Aortic Valve Replacement Surgery - any tips?

Help Support ValveReplacement.org:

CatDad82

New member
Joined
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2
Hi...I thought I could share my story. My name is David. I’m 37 and I recently found out I have a heart murmur and need to have my aortic valve and aorta replaced. My surgery is scheduled on July 10th. They’re going to give me a St Jude mechanical valve and do a graft to replace my aorta. Is there anything you wish you’d known going into the surgery beforehand?

Thanks!
 

Duffey

Me and Granbon
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Messages
5,051
Location
Far side of the moon
Good luck and best wishes, David. If you read the presurgery forum threads you’ll find many posts from members with their own “wish I had known that before surgery” thoughts. I guess the only big surprise I had was how easy it was for me in coming off the ventilator after surgery. I was afraid that it might be difficult, but it really was a non-issue.
 

skeptic49

VR.org Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
2,977
Location
Philadelphia, PA and Cherry Grove, Fire Is. NY
For me the big surprise was how weak I was after surgery. I couldn't believe how weak I was, barely able to move. Of course I had a serious complication requiring a second surgery five days after my first seven hour surgery (tamponade.) Hopefully you won't have such a time of it. As Mary suggests, look at the posts in the pre-surgery forum for lots of tIps, such as using a recliner at home post surgery. Good luck.
 

Justmadi

New member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
4
Location
Wisconsin
Hi David,

I’m sure the other threads will assist you. One thing I wish I had known was about furosemide. When I was sent home I was on 2 a day. Well..I didn’t drink enough for two and ended up with a horrible dizzy episode. Just a little thought...still drink!
 

LonMel

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
21
Location
New York City, New York
I was fortunate to get a Marcaine pump for three days into my chest...less pain, ask. Learn to breath using your diaphragm not by expanding your chest. Walk as soon as you can.
Get a stool softener as soon as possible! Drink plenty of water.
If you wake up on a ventilator, don't panic, relax and let it breath for you.
Good luck!
 

Chris

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 19, 2011
Messages
50
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Hi David,

Best of luck to you. I've had two aortic replacements (2010 and last month) and the biggest difference between the two procedures was that I didn't have a bad reaction to the anesthesia the second time around. I made a point to speak to the anesthesiologist ahead of time to see if they could do anything about it, knowing that I react badly to it (lots of nausea). Game-changer for me.

Best,
Chris
 

Keithl

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
177
As other said, read pre and post surgery thread. If you are healthy going into surgery then the recovery will likely be better. As mentions do the breathing exercises and walk as much as possible post surgery. More importantly occupy your mind instead of dwelling on your recovery. I was doing some working the day after then every work day there after which prevented me from worrying about my recovery. I also have some exercise gear at home so was able to do decent walking every day. By 6 weeks I was back to my normal 4 x 40 min cardio exercises per week. Your mindset is equally important to recovery as your body. Good luck!
 

carolinemc

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
632
Location
kansas city, mo
Hi...I thought I could share my story. My name is David. I’m 37 and I recently found out I have a heart murmur and need to have my aortic valve and aorta replaced. My surgery is scheduled on July 10th. They’re going to give me a St Jude mechanical valve and do a graft to replace my aorta. Is there anything you wish you’d known going into the surgery beforehand?

Thanks!
Just do as the doctors and surgeon tell you for after care. Like no heavy lifting, get clearance when they say you are okay for back to, take walks and relax. I have one myself, St. Jude's leaflet valve. It is understandable, you are new and shaky, but you will be just fine. Just relax, relax, relax. And walk everyday during your recovery. And come in here as often as you feel line it. There is always someone on the board. Hugs for today.
 

Classtime Sailer

Active member
Joined
Jun 2, 2013
Messages
40
Location
Los Angeles, CA
I wished I had been a little more aggressive in my breathing excercises. I should have concentrated more on the deepest possible breaths. I don't know if it would have made a difference, but my lung capacity is not what it was. Only matters for long hard bike rides and breath holds when free diving.
 

dick0236

Eat the elephant one bite at a time
Joined
Feb 10, 2007
Messages
2,854
Location
louisville, KY USA
Hi David and welcome to this forum. Not much I can add since my surgery was a long time ago. Post surgery use common sense, live a normal life and try not to "run with scissors". I notice, from your bio, that you are already on warfarin so INR management will not come as a surprise. If you are not "self-testing INR" look into it......it will make life a lot more manageable and predictable.

BTW, I used to visit patients post-OHS and was amazed as to how quickly they bounced back. Good luck and stick around to help other "newbies" after your surgery.
 

Keithl

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 20, 2019
Messages
177
Hell, as soon as I woke up and realized the tube was still in my throat I immediately started deep breathing so they would get the damn tube out. I was lucky sine I had done cardio before surgery my lung capacity was at rated at 92-103% of goal and I knew what to expect so as soon as they gave me the little blow tester I started and the guy was like "you don't need me just do 10 deep breathes every hour" and I never say him again.
 

carolinemc

Well-known member
Joined
May 31, 2010
Messages
632
Location
kansas city, mo
When I was waking up, three different times, I banged in the rail to get someone;s attention, they kept me under till they got tired after the third round of banging on the bed railing, the had enough of it. LOL! I did fine after getting the tube out and could actually rest.
 

zelic

Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2017
Messages
6
Location
Midwest
Great tips on the threads here. I had my AVR 2/18 some things that helped me:
1) Get and advocate if you can - I am a doc but had a friend of mine, another doc, with me for the first two days after surgery as an advocate. He made sure I had a morphine pump after surgery - as said above BIG help for me. 2) Listen to your body and if you need something dont be shy about getting help/answers. I had a sense of visual changes in my rt eye after surgery told my nurse about it in ICU and she blew me off so a got her to get me the charge nurse who arranged for an emergent consult and I ended up having a embolus in a branch of my right optic artery - luckily negative w/u for any further stroke risk. 3) Listen to your body ( cant stress this enough) 6 weeks into my recovery - going through rehap and did not feel well. Called me cardiologist who got me right in and discovered I had a large paricadial effusing - fluid between my heart and the lining of the heart. Needed another two procedures to drain it and bit more of a recovery after those. So stuff happens, don't ignore things and be your own advocate if you don't have a friend ( nurse or doc) that can be that for you. Happily now doing everything as before water skiing, biking etc. Best
 

cewilk

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 9, 2011
Messages
75
Location
Kansas City, MO
Best of luck to you and wish you a smooth procedure and speedy recovery. I also had my aortic arch replaced with a graft during the same procedure of getting my ATS mechanical aortic valve (I was 27 at the time, 31 now). Being younger will definitely help with recovery time. The reality is that you are going to experience some pain and discomfort immediately after surgery, but each day gets a little better. Try really hard to use your spirometer as often as possible, even though those deep breaths are going to feel really uncomfortable. Once they remove your chest tubes it’ll get much easier to breath deeply. Also make sure you’re trying to get up and walk as often as possible. I was shocked how simply walking felt like such an exhausting task at first, but each day you will get a little better. Within a week I was walking 2-3 miles in the park. Within a month I was lightly jogging on a treadmill. Within 3-4 months you’re activity level should be feeling pretty normal again. It will take time to build back your strength and endurance, but just know that it will with time. Keep your chest pillow handy if you have to sneeze. I was able to mentally psych myself out of sneezing for a while until my sternum healed. The clicking will be kind of weird at first and you’ll ask yourself how the heck will you ever get used to it. Now, I find that I like hearing it because it gives me piece of mind that it’s still working properly! 😀
 

Agian

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
2,118
Location
Adelaide, South Australia
There you go Cewilk. Your story is an inspiration to people. Deployed after OHS. After op number two you're still smashing it. You look like a very health young man in your photo.

Don't want to sound like an old geezer (I'm 'only' 50), but your generation puts us to shame.
 

Warrick

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2015
Messages
457
Location
New Zealand
Dont be surprised if you spontaneously burst into tears for no apparant reason in the first few weeks afterward

Its all the meds they poke into you and I think you just get so emotionally overwelmed without realising and it catches up on you in a flood of tears
 

Bean Counter

VR.org Supporter
Joined
Apr 28, 2010
Messages
338
Location
Chicago, IL
i was about your age when I had my AVR 9 years ago; a few things (pardon the brevity; typing from phone):
Recovery not linear; some days you will feel great and then not so much following day. Be ready for that first sneeze; some hospitals give out a teddy bear to squeeze when that first sneeze happens. Be disciplined with walking (if you are not doing cardiac rehab) and listen to your body. It only took about 2 days before I realized I was doing too much too soon. If you do plan on a walking routine, see if you can find a cool area such as a treadmill in a gym or a mall (One day I resorted to walking around a Target while my wife shopped).

Good luck!
 
2

Latest posts

Top