Post Surgery update

Help Support ValveReplacement.org:

Lynn

Member
Joined
Mar 24, 2021
Messages
15
Location
British Columbia
Tezza, I am sorry to hear you aren’t feeling as well as hoped. My surgery was April 1st and I can relate to the numbness in your chest and the shoulder pain. Shoulder pain was much worse for me than any other sternum or incision pain. I still get it and have to be careful to move enough to keep it mobile, but not too much. This sounds crazy, but because I feel it is to early for massage or Physio, when I get a cramp, I find a door jam, and position myself so that I can lean the knot in my shoulder and rub it out a little. Sometimes it is quite uncomfortable, but it works. For me, leaving these knots never works, they just get worse. I find they need to be rubbed out and pressure applied to get the muscle to relax. My husband never wants to hurt me, and won’t rub hard enough so I use a door jam. I have also used a tennis ball in a sock against the wall. It’s an odd suggestion, I know but it helps me stop shoulder cramps before they get to out of control. Wishing you the best of luck and hoping you feel better soon
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amy

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Hi A
Oh Tezza,

I also felt traumatized by the surgery... there were just so many surprises (nurses sucked, couldn’t breathe the whole first day and night, was admitted even before the surgery because they fucked up the cardiac cath; shooting, almost electrical pain in my arm just by moving the slightest bit, for days, due to the chest tubes)

It will pass, though. Thank god, it really will pass!!! I know it seems long, and I also have days I feel way weaker than the one before. (I started out with a whole schedule on how much I was going to walk everyday - ha! Then a scare with a possible chest tube infection stopped most walks so the area would heal quickly without being jostled open) On those days, watch a movie and read a book and do things you love and don’t think about it. And I think you’re also right to NOT think about the next surgery. That’s just torturing yourself!

I’m three weeks out and also still have numbness around the incision site, and also on the backs / insides of my upper arms where the chest tube must’ve been hitting some nerves for days. I think they m a y b e. are slowly getting some sensation back. I wonder if a little massage wouldn’t help? I’ve also been using my ‘corn bag’ Medium Microwave Corn Bag | Heat and Cold Therapy | Fishbellies
warmed up in the microwave and it could be my imagination, but maybe that has helped.

Take it easy. : )
Amy, thank you so much for your reply...I found it very comforting that you have also experienced some of the discomforts I am. Sometimes reading posts it seems like others are getting on so much better and I was starting to think that I was just a big sook! But I guess others have just not been so self-indulgent as me, and have just focused on the positive that each day does get a little easier, although I just feel like I've taken a few steps backward right now.

I'm sorry to hear your nurses sucked...I was fortunate to have fantastic nurses. Yes, I had a schedule for my walking, and was going well, but will just be kind to myself, and ride with the setback and then work on getting back on track. I think that maybe I am just expecting too much of myself. I bounced back very quickly after my first surgery, even though I was in much poorer health then, and guess I expected the same this time round, particularly since I was in pretty good shape.

I haven't tried using a heat pack, so will give that a try, although the cold pack works quite nicely.
I really appreciate your support, thank you.
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Tezza, I am sorry to hear you aren’t feeling as well as hoped. My surgery was April 1st and I can relate to the numbness in your chest and the shoulder pain. Shoulder pain was much worse for me than any other sternum or incision pain. I still get it and have to be careful to move enough to keep it mobile, but not too much. This sounds crazy, but because I feel it is to early for massage or Physio, when I get a cramp, I find a door jam, and position myself so that I can lean the knot in my shoulder and rub it out a little. Sometimes it is quite uncomfortable, but it works. For me, leaving these knots never works, they just get worse. I find they need to be rubbed out and pressure applied to get the muscle to relax. My husband never wants to hurt me, and won’t rub hard enough so I use a door jam. I have also used a tennis ball in a sock against the wall. It’s an odd suggestion, I know but it helps me stop shoulder cramps before they get to out of control. Wishing you the best of luck and hoping you feel better soon
Hi Lynn, thank you for reminding me of the tennis ball trick. I don't get shoulder cramps as such, just pain on any movement, but I do know that I have a lot of muscular tension, and my hubby has been great at working at releasing some of the knots around my neck (hurts like hell because he uses a LOT of pressure!), but I'm wary about letting him loose around the rib cage and shoulders just yet, so using the tennis ball might be a good option for that. I will give that a try today. I actually have a spiky ball, so I will test that out carefully - they can be a bit brutal lol!

Thank you for also reminding me that I am not unique in this, and that all of us who go through this surgery have very similar aches, pains and discomforts. I think I am having a big dose of "woe is me" and hearing that you are also experiencing similar things is a good reality check for me. I hope your recovery also goes well.
 

pellicle

Professional Dingbat
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
8,144
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
Hi
I'm actually not feeling any better than I was pre-surgery...is it too soon yet?
based on my experience yes ... I felt like **** after surgery #3

, but I have a lot of numbness on one side of the scar
personally I've not had that on my chest, but did on my toe ... apparently its a sliced nerve.

but suddenly I just didn't feel that I had the stamina anymore.
I kept a HR monitor (Garmin) on me for a while and made sure I paid attention to HR and what I'd been doing prior feelings like that. Are you still on metoprolol?

I've also noticed that my resting heart rate is often around the 100bpm, when it was closer to 70 just after surgery and in the first few weeks.
that's about my own experience of my OHS #3 It took some months before I ceased having bouts of 100 or so for no reason. I did deep breath (deep as you can) - hold - when HR comes down, wait a few beats then release. Repeat a few times. This worked for me mostly.

I constantly hear my heart beat, and feel it thumping in my chest, which is what I was experiencing before my surgery, and I guess I expected that to settle down.
mine was so prominent that I was feeling it rocking me when sitting up in bed. Its still exactly like that now, but mostly I tune out to it ... like habituation of train or traffic sounds.

I only become aware of it when I pay attention to it (like right now)

Now I'm worried I may have pushed too hard too soon, although I felt fine. I have a GP check this week, and see the cardiologist next week so hopefully I will get some answers then.
well I think that unless you develop a paravalvular leak or a mobile sternum then you haven't pushed too far ... the checkup sounds good as they can check for any edema ...

One thing that has been a real difficulty for me is pain in my left shoulder. I noticed this as soon as I woke after surgery and it is so bad that my range of motion is severely limited by pain.
I had this too, same shoulder, I was unable to take a T-Shirt off by myself the usual way for months.

but I'm very worried that I'm going to end up with a frozen shoulder. I am supposed to go back to work in 3 weeks time, but at this point, if the shoulder doesn't improve, there is no way I could do my job.
I would suggest you will need light duties when you recommence...

but in other areas, the skin is particularly sensitive, so I'm finding it difficult to tolerate the feeling of fabric against the skin.
I also had this on OHS 1 and 2 (and to a lesser extent 3, but that turned out to be something else. I was always using a T-Shirt under a buttoned shirt because even the back of buttons bothered me.

Anyway, hope you get on track slowly but surely

Best Wishes
 

Chuck C

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 5, 2020
Messages
473
I'm now 4 weeks post surgery, and to be honest, I'm actually not feeling any better than I was pre-surgery...is it too soon yet?
Hi Tezza,
I'm sorry that it has been so hard for you post surgery. I just reached my 4 week point today and I thought that I would share somethings that could be relatable.

My recovery was by all accounts very positive and very linear up until about day 18 or so. This is where I started to get some new pains- mostly between my ribs on the sides and in the back. It is puzzling to me how I did not feel these before. Perhaps it was that I was on Tylenol and other pain killers and that was enough to blunt them. Some days it would feel like it was going away and some days I would wake up feeling worse.
One night, about day 22, I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom. My rib pain was so sharp that it hurt to breath deep. So, as I walked I took shallow breaths, not realizing that I was hyperventilating. Before I got to the bathroom I realized I was about to faint and just barely made it to the couch in time. I broke out into a major sweat, which was concerning- I wondered if I had just had a heart attack or something. I would later research and find this is common when fainting or near fainting.
Anyway, I stayed there for about an hour.
I have also had new pain which started about 5 days ago in my right shoulder. Again, how does this suddenly appear?
What I have found works for me, especially the rib pain: 1) I was trying to go off Tylenol completely, but decided that I needed to take it from time to time still for this pain. 2) game changer for me was this heating pad, I think it is called Thermal On. You microwave it for about 2 minutes and it provides moist heat. It did wonders for the rib pain.

When I have had sports injuries, including shoulder and ribs, I have found in the past that sometimes alternating between ice and heat helps the healing. They each bring there own set of benefits to the equation. The heat for my ribs has really been nice, as sometimes the pain has made it a little hard to sleep and the moist warmth seems to penetrate and soothe and also makes me drift off to sleep.

The last few days I have been doing better. It may or may not be because I started doing all the exercises that were in my discharge book. They gave me a big binder and for some reason I found the walking exercises but had missed the other exercises like shoulder rolling, chest expansion, side bends and rotating. For the past 4 days I have been doing these religiously. The rib pain and should pain is almost gone now. I can't say whether it is the exercises or if it just took some time to work itself out.

Please hang in there and keep us posted as to your progress. This season of discomfort will pass.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amy

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Hi

based on my experience yes ... I felt like **** after surgery #3


personally I've not had that on my chest, but did on my toe ... apparently its a sliced nerve.



I kept a HR monitor (Garmin) on me for a while and made sure I paid attention to HR and what I'd been doing prior feelings like that. Are you still on metoprolol?



that's about my own experience of my OHS #3 It took some months before I ceased having bouts of 100 or so for no reason. I did deep breath (deep as you can) - hold - when HR comes down, wait a few beats then release. Repeat a few times. This worked for me mostly.



mine was so prominent that I was feeling it rocking me when sitting up in bed. Its still exactly like that now, but mostly I tune out to it ... like habituation of train or traffic sounds.

I only become aware of it when I pay attention to it (like right now)



well I think that unless you develop a paravalvular leak or a mobile sternum then you haven't pushed too far ... the checkup sounds good as they can check for any edema ...



I had this too, same shoulder, I was unable to take a T-Shirt off by myself the usual way for months.



I would suggest you will need light duties when you recommence...



I also had this on OHS 1 and 2 (and to a lesser extent 3, but that turned out to be something else. I was always using a T-Shirt under a buttoned shirt because even the back of buttons bothered me.

Anyway, hope you get on track slowly but surely

Best Wishes
Thanks Pellicle as always for your wisdom...it is good to hear that I'm not alone in all of this, and certainly not unique! I think I just need to get over myself right now!

Interesting that you have that sensation of rocking when lying down, that is exactly how I feel, and in fact, my kids have started calling me "noddy", because when I am sitting still, I can be seen to be faintly rocking and head nodding with each heart beat. I'm also very aware of it, and it was something that I expected to disappear after surgery, but maybe I just have to habituate to it as you have done.

I had been thinking about getting a Garmin pre surgery then forgot about it, so maybe that is something worth persuing, so I can track things a bit better and maybe give me more peace of mind.

With your shoulder, did it just slowly get better on it's own?

Thanks for the tip re the breathing, I will try that and see if that helps. Last night, I had all sorts of funny beats, skipped beats, etc. Now I think I am just getting paranoid, so the Garmin might help here to ease that worry.

I'm starting to rethink my return to work date, as light duties aren't really possible, although they are certainly open to flexible work hours, but I work with children and I really can't picture myself crawling on the floor or restraining a kid having a meltdown in 3 weeks time! Maybe it's time to work with adults for a while!

Thanks again for your support and suggestions, it truly is appreciated.
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Hi Tezza,
I'm sorry that it has been so hard for you post surgery. I just reached my 4 week point today and I thought that I would share somethings that could be relatable.

My recovery was by all accounts very positive and very linear up until about day 18 or so. This is where I started to get some new pains- mostly between my ribs on the sides and in the back. It is puzzling to me how I did not feel these before. Perhaps it was that I was on Tylenol and other pain killers and that was enough to blunt them. Some days it would feel like it was going away and some days I would wake up feeling worse.
One night, about day 22, I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom. My rib pain was so sharp that it hurt to breath deep. So, as I walked I took shallow breaths, not realizing that I was hyperventilating. Before I got to the bathroom I realized I was about to faint and just barely made it to the couch in time. I broke out into a major sweat, which was concerning- I wondered if I had just had a heart attack or something. I would later research and find this is common when fainting or near fainting.
Anyway, I stayed there for about an hour.
I have also had new pain which started about 5 days ago in my right shoulder. Again, how does this suddenly appear?
What I have found works for me, especially the rib pain: 1) I was trying to go off Tylenol completely, but decided that I needed to take it from time to time still for this pain. 2) game changer for me was this heating pad, I think it is called Thermal On. You microwave it for about 2 minutes and it provides moist heat. It did wonders for the rib pain.

When I have had sports injuries, including shoulder and ribs, I have found in the past that sometimes alternating between ice and heat helps the healing. They each bring there own set of benefits to the equation. The heat for my ribs has really been nice, as sometimes the pain has made it a little hard to sleep and the moist warmth seems to penetrate and soothe and also makes me drift off to sleep.

The last few days I have been doing better. It may or may not be because I started doing all the exercises that were in my discharge book. They gave me a big binder and for some reason I found the walking exercises but had missed the other exercises like shoulder rolling, chest expansion, side bends and rotating. For the past 4 days I have been doing these religiously. The rib pain and should pain is almost gone now. I can't say whether it is the exercises or if it just took some time to work itself out.

Please hang in there and keep us posted as to your progress. This season of discomfort will pass.
Hi Chuck,
Thank you for taking the time to relate your story of recovery...it is so good to hear that I am not the only one who feels what I do. I know what you mean about new pains out of the blue. I was like you, and had pretty much given up pain meds, but I have decided that I need to take it at night, and sometimes first thing in the morning. I figure there is no point in being heroic, and if it helps get more comfortable sleep and move more freely then that is a positive. I had moved to sleeping flat in bed at about the 2 1/2 week mark, but was really not sleeping well so moved back into the recliner and that is working much better, as I can change position easily which eases my back pain. I guess I will just use that a little longer until I am able to lie on my side again.

Someone else mentioned heat as well, so I will try that as well as my ice pack.
I have been pretty consistent with my physio exercises, and will keep those going.

Thanks again for your support. Best of luck with your own recovery, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing better in the past few days...I hope that trajectory continues for you.
 

pellicle

Professional Dingbat
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
8,144
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
Hi

... I think I just need to get over myself right now!
nahh ... all good ... you feel what you feel, as long as you know it'll change you're fine.


... and in fact, my kids have started calling me "noddy", because when I am sitting still, I can be seen to be faintly rocking and head nodding with each heart beat.
LOL ... it wreaked havoc with my ability to do long shutter time hand held camera exposures. Pre surgery I was fine to even 5 seconds ...

so maybe that is something worth persuing, so I can track things a bit better and maybe give me more peace of mind.
whatever helps ...

With your shoulder, did it just slowly get better on it's own?
it did, but its still weaker than the other ... I didn't do physio though ...

Last night, I had all sorts of funny beats, skipped beats, etc.
that's common and because of the mech valve you're more likely to notice them than before (wonders, did you have a mech before??)

consider trying some chelated magnesium in your palate of pills. It has helped me.

... I work with children and I really can't picture myself crawling on the floor or restraining a kid having a meltdown in 3 weeks time! Maybe it's time to work with adults for a while!
well I have some suggestions but I'm sure they won't be approved

1618882997747.png


CHCl3
 

Freebird

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
135
My worst pain wasn’t my sternum but my right shoulder/upper back. I slowly weaned off of the NSAIDS and added those Salon Pas patches at night which helped along with having my husband use a massage roller ball on the area each night. The turning point for me on this pain was when I was allowed to sleep on my side finally. Have you been cleared yet for side sleeping?
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
My worst pain wasn’t my sternum but my right shoulder/upper back. I slowly weaned off of the NSAIDS and added those Salon Pas patches at night which helped along with having my husband use a massage roller ball on the area each night. The turning point for me on this pain was when I was allowed to sleep on my side finally. Have you been cleared yet for side sleeping?
Yes, I can't wait to sleep on my side...not been cleared yet though, but relishing the day! Massage is a good idea though, and it does help with some of the aches and pains.
 

newarrior

I have mild moderate Aortic Stenosis live Bangkok
VR.org Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
437
Location
Bangkok Thailand
My worst pain wasn’t my sternum but my right shoulder/upper back. I slowly weaned off of the NSAIDS and added those Salon Pas patches at night which helped along with having my husband use a massage roller ball on the area each night. The turning point for me on this pain was when I was allowed to sleep on my side finally. Have you been cleared yet for side sleeping?
Good to know on Salon Pas)
 

newarrior

I have mild moderate Aortic Stenosis live Bangkok
VR.org Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2019
Messages
437
Location
Bangkok Thailand
Hi



nahh ... all good ... you feel what you feel, as long as you know it'll change you're fine.




LOL ... it wreaked havoc with my ability to do long shutter time hand held camera exposures. Pre surgery I was fine to even 5 seconds ...



whatever helps ...



it did, but its still weaker than the other ... I didn't do physio though ...



that's common and because of the mech valve you're more likely to notice them than before (wonders, did you have a mech before??)

consider trying some chelated magnesium in your palate of pills. It has helped me.


well I have some suggestions but I'm sure they won't be approved

View attachment 887765

CHCl3
Magnesium powder is a wonder sup--helps brain ears heart/afib arthritis muscles bones constipation moods tinnitus
 

Amy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
143
Hi Tezza,

Just wondering how you’re doing! : ) I’m a week or so behind you, I think, in terms of recovery, & I’m beginning to get even more of a taste of the shoulder pain you were talking about... all of a sudden today (on post-op day 30) I got a sharp pain and can hardly use my right arm for anything, or the pain zips through the nerve again.

So weird - new pains popping up...(there are others too, in my upper pecs and right in the middle of the right breast) I read @Chuck C had new pain popping up too. Unlike you guys I hadn’t been taking any Tylenol or anything for a couple weeks prior to this, so I don’t think you just didn’t feel them; they must really be new.

Let’s imagine they’re nothing more than temporary healing pains... : ) (must be!)
 
Last edited:

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Hi
Hi Tezza,

Just wondering how you’re doing! : ) I’m a week or so behind you, I think, in terms of recovery, & I’m beginning to get even more of a taste of the shoulder pain you were talking about... all of a sudden today (on post-op day 30) I got a sharp pain and can hardly use my right arm for anything, or the pain zips through the nerve again.

So weird - new pains popping up...(there are others too, in my upper pecs and right in the middle of the right breast) I read @Chuck C had new pain popping up too. Unlike you guys I hadn’t been taking any Tylenol or anything for a couple weeks prior to this, so I don’t think you just didn’t feel them; they must really be new.

Let’s imagine they’re nothing more than temporary healing pains... : ) (must be!)
Hi Amy,
I'm going pretty well...I think I have turned a corner of sorts! Today marks my 6 week anniversary of surgery and I drove for the first time! Aahh, how wonderful to have independence back! the only problem I had was with my shoulder, and had to be careful in not stretching the arm too far across my body.

Over the past week, I have had less and less pain during the day, in and around the chest area in general, although I'm finding nights the worst - I still have to get up to take some pain relief around 2 or 3am, and usually find myself gravitating back to the recliner to see the rest of the night out. Yes, everyday, there seems to be a pain in a new place, but not in the old place, so really inconsistent. The shoulder hasn't changed any, but the ribs/chest are definitely getting better. I find I have to really be careful though, as I think because I feel so good, I try to do something (like lift a basket of washing) and then get a stinging pain where the ribs join the sternum, so that reminds me that I'm not back to square one just yet. But every day I'm feeling more and more myself again.

I'm sure it is all temporary, well, I know it is, I came through my first surgery without any long term aches and pains, so hopefully this one will be the same, although I will be seeing my physio this week I think to get my shoulder looked at, and hopefully that will get it back on the mend again as well.

I started back at work today, and found it tough going mentally, lol! My concentration span is pretty limited, but my motivation is even more limited! Just doing paperwork stuff for now, I still don't feel up to crawling on the floor with kids just yet! Hope your aches and pains subside quickly.
 

Amy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
143
will be seeing my physio this week I think to get my shoulder looked at
Thanks for the update. Sounds like you’re truly on the mend. : )

is that like a sports physiotherapist? Or is there another, non-sports ‘physio’ ? Just curious.

concentration span is pretty limited
same thing here. I lose the point of stories I’m in the middle of way more often than I used to. On a related note, I find myself being uncertain of correct grammar when constructing sentences once in a while, especially typing, especially long sentences like this one, which never, ever, happened before.

take it easy.
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Thanks for the update. Sounds like you’re truly on the mend. : )

is that like a sports physiotherapist? Or is there another, non-sports ‘physio’ ? Just curious.

same thing here. I lose the point of stories I’m in the middle of way more often than I used to. On a related note, I find myself being uncertain of correct grammar when constructing sentences once in a while, especially typing, especially long sentences like this one, which never, ever, happened before.

take it easy.
My physio is just a stock standard physio. Will see what joy she brings me today. One thing I also want to get some help on is improving my posture..I find I am not as upright as I used to be but think that may be just the natural tendency to adopt a position that protects a place that hurts. Problem is that it is uncomfortable to be in the correct posture so probably need some more/different stretches. I don't want to end up with long term postural issues which will create more skeletal issues as I get older.
Funny but since this surgery I am much more conscious of my mortality and outlook for my older self! Didn't do that after my first surgery...maybe because this one was a bit more complex medically and I'm older!
 

Amy

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 7, 2013
Messages
143
Keep us updated as to what new stretches you learn. I wasn’t told anything about stretching & am getting most of my recent ideas from you and Chuck.

Hey, can I ask how long you’re walking for every day?
 

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Keep us updated as to what new stretches you learn. I wasn’t told anything about stretching & am getting most of my recent ideas from you and Chuck.

Hey, can I ask how long you’re walking for every day?
Sure, will do!
I try to walk about 4 km, usually between 35 -45 mins. I don't know if that is a fast pace or not, but I push my pace, so I am now walking so that I am slightly out of breath and couldn't hold a conversation. It includes some hills. Stairs are still a problem for me, I still get short of breath with them, especially if I am carrying anything.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Amy

tezza

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 4, 2020
Messages
65
Keep us updated as to what new stretches you learn. I wasn’t told anything about stretching & am getting most of my recent ideas from you and Chuck.

Hey, can I ask how long you’re walking for every day?
Hi Amy,
No new stretches to report sorry! Physio believes I am currently in the "freezing" stage of a frozen shoulder - bugger! Not what I wanted to hear! Have to admit it has rocked me a bit, although I did have a sneaky suspicion in the back of my mind, but hoping against hope that it wasn't the case, as I know how that is going to limit me functionally over the next while. So being referred to a shoulder guy for more review, but notmuch that that can be done, if that is the case, just have to wait for it to take its course through to frozen and then thawing, which can take anywhere from 12 mths to 3 years! Last thing I want right now.
Did some research, and found that there is a correlation to cardiac surgery and rotator cuff injury, which I had a mild injury I was nursing pre-surgery. But not much out there about it, they don't really know why it happens, occurs mostly in women in their 40s and 50s. Also a strong correlation with diabetes, which I don't have.
A few different treatments available, but mostly they just reduce pain, and long term prognosis is no better than if no treatments are given. Don't fancy cortisone right now, (that stuff is so bad for you!) and honestly, couldn't face those injections right now...I'm a bit phobic about medical procedures just yet!

So hopefully your shoulder pain is not the same as mine and settles really quickly...I truly truly hope that for you, as this is very painful, hard to sleep and I'm struggling even to bathe and dress independently with it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Amy
Top