Encouragement please

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toni

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Dec 20, 2010
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7
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currently at MAYO, Rochester, MN
Hubby had his first OHS in 2009 (at age 45)- BAV replaced with a carbo medic mechanical valve - surgery uneventful, and a beautiful recovery. Almost a year to the day, had a major brain bleed - surgery, coma, etc. Second OHS in December, 2010 (clot formed on mechanical valve and was throwing emboli to the brain). Second surgery far more difficult; medtronic, freestyle, porcine tissue valve placed. Despite numerous complications, extended hospital stays, etc. he has had a most amazing recovery! We are scheduled for his 'annual' at the end of March - up until this point, my husband has always been very positive and upbeat, recognizing that there is only so much he can control. This time, he is far less positive, and has expressed concern...I listen, and try to better understand, but he has trouble articulating exactly why he is concerned this time. I'm hoping those who have actually been through this, (more than once) can share some wisdom, on how I can best support him. I sometimes think it's the waiting that is the hardest part, but also believe that positive thinking is important to one's overall well-being; that being said, I'm not in his shoes...Thanks for your perspective.
 

pellicle

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Toni

toni;n852631 said:
...can share some wisdom, on how I can best support him. I sometimes think it's the waiting that is the hardest part, but also believe that positive thinking is important to one's overall well-being; that being said, I'm not in his shoes...Thanks for your perspective.
very sorry to hear of this.

To answer your question I'd say it depends on the guy. I know that (in hindsight) I lost my self confidence and lost my belief in my abilities. I see that in retrospect I was suffering the effects (strongly) of what is labelled post-operative depression. Personally I didn't / don't feel that label applies to what I felt, but like many things each are manifest differently in different people.

I became more aware of what was going wrong and what was out of my control. I had no data to make any decisions with and felt a level of anxiety about things which I didn't know what was the best thing to do (such as my eyesight deteroriated in that my ability to focus closely fell during that period), I lost my fitness (which had been hard won) and I felt that I was not able to live up to my own expectations of what a good husband should be for his wife.

I was lucky in that my wife was very understanding and caring. While she couldn't always help with data she did become a serious researcher into Vitamin K foods and took a strong partnership lead in reminding me about my medications and listening. She was there to give me a hug when I needed it and to encourage me to let my feelings out (not that I've ever been a classic "strong silent" guy).

So it depends on your husband and you, but I guess that what I'm saying is to be supportive if you can, try to see things as he does, and try to remind him that his views on things are coloured by the situation. He may stubbornly cling to his comprehension being correct ... let him. But gently steer him in the right direction. Thats what we did with the cows and sheep when I was growing up and I think people have attitudes just as they did too.

Its not always easy, but for sure, post here and see if you can get alternative views when the situation feels "over your head".

Best Wishes
 

AZ Don

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Apr 23, 2013
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681
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Well I've only been through one OHS though my valve is not functioning like it used to so I have another in my future. I can't say what is driving your husband's concern but given the history it is easy to see why he could have concerns. Different people deal with issues differently. Some people simply try to put it out of their mind, which could be harder to do with an upcoming appointment. It could be the prospect of another surgery weighing on him (which is a matter of time given his age and a tissue valve). I know of people that survived cancer but just felt like they didn't have it in them to fight it again if it were to come back. Whatever it is, all you can do is listen to his concerns and stay positive. Focusing on what you and your husband have to be thankful for can be very helpful in this. It's hard to be angry or scared while feeling gratitude. Valve replacements are basically routine for skilled Cardio thoracic surgeons. While there are no guarantees, issues with valves can be addressed with a very high rate of success, repeatedly. And the future is very bright. The new advancements section has mentioned a couple mechanical valves (or coatings for mechanical valves) that would not require anti-coagulants.
 

epstns

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Dec 26, 2002
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Chicago area
Toni - A couple of things come to mind. Mind you, I have only been through one heart surgery, but I have been through about 13 years of semi-annual check-up's, any of which could have been the one where I would be told that something major was coming soon. I know that feeling of "the closer I get to the appointment, the more anxious I feel." In my case, that feeling became much worse when I was feeling physical changes that made me feel that I was passing some medical milestone that would take me into the OR. Hubby may be feeling some changes in his cardio health that he hasn't mentioned but fears that they may be significant. Has he mentioned anything like being short of breath, light-headed or having chest pain? These are the cardinal symptoms of a failing aortic valve. In my own case, I never really had these "cardinal" symptoms, but I did note that my exercise tolerance was measurably declining. I didn't feel that it was significant enough to mention to my wife, but I "knew" it meant something important.

Another thought is that hubby may be feeling a loss of control over his physical health. It may not be anything specific that is happening, but just the realization that he cannot control the progression of his condition, and he fears that it may go where he fears. I personally feel this trait is more prevalent among men, as we are "wired" to try to control all aspects of our lives, and this is one that we just cannot control. Related to this situation is that hubby may be starting to feel what many of us feel as we age - at some point we conclude that we are mortal and that our days are not infinite. This can come as a shock to our emotional stability.

I think one of the most important things that you can do is to make it very clear, in a compassionate way, that you are and will always be there to support hubby. This spousal emotional support was (and is), to me, the cornerstone of my strength.
 

toni

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2010
Messages
7
Location
currently at MAYO, Rochester, MN
I thank each of you for your thoughts, and encouragement. It is so helpful to have the perspective of others, and gentle reminders of how to be supportive. Given how positive my husband has been in the past, being supportive hasn't been so difficult (and the support he has needed was very different as he recovered from the bleeds/clots - aka strokes) - One day at a time...hoping to stay in touch on the board here, and have a positive update after next month's appointment. Thank you again. :)
 

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