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Some "How long did it take you? Questions

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Pat J

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 19, 2012
Messages
45
Location
Valley Lee MD
Six weeks post surgery and have some questions:

1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach?

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned.

3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away?

4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar?

5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true?

6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself. Any tips/advice?

Thank you for all the help you all have given me since finding this site when I was told I needed to have my stenotic, bicuspid aortic valve replaced last November. I live in a small community and have only found one person who had a valve replaced to talk with. I gave this web site to my surgeon and suggested he refer all of his valve patients.
 

AOS518

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2012
Messages
21
Location
Phillipsburg, New Jersey
Hi I'm glad your surgery went well. I had my second AVR on January 17,2013 with a mechanical valve. At about 6-7 weeks post op I could sleep on my side pretty comfortably but I used pillows to help and not until about 9 weeks could I tolerate sleeping on my stomach and even now I still have some discomfort when sleeping on my stomach. I got put on toprol xl to help control my heart rate because I had some irregular rhythms but my cardiologist wasn't worried about the high heart rate. I at times also felt a twinge that seemed to be coming from my heart too but it has gone away now. With my 1st surgery in July 2007 I had ended up getting cortisone injections into the scar being it had keloid which basically means the scar was raised. I was only 22 at the time and vain in my appearance and I was getting married in 2009 and wanted to not see my scar and I can honestly say that my fear of having my scar noticeable in my wedding pictures was unfounded. After 2 years my scar was barely visible and I was the only one who can see it in pictures. As for now I have a 9 inch incision and am only 28 so its hard to have such a big scar. I can use whatever I want to help diminish it so I'm trying bacitracin as a study has shown that in fair skinned people it diminishes scars better then neosporin. I recommend you find a dermatologist and see what they can tell you. My scar is still itchy but it does eventually go away. Do lots of light massage over it with lotion and it will help to keep it from scarring down which can make it uncomfortable as it will feel like a pulling sensation with certain movements. As for when do you know your back to normal for me its been getting on with life and forgetting what week post op I am. I've just been living and doing things like before surgery and my mind has gone away from the thoughts of I just had surgery. There are days those thoughts come back and will for some time and I currently do cardiac rehab. From my experience from the 1st surgery it took about a full year to totally feel normal again with some changes as surgery tends to change your perspective on certain things. I wish you well with your recovery and continued success. The hard part is over and your new life is just beginning. And remember your scar is proof that you've survived so wear it proudly( I know it takes a long time to come to terms with this but you'll get there sooner or later).
 

RTZdad

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 23, 2012
Messages
227
Location
Denver, CO
Hi Pat,

Glad to see that you are progressing well.

1. I think it was about a month before I could sleep on my side without any issues. Took a few more months before I could sleep on my stomach. It still feels a little funky sometimes a year after my surgery to sleep on my stomach. I get a little stiff sometimes.
2. Not sure on my heart rate, don't remember having a problem with it being high.
3. I didn't have the sensation of feeling like my heart "hurt".
4. I didn't use any creams, and my cardiologist even said that there wasn't much of a point in trying it. You're always going to have a scar there. I see it as a badge of courage now. The upper 2/3 of my scar have turned into a keloid. It's raised and reddish. Even itches a bit now and then. It's a minor nuisance but doesn't bother me too much.
5. I think you're husband is correct. Although I don't know if its normal. Not everyone heals the same.
6. I don't know that you ever feel "back to normal". You will feel a new normal in a short time hopefully. In my own recovery, I went a little nuts proving that I was fine. I was up walking around as soon as they lets and haven't looked back since. I was fortunate to not have any setbacks other than a low INR, which resulted in me staying in the hospital a few extra days. The more you move around and participate in your old routine, the faster you will get back in the swing of things.

Tom
 

yotphix

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
409
Location
Canada
1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach?
I've never been a stomach sleeper, but I was sleeping comfortably on my side after about six months. Prior to that, it felt like it made my heart beat harder(I could probably just feel it more), and made my sternum ache.

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned.
My resting heart rate went down to the mid 70's after about 5 months. When I started cardiac rehab, it was 110 and they treated me like I was porcelain. With steady exercise over time, it went down.

3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away?
I'm told that your heart doesn't have any of the 'pain' nerve endings, and I didn't feel anything like that. I'd bet that whatever you're feeling will pass in short order.

4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar?
Nope, but I kind of liked the idea of being able to see it!

5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true?
I have a couple of scars, one on my hand, another on my knee, which occasionally itch, but my chest incision stopped feeling weird sometime in the first year.

6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself. Any tips/advice?
Take your time. I thought I was 'back to normal at a couple of months, when I replaced a hardwood floor. I wasn't, and I paid for that in pain. Then I thought I was back to normal when I returned to my very physical job at 6 months. I still wasn't quite back, but I could do almost anything. It really was a year before I was myself again completely.

Best of luck,

Paul
 

Duffey

Me and Granbon
VR.org Supporter
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Messages
5,241
Location
Far side of the moon
Six weeks post surgery and have some questions:

1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach? Maybe 6 weeks

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned. It's never returned to "normal".

3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away? No

4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar? No

5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true? Not true

6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself. Any tips/advice? You'll recognize it when you reach it.

Thank you for all the help you all have given me since finding this site when I was told I needed to have my stenotic, bicuspid aortic valve replaced last November. I live in a small community and have only found one person who had a valve replaced to talk with. I gave this web site to my surgeon and suggested he refer all of his valve patients. Good recommendation!
More questions, ask away!:smile2:
 
Last edited:

Rachel

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2012
Messages
539
Location
Holland, Michigan
Hi Pat - good questions, here was my experience (and as you know, everyone is different)

1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach?
For me, this took me 8-10 weeks, it took me a long time to just sleep flat without being propped up.

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned.
My high HR was a concern for me too – I think it was in the 90’s – and I had to get off of betas because of my extremely low blood pressure (which was something like 80/50) My HR didn’t go back down to normal until I started running again – I’d say 9 months from surgery.

3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away?
My heart didn’t hurt

4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar?
KEEP IT OUT OF THE SUN!!!! For at least ONE YEAR!
I didn’t use anything at all on my scar and I can barely see it now. I was extra careful on this one so I kept it COMPETELY out of the sun – I mean I bought UV protection clothing and when I wasn’t wearing that – I ALWAYS wore a UV protected scarf. I did this for one full year!!! (maybe overboard - but I'm glad I did it that way)
Now I put a really good sunscreen on it and I wear whatever I want – you really can’t see my scar.

5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true?
My scar does not feel itchy – but I’m super thin so the slightest bump to my chest does hurt.

6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself. Any
tips/advice?
I think everyone is different – I was very conservative with my healing and didn’t rush anything – I started to feel normal after I was able to run 7 miles as part of a relay team which was 15 months after my surgery.

Hope this helps,
Rachel
 

Eva

Miracle Believer
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Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
4,161
Location
Redondo Beach, CA
Six weeks post surgery and have some questions:

1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach?

Luckily for me, I slept on my left side the very first night. My nurse even encouraged it. Sleeping on my back hurt and felt like my chest was opening again. I had pillows on my left side on which I rested my right arm on so that I won't put much pressure on my side

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned.


It took a long time for my heart rate to go down!! My cardio was not concerned as long as it remained under 100. I got used to it and was able to manage better after I accepted the high rate as a new rate. Now, it is in low 70s at rest.


3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away?


YES! the expression of "my heart is aching" applied well on how I felt for about a month after surgery


4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar?

NOT until it completely healed.

5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true?

Itching is a part of healing. Keep it clean. Once completely healed, it may itch like you may itch anywhere else.6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself. Any tips/advice?

You will sense it and know it! Before my surgery, I never felt refreshed after a nap or a night's sleep. Right after the surgery, I was very happy to feel refreshed after a short afternoon nap. I, personally, went up and down, and in my personal situation, I should not have rushed it nor should I have used all my energy when I felt great. Thank you for all the help you all have given me since finding this site when I was told I needed to have my stenotic, bicuspid aortic valve replaced last November. I live in a small community and have only found one person who had a valve replaced to talk with. I gave this web site to my surgeon and suggested he refer all of his valve patients.

In general, in some cases, recovery time depends on your physical state before the surgery.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

pellicle

Professional Dingbat
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
7,226
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
Hi

Six weeks post surgery and have some questions:
ok

1. How long before you could comfortably sleep on your side/stomach?
2 or 3 months IIRC

2. How long did it take you to get your heart rate back to normal? My resting heart rate was 100 or above which freaked out the cardiac rehab staff, but my cardiologist wasn't too concerned.
closer to 4 months

3. Did your heart "hurt" or am I just imaging it? When does the feeling go away?
I don't understand, but my chest hurt. Its gone away.

4. Did you use any creams to reduce your scar?
nope, its my personal chest earthworm ornament


5. My husband says my scar will always feel weird - kind of itchy. Is he messing with me or is that true?
mine itched first time, didn't second time and is itching this third time.

I developed the habit of scratching around it rather than on it.

6. How do you know when you are "back to normal?" I feel like I'm making incredible progress, but not sure of the balance between "light housekeeping" and pushing myself.
by about 5 months I was almost back to normal. I was ready to do almost anything and had started back on light gym work

Any tips/advice?
if you don't already have a gym habit, I suggest you start one. Light weights and some aerobics. If you have no gym history I suggest going through a physio or cardio at first till you get the hang of what you are doing.

don't think of going back to "life before" as so many things will and have changed. Consider instead you are starting a new life. How good do you want to build it?
 

Pat J

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 19, 2012
Messages
45
Location
Valley Lee MD
Thanx all for the input.

9 weeks out and doing really well.

Doing rehab and start back at Jazzercise the beginning of May.
 
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