Aortic Valve Replacement Post Surgery

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A

AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Hi: This is the first time I have tried to do this so if I make errors please excuse me. I am nervous but I think you might be the best people to answer the many questions I have. I am a 77 year old woman who is being prodded by my cardiologist, primary care doctor and my daugher to go for it. I say "prodded" because I have been thinking of not "going for it". I am concerned going through with it at my age. My cardiologist says there is no reason for me to be afraid, my primary doctor has been my doctor for 16 years and says there is noone who knows my physical condition better than he and he sees no reason that I should be concerned. But I have the problem with after care. My husband is 81 years old and is feeling his age so I really cannot expect too much help from him. My daughter lives a half hour dirive from me and has three young children (11,9 and 5). Even though she feels she will be able to spend a few hours three days a week with me, I cannot count on it. I must figure on outside help. Now for my questions. How long did it take you to be able to move around on your own? How long did it take before you could prepare food for yourself? How long before you were able to bend or reach for things? These things may seem foolish to you but they are causing me to worry about going ahead with the surgery. Do you know anyone in my age group who has gone through it? The surgeon says I will need a mechanical valve because the opening is very small so , of course, that means coumadine. What problems come up that I do not know about. I have read about pumpheads. How does that affect you and how long does it last? The doctors have put me in contact with women in my age group who have gone through the surgery and they have said, although it was not a piece of cake, they do not regret having the surgery. But I feel there must be some others they did not put me in contact with who feel differnetly, As you can see, I am scared and would appreciate hearing your experiences.

Thank you.
Aida
 
E

Elsiedog

Guest
Aida,

I had my surgery at 33 but can tell you how I was. I was in hospital for about 10 days and it was around 2 weeks after coming out before I felt able to do much at all for myself.They will get you up walking a few days fater surgery so once you leave you will be fine for getting around the house, I found once I pushed myself a bit to do more, like walking etc I recovered quicker and felt more confident in what I could do. I was told I should not lift anything heavy for 3 months but after say 3 weeks I was OK for things like kettle etc.

As you say the operation and recovery is not easy but certainly in my case the improvement in quality of life was worth the downsides, do not worry about being scared and asking questions, we were all scared before the surgery and by asking other people who have been through it anyhting that is on your mind will definatley help you make the right decision for you.

Good luck.

Richard
 
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Gillian (in UK)

Guest
After AVR

After AVR

Aida - I had my AVR in March and like you I was very worried about how I would manage afterwards. I am 67 and have a husband who is very dependent both mentally and physically. I was in hospital for eight nights and during that time his daughter looked after him. Then we both went to a convalescent home. It was meant to be for two weeks but we stayed 17 days because I had a setback and was very unwell with a fast uneven heartbeat.

However after those 25 days we went home and I managed without any help - though I would have liked a bit!

Everyone seems to be very different in the way they recover. I feel if I hadn't had my setback I could have coped much earlier. Other people take longer.

There are so many worries beforehand and, like everyone says, this is the worst time you are going through right now. I do hope you get all the support and help you need, and hopefully eight months on like me you'll wonder what all the fuss was about!

Wishing you all the best.
 

sylviayasgur

VR.org Supporter
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Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
2,281
Location
Westchester, NY
hi aida!
welcome to this forum. it has been a godsend for me throughout my husband, joey's surgery (pre and post). everyone here is so caring, informative and mostly supportive. it's a wonderful place.
as gillian mentioned, everyone recovers at a different rate. my husband came home after a week, becasue he had a few setbacks. once home (he's very fit), he was in a lot of pain for some time. he was, however, back at work ,part time, three weeks later. ofcourse, he had to be driven for 6 weeks. it's hard to do too much though, because it exhausts you (the patient).
have you considered a visiting nurse service? even if they come in for a few hours, to cook, clean, whatever, i think it may be helpful. i bet your daughter will come through as well. any friends or neighbors who can help out for a bit?
my father in law is a young 84 and is in great shape (swims 75-100 laps a day). he still goes to work, etc. unfortunately, he has started to become forgetful lately. pumpheadedness is much slighter than what i see in my father in law. in fact, you'll see some threads about it and most people here joke about it. i wouldn't worry about it.
there are several folks on this forum who are a bit older than myself who could probably give you more first hand experience.
i hope i was of some help. please let us know what happens. when is your surgery supposed to be taking place?
keep coming back, we're all here to help and hold your hand through this.
be well,
sylvia
 
J

Jean

Guest
Effects of Surgery

Effects of Surgery

Aida,

I am the eternal pollyanna, I guess, but this is how AVR surgery was for me almost two years ago at 56. I was up and walking the second day after surgery. Never had what I'd call real pain...just ouchy stuff...except for the sneezes! Went home on day 5. I could move around no problem, in fact the doctors want you to walk, walk! My biggest problems were buttoning my jeans and putting socks on...but I had some nerve damage (temporary) to my left hand so that didn't help...still the torquing of the sternum was touchy.

I had no problems cooking, although my husband hovered constantly. I started doing my own chores the third day home although I separated the hay into flakes and only took the grain in small buckets. It was my pleasure to do this as my animals mean a lot to me. I had to cool it with walking my Border Collie on a leash for several weeks...she would suddenly go off and jerk on my arm and really tweak my sternum. Oh I just remembered, twisting lids off was painful at first too. I got a channel locks and that worked.

Bending and reaching was no problem in particular.

Pumpheadedness is no lasting problem. I just felt restless and didn't get hooked on a good book or long knitting project (that tweaked my sternum anyway)...it seemed that I just didn't have a long concentration span.

I took naps in the afternoon and fell asleep on the couch while watching tv in the evening...a little trouble sleeping at night, but that all settled down after a few months.

Keep checking back...we have had others in your age range. Good luck and God bless.
 
M

martha

Guest
Hello aida, and welcome. I was 49 when I had my surgery. Spent six days in the hospital. Then went to a rehab center for two weeks. This really helped they got me going and able to manage once I got home. Once I got home I had my girl friend with me for ten days. She did the cooking (not that I wanted to eat very much) And the cleaning, and driving me to dr. appointments. Once she left I was ok on my own. We all recover differently. It seems that those who were in shape before seemed to have an easier time of it.

If I can be of any further help let me know. martha
 
A

AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Thank You

Thank You

Thank you all so much for replying so quickly. Now I have to absorb what you have written. See you again.

Aida
 

maxximom

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
160
Location
Dublin Ohio
Hi Aida
I am 70 years old and I am the most senior member here (i think) I will be 8 weeks post op tomorrow. I had a airtic valve replacement (Porcine) and a triple bypass. I was in the hopsital for 6 days. When I came home I was very tired and I was very lucky that my husband (71..also 15 years post op bypass) was very helpful. My children did come for the surgery and were very supportave) but were not able to be here when I came home from the hospital. I had a visiting nurse for the first week (medicare will take care of it..if your doctor requests it) and also a physical therapist. Both were very helpful. I was very fortunate to have some great neighbors and friends and I did not have to cook for 2 weeks.I had very little pain..mostly discomfort..the little pain I had was easily taken care of in the hospital..and when I came home Tylonal was all I needed although I was provided with something stronger. I was very lucky in the pain department.
I am a total whimp when it comes to pain and believe me I was scared to death of this surgery...I was concerned because of my age, and also the fact that I am a nun-insulin dependent diabetic and very over weight....I did just fine. By the way..I had a very small opening for the aortic valve and the surgeon used a stentless porcine valve that fit jsut fine..If you had strong feelings about not being on coumidin (I did) I would discuss the valve situation more with your surgeaon or get another opinion.
I was also very fortunate not to have any memory problems at all..the lousy spelling and bad typing were all there before surgery. :) If you have any other questions ..please feel free to email me and I will send you my phone number..after all we "old timers" need to stick together..I know how you feel!!
Joan
 

Marty

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2001
Messages
1,597
Location
McLean, VA
Age and valve surgery

Age and valve surgery

Hey, maxximom is just a kid! I was 72 when I had my mitral valve replacement three years ago. My surgeon also did an aortic valve plus triple bypass on an 85 year old the same day and we both made it. The surgeons tell me its not how old you are but what kind of shape you are in that is the most important factor.
 
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Bill Hall

Guest
Hi Aida - Two of my roomates were over 70 when I had my surgery. One had a heart transplant. I think you would do well with this surgery. There is not that much pain and the recovery is short (a few weeks). A person at 77 has a life expectancy of about ten years. You might consider that there are some fun moments ahead. There is a possibility you will not be better off after surgery, but after being part of this site for a year, my guess is that you will be better off.
 
A

AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Thank You

Thank You

I haven't been on for a few days because my computer needed surgery but saw my guru today so I am back.

I really appreciate all your replies. You have reassured me to go ahead with the surgery. Maximmom, I hope I can say what you have said afterwards. I hope to wait for the new year if there is no problem.

See you again.

Aida
 
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AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Thank you

Thank you

I was in the process of leaving a message but it disappeared so if this is a duplicate please excuse it.

What I was saying to Matxr and Bill Hall was that I thought of Maxximom because she is a woman near my age. I guess I am the oldest person signing on here. But both of you speaking of people in their 80's who seem to have made it was reassuring also.

Aida
 

maxximom

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 26, 2001
Messages
160
Location
Dublin Ohio
Hi Aida:)
So glad to hear from you again and that you've decided to go forward with the surgery. I don't know what quality of life you are having now..but before my surgery..I couldn't walk more than 75 feet without getting out of breath..forget shopping at a mall. My husband would have to drive me to the enterance of whereever we were going..for the most part even handicaped parking was to far. Last weekend we went to a concert and I had no problem walking to the concert hall from the parking lot and through the theatre. It was such a great feeling. I also wentto the mall (I really hate it) and had no trouble at all..I was tired afterwards though :) .
I started rehab on Monday and walked the indoor track 4X..before surgery I couldn't make it arround even once without stopping to rest at least 2x. What a big difference!! I know it ,will take me a long time to get into "shape" and devrlop some stamina..because I had to limit my actiiivity so much before..but I'm well on the road.
What did your surgeon say about your new heart valve? Did the 2 of you reach any conclusions about the type of valve?
Please keep in touch and let us know your surgery date when you get one. If I caan be of any help please feel free to email me ..and I will send you my phone #.
Best of luck.
Joan
 

Marty

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2001
Messages
1,597
Location
McLean, VA
Age and valve surgery...cont.

Age and valve surgery...cont.

Aida, I truly believe you have made the right decision. I put off the surgery for over one year
mostly because I thought I was too old. However going out with chronic congestive heart failure is not so pretty either. I finally got to the point
where I could not walk up a low grade and I had to take long naps.After rehab post op I gained more and more energy and now feel better and have more energy than I did at age 60. I'm back at work half time and yesterday before Thanksgiving dinner I walked nine holes on a hilly course. I had a lot to be thankful about and I hope you will too. My only caution is that you make sure you have good help at home for at least three weeks. If your daughter or husband can't be relied on pay for it. It will be worthwhile.
 
A

AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Capabilities

Capabilities

Joan:

You ask what quality of life I have now. I do my own shopping, food and otherwise. I drive to the shopping center and park whereever I find a spot. Though we have a disabled license plate, it is in my husband's name. Therefore, I do not use it for fear of getting a ticket. I have no problem walking as long as it's on level ground. I have avoided walking otherwise since I walk alone and fear passing out. My cardiologist keeps asking me if I get lightheaded. So far I can say no but I don't know how much longer that will last. I also get short of breath if I walk up slight upgrades. Last Saturday I had chest pain for about five minutes so I guess I am getting there. I have just finished shopping for toys for Chanukah for my three grandchildren and had no trouble so I feel good about that. I told my cardiologist I had made the decision and he was ready to do an angioplasty next week but I asked to wait until the new year since I have two grandchildren with birthdays in Dec. He gave me an appointment to see him mid Dec. and we will take it from there. I don't know what the next step is.
I wouldn't try to do Thanksgiving Dinner this year but helped my daughter with it and all went well except that I do get very tired but I don't know whether that's because of diabetes, low thyroid, anemia or the valve problem (or my age). I definitely will keep in touch and thank you and Marty for your advice.

Aida
 

Nancy

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2001
Messages
9,896
Location
upstate New York
Hi Aida

Hi Aida

Hi Aida-

I'm so glad that you have decided to have your surgery.

Just wanted to let you know that my husband is 70 years old. He had his third open heart valve surgery in July of this year. He has two mechanical valves, mitral and aortic. He has also had two lung surgeries and has a pacemaker. When Joe saw the surgeon he said that he had recently operated on an 80 year old woman and all was well with that. Joe's been on Coumadin for 24 years with no problems. He just goes to get tested and then takes the dosage the doctor says to take.

If Joe can make it and have a successful recovery, you can as well. He suffered for a couple of years with Congestive heart Failure, and it was a terrible way to live. There came a time when the diuretics just didn't work any more, and the fluid buildup affected his throat causing hoarseness and voice changes, his lungs causing breathlessness, his legs and feet causing swelling which also developed cellulitis, a very painful skin inflammation, and his stomach area causing him to lose his appetite.

During that time of physical decline, he lost a lot of muscle tissue , I'm assuming because his body was using this tissue to try to heal itself.

He is recovering nicely and can now do many things that he hasn't been able to do for a few years.

Please remember that this surgery is a lifesaver and will also improve the quality of your life.

Good luck.
 
A

AIDAMENSCHEL

Guest
Nancy: Thank you for writing. Your husband has really been "through the wringer". I am so happy to hear he is doing so well now. All these messages make me feel I should be able to do it. Oh well! It won't be long.

Aida
 
K

krisabbott

Guest
Hi Aida. My 78 yr old mom just had AVR last April and is doing REALLY well. It isn't easy though, won't lie to you about that. Her recovery followed the book almost to a T..very positive news on that subject. She was very weak going into the surgery because of the state of stenosis, but her arteries were very very good.

I am happy to share our experience with you further. You can email me and in the meantime I will speak to my mom and relive the steps. We had the exact same questions and my mom chose to be ignorant because she was too fearful of the procedure. I did most of the looking ahead for her. I am assuming that since you are on this site, you are seeking the truth not the fluff.

Everyone seems to have different experiences. She was in the hospital for 7 days, had bad reactions to a drug called Percasette (sp)given for pain she actually never had and experienced hallucinations without any warning from the doctors. That seems to be almost the worst part of it for her. Once clear of that med, her attitude changed and she got to work at getting better. Postive mental outlook is your best medicine. You alone will truly be responsible for the outcome..but it is worth it. Every week, infact sometimes days..we noticed huge improvements forward. YOU WILL NEED HELP. Don't think you can avoid that. The first week home was tough on the both of us. She needed help both in and out of bed, help in the shower (very important) and encouragement to walk. We kept a journal and each day she was so happy to see improvements from previous days. She never had much trouble with eating and naps are still really important.
The fact that this type of surgery can repair your heart is incredible. Hang in there, you will get through this and ride all the waves safely. Don't turn away the efforts of your family or friends who want to help. This will be the most rewarding team anyone could join. Let them.

hope this was ok for you.

kris
 

sylviayasgur

VR.org Supporter
VR.org Supporter
Joined
Sep 1, 2001
Messages
2,281
Location
Westchester, NY
hi aida!
i'm sorry but i didn't see a scheduled date for your surgery....do you have one?
everyone here is right on the mark. the benefits of this surgery are so great. if you are getting chest pains, etc. as you said, the time is approaching. this life-saving surgery is done almost routinely today. where will you have it done?
please keep us posted. hope you had a good holiday.
be well,
sylvia

kris,
my husband also had a bad reaction to percoset_ major hallucinations!
 

Marty

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2001
Messages
1,597
Location
McLean, VA
Percoset

Percoset

Its amazing how drugs affect different people in different ways. We geriatric types particularly are prone to weird drug reactions.
However I loved Percoset; it made me feel warm and fuzzy like a I had a lot of friends. I hated to give it up but it is addictive even in small doses.
 
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