like a mating bull when I sleep on my back, and so rather than force my wife out of the bed, I slept in the spare room where we also attached the strap to the foot of the bed (as instructed) and used that to help myself up (to not pull from above, elbows in, use your biceps)



dunno, never had that.



I'm in Australia so I can't answer that. I'd see if there are any social services, but if they're like Australia you have to be skint before they do much. Happily I've always been a "for a rainy day" saving sort of fella, so we got by with that and leave from my job.

Don't worry about the surgery, and in my view look forward to a totally different experience. Its like Disney world only for special people (and maybe a bit more of a Jumanji adventure).

Best Wishes
Thank you for all you advice. Your knowledge is wise and helpful I will remember it and tell my wife, can't wait to get this done and feel better. take care.
 

Superman

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Joined
Oct 3, 2009
Messages
797
Location
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
I was a recliner guy. Found it easier to get in and out of vs laying on my back. They’ll teach you things like how to get up from laying down when you’re in the hospital. Just little techniques that keep the pressure off your sternum. Hugging a pillow when you cough or sneeze (both of which use more chest than you can imagine).

Took about six weeks off work, but working for a large corporation afforded me 6 weeks paid medical leave. Office job, so really no physical demands to relate to.

Walking is the best medicine post recovery. Depending where you live, February may limit you, so you might need access to a treadmill or head to your local mall to walk laps with the retired folks as I did when I was a teenager.

Driving is limited too so think about who can give you rides to check ups.

Lots of other stuff will come along I’m sure. Good luck. For what it’s worth, I think you’re heading in the right direction regarding valve choice given your age. I’ve been clicking away with a St Jude for 29 years total. Hopefully another 50 left in it, but I’m sure something else will take me first.
 

Protimenow

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Aug 10, 2010
Messages
3,028
Location
California
My valve is about a year newer than Superman's (28 years). I don't recall rehab for the post-op. I remember walking the mall and doing other walking, but, other than the surgeon telling me to walk, no other therapy.
I think I sat in a chair or laid in bed...the positional stuff for my sternum healing is now a mystery to me.

I remember, a month after surgery, taking my daughter to a father and daughter dinner that her school was holding. One of the fathers saw my still rather angry looking sternal scar, and some of the other fathers and I embarrassed our daughters by opening our shirts and comparing scars. That must have been some sight for these young teenagers -- I'm occasionally reminded of it, even years later.

I know that post-op care has gotten much better than repeat visits to the surgeon to assess wound healing, and some nebulous recommendations for exercise. (During my recovery period, when I had regained much of my strength, I made a walk - about two miles round trip - to get some really good, greasy, chiliburgers for my family and me. I was aware of, and kind of appreciated, the irony of the whole event).

I was given 8 weeks off -- this is what the doctor advised. On my first day back, I had flown to Oakland (California), to cover a news story. I called my mother and, in that phone call, she told me that she had breast cancer. What a great way to return to work.

Like Superman, my St. Jude valve will probably be able to keep ticking much longer than I can support it.
 

Astro

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Joined
Aug 26, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Adelaide, Australia
Hi RJMello85,

Best wishes for your preparations.

Having been through surgery recently (3 weeks ago) I'll mention a couple of my observations. They had me walking around the ward the day after surgery. The key is to use your abdominal muscles (core) to get up. Tensing your abdominal muscles doesn't hurt. You can hurt your sternum either pushing or pulling yourself up so use your abdominal muscles. I found lying flat on my back uncomfortable - it increases sternal pressure. Certainly for the first couple weeks, I needed to sleep propped up with maybe a slight tilt to the side.

Being so young, you can expect the first couple days to be quite sore but then you'll start to bounce back quickly. Personally, I had my last opioid on about day 4 or 5, just acetaminophen (paracetamol) and naproxen after that. However, pain management is highly variable between people. If you need more, that is okay because it will improve quickly.

Having looked at a lot of the follow up journal studies about the different mechanical valves, I feel that all the modern mechanical valves have excellent long-term results with no obvious difference between the valves.

Cheers
 

sylviayasgur

VR.org Supporter
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Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
2,277
Location
Westchester, NY
Hi,
My husband, Joey, is the patient here. He was a recliner man. Besides the recliner, he found a study pillow ( the kind you lean against) propped him up comfortably at the beginning. Eventually he was able to sleep in bed with pillows.
walking was the best medicine for him. You can move at your own pace, slow down or walk faster; you are in control and can gauge by how you feel. Baby steps, remember!
It just takes time and patience. Wishing you the best,
Sylvia
 

carolinemc

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
777
Location
kansas city, mo
Hello new to the site, I watched a YouTube video from a past patient and he mentioned this forum.
I started getting symptoms almost a year ago January 2019. I was working out of town and notice chest pain I've had in the past worsen and shortness of breathe. Now when I was a kid I always had a hard fast heart rate and deep hard breathing after running or riding my bike, my Mom took me in and they always did an ekg and never found anything. I am a twin and my Mom remembers years back that the doctor said one of us had a heart murmur, but nothing was of abnormal I guess. Well last January at 33 when this episode happened they brought me to a small town hospital and ran a bunch of test, gave me nitro glyrcerin and a shot in my stomach for blood clots. I was admitted and the next morning they gave me an echocardiogram on what look like an old , but very good machine. The lady asked at that moment if I had a Cardiologist which I turned my head and said no. Ever since then We found a good one closer to where I live. We've been monitoring the progression and it has gotten worse quickly then expected. He put me on Cardizmem Er and I take Asprin 81 at night. He has done another echo and Double Heart Cathe in September. My arteries were good and that the Pulmonary valve was taking the excessive pressure off the Aortic valve. But lately my symptoms are getting worse. My Wife and I have been in and out of the Emergency room and we visited my Cardiologist again explaining everything, He stopped talking and made a call to the Surgeon. So we went a few weeks ago to talk and meet with him and discuss the available valves he had and Surgery date. We planned for Feb. 18th 2020. I've been researching the On X alot and for my age and my career. I am a Commercial Plumber which is pretty high physical demanding job. He showed us the prosthesis valve and the St. Judd mechanical , but then he mentioned On X which I started to tell him I've been researching that one. He said give me and minute and he left to check if he had one came back in the room and said yes, but it may not fit my original location. He said they have a longer collar then most people have. So he said if in the OR it does not fit the St. Judd will be placed in which either way I'm happy with, My Wife and kids and I just want to be back to normal finally again. Any ideas on how after the Surgery will be? With pain and discomfort and strengthening back to my old self. Recliner better option to rest at home? Will this bleching and discomfort end is it from this condition the whole time. Is there any short term financial help available? We have Afllac , but only pays one full small amount sum for being out over 3 months to heal. Any advice would be great thanks. Robert
Sorry no such valve is out there called, St. Judd. Now there is St. Jude's valves, I have the leaflet aortic valve. And we do not know what country you are from to know if you can get financial assistance. In America, there are public assistances out there, you just have to research what is available in your area.

On the recliner, it is a great idea. I slept on mine for three months after getting up during the night. Was easier that getting back into bed.

Good luck on whatever your decide on the valve.
 

carolinemc

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
777
Location
kansas city, mo
My valve is about a year newer than Superman's (28 years). I don't recall rehab for the post-op. I remember walking the mall and doing other walking, but, other than the surgeon telling me to walk, no other therapy.
I think I sat in a chair or laid in bed...the positional stuff for my sternum healing is now a mystery to me.

I remember, a month after surgery, taking my daughter to a father and daughter dinner that her school was holding. One of the fathers saw my still rather angry looking sternal scar, and some of the other fathers and I embarrassed our daughters by opening our shirts and comparing scars. That must have been some sight for these young teenagers -- I'm occasionally reminded of it, even years later.

I know that post-op care has gotten much better than repeat visits to the surgeon to assess wound healing, and some nebulous recommendations for exercise. (During my recovery period, when I had regained much of my strength, I made a walk - about two miles round trip - to get some really good, greasy, chiliburgers for my family and me. I was aware of, and kind of appreciated, the irony of the whole event).

I was given 8 weeks off -- this is what the doctor advised. On my first day back, I had flown to Oakland (California), to cover a news story. I called my mother and, in that phone call, she told me that she had breast cancer. What a great way to return to work.

Like Superman, my St. Jude valve will probably be able to keep ticking much longer than I can support it.
That was something about you and the father comparing scars. Made me giggle.
 

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