Open heart surgery and redo operations

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tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
79
I had problems with my left shoulder which were caused by the surgery, diagnosed incorrectly at first as partially torn tendon and impingement syndrome and made worse by the physiotherapy I was given for that. Eventually, five years after surgery, due to pain in my sternum, an MRI of it revealed that my left sternoclavicular joint had been damaged, there was/is an effusion and degenerative changes with it as a result of surgery - all that manipulation, and this led to referred shoulder pain. I now am just not able to do the kind of weight lifting I did prior to surgery because it leads to such bad left shoulder pain.
oh that's interesting...I'm seeing a specialist next week for my shoulder, so I will keep that in mind. I'm being told that I have a frozen shoulder that is in the freezing stage, but I also wonder whether there is rotator cuff injury. Will see what the opinion is next week. The shoulder is far more debilitating and painful than the heart surgery!
 

MdaPA

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Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
163
I'm seeing a specialist next week for my shoulder, so I will keep that in mind.
Have them also take a look at your neck as that could be contributing to or be the direct cause of your shoulder pain (called cervical radiculopathy). During surgery, your neck may have been irritated/injured during intubation. Rehab should help with this as well.

Is Your Shoulder Pain Actually a Neck Problem?
 

Meanjellybean

Aortic Mechanical valve - Carbomedics 23mm
VR.org Supporter
Joined
Mar 7, 2021
Messages
95
Location
Australia, NSW
Hi Meanjellybean,
I had a redo done end of March this year. My first surgery was 12 years ago. Not sure I can give you much comfort, as my two surgeries went differently, although the same type of valve was put in (tissue value due to blood issues). First surgery, I had a haemorrhage after surgery that needed me to go back in again so they could reopen and stop the bleeding. That didn't happen this time, but I had masses of issues post- surgery to do with the blood again, heaps of platelets and blood transfusions. I do know that to get the same size valve in I had to have a patch put on the aorta to enlarge it, due to scar tissue, so scar tissue is an issue as some have already said. I've yet to see my surgeon for post-surgery check, so I will quiz him more about what he found then.

Second time around, I knew more of what to expect and that actually helped enormously, although things were somewhat different due to the complications, but generally speaking, there were a lot of things that I knew about so overall, fewer surprises. Once out of hospital, which was a longer stay this time, my recovery at home has not been too different to first time round (apart from a shoulder issue which is new). I went into the surgery in as best shape I could be, as I did first time around, and I think that helps a lot. I do think that perhaps my energy levels have taken a bit longer to come back but I am 12 years older, so that might just be a function of that and not so much the second surgery, I don't know. I think I was probably as fit, and maybe a bit fitter before this surgery than the first.

One thing I do think though, is that the sternum is taking longer to heal this time than the first time. I feel that I have plateaued and over the past two weeks, not really seen any improvement, but that may also be related to the issues I'm having with my shoulder. So will be good to have that checked by the surgeon this week when I see him. I am almost 8 weeks post surgery, and my memory of last recovery is a little sketchy, but I'm pretty sure I was back to most day to day things by this time. But I'm having to be more careful about lifting stuff, driving is not painfree, and I'm noticing specific painful areas during some activities.

My scar has healed beautifully, and in actual fact, is a much nicer zipper than my first one - maybe my surgeon got better at that, lol! So I'm happy that it is a much finer scar. However, this time round, I have some areas of numbness over one side of my chest, and also some hypersensitivity, which I don't recall last time. It is gradually decreasing, so I'm hopeful that over the next 6 months, it should disappear altogether as the nerves innervate, but time will tell.

Speaking of scars, this time round, I had four drain tubes, but only 2 first time, and the drains weren't put in the same place, which surprised me, I had somehow assumed he would just use the same spot. But I guess scar tissue is probably the issue there, so I now have 6 drain scars now! Someone said I should get a tattoo of noughts and crosses on my stomach, because of where they are positioned, lol!

Something that struck me also this time round was that once I was through the first few days, and the PCP was gone, they were reluctant to give any pain meds stronger than panadol. Last time round, sleepers were also given at night, but this time, they were not on the menu. I guess the way things are done change over time.

If there is anything specific you would like me to answer, please let me know. Sorry, I have rambled on, once you get me started, I'm hard to stop! Hope that helps in some way.
Thank you for your detailed experience.
The first surgery which required the reop several days later would of been such a shock! That would be a tough experience but thankfully for you it went well after the reop.
Was your first surgery alot hard on the body? - how long was that recovery time?

Second time round does not sound much easier but appears to have its own set of difficulties.
Regarding the Sternum healing, did you previously have wires? and was wires used this time around also?
One thing i found for myself was that i had a misaligned chest from my surgery from when i was 3 years old which was only corrected at my surgery at 20years old. Oddly enough, no one every mentioned this to me and Ii didn't even know it was out of place until my brother mentioned "huh would you look at that, your chest is even now"..

The drain tubes, to my understanding and experience, are never in the same position. Must be a scar tissue issue. A tattoo over scar tissue is very painful but i believe that a lot of us who have had Sternotomy have a higher pain threshold then others, so a tattoo wouldn't be such a bad idea. I actually remember falling asleep when i got my back tattooed (not the best idea unless your trust the tattooist haha).

The shoulder pain was something that my surgeon didn't mention at all but I am reading a few people in this forum and other groups that have a similar experience. I do hope it recovers for you quickly!
 

slipkid

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
262
Location
Schwenksville, PA, USA
Wow, 4 drain tubes. Ouch! I had 3 for my surgery. Funny story about how the physician's assistant took them out but no time for that now. If I have my shirt off and anyone asks what those weird scars are I say I was attacked by a guy who had a knife & a gun, the big scar is the knife he sliced me with and the hole-things are where he shot me. However I was able to disarm him with a vicious attack of sarcasm invoking dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and satire. In response to my ripost he pulled his own head off so you could say I won in the end.
P.S. Just so you all don't think I am completely crazy - actually I am - but that bit above about the sarcasm/satire/etc is my tribute to my favorite Monty Python skit (the Piranha brothers)....most from this excerpt by the brilliant Michael Palin as gangster Luigi Vercotti...

 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
79
Have them also take a look at your neck as that could be contributing to or be the direct cause of your shoulder pain (called cervical radiculopathy). During surgery, your neck may have been irritated/injured during intubation. Rehab should help with this as well.

Is Your Shoulder Pain Actually a Neck Problem?
Oh thanks for that, will definitely mention to them and get them to take a look. Have been doing rehab, but in a limited way due to what I can actually do with the shoulder.
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
79
Thank you for your detailed experience.
The first surgery which required the reop several days later would of been such a shock! That would be a tough experience but thankfully for you it went well after the reop.
Was your first surgery alot hard on the body? - how long was that recovery time?

Second time round does not sound much easier but appears to have its own set of difficulties.
Regarding the Sternum healing, did you previously have wires? and was wires used this time around also?
One thing i found for myself was that i had a misaligned chest from my surgery from when i was 3 years old which was only corrected at my surgery at 20years old. Oddly enough, no one every mentioned this to me and Ii didn't even know it was out of place until my brother mentioned "huh would you look at that, your chest is even now"..

The drain tubes, to my understanding and experience, are never in the same position. Must be a scar tissue issue. A tattoo over scar tissue is very painful but i believe that a lot of us who have had Sternotomy have a higher pain threshold then others, so a tattoo wouldn't be such a bad idea. I actually remember falling asleep when i got my back tattooed (not the best idea unless your trust the tattooist haha).

The shoulder pain was something that my surgeon didn't mention at all but I am reading a few people in this forum and other groups that have a similar experience. I do hope it recovers for you quickly!
Funnily enough, no, first surgery was easier I think, although I had a lot more nausea last time, but I guess that it was from a double dose of anaesthetic, and they kept intubated a lot longer the second time round (from memory, about another 12 hours) in case they had to go back in again in a hurry. Once I got past the nausea, I recovered pretty quickly. But at the time, it felt like I had been hit by a bus!

Yes I had sternum wires first time and also this time. I actually had the sternum wires removed about 2 years post surgery, as I am quite a small frame, and the wires were poking out. They got bumped a lot and were quite tender, I couldn't stand the seatbelt sitting across them, so I asked for them to be removed. Funny thing, I have the complete opposite to you...after my first surgery, I ended up with quite a pigeon chest, but it doesn't seem so bad this time round. And this time round, there is only 1 wire at the very top that I think might cause me some grief...all the others are super flat and I can't even feel them, which is very different from last time. So I may not have to worry about having wires removed this time around.

Ah no, not going the tattoo route at any stage, that just scares me lol!
 

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