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Drinking--and driving post op

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Carnelian

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My doctors told me no alcohol for a while after my valve was replaced with tissue and my double bipass was done almost a month ago.
Also no driving for 4-6 weeks. I can live without a drink but no driving is very inconvenient and difficult for me to to do basic errands.
I have no one to help me or drive except for a volunteer from my suburb in the midwest (US). Do any of you drink anything (a beer) after
your operation or drive small distances--weeks after your operation? Other than that,...just some aches and pains
that are subsiding now--and very low energy, always winded doing anything. (I hate exercise)
 

pellicle

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Do not disobey the driving rule. Turning the steering wheel and indeed just getting in and out will be a challenge on it.

Also, do not disobey the lifting rules.

If you damage your sternum (a very thin and flexible bone) you will regret it. don't get big bottles of milk for instance.

If your sternum not heal due to you failing to follow these directions you may need another operation to fix that. This will involve shaving it and reattaching it and hoping for the best. This may open you to surgical infections.

Worst case you will need a prosthetic sternum

http://www.valvereplacement.org/foru...thetic-sternum

I have had one recent member communicate with me that they have required this due to exactly a mobile sternum which they feel came from inadequate warning.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...15958413000638

{IMAGE REMOVED BY REQUEST}

The above is about the worst case, but you do not want this outcome, so don't provoke it.

KInda makes 6 weeks seem trivial doesn't it ...

Take up the offer of help and just do a little planning.

I had a drink now and then after OHS, but honestly I didn't really feel inclined. I drink wine or beer most nights now.
 

DachsieMom

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Do you have uber or lyft in your area?
i waited 6 weeks to drive. And drove with my pillow for several more. Think about yourself, but other drivers as well. You won't have your normal reaction time or turning ability.
 

Superman

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Geez. Glad lunch is a few hours away here.

Agree. Obey the driving rules. You just never know what can happen during recovery. Your body has jut faced probably the biggest test in it's existence. Even when I wasn't driving and my wife was chauffeuring me around, I discovered that during the recovery process I had developed a pretty strong case of car sickness. Even had to have her pull over so I could bless the roadside. If I were driving and alone, and that feeling hit strong - if would not have been as manageable.

Agree with DachsieMom as well. It's not about the routine. It's about the emergency. Can you react if someone or something pulls out in front of you and you have to swerve? What if somebody hits you and the airbag goes off? Can your sternum take that?
 

tom in MO

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I was told the only risk in driving was the pain pills affecting my driving. As soon as I got the pain pills down (about 2 weeks) I drove.

I was told the only risk in drinking alcohol was interaction with the pain pills or getting drunk and falling down. I never get drunk anymore so that's not a problem. I ignored that rule and drank moderately (e.g. one beer, one scotch, one bourbon :)) from about the 3rd day home.

No problems.

I asked one of my rehab nurses about why some people are told not to drive or drink, and it's all related to liability due to the pain pills. I've been told the same with other surgeries as well. But when I got a back spasm and was taking the same pills, my orthopedic doctor didn't tell me not to drive.

Pellicle that picture is disgusting and has nothing to do with Carnelian's drinking and driving question. It's be nice if you'd make it go away...
 

leadville

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I drove around 4 weeks post opp, i felt safe and had no issues apart from feeling vulnerable if there was a crash
however i could not tolerate alcohol for a few months, i think my system couldn't cope with stimulants as coffee was an issue too
 

Agian

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tom in MO;n879781 said:
Pellicle that picture is disgusting and has nothing to do with Carnelian's drinking and driving question. It's be nice if you'd make it go away...
Tom, there's a terrified man that comes with that photo. It doesn't disgust me, it makes me sad.
 

pellicle

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tom in MO;n879781 said:
Pellicle that picture is disgusting and has nothing to do with Carnelian's drinking and driving question. It's be nice if you'd make it go away...
Tom, I believe that shot has everything to do with the question. I was given quite strict instructions about not driving because of the risk to my sternum while the bone was knitting.

Quite strict.

I will remove the image however because you asked.

I side with agian here, and see the reality of what can go wrong from a medical perspective. Having glimpsed a bit of it myself.

If you had a sternotomy and they told you that, well then you were not well informed of the risks.

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patient...ons/000291.htm
From that:
  • DO NOT do any activity or exercise that causes pulling or pain across your chest, (such as using a rowing machine, twisting, or lifting weights.)
DO NOT drive for at least 4 to 6 weeks after your surgery. The twisting movements needed to turn the steering wheel may pull on your incision.
Then there is airbags to consider...
 

LondonAndy

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The advice here in London was firmly against driving (and lifting even a kettle full of water) during those first 6 weeks too. You are putting pressure on your sternum as you turn the wheel etc and at risk of stopping the sternum repairing itself, making recovery longer at best, and risking a re-do as Pellicle says. So these were instructions I took care to follow, though I have the amenities of a city to help, and groceries delivered, so I realise easier than if you live remotely.

Are you self-testing your INR? Be aware that alcohol CAN have an effect on this, generally making your INR lower though can have the opposite effect on some people. So I would test my INR first, make sure I am not near the bottom of my therapeutic range, and have alcohol in moderation. Then test again a day or two later and see how the INR has responded. I am not sure if there were other factors going on in my early days after surgery, but my INR appeared to drop dramatically after a large glass of wine at that time. A year or so later i found that alcohol has little effect, but I only drink moderately - eg 2 pints of beer in a session, or a half bottle of wine with food.
 

Lisa2

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My discharge instructions following my redo AVR on 9/20/17 stated that I could begin to drive after 2 weeks. I was discharged on day 7 in the hospital so they basically gave me a restriction of 3 weeks. The first time I had surgery I was advised to wait 6 weeks and I waited a little longer than that. Although my discharge instructions said I could begin driving after 2 weeks this time around, I didn't begin driving until about a week ago when I began cardiac rehab. I will say that the car door feels a little heavy when I push it open.
 

tom in MO

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Per refraining from driving due to the "twisting and turning" need to drive. I have power steering so there's no need for twisting and turning. I did more twisting and turning getting into the car than driving and nobody says you cannot be a passenger.

Pellicle I had a sternomoty (my first and hopefully last) and was also well informed on the risks by my doctor, therapist and rehab nurses. I went to a heart clinic. Per your discussions of your history, you may not be the "normal" case when it comes to problems with the sternum, since IIRC, didn't you have more than one sternomoty with your first as a child? Thanks for removing the picture.
 

ClickityClack

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I had a Bentall procedure done in May of this year. Instructed not to drive for 5 weeks and to turn off the airbag as a passenger. Alternatively, I was instructed to sit as far rearward as the seat would allow if the airbag could not be disabled.

Even at 5 weeks and with power steering, I found it more difficult than expected to operate the vehicle.
 

Superman

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tom in MO;n879861 said:
Per refraining from driving due to the "twisting and turning" need to drive. I have power steering so there's no need for twisting and turning. I did more twisting and turning getting into the car than driving and nobody says you cannot be a passenger.
My understanding was always that the restriction was not based on normal driving, which, as you note, can be fairly effortless in a new car. The restriction is based on emergencies. Can you respond and not have a setback in your healing if a deer or a child runs out in front of your vehicle? If a car cuts you off, can you react quickly and safely without doing damage to your healing sternum?
 

Eva

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I had to wait 8 weeks before I could drive. My doctor cautioned me against jeopardizing my sternum due to an accident caused by other car drivers hitting my car!
 

tom in MO

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Superman;n879887 said:
My understanding was always that the restriction was not based on normal driving, which, as you note, can be fairly effortless in a new car. The restriction is based on emergencies. Can you respond and not have a setback in your healing if a deer or a child runs out in front of your vehicle? If a car cuts you off, can you react quickly and safely without doing damage to your healing sternum?
I'm not sure about your scenario. It takes no more effort to manage a car in an emergency than in an accident.

Per the air bag, I had no restriction in regards to air bags. Couldn't turn mine off anyway.

The more I thought about this, possibly the restrictions on driving are also related to the age of the average valve replacement patient. People heal slower when they get older (I sure know that :)) If the average age is around 70-75, that's considerably older than when I had mine replaced at 55.
 

Superman

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tom in MO;n879925 said:
The more I thought about this, possibly the restrictions on driving are also related to the age of the average valve replacement patient. People heal slower when they get older (I sure know that :)) If the average age is around 70-75, that's considerably older than when I had mine replaced at 55.
17 and 36, respectively for my two surgeries. Could be a regional or Dr. preference thing too. Hard to say.

Not that it matters a ton. We were all told to do things, and we all did the best we could with the information we were given, and we're all here to post about it.
 

Northernlights

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It's interesting reading these varied recommendations.

Here in the UK the DVLA ( in charge of driving licences) forbids driving for 4 weeks after any cardiac surgery, and you can restart only when your doctor says it's safe. Drivers with a bus or truck licence have to inform the DVLA: they lose their licence for 3 months and have to reapply for it.

All this is to protect other people on the roads from the danger patients pose while they are still recovering and their reactions are not up to scratch - even if they think they are!

Recommendation is also to travel in the back seat as a passenger initially as if the airbag deploys it damages a healing sternum.

Carnelian, it's clear doctors in the US give varied advice, but would you be covered by your insurance if you were driving against your doctor's advice?
 

pellicle

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tom in MO;n879925 said:
The more I thought about this, possibly the restrictions on driving are also related to the age of the average valve replacement patient. People heal slower when they get older (I sure know that :))
agreed ... but even with young people its considered that a bone takes between 6 to 8 weeks to properly knit. The sternum is a thin bone, so while that may "heal" faster it may just also be that the fact that its about the most flexible bone in the body, the key stone bone to your chest, makes it perhaps more critical that its given exactly that chance. ... to heal fully before it is damaged at the site of healing.

Its easy to reflect that "nothing happened to me" and so dismiss the possiblities, but the fact that it in this case it did not happen to you does not mean that it doesn't happen to others.

My point is to always err on the side of safety while promoting recovery through all the good and safer substitutes such as walking and moderate exersize.
 

Warrick

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Never thought too much on this so had a look on our transport site for the NZ rules if anyone cares to look- https://www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/medical-aspects/3.html#36

it's slightly vague I feel as it's 4 weeks for one procedure and 6 for another even though both procedures would involve a sternotopy

We even have restrictions for a poorly maintaned INR although I very much doubt this is/would ever be checked, theres nothing recorded on my licence or driving record to indicate my history
 

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