Bob's Recovery II

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robert s

Hello to all:

I have been home over a week. I am 15 days post surgery for AVR at Cleveland Clinic. Everything has been going well except for a setback a few days ago. I began to get very sharp pains under my ribs on the left side as well as around my shoulder blade. Felt like a knife and was intense when taking a breath. In fact the pain was sharp enough that it reduced my ability to inflate my lungs by 60% or more. I spoke with my Cardiologist who suspected Post Surgical Periocardosis, which is an inflamation of the Pericardium. He told me to switch from Tylenol to Motrin at once. I took 600 mgm. of Motrin & then another 600 mgm 6 hours later followed by 400 mgm every 6 hours. The pain subsided within a few hours and has not returned. Followed up with an office visit the next day and the diagnosis was confimed with a cardiogram. It is apparantly fairly common and not too much to worry about. We will be doing an Echo in a few days to be sure there is no fluid build up between the Pericardiuim & the Heart. Other than that, I am walking over a mile a day on my treadmill and sleeping comfortably in all positions. I do get tired after about 3 PM each day. I nap for 30 - 40 minutes around noon & around 4 PM which is refreshing and seems to help.

I have a question:

I get out of breath quite easily; especially if I go up & down stairs. I am 59 and pre-surgery, I was in very good condition. In winter, I worked out 3 - 4 days a week in a health club; lifting weights and doing 30 - 40 minutes of good Cardio training. The rest of the year, I worked 3 - 4 hours several days a week at some pretty heavy duty gardening. I have 50 acre woods where I spend lots of time cutting walking trails & building vistas. Keeps me & my chain saw in good shape. What should I expect relative to the breathlessness as I recover? At six weeks will it start to get back to nornal or will it take an extended program of Cardio workouts to get back where I was a few weeks ago? I would appreciate hearing how others have dealt with this.

Thanks Bob S.


Well-known member
Jun 10, 2001
upstate New York
Hi Bob-

First of all congrats. on having it behind you. Sorry you had a little setback, but sometimes those things happen. Husband Joe had a little setback with Serum Sickness (reaction to antibiotic used during surgery) which put him in the hospital for about 6 days, 4 days after being discharged from surgery. He's OK now. and so will you be.

Regarding your breathlessness, I've seen Joe through several thoracic surgeries, heart and lung. It takes quite a while to build up your stamina after these surgeries. Everything will improve gradually and in about 6 months you'll be feeling normal, but still may be a little tired. Your little inflammation could also be contributing to the breathlessness. They'll know more when the Echo is done. Meanwhile take it a little easy until you get your results. No more chainsawing around the woods just yet!

I'm sure you'll be just fine. Your body has had a major assault and needs extra time to get over it all.

Let us know how you make out with the Echo.


Hi Bob,

Congrats on your fine recovery, albeit with a little bump on the road. Everybody gets a few bumps, some bigger, some smaller.

Everybody heals and recovers at different rates and sometimes in different ways.

Being in the shape you describe, I would think, from my own experience and what I've heard from others, including a number of surgeons, you should pretty much be able to return to presurgery capacity, at a minimum, by 3 months post-surgery, if not 2. In my case, at almost 3 months out now, I am certainly more capable than I was for at least 6 months before surgery, and I really think my potential, if I can find the time to really get back in shape, is now better than it has been in 25 years.

In any case, don't push it. Your breathing and exercising capacity will return naturally and, if you really listen to your body, it will tell what it can do and when.

If I were you, I would just concentrate on healing until at least 2-3 months out, and then turn your attention to recuperating your conditioning.

I think RobThatsMe and some others here have a lot of experience with this and hopefully they'll chime in to give you their experience and advice.

Best wishes for a continued fine recovery.

Kevin M

My comments mirror those of previous posts. It takes time, but it will come back.

After my first operation, I was young, so I was back to typical activities after 6-8 weeks.

I'm now 35 and this time, it's a little slower. I'm at 5.5 weeks post op right now and for the first 3-4 I was out of breath too.

Yesterday, I went for my walk and jogged a little. It felt good, but I couldn't keep it up for long. More because of the jostling around of the sternum than being out of breath.

I've been doing a good hour walk min. 5 days a week while maintaining a 120-125 heartrate for the past two weeks, so I'm sure you can look forward to similar results based on your pre-op health.

I was in the same 1 mile treadmill spot as you at one week (minus the setback you had).

Six weeks is pushing it. I wouldn't be handling any chainsaws until 8-10 unless you've got a bit of Paul Bunyan in you.


Well-known member
Jun 10, 2001
snowy - Sharpsburg, Ga USA
Hey Robert, listen up. You had MAJOR SURGERY and then you had a setback. It's gonna take you some time to get over the assault upon your body - you will continue to get better for months to come. Maybe you won't ever get back to where you were, but then again, maybe you will. Please don't expect it too soon or you will become discouraged and perhaps slack off - I know you are going to be better than you were and with a longer life, right Heart Buddies? God bless


Beloved Member
Jun 9, 2001
Hi Robert,

I think it is quite premature for you to start thinking about logging a chainsaw around. You must take time to recover! Like Hensylee said, "You just had major surgery!"
I also was out of breath months after my surgery and was so afraid something was wrong. The cardiologist told me to give it time, and also try to lose the extra weight that I had accumelated over the past few years. Still trying to do that!
I am one year post-op now, and am feeling pretty good. Some days less than others, but that might have nothing do with the heart fix.
I am still not back at a gym, and am not sure at this point if I ever want to go back. I think I lost interest in working out that hard and that much! Life has changed for me! It is not that I am not working out, no I do some weight training in the garage and walk/run the treadmill, but am not into the heavy lifting like before. I don't believe I ever will get that "buff" look that I had, but it is also not that important to me right now.

Many good wishes come your way.

St.Jude's mechanical

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